Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/81

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like a waterman on the Thames, and was answered with equal asperity and even more than equal ability by Sir John Dalrymple.[1]

The most important Acts of this Session were those which fixed the ecclesiastical constitution of Scotland. By the Claim of Right it had been declared that the authority of Bishops was an insupportable grievance; and William, by accepting the Crown, had bound himself not to uphold an institution condemned by the very instrument on which his title to the Crown depended. But the Claim of Right had not defined the form of Church government which was to be substituted for episcopacy; and, during the stormy Session held in the summer of 1689, the violence of the Club had made legislation impossible. During many months therefore every thing had been in confusion. One polity had been pulled down; and no other polity had been set up. In the Western Lowlands, the beneficed clergy had been so effectually rabbled, that scarcely one of them had remained at his post. In Berwickshire, the three Lothians and Stirlingshire, most of the curates had been removed by the Privy Council for not obeying that vote of the Convention which had directed all ministers of parishes, on pain of deprivation, to proclaim William and Mary King and Queen of Scotland. Thus, throughout a great part of the realm, there was no public worship except what was performed by Presbyterian divines, who sometimes officiated in tents, and sometimes, without any legal right, took possession of the churches. But there were large districts, especially on the north of the Tay, where the people had no strong feeling against episcopacy; and there were many priests who were not disposed to lose their manses, and stipends for the sake of King James. Hundreds of the old curates, therefore, having been neither hunted by the populace nor deposed by the Council, still performed their spiritual functions. Every minister was, during this time of transition, free to conduct the service and to administer the sacraments as he thought fit. There was no controlling authority. The legislature

  1. Balcarras.