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  • PERIOD - 1554-1557

    FROM HIS DEPARTURE OUT OF ENGLAND TO HIS INVITATION INTO SCOTLAND, BY THE PROTESTANT NOBILITY Providence, which had more important services in reserve for Knox, made use of the urgent importunities of his friends to hurry him away from the danger to which, had he been left to the determination of his own mind, his zeal and fearlessness would have prompted him to expose himself. No sooner did he reach a foreign shore than he began to regret the course which he had been induced to take. When he thought upon his fellowpreachers, whom he had left behind him immured in dungeons, and the people lately under his charge, now scattered abroad as sheep without a shepherd, and a prey to ravening wolves, he felt an indescribable pang, and an almost irresistible desire to return and share in the hazardous but honorable conflict. Although he had only complied with the divine direction, “When they persecute you in one city, flee ye unto another”, and in his own breast stood acquitted of cowardice, he found it difficult to divest his conduct of the appearance of that weakness, and was afraid it might operate as a discouragement to his brethren in England, or an inducement to them to make sinful compliances with the view of saving their lives.

    On this subject we find him unbosoming himself to Mrs. Bowes in his letters from Dieppe. “The desire that I have to hear of your continuance with Christ Jesus, in the day of this His battle (which shortly shall end to the confusion of His proud enemies), neither by tongue nor by pen can I express, beloved mother. Assuredly, it is such, that it vanquisheth and overcometh all remembrance and solicitude which the flesh useth to take for feeding and defense of herself. For, in every realm and nation, God will stir up some one or other to minister those things that appertain to this wretched life; and, if men will cease to do their office, yet will He send his ravens: so that in every place, perchance, I may find some fathers to my body. But, alas! where I shall find children to be begotten unto God, by the Word of life, that can I not presently consider; and therefore the spiritual life of such as sometime boldly professed Christ (God knoweth), is to my heart more dear than all the glory, riches, and honor in earth; and the falling back of such men as I hear daily to turn back to that idol again, is to me more dolorous than, I trust, the corporal death shall [be], whenever it shall come at God’s appointment. Some will ask then, Why did I flee? Assuredly I cannot tell. But of one thing I am sure, the fear of death was not the chief cause of my fleeing. I trust that one cause hath been to let me see with my corporal eyes, that all had not a true heart to Christ Jesus, that, in the day of rest and peace, bare a fair face. But my fleeing is no matter: by God’s grace I may come to battle before that all the conflict be ended. And haste the time, O Lord! at Thy good pleasure, that once again my tongue may yet praise Thy holy name before the congregation, if it were but in the very hour of death... . I would not bow my knee before that most abominable idol for all the torments that earthly tyrants can devise, God so assisting me as His Holy Spirit presently moveth me to write unfeignedly. And albeit that I have, in the beginning of this battle, appeared to play the faint-hearted and feeble soldier (the cause I remit to God), yet my prayer is, that I may be restored to the battle again. And blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, I am not left so bare without comfort, but my hope is to obtain such mercy, that, if a short end be not made of all my miseries by final death, which to me were no small disadvantage, that yet, by Him who never despiseth the sobs of the sore afflicted, I shall be so encouraged to fight, that England and Scotland shall both know, that I am ready to suffer more than either poverty or exile, for the profession of that doctrine, and that heavenly religion, whereof it has pleased His merciful providence to make me, among others, a simple soldier and witness-bearer unto men. And therefore, mother, let no fear enter into your heart, as that I, escaping the furious rage of these ravening wolves, that for our unthankfulness are lately loosed from their bands, do repent any thing of my former fervency. No, mother; for a few sermons by me to be made within England, my heart at this hour could be content to suffer more than nature were able to sustain; as by the grace of the most mighty and most merciful God, who only is God of comfort and consolation through Christ Jesus, one day shall be known.”

    In his present sequestered situation, he had full leisure to meditate upon the various and surprising turns of providence in his lot, during the last seven years; his call to the ministry and employment at St. Andrews, his subsequent imprisonment and release, the sphere of usefulness in which he had been placed in England, with the afflicting manner in which he was excluded from it, and driven to seek refuge as an exile in that country to which he had formerly been carried as a prisoner. The late events seemed in a special manner to summon him to a solemn review of the manner in which he had discharged the sacred trust committed to him, as a “steward of the mysteries of God”. It will throw light on his character, and may not be without use to such as occupy the same station, to exhibit the result of his reflections on this subject. He could not, without ingratitude to Him who had called him to be His servant, deny, that his qualifications for the ministry had been in no small degree improved since he came to England; and he had the testimony of his own conscience, in addition to that of his numerous auditors, that he had not altogether neglected the gifts bestowed on him, but had exercised them with some measure of fidelity and painfulness. At the same time, he found reason for self-accusation on different grounds. Having mentioned, in one of his letters, the reiterated charge of Christ to Peter, “Feed my sheep”, “Feed my lambs”, he exclaims, “O alas! how small is the number of pastors that obeys this commandment. But this matter will I not deplore, except that I (not speaking of others) will accuse myself that do not, I confess, the uttermost of my power in feeding the lambs and sheep of Christ. I satisfy, peradventure, many men in the small labors I take; but I satisfy not myself. I have done somewhat, but not according to my duty.”

    In the discharge of private duties, he acknowledges, that shame, and the fear of incurring the malignant scandal of the world, had hindered him from visiting the ignorant and distressed, and administering to them the instruction and comfort which they craved. In public ministrations, he had been deficient in fervency and fidelity, in impartiality, and in diligence. He could not charge himself with flattery, and his “rude plainness” had given offense to some; but his conscience now accused him of not having been sufficiently plain in admonishing offenders. His custom was to describe the vices of which his hearers were guilty, in such colors that they might read their own image; but being “unwilling to provoke all men” against him, he restrained himself from particular applications. Though his “eye had not been much set on worldly promotion”, he had sometimes been allured, by affection for friends and familiar acquaintances, to reside too long in particular places, to the neglect of others. That day he thought he had not sinned, if he had not been idle; now he was convinced that it was his duty to have considered how long he should remain in one place, and how many hungry souls were starving elsewhere. Sometimes, at the solicitation of friends, he had spared himself, and spent the time in worldly business, or in bodily recreation and exercise, when he ought to have been employed in the discharge of his official duties. “Besides these,” says he, “I was assaulted, yea infected, with more gross sins; that is, my wicked nature desired the favors, the estimation, and praise of men: against which, albeit that sometimes the Spirit of God did move me to fight, and earnestly did stir me (God knoweth I lie not) to sob and lament for these imperfections; yet never ceased they to trouble me, when any occasion was offered; and so privily and craftily did they enter into my breast, that I could not perceive myself to be wounded, till vain-glory had almost got the upper hand. O Lord! be merciful to my great offense; and deal not with me according to my iniquity, but according to the multitude of thy mercies.”

    Such was the strict scrutiny which Knox made into his ministerial conduct.

    To many the offenses of which he accused himself will appear slight and venial; others will perceive in them nothing worthy of blame. But they struck his mind in a very different light, in the hour of adversity and solitary meditation. If he had such reason for self-condemnation, whose labors were so abundant as to appear to us excessive, how few are there in the same station who may not say, I do remember my faults this day.

