Sketches of the History of the Church of Scotland
SKETCHES OF THE HISTORY
CHURCH OF SCOTLAND
FROM THE PERIOD OF THE
The VERY REV. A. RANKEN, M.A.,
Dean of Aberdeen and Orkney.
ST. GILES' PRINTING COMPANY,
13 JOHNSTON TERRACE.
HE following Sketches of portions of Scottish Church History were, in substance, read in Aberdeen in the course of 1875, before the Scottish Church Union. Hence the form in which the lecture is cast, without the measured tread of formal history, and with a preponderating element of local allusion and personal reminiscences. There is also, no doubt, a somewhat unusual incisiveness and frankness in the treatment of certain disputed points, which might probably have been toned down to some extent had the writer thought that the lecture would ever appear before a wider public. In particular, an occasional acerbity may, no doubt, be perceived,—which, however, he has allowed to stand as originally written, as being, he thinks, justifiable,—in speaking of the Covenanting religionists and their times; for it appears to him that it is impossible to exhibit these enthusiasts in their true colours, of whom even the genial and gentle-hearted Walter Scott felt impelled to make use of a contemptuous expression, which it is needless to reproduce, without employing the language in question. We do not, however, hold our Presbyterian friends and fellow-countrymen responsible for the sayings and doings of their forefathers. They have inherited their religion, with all its qualities, good, bad, and indifferent, and cannot help its history. Many of them, we rejoice to know, condemn their Covenanting ancestors and their ways as heartily as we ourselves do. They are fast drifting from their old moorings. Increasing numbers of them are beginning to realize something of the beauty of liturgical worship. Many are deploring our unhappy divisions, which give such occasion to infidels to blaspheme, and are longing for the blessedness of a corporate re-union, which would present an Established Church of Scotland, with peer and peasant worshipping side by side; and which would, we believe, exhibit a power and a strength which at no period of its history has it yet possessed.
A short extract from the latter portion of the Lecture was read at a crowded meeting of at least a thousand Church people, mostly composed, the writer was glad to see, as being something hitherto unknown in Edinburgh, of working men and women, many of the latter with babies in their arms, in the Queen Street Hall, on the evening of the 13th of October last; on which occasion, the honour was done to the Lecturer by over-partial friends, of requesting him to allow the Paper in its entirety to be printed. Having given his consent, he has accordingly prepared it for the press making it, by certain alterations and additions better fitted, he would fain hope, for the purposes for which the wish was expressed; namely, the defence of the Scottish Church, at certain critical and crucial periods of her history, from the misrepresentations and calumnies under which she has long and largely suffered, and is still suffering; and for the enlightenment, it may be, of her humbler members on some disputed principles and facts.
The Epiphany, 1882.
SKETCHES OF THE HISTORY
CHURCH OF SCOTLAND.
N a Paper such as this, it is not proposed to go back into the several and separate details of the history of the Church of Scotland from the time of the Reformation, and the various changes in respect of government, discipline, and worship which it has been made to undergo; that is the province of the historian, and has been amply fulfilled. The writer will confine himself to the task of exhibiting a few sketches of that history, wherein, as he believes,historical truth has been violated, either by direct misrepresentation, party bias, or a deliberate suppression of facts.
Whatever may have been the views of the Early Reformers in Scotland, when the Papal supremacy was renounced in 1560, it is clear to any impartial student of the history of those times, although it suits Presbyterians to deny it, that they were sincerely attached to Episcopacy as the divinely instituted government of the Church, which the Papal usurpation had corrupted, but which they did the best they could in purifying and continuing by the imperfect Superintendency, which was the best Episcopacy they could procure under the circumstances; seeing none of the Roman Bishops accepted the Reformation, and when, nationally, the succession ceased. In the first General Assembly of the Reformed, held at Perth in 1571, a nominal Episcopacy was adopted under the equivalent name and title of Superintendents; and these Superintendents speedily assumed the ancient titles of Archbishops and Bishops, according to the number and limits of the old Dioceses, but without that valid consecration by which the continuity of the Episcopal succession is secured.
Calvin, the great Continental authority among the Reformed, and from whom they confessedly imbibed their peculiar doctrinal views, and who is popularly supposed to have been a Presbyterian and a minister, whereas he was neither, gives forth a maxim which strikes at the root of Presbytry:—"Parity," he says, "or equality in the government of the Church, breedeth strifes." For fully fifteen years after the establishment of the Reformation in Scotland, no such principle as that of the unlawfulness of any superiority of office in the Church above presbyters, which was the standpoint and contention among the first Presbyterians, was either professed or insisted on.
Again, it is the all but universal belief in Scotland that the Reformer Knox was a Presbyterian, whereas the fact is he maintained the system of Superintendency, or the nominal Episcopacy with which the Reformation began; he was offered an English Bishopric, which he declined; his mission, as he thought, being to purify and consolidate his native Church; and two of his sons held benefices in the Church of England. It is better known that John Knox and the Reformed Church of Scotland used a Liturgy or Public Common Prayer. As a proof that the Church's Days of Holy Remembrance were celebrated under the system in which Knox ministered, we remark that after his death, and while the new development of Presbytry was working its way, a petition was presented to the Regent praying "that all days which heretofore have been kept holy, such as Christmas Day, or Yule, Saints' days, and Lent, may be abolished, and a civil penalty," i.e., fine or imprisonment, "be appointed against the keepers thereof, by ceremonies, banquetings, playings, fastings, and other like vanities."
