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EVERY person must be aware, that one of the charges most frequently and vehemently urged against the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, is that of its being possessed by such a bigoted and proselytizing spirit as led it to attempt, by undue means, to force its own system upon England during the troubled period of the civil war. In the hope of showing the utter groundlessness of that accusation, and of repelling it at once and for ever, I have resolved to append to this work the following important document, which contains a distinct statement, by the Scottish commissioners, of the views and desires entertained by the Church and State of Scotland before the civil war had begun. The paper was written by Alexander Henderson, towards the close of the year 1640, and given in by the Scottish commissioners to the Lords of the Treaty, as they were termed, in the beginning of 1641, when the business of negotiation had been transferred from Ripon to London. It was printed and published about the same time, that it might be so fairly before the community as to enable all whom it concerned to know precisely what it was that Scotland wished and recommended, and to prevent, if possible, all calumnious misrepresentation. Certainly the publication of such a document tended, of itself, to bind the Scottish commissioners, and consequently the Scottish Church and kingdom, which they represented, from making any attempt to force their own system upon England, even if they had been afterwards inclined; since it put it in the power of the English Church and Parliament to appeal immediately to this public declaration. There is no doubt that it both prepared the mind of England for the calling of the Westminster Assembly, about two years and a half afterwards, and contributed to prevent, for a time, the rise of any considerable degree of jealousy in the ecclesiastical proceedings that followed, till the harmony that had prevailed was destroyed by the Independent and Erastian controversies. Prelatic writers make no mention of this important document, and consequently indulge in the most violent accusations against the Church of Scotland for presuming to endeavor to enforce its system upon England. Let the truth be known; from that the Church of Scotland has nothing to fear:
— “OUR DESIRES CONCERNING UNITY IN RELIGION, AND UNIFORMITY OF CHURCH GOVERNMENT, AS A SPECIAL MEAN TO CONSERVE PEACE IN HIS MAJESTY’S DOMINIONS.”
As we shall not make any proposition about this last article, of establishing a firm and happy peace, but that which we conceive to be both expedient and just; so will your lordships, we doubt not, in your wisdom consider, that since that which is sought is not a cessation of arms for a time, but peace for ever, and not peace only, but perfect amity and a more near union than before, — which is of greater consequence than all the former articles, — it is no marvel that a composition so excellent, and so powerful to preserve the whole island in health against all inward distempers, and in strength against all contagion and wounds from without, require many ingredients, of which, if any one be wanting, we may on both sides please ourselves for the present with the sweet name of peace, and yet for no long time enjoy peace itself, which hath not only sweetness and pleasure, but also much more profit and true honor than all the triumphs on earth.
As we account it no less than usurpation and presumption for one kingdom or Church, were it never so mighty and glorious, to give laws and rules of reformation to another free and independent Church and kingdom, were it never so mean, — civil liberty and conscience being so tender and delicate, that they cannot endure to be touched but by such as they are wedded unto, and have lawful authority over them; so have we not been so forgetful of ourselves, who are the lesser, and of England, which is the greater kingdom, as to suffer any such arrogant and presumptuous thoughts to enter into our minds, — our ways also are witnesses of the contrary against the malicious, who do not express what we are or have been, but do still devise what may be fuel for a common combustion. Yet charity is no presumption, and the common duty of charity bindeth all Christians at all times, both to pray and profess their desire that all others were not only almost but altogether such as themselves, except their afflictions and distresses; and, beside common charity, we are bound, as commissioners in a special duty, to propound the best and readiest means for settling of a firm peace. As we love not to be curious in another commonwealth, nor to play the bishop in another diocese, so may we not be careless and negligent in that which concerneth both nations.
We do all know and profess, that religion is not only the mean to serve God, and to save our own souls, but that it is also the base and foundation of kingdoms and estates, and the strongest band to tie subjects and their prince in true loyalty, and to knit their hearts one to another in true unity.
Nothing so powerful to divide the hearts of people as division in religion; nothing so strong to unite them as unity in religion: and the greater zeal in different religions the greater division; but the more zeal in one religion the more firm union. In the paradise of nature the diversity of flowers and herbs is pleasant and useful; but in the paradise of the Church different and contrary religions are unpleasant and hurtful. It is therefore to be wished that there were one Confession of Faith, one form of Catechism, one Directory for all the parts of the public worship of God, and for prayer, preaching, administration of sacraments, etc., and one form of Church government, in all the Churches of his majesty’s dominions.
This would, —
1. Be acceptable to God Almighty, who delighteth to see his people walking in truth and unity, and who would look upon this island with the greater complacency that we were all of one heart and one soul in matters of religion.
2. This unity in religion will preserve our peace, and prevent many divisions and troubles. Of old(as Beda recordeth)the difference about the time of observing of Easter, although no great matter in religion, and although in divers independent kingdoms, had troubled their peace, if the wiser sort had not brought them to a uniformity; wherein they were so zealous that they would hot suffer so much as one small island, which differed from the rest, to be unconform.
3. His majesty and his Successors in their government shall be eased of much trouble which ariseth from differences of religion, and hath been very grievous unto kings and emperors, as Eusebius witnesseth in his 3d book, chapter 12, of the Life of Constantine. Sedition begotten in the Church of God (saith Constantine)seemeth to me to contain in itself more trouble and bitterness than any war or battle .
4. Since, by Divine Providence, his majesty is king of divers kingdoms, it shall be much content both to himself, to his nobles and court, and to all his people, when his majesty shall in person visit any of his kingdoms, that king, court, and people may, without all scruple of conscience, be partakers of one and the same form of divine worship, and his majesty with his court may come to the public assembly of the people, and serve God with them, according to the practice of the good kings of Judah; as, on the other part, difference in forms of divine worship divideth between the king and the people.
5. This shall be a great comfort to all his majesty’s subjects, when they travel abroad from their own country to any other place in his majesty’s dominions, whether for commerce or whatsoever negotiation and affairs, that they may with confidence resort to the public worship as if they were at home, and in their own parish church, and shall satisfy many doubts, and remove many exceptions, jealousy, and scandals, which arise upon resorting to different forms of worship.
6. The names of heresies and sects, of Puritans, Conformists, Separatists, which rend the bowels both of Church and kingdom, are a matter of much stumbling to the people, and diminish the glory of his majesty’s reign, shall no more be heard; but as the Lord is one, his name shall be one, and the name of the people one, in all his majesty’s dominions.
7. Papists and recusants shall despair of success to have their religion set up again, and shall either conform themselves or get them hence; and irreligious men shall have a great scandal removed out of their way, which shall be a mean of great safety and security, and of many blessings both to king and people. ‘I am persuaded,’(saith Constantine, as Eusebius recordeth in his Life, lib. 2. c. 63,)’were I able, as it is in my desires, to bind all the true worshippers of God by the common bond of concord, all the subjects of my empire would quickly turn themselves to their pious ordinances.’
8. This unity of religion shall make ministers to build the Church with both their hands, whilst now the one hand is holden out in opposition against the other party, and shall turn the many and unpleasant labors of writing and reading of unprofitable controversies into treatises of mortification, and studies of devotion and practical divinity.
And as we conceive so pious and profitable a work to be worthy of the best consideration, so are we earnest in recommending it to your lordships, that it may be brought before his majesty and the Parliament, as that which doth highly concern his majesty’s honor and the weal of all his dominions, and which, without forcing of consciences, seemeth not only to be possible, but an easy work. But because the matter is of great weight, and of a large extent, and therefore will require a large time, our desire is, that for the present some course may be taken for an uniformity in government.
2. Because difference in this point hath been the main cause of all other differences between the two nations, since the reformation of religion.
3. Because(although it ought not to be so)we find it true in experience, that Churchmen, through their corruption, are more hot and greater zealots about government than about matters more substantial, — their worldly dignities and wealth being herein concerned; as Erasmus rendered this reason of the animosity of the Church of Rome against Luther, seeking after reformation, that he meddled with the Pope’s crown and the monks’ bellies.
4. It is observed by politicians, and we have found it in experience, that Churchmen do not only bear with different religions, and suffer divisions both in Church and policy to rise and grow; but do also foment and cherish the contrary factions, that they themselves may grow big, and swell in greatness, while both sides have their dependence upon them, and have their thoughts busied about other matters than about Church government, and the ambition, pomp, and other corruptions, of Church governors.
5. None of all the Reformed Churches, although in nations far distant one from another, and under divers princes and magistrates, are at so great a difference in Church government as these two kingdoms be, which are in one island, and under one monarch, — which made King James, of happy memory, to labor to bring them under one form of government.
But since all the question is, Whether of the two Church governments shall have place in both nations?(for we know no third form of government of a National Church distinct from these two)we do not presume to propound the form of government of the Church of Scotland as a pattern for the Church of England, but do only represent, in all modesty, these few considerations, according to the trust committed unto us.