    He did not, however, abandon himself to melancholy and unavailing complaints. One of his first cares, after arriving at Dieppe, was to employ his pen in writing suitable advises to those whom he could no longer instruct by his sermons and conversation. With this view he transmitted to England two short treatises. The one was an exposition of the sixth Psalm, which he had begun to write in England, at the request of Mrs. Bowes, but had not found leisure to finish. It is an excellent practical discourse upon that portion of Scripture, and will be read with peculiar satisfaction by those who have been trained to religion in the school of adversity. The other treatise was a large letter, addressed to those in London and other parts of England, among whom he had been employed as a preacher. The drift of it was to warn them against defection from the religion which they had professed, or giving countenance to the idolatrous worship erected among them. The conclusion is a most impressive and eloquent exhortation, in which he addresses their consciences, their hopes, their fears, their feelings, and adjures them by all that is sacred, and all that is dear to them, as men, as parents, and as Christians, not to start back from their good profession, and plunge themselves and their posterity into the gulf of ignorance and idolatry. The reader of this letter cannot fail to be struck with its animated strain, when he reflects, that it proceeded from a foreign exile, in a strange country, without a single acquaintance, and ignorant where he would find a place of abode or the means of subsistence.

    On the last day of February 1554, he set out from Dieppe, like the Hebrew patriarch of old, “not knowing whither he went”, and “committing his way to God” traveled through France, and came to Switzerland. A correspondence had been kept up between some of the English reformers and the most noted divines of the Helvetic Church. The latter had already heard, with the sincerest grief, of the overthrow of the Reformation in England, and the dispersion of its friends. Upon making himself known, Knox was cordially received by them, and treated with the most Christian hospitality. He spent some time in Switzerland, visiting the particular Churches, and conferring with the learned men. Certain difficult questions, suggested by the present conjuncture of affairs in England, which he had revolved in his mind, he propounded to them for advice, and was confirmed in his own judgment by the coincidence of their views.

    In the beginning of May he returned to Dieppe, to receive information from England, a journey which he repeated at intervals as long as he remained on the Continent. The kind reception which he had met with, and the agreeable company which he enjoyed, during his short residence in Switzerland, had helped to dissipate the cloud which hung upon his spirits when he landed in France, and to open his mind to more pleasing prospects as to the issue of the present afflicting providences. This appears from a letter written by him at this time, and addressed “To his afflicted brethren” After discoursing of the situation of the disciples of Christ, during the time that He lay in the grave, and the sudden transition which they experienced, from the depth of sorrow to the summit of joy, upon the reappearance of their Master; he adds: “The remembrance thereof is unto my heart great matter of consolation. For yet my good hope is, that one day or other, Christ Jesus, that now is crucified in England, shall rise again, in despite of His enemies, and shall appear to His weak and sore troubled disciples (for yet some He hath in that wretched and miserable realm); to whom He shall say, ‘Peace be unto you: it is I; be not afraid’.”

    His spirit was also refreshed, at this time, by the information which he received of the constancy with which his mother-in-law adhered to the Protestant faith. It appears that her husband had expected that she and the rest of her family had consciences equally accommodating with his own. It was not until she had evinced, in the most determined manner, her resolution to forsake friends and native country, rather than sacrifice her religion, that she was released from his importunities to comply with the Roman Catholic religion. Before he went to Switzerland, Knox had signified his intention, if his life was spared, of visiting his friends at Berwick. When he turned to Dieppe, he had not relinquished the thoughts of this enterprise. His friends, by their letters, would, it is likely, dissuade him from this; and after cool consideration, he resolved to postpone an attempt, by which he must have risked his life, without any prospect of doing good.

    Wherefore, setting out again from Dieppe, he repaired to Geneva. It was on this occasion that he first became personally acquainted with the celebrated Calvin, and formed that intimate friendship which subsisted between them till the death of the latter, in 1564. They were nearly of the same age; and there was a striking similarity in their sentiments, and in the prominent features of their character. The Genevan Reformer was highly pleased with the piety and talents of Knox, who, in his turn, entertained a greater esteem and deference for Calvin than for any other of the Reformers. As Geneva was an eligible situation for prosecuting study, and he approved much of the religious order established in it, he resolved to make that city the ordinary place of his residence during the continuance of his exile.

    But no prospect of personal safety or accommodation could banish from his mind the thoughts of his persecuted brethren. In the month of July he undertook another journey to Dieppe, to inform himself accurately of their situation, and learn if he could do any thing for their comfort. On this occasion he received tidings, which tore open those wounds which had begun to close. The severities used against the Protestants of England daily increased; and, what was still more afflicting to him, many of those who had embraced the truth under his ministry had been induced to recant, and go over to popery. In the agony of his spirit he wrote to them, setting before them the destruction to which they exposed their immortal souls by such cowardly desertion, and earnestly calling them to repent. Under his present impressions, he repeated his former admonitions to his mother-inlaw, including his wife; over whose religious constancy he was tenderly jealous. “By pen will I write, because the bodies are put asunder to meet again at God’s pleasure, that which by mouth, and face to face, ye have heard. That if man or angel labor to bring you back from the confession that once you have given, let them in that behalf be accursed. If any trouble you above measure, whether they be magistrates or carnal friends, they shall bear their just condemnation, unless they speedily repent. But now, mother, comfort you my heart (God grant ye may) in this my great affliction and dolorous pilgrimage; continue stoutly to the end, and bow you never before that idol, and so will the rest of worldly troubles be unto me more tolerable. With my own heart I oft commune, yea, and, as it were, comforting myself, I appear to triumph, that God shall not suffer you to fall in that rebuke. Sure I am, that both ye would fear and shame to commit that abomination in my presence, who am but a wretched man, subject to sin and misery like to yourself. But, O mother! though no earthly creature should be offended with you, yet fear ye the presence and offense of Him, who, present in all places, searcheth the very heart and reins, whose indignation, once kindled against the inobedient — and no sin more inflameth His wrath than idolatry doth — no creature in heaven nor in earth is able to appease.”

    He was in this state of mind when he composed the “Admonition to England”, which was published about the end of this year. Those who have censured him, as indulging in an excessive vehemence of spirit and bitterness of language, usually refer to this tract in support of the charge.

    It is true that he there paints the persecuting papists in the blackest colors, and holds them up as objects of human execration and divine vengeance. I do not stop here to inquire whether he was chargeable with transgressing the bounds of moderation prescribed by religion and the gospel, in the expression of his indignation and zeal; or whether the censures pronounced by his accusers, and the principles upon which they proceed, do not involve a condemnation of the temper and language of the most righteous men mentioned in Scripture, and even of our Savior Himself. But I ask, Is there no apology for his severity to be found in the characters of the persons against whom he wrote, and in the state of his own feelings, lacerated, not by personal sufferings, but by sympathy with his suffering brethren, who were driven into prisons by their unnatural countrymen, “as sheep for the slaughter”, to be brought forth and barbarously immolated to appease the Roman Moloch? Who could suppress indignation in speaking of the conduct of men, who, having raised themselves to honor and affluence by the warmest professions of friendship to the Reformed religion under the preceding reign, now abetted the most violent proceedings against their former brethren and benefactors? What terms were too strong for stigmatizing the execrable system of persecution coolly projected by the dissembling, vindictive Gardiner, the brutal barbarity of the bloody Bonner, or the unrelenting, insatiable cruelty of Mary, who, having extinguished the feelings of humanity, and divested herself of the tenderness which characterizes her sex, issued orders for the murder of her subjects, until her own husband, bigoted and unfeeling as he was, turned with disgust from the spectacle, and continued to urge to fresh severities the willing instruments of her cruelty, after they were sated with blood! On such a theme ‘tis impious to be calm; Passion is reason, transport temper here. — Young. “Oppression makes a wise man mad”; but, to use the words of a modern orator, with a more just application, “the distemper is still the madness of the wise, which is better than the sobriety of fools.