The same General Assembly distinguished itself by an ordinance on the subject of the dress of ministers and ministers' wives, on which we suspect its successors at the present day would hardly venture. The ladies, as well as their husbands, were put under such stringent regulations as would now go far to create a female rebellion. "We think," said these grave divines, "all kind of broidering unseemly; all begares of velvet [coloured stripes or slashings sewed on the dress] in gown, hose, or coat; and all superfluous and vain cutting out; steeking with silks; all kind of costly sewing on passments [fringes or trimmings], or variant hues in sarks; all kind of light and variant hues in clothing, as red, blue, yellow, and such like; all wearing of rings, bracelets, buttons of silver, gold, or other metal, be interdicted;" and much more to the same effect. Presbyterianism has, indeed, continued the abolition of Yule as a religious festival, but the popular feeling has always been too strong to permit its abolition as a time for merry-makmg and good cheer. Symptoms of rebellion, however, are of late cropping up in favour of its restoration as a day of religious observance. Places of worship, both Established and Free, are being opened in increasing numbers on Christmas Day, in some cases with ornate ritualistic services. A few years more, and the edict against High Days and Holy Days will probably be formally repealed, and Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost be observed throughout Scotland, as those Festivals are among the Lutheran communities in Germany and Scandinavia, and even in Presbyterian Holland. Knox had been scarcely two years in his grave, When Andrew Melville, the real founder of Scottish Presbytry, arrived from Geneva, where, under the tutorship of Beza, the inventor of Presbyterianism, he had imbibed principles and views contrary to those of Knox, and for the first time introduced them into Scotland. Fierce and turbulent, and fiery in his undisciplined temper, this heresiarch set himself to make his principles popular; and to a large extent he succeeded. "Melville was a man," says Bishop Sage, "by nature fierce and fiery, confident and peremptory, peevish and ungovernable. Education in him had not sweetened nature, but nature had soured education; and both, conspiring together, had tricked him up into a true original; a piece compounded of pride and petulance, of jeer and jangle, of satire and sarcasm, of venom and vehemence. His democratical principles made him hate the crown, as much as the mitre; the sceptre as much as the crosier; and made him as bold with the purple as with the rochet." The Presbyterian or Genevan faction among the Scottish Reformers, as it gathered strength, repeatedly tried to upset this Reformed Prelatical constitution under the Superintendents; and at last, after a struggle of several years, this party, taking advantage of the King's minority, in 1592 succeeded in introducing the novel system which Melville had brought with him from the Swiss Reformers. But this system, although the lower and more ignorant portion of the people was vastly taken with it, did not long continue; for in 1610, the old succession of Bishops having died out soon after the change of religion, Spottiswoode, Hamilton, and Lamb, three of the Reformed ministers under the Superintendents or Knoxian Episcopate, were consecrated in London as true and valid Bishops, for the re-constituted Church of Scotland. In 1618 the famous Articles of Perth, which were framed distinctly atagonistic to the Presbyterian polity, were debated, confirmed, and ratified by the Three Estates of the Realm. So far was the foreign importation, Presbytry, from being, as is pretended, the system by which the Reformation was effected in Scotland, and "agreeable to the inclination of the people," that a true and genuine Episcopacy when it was restored by the English consecrations which I have mentioned, was generally and heartily welcomed as the guarantee of settled order in Church and State. It formed, in fact, a recognised element of the Constitution, and continued with acceptance until the breaking out of the Great Rebellion in 1638, itself the work of a clamorous, violent, and unscrupulous minority; when the Covenanting preachers in the Western Shires, after calumniating their Bishops, and branding them with every crime, conceivable and inconceivable, in order to blacken their characters and render them odious in the eyes of the people, proceeded to depose them, and to convoke both General Assemblies and Parliaments without the royal sanction, and in defiance of the King's prohibitions. They even raised an army, and levied war against the King, in' the King's name. In the midst of the tumults of the time, they so far prevailed on the King,—Charles the First, who was betrayed on all hands, even by the counsellors nearest his person, and whom he most trusted,—as to extort his reluctant consent to abolish Episcopacy in Scotland. Of this concession to the Scottish rebels, the King, when it was too late, and seeing how the English rebels "bettered the instruction," bitterly repented. He has left on record his solemn protestation, that "if God should restore him to the peaceable possession of his throne, he would do public penance for his error, by walking barefooted to S. Paul's, in the habit of a penitent, and make satisfaction before the Altar for the wrong he had done to Holy Church, through an unworthy fear of the people."
That the king's desire to uphold the Church and order in his northern kingdom was not a mere piece of state policy, but a conscientious conviction, appears, among other abundant proofs, from his published controversy with Alexander Henderson, one of the "Apostles of the Covenant," and by far the most learned and respectable man among them: in which, with the learning of a theologian, and the acuteness of a debater, his Majesty defends the Episcopal regimen on the principles of Divine Right. And Scotland was not so overrun with the new opinions as to lack other defenders of Apostolical order. The Diocese of Aberdeen, and its two famous universities, produced such divines as Bellenden its bishop, and Forbes, Barron, Ross, Scroggie, and Lesly, who are known in history as the "Aberdeen Doctors," the stout maintainers of orthodoxy and loyalty; divines who were only beaten and silenced, not in debate, but by the conclusive and persuasive arguments of chains and imprisonment, or by the self-banishment to which some of them were forced to save their lives. The king's care for the Church of Scotland had also been shown before the breaking out of the troubles, by his singling out, and promoting to a Bishopric specially founded for him, one of those Aberdeen Doctors whom I have just named,—the most learned, where all were learned—William Forbes, the first Bishop of Edinburgh, the author of a Plea for the Corporate Reunion of Christendom, the "Considerationes Modestae et Pacificae," which deserves the study of all who have the healing of the Church's divisions at heart. Bishop Forbes, in an age and country when the fear of Popery amounted almost to an insanity, calmly and modestly vindicated the doctrines and discipline of Primitive Christianity, which the popular Protestantism of the time had calumniated, and among them that of the Holy Eucharist which the same popular Protestantism had obscured and explained away, in which he was followed at a long interval by another Bishop of the same honoured name and race, whose passing away before his time, as in our short-sightedness we think, from the Church which he loved and served, and which his learning and piety adorned, we are yet lamenting.