1. The government of the Church of Scotland is the same with the government of all the Reformed Churches, and hath been by them universally received and practiced, with the reformation of doctrine and worship; from which so far as we depart, we disjoin ourselves as far from them, and do lose so much of our harmony with them. Whence it is that from other Reformed Churches it hath been written to the Church of Scotland, ‘That it was a great gift of God that they had brought together into Scotland the purity of religion , and discipline whereby the doctrine is safely kept ; praying and beseeching them so to keep these two together , as being assured that if the one fall the other cannot long stand .’ Upon the other part, the government of the Church of England was not changed with the doctrine at the time of Reformation. The Pope was rejected, but his hierarchy was retained; which hath been a ground of jealousy and suspicion to the Reformed Churches, of continual contention in the Church of England these eighty years past(since the beginning of Queen Elizabeth, her reign), and of hopes and expectation to the Church of Rome; for, saith Contzen, in his Politicks, lib. 2 cap. 18, ‘Were all England once brought to approve of bishops , it were easy to reduce it to the Church of Rome .’ But what one prince hath begun, and by reason of the times, or of other hindrances, could not promote or perfect, another, raised up by the mercy of God, may bring to pass; according to the example of good Josiah, like unto whom there was no king before him, — which we heartily wish may be verified of King Charles.
2. The Church of Scotland hath been continually, and many sundry ways, vexed and disquieted by the bishops of England.
1. By the continual and restless negotiation of the prime prelates in England with some of that faction in Scotland, both before the coming of King James into England,(which we are ready to make manifest,)and since his coming; till at last a kind of Episcopacy was erected there by the power of the prelates of England, against the Confession of Faith, the Covenant, and Acts of the National Assemblies, of the Church of Scotland.
2. The prelates of England, without the consent or knowledge of the Church of Scotland, gave episcopal consecration to some corrupt ministers of the Church of Scotland, and sent them home to consecrate others like unto themselves; and when some great men have been, for their obstinacy in Papistry, excommunicated by the Church of Scotland, they have been absolved from the sentence by the prelates of England: so that they have usurped the power of that which, in their own opinion, is the highest ordination, and of that which is indeed the highest point of jurisdiction.
3. They rested not here, but proceeded to change the form of divine worship; and for many years bred a great disturbance, both to pastors and people, by five articles of conformity with the Church of England.
4. Having in the former prevailed, and finding their opportunity, and rare concourse of many powerful hands and heads ready to cooperate, they made strong assaults upon the whole external worship and doctrine of our Church, by enforcing upon us a Popish Book of Common Prayer, for making Scotland first, as the weaker, and thereafter England, conform to Rome; and upon the consciences, liberties, and goods of the people, by a Book of Canons and Constitutions Ecclesiastical, establishing a tyrannical power in the persons of our prelates, and abolishing the whole discipline and government of our Church, without so much as consulting with any Presbytery, Synod, or Assembly, in all the land.
5. They procured subsidies to be lifted for war against us, under pain of deprivation to all of the clergy that should refuse.
7. They have received into the ministry, and provided places for such of our ministers as, for their disobedience to the voice of the Assembly, and their other faults and scandals, were deposed in Scotland. And finally, they have left nothing undone which might tend to the overthrow of our Church, not only of late, by the occasion of these troubles whereof they have been the authors, but of old, from that opposition which is between Episcopal government and the government of the Reformed Churches by Assemblies. Upon the contrary, the Church of Scotland never had molested them, either in the doctrine, worship, ceremonies, or discipline of their Church, but have lived quietly by them, kept themselves within their line, and would have been glad to enjoy their own liberties in peace; which yet is, and by the help of God shall be, our constant desire. Yet can we not conceal our minds, but in our consciences, and before God, must declare, — not from any sauciness, or presumptuous intention to reform England, but from our just fears and apprehensions, that our reformation, which hath cost us so dear, and is all our wealth and glory, shall again be spoiled and defaced from England, — that whatsoever peace shall be agreed upon, we cannot see nor conceive the way how, our peace shall be firm and durable, but our fear is, that all will run into a confusion again, ere it be long, if Episcopacy shall be retained in England; for the same causes will not fail to produce the same effects. Their opposition against, and hatred of, the government of the Reformed Churches, — their credit at Court, and nearness to the king, living in England, — the opinion they have of their own great learning, and of the glory of their prelatical Church, joined with the small esteem and disdain of our Christian simplicity, — the consanguinity of their hierarchy with the Church of Rome, and their fear to fall before us at last, — will still be working, especially now, when they are made operative, and shall be set on work at the first advantage, by their vindictive disposition to be avenged upon us for the present quarrel, which can never be changed by any limitations. As, on the contrary, the cause being taken away, the effects will cease, and the peace shall be firm. It would seem that limitations, cautions, and triennial Parliaments, may do much; but we know that fear of perjury, infamy, excommunication, and the power of a National Assembly, — which was in Scotland as terrible to a bishop as a Parliament, — could not keep our men from rising to be prelates; and after they had risen to their greatness, their apology was, — ‘These other cautions or conditions were rather accepted of for the time , to prevent all occasion of jangling with the contentious , than out of any purpose to observe them for ever .’ Much is spoken and written for the limitations of bishops; but what good can their limitation do to the Church, if ordination and ecclesiastical jurisdiction shall depend upon them, and shall not be absolutely into the hands of the Assemblies of the Church? and if it shall not depend upon them, what shall their office be above other pastors?
Or how shall their labors be worthy so large wages? What service can they do to King, Church, or State? Rome and Spain may be glad at the retaining of the name of Bishops, more than the Reformed Churches, which expect from us at this time some matter of rejoicing.
3. The Reformed Churches do hold without doubting, their Church officers, Pastors, Doctors, Elders, and Deacons, and their Church government by Assemblies, to be jure divino , and perpetual, as is manifest in all their writings. And on the other hand, Episcopacy, as it differeth from the office of Pastor, is almost universally acknowledged, even by the bishops themselves, and their adherents, to be but a human ordinance, established by law and custom for conveniency, without warrant of Scripture; which, therefore, by human authority may be altered and abolished, upon so great a conveniency as is the hearty conjunction with all the Reformed Churches, and a durable peace of the two kingdoms, which have been formerly divided by this partition-wall. We therefore desire, that jus divinum and humanum , conscience and convenience, yea, the greater conveniency with the lesser, and, we may add, a conveniency and an inconveniency, may be compared, and equally weighed in the balance, without adding any weight of prejudice.
4. The Church of Scotland, warranted by authority, hath abjured Episcopal government, as having no warrant in Scripture, and by solemn oath and covenant divers times before, and now again of late, hath established the government of the Church by Assemblies; but England, neither having abjured the one nor sworn the other, hath liberty from all bands of this kind to make choice of that which is most warrantable by the Word of God.
And, lest it be thought that we have willfully bound ourselves of late by oath that we be not pressed with a change, we desire it to be considered, that our late oath was nothing but the renovation of our former oath and Covenant, which did bind our Church before, but was transgressed of many by means of the prelates.
5. If it shall please the Lord to move the king’s heart to choose this course, he shall, in a better way than was projected, accomplish the great and glorious design which King James had before his eyes all his time, of the unity of religion and Church government in all his dominions, — his crowns and kingdoms shall be free of all assaults and policies of Churchmen. Which, whether in the way of ecclesiastical jurisdiction and Church censure, or by complying with the Pope, the greatest enemy of monarchy, or by bringing civil governments into a confusion, or by taking the fat of the sacrifice to themselves, when the people are pleased with the government, and when they are displeased, by transferring the hatred upon authority, — which was never wont to be done by any good statesmen: all which, all these ways, have proceeded from bishops seeking their own greatness, never from Assemblies, which, unless overruled by bishops, have been a strong guard to monarchy and magistracy, — both the one and the other being the ordinances of God. The Church shall be peaceably governed, by common consent of Churchmen, in Assemblies, — in which the king’s majesty hath always that eminency which is due unto the supreme magistrate, and by which all heresies, errors, and schisms, abounding under Episcopal government, shall be suppressed; and the State, and all civil matters, in Parliament, Council, and other inferior judicatures, governed by civil men, and not by Churchmen, — who, being out of their own element, must needs stir and make trouble to themselves and the whole State, as woeful experience hath taught. The work shall be better done, and the means which did uphold their unprofitable pomp and greatness may supply the wants of many preaching ministers to be provided to places; and, without the smallest loss or damage to the subjects, may be a great increase of his majesty’s revenues. His royal authority shall be more deeply rooted in the united hearts, and more strongly guarded by the joint forces, of his subjects, as if they were all of one kingdom; and his greatness shall be enlarged abroad, by becoming the head of all the Protestants in Europe, to fire greater horror of his enemies, and to the sowing of greatness to his posterity and royal succession. All which we entreat may be represented unto his majesty and the Houses of Parliament, as the expression of our desires and fears, and as a testimony of our faithfulness in acquitting ourselves in the trust committed unto us; but no ways forgetting our distance, or intending to pass our bounds, in prescribing or setting down rules to their wisdom and authority, which we do highly reverence and honor, and from which only, as the proper fountain, the laws and order of reformation in this Church and Policy must proceed, for the nearer union and greater happiness of his majesty’s dominions.”
Let the thoughtful reader ponder well the deep meaning of this remarkable document; and while he will perceive in it a Complete vindication of the Church of Scotland, he will also be constrained, when he contemplates the present sufferings of that Church, to admire the almost prophetic foresight of that great man by whom it was written, who saw clearly that the Prelatic spirit would never cease to strive for the overthrow of the Presbyterian Church.
APPENDIX So much reference has been made by a certain class of writers to the name and reputation of the learned Selden, and the influence which he is said to have exercised in the Westminster Assembly, that I have thought it expedient to state his arguments more fully in the body of the Work than their own merit seems to me to deserve. I have given them also as reported by Lightfoot, who, being likewise an Erastian, cannot be suspected of doing them injustice. But as the same discussion is reported in Gillespie’s own notes of the Assembly’s proceedings, I am persuaded that the general reader will peruse the following extract with considerable curiosity and interest: — “DEBATE RESPECTING MATTHEW 18.” “Mr. Selden said, There is nothing in Matthew eighteen of excommunication or jurisdiction; which could not be exercised by the ancient Church, till the Church of Rome got their power from the emperor.