    Their cry is the voice of sacred misery, exalted, not into wild raving, but into the sanctified frenzy of prophecy and inspiration.”

    Knox returned to Geneva, and applied himself to study with all the ardor of youth, although his age now bordered upon fifty. It was about this time that he seems to have made some proficiency in the knowledge of the Hebrew language, which he had no opportunity of acquiring in early life. It is natural to inquire, by what funds he was supported during his exile.

    However much inclined his mother-in-law was to relieve his necessities, the disposition of her husband seems to have put it greatly out of her power. Any small sum which his friends had advanced to him, before his sudden departure from England, was exhausted; and he was at this time very much straitened for money. Being unwilling to burden strangers, he looked for assistance to the voluntary contributions of those among whom he had labored. In a letter to Mrs. Bowes, he says, “My own estate I cannot well declare; but God shall guide the footsteps of him that is wilsome, 1 and will feed him in trouble that never greatly solicited for the world. If any collection might be made among the faithful, it were no shame for me to receive that which Paul refused not in the time of his trouble. But all I remit to His providence, that ever careth for His own.” I find from his letters, that remittances were made to him by particular friends, both in England and Scotland, during his residence on the Continent.

    In the mean time, the persecution growing hot in England, great numbers of the Protestants made their escape, and sought refuge in foreign countries.

    Before the close of the year 1554, it was computed that there were no fewer than eight hundred learned Englishmen, besides others of different conditions, on the Continent. The foreign Reformed Churches exhibited, on this occasion, an amiable proof of the spirit of their religion, and amply recompensed the kindness which many foreigners had experienced in England, during the reign of Edward. They emulated one another in exertions to accommodate, and alleviate the sufferings, of the unfortunate refugees who were dispersed among them. The principal places in which they obtained settlements, were Zurich, Basle, Geneva, Aarau, Emden, Wesel, Strasbourg, Duisburg, and Frankfurt.

    Frankfurt on the Maine was a rich imperial city of Germany, which, at an early period, had embraced the Reformation, and befriended Protestant refugees from all countries, as far as this could be done without coming to an open breach with the Emperor, who watched their conduct with a jealous eye. There was already a Church of French Protestants in that city.

    On the 14th of July 1554, the English exiles who had come to Frankfurt, obtained from the magistrates the joint use of the place of worship allotted to the French, with liberty to perform religious service in their own language. This was granted upon the condition of their conforming as nearly as possible to the form of worship used by the French Church, a prudent precaution which their political circumstances dictated. The offer was gratefully accepted by the English, who came to a unanimous agreement, that in using the English liturgy they would omit the litany, the audible responses, the surplice, with other ceremonies, which, “in those Reformed Churches would seem more than strange”, or which were “superstitious and superfluous”. Having settled this point in the most harmonious manner, elected a pastor and deacons for the time being, and agreed upon some rules for discipline, they wrote a circular letter to their brethren scattered in different places, inviting them to Frankfurt, to share with them in their accommodations, and unite their prayers for the afflicted Church of England. The exiles at Strasbourg, in their reply, recommended to them certain persons as most fit for the offices of superintendent and pastors; a recommendation not asked by the congregation at Frankfurt, who did not think a superintendent requisite in their situation, and meant to have two or three pastors of equal authority.

    They, accordingly, proceeded to make choice of three, one of whom was Knox, who received information of his election, by the following letter from the congregation delivered to him in Geneva. “We have received letters from our brethren of Strasbourg, but not in such sort and ample wise as we looked for; whereupon we assembled together in the Holy Ghost (we hope), and have, with one voice and consent, chosen you so particularly to be one of the ministers of our congregation here, to preach unto us the most lively Word of God, according to the gift that God hath given you; forasmuch as we have here, through the merciful goodness of God, a Church to be congregated together in the name of Christ, and be all of one body, and also being of one nation, tongue, and country.

    And at this present, having need of such a one as you, we do desire you and also require you, in the name of God, not to deny us, nor to refuse these our requests; but that you will aid, help, and assist us with your presence in this our good and godly enterprise, which we have taken in hand, to the glory of God and the profit of His congregation, and the poor sheep of Christ dispersed abroad, who, with your and like presences, would come hither and be of one fold, whereas now they wander abroad as lost sheep without any guide. We mistrust not but that you will joyfully accept this calling. Fare ye well from Frankfurt this 24th of September.”

    Knox was averse to undertake this charge, either from a desire to continue his studies at Geneva, or from an apprehension of difficulties which he might meet with at Frankfurt. By the persuasion of Calvin, he was, however, induced to comply with the call, and, repairing to Frankfurt in the month of November, commenced his ministry with the universal consent and approbation of the congregation. But previous to his arrival, the harmony, which at first subsisted among that people, had been disturbed. In reply to their circular letter, the exiles at Zurich had signified that they would not come to Frankfurt, unless they obtained security that the Church there would “use the same order of service concerning religion, which was, in England, last set forth by King Edward”; for they were fully determined “to admit and use no other”. By varying from that service, they alleged, they would give occasion to their adversaries to charge their religion with imperfection and mutability, and condemn their brethren in England, who were now sealing it with their blood. To these representations the brethren at Frankfurt replied, that they had obtained the liberty of a place of worship, upon condition of their accommodating as much as possible to the form used by the French Church; that there were a number of things in the English service-book which would be offensive to the Protestants among whom they resided, and had been occasion of scruple to conscientious men at home; that, by the variations which they had introduced no reflection was made upon the ordinances of their late sovereign and his council, who had themselves altered many things, and had resolved on greater alterations, without thinking that they gave any handle to their popish adversaries; far less did they detract from the credit of the martyrs, who, they were persuaded, shed their blood in confirmation of more important things than mutable ceremonies of human appointment. This answer did not satisfy the learned men at Zurich, though it induced them to lower their tone; not contented with forming their own resolution, they instigated their brethren at Strasbourg to urge the same request, and, by letters and messengers, fomented dissension in the congregation at Frankfurt.

    When Knox arrived, he found that the seeds of animosity had already sprung up among them. From his sentiments respecting the English service-book we may be sure that the eagerness manifested by those who wished to impose it was very displeasing to him. But so sensible was he of the pernicious and discreditable effects of division among brethren exiled for the same faith, that he resolved to act as a moderator between the two parties, and to avoid, as far as possible, every thing which tended to widen or continue the breach. Accordingly, when the congregation had agreed to the order of the Genevan Church, and requested him to proceed to administer the communion according to it (although, in his judgment, he approved of that order), he declined to use it, until their learned brethren in other places were consulted. At the same time, he signified that he had not freedom to administer the sacraments agreeably to the English liturgy. If he could not be allowed to perform this service in a manner more consonant to Scripture, he requested that some other might be employed in this duty, and he would willingly confine himself to preaching: if neither of these could be granted, he besought them to release him altogether from his charge. To this last request they would by no means consent.

