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shall move his heart." As a matter of practice, the Creed and the
Lord*s Prayer came to be omitted. Wodrow (about 17 14) has a
touching story of a very old minister, who astonished his congrega-
tion by using the Lord's Prayer. He explained that, for once, he
wished to do what all Christians were doing.

There is a form for baptism, and for the communion, where the
minister may use words " like in effect." As a rule, long and many
sermons preceded the communion. In burial there are " no cere-
monies," but the minister goes, after the interment, to the church,
"if it be not far off," and preaches on death and the resurrection.
Such was " Knox's Liturgy." It is intended as a mere guide, and
there is intentional licence for variation. " Free prayer " came to be
preferred. ■ Hence James VI., on his accession to the EngUsh throne,
could say that " it was a shame to all religion to have the majesty of
God so barbarously spoken unto, sometimes so seditiously that their
prayers were plain libels, girding at sovereignty and authority ; or lies,
being stuffed with all the false reports in the kingdom." The prayers,
in fact, were political discourses, chiefly against James.^* The prayers,
as many of us know, have become not extemporary, but, in great
part, a collection of formulae, derived from oral tradition. When
extemporary, they are occasionally " barbarous," as when a proba-
tioner said, " O Lord, keep one eye on the minister of this con-
gregation," whereat broad smiles beaconed from the minister's pew.

Such were, and such became, the services of " the Trew Kirk."



They were constructed so as to give the Spirit of God free play, and
the bare burials were arranged on purpose to check the superstitious
opinion that the departed soul might receive any benefit. As for
the organisation of the Kirk, it was based on the Book of Discipline,
which, again, rested on the Book of Common Order. All who
preach or minister the Sacraments must first be " orderly called."
Knox's own call, in St Andrews Castle, has been described. The
processes were election, examination, and admission. " It apper-
taineth to the people, and to every several congregation, to elect
their minister," though, as we shall see, a different theory was later
put forward. If this be neglected for forty days, the superintendent's
church presents a man. Examination was conducted in one of the
chief towns, " before men of soundest judgment, . . . and before
the congregation." The candidate had to interpret an appointed
passage of the Bible. He was then examined in the chief points at
issue with the enemies of Christian religion, such as Rome, Ana-
baptists, and Arians. He then confessed his faith " in diverse public
sermons." If the Kirk presented one candidate and the people
another, the man of the people's choice, if learned enough, was
preferred. No man was to be violently " intruded." The morals
of a candidate were carefully examined, in his own district. No
ceremony was used on admission. The apostles, indeed, practised
" the laying on of hands, yet, seeing the miracle is ceased, the using
of the ceremony we judge not necessary." Not that miracles had
really ceased ; the Spirit still moved men, but did not necessarily
move, or inspire, or consecrate them, as a result of human im-
position of hands. In no long time the "imposition of hands"
became the rule. In addition to ministers, there were readers,
in cases where no qualified minister could be found.

Gouda, the Papal Nuncio, says, " The ministers are either
apostate monks or laymen of low rank, and are quite unlearned,
being cobblers, shoemakers, tanners, or the like." Yet he admits
that the few Catholic preachers "seldom venture to attack con-
troverted points, being indeed unequal to the task of handling
them with effect." ^5 The fifth head of the Book of Discipline
introduces us to a third order, that of superintendents. They
were not bishops, and were a purely provisional rank in the Kirk.
" Differences between preachers " (the superintendents receiving
higher stipends) were only made " for this time." ^^ Ten or
twelve men were appointed to each of the provinces, to journey


throughout it, preaching as they went, seeing to the sacraments and
church discipHne, presiding at meetings of the provincial synod, and
at examinations of ministers and readers. ^^ There was no consecra-
tion of the superintendent by other superintendents. In fact, the
superintendent, for various reasons, was nothing less than a bishop.
There were to be, for these and other officers of the Kirk, due
stipends, with pensions, education, and dowries for widows, sons,
and daughters. The superintendent, having expensive duties, was to
have a higher salary. Provision for the poor and for education was
insisted upon. "Fearful and horrible it is that the poor . . . are
universally so contemned and despised." This had not been so
in the better days of the Church. " In times past," says Latimer,
speaking of his youth, before the Reformation, " men were full of
pity and compassion, but now there is no pity. . . . When any man
died, they would bequeath great sums of money towards the relief of
the poor. . . . Charity is waxen cold ; none helpeth the scholar, nor
yet the poor ; now that the knowledge of God's Word is brought to
light, . . . now almost no man helpeth to maintain them." ^^ The
Romish doctrines of Purgatory and of Works had been overthrown,
and in Latimer's remarks we see the temporary results.