That some late men — as Dominicus Solo, and Sayrus, and Henriquez — say that there is some power given to the Church, which the Church afterwards did specificate to be a power of excommunication. He said, Matthew’s Gospel was the first that was written, about eight years after Christ’s ascension, the first year of Claudius: that it was written in Hebrew, and translated into Greek by John: that though the Hebrew that Matthew wrote be not extant, yet two editions of the Gospel(are)in Hebrew, one by Munster, another by Tilius: that we find in Tilius’ edition Kahal , Matthew 18, and Guedah , Matthew 18, though in Munster’s Kahal be in both places. Now, there being no place of the New Testament written when this was written, we must expound it by the custom of the Jews, which, according to the law( Leviticus 19:17), was, that when one offended his brother, the offended brother required satisfaction; and if he get it not, speak to him before two or three witnesses; and if he hear them not, to tell it to a greater number(for which he offered to show many Hebrew authors and Talmudists.)That they had in Jerusalem, beside the great sanhedrim, two courts of 23, and in every city one court of 23. That the casting out of the synagogue was only the putting of a man in that condition that he might not come within four cubits of another; that any man being twelve years of age might excommunicate another; not that he was altogether cast off from having any thing to do with the synagogue. He said the convocation was called Clerus Anglicanus, and the parliament Populus Anglicanus. So here Guedah and jEkklhsia signify only a select number; that the word is used in one place for woman; Deuteronomy 23, ‘shall not enter into the congregation.’ That Christ, when he said ‘Dic Ecclesiae,’ was in Capernaum, where there was a court of 23; that the meaning is, tell the sanhedrim, which can redress the wrong. That if the Jewish State had been Christian, their civil government might have continued, though the ceremonies were gone; so that Ecclesia here would have been a civil court.”
1. Subjecta materia is spiritual. ‘If thy brother trespass against thee,’ is not meant of personal or civil injuries, but of any scandal given to our brother, whereby we trespass against him, inasmuch as we trespass against the law of charity. Augustine and Testatus expound it of any scandal, and the coherence confirmeth it; for scandals were spoken of before in that chapter.
3. The persons are spiritual, for Christ speaks to his apostles.
4. The manner of proceeding is spiritual (verses 19, 20), — prayer, and doing all in the name of Christ; which places, not only our divines, but Testatus and Hugo Cardinalis, expound of meetings for Church censures, not of meetings for worship.
7. If we look even to the Jewish customs, they had spiritual censures. To be held ‘as a heathen man and a publican,’ imports a restraint a sacris ; for heathens were not admitted into the temple. — ( Ezekiel 44:7-9; Acts 21:28.) So the profane were debarred from the temple.
Josephus(Antiq., lib. 19. cap. 17) tells us that one Simon, a doctor of the law of Moses, in Jerusalem, did accuse King Agrippa as a wicked man, that should not be admitted into the temple. Philo (Lib. de Sacrificantibus) writeth, it was the custom in his own time that a manslayer was not admitted into the temple. The Scripture also giveth light in this; for if they that were ceremonially unclean might not enter into the temple, how shall we think that they which were morally unclean might enter?”
The close coincidence of the debate, as here given, with the account of it in Lightfoot’s journal, will at once be perceived, confirming the authenticity of both; the chief difference between them being, that Gillespie’s is the more clear and succinct of the two, as might have been expected from his intellectual pre-eminence.
While giving some fragmentary records of the opinions of the leading men among the Westminster Divines on peculiar points, it may not be inexpedient to show what were the sentiments of Gillespie on the subject of the election of ministers, and how far these were entertained by the Church of Scotland at that period, and are identical with those held by the evangelical majority of the present time. The arguments of Henderson, Gillespie, and Rutherford, have been already stated, as used by them in the debate on the subject, an account of which will be found in page 175 of this work. On a subsequent occasion, when Gillespie, in his “Male Audis,” was answering the Erastian arguments of Coleman and Hussey, the subject came again under discussion, and drew forth from Gillespie a re-statement of his opinion. Hussey had boldly affirmed, that the Parliament may require such as they receive for preachers of truth, “to send out able men to supply the places , and that without any regard to the allowance or disallowance of the people .” This truly tyrannical theory Gillespie strongly condemns; reminds his opponent that one, and not the least, of the controversies between the Papists and the Protestants is, what right the Church hath in the vocation of ministers; refers to the Helvetic Confession, which says, that the right choosing of ministers is by the consent of the Church; and to the Belgic Confession, which says, “We believe that the ministers, seniors, and deacons, ought to be called to these their functions, and by the lawful election of the Church to be advanced into these rooms;” adding, “I might here, if it were requisite, bring a heap of testimonies from the Protestant writers, — the least thing which they can admit of is, that a minister be not obtruded renitente ecclesia . It may be helped when it is done, without making null or void the ministry, but in a well constituted Church there ought to be no intrusion into the ministry.” — (Male Audis, p. 27.)
In his “Miscellany Questions,” the last work that came from his pen, published after his death, Gillespie discusses the question, “Of the Election of Pastors with the Congregation’s Consent,” in a chapter of 24 pages, stating the various opinions held by Prelatists, Sectarians, and others, explaining what he regarded to be the system of the Church of Scotland, and answering objections. He cites with approbation the opinions of the Reformers Luther, Calvin, Zanchius, Beza, and many others, all of whom maintained, ut sine populi consensu et suffragio nemo legittime electus , — “ that without the consent and suffrage of the people no person was lawfully elected:” also the strong language of the First and Second Books of Discipline, — “This liberty with all care must be preserved to every several kirk to have their votes and suffrages in election of their ministers;” and, “It is to be eschewed that any person be intruded in any offices of the Kirk, contrary to the will of the congregation to which they are appointed;” adding several acts of Assembly to the same effect. In answering objections, his own opinion comes very clearly into view. As, for instance, “Objection — This liberty granted to congregations prejudgeth the right of patrons. Answer — If it were so, yet the argument is not pungent in divinity, for why should not human right give place to divine right? The states of Zealand did abolish patronages, and give to each congregation the free election of their own minister; which I take to be one cause why religion flourisheth better there than in any other of the United Provinces.”
Again, it is objected, “That the Church’s liberty of consenting or not consenting must ever be understood to be rational, so that the Church may not disassent without objecting somewhat against the doctrine or life of the person presented.” (There is nothing new, it seems, even in the objections of Law Lords, and Moderates.)In answer to this, Gillespie first cites authorities to prove that this argument is the very one used by Popish and Prelatic writers, in defense of their systems, which allowed no shadow of liberty to the people; and then exclaims, “Now, then, if this be all that people may object, it is no more than Prelates, yea, Papists, have yielded.
This objection cannot strike against the election of a pastor by the judgment and vote of the particular eldership of that church where he is to serve. Men vote in elderships, as in all courts and consistories, freely according to the judgment of their conscience, and are not called to an account for a reason of their votes. As the vote of the eldership is a free vote, so is the congregation’s consent a free consent. Any man, though not a member of the congregation, hath place to object against the admission of him that is presented, if he know such an impediment as may make him incapable, either at all of the ministry, or of the ministry of that church to which he is presented. So that unless the congregation have somewhat more than liberty of objecting, they shall have no privilege or liberty, but that which is common to strangers as well as to them. Though nothing be objected against the man’s doctrine or life, yet if the people desire another better, or as well qualified, by whom they find themselves more edified than by the other, that is a reason sufficient, if a reason must be given at all.”
But we cannot afford space for more quotations, nor can it be necessary to do so, as those already produced must convince every unprejudiced person, that the Church of Scotland held then, as in the days of Knox, and always, down to the present time, that congregations possess the inherent right of choosing their own pastors; and that when patronage interfered with this right, the very least privilege to which they were entitled was, the expression of their free consent, or equally free dissent, without being obliged to assign reasons for either, and that no man should be intruded contrary to that free expression of their mind and will. And these opinions of Gillespie, according to Baillie, were held by the majority of the Assembly of 1649, when preparing a new Directory for the election of ministers, after the abolition of patronage by the Parliament. Yet the Church of Scotland has been disestablished, on the strength of the utterly false assertion, that the principle that “No pastor be intruded into a parish contrary to the will of the congregation,” was never heard of till the year 1834!
APPENDIX “AN ORDINANCE OF THE LORDS AND COMMONS ASSEMBLED IN PARLIAMENT, ABOUT SUSPENSION FROM THE LORD’S SUPPER.” — 20TH OCTOBER 1645.
It was my intention to have inserted the whole of this important ordinance in the Appendix, for the purpose of showing the exact point on which the Westminster Assembly and the Parliament disagreed, as well as the extent to which they were of one mind. But as that has been done with considerable distinctness in the body of the work, and as I am desirous to avoid all unnecessary expansion, it seems to me expedient for the present to suppress that rather prolix document, reserving to myself the power of inserting it in a future edition, should it be then thought desirable, or should I prosecute the intention of enlarging the work.
APPENDIX “AN ORDINANCE OF THE LORDS AND COMMONS ASSEMBLED IN PARLIAMENT, CONCERNING THE CHOICE OF ELDERS.” — 14TH MARCH 1646.