    Fearing that if these differences were not speedily accommodated, they would burst into a flame of contention, Knox, along with some others, was employed to draw up a summary of the Book of Common Prayer, and having translated it into Latin, to send it to Calvin for his opinion and advice. Calvin replied in a letter, dated 20th January 1555; he lamented the unseemly contentions which prevailed among them; signified that he had always recommended moderation respecting external ceremonies, but could not but condemn the obstinacy of those who would consent to no change of old customs; in the liturgy of England he had found many “tolerable fooleries” — he meant things which might be tolerated at the beginning of a reformation, but ought afterwards to be removed; he thought that the present condition of the English warranted them to attempt this, and to agree upon an order more conducive to edification; and, for his part, he could not understand what those meant who discovered such fondness for popish dregs.

    This letter, being read to the congregation, had a great effect in repressing the keenness of such as had urged the unlimited use of the liturgy; and a committee was appointed to draw up a form which might accommodate all differences. When this committee met, Knox told them that he was convinced it was necessary for one of the parties to relent before they could come to an amicable settlement; he would therefore state, he said, what he judged most proper, and having exonerated himself, would allow them without opposition to determine as they should answer to God and the Church. They accordingly agreed upon a form of worship, in which some things were taken from the English liturgy, and others added, which were thought suitable to their circumstances. This was to continue in force until the end of April next; if any dispute arose in the interval, it was to be referred to five of the most celebrated foreign divines. This agreement was subscribed by all the members of the congregation; thanks were publicly returned to God for the restoration of harmony; and the communion was received as a pledge of union, and the burial of all past offenses.

    But this agreement was soon after violated, and the peace of that unhappy congregation again broken, in the most wanton and scandalous manner. On the 13th of March, Dr. Cox, who had been preceptor to Edward VI., came from England to Frankfurt, with some others in his company. The first day that they attended public worship after their arrival, they broke through the established order, by answering aloud after the minister in the time of divine service. Being admonished by some of the elders to refrain from that practice, they insolently replied: “That they would do as they had done in England; and they would have the face of an English Church.”

    On the following Sabbath, one of the number intruded himself into the pulpit, without the consent of the pastors or the congregation, and read the litany, Cox and other accomplices echoing the responses. This offensive behavior was aggravated by the consideration, that some of them, before leaving England, had been guilty of compliances with popery, for which they had as yet given no satisfaction.

    Such an insult upon the whole body, and outrage upon all decency and order, could not be passed over in silence. It was Knox’s turn to preach on the afternoon of the last mentioned Sabbath. In the course of lecturing through Genesis, he had come to the narration of the behavior of Ham to his father Noah when he lay exposed in his tent. Having discoursed from this of the infirmities of brethren which ought to be concealed, he remarked that there were other things, which, as they tended to the open dishonoring of God, and disquieting of His Church, ought to be disclosed and publicly rebuked. He then reminded them of the contention which had existed in the congregation, and of the happy manner in which, after long and painful labor, it had been ended, to the joy of all, by the solemn agreement which had that day been flagrantly violated. This, he said, it became not the proudest of them to have attempted. Nothing which was destitute of a divine warrant ought to be obtruded upon any Christian Church. In that book, for which some entertained such an overweening fondness, he would undertake to prove publicly, that there were things imperfect, impure, and superstitious; and, if any would go about to burden a free congregation with such things, he would not fail, as often as he occupied that place (provided his text afforded occasion), to oppose their design. As he had been forced to enter upon that subject, he would say further, that, in his judgment, slackness in reforming religion, when time and opportunity were granted, was one cause of the divine displeasure against England. He adverted to the trouble which Bishop Hooper had suffered for refusing some of the ceremonies, to the want of discipline, and to the well known fact that three, four, or five benefices had been occupied by one man, to the depriving of the flock of Christ of their necessary food.

    This free reprimand was much stomached by those against whom it was leveled, especially by such as had held pluralities in England, who complained that the preacher had slandered their Mother Church. Loud complaints being made against the sermon, a special meeting was appointed to consider them. At this meeting, instead of prosecuting their complaints, the friends of the liturgy began with insisting that Dr. Cox and his friends should be admitted to a vote. This was resisted by the great majority; because they had not yet subscribed the discipline of the Church, nor given satisfaction for their late disorderly conduct, and for their sinful compliances in England. The behavior of our countryman, on this occasion, was more remarkable for moderation and magnanimity, than for prudence. Although aware of their hostility to himself, and that they sought admission chiefly to overpower him by numbers, he was so confident of the justice of his cause, and anxious to remove prejudices, that he entreated and prevailed with the meeting to yield, and admit them presently to a vote. This disinterestedness was thrown away on the opposite party: no sooner were they admitted, and had obtained a majority of voices, than Cox, although he had no authority in the congregation, discharged Knox from preaching, and from all interference with congregational affairs.

    The great body of the congregation were indignant at these proceedings; and there was some reason to fear that their mutual animosity would break out into some disgraceful disorder. A representation of the circumstances having been made to the magistrates of Frankfurt, they, after in vain recommending a private accommodation, issued an order that the congregation should conform exactly to the worship used by the French Church, as nothing but confusion had ensued since they departed from it; if this was not complied with, they threatened to shut up their place of worship. To this peremptory injunction the Coxian fiction pretended a cheerful submission, while they clandestinely concerted measures for obtaining its revocation, and enforcing their favorite liturgy upon their reclaiming brethren.

    Perceiving the influence which our countryman had in the congregation, and despairing to carry their plan into execution, as long as he was among them, they determined in the first place to get rid of him. To accomplish this, they had recourse to one of the basest and most unchristian arts ever employed to ruin an adversary. Two of them, in concurrence with others, went privately to the magistrates, and accused Knox of high treason against the Emperor of Germany, his son Philip, and Queen Mary of England; putting into their hands a copy of a book which he had lately published, in which the passages upon which the charge was founded were marked! “O Lord God!” says Knox, when narrating this step, “open their hearts to see their wickedness; and forgive them, for Thy manifold mercies. And I forgive them, O Lord, from the bottom of mine heart. But that Thy message sent by my mouth may not be slandered, I am compelled to declare the cause of my departing, and to utter their follies, to their amendment, I trust, and the example of others, who in the same banishment can have so cruel hearts as to persecute their brethren.” The book which the accusers left with the magistrates was his “Admonition to England”; and the passage upon which they principally fixed, as substantiating the charge of treason against the Emperor, was the following, originally spoken to the inhabitants of Amersham in Buckinghamshire, on occasion of the rumored marriage of Queen Mary with Philip, the son and heir of Charles V., a match which was at that time dreaded even by many of the English Catholics. “O England, England, if thou obstinately wilt return into Egypt, that is, if thou contract marriage, confederacy, or league with such princes as do maintain and advance idolatry; such as the Emperor, who is no less enemy to Christ than ever was Nero: if for the pleasure of such princes thou return to thy old abominations before used under papistry, then assuredly, O England, thou shalt be plagued and brought to desolation, by the means of those whose favor thou seekest.” The other passages related to the cruelty of Queen Mary of England.

    The magistrates, in consequence of this accusation, sent for Whittingham, a respectable member of the English congregation, and interrogated him concerning Knox’s character. He told them that he was “a learned, grave, and godly man”. They then acquainted him with the serious accusation which had been lodged against him by some of his countrymen, and, giving him the book, charged him, “sub poena pacis”, 2 to bring them an exact Latin translation of the passages which were marked. This being done, they commanded Knox to desist from preaching, until their pleasure should be known. “Yet,” says he, in his narrative, “being desirous to hear others, I went to the church next day, not thinking that my company would have offended any. But as soon as my accusers saw me, they, with — and others, departed from the sermon; some of them protesting with great vehemence, that they would not tarry where I was.” The magistrates were extremely perplexed how to act in this delicate business: on the one hand, they were satisfied of the malice of Knox’s accusers; on the other, they were afraid that information of the charge would be conveyed to the Emperor’s Council, which sat at Augsburg, and that they might be obliged to deliver up the accused to them, or to the Queen of England. In this dilemma, they desired Whittingham to advise his friend privately, to retire of his own accord from Frankfurt. At the same time, they did not dissemble their detestation of the unnatural conduct of the informers, who, waiting upon them to know the result of their deliberations, were dismissed from their presence with frowns.

