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problem of difficulty, one of the central problems of his career and of
the distracted age. In modern phrase, he wished to know how far, and in
what fashion, persons of one religion might resist another religion,
imposed upon them by the State of which they were subjects. On this
point we have now no doubt, but in the sixteenth century "Authority" was
held sacred, and martyrdom, according to Calvin, was to be preferred to
civil war. If men were Catholics, and if the State was Protestant, they
were liable, later, under Knox, to fines, exile, and death; but power was
not yet given to him. If they were Protestants under a Catholic ruler,
or Puritans under Anglican authority, Knox himself had laid down the rule
of their conduct in his letter to his Berwick congregation. {45}
"Remembering always, beloved brethren, that due obedience be given to
magistrates, rulers, and princes, without tumult, grudge, or sedition.
For, howsoever wicked themselves be in life, or howsoever ungodly their
precepts or commandments be, ye must obey them for conscience' sake;
except in chief points of religion, and then ye ought rather to obey God
than man: _not to pretend to defend God's truth or religion, ye being
subjects, by violence or sword, but patiently suffering what God shall
please be laid upon you for constant confession of your faith and
belief_." Man or angel who teaches contrary doctrine is corrupt of
judgment, sent by God to blind the unworthy. And Knox proceeded to teach
contrary doctrine!

His truly Christian ideas are of date 1552, with occasional revivals as
opportunity suggested. In exile he was now asking (1554), how was a
Protestant minority or majority to oppose the old faith, backed by kings
and princes, fire and sword? He answered the question in direct
contradiction of his Berwick programme: he was now all for active
resistance. Later, in addressing Mary of Guise, and on another occasion,
he recurred to his Berwick theory, and he always found biblical texts to
support his contradictory messages.

At this moment resistance seemed hopeless enough. In England the
Protestants of all shades were decidedly in a minority. They had no
chance if they openly rose in arms; their only hope was in the death of
Mary Tudor and the succession of Elizabeth - itself a poor hope in the
eyes of Knox, who detested the idea of a female monarch. Might they "bow
down in the House of Rimmon" by a feigned conformity? Knox, in a letter
to the Faithful, printed in 1554, entirely rejected this compromise, to
which Cecil stooped, thereby deserving hell, as the relentless Knox (who
had fled) later assured him.

In the end of March 1554, probably, Knox left Dieppe for Geneva, where he
could consult Calvin, not yet secure in his despotism, though he had
recently burned Servetus. Next he went to Zurich, and laid certain
questions before Bullinger, who gave answers in writing as to Knox's

Could a woman rule a kingdom by divine right, and transfer the same to
her husband? - Mary Tudor to Philip of Spain, is, of course, to be
understood. Bullinger replied that it was a hazardous thing for the
godly to resist the laws of a country. Philip the eunuch, though
converted, did not drive Queen Candace out of Ethiopia. If a tyrannous
and ungodly Queen reign, godly persons "have example and consolation in
the case of Athaliah." The transfer of power to a husband is an affair
of the laws of the country.

Again, must a ruler who enforces "idolatry" be obeyed? May true
believers, in command of garrisons, repel "this ungodly violence"?
Bullinger answered, in effect, that "it is very difficult to pronounce
upon every particular case." He had not the details before him. In
short, nothing definite was to be drawn out of Bullinger. {47a}

Dr. M'Crie observes, indeed, that Knox submitted to the learned of
Switzerland "certain difficult questions, which were suggested by the
present condition of affairs in England, and about which his mind had
been greatly occupied. Their views with respect to these coinciding with
his own, he was confirmed in the judgment which he had already formed for
himself." {47b}

In fact, Knox himself merely says that he had "reasoned with" pastors and
the learned; he does not say that they agreed with him, and they
certainly did not. Despite the reserve of Bullinger and of Calvin, Knox
was of his new opinions still. These divines never backed his views.

By May, Knox had returned to Dieppe, and published an epistle to the
Faithful. The rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyatt had been put down, a blow to
true religion. We have no evidence that Knox stimulated the rising, but
he alludes once to his exertions in favour of the Princess Elizabeth. The
details are unknown.