For the reasons above stated, and with still greater reluctance, I have resolved to abstain from inserting this ordinance also. And I may add, that had the plan of the present work, and the dimensions within which it was judged necessary to confine it permitted, there are a number of very important documents, little known or regarded, which might have been inserted in the Appendix, and would have formed a very valuable addition to the means by which the general reader may acquire some adequate knowledge of the true history and character of the Westminster Assembly of Divines.
APPENDIX THE SCOTTISH COMMISSIONERS.
A BRIEF NOTICE OF THE SCOTTISH COMMISSIONERS TO THE WESTMINSTER ASSEMBLY MAY BE INTERESTING TO THOSE WHO HAVE NOT READY ACCESS TO THE BIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIRS OF THOSE EMINENT MEN.
1. — ALEXANDER HENDERSON.
THIS very distinguished man, the leader of the Second Reformation in Scotland, was born in the year 1583, in the parish of Creich, in Fifeshire.
Of his direct parentage nothing is known, except that his father was a cadet of the family of Henderson of Fordel, an ancient and honorable family in the same county. He entered the University of St. Andrews in the year 1599, and took the degree of Master of Arts in 1603; and a few years afterwards was appointed to a Professorship in the same University. He continued to retain his class of philosophy and rhetoric, which he taught with great applause, till about the year 1613, when he was presented to the parish of Leuchars, through the influence, it is said, of Archbishop Gladstanes. As he at that time favored Prelacy, which King James was imposing upon the Church of Scotland, his settlement was strenuously opposed by the people. They fastened the church door on the day of his induction, and kept it so securely, that he and the ministers who accompanied him were obliged to make their entrance by a window. He does not appear to have paid any attention to the wishes or the welfare of the people, but merely to have viewed Leuchars as a position from which to commence a course of ambition and of clerical preferment.
But a change was at hand, which affected the whole of his future life and conduct. The venerable and heavenly-minded Robert Bruce had about that time been permitted to return from his banishment to the Highlands, and took advantage of his recovered liberty to preach in those parts of the country to which he obtained access. Mr. Henderson, having learned that Bruce was to preach in the neighborhood, felt a strong desire to hear a man so celebrated. He went secretly to the church — tradition names Dairsie as the place — and took a position in a dark corner, where he could remain concealed. Bruce entered the pulpit, and, after a solemn pause, gave out as his text the following words: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a\parTHIEF AND AROBBER.” Every word, uttered with the grave emphasis of Bruce’s deep voice, went to the heart of Henderson, as it described and condemned his mode of entrance into Leuchars. He returned with the arrow in his heart, and the result was his conversion. From that time forward he was a changed man. Hitherto he had been a favorer of the Prelatic system, but without having studied it, or tried it by Scripture. He now felt it his duty to study the difference between the Prelatic and Presbyterian systems; and arrived at the clear conviction that Episcopacy was equally unauthorized by the Word of God and inconsistent with the constitution of the Church of Scotland.
The progress of events soon constrained him to bear his testimony to the truth publicly. He opposed the Articles of Perth, at the Assembly held in that, town in the year 1618. From that time forward, for a considerable number of years, Henderson remained in comparative obscurity, prosecuting his pastoral duties earnestly, maintaining correspondence with the most pious ministers throughout the country, and jealously watched by the Prelatic party. A remarkable revival of vital godliness was during that period spreading extensively throughout the kingdom, preparatory, no doubt, for the coming struggle; and in that revival Henderson was deeply interested. But the very stillness of that religious revival, appearing to the Prelatic party to be something like gloomy acquiescence in their innovations, led them to anticipate a complete triumph, and they roused themselves to make a final effort.
Then came the crisis. In the year 1636, a book of ecclesiastical canons was sent down from England; and in the course of the same year a book of ordination. In the following year a liturgy appeared, and was ordered to be read in all the churches. Henderson and other ministers presented a petition to the Privy Council, praying to be relieved from constrained compliance with these injunctions. This was the commencement of a regular and lawful mode of opposition; but the rash pride of the prelates compelled the resistance to assume a more stormy aspect. The attempt to enforce the reading of the liturgy in Edinburgh, on the 23d of July 1637, caused a tumult, in which a woman’s hand dashed to the earth all the anticipations of that tyrannical party. That tumult was soon allayed, but not the deep and strong spirit of resistance which had taken possession of the energetic mind of Scotland. Grave, earnest, and thoughtful men, now resolved to combine for the restoration and defense of their religious and civil liberties, and of these Henderson became at once the acknowledged leader. The union thus begun was knit into sacred strength by theNATIONAL COVENANT, framed chiefly by Henderson and Johnston of Warriston, and subscribed by thousands in the Greyfriars’ Church, on the 28th day of February 1638.
This solemn and sacred document was subscribed with great cordiality throughout the entire kingdom, and gave to theCOVENANTED REFORMATION a name and a power which can never perish while spiritual freedom is dear to those whom the truth has made free indeed. The union of Scottish Presbyterians thus confirmed was too strong to be put down by force, or set at defiance. The king consented that a General Assembly should be held, in which all religious matters might be considered. This Assembly, the first which had been held since that of Perth, in 1618, met at Glasgow on the 21st of November 1638, and Henderson was unanimously chosen to be the moderator. The position was one of great difficulty, and demanded a man not only of high principle and calm courage, but of the most consummate prudence. Henderson was equal to the position and its duties, as he fully proved by his firmness and decision when the royal commissioner attempted to dissolve the Assembly; his grave dignity, when he pronounced sentence on the bishops; and his prophet-like solemnity when he summed up the proceedings at the close, and sealed them with the awful reference to the curse of Hiel the Bethelite. Henderson was at this time translated from Leuchars to Edinburgh, contrary to his declared love of retirement, on the condition that he should be allowed to retreat to some quiet rural parish when overtaken by the infirmities of age, — a quiet retreat which the public necessities of the period never permitted him to realize.
From that time forward he was constrained to take a prominent part in all public duties. Papers on public affairs, which would now be called State Papers, were written by him, though issued in the name of the nobility; he was constrained to aid in conducting negotiations for peace with the king; he was made Rector of the University of Edinburgh; and when the English Parliament began to entertain the idea of seeking a reformation of church government in their own country, and of seeking an alliance with Scotland and its Church, they anxiously sought the concurrence and aid of Alexander Henderson. The correspondence with England was almost entirely conducted by him, till it issued in the English Parliament summoning the Westminster Assembly, and requiring ministers from Scotland to be present at and aid in its deliberations.
During the discussions of the Westminster Assembly, Henderson continued to retain his high influence with all parties, and to exercise it wisely, as the history of its proceedings amply proves. When the king went to the Scottish army, and withdrew with it to Newcastle, Henderson was sent thither, as a last attempt to induce his majesty to consent to the terms proposed by the Parliament. But as the Parliament had abolished Episcopacy, which Charles had determined to support, he drew Henderson into a discussion by exchange of letters on the Episcopalian controversy, and the binding force of the coronation oath. This epistolary controversy extended to five letters on the part of the king, and three on that of Henderson. At length Henderson, worn out in constitution with his numerous, weighty, and incessant labors, and sick at heart with the obstinate infatuation of the despotic and deceitful monarch, abandoned his hopeless enterprise to save a king, whom no reasoning could convince, and no treaties could bind, resolved to return to Scotland, that he might at last die in peace. He arrived in Edinburgh on the 11th of August, and died on the 19th of the same month, in a state of calm serenity, holy hope, and deep gratitude to God for having called him to believe and preach the glorious gospel.
A brief outline of the mental character and abilities of Alexander Henderson has been already given in the preceding pages of this work, and need not be here repeated. Yet, if our space had permitted, we should have liked to have directed attention to those remarkable papers on public affairs which were written by him. They display statesmanship of the very highest order, surpassed in splendor of diction by those of Milton, but not surpassed even by Milton in comprehensiveness of thought, loftiness of principle, and dignity of expression, while they are perfectly free from the proud scorn and fierce denunciations in which the stern republican indulged. They are every way worthy of a truly Christian statesman, — a character which the world has rarely seen, and for want of which the suffering nations are convulsed and miserable.
Episcopalian writers have assigned the victory to the king, in the controversial correspondence between him and Henderson. For such a preference nothing but the most blinding prejudice can account, as it would be very easy to prove, had we space to give even a brief analysis of the respective arguments. We may add, that not only in learning and reasoning are Henderson’s papers immeasurably superior to those of the king, but even in calm and graceful dignity of style, in which a sovereign might have been expected to excel, from the habitual influence of his high station. But Henderson was by nature a king of men, and his whole bearing and language were always kingly. He was one of those great men whom God gives to elevate a nation, and work a mighty work; and whose departure leaves that age dark, feeble, and deploring.
2. — SAMUEL RUTHERFORD.
THERE is some difficulty in ascertaining either the birthplace of Samuel Rutherford or the year in which he was born; but the most probable account is, that he was born about the year 1600, and that Nisbet, a village close to the river Teviot, in the parish of Crailing, Roxburghshire, was his birthplace. He appears to have received his early education at Jedburgh. In the year 1617, he became a student in the University of Edinburgh, where he took his degree of Master of Arts in 1621. In 1623 he was elected one of the Regents of the College; which office he relinquished in 1625, and devoted himself to the study of divinity. In the year 1627 he was settled pastor at Anwoth, in the stewartry of Kirkcud-bright, without having been constrained to come under any engagement to the bishop.
