Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/220

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14 JAMES MELVILLE.


Angus, Melville also drew up a " list of certain great abuses ;" but as it is in many points a recapitulation of the letter just quoted from, no further allusion to it is here necessary.

About a month after the commencement of his ministrations, Melville was joined by Mr Patrick Galloway, who divided the labours with him. His family was now on the increase, and it was considered necessary to remove to Berwick, where he remained as minister of that congregation till the birth of his first child, a son, whom he named Ephraim, in allusion to his fruitfulness in a strange land. Notwithstanding the stratagems of captain James Stewart, by M 7 hich lord Hunsdon was induced to forbid them to assemble in the church, the congregation obtained leave, through the kind offices of lady Widrington, to meet in a private house ; and Melville mentions that he was never more dili- gently or more profitably employed, than during that winter. But the pleasure which he derived from the success of his ministrations, was more than counter- balanced by the conduct of some of his brethren at home.

It was about this period that many of the Scottish clergy, led on by the ex- ample of John Craig, one of the ministers of Edinburgh, signed a deed, binding themselves to obey the late acts of parliament, as far as " according to the word of God." Melville saw the confusions which the introduction of such an equi- vocal clause must produce. He accordingly addressed a most affectionate but faithful letter, to the subscribing ministers, in which he exhibited, at great length, the sinfulness of their compliance, and the handle which such a compro- mise must give to the enemies of religion. This letter, as it encouraged the firm, and confirmed the wavering, was proportionally the object of hatred to the court. Two of the students at St Andrews, being detected copying it for dis- tribution, were compelled to flee ; and no means seem to have been omitted to check its circulation, or to weaken the force of its statements.

About the middle of February, 1584-5, the noblemen, finding their present residence too near the borders, determined upon removing farther to the south. James Melville, therefore, prepared to follow. In the beginning of March, he and a few friends embarked for London, where they arrived, after a voyage rendered tedious by contrary winds ; and, being joined by their companions in exile, were not a little comforted. Soon after his arrival, Melville resumed his ministerial labours.

Many circumstances, which it is .not necessary to detail here, conspired to render their exile much shorter than their fondest wishes could have anticipated. As soon as the noblemen of their party had accommodated their disputes with the king, the brethren received a letter (dated at Stirling, 6th November, 1585) from their fellow ministers, urging them to return with all possible expedition. James Melville, and Robert Dury, one of his most intimate friends, therefore, left London, and, after encountering many dangers during the darkness of the nights, arrived at Linlithgow. There he found his brethren under great depres- sion of mind : they had vainly expected from the parliament, then sitting, the abrogation of the obnoxious acts of 1584; and they had a further cause of grief in the conduct of Craig, the leader of the subscribing ministers. After much expectation, and many fruitless attempts to persuade the king of the im- propriety of the acts, they were obliged to dismiss, having previously presented a supplication, earnestly craving that no ultimate decision respecting the church might be adopted, without the admission of free discussion.

During the following winter, James Melville was occupied partly in the ar- rangement of his family affairs, but principally in re-establishing order in the university. The plague, which had for some time raged with great violence, Mas now abated, and the people, regaining their former confidence, had beguu