In July, apparently, Knox printed his "Faithful Admonition to the
Professors of God's Truth in England," and two editions of the tract were
published in that country. The pamphlet is full of violent language
about "the bloody, butcherly brood" of persecutors, and Knox spoke of
what might have occurred had the Queen "been sent to hell before these
days." The piece presents nothing, perhaps, so plain spoken about the
prophet's right to preach treason as a passage in the manuscript of an
earlier Knoxian epistle of May 1554 to the Faithful. "The prophets of
God sometimes may teach treason against kings, and yet neither he, nor
such as obey the word spoken in the Lord's name by him, offends God."
{48} That sentence contains doctrine not submitted to Bullinger by Knox.
He could not very well announce himself to Bullinger as a "prophet of
God." But the sentence, which occurs in manuscript copies of the letter
of May 1554, does not appear in the black letter printed edition. Either
Knox or the publisher thought it too risky.

In the published "Admonition," however, of July 1554, we find Knox
exclaiming: "God, for His great mercy's sake, stir up some Phineas,
Helias, or Jehu, that the blood of abominable idolaters may pacify God's
wrath, that it consume not the whole multitude. Amen." {49a} This is a
direct appeal to the assassin. If anybody will play the part of Phinehas
against "idolaters" - that is the Queen of England and Philip of
Spain - God's anger will be pacified. "Delay not thy vengeance, O Lord,
but let death devour them in haste . . . For there is no hope of their
amendment, . . . He shall send Jehu to execute his just judgments against
idolaters. Jezebel herself shall not escape the vengeance and plagues
that are prepared for her portion." {49b} These passages are essential.
Professor Hume Brown expresses our own sentiments when he remarks: "In
casting such a pamphlet into England at the time he did, Knox indulged
his indignation, in itself so natural under the circumstances, at no
personal risk, while he seriously compromised those who had the strongest
claims on his most generous consideration." This is plain truth, and
when some of Knox's English brethren later behaved to him in a manner
which we must wholly condemn, their conduct, they said, had for a motive
the mischief done to Protestants in England by his fiery "Admonition,"
and their desire to separate themselves from the author of such a

Knox did not, it will be observed, here call all or any of the faithful
to a general massacre of their Catholic fellow-subjects. He went to that
length later, as we shall show. In an epistle of 1554 he only writes:
"Some shall demand, 'What then, shall we go and slay all idolaters?'
_That_ were the office, dear brethren, of every civil magistrate within
his realm. . . . The slaying of idolaters appertains not to every
particular man." {49c}

This means that every Protestant king should massacre all his
inconvertible Catholic subjects! This was indeed a counsel of
perfection; but it could never be executed, owing to the carnal policy of
worldly men.

In writing about "the office of the civil magistrate," Knox, a Border
Scot of the age of the blood feud, seems to have forgotten, first, that
the Old Testament prophets of the period were not unanimous in their
applause of Jehu's massacre of the royal family; next, that between the
sixteenth century A.D. and Jehu, had intervened the Christian revelation.
Our Lord had given no word of warrant to murder or massacre! No
persecuted apostle had dealt in appeals to the dagger. As for Jehu, a
prophet had condemned _his_ conduct. Hosea writes that the Lord said
unto him, "Yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel
upon the house of Jehu," but doubtless Knox would have argued that Hosea
was temporarily uninspired, as he argued about St. Paul and St. James

However this delicate point may be settled, the appeal for a Phinehas is
certainly unchristian. The idolaters, the unreformed, might rejoice,
with the Nuncio of 1583, that the Duc de Guise had a plan for murdering
Elizabeth, though it was not to be communicated to the Vicar of God, who
should have no such dealings against "that wicked woman." To some
Catholics, Elizabeth: to Knox, Mary was as Jezebel, and might laudably be
assassinated. In idolaters nothing can surprise us; when persecuted
they, in their unchristian fashion, may retort with the dagger or the
bowl. But that Knox should have frequently maintained the doctrine of
death to religious opponents is a strange and deplorable circumstance. In
reforming the Church of Christ he omitted some elements of Christianity.

