Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/219

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JAMES MELVILLE. 13


noblemen, and of the cause of their exile, he felt unwilling to connect himself with their party, and therefore replied to their invitation, that he could not comply with it, as he had never qualified himself for performing the ministerial functions ; but that, as he had determined upon removing to the south, he should visit them on his way thither. When he arrived at Newcastle, he deter- mined upon immediately securing a passage by sea to London ; but John David- son, one of his former masters at St Andrews, and now minister of Prestonpans, informed him that it was not only his own earnest desire, but that of all their brethren, that he should remain at Newcastle with the exiled lords, whose cha- racters and cause he vindicated. To their wishes, Melville therefore acceded.

Soon after his settlement at Newcastle, Davidson, who had only waited his arrival, departed, and left him to discharge the duties alone. Thinking it proper that, before entering on his labours, the order of their religious obser- vances and their discipline should be determined, he drew up " the order and maner of exercise of the word for instruction, and discipline for correction of maners, used in the companie of those godlie and noble men of Scotland in tyme of thair aboad in Englande, for the guid cause of God's kirk, thair king and countrey," and prefixed to it an exhortative letter to the noblemen and their followers. This prefatory epistle commences by an acknowledgment that their present calamities were the just chastisements of the Almighty, for their luke- Avarmness in the work of reformation, for permitting the character of their sovereign to be formed by the society of worthless and interested courtiers, for their pursuit of their own aggrandizement, rather than the good of their country, and for the violation of justice, and connivance at many odious and unnatural crimes. But while they had thus rendered themselves the subjects of the DivinJ vengeance, how great had been the crimes of the court! It had followed the examples of Ahaz and Uzzah, in removing the altar of the Lord, it had de- prived the masters of their livings, and desolated the schools and universities, it had said to the preachers, " Prophecy no longer to us in the name of the Lord, but speak unto us pleasant things according to our liking," it had taken from others the key of knowledge, it entered not in, and those that would en- ter in, it suffered not : finally, it had threatened the ministers, God's special messengers, with imprisonment and death, and, following out its wicked designs, had compelled them to flee to a foreign land. " Can the Lord suffer these things long," Melville continues with great energy, " and be just in executing of his judgments, and pouring out of his plagues upon his cursed enemies ? Can the Lord suffer his sanctuary to be defiled, and his own to smart, and be the Father of mercies, God of consolation, and most faithful keeper of his pro- mises ? Can the Lord suffer his glory to be given to another ? Can he who hath promised to make the enemies of Christ Jesus his footstool, suffer them to tread on his head ? Nay, nay, right honourable and dear brethren, he has anointed him King on his holy mountain ; he has given him all nations for an inheritance ; he has put into his hand a sceptre of iron, to bruise in powder these earthen vessels. When his wrath shall once begin to kindle but a little, he shall make it notoriously known to all the world, that they only are happy who in humility kiss the Lord Jesus, and trust in him." He then concludes by a solemn admonition, that with true repentance, with unfeigned humiliation, with diligent perusal of God's word, and with fervent prayer, meditation, and zeal, they should prosecute the work of God, under the assurance that their la- bours should not be in vain. He warns them of the diligence of the enemies of God's church, exhorts them to equal diligence in a good cause, and re- minds them that the ministers of Christ shall be witnesses against them, if they should be found slumbering at their posts. At the request of Archibald, earl of