The violent abolition and suppression of Episcopacy in both kingdoms, which was in fact the suppression of the Church as the Body of Christ in the land, was followed by the deposition and murder of the king. By an eternal and unerring law, the sins of schism, rebellion, and bloodshed are closely linked together. The Scottish Covenanters who sold their king to the English regicides for a sum of money ready down—the antitype of the bargain of the traitor Judas—were not permitted to profit long by the blood-money. Cromwell and his Ironsides speedily overran Scotland. It is a popular boast that the kingdom was never conquered. It is conveniently forgotten that Cromwell accomplished that feat. As a retributive punishment, we may believe, for its disloyalty to God and the king, the battle of Dunbar saw the country at the usurper's feet. Cromwell suppressed Presbytry in Scotland as he had done Episcopacy in England, with the strong hand, and at the sword's point. He despatched one of his colonels to the General Assembly, who stalked in as Dickson, the Moderator, was calling the roll. The officer contemptuously interrupted him while beginning to say a prayer, and bade him and the rest of them begone. They obeyed on the instant. A company of foot soldiers conducted them to the West Port, from which they were escorted by a troop of horse to Bruntsfield Links. After being ordered to stand while their names were called over, and written down, they were forbidden to meet again, and so dismissed. Yes; the very men who had defied their king, burnt his Prayer Book, and excommunicated the Bishops, went out from their Assembly with the submission of sheep, and never met again for forty years.
For twelve of these years, Scotland groaned under the heel of the Republican despot, whose little finger it found heavier than the King's hand. England at its core, however, and we may say the same of Scotland, was loyal. As happens in most revolutions, it was a bold, determined, and noisy faction, a minority of the nation, that overthrew the Government in Church and State and slew the King. On the black morning of the 30th of January, 1649, the scaffold had to be guarded by mounted dragoons, and military music was kept playing to drown the indignant murmurings of the crowd. And the wailings and sobbings of the multitude rose above those sounds, when the masked executioner held up the head of the martyr, and proclaimed "this is the head of a traitor." Numbers rushed forward to dip their handkerchiefs in the blood of their anointed King, to be treasured in their families as a memorial of the sacrilegious murder.
A monograph, which is hardly a digression, of an incident on the fatal morning, not generally known, may fittingly be inserted here. The pretended High Court of Justice had set their hands and seals to the warrant, and the carpenters had been hard at work all night framing the scaffold in the open street in the front of Whitehall. By ten in the morning the sable-hung platform, the block, the sawdust, and the man in the mask with his axe, were ready. Then the royal captive, closely encompassed by the unpitying guards who, during the mock trial, had puffed tobacco smoke into his face, mixed with loathsome spitting, was brought on foot across the park from St. James's to Whitehall. The mournful procession passed through the Long Gallery, and entered the Presence Chamber of the Banquetting House, where, in grim mockery, a stately repast was set out, in case the doomed captive should wish to "refresh himself" before he was slaughtered. Then the chief actors in the tragedy came forth through the opened window on to the scaffold, and the mighty multitude burst into a groan of pity for the victim who was to be sacrificed. All know what was done on that morning; how the illustrious prisoner, calling not "on the gods in vulgar spite, to vindicate his helpless might," calmly tried with his hand the edge of the axe, and then bowed his comely head down as upon a bed, and gave his soul to God.
"I saw a Royal Form with eye upturned,
Rising from furnace of affliction free;
And knew that brow of deep serenity,
Whereon, methought, a crown of glory burned,
With a calm smile, as if the death-cry turned
On his freed ears to seraph sounds on high.
Still in the guilty place the hideous cry
Bark'd impotent. In quiet hope inurned
Was his poor fleshly mantle; but the breath
Of our bad world o'er this unquiet stage
Flouts his blessed name, unpardoned even in death.
And thus his holy shade on earth beneath
Still walks 'mid evil tongues, from age to age,
Bearing the Cross, his Master's heritage.
But no unkindly word for evermore
Can reach his rest, or pass the eternal door."
At that moment, while the King was delivering his jewelled George to Bishop Juxon, with the mysterious monition "Remember" the meaning of which we can only guess at, the boys of Westminster School were at prayers. Those daily orisons were still the forbidden prayers of the Church, albeit the altars of the neighbouring abbey had been desecrated, and the horses of the Puritan dragoons had been stabled in the chaples. The Doctor of Divinity, the Head Master of Westminster, still reigned supreme in his little kingdom. He prayed for the afflicted Church of England prostrate in the dust; he prayed for her Bishops and Clergy cast forth as wanderers and beggars. And then as the time, the prescience of which was in all hearts, approached, the whole school, with the vergers and monitors, and the poor old bedesmen and almswomen from without, bowed themselves to the ground. Four King's scholars, armed with broad-swords and pistols, stood and kept the door, while the Head Master, kneeling down, prayed for the Royal Family, for the Queen Henrietta Maria, for the Princes and Princesses, and for the King, who, ere the prayer, broken by passionate sobs, had ended, was dead, and had become King Charles the Martyr.