    On the 25th of March, Knox delivered a very consolatory discourse to about fifty members of the congregation, who assembled at his lodgings in the evening. Next day they accompanied him some miles on his journey from Frankfurt, and, with heavy hearts and many tears, committed him to God, and took their leave.

    No sooner was Knox gone, than Cox, who had privately concerted the plan with Dr. Glauberg, a civilian, and nephew of the chief magistrate, procured an order from the Senate for the unlimited use of the English liturgy, by means of the false representation, that it was now universally acceptable to the congregation. The next step was the abrogation of the discipline, and then the appointment of a bishop, or superintendent over the pastors. Having accomplished these important improvements, they could now boast that they had “the face of an English Church”. Yes! they could now raise their heads above all the Reformed Churches who had the honor of entertaining them; who, though they might have all the officebearers and ordinances instituted by Christ, had neither bishop, nor litany, nor surplice! They could now lift up their faces in the presence of the Church of Rome herself, and claim... . But let me not forget, that the men of whom I write were at this time suffering exile for the Protestant religion, and that they really detested the body of popery, though childishly and superstitiously attached to its attire, and gestures, and language.

    The sequel of the transactions, in the English congregation at Frankfurt, does not properly belong to this memoir. I shall only add, that after some ineffectual attempts to obtain satisfaction for the breach of the Church’s peace, and the injurious treatment of their minister, a considerable number of the members left the city; some of them, as Foxe the celebrated martyrologist, repairing to Basle, the greater part to Geneva, where they obtained a place of worship, and lived in great harmony and love, until the storm of persecution in England blew over, at the death of Queen Mary; while those who remained at Frankfurt, as if to expiate their offense against Knox, continued a prey to endless contention. Cox and his learned colleagues, having accomplished their favorite object, soon left them to compose the strife which they had excited, and provided themselves elsewhere with a less expensive situation for carrying on their studies.

    I have been the more minute in the detail of these transactions, not only because of the share which the subject of this memoir had in them, but because they throw light upon the controversy between the conformists and nonconformists, which runs through the succeeding period of the ecclesiastical history of England. “The troubles at Frankfurt” present, in miniature, a striking picture of that contentious scene which was afterwards exhibited on a larger scale in the mother country. The issue of that affair augured ill as to the prospect of an amicable adjustment of the litigated points. It had been usual to urge conformity to the obnoxious ceremonies, from the respect due to the authority by which they were enjoyed. But here there was no authority enjoining them, but rather the contrary. If they were urged with such intolerant importunity in a place where the laws and customs were repugnant to them, what was to be expected in England, where law and custom were on their side? The divines, who were advanced in the Church at the accession of Elizabeth, professed that they desired the removal of those grounds of strife, but could not obtain it from the Queen: and I am disposed to give many of them credit for the sincerity of their professions. But as they showed themselves so stiff and unyielding when the matter was wholly in their own power; as some of them were so eager in wreathing a yoke about the consciences of their brethren, that they urged reluctant magistrates to rivet it; is it any wonder that their applications for relief were cold and ineffectual, when made to rulers who were disposed to make the yoke still more severe, and to chastise with scorpions those whom they had chastised with whips? I repeat it; when I consider the transactions at Frankfurt, I am not surprised at the defeating of every subsequent attempt to advance the Reformation in England, or to procure relief to those who scrupled to yield conformity to some of the ecclesiastical laws. I know it is pleaded, that the things complained of are matters of indifference, not prohibited in Scripture, not imposed as essential to religion, or necessary to salvation, matters that can affect no well informed conscience; and that such as refuse them, when enacted by authority, are influenced by unreasonable scrupulosity, conceited, pragmatical, opinionative, and what not. This has been the usual language of a ruling party, when imposing upon the consciences of the minority. But not to urge here the danger of allowing to any class of rulers, civil or ecclesiastical, a power of enjoining indifferent things in religion; nor the undeniable fact, that the burdensome system of ceremonial observances, by which religion was corrupted under the papacy, was gradually introduced under these and similar pretexts; nor that the things in question, when complexly and formally considered, are not really matters of indifference; not to insist at present, I say, upon these topics, the answer to the above plea is short and decisive. “These things appear matters of conscience and importance to the scruplers: you say they are matters of indifference. Why then violate the sacred peace of the Church, and perpetuate division; why silence, deprive, harass, and starve men of acknowledged learning and piety, and drive from communion a sober and devout people; why torture their consciences, and endanger their souls by the imposition of things which, in your judgment, are indifferent, not necessary, and unworthy to become subjects of contention?”

    Upon retiring from Frankfurt, Knox went directly to Geneva. He was cordially welcomed back by Calvin. As his advice had great weight in disposing Knox to comply with the invitation from Frankfurt, he felt much hurt at the treatment which had obliged him to leave it. In reply to an apologetic epistle which he received from Dr. Cox, Calvin, although he restrained himself from saying any thing which might revive or increase the flame, could not conceal his opinion, that Knox had been used in an unbrotherly, unchristian manner, and that it would have been better for the accuser to have remained at home, than to have brought a firebrand into a foreign country to inflame a peaceable society.

    It appeared from the event, that Providence had disengaged Knox from his late charge, to employ him on a more important service. From the time that he was carried prisoner into France, he had never lost sight of Scotland, nor relinquished the hope of again preaching in his native country. His constant employment, during the five years which he spent in England, occupied his mind, and lessened the regret which he felt, at seeing the great object of his desire apparently at as great a distance as ever. Upon leaving England, his attention was more particularly directed to his native country; and, soon after returning from Frankfurt, he was informed that matters began to assume a more favorable appearance there than they had worn for a number of years. After the surrender of the castle of St. Andrews, and the banishment of the Protestants who had taken refuge in it, an irrecoverable blow seemed to have been given to the Reformed cause in Scotland. The clergy triumphed in their victory, and flattered themselves that they had stifled the voice of opposition. There were still many Protestants in the kingdom; but they satisfied themselves with retaining their sentiments in secret, without exposing their lives to certain destruction by avowing them, or exciting the suspicions of their enemies by private conventicles. An event which threatened the extinction of the Reformation in Britain proved the means of reviving it in Scotland.

    Several of those who were driven from England by the persecution of Mary, took refuge in this country, and were overlooked, in consequence of the security into which the Scottish clergy had been lulled by success.

    Traveling from place to place, they instructed many, and fanned the latent zeal of those who had formerly received the knowledge of the truth.