Rutherford continued to discharge the duties of the ministry in this small and remote parish, with great zeal, unwearied diligence, and remarkable success, during a period of nine years. But that period was not without its troubles. First, he lost his two children, and then his wife died, after a severe illness of above a year, by which his gentle and affectionate heart was very deeply afflicted. He was himself laid aside from his public labors for thirteen weeks by a fever, which reduced him to extreme debility for a time. After his recovery, he continued to prosecute his labors with increased earnestness and activity, and became very dear, not only to, all the people of his own charge, but to the entire district around. Many anecdotes are preserved by tradition of the influence which he acquired, and the way in which he used it for the reformation of evil customs, and the promotion of vital godliness. There is a traditionary account, also, of a private visit paid to him by Archbishop Ussher, at first as an unknown stranger, till a discovery took place; and the archbishop at Rutherford’s request, preached in the pulpit of the Presbyterian minister, and stayed another day to enjoy his heavenly conversation.
But the quiet and holy life which Rutherford had hitherto led was not permitted to continue. The death of Bishop Lamb having made the see of Galloway vacant, Sydserff, bishop of Brechin, was translated to Galloway, and immediately began a course of oppressive domination over his new diocese. Rutherford had published an elaborate work against Arminianism, written in Latin; and Sydserff, who held Arminian tenets, directed his persecuting power against the author. Rutherford was summoned to appear before the bishop’s High Commission Court, and deprived of his office, in 1636. The Court of High Commission in Edinburgh ratified the sentence of deposition, and banished him to Aberdeen, in which Prelacy reigned supreme. The Aberdeen doctors at first engaged him in controversial disputations; but three of these discussions were enough for them, and they prudently ceased from a controversy in which they were overmatched. In a short time, the influence of Rutherford began to be felt in Aberdeen, among the people; and the baffled doctors petitioned the court that he might be sent farther north, or banished from the kingdom. The king had actually granted a warrant to that effect, when the power of Prelacy was overthrown by the commotion of 1637; in consequence of which, Rutherford ventured to return to Anwoth, which he reached in February 1638. He was sent by his presbytery to attend the Assembly of Glasgow, and by that Assembly was appointed to be one of the professors of divinity at the University of St. Andrews, to his own grief and that of his beloved and attached flock at Anwoth.
In the year 1643, he was sent to London, as one of the commissioners from the Church of Scotland, to the Westminster Assembly. While he attended that Assembly, he greatly distinguished himself by his skill in debate, his eloquence in preaching, and his great learning and ability as an author. Few works of that age surpass, or even equal, those which were produced by Rutherford, during that intensely laborious period of his life. The first of these was entitled “The Due Right of Presbytery.” Next appeared “Lex Rex,” a profound work on constitutional law, which has not yet found its superior. Soon afterwards he published a work on “The Divine Right of Church Government,” in opposition to the Erastians. Three very excellent works on practical theology were produced in the same toilful and prolific period, “The Trial and Triumph of Faith,” “Christ’s Dying and Drawing Sinners,” and “Survey of the Spiritual Antichrist.” In 1649 he published a “Free Disputation against Pretended Liberty of Conscience,” chiefly directed against the claims of the English Sectarians for an unlimited license to utter every opinion, and engage in every practice which any man might choose, without regard to the peace or welfare of the community, — a degree of licentiousness which Cromwell was at last constrained to put down by the strong hand of armed power, when it threatened danger to even his iron sway.
Not long after his return from London, he was elevated to the Principalship of the New College in St. Andrews; and while discharging his professorial duties with all his former zeal, resumed also his practice of preaching, in which he so much delighted, as often as opportunity and time permitted.
When the contests between the Resolutioners and the Protesters arose, Rutherford joined the Protesters, and advocated their views with great and even impassioned eagerness. This led to alienation between him and friends with whom he had been formerly accustomed to hold intimate and cordial intercourse, and greatly distressed all the remainder of his life, while it exposed him to the fierce hostility of those traitors and tyrants who were plotting for the restoration of Prelacy. Sharp, in particular, treated him with the utmost contumely, procuring an order from the Committee of Estates to burn his “Lex Rex” at the market cross in Edinburgh, and presiding at the repetition of the same mean act beneath Rutherford’s own windows in St. Andrews. Rutherford was at the time sinking under toil, grief, and bodily sickness, yet his persecutors procured a sentence against him, depriving him of his situation in the college, confiscating his salary, confining him to his own house, and citing him to appear before the ensuing Parliament, on a charge of high treason. On hearing of this summons, he calmly remarked, that he had got another summons before a superior Judge and judicatory, and sent back the following message: “I behoove to answer my first summons; and ere your day arrive, I shall be where few kings and great folks come.”
He then prepared a dying testimony in behalf of the covenanted Reformation; and having thus finished his work on earth, looked rapturously forward to the hour of his release. During his few remaining days he enjoyed remarkable happiness and elevation of spirit in the near prospect of death, or rather of departure to be with Christ. His language to those friends who came to see him, was full of holy joy. His last words were, “Glory, glory dwelleth in Emmanuel’s land;” and having uttered these words, he expired, on the morning of the 20th of March 1661, in the sixty-first year of his age. The threatening sound of the coming storm, so soon to burst in a tempest of persecuting fury on Scotland, had been but faintly heard by him, when the hand of his Savior snatched him from its violence, and took him to his home in heaven.
3. — ROBERT BAILLIE.
ROBERT BAILLIE was born in Glasgow on the 30th of April 1602. His father, a merchant in that city, was a younger son of Robert Baillie of Jerviston, near Hamilton, and thus connected with several families of distinction in the west of Scotland. He was educated at the public school, at that time taught by Robert Blair, who afterwards became eminent as a divine. He entered the University of Glasgow in 1617, and took his degree of Master of Arts in 1620, with considerable distinction. Being fond of learning, and desirous to acquire as much of it as possible before entering on the duties of the ministry, to which he had devoted himself, Baillie continued to attend the college, under Boyd of Trothrig, and Cameron, who had previously been professor of divinity at Saumur. Cameron was accustomed to inculcate the slavish tenet, “That all resistance to the supreme magistrate in any case was unlawful;” and the effect of this was never entirely banished from the mind of Baillie. He became one of the regents in the college in the year 1625, about which time he received orders from Law, archbishop of Glasgow. In the year 1631 he was appointed minister of Kilwinning, through the influence of the Eglinton family, and was soon afterwards married. Up till this period, and for some years longer, Baillie had been disposed to conform to many of the Prelatic ceremonies recently introduced; but was strongly opposed to all Arminian and Popish doctrines.
But the despotic proceedings of the king and the Prelatic party, in their attempt to impose their canons and liturgy on the Church and people of Scotland, roused the somewhat compromising and timid spirit of Baillie, and impelled him to study, more carefully than he had previously done, the real nature and tendency of such arbitrary men and measures. With some hesitation he joined those who petitioned against the violent imposition of these books; and at length joined in the subscription of the National Covenant. From that time forward his conduct became more decided than before, though he continued to cherish some scruples in regard to the total abolition of diocesan Episcopacy, as he showed by his modified vote in the Glasgow Assembly, when that point was decided. When the king attempted to subdue the Covenanters by force, and they raised an army in defense of their civil and religious liberties, Baillie accompanied a regiment of men raised in Ayrshire, as their chaplain, when the free Scottish nation met the king in arms at Dunse Law.
Baillie’s strong literary tendency led him to employ his ready and prolific pen in writing against the innovations of the Prelatic faction; and the extensive and exact learning displayed in his writings induced the men of greater action to employ him in literary labors. He was in consequence summoned to Newcastle in 1640, and sent to London soon afterwards as one of the commissioners for conducting the treaty with the king. After his return to Scotland he was, contrary to his inclination, appointed one of the professors of divinity in the University of Glasgow. To this office he was admitted in July 1642.
This important position, however, he was not long allowed to occupy undisturbed. He was appointed by the Assembly of 1643 as one of the Scottish commissioners to attend the Westminster Assembly of Divines, and arrived at London on the 18th of November the same year. He continued at the post of duty and labor till December 1646, with the exception of one short journey to Scotland, to report to the Scottish Assembly what progress had been made by the Westminster divines.
During the period of his residence in London, the restless pen of Baillie was incessantly engaged, both in the production of elaborate controversial treatises and in the writing of those numerous “Letters and Journals” which give such full, minute, and graphic accounts of the Westminster Assembly.
On resuming his duties in the university, Baillie employed all his influence for the important object of carrying into effect various overtures passed by previous Assemblies “for the advancement of learning and good order in grammar schools and colleges.” But this most laudable attempt was frustrated by the recurrence of fresh troubles in the Church and kingdom.
When the king fell into the hands of the English army and Parliament, a secret treaty, termed “the Engagement,” was framed between the Royalists of the two kingdoms, for the purpose of attempting to rescue the infatuated monarch from the danger into which his open despotism and known disregard for the faith of treaties had led him. This unhappy attempt introduced the most deplorable disunion into Scotland, both in Church and State. In a short time the Church was split into two parties, known by the names of Resolutioners and Protesters; of which it may be fairly said, that the Resolutioners were too ready to adopt the base course of compromise and expediency in which mere politicians delight, while the Protesters not only maintained a stern and uncomplying attitude, but allowed themselves to use the language of keen asperity, and showed somewhat of a vindictive spirit. Alexander Henderson was dead before these disastrous contentions began. Gillespie, too, was no more; and the men of less commanding talents and inferior judgment were unable to sway the public mind, as had been done during the great period of the Covenant. Baillie joined the Resolutioners, as was to be expected from his early training and his constitutional timidity. He continued to hold his position and discharge his duties as professor, — often with great grief and vexation, in consequence of the increasing confusion in Church and State. Soon after the restoration of Charles II Baillie was elevated to the Principalship of the University; but did not long enjoy his well-earned honors, and not for one moment in peace. His remaining days were embittered by the perfidious and treacherous conduct of nearly all those whom he had most trusted, — of the king, of Lauderdale, and chiefly of Mr. James Sharp, better known as Archbishop Sharp, — a man whose memory is more deeply stained with the base and cruel crimes of treachery and persecution than almost any other that ever disgraced the country which gave him birth.