Scotland, although leavened with the sour and bitter leaven of Puritanism, had never, at its worst, been Republican. The murder of the King, to which a faction in Scotland had contributed by their traffic with Cromwell and the other regicides, the paid down price being thirty thousand pounds, startled the land. The dominant party was bent on concussing the King to adopt an ecclesiastical polity which he abhorred, but it remonstrated against the measures which encompassed his death. And so it forthwith proclaimed Charles the Second King, and submitted unwillingly to the Cromwellian yoke. The bloodstained usurper, when his time came, died as he had lived, the remorseless enemy of God's order in Church and State.
Even in the western shires, where Presbyterian ism was strongest, and where the Covenant was most popular, those who stuck to these principles were chiefly the ignorant and excitable peasantry. The people of those districts, for the most part, had, it is true, no favour for Episcopacy, which their preachers told them meant Popery and the Mass; but those who could not conscientiously conform to the established order were "indulged;" that is to say, an Act of Toleration was specially passed for them. A portion even of the revenues of the Church was assigned for the maintenance of the indulged Presbyterian preachers who were perfectly content to accept it, and to live and let live, as loyal leiges of the king. There was, in effect, a concurrent establishment and endowment both of Prelacy and Presbytry; and the indulged Presbyterians, so far as the Church and the State were concerned, were left to the exercise of their religion in peace. It was their own Presbyterian co-religionists, "the hill folk," who troubled them; and because these "moderates," as they would now have been called, had disavowed the Covenant as a seditious bond of conspiracy, and desired to live in peace and quietness, the fanatics hated them with a heart-hatred, only inferior, and scarcely that, to the hatred they accorded to the established Episcopacy; and the "black indulgence," and the "black Prelacy," were the twin abomination which they held they were divinely commissioned to testify against and forcibly to uproot. As the Jews were commissioned to extirpate the heathen Canaanites, so, reading between the lines, the Covenanters believed, as their preachers taught them, that they were foreordained to extirpate Popery and Prelacy, betwixt which there was only a paper wall, as they affirmed, together with the "indulged" and sinfully complying indulged Presbyterians, by every available means, including fire and sword. And their language and deeds corresponded. At the beginning of the Covenanting times, for the crime of "malignancy," which was their favourite epithet for loyalty to Church and Throne, they put to death in cold blood men like Sir John Spottiswoode, the son of the Primate, and President of the Court of Session; and he is but a single specimen of hundreds of loyal gentlemen that might be named, who were put to death for the crime of "malignancy." These butcheries, for executions they cannot be called, so rejoiced the soul of one of the preachers, Mr. David Dickson, a shining light of the Covenant, that while feasting his eye? on the bloodshed, he exclaimed in ecstacy, "O, the Lord be praised, the wark o' God gangs bonnily on!" which, says Bishop Guthrie, passed into a proverb among the people. On the defeat of the great and gallant Marquis of Montrose at Philiphaugh, General Lesly, the leader of the rebel army, promised quarter to the remnant of the defeated royalists; but Nevay, one of the Covenanting preachers, seconded by the Marquis of Argyle, Montrose's deadly enemy, prevailed on Lesly to break his word. The prisoners of war were disarmed and butchered on the spot, Lesly, horror-struck at the carnage he had unadvisedly sanctioned, turned round to the preacher, who was walking with Argyle, both of them up to the ankles in blood, and sternly said, "Now, Mess John, methinks you have for once got your fill of blood!" Even Bishop Burnet, who treats the Covenanters as tenderly as he decently can, is compelled for once to speak the truth. "Upon this occasion," he says, "the Marquis of Argyle and the preachers showed a very bloody temper. Many prisoners, who had quarter given them, were murdered in cold blood. The preachers thundered against all who did the work of the Lord deceitfully, and cried out on all those that were for humanity and moderation, 'thine eye shall not pity, neither shalt thou spare.'" The Bishop adds, "The Covenanters triumphed with so little decency, that it gave the people very ill impressions of them."
And yet, as we all know, these are the very men who, when the day of reprisals came, are held up to popular admiration and eulogy as "The Scottish Martyrs," "The Martyrs for Christ's Crown and a Broken Covenant." Nay, even from many Churchmen of the present day, not very well read we must suppose, in the history of those times, one hears admissions made to the effect that the poor Covenanters were badly treated; that they were persecuted for conscience' sake, however ill informed their conscience, and however mistaken their religion may have been; and that this is a portion of Scottish history for which Churchmen ought to feel shame and regret. Now I take leave to express my distinct and deliberate conviction that such shame and regret are entirely misplaced. The truth ought to be known about those so-called "martyrs," which it is the aim of partisan writers and platform orators to conceal, that they refused either to accept toleration or to grant it. Their avowed object was supremacy; to force their Covenant on the King himself and all his subjects throughout the three kingdoms, without the right or liberty to dissent. Until this claim should be acknowledged, they renounced their allegiance to the king, witholding the title from him, refusing to pray for him as such in their conventicles, and vilifying and threatening his person, under the name of "the man, Charles Stuart." Those of them who suffered for their disloyalty died the death of rebels, many of them taken with arms in their hands, or found concealed in their houses. They were offered their lives if they would acknowledge the royal authority, and accept the legalised indulgence, under which their more reasonable fellow religionists lived in peace and safety. But their avowed aim was to force their religion upon all at the point of the sword. And their suppression by the sword was an act of positive necessity, unless anarchy and a reign of terror were to ensue. As I have said, it is so much the fashion in these days to represent those rebellious fanatics as poor, oppressed, hunted sufferers for conscience, if not for truth's sake, that it needs a certain amount of boldness to represent them in their true colours. And I cannot help thinking that it is a matter of regret, as I have indicated, that there is a manifest disposition in certain circles of Scottish Churchmen to sympathise with these firebrands of sedition, rebellion, and schism, and to accuse the Restoration Government of harshness and cruelty towards them. Our predecessors of the last century, many of whom I have known and conversed with, when they were old and I was young, inherited truer traditions and beliefs about the great Rebellion and policy of the Restoration Government; which taught them to beware of treating the history of those times in the mawkishly sentimental way which is now so fashionable in certain circles of Churchmen. They taught me to believe that it was—a stern necessity to stamp out treason and rebellion, at work under the mask of religion; that this probably was not done, and could not be done, with rose water; but that persecuted for their religion, mixed up as it was with principles and practices which rendered settled rule and order impossible, those enthusiasts certainly were not.