    William Harlow, whose zeal and knowledge of the doctrines of the gospel compensated for the defects of his education, was the first preacher who came. After him arrived John Willock, in summer 1555, being charged with a commission from the Duchess of Emden to the Queen Regent. Willock became afterwards the chief coadjutor of Knox, who entertained the highest esteem and affection for him. The union of their talents and peculiar qualities was of great advantage to the Reformation. Willock was not inferior to Knox in learning: and although he did not equal him in intrepidity and eloquence, surpassed him in affability, prudence, and address; by which means he was sometimes able to maintain his station and accomplish his purposes, when his colleague could not act with safety or success. He was a native of Ayrshire, and had worn the monastic habit; but, at an early period, he embraced the Reformed opinions, and fled into England. During the severe persecution for the six articles, he was, in 1541, thrown into the prison of the Fleet. He was afterwards chaplain to the Duke of Suffolk, the father of Lady Jane Grey; and upon the accession of Queen Mary, he retired to East Friesland.

    Although Knox did not know what it was to fear danger, and was little accustomed to consult his personal ease, when he had the prospect of being useful in his Master’s service, none of his enterprises were undertaken rashly, and without serious deliberation upon the call which he had to engage in them. On the present occasion, he felt at first averse to a journey into Scotland, notwithstanding some encouraging circumstances in the intelligence which he had received from that quarter. He had been so much tossed about of late, that he felt a peculiar relish in the learned leisure which he at present enjoyed, and was desirous to prolong. His anxiety to see his wife, after an absence of nearly two years, and the importunity with which his mother-in-law, in her letters, urged him to visit them, determined him at last to undertake the journey. Setting out from Geneva in the month of August 1555, he came to Dieppe, and, sailing from that port, landed on the east coast, near the boundaries between Scotland and England, about the end of harvest. He repaired immediately to Berwick, where he had the satisfaction of finding his wife and her mother in comfortable circumstances, enjoying the happiness of religious society with several individuals in that city, who, like themselves, had not “bowed the knee” to the established idolatry, nor submitted to “receive the mark” of Antichrist.

    Having remained some time with them, he set out secretly to visit the Protestants in Edinburgh, intending, after a short stay, to return to Berwick. But he found employment which detained him beyond his expectation. In Edinburgh he lodged with James Syme, a respectable and religious burgess, to whose house the friends of the Reformed doctrine repaired, to attend his instructions, as soon as they were informed of his arrival. Among these were John Erskine of Dun, and William Maitland, younger of Lethington, afterwards Secretary to Mary Queen of Scots.

    John Willock was also in Edinburgh at this time. Those who heard him, being exceedingly gratified with his doctrine, brought their friends and acquaintances along with them, and his audiences daily increased. Being confined to a private house, he was obliged to preach to successive assemblies; and was almost unremittingly employed, by night as well as by day, in communicating instruction to persons who demanded it with extraordinary avidity. The following letter written by him to Mrs. Bowes, to excuse himself for not returning so soon as he had purposed, will convey the best idea of his employment and feelings on this occasion. “The ways of man are not in his own power. Albeit my journey toward Scotland, beloved mother, was most contrary to my own judgment, before I did enterprise the same; yet this day I praise God for them who were the external cause of my resort to these quarters; that is, I praise God in you and for you, whom He made the instrument to draw me from the den of my own ease (you alone did draw me from the rest of quiet study) to contemplate and behold the fervent thirst of our brethren, night and day sobbing and groaning for the bread of life. If I had not seen it with my eyes, in my own country, I could not have believed it! I praised God, when I was with you, perceiving that, in the midst of Sodom, God had more Lots than one, and more faithful daughters than two. But the fervency here doth far exceed all others that I have seen. And therefore ye shall patiently bear, although I spend here yet some days; for depart I cannot until such time as God quench their thirst a little. Yea, mother, their fervency doth so ravish me, that I cannot but accuse and condemn my slothful coldness. God grant them their hearts’ desire; and I pray you advertise [me] of your estate, and of things that have occurred since your last writing. Comfort yourself in God’s promises, and be assured that God stirs up more friends than we be aware of. My commendation to all in your company. I commit you to the protection of the Omnipotent. In great haste; the 4th of November 1555. From Scotland. Your son, John Knox.”

    When he arrived in Scotland, he found that the friends of the Reformed doctrine, in general, continued to attend the popish worship, and even the celebration of mass; principally with the view of avoiding the scandal which they would otherwise incur. This was very disagreeable to Knox, who, in his sermons and conversation, disclosed the impiety of that service, and the danger of symbolizing with it. A meeting being appointed for the express purpose of discussing this question, Maitland defended the practice with all that ingenuity and learning for which he was distinguished; but his arguments were so satisfactorily answered by Knox, that he yielded the point as indefensible, and agreed with the rest of his brethren, to abstain for the future from such temporizing conduct. Thus was a formal separation made from the popish Church in Scotland, which may justly be regarded as an important step in the Reformation.

    Mr. Erskine prevailed on Knox to accompany him to his family seat of Dun, in Angus, where he continued a month, preaching every day. The principal persons in that neighborhood attended his sermons. After he returned to the south, he resided for the most part in Calderhouse, with Sir James Sandilands. Here he was attended by Lord Lorn, afterwards Earl of Argyle, the Master of Mar, afterwards Earl of Mar, and Lord James Stewart, natural son of James V., and prior of St. Andrews, afterwards Earl of Moray; the two last of whom Knox lived to see Regents of Scotland. These noblemen were highly pleased with the doctrine which he taught. In the beginning of the year 1556, he was conducted by Lockhart of Bar, and Campbell of Kineancleugh, to Kyle, 3 the ancient receptacle of the Scottish Lollards, where there were a number of adherents to the Reformed doctrine. He preached in the houses of Bar, Kineancleugh, Carnell, Ochiltree, and Gadgirth, and in the town of Ayr. In several of these places, he also dispensed the sacrament of our Lord’s Supper. A little before Easter, the Earl of Glencairn sent for him to his manor of Finlayston, in which, after preaching, he also dispensed the sacrament; the Earl, his lady, and two of their sons, with some friends assembled for that purpose, participating of the sacred feast. From Finlayston he returned to Calderhouse, and soon after paid a second visit to Dun, during which he preached more openly than before. The most of the gentlemen of Mearns did at this time make profession of the Reformed religion, by sitting down at the Lord’s Table; and entered into a solemn and mutual bond, in which they renounced the popish communion, and engaged to maintain the true preaching of the gospel, according as Providence should favor them with opportunities. This seems to have been the first of those religious bonds or covenants, by which the confederation of the Protestants in Scotland was so frequently ratified.

    The dangers to which Knox and his friends had been accustomed, had taught them to conduct matters with such secrecy, that he had preached for a considerable time and in different places, before the clergy knew that he was in the kingdom. Concealment was, however, impracticable after his audiences became so numerous. His preaching in Ayr was reported to the Court, and formed the topic of conversation in the presence of the Queen Regent. Some affirmed that the preacher was an Englishman; “a prelate not of the least pride (probably Beatoun, Archbishop of Glasgow) said, Nay; no Englishman, but it is Knox, that knave”. “It was my Lord’s pleasure,” says Knox, “so to baptize a poor man; the reason whereof, if it should be required, his rochet and mitre must stand for authority. What further liberty he used in defining things like uncertain to him, to wit, of my learning and doctrine, at this present I omit. For what hath my life and conversation been, since it hath pleased God to call me from the puddle of papistry, let my very enemies speak; and what learning I have, they may prove when they please.” Interest was at this time made by the bishops for his apprehension; but the Queen Regent discouraged the application.

    After his last journey to the north, the friars flocked from all quarters to the bishops, and instigated them to adopt speedy and decisive measures for checking the alarming effects of his preaching. In consequence of this, Knox was summoned to appear before a convention of the clergy, in the church of the black friars at Edinburgh, on the 15th of May. This diet he resolved to keep, and with that view came to Edinburgh, before the day appointed, accompanied by Erskine of Dun, and several other gentlemen.