Suppose, for a moment, that in deference to the teaching of the Gospel,
Knox had never called for a Jehu, but had ever denounced, by voice and
pen, those murderous deeds of his own party which he celebrates as "godly
facts," he would have raised Protestantism to a moral pre-eminence. Dark
pages of Scottish history might never have been written: the consciences
of men might have been touched, and the cruelties of the religious
conflict might have been abated. Many of them sprang from the fear of

But Knox in some of his writings identified his cause with the palace
revolutions of an ancient Oriental people. Not that he was a man of
blood; when in France he dissuaded Kirkcaldy of Grange and others from
stabbing the gaolers in making their escape from prison. Where idolaters
in official position were concerned, and with a pen in his hand, he had
no such scruples. He was a child of the old pre-Christian scriptures; of
the earlier, not of the later prophets.


The consequences of the "Admonition" came home to Knox when English
refugees in Frankfort, impeded by him and others in the use of their
Liturgy, accused him of high treason against Philip and Mary, and the
Emperor, whom he had compared to Nero as an enemy of Christ.

The affair of "The Troubles at Frankfort" brought into view the great
gulf for ever fixed between Puritanism and the Church of England. It was
made plain that Knox and the Anglican community were of incompatible
temperaments, ideas, and, we may almost say, instincts. To Anglicans
like Cranmer, Knox, from the first, was as antipathetic as they were to
him. "We can assure you," wrote some English exiles for religion's sake
to Calvin, "that that outrageous pamphlet of Knox's" (his "Admonition")
"added much oil to the flame of persecution in England. For before the
publication of that book not one of our brethren had suffered death; but
as soon as it came forth we doubt not but you are well aware of the
number of excellent men who have perished in the flames; to say nothing
of how many other godly men have been exposed to the risk of all their
property, and even life itself, on the sole ground of either having had
this book in their possession or having read it."

Such were the charges brought against Knox by these English Protestant
exiles, fleeing from the persecution that followed the "Admonition," and,
they say, took fresh ferocity from that tract.

The quarrel between Knox and them definitely marks the beginning of the
rupture between the fathers of the Church of England and the fathers of
Puritanism, Scottish Presbyterianism, and Dissent. The representatives
of Puritans and of Anglicans were now alike exiled, poor, homeless,
without any abiding city. That they should instantly quarrel with each
other over their prayer book (that which Knox had helped to correct) was,
as Calvin told them, "extremely absurd." Each faction probably
foresaw - certainly Knox's party foresaw - that, in the English
congregation at Frankfort, a little flock barely tolerated, was to be
settled the character of Protestantism in England, if ever England
returned to Protestantism. "This evil" (the acceptance of the English
Second Book of Prayer of Edward VI.) "shall in time be established . . .
and never be redressed, neither shall there for ever be an end of this
controversy in England," wrote Knox's party to the Senate of Frankfort.
The religious disruption in England was, in fact, incurable, but so it
would have been had the Knoxians prevailed in Frankfort. The difference
between the Churchman and the Dissenter goes to the root of the English
character; no temporary triumph of either side could have brought Peace
and union. While the world stands they will not be peaceful and united.

The trouble arose thus. At the end of June 1554, some English exiles of
the Puritan sort, men who objected to surplices, responses, kneeling at
the Communion, and other matters of equal moment, came to Frankfort. They
obtained leave to use the French Protestant Chapel, provided that they
"should not dissent from the Frenchmen in doctrine or ceremonies, lest
they should thereby minister occasions of offence." They had then to
settle what Order of services they should use; "anything they pleased,"
said the magistrates of Frankfort, "as long as they and the French kept
the peace." They decided to adopt the English Order, barring responses,
the Litany, the surplice, "and many other things." {54} The Litany was
regarded by Knox as rather of the nature of magic than of prayer, the
surplice was a Romish rag, and there was some other objection to the
congregation's taking part in the prayers by responses, though they were
not forbidden to mingle their voices in psalmody. Dissidium valde
absurdum - "a very absurd quarrel," among exiled fellow-countrymen, said
Calvin, was the dispute which arose on these points. The Puritans,
however, decided to alter the service to their taste, and enjoyed the use
of the chapel. They had obtained a service which they were not likely to
have been allowed to enforce in England had Edward VI. lived; but on this
point they were of another opinion.