All throughout those troubles, the northern Dioceses, and among them the Diocese of Aberdeen, were so many green spots in the desert. The arts of insurgency had been so successful in other districts as to create a specious but false appearance of national sympathy with, and adherence to, the Covenant, and of disaffection to the Church and the Throne. Throughout the larger half of Scotland, and especially in Aberdeenshire, all that was sober-minded, well ordered, and loyal, was in the ascendant. The two northern Universities spoke out, true as ever to Church and King. The University Chairs, and the city pulpits were filled with the famous "Aberdeen Doctors," who did battle with the Puritan preachers, and held their own against the Apostles of the Covenant, Dickson, Henderson, and Cant, who were despatched to recruit in the city of the "Malignants." The citizens, at the breaking out of the rebellion, when the Covenant was imposed upon them at the sword's point, had unwillingly submitted to brute force. The rural districts were scarcely molested, and followed the guidance of their natural leaders, Huntly, and the host of loyal nobles and lairds of the north. With these, puritanical cant did not pass current for piety, nor the ravings of fanaticism for the out-pourings of the Spirit. On the approach of the Covenanting rebel army to Aberdeen, Bellenden, the Bishop of the see, certain of the Professors of the two Universities, and the principal burghers, took shipping, and sought safety and shelter abroad from the persecution which had come to their doors. At that time, Dr John Forbes, the son of the late Bishop of Aberdeen; Dr William Lesly, the Principal of King's College, of the same family as the famous nonjuror and divine, Charles Lesly; and Doctors Scroggie and Barron, Professors of Divinity, occupied the University chairs; Doctors Sibbald and Ross were the city clergymen. These defenders of the nation's Faith and loyalty were, of course, the butts of the Covenanting attack. With such antagonists as these, it is not surprising that the ministers who had visited Aberdeen on their proselytizing mission had been so utterly worsted, that their historian Rutherford bitterly complains that they had not been able to gain a single adherent in that grace-forsaken city of the "Malignants."
At last the weary nation, on the death of Cromwell, came to itself, and "spoke of bringing back the King." Scotland joined heart and soul in accomplishing the Restoration, and the bulk of the people hailed as a blessing one of its earliest acts, the rehabilitation of the Church and its hierarchy. Beyond dispute, this was the popular feeling "north of the Tay, that is to say, in the larger half of Scotland, and at that time probably the more populous; and this candid Presbyterian writers are now forward to admit. On the Restoration of the Monarchy, the northern Synods, which had been silenced during the Commonwealth, immediately met, and among them the large and influential Synod of Aberdeen; and gave expression to the feelings and principles which had been forcibly kept down by Cromwell and his Ironsides. In the north, the Synods were Episcopalian unmixed, and as a consequence loyal. Throughout that half of Scotland the principles of the Church and order had taken deep root, and had never been extirpated. But such was the violence of the times, that both Clergy and people had mostly succumbed to the pressure. Now, however, they looked forward with quiet satisfaction to that change of which none had any doubt.
At the re-placing and re-adjustment of the Church as the religious establishment of Scotland, Sydserf, Bishop of Orkney, was the sole survivor of the Hierarchy which the Covenanting rebels in 1638 pretended to depose, and succeeded in overcoming. Four of the most distinguished of the moderate Presbyterian ministers, Sharp, fairfoul, Hamilton, and Leighton, who were well inclined to a restored Episcopacy, were selected, and after being ordained Deacons and Priests per saltum, were consecrated at Westminster in 1661; and from them the present Scottish Episcopal succession has continuously flowed. The small element of Presbyterian Resolutioners, or Moderates, as those indulged ministers would now be called, made no opposition to the restoration of the hierarchy; but on the contrary were generally inclined to welcome it. Dr James Sharp, who was nominated Primate,—he was a native, I may mention, of the Diocese of Aberdeen, and was educated at one of its Universities,—is a specimen of those well affected Presbyterian Moderates, who in their hearts were never far from the principles of Evangelical Truth and Apostolical Order combined; and for these principles, moderately carried out under the restored Episcopacy, he incurred the implacable resentment of the Covenanting Presbyterians, and died under their hands a Martyr's death; but his name to this day is covered with obloquy and slander by the descendants and admirers of the Covenanters, who continue to justify and applaud the murder, as an act of righteous vengeance.