As for schools, each church ought to have a schoolmaster, capable
of teaching Latin and grammar at least. All children must be
educated, rich and poor, the poor being supported "on the charge
of the Church." Those adapted for the higher education (includ-
ing Greek) must persevere therein till the age of twenty-four.
Into the regulations for the universities space does not permit us
to enter ; for some years the universities suffered from the con-
fusions of the age.

The sixth head of the book is an appeal to the Lords "that
ye have respect to your poor brethren, the labourers of the
ground, who, by these cruel beasts, the Papists, have been
so oppressed." They should only pay " reasonable teinds,"
" that they may feel some benefit of Christ Jesus, now preached
unto them. \Y\t\\ the grief of our hearts we hear that some gentle-
men are now as cruel to their tenants as ever were the Papists " ; the
tyranny is now that of " the lord or laird." Gentlemen must live
"on their just rents." The "teinds" are inherited from "thieves
and murderers." The whole revenue of all cathedral churches should
be given to the universities and superintendents. The Kirk and the
poor were to be the heirs of the Church. This could not be carried.


In January 1561 a number of nobles signed the Book of Discipline,
but "others, in their mockage," — nameh', Lethington, — "termed it
'devout imaginations.' "^^ "There was none within the reahn more
unmerciful to the poor ministers than were they which had greatest
rents off the churches." Even the signers of the book guarded
"vested interests," only providing that "the bishops, abbots, priors,
and other prelates and beneficed men who have adjoined themselves
to us, keep the revenues of their benefices during their lifetime, they
sustaining the ministry and ministers." " This promise was eluded
from time to time." ^'^

The chapter on Ecclesiastical Discipline was even politically
important. The Kirk corrected the faults not reached by civil
justice, but she also, in the last result, corrected them by secular
means. The State should punish adultery by death : the Kirk
kept her eye, very sedulously, on simple fornication. An offender
was first spied out, and admonished privately, apparently by the
elders : if impenitent, the minister admonished him : if still recalci-
trant, he was, after sufficient delays and exhortations, excommuni-
cated — that is, universally boycotted, perhaps for profane swearing
or drunkenness. All Estates are subject to this discipline ; so
that the Kirk could cut off from all human intercourse, except that
of the family, the queen if she swore, or the Chancellor if he broke
the Seventh Commandment.'^^ To carry her ideas into action, the
Kirk needed a police. This she found in the elders, who had to
observe the morals even of the ministers. Finance was the province
of the deacons. " Prophesying " — that is, discussion of the Scrip-
tures — was to be done weekly in towns. The organisation of
Church government was not yet complete. The General Assembly
came to have jurisdiction over the whole Kirk : each province had
its synod, and the kirk-session served for " one or more neighbour-
ing congregations." The germ of the presbytery was in the weekly
meetings of ministers and elders for " exercise," or " prophesying."
The whole scheme was more completely evolved later, but the
First Book of Discipline contains the seeds of the organisation.
Naturally it included the usual denunciations of idolatry. It in-
volved a system of espionnage, and interference with private life,
which (if we may judge from the cases recorded in kirk-session
reports) produced little or no effect on sexual morality, always the
main subject (with witchcraft and Sabbath-breaking) of inquisition.

The Reformation, now organised, gave the Scots a theology in


which the Brethren could believe. Its austere ethics, more than
its "discipline," fostered righteousness of life. Its clergy, far unlike
the old churchmen, set admirable examples of private conduct. In
the worst ages the Kirk cherished education. But the spirit of
gentleness, the detestation of cruel punishments, and the humaner
virtues did not rapidly arise under the armed and iron sway of the
Kirk. Her ministers arrogated to themselves a kind of infallibility
in matters poHtical. No longer members of a miraculous caste,
some of them prophesied, and were credited with the power of
healing diseases and other supernormal gifts. A long struggle
between Kirk and State, king and preacher, lay before Scotland.