    The clergy had never dreamed of his attendance; when apprised of his design, being afraid to bring matters to extremity, and unassured of the Regent’s decided support, they met beforehand, cast the summons under pretense of some informality, and deserted the diet against him. On the day on which he should have appeared as a panel, 4 Knox preached in the Bishop of Dunkeld’s large lodging, to a far greater audience than had before attended him in Edinburgh. During the ten following days, he preached in the same place, forenoon and afternoon; none of the clergy making the smallest attempt to disturb him. In the midst of these labors, he wrote the following hasty line to Mrs. Bowes: “Beloved mother, with my most hearty commendation in the Lord Jesus, albeit I was fully purposed to have visited you before this time, yet hath God laid impediments, which I could not avoid.

    They are such as I doubt not are to His glory, and to the comfort of many here. The trumpet blew the old sound three days together, till private houses, of indifferent largeness, could not contain the voice of it. God, for Christ His Son’s sake, grant me to be mindful, that the sobs of my heart hath not been in vain, nor neglected, in the presence of His Majesty. O! sweet were the death that should follow such forty days in Edinburgh as here I have had three.

    Rejoice, mother; the time of our deliverance approacheth: for, as Satan rageth, so does the grace of the Holy Spirit abound, and daily giveth new testimonies of the everlasting love of our merciful Father. I can write no more to you at this present. The grace of the Lord Jesus rest with you. In haste — this Monday. Your son, John Knox.”

    About this time, the Earl Marishal, at the desire of the Earl of Glencairn, attended an evening exhortation delivered by Knox. He was so much pleased with it, that he joined with Glencairn, in urging the preacher to write a letter to the Queen Regent, which, they thought, might have the effect of inclining her to protect the Reformed preachers, if not also to give a favorable ear to their doctrine. With this request he was induced to comply.

    As a specimen of the manner in which this letter was written, I shall give the following quotation, in the original language. “I dout not, that the rumouris, whilk haif cumin to your Grace’s earis of me, haif bene such, that (yf all reportis wer trew) I wer unworthie to live in the earth. And wonder it is, that the voces of the multitude suld not so have inflamed your Grace’s hart with just hatred of such a one as I am accuseit to be, that all acces to pitie suld have bene schute up. I am traduceit as ane heretick, accusit as a fals teacher, and seducer of the pepill, besydis uther opprobries, whilk (affirmit be men of warldlie honour and estimatioun) may easelie kendill the wrath of majestratis, whair innocencie is not knawin. But blissit be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Chryst, who, by the dew of his heavenlie grace, hath so quenchit the fyre of displeasure as yit in your Grace’s hart, (whilk of lait dayis I have understaud) that Sathan is frustrat of his interpryse and purpois. Whilk is to my hart no small comfort; not so muche (God is witnes) for any benefit that I can resave in this miserable lyfe, by protectioun of any earthlie creature, (for the cupe whilk it behoveth me to drink is apoyntit by the wisdome of him whois consallis ar not changeable) as that I am for that benefit whilk I am assurit your Grace sall resave; yf that ye continew in lyke moderatioun and clemencie towardis utheris, that maist unjustlie ar and sal be accusit, as that your Grace hath begun towardis me, and my most desperat cause.”

    An orator, he continued, might justly require of her Grace a motherly pity towards her subjects, the execution of justice upon murderers and oppressors, a heart free from avarice and partiality, a mind studious of the public welfare, with other virtues which heathen as well as inspired writers required in rulers. But, in his opinion, it was vain to crave reformation of manners, when religion was so much corrupted. He could not propose, in the present letter, to lay open the sources, progress, and extent of those errors and corruptions which had overspread and inundated the Church; but, if Her Majesty would grant him an opportunity and liberty of speech, he was ready to undertake this task. In the mean time, he could not refrain from calling her attention to this important subject, and pointing out to her the fallacy of some general prejudices, by which she was in danger of being deceived. She ought to beware of thinking, that the care of religion did not belong to magistrates, but was devolved wholly on the clergy; that it was a thing incredible that religion should be so universally depraved; or that true religion was to be judged of by the majority of voices, custom, the laws and determinations of men, or any thing but the infallible dictates of inspired Scripture. He knew that innovations in religion were deemed hazardous; but the urgent necessity and immense magnitude of the object ought, in the present case, to swallow up the fear of danger. He was aware that a public reformation might be thought to exceed her authority as regent; but she could not be bound to maintain idolatry and manifest abuses, not to suffer the fury of the clergy to rage in murdering innocent men, merely because they worshipped God according to His Word.

    Though Knox’s pen was not the most smooth nor delicate, and he often irritated by the plainness and severity of his language, the letter to the Queen Regent is far from being uncourtly. It seems to have been written with great care; and, in point of language, it may be compared with any composition of that period, for simplicity and forcible expression. Its strain was well calculated for stimulating the inquiries, and confirming the resolutions of one who was impressed with a conviction of the reigning evils in the Church, or who, though not resolved in judgment as to the matters in controversy, was determined to preserve moderation between the contending parties. Notwithstanding her imposing manners, the Regent was not a person of this description. The Earl of Glencairn delivered the letter into her hand; she glanced at it with a careless air, and gave it to the Archbishop of Glasgow, saying, Please you, my Lord, to read a pasquil. The report of this induced Knox, after he retired from Scotland, to publish the letter, with additions, in which he used a more pointed and severe style.

    While he was thus employed in Scotland, he received letters from the English congregation at Geneva, stating that they had made choice of him as one of their pastors, and urging him to come and take the inspection of them. He judged it his duty to comply with this invitation, and began immediately to prepare for the journey. His wife and mother-in-law had by this time joined him at Edinburgh; and Mrs. Bowes, being now a widow, resolved to accompany her daughter and her husband to Geneva.

    Having sent them before him in a vessel to Dieppe, Knox again visited and took his leave of the brethren in the different places where he had preached. Campbell of Kinneancleugh conducted him to the Earl of Argyle, and he preached for some days in Castle Campbell. Argyle, and the laird of Glenorchy urged him to remain in Scotland, but he resisted all their importunities. “If God so blessed their small beginnings,” he said, “that they continued in godliness, whensoever they pleased to command him, they should find him obedient. But once he must needs visit that little flock, which the wickedness of men had compelled him to leave.”

    Accordingly, in the month of July 1556, he left Scotland, and, arriving at Dieppe, proceeded with his family to Geneva.

    No sooner did the clergy understand that he had quitted the kingdom, than they, in a dastardly manner, renewed the summons against him, which they had deserted during his presence, and, upon his noncompearance, passed sentence against him, adjudging his body to the flames, and his soul to damnation. As his person was out of their reach, they caused his effigy to be ignominiously burned at the cross of Edinburgh. Against this sentence, he drew up his “Appellation”, which he afterwards published, with a supplication and exhortation, directed to the nobility and commonalty of Scotland.