The Synod of Aberdeen met, and was largely attended; about sixty ministers appearing. Without a dissenting voice, it agreed to a petition to the King in Council, which was signed by all present. After describing the miserable condition of the Church and Kingdom during the great Rebellion and the Cromwellian usurpation, they prayed the Royal Commissioners to transmit their Petition to His Sacred Majesty, "that he would be pleased in his wisdom and goodness to settle the government of this rent Church, according to the Word of God, and the practice of the Ancient and Primitive Church;"—there is no mistaking the meaning of these words;—"and this Paper," the Synod added, "we have ordained to be registered in our Synod Books, ad futuram rei memoriam; and in testimony of our unanimity herein, we have all subscribed it with our hands, at King's College, at Aberdeen, the 18th April, 1661 years." We notice that the date of the Document is nearly six weeks before the King's return on the 29th of May, so eager was the Diocese of Aberdeen for the restoration of the Church and order.
But matters were not so peaceable in other parts of the kingdom. The snake of disaffection and rebellion, though scotched, was not killed. In the western districts, ever the hot-beds of turbulence and schism, the Covenanting preachers, to the number of about a hundred, refused to acknowledge an uncovenanted king. They had entrapped the poor king, when only a boy, to subscribe and swear to the Covenant. Probably he would have subscribed and sworn to anything when a prisoner in their hands, and they were perfectly aware of his insincerity while doing it, and so were sharers in the sin, far more deeply so than the poor youth whose life would likely have been the forfeit on his non-compliance. They denounced all compilers with the Restoration and its Acts as "Limbs of Anti-Christ," and "brats of Babylon," whom at all opportunities they were commissioned to slay. "The man Charles Stuart," was branded as a perjured wretch and malefactor, and allegiance to him renounced. Their treasonable Covenant, which had worked such mischief in the reign of the first Charles, was eagerly renewed and sworn to; and with arms in their hands, they refused to accept the toleration offered to them, and denied the same to all others; claiming supremacy for "King Jesus and the Covenant;" that is to say, for themselves and their teachers. This ought to be steadily kept in view as the key to the treatment to which they were necessarily subjected. Conventicles were held among the hills and mosses where they could best, and with least hindrance, organise their opposition to the Government, and were attended by armed multitudes. The disaffected districts were in open rebellion. Now, it ought not to be forgotten that the Episcopal Establishment of the Restoration was cautiously framed,—far too cautiously, as the subsequent history of the Scottish Church has proved-so as to shock Presbyterian sympathies and prejudices as little as possible. Of ritual, as we now understand the word, it had absolutely none. The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments, which had been prepared for the use of the Church of Scotland in the reign of Charles the First, and had been riotously rejected in the Cathedral Church of Edinburgh, was not re-imposed. The worship in the Parish Churches was conducted in much the same fashion as in the indulged Meeting Houses, and, indeed, with much less formality than in many of the Parish Churches at the present day. It was essentially an extemporaneous worship, with this exception, that the Established Clergy were in the habit of introducing the Lord's Prayer and the Doxology into some part of the service, both of them the abomination of the fanatics, as savouring of Liturgical forms. Occasionally the Apostles' Creed was said, and the Ten Commandments; but there was no direction for this. Every Parish Minister exercised his own discretion. Even in the Cathedral Churches, nothing beyond this bare and meagre service was attempted. The King and the Royal Family were, of course, prayed for, instead of being denounced and cursed, as in the Conventicles; and peace and order, and submission to the constituted authorities in Church and State were preached and prayed for. So far as appears, the rite of Confirmation was held in abeyance under the restored Episcopacy; so cautious were the Bishops not to offend Presbyterian prejudices. To the outward eye and ear that Episcopacy was hardly distinguishable from the legalised indulged Presbyterianism except that the Bishops, with no official dress beyond a preacher's black gown, were the perpetual moderators of Synods. Synods, Presbyteries, and Kirk Sessions went on much as at present; General Assemblies were not convoked. Probably the only Liturgical formulary in use was the English Ordinal, which, to secure beyond challenge a valid ministry, and the integrity of the succession, seems always to have been used at ordinations, and at the consecration of Bishops. As I have indicated, there were no priestly vestments; not even the surplice, which a choir boy now wears. And this continued to the days of my own youth, when the black gown was still in all but universal use at all services, including the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Probably Bishop John Skinner of Aberdeen, whom I faintly remember to have seen at a Confirmation in a County Chapel arrayed in a black gown and a huge pair of bands, never wore a surplice, and certainly not the Episcopal robes; neither did Bishop Jolly, whom I have often seen conducting all the services at Fraserburgh in a black gown and bands. Once, and once only, did I see Bishop Torry vested as a Bishop at an Ordination, not in his own diocese, but in a chapel where a brother Bishop was incumbent, and which probably accounted for the fact; and once habited in a surplice at a public baptism, also out of his own diocese; and in both cases within a few years of his death. I distinctly remember the introduction of the surplice in the rural congregations of the Diocese of Aberdeen, about the years 1819 and 1820. It was not much relished by the flocks; nor, for that matter, by some of the older clergy. The Dean of the diocese, Mr. Sangster of Lonmay, continued, as I have often seen him, to wear his home-spun black serge gown to the time of his death in 1826. For many years after the introduction of the surplice, it was the universal practice to preach in the black gown. In most of the chapels there was no vestry, and the awkward puttings off and on before the people during the singing of a couple of verses of "Tait and Brady," intensified the dislike.