After sketching the organisation of the new Kirk, we may glance
at a more speculative theme. What was the genesis, what the
nature, of the new theology and religion of Scotland ? These
have exercised strange powers of attraction and repulsion among
people of later times. Among believing men, Wesley and Samuel
Johnson were at one in regarding Knox and Knox's creed with
extreme aversion. On the other hand, men like Mr Froude and
Mr Carlyle, whose Calvinism was purely platonic, are constant in
praise of the Reformer and his doctrine. Why did Scotland choose
Calvinism, and so dig a new and scarcely passable gulf between
herself and England, with which the Protestants desired union ?
It is an easy, and not a wholly untrue, reply that Knox had lived
in Geneva, and brought Genevan ideas home. Another opinion
is that Calvinism had a kind of elective affinity for the Scottish
national genius. " In the theology of the Calvinistic system the
Scottish intellect found scope for that dialectic which has always
been its natural function." So writes Knox's latest biographer.*^
But was " abstract dialectic " the "natural function " of the Scottish
intellect ? Since very early ages of scholasticism, it is not easy to
remember the names of any Scots who were abstract thinkers.
Poets they had, diplomatists, scholars, soldiers, and lawyers. But
au fond the Scottish mind is practical. The Scottish speculations
on man's destiny, and relations to the Supreme Being, soon came
to be expressed, with grotesque precision, in the formula of the
Scottish law of contract. That is the very reverse of abstract

After Wishart's day, and after the day of the English Prayer-
Book of Edward VI., the Scottish preference for the Calvinistic
system was caused by two motives. First, of all eligible


systems Calvinism was most remote from Rome. Secondly,
Calvinism was the cheapest system, entailing no expense on arch-
bishops, bishops, deans, canons, cathedrals, and other luxuries.
For these the new lay holders of Church lands were determined
not to pay : they could scarcely be compelled to afford the
starveling stipends of the ministers. The influence of Knox's
Genevan associations must also be admitted. If Calvinism " met
the highest needs of the national mind," it also harmonised with the
national instinct of " hauding a gude grip of the gear," and with the
desire of the godly to escape as far from everything Roman as
possible. Despite the supposed national genius for abstract thought,
it is plain, as Mr Hume Brown not very consistently, but very
frankly, enables us to observe, that Calvinism meant a strenuous
economy in thinking. " When Knox had extracted his theological
system from the Bible " (which he did " by the ingenious combina-
tion of texts divorced from their natural and historical meaning "),
" and held it in his hand embodied in an elaborate Confession
of Faith, his labour as a thinking agent was at an end." " To add
to this compendium or take from it was alike an impiety which
deserved due penalties in this world, and would certainly ensure
them in the next." Yet Knox's system " to a large extent would
have been unrecognisable by any writer either in the Old or New
Testament." *^

Perhaps the dangers of varying from Knox's " compendium "
are here exaggerated. Of course if the critic is right, if every-
thing safely thinkable had been thought out by Knox and could
be read in his book, a people with a genius for abstract dialectic
would have rejected the book, or would have intellectually starved.
Their thinking was presented to them ready-made, with the im-
print ne varietur. Practically, some people, and some preachers,
must think. We know certainly that the later children of "the
second Reformation," of the Covenant, had their speculative
perplexities. The Memoirs of HaUiburton, a famous St Andrews
preacher of the early eighteenth century, show, in a very touching
style, how his youth was a long battle with doubt. Evidence even
as to the existence of a Deity was to him, as he says in oddly
modern phrase, " a felt want." He fell back on subjective experi-
ences. Ideas arose from his sub-consciousness which he could
only explain as suggestions of the devil. Grant a devil, and there
is no difficulty in granting the existence of a Deity. We know from


the memoirs of poor uneducated Presbyterians that every modern
problem as to Revelation was famihar to their minds. They saw
that there were many creeds : what evidence existed to prove that
theirs was the genuine belief? They had to fight for the life of
their souls, like men of later days. The system of Knox obviously
reposes on a circular argument. The Bible is absolutely inspired,
though Knox thought that the apostles had moments of defective
inspiration when their words did not harmonise with his con-
clusions. Apparently he, John Knox, was always inspired. But
he could not bring all the w6rld into this belief. When the
question arose as to the interpretation of Scripture, Knox had
got rid of the infallible Church, and the only substitute was the
infallibility of popularly elected preachers, or of preachers elected
by the extant preachers of the day. On this point he did not
like to be catechised. There was his " compendium " ; it must be
swallowed, like the little book in the Apocalypse. Thus Knox's
system really owed its charm to its thriftiness of thought and
money, — its concrete, practical character.