    It may not be improper here to subjoin his summary of the doctrine taught by him, during his late visit to Scotland, which was declared to be so execrable, and subjected the preacher to such horrible pains. He taught, that there was no other name by which men could be saved but that of Jesus, and that all reliance on the merits of any other was vain and delusive; that He, having by His one sacrifice, sanctified and reconciled to God those who should inherit the promised kingdom, all other sacrifices which men pretended to offer for sin were blasphemous; that all men ought to hate sin, which was so odious before God that no other sacrifice could satisfy for it, except the death of His Son; that they ought to magnify their heavenly Father, who did not spare the substance of His glory, but gave Him up to suffer the ignominious and cruel death of the cross for us; and that those who were washed from their former sins were bound to lead a new life, fighting against the lusts of the flesh, and studying to glorify God by good works. In conformity with the certification of his Master, that He would deny and be ashamed of those who should deny and be ashamed of Him and His words before a wicked generation, he further taught, that it was incumbent on those who hoped for life everlasting, to avoid idolatry, superstition, and all vain religion, in one word, every way of worship which was destitute of authority from the Word of God. This doctrine he did believe so conformable to God’s holy Scriptures, that he thought no creature could have been so impudent as to deny any point or article of it; yet him as an heretic, and his doctrine as heretical, had the false bishops and ungodly clergy damned, pronouncing against him the sentence of death, in testification of which, they had burned his picture: from which sentence he appealed to a lawful and general council, to be held, agreeably to ancient laws and canons; humbly requiring the nobility and commons of Scotland, until such time as these controversies were decided, to take him, and others accused and persecuted, under their protection, and to regard this his plain appellation as of no less effect, than if it had been made with greater solemnity and ceremonies.

    The late visit of our Reformer (for so he may now be fitly designed) was of vast consequence. The foundations of that noble edifice, which he was afterwards so instrumental in rearing, were, on this occasion, properly laid.

    Some may be apt to blame him for relinquishing too precipitately, an undertaking which he had so auspiciously begun. But, without pretending to ascertain the train of reflections which occurred to his own mind, we may trace, in his determination, the wise arrangement of that providence which watched over the infant Reformation, and guided the steps of the Reformer. His absence was now no less conducive to the preservation of the cause, than his presence and personal labors had lately been to its advancement. Matters were not yet ripened for a general Reformation in Scotland; and the clergy would never have suffered so zealous and able a champion of the new doctrines to live in the country. By timely withdrawing, he not only preserved his own life, and reserved his labors to a more fit opportunity, but he averted the storm of persecution from the heads of his brethren. Deprived of their teachers, their adversaries became less jealous of them; while, in their private meetings, they continued to confirm one another in the doctrine which they had received, and the seed lately sown had time to take root and to spread.

    Before he took his departure, Knox was careful to give his brethren such directions as he judged most necessary for them, particularly for promoting mutual edification, when they were deprived of the benefit of pastors. Not satisfied with communicating these orally, he committed them to writing in a common letter, which he either left behind him, or sent from Dieppe, to be circulated in the different quarters where he had preached. In this letter, he warmly recommended the exercises of worship and religious instruction in every family. He advised, that those belonging to different families should meet together, if possible, once every week. In these assemblies, they should begin with confession of sins, and invocation of the divine blessing. After a portion of Scripture had been read, if any brother had any exhortation, interpretation, or doubt, he might speak; but this ought to be done with modesty, and a desire to edify, or to be edified; “multiplication of words, perplexed interpretation, and willfulness in reasoning”, being carefully avoided. If any difficulties, which they could not solve, occurred in the course of reading or conference, he advised them to commit these to writing, before they dismissed, that they might submit them to the judgment of the learned. He signified his own readiness to give them his advice and opinion, whenever it should be required. Their assemblies ought always to be closed, as well as opened, by prayer. There is every reason to conclude, that these directions were punctually complied with; this letter may, therefore, be viewed as an important document regarding the state of the Protestant Church in Scotland, previous to the establishment of the Reformation.

    Among his letters are several answers to questions which they had transmitted to him for advice. The questions are such as might be supposed to arise in the minds of serious persons lately made acquainted with the Scripture, difficulted with particular expressions, and at a loss how to apply some of its directions to their situation. They discover an inquisitive and conscientious disposition; and at the same time, illustrate the disadvantages under which ordinary Christians labor when deprived of the assistance of learned teachers. Our Reformer’s answers display an intimate acquaintance with Scripture, dexterity in expounding it, with prudence in giving advice in cases of conscience, so as not to encourage a dangerous laxity on the one hand, or scrupulosity and excessive rigidity on the other.

    Knox reached Geneva before the end of harvest, and took upon him the charge of the English congregation there, among whom he labored during the two following years. This short period was the most quiet of his life.

    In the bosom of his own family, he experienced that soothing care to which he had hitherto been a stranger, and which his frequent bodily ailments required. Two sons were born to him in Geneva. The greatest cordiality among themselves, and affection to him, subsisted in the small flock under his charge. With his colleague, Christopher Goodman, he lived as a brother; and was happy in the friendship of Calvin and the other pastors of Geneva. So much was he pleased with the purity of religion established in that city, that he warmly recommended it to his religious acquaintances in England, as the best Christian asylum to which they could flee. “In my heart,” says he, in a letter to his friend Mr. Locke, “I could have wished, yea, and cannot cease to wish, that it might please God to guide and conduct yourself to this place, where I neither fear nor shame to say, is the most perfect school of Christ that ever was in the earth, since the days of the apostles. In other places I confess Christ to be truly preached; but manners and religion so sincerely reformed, I have not yet seen in any other place beside.”

    But neither the enjoyment of personal accommodations, nor the pleasure of literary society, nor the endearments of domestic happiness, could subdue our Reformer’s ruling passion, or unfix his determination to return to Scotland, as soon as an opportunity should offer for advancing the Reformation among his countrymen. In a letter written to some of his friends in Edinburgh, 16th March 1557, we find him expressing himself thus: “My own motion and daily prayer is, not only that I may visit you, but also that with joy I may end my battle among you. And assure yourself of that, that whenever a greater number among you shall call upon me than now hath bound me to serve them, by His grace it shall not be the fear of punishment, neither yet of the death temporal, that shall impede my coming to you,” A certain heroic confidence, and assurance of ultimate success have often been displayed by those whom Providence has raised up to achieve great revolutions in the world; by which they have been borne up under discouragements which would have overwhelmed men of ordinary spirits, and emboldened to face dangers from which others would have shrunk appalled. This enthusiastic heroism (I use not the epithet in a bad sense) often blazed forth in the conduct of the great German Reformer. Knox possessed no inconsiderable portion of the same spirit. “Satan, I confess, rageth,” says he, in a letter nearly of the same date with that last quoted; “but potent is He that promised to be with us, in all such enterprises as we take in hand at His commandment, for the glory of His name, and for maintenance of His true religion. And therefore the less fear we any contrary power: yea, in the boldness of our God, we altogether contemn them, be they kings, emperors, men, angels, or devils. For they shall never be able to prevail against the simple truth of God which we openly profess: by the permission of God, they may appear to prevail against our bodies; but our cause shall triumph in despite of Satan.”

    Within a month after he wrote the letter last quoted but one, James Syme, who had been his host at Edinburgh, and James Barron, another burgess of the same city, arrived at Geneva with a letter, and credence, from the Earl of Glencairn, Lords Lorn, Erskine, and James Stewart, informing him that those who had professed the Reformed doctrine remained steadfast, that its adversaries were daily losing credit in the nation, and that those who possessed the supreme authority, although they had not yet declared themselves friendly, still refrained from persecution; and inviting him in their own name, and in that of their brethren, to return to Scotland, where he would find them all ready to receive him, and to spend their lives and fortunes in advancing the cause which they had espoused.


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