He lived to see the re-imposition of Episcopacy in Scotland, and the entry of Archbishop Fairfoull into Glasgow in April 1662, and died, weary and heart-broken, toward the end of August in the same year, in the sixty-first year of his age, in time to be spared from witnessing the storm of bloody persecution then breaking out, by which Scotland was devastated for twenty-eight dark and terrible years of crime and suffering.
4. — GEORGE GILLESPIE.
FEW men have gained so much renown within so short a period as George Gillespie, — few have been more beloved when living, more bewailed when dead. He was the son of the Rev. John Gillespie, minister at Kirkcaldy, and was born on the 21st of January 1613. In the year 1629 he commenced his academic studies at the University of St. Andrews, where he is said to have early distinguished himself. But when he had completed his course and was ready to enter the ministry, he was constrained to pause for a period. Being convinced that Prelatic church government is of human invention, he would not submit to receive ordination from a bishop, and could not, at that juncture, obtain admission to the ministry without it. But Lord Kenmure took him into his household as domestic chaplain, where he resided till the death of that pious nobleman in 1634. Soon afterwards he occupied a similar position in the family of the Earl of Cassilis, and at the same time acted as tutor to Lord Kennedy, the Earl’s eldest son. He had thus both leisure and inducement to prosecute his studies; which subsequent events prove him to have done with equal assiduity and success.
When, in 1637, the king and the Prelatic party had formed the desperate resolution of forcibly imposing the Book of Canons and the Liturgy upon the Church and people of Scotland, George Gillespie, in the early part of the summer of that year, published his work entitled, “A Dispute against the English Popish Ceremonies.” Nothing could have been more suited to the emergency. It encountered systematically, and point by point, all the arguments of the Prelatic party, with such an extensive array of learning, and such acuteness and power of reasoning, as to excite universal astonishment. At that time Gillespie was only in his twenty-fifth year, and both friends and foes marveled at the appearance of a work so elaborate from the pen of such a youth. The only answer attempted by the Prelatic party was their procuring an order from the Privy Council that the book should be called in and burned. It is not, however, by such a process that a true and able book can be destroyed. Gillespie’s work still exists, and may yet be of service.
The power of the bishops departed; and, as George Gillespie had become known and admired, he was not allowed to remain much longer in a private position. Having received a call from the church and parish of Wemyss, he was ordained to the pastoral charge thereof by the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, on the 26th of April 1638; and was the first who was admitted by a presbytery, at that period, without the authority of the bishops. From that time forward Gillespie, notwithstanding his youth, occupied a prominent position. He was a member of the famous Glasgow Assembly of 1638; and he was also sent as one of the commissioners to London in 1640. He was translated to Edinburgh in 1642, and continued to be one of the ministers of that city during the remainder of his life.
George Gillespie was one of the commissioners sent by the Scottish General Assembly to take part in the deliberations of the Westminster Assembly. He arrived at London, along with Alexander Henderson, on the 15th of September 1643, and almost immediately became one of the most prominent members of that august assembly, although the youngest man and minister of the whole, being only in the thirtieth year of his age and the fifth of his ministry. “That is an excellent youth,” says Baillie; “my heart blesses God in his behalf. There is no man whose parts in a public dispute I do so admire. He has studied so accurately all the points that are yet come to our Assembly; he has got so ready, so assured, so solid a way of public debating; that however there be in the Assembly divers very excellent men, yet, in my poor judgment, there is not one who speaks more rationally, and to the point, than that brave youth has done ever.” Great, unquestionably, must have been the learning and the ability of the man who met and defeated, each on his own peculiar ground, such antagonists as Goodwin and Nye, on the Independent controversy; and Coleman, Lightfoot, and “the learned Selden,” on the side of Erastianism; as the accounts of contemporaries prove Gillespie to have done.
In addition to his constant attendance in the Assembly, and his arduous exertions in the course of its debates, Gillespie employed his acute and powerful mind in written controversy with the ablest advocates of Erastianism. In two or three vigorous pamphlets he completely silenced Coleman, whose reputation for Hebrew learning had procured him the name of Rabbi Coleman. But he had also planned, and was all the while prosecuting, a much larger work. That work appeared about the close of the year 1646, under the title of “Aaron’s Rod Blossoming; or, the Divine Ordinance of Church Government Vindicated.” This remarkably able and elaborate work was conclusive on the subject of the Erastian controversy.
Not one of the learned and able Erastians of that age even made the attempt to answer it, although they did not relinquish their sullen grasp of unscriptural power. It has not been answered yet; and although it may not be suited to the forms of modern thought and expression, yet if its reasoning were recast in a modern mold it would still be found triumphantly conclusive.
Nor was it in the field of controversy alone that Gillespie employed his preeminent mental qualifications. He took an equally active and influential part in the framing of the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms, which embodied the doctrinal decisions of the Assembly; and some memorable anecdotes have been preserved relating to his special eminence in connection with these more strictly theological productions.
When the public labors of the Westminster Assembly drew near a close, the Scottish commissioners returned to their native country. Gillespie, along with Baillie, appeared at the General Assembly which met in August 1647, and laid before it the result of their protracted labors. The Confession of Faith was ratified by that Assembly, and so became the doctrinal standard of the Church of Scotland, subordinate only to the Bible, on which all of its doctrines were avowedly founded. The same Assembly caused to be printed a series of propositions, or “Theses against Erastianism,” as Baillie terms them, amounting to one hundred and eleven, drawn up by Gillespie.
The perusal of these propositions would enable any person of unprejudiced and intelligent mind to master and refute the whole Erastian theory, and could not fail, at the same time, to call forth sentiments of admiration towards the clear and strong mind by which they were framed.
George Gillespie was appointed moderator of the General Assembly of 1648, although worn out with the great and incessant toils in which he had been engaged, and suffering under a severe illness which already displayed the symptoms of consumption. His influence was sufficient to preserve the Assembly from consenting to give any countenance to the weak and wicked intrigues already begun by worldly politicians; but the renewed anxiety and labor incurred by these exertions completely exhausted his remaining strength. He left Edinburgh, and retired to Kirkcaldy, his birthplace, in the faint hope of obtaining, by change of scene and air, some renovation to his health. But continuing to sink, and being no longer able to attend Church courts, he addressed a letter to the Commission of Assembly in September, stating his opinions concerning the duties and the dangers of the time. Feeling death at hand, he partly wrote and partly dictated what may be termed his dying “Testimony against association with malignant enemies of the truth and godliness.” At length, on the 17th of December 1648, his toils and sorrows ceased, and he fell asleep in Jesus.
5. — WARRISTON.
ARCHIBALD JOHNSTON of Warriston, was one of the elders appointed by the General Assembly to act as commissioners to the Westminster Assembly. Previous to this he had distinguished himself in the struggle between the Church of Scotland and its Prelatic oppressors. He was rapidly becoming eminent as an advocate at the Scottish bar, when the outraged Church roused itself to resist the imposition of the Canons and Liturgy.
Immediately he joined the assertors of religious liberty, and took an active part in all their public procedure; in which his great legal knowledge, acuteness of intellect, soundness of judgment, and promptitude in action, proved signally beneficial to the cause of truth and righteousness. When the General Assembly met at Glasgow in 1638, Mr. Johnston was unanimously chosen to be clerk of the Assembly; for which office he was peculiarly qualified, being as well acquainted with ecclesiastical as with civil law. A very remarkable congeniality of mental endowments and moral qualities, soon rendered Johnston and Henderson almost inseparable companions and fellow-counselors. The great National Covenant was framed by their conjoint powers of knowledge and thought; they were the leading men of the commissioners appointed to treat for peace with the king; by them the Solemn League and Covenant between England and Scotland was written; and their labors were again conjoined when they were sent together to the Westminster Assembly.
Two years before that period, the king having come to Scotland with a view of conciliating or deceiving the Covenanters, showed great favor to Mr. Johnston, raised him to the order of knighthood, and made him one of the judges in the Court of Session, by the title of Lord Warriston. But these preferments and honors did not induce him to swerve a hair’s breadth from his fidelity to the Covenanted Church of Scotland, which was dearer to him than rank and wealth, and the smiles of a monarch.
In the Westminster Assembly Warriston attended very constantly, and frequently engaged in the discussions and debates of that grave and learned body, fully maintaining his high reputation. Even the English Parliament requested him to sit among them and aid in their deliberations, although he was not, and could not become, a member of that high court.
After the decapitation of Charles I by the English Parliament, against the strong and earnest protestations of both State and Church in Scotland, the outraged and indignant feeling of the community enabled the Scottish Royalists to gain the ascendancy in public affairs, and they determined to place his son on the throne of Scotland, and framed an engagement with the English Royalists to aid them in the attempt to recover that of England also. Warriston did his utmost to prevent the nation from entering upon a course which could only lead to ruin; and when he could not prevail, he joined the Protesters, and aided their counsels. Cromwell easily triumphed over the divided power of Scotland; but Warriston, though he strove to avert a war with England, refused to hold office under the Protector, whom he regarded as a usurper of regal power. Some years afterwards he was induced to accept the office of clerk-register under the administration of Cromwell.