While theology stood thus, the religion, for its ethics, went back
to early Christian morality, without the " sweet reasonableness " of
the founder of the creed. Compare Knox in his conversations with
Mary, and St Paul in his dialogues with Festus and Felix, or in his
speech at Athens. The morality of the Kirk was austere and primi-
tive where sexual sins were concerned. It was not in the spirit of the
Master's words to the woman of Samaria, or to the woman taken in
adultery, or to her out of whom seven devils were cast. Even in
denouncing avarice and oppression, Knox speaks more like Amos
than with the persuasiveness of St James or St John. The per-
secuting violence of Knox is confessedly modelled on Samuel,
Joshua, and Jehu, — on these strange prophets and politicians of a
law given " for the hardness of men's hearts." " For Knox, as
for Calvin and Luther," says Mr Hume Brown, " Jesus was not the
emasculated figure of certain types of Christianity, but as much ' a
son of thunder ' as any of the ancient prophets." ** That was Knox's
fatal error. It is not "an emasculated figure" who tells the "sons
of thunder " that they know not what spirit they are of. Knox was
for punishing differences in theological opinion with death. " But
I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do
good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despiteiuUy
use you, and persecute you ; that ye may be the children of your


Father which is in heaven." Not to this text did Knox give ear,
but to such words as, " Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how
can ye escape the damnation of hell ? " Knox's gospel had its
admirable elements, in its insistence on personal purity in private
life, and on duty towards the poor. These precepts were in noble
and salutary contrast with the practice of most churchmen during
the last four or five generations. Again, the new evangel insisted
on veracity, "at least as far as we are able." Men were not to
profess belief where they disbelieved, but, alas ! Catholics must for-
swear their belief, or at least must abstain from its rites ; must profess
to believe what they did not believe. The whole theory of the duty
of destroying idolaters was congenial to a nation of long-cherished
revenges, violent crimes, and deadly feuds. But it was eminently
unchristian, as was that " spiritual " hatred which betrayed Knox
into scandalous insinuations ; and that bullying truculence of tone,
which was rebuked by the urbanity of Ninian Winzet. There was,
in short, a great deal of " the old man " in Knox's character and
gospel. This was natural, and pardonable ; but that his gospel and
example were ideally excellent, and an unmixed boon to his country,
few of his countrymen, who know Knox and his Reformation at first
hand, are Hkely to contend.

How did the Catholics take their new fortunes ? Unhappily we
know very little on the subject. The country must have seemed
strangely desolate to souls of the old faith. The familiar shrines
were vacant of their saints. " The blessed mutter of the mass " was
silent : the candles were extinguished, the vestments were cut up for
doublets, the last incense-smoke had rolled away. In lonely green
cleughs of Ettrickdale the chapels were desecrated ; the crosses by
the wayside had perished ; the Angelus no longer called to prayer ;
the tombs were stripped and spoiled. If all these things had exer-
cised their ministry in stimulating, and consoling, and regulating the
religious emotions _; if the extreme rites of the Church had fortified
men in the hour of death, — the souls that desired them starved.