This success was providential. They next invited English exiles abroad
to join them at Frankfort, saying nothing about their mutilations of the
service book. If these brethren came in, when they were all restored to
England, if ever they were restored, their example, that of sufferers,
would carry the day, and their service would for ever be that of the
Anglican Church. The other exiled brethren, on receiving this
invitation, had enough of the wisdom of the serpent to ask, "Are we to be
allowed to use our own prayer book?" The answer of the godly of
Frankfort evaded the question. At last the Frankfort Puritans showed
their hand: they disapproved of various things in the Prayer Book. Knox,
summoned from Geneva, a reluctant visitor, was already one of their
preachers. In November 1554 came Grindal, later Archbishop of
Canterbury, from Zurich, ready to omit some ceremonies, so that he and
his faction might have "the substance" of the Prayer Book. Negotiations
went on, and it was proposed by the Puritans to use the Geneva service.
But Knox declined to do that, without the knowledge of the non-Puritan
exiles at Zurich and elsewhere, or to use the English book, and offered
his resignation. Nothing could be more fair and above-board.

There was an inchoate plan for a new Order. That failed; and Knox, with
others, consulted Calvin, giving him a sketch of the nature of the
English service. They drew his attention to the surplice; the Litany,
"devised by Pope Gregory," whereby "we use a certain conjuring of God";
the kneeling at the Communion; the use of the cross in baptism, and of
the ring in marriage, clearly a thing of human, if not of diabolical
invention, and the "imposition of hands" in confirmation. The churching
of women, they said, is both Pagan and Jewish. "Other things not so much
shame itself as a certain kind of pity compelleth us to keep close."

"The tone of the letter throughout was expressly calculated to prejudice
Calvin on the point submitted to him," says Professor Hume Brown. {56}
Calvin replied that the quarrel might be all very well if the exiles were
happy and at ease in their circumstances, though in the Liturgy, as
described, there were "tolerable (endurable) follies." On the whole he
sided with the Knoxian party. The English Liturgy is not pure enough;
and the English exiles, not at Frankfort, merely like it because they are
accustomed to it. Some are partial to "popish dregs."

To the extreme Reformers no break with the past could be too abrupt and
precipitous: the framers of the English Liturgy had rather adopted the
principle of evolution than of development by catastrophe, and had wedded
what was noblest in old Latin forms and prayers to music of the choicest
English speech. To this service, for which their fellow-religionists in
England were dying at the stake, the non-Frankfortian exiles were
attached. They were Englishmen; their service, they said, should bear
"an English face": so Knox avers, who could as yet have no patriotic love
of any religious form as exclusively and essentially Scottish.

A kind of truce was now proclaimed, to last till May 1, 1555; Knox aiding
in the confection of a service without responses, "some part taken out of
the English book, and other things put to," while Calvin, Bullinger, and
three others were appointed as referees. The Frankfort congregation had
now a brief interval of provisional peace, till, on March 13, 1555,
Richard Cox, with a band of English refugees, arrived. He had been tutor
to Edward VI., the young Marcellus of Protestantism, but for Frankfort he
was not puritanic enough. His company would give a large majority to the
anti-Knoxian congregation. He and his at once uttered the responses, and
on Sunday one of them read the Litany. This was an unruly infraction of
the provisional agreement. Cox and his party (April 5) represented to
Calvin that they had given up surplices, crosses, and other things, "not
as impure and papistical," but as indifferent, and for the sake of peace.
This was after they had driven Knox from the place, as they presently
did; in the beginning it was distinctly their duty to give up the Litany
and responses, while the truce lasted, that is, till the end of April. In
the afternoon of the Sunday Knox preached, denouncing the morning's
proceedings, the "impurity" of the Prayer Book, of which "I once had a
good opinion," and the absence, in England, of "discipline," that is,
interference by preachers with private life. Pluralities also he
denounced, and some of the exiles had been pluralists.