On the restoration of Charles II the Marquis of Argyle was thrown into prison, and orders were issued for the seizure of others, including Warriston, but he escaped and fled to the continent. While there, he was attacked by a severe illness, and reduced almost to death by that and the unskillfulness — some say the treachery — of a physician. From the prostration of all bodily and even mental power, caused by this illness and treatment, he never wholly recovered. The cold, revengeful eye of Charles was still upon him; and in 1663 he was seized in France, brought to Scotland, tried, condemned, and executed, when so enfeebled by age and disease that he could scarcely either stand or speak. Yet with the calm tranquillity and spiritual elevation of a martyr, he gave the relics of his wasted life to the cause in which he had strenuously expended his strength.
6. — LAUDERDALE.
JOHN MAITLAND, afterwards Earl and Duke of Lauderdale, was descended from the Maitlands of Lethington, a family which was first raised to distinction by the great abilities of that very acute and unscrupulous statesman, the secretary of Queen Mary, and political antagonist of John Knox. Lethington, the family seat, was the birthplace of John Maitland, in the year 1616. In his youth he manifested considerable ability, and became distinguished for his classical acquirements. His first public appearance was at the period of the conflict between the Prelatic party and the Covenanters, when he keenly espoused the cause of Covenanted Reformation. He was at that time known as Lord Maitland, his father, the Earl of Lauderdale, being still alive. His rank and talents caused him to be regarded as a valuable acquisition, and his apparent zeal made him to be trusted and employed by the Scottish Church and Parliament. After having been engaged in various important negotiations, in some of which his violent temper and language injured the cause which he advocated so harshly, he was nominated one of the commissioners to the Westminster Assembly; but his attendance was neither very regular nor of much importance, and before its deliberations closed, the death of his father caused his return to Scotland.
Not long after this period the Earl of Lauderdale became a decided Royalist, was one of the framers of the Engagement, or secret treaty with the king, and after the decapitation of that unhappy monarch, attached himself to the fortunes of his son. He was taken prisoner at the battle of Worcester, and remained in confinement till the overthrow of the Commonwealth by Monk. He then hastened to the Hague, where the young king was residing, and was received with open arms, and trusted with almost unlimited power in regard to Scottish affairs. His influence was exerted for a time through the medium of the Earl of Middleton and the Privy Council at Edinburgh; and its first manifestation was the overthrow of the Presbyterian Church, the establishment of Prelacy, and the commencement of remorseless persecution. But Middleton, proving unmanageable, was set aside in 1662; Rothes, who succeeded him, was also set aside in 1667; and from that time Lauderdale resided in Scotland, and conducted the persecution himself with grim and horrible delight.
Nothing more savagely ferocious, — more base, brutal, and bloody, — than the conduct of Lauderdale was ever recorded, to stain the annals of history and disgrace human nature. On this point we have neither space nor inclination to dwell, but must leave him to the unutterable infamy which will for ever blacken his name and memory. But a time of retribution came at last. In 1672 the king degraded the title of a duke by bestowing it on Lauderdale, and the English peerage by elevating him into its rank. But his treachery had made him universally distrusted, and his arrogance had become intolerable. In the beginning of 1682 he was deprived of all his offices and pensions, and cast aside as a worn-out political tool. He did not long survive his disgrace, but died in the summer of the same year, leaving behind him no son to inherit either his titles or his shame; and without one friend to lament his fall.
APPENDIX PHILLIP NYE AND RELIGIOUS LIBERTY.
REFERENCE has been so frequently made to the conduct of Philip Nye, in the Westminster Assembly, and his suspected intercourse with Cromwell, that it seems necessary to investigate these topics somewhat more fully than could be done in the limits of a footnote. Mr. Nye was one of those Puritan divines who fled to Holland to escape from the severe and tyrannical proceedings of Laud. During his residence in Holland, at Arnheim, he adopted the views of the Independents. About the beginning of the Long Parliament he returned to England, and obtained a charge at Kimbolton, in Huntingdonshire, through the influence of Lord Kimbolton, also called Lord Mandeville, and afterwards Earl of Manchester. That nobleman was an intimate friend of Oliver Cromwell, and by his means Nye and Cromwell became also friends.
When the Parliament summoned the Assembly of Divines to meet at Westminster, Philip Nye was one of those so summoned; and the rectory of Acton near London was conferred upon him, as conveniently securing his constant attendance. No man was more urgent in recommending the signing of the Solemn League and Covenant than Nye; and for a time it seemed as though he would have been one of the most earnest in procuring the desired uniformity in religion between the two kingdoms. But there is reason to believe that Nye and Cromwell had, at a very early period, resolved that the Independent, or Congregational system, should be the only one to which they would consent. This became apparent early in 1644, by the publication of the “Apologetical Narrative,” written by Nye.
The state of public affairs must be carefully marked, in order to perceive the bearing of events upon each other. For some time after the commencement of the war the king appeared likely to be successful.
Neither Essex nor Waller displayed any military skill. There appeared more energy in the Earl of Manchester; but that energy may be fairly attributed to Cromwell, who was now his lieutenant-general, and had already begun to raise and train that body of troops who were afterwards known as Cromwell’s “Ironsides,” and who were never beaten. The Parliament had urged the approach of the Scottish army. They had rapidly advanced towards York, and being joined by Fairfax, Manchester, and Cromwell, laid siege to that city. Prince Rupert hastened to its relief; and the battle of Marston was fought on the 2d July 1644, in which the Royalists were totally defeated. But in the autumn of the same year, the two armies of Waller and Essex were lost in the west counties, and the success of the war continued doubtful. In October, Manchester and Cromwell encountered and worsted the king at Newbury; but Manchester refused to prosecute their success, and an open rupture ensued between him and Cromwell. In the latter part of November, Cromwell complained in his place in Parliament of this dilatory and ineffectual prosecution of the war, and moved that members of Parliament should cease to remain also commanders in the army. This proposal, called the Self-denying Ordinance, passed in the Commons on the 19th December 1644, but was not accepted by the Lords. The treaty of Uxbridge engaged the attention of all parties during the month of January and the early part of February 1645. But this treaty was broken off on the 20th or 21st of February, and the Self-denying Ordinance was soon afterwards re-introduced, and finally passed on the 3d of April 1645. By this ordinance Cromwell also, as a member of Parliament, should have laid down his command; but he could not be spared from the army. On the 9th of April he was again at the head of his men, actively and successfully engaged cutting off convoys and hemming in the king, with a degree of energy which promised a speedy termination of the war. On the 14th of June the battle of Naseby was fought, where Cromwell, at the head of his “new-modeled” army, routed the king, and destroyed all his prospects of success.
Let it be observed, that throughout the whole of this period the proceedings of the Assembly were prevented from making almost any progress by Nye and his friends. Their opposition, by means of protracted debates on every minute point, began early in 1644. On the 20th of February in that year, Nye attempted to gain the favor of the Parliament by arguing that the setting up of presbyteries would be dangerous to liberty.
Failing in this attempt, which the parliamentary members themselves repelled, he prosecuted the safer method of retarding the progress of the Assembly by protracted delays. This course was rendered safe and successful by an order which Cromwell induced the Parliament to pass on the 13th of September 1644, when the battle of Marston had removed urgent danger, to refer to the committee of both kingdoms the matters in dispute between Presbyterians and Independents. This committee received all statements but decided nothing, and ceased to exist in March 1646; but, before it ceased to exist, the army had been remodeled, and, with Cromwell at its head, had reduced the king to despair, and made itself master of both Parliament and kingdom. During all this time it was believed that Nye managed to keep up a constant intercourse with Cromwell and the army.
Of this the Scottish commissioners entertained no doubt; but as they still cherished the hope that a satisfactory conclusion might at last be obtained, they kept themselves within the limits of honorable and fair discussion, leaving intrigues to be defeated by the course of providence, and refuting sophistry by clear reasoning.
When the king, on the 6th of May 1646, betook himself to the Scottish army, a slight change seemed to come over the Parliament. The ordinance for the erection of presbyteries, which had lain in abeyance since November 1644, was issued by the Parliament 9th June 1646, but hampered by unsuitable conditions and limitations. But when it was found that the obstinacy of the infatuated king was absolutely invincible, and that to retain him any longer in the Scottish army would at once involve a war with England, and frustrate all the proceedings of the Westminster Assembly, the Scottish commissioners felt it to be their duty to abandon all further contests in England, allow the king to return to the Parliament as he desired, and leave the English nation to settle the affairs of their own State and Church as they might determine, taking with them to Scotland the doctrinal productions of the Westminster Assembly, to be ratified and established in their own country.
The Scottish Royalists, indeed, attempted to frustrate these prudent and peaceful designs, and were but too successful. Their ill-omened engagement involved Scotland in a war with England, and laid the divided kingdom prostrate beneath England’s mighty Protector. This sagacious and high-principled man did not, however, prevent the Scottish people from continuing to enjoy the religious worship of their choice, though he deprived church government of all power, and balanced party against party so as greatly to paralyze both, as he had done in England.