How much misery this caused we know not, and cannot know.
Religious ardour is seldom very common in the world, and perhaps
the majority of both sexes who possessed the religious temperament
were earnest Protestants. Of the fervent Catholics, lay or clerical,
many emigrated, and not a few became distinguished in foreign
colleges. The populace most resented the abolition of ecclesi-
astical holidays : that, probably, was what chiefly galled. Of the


clergy, most abjured, and one monk of seventy seized the occasion
to marry. The other priests dressed as laymen : the few religious
who were left wandered about in secular costume. " A large number
of the common people are still Catholics, but they are so trampled
in the dust by the tyranny of their opponents that they can only
sigh and groan, waiting for the deliverance of Israel." In any
court of law, suitors were first asked " if they were Papists ? Should
they be, they can get very little attention, if any, paid to their
cause." "The monasteries were nearly all in ruins, some com-
pletely destroyed ; churches, altars, sanctuaries, are overthrown and
profaned, the images of Christ and the saints broken and lying in
the dust." Official accounts present us with the same picture. In
September 1563 the Privy Council considered the case of the Abbey
Church of Dunfermline, which still exists, though much depraved by
"restoration," The walls were "riven," there w^as no glass in the
windows ; it is great peril and danger to bide within the kirk, either
in time of prayers, teaching, or preaching of the Word of God. The
lay holders of the property, Pitcairn being Commendator, were
ordered to keep the abbey in repair, and glaze the windows. This
kind of ruin was everywhere.^^ The superintendents, on their
rounds, drove out Catholic incumbents. So, two years later,
Nicholas de Gouda, S.J., wrote to the General of the Society of
Jesus.^*^ His narrative makes it clear that the Catholics had neither
cohesion nor leaders. Some nobles secretly practised the rites of
the Church, but the bishops were, as a rule, timid worldlings, and
the few Catholic preachers (with rare exceptions, to be later noted)
had scanty knowledge and no skill in controversy.

One exception to the rule has been mentioned, and we must not
forget another. Historians of Scotland say little or nothing about
Ninian Winzet, a Catholic schoolmaster expelled from his school at
Linlithgow. But in Winzet we find a man of courage and of
courtesy, who dared to face Knox himself, putting questions which
the Reformer did not answer. On February 15, 1562 (to anticipate
the course of political events), Winzet, the expelled dominie, asked
Mary's leave to propound certain articles to the preachers. Pre-
sently, in February, Winzet conveyed to Knox a tractate, ' Is John
Knox a lawful Minister?' What Winzet says must be translated,
for he prided himself on writing Scots, not English like his adver-
sary. Lawful ministers are (i) those called by God only, and their
call is vouched for " by power of the Spirit, or by miracles."

go NINIAN WINZET (1562).

" Where," asks Winzet, " Mr Knox, are your miracles wrought by
the Spirit ? " Knox might have referred to his prophecies, like that
about Mary of Guise. He is so fond of dwelling on his successes as
a prophet that probably he did regard them as proof that he was
called by God. They were not of a nature to satisfy hostile criticism.
Next, if Knox was called by men, "had they lawful power thereto,
like the ministers called by the apostles?" This was an awkward
question, for we know the nature of Knox's call. Other unpleasant
questions were asked.^''' On March 3, 1562, Winzet complained
that Knox had not noticed him " in writing privately," as he desired,
but had only preached on the subject. He directed his letter
"Rarae eruditionis facundiaeque viro, Joanni Knox" — "To John
Knox, a man of singular learning and eloquence." He had ended
his note, " Farewell in Christ, and endeavour to let truth prevail, not
the individual man." Knox probably answered, for on March 10
Winzet responded. Knox had objected that John the Baptist was
called by God, yet wrought no miracles. Winzet replied that his
prophecies about Christ were fulfilled. Amos was another example
cited by Knox in support of his own call. But Winzet replied that
Scripture vouched that Amos was sent by God, and that visible signs
were shown to him by God. Even so, Amos did not assume to
hold the authority of High Bishop of Jerusalem, "as ye do as present
of the Primate of Scotland, in Edinburgh."

On March 12 Winzet returned to the charge. He wanted a
written answer, not a sermon. Knox has renounced his orders,
as given by a Popish bishop. Why does he not, by parity of
reasoning, renounce his baptism ? On March 3 1 Winzet addressed
the Edinburgh magistrates. The occasion he states himself. On
Easter Monday the doors of Catholics had been marked with
chalk by order of the bailies, probably for some reason of religious
police. Next day the doors of Calvinists were found marked in
the same way. These occasions of disturbance put Winzet on
thinking "how happy a thing it were if every man might live
according to his vocation at ane tranquillity in godliness." His

Online LibraryAndrew LangA history of Scotland from the Roman occupation (Volume 2) → online text (page 10 of 60)