For all this Knox was "very sharply reproved," as soon as he left the
pulpit. Two days later, at a meeting, he insisted that Cox's people
should have a vote in the congregation, thus making the anti-puritans a
majority; Knox's conduct was here certainly chivalrous: "I fear not your
judgment," he said. He had never wished to go to Frankfort; in going he
merely obeyed Calvin, and probably he had no great desire to stay. He
was forbidden to preach by Cox and his majority; and a later conference
with Cox led to no compromise. It seems probable that Cox and the anti-
puritans already cherished a grudge against Knox for his tract, the
"Admonition." He had a warning that they would use the pamphlet against
him, and he avers that "some devised how to have me cast into prison."
The anti-puritans, admitting in a letter to Calvin that they brought the
"Admonition" before the magistrates of Frankfort as "a book which would
supply their enemies with just ground for overturning the whole Church,
and one which had added much oil to the flame of persecution in England,"
deny that they desired more than that Knox might be ordered to quit the
place. The passages selected as treasonable in the "Admonition" do not
include the prayer for a Jehu. They were enough, however, to secure the
dismissal of Knox from Frankfort.

Cox had accepted the Order used by the French Protestant congregation,
probably because it committed him and his party to nothing in England;
however, Knox had no sooner departed than the anti-puritans obtained
leave to use, without surplice, cross, and some other matters, the Second
Prayer Book of Edward VI. In September the Puritans seceded, the anti-
puritans remained, squabbling with the Lutherans and among themselves.

In the whole affair Knox acted the most open and manly part; in his
"History" he declines to name the opponents who avenged themselves, in a
manner so dubious, on his "Admonition." If they believed their own
account of the mischief that it wrought in England, their denunciation of
him to magistrates, who were not likely to do more than dismiss him, is
the less inexcusable. They did not try to betray him to a body like the
Inquisition, as Calvin did in the case of Servetus. But their conduct
was most unworthy and unchivalrous. {58}


Meanwhile the Reformer returned to Geneva (April 1555), where Calvin was
now supreme. From Geneva, "the den of mine own ease, the rest of quiet
study," Knox was dragged, "maist contrarious to mine own judgement," by a
summons from Mrs. Bowes. He did not like leaving his "den" to rejoin his
betrothed; the lover was not so fervent as the evangelist was cautious.
Knox had at that time probably little correspondence with Scotland. He
knew that there was no refuge for him in England under Mary Tudor, "who
nowise may abide the presence of God's prophets."

In Scotland, at this moment, the Government was in the hands of Mary of
Guise, a sister of the Duke of Guise and of the Cardinal. Mary was now
aged forty; she was born in 1515, as Knox probably was. She was a tall
and stately woman; her face was thin and refined; Henry VIII., as being
himself a large man, had sought her hand, which was given to his nephew,
James V. On the death of that king, Mary, with Cardinal Beaton, kept
Scotland true to the French alliance, and her daughter, the fair Queen of
Scots, was at this moment a child in France, betrothed to the Dauphin. As
a Catholic, of the House of Lorraine, Mary could not but cleave to her
faith and to the French alliance. In 1554 she had managed to oust from
the Regency the Earl of Arran, the head of the all but royal Hamiltons,
now gratified with the French title of Duc de Chatelherault. To crown
her was as seemly a thing, says Knox, "if men had but eyes, as a saddle
upon the back of ane unrewly kow." She practically deposed Huntly, the
most treacherous of men, from the Chancellorship, substituting, with more
or less reserve, a Frenchman, de Rubay; and d'Oysel, the commander of the
French troops in Scotland, was her chief adviser.

[Picture of King James V and Mary of Guise: knox2.jpg]

Writing after the death of Mary of Guise, Knox avers that she only waited
her chance "to cut the throats of all those in whom she suspected the
knowledge of God to be, within the realm of Scotland." {60} As a matter
of fact, the Regent later refused a French suggestion that she should
peacefully call Protestants together, and then order a massacre after the
manner of the Bartholomew: itself still in the womb of the future. "Mary
of Guise," says Knox's biographer, Professor Hume Brown, "had the
instincts of a good ruler - the love of order and justice, and the desire
to stand well with the people."

Knox, however, believed, or chose to say, that she wanted to cut all
Protestant throats, just as he believed that a Protestant king should cut
all Catholic throats. He attributed to her, quite erroneously and
uncharitably, his own unsparing fervour. As he held this view of her
character and purposes, it is not strange that a journey to Scotland was
"contrairious to his judgement."

He did not understand the situation. Ferocious as had been the English
invasion of Scotland in 1547, the English party in Scotland, many of them

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