And it was a Prelacy such as I have described; so maimed, and so crippled; so timid and unobtrusive; and so little in it of "lording it over God's heritage," as it was accused of doing by the Covenanting preachers; and a worship so diluted and colourless, and shorn of all liturgical dignity and grace, that the fanatics rejected. Not content with the legal exemption and toleration accorded to them, and which the more sober-minded Presbyterians thankfully accepted, they assembled themselves tumultuously in open conventicles, the hearers armed, and the preachers thundering out treason, and exhorting them to fight for "Jesus and a broken Covenant." Need it excite any surprise that the Government found itself compelled to meet force with force, and to suppress the insurrection at the point of the sword? But even had the policy of the State been blameable, and deserving of all the execration which it meets with in our popular histories, on the platform, and in the current thought and expression of many of our fellow-countrymen, the Church was blameless. She was doing her work, so far as her maimed and crippled condition would allow, among a loyal and contented people, in three-fourths of Scotland. But the fanatical disturbance in the western shires was chronic and unappeasable. There the Established Clergy were held up to popular obliquy as "dumb dogs," and "Priests of the Synagogue of Satan," and their persons and property were attacked. These proceedings culminated in the murder of the Primate, under circumstances of such shocking atrocity as at length aroused the authorities to more vigorous measures of suppression. I have already adverted to that murder; and how it is defended and gloried in to this day; and how the assassins who suffered for the crime are enrolled among the Martyrs of the Covenant. It is painful to have to state these facts, and to tell that Colonel Graham of Claverhouse, for discharging his duty as a soldier, commissioned to disperse the armed Conventiclers guilty of these atrocities, and to execute military punishment, on those found with arms in their hands, or concealed in their houses,—as in the well-worn case of John Brown of Priesthill, in whose house an underground apartment was discovered, well-stored with arms,—and who stubbornly persisted in disowning the King and his Government, continues to have his name loaded with every species of abuse which the language supplies."
But I hope to be able to show that the gallant Graham is not the "vulgar ruffian,"—for that is a specimen of the language which a titled lecturer recently indulged in,—which it is the pleasure of platform orators to call him. Sir Walter Scott, whose true instincts told him that the hero of Killiecrankie did not deserve the abuse popularly heaped upon him, was among the first to rescue Lord Dundee's character from the misrepresentations and falsehoods of our partisan historians; while his portrait was the only picture that he allowed to grace the walls of his study. But since the date of "Old Mortality," important documents have been brought to light, chiefly by the research of the late Mr Mark Napier, the biographer of Dundee, which, to all impartial minds, have completely re-habilitated his name and character. Even such a cautious writer as Dr. Robert Chambers, one not likely to risk his well earned popularity lightly, is "constrained," he tells us, "as an act of common justice," to speak of Lord Dundee in these terms:—"Colonel Graham of Claverhouse, as Constable of Dundee, represented to the Privy Council that he found several persons in prison there for theft, 'which will,' said he, 'be fittter to be punished otherwise than by death.'" We all know that within the memory of the present generation theft was a capital offence; so merciful, long in advance of the temper of the age, was Graham of Claverhouse. "In compliance with this humane suggestion," Dr. Chambers goes on to say, "he was empowered to restrict the treatment of those criminals to an ordinary punishment, such as whipping, as he shall find cause. It may excite surprise," he continues, "to find the man whom popular odium has stigmatised as 'the bloody Claver'se,' interposing for a gentler sentence in behalf of criminals whom the law had adjudged worthy of death,—he who ordered the death of so many of the Covenanting rebels in Clydesdale and Galloway; but it is no more than justice to one who was a gallant soldier, and a stedfast friend in adversity to the sovereign who had employed him, if we remember how amiable in private life has been many modern statesmen, noted for their severity in public duties. Claverhouse had made up his mind to the particular course of action by which the interests of his country were to be advanced and protected against the Covenanting Presbyterians in revolt against the Government, and who refused to accept or to give toleration. With the help of a strong will and under the call of duty, he scrupled not to walk in that path, although he was the reverse of harsh or inhumane in the matters of ordinary life. In a letter to the Earl of Aberdeen, written in June 1683, Dundee reveals to us his principle of action in one brief sentence. "I am," says he, "as sorry to see a man die, even a rebel Whig, as any of themselves; but when one dies justly for his own faults, and may thereby save a hundred others from falling into the like, I have no scruple."
The judge on the bench, when he puts on the black cap of doom, and pronounces the sentence which is carried out on the scaffold, is not usually denounced by law-abiding people as a "blood-thirsty ruffian." Nor are the Peers who sentenced Lords Kilmarnock, Balmerino, and Lovat to the block for their share in the Rising of the '45, historically known by the same odious title. The truth is, rebellion is a desperate and dangerous game to play at, and requires success to justify it. Those Covenanters played it, and lost. Their modern defenders metaphorically tear their hair, and stamp their feet, and call ugly names. But had the Covenanters won, does it need the Primate's murder, or the apparatus of a gallows and ropes which they brought with them to Bothwell Brig, in the confident assurance of the victory which their preachers had promised them, to convince us that they would have hanged Claverhouse as high as Haman, and butchered his dragoons in cold blood; aye, and gloried in the act!
The cabals of the Whig faction, and his own inconsiderate and head-strong folly, forced James the Seventh, terrified that the fate of his father might be his own, to flee from the kingdom, and take refuge abroad. The policy was a fatal mistake; the King's life was safe enough. Much had happened since the morning of the 30th of January, 1649; the scaffold in front of Whitehall, and the masked headsman and his axe. The Revolutioners would not have dared to spill the King's blood, nor would public opinion have suffered it. So, in running away, he simply played into the hands of his enemies. But the flight of the King rendered the throne de facto vacant; although, as its de jure possessor, he only waited for better times to return to it. William of Orange, the Dutch usurper, invited over by the faction who traded in disloyalty, sat in his father-in-law's seat, along with Mary his wife, the King's eldest daughter; she the Goneril of her day, as her sister Anne was the Regan. So keenly was this noted by the Tory wits and satirists of the time, that an order in Council came out, forbidding the tragedy of Lear to be acted in the theatres "until further notice!"