But the career of Nye was not yet at an end. When both Parliament and Assembly had been dissolved by Cromwell, it was still found necessary to have some method of providing religious instruction for the nation. A committee of divines, called the Committee of Triers, was appointed; and in this committee Nye continued to wield great power. The two parties, the Presbyterians of the old Puritan race, and the more modern Independents, were still opposed to each other. Various attempts, by conferences and otherwise, were made to frame some agreement between them. In these attempts such men as Owen, and Baxter, and Howe took part; but all their attempts were frustrated, and chiefly by Philip Nye. This I can confidently state, on the authority of the mild, gracious, and tolerant John Howe. In a letter to Baxter, dated 25th May 1658, he says, “I cannot yet meet with an opportunity for further discourse with Mr. Nye; nor do I hope for much success in any further treaty with him, I perceive so steady a resolution to measure all endeavors of this kind by their subservience to the advantage of one party. I resolve, therefore, to make trial what his Highness will do, as speedily as I can.” — (Life of Howe , by Rogers, p. 92.)
Baxter himself, writing to the Independents in their time of power, says: “It was the toleration of all sects unlimitedly that I wrote and preached against, and not(that I remember)of mere Independents. Those that did oppose the toleration of Independents, of my acquaintance, did not deny them the liberty of Independency, but opposed separation , or their gathering of other churches out of parish churches that had faithful ministers. If they would have taken parish churches on Independent principles, without separation, neither I nor my acquaintance did oppose them, no, nor their endeavor to reform such churches. The case greatly differed: For an Independent to refuse parish churches when no ceremony, no liturgy, no oath or subscription is required of him, which he scrupleth, is not like his refusing oaths, subscriptions, liturgy, ceremonies, etc. But, in a word, grant us but as much , and take us but in , as we granted to , and took in , the Independents , and we are content . Make this agreement, and all is ended; we desire no more of you. We never denied the Independents the liberty of preaching lectures, as often as they would, nor yet the liberty of taking parish churches. They commonly had presentations, and the public maintenance; and no subscription, declaration, liturgy, or ceremonies, were imposed on them. Again, I say, I ask from you no more liberty than was given the Independents by their brethren, called Presbyterians . — (Baxter ’s Life , by Sylvester, p. 131.)
Such statements as these, and more might easily be adduced, prove clearly enough what the men who knew Nye thought of his character and conduct, and of the manner in which he used power when it was in his grasp. And, it may be added, that he held that grasp very tenaciously. Throughout the whole period of Cromwell’s sway Nye retained great influence. Not only was he one of the triers, but he was also one of the commissioners for ejecting ministers and schoolmasters, — a task in which he manifested no reluctance to take an active share. He aided in framing the Declaration of the Faith, Order, and Practice of the Congregational Churches in 1658; but it was rendered ineffectual by the death of Cromwell in the same year. On the restoration of Charles II, it was debated in Council for several hours, whether the deep and incessant political intrigues in which Nye had been so long engaged did not render it necessary to include him in the act of attainder. The result was, that he was ejected from his benefice; and it was declared, that if he should accept of, or exercise any office, ecclesiastical or civil, he should stand as if he had been totally exempted from the act of indemnity. To him alone, of all the Westminster divines, was such severity shown; and as his papers had been seized, the Council were in possession of information which seemed to them to justify such procedure. The act of attainder included only three men who were not of those who had acted as judges when the late king was sentenced to die. These three were, Colonel Lambert, Sir Harry Vane, and the notorious Hugh Peters. That it was seriously debated whether Philip Nye should not be included in such a class of men, the actual regicides, or their most intimate associates, sufficiently indicates how deeply involved he was believed, and even well known to be, in all the intrigues of the period, and especially in all those political measures that led to the decapitation of Charles I.
There is one incident in Nye’s conduct, at an early stage of the Westminster Assembly’s proceedings, already recorded in the pages of this work(pp. 202, 203), relative to which some brief remarks are still necessary. Congregational writers are in the habit of boasting of his position and speech on that occasion, as the first public, open, and full assertion of the great principle of religious liberty. Nothing can be more inconsistent with historical truth. The occasion already referred to is the only one which at all resembles the boasted traditionary anecdote. But the avowed object of Nye on that occasion was not the assertion of religious liberty, but an attempt to excite the jealousy of the Parliament against the Presbyterian system, by asserting that such a system, rising court above court, with successive right of appeal from the lower to the higher, till it should reach a General Assembly, representing the whole Church in a kingdom, was inconsistent with civil liberty . This attempt was both censured by the Assembly and repelled by the most of the leading members of Parliament who were present. Its manifest and total failure mortified Nye so much that he did not again repeat it in the Assembly; but from that day his efforts were incessant to cause and prolong delay, while his secret intercourse with the army and with Cromwell was carried on with greater activity than ever. His interposed retardations and incessant intrigues were successful. Nothing was settled till Cromwell abolished Parliament, and turned the remnant of the Assembly into a Committee of Triers, in which Nye’s influence was predominant, and continued to be, till the Restoration laid Britain prostrate beneath the basest and most profligate of all her kings, to the extreme danger and well nigh the utter ruin of all liberty, both civil and religious. And yet this intriguing man, whose conduct was so largely instrumental in producing such a disastrous result, is still held up and applauded by some as the great assertor of religious liberty!
It is with great reluctance that I have directed so much attention to the conduct of Nye. But I felt myself compelled to take some notice of the claim so pertinaciously raised on his behalf, as the first true assertor of religious liberty, to the disparagement equally of Scottish Presbyterians and English Puritans, and very specially to the discredit of the Westminster Assembly. Men have a strange power of persuading themselves that they are in the right, and that their course is the only right and safe one. I have no doubt that Philip Nye fully believed that the Independent system, as he understood and practiced it, was the best for the interests of civil and religious liberty, and that he thought himself justifiable in using every method to secure its triumph; and even succeeded in persuading himself that those methods were right, although they involved a violation of the Solemn League and Covenant, which he had sworn to maintain. “He was a great politician,” says Neal; and there is scarcely any thing which a great politician cannot persuade himself to believe, — scarcely any course which he cannot persuade himself to adopt, — if they seem fitted to promote his political designs. But it is not by great politicians that religious liberty has ever been promoted, nor by their deep schemes that its maintenance has been secured. Had Nye been less of a politician, there is reason to believe that neither a revived Laudean Prelacy nor a resuscitated Popery would ever again have endangered the liberties, both civil and religious, of Britain; and it will be well if, in the conflict which must still be waged against both of these hostile powers, the defenders of these priceless blessings avoid all courses that “great politicians” may recommend, and act openly, boldly, and firmly, without intrigue or compromise, in accordance only with the strong principles of the Word of God.
It may be thought by some that we have applied the term Presbyterian in several instances, when the term Independent or Congregational would have been more appropriate. We do not wish to dispute about a mere word; but a brief statement of the reason why the word Presbyterian has been used in relation to events which others ascribe to the Independent party, may here be given. Before the Long Parliament had resolved to abolish Prelacy, and summon an Assembly of Divines to deliberate on the system to be adopted in its stead, the Puritan ministers had begun to form themselves into presbyteries. Numbers more of them looked not to Scotland only, but also very specially to Holland, where the Presbyterian form was in full order, for a model into some conformity with which the English Church might be advantageously molded. When the Assembly met there were only five of its members avowedly Independents, and they never amounted to more than ten or eleven. During the deliberations of the Assembly, Nye and Goodwin almost alone maintained the strictly distinctive element of Congregationalism, — in some instances Nye alone.
That distinctive and even separatist, or individualizing element, while the defending of it kept Nye at the head of all the innumerable forms of Sectarianism in the army and throughout the kingdom, and rendered him so useful to Cromwell, was never adopted and maintained in the same manner by even those men who came to be regarded as the leading Independents.
Neither Owen nor Howe were ever Independents according to Nye’s system, but approached indefinitely near to the Presbyterian system, as it existed in Scotland and Holland, and could readily have joined with these Churches. We therefore include them, and all such liberal-minded men, in the general designation of Presbyterians. For the same reason we regard the noble band of Nonconformist Puritan divines who were ejected on St. Bartholomew’s Day as Presbyterian Puritans, or rather as Puritan Presbyterians; that is, we regard them as a noble band of sincere, selfdenying Christian ministers, whose scriptural tenets were those which have been designated Puritan, and who were not only prepared to adopt the Presbyterian system of church government, but preferred it, as both founded upon and most agreeable to the Word of God, and as most conducive to a nation’s welfare. Ample evidence might easily be procured from the writings of an overwhelming majority of these high-principled men, to prove that we have not misrepresented their sentiments, and that we have given them the designation which most correctly describes them, and by which they ought to be known — the Nonconformist Puritan Presbyterians. To them, to the Churches of Scotland and Holland, and, above all, to the sacred truths and principles which they all drew from the Holy Scriptures, we ascribe the glory of the declaration and defense of religious liberty; and neither to the Long Parliament, to the army Sectarians, to Cromwell, to Philip Nye, nor to any or all of those who, in proclaiming a “boundless toleration,” did their utmost to break down all distinctions between truth and error, and thereby to plunge the human mind into the wild whirlpool of mental, moral, and religious anarchy. I have no wish to disparage either the Dissenting Brethren of the Westminster Assembly, or the Independent ministers or systems of any period; but I feel it to be my duty to assert historical truth, and to vindicate the character of the Westminster Assembly, and of the true Presbyterian divines, Church, and system, in doctrine, government, and discipline, as most successfully embodying and defending the principles of Religious Freedom.