The Revolution speedily became an accomplished fact; and together with it the downfall of the Church of Scotland as an Establishment. The two Archbishops, the whole of their twelve suffragans, and the larger half of the thousand parochial Clergy, refused to transfer their allegiance from James to the Dutchman. Had they seen their way to accept him, it is an historical fact, capable of the clearest proof, although quietly suppressed by the popular historians of Scottish affairs, that William would have upheld the Church, if the Bishops and Clergy had supported him. The Bishop of Edinburgh, who had an interview with William, tells us what happened:—"Upon my being admitted into the Prince's presence, he came three or four steps forward from his company, and prevented me by saying, 'My Lord, are you going for Scotland?' My reply was, 'Yes, sir, if you have any commands for me.' Then he said, 'I hope you will be kind to me, and follow the example of England.' Wherefore being somewhat difficulted how to make a mannerly and discreet answer, without entangling myself, I readily replied, 'Sir, I will serve you, so far as law, reason, and conscience shall allow me.' How this answer pleased,' continues the Bishop, 'I cannot well tell; but it seems the limitations and conditions of it were not acceptable; for instantly the Prince, without saying anything more, turned away from me, and went back to his company." This interview with William followed a highly significant one which took place the day before between the Bishop of Edinburgh and the Bishop of London; at which the latter said, "My Lord, you see that the King, having thrown himself upon the water, must keep himself a-swimming with one hand, the Presbyterians having joined him closely, and offered to support him; and therefore he cannot cast them off, unless he could see how otherwise he could be served. And the King bids me tell you that he now knows the state of Scotland much better than he did when in Holland; for while there he was made to believe that Scotland generally was all over Presbyterian; but now he sees that the great body of the nobility and gentry are for Episcopacy, and only the trading and inferior sort for Presbytery; wherefore he bids me tell you that if you will undertake to serve him to the purpose that he is served here in England, he will take you by the hand, support the Church and order, and throw off the Presbyterians." That was plain speaking, and there is no mistaking it; but again it suits our popular historians to suppress it. The Bishop of Edinburgh answered his brother of London in much the same way as he did the Prince his employer; and from that day the Scottish Church was doomed as an Establishment, and her sufferings soon began. The Act for transferring it to the Presbyterians speedily followed; and all the Bishops, as I have said, and half the Clergy, were at once ejected from their sees and benefices, with no reservation of life interests, and without a penny of compensation. With the Bishops and the half of the Parochial Clergy nearly all the Principals and Professors of the five universities threw in their lot. The other half of the Clergy complied with the new order of things, and were continued in their Kirks and Manses.
The Covenanting zealots, now on the sunny side of the hedge,—although sadly grieved that the Revolution settlement did not embrace the Covenant, and that William was not a covenanted king,—lost no time in re-commencing their favourite work. The Revolution was hardly consolidated before the "rabbling" of the Clergy in the Western districts began, not a few of whom were maimed, mutilated, or brutally murdered in their manses; and hundreds, with their wives and families, were driven forth destitute in stormy wintry weather,—Christmas Day was purposely chosen for beginning the "rabbling;"—when many of them perished from cold and hunger. As usual, it suits the party historians and platform orators to withhold all mention of those outrages. Nevertheless, I am telling the simple truth.
But a bold stroke was made for the King. John Graham of Claverhouse, now Lord Viscount Dundee, clothed with the exiled King's commission and authority, hastened to Scotland to arm its loyalty and chivalry. How he fought, and how he won, and how he fell in the moment of victory on the field of Killiecrankie, it boots not to tell. What Scottish Churchman does not know it? His battle cry on that field was, " King James, and the Church of Scotland!" And nobly did the clansmen, and many a loyal lowlander besides, respond to the cry. In five minutes the battle was over, and the victory won. But dearly was it won. The gallant Graham had received his death wound, and the victory was fruitless; for the leaders that succeeded him were wanting in the military genius, resolution, and fiery energy for which Dundee was conspicuous, and the enterprize collapsed.
I have already touched on the character of Lord Dundee; but it is one on which, did space permit, I would fain linger. Perhaps no character in Scottish history has been more foully, more shamelessly, and more persistently misrepresented and slandered. A biographer of his time, speaking of the high sense of honour, and fidelity to his word, by which he was distinguished, tells us that, "It proceeded from a deep-seated principle of religion, whereof he was strictly observant. For, besides family worship, performed in his household regularly, morning and evening, he retired to his closet at certain hours, and employed himself in that duty. This I affirm," continues the biographer, "on the testimony of those who lived in his neighbourhood in Edinburgh, where his duties as Privy Counsellor often obliged him to be; and particularly from a Presbyterian lady who lived long in the same house where he resided, and who was otherwise so rigid in her opinions, that she could not believe a good thing of any person of his persuasion, till his conduct obliged her to rectify her mistake. Dundee kept up the same pious custom in the army; and though somewhat warm upon occasions in his temper, yet at a time when profane swearing was common among the upper classes of society, Dundee was never heard to swear. It is a remarkable confirmation of this fact, that a Presbyterian historian of the period, who records the oaths of the Cavaliers, the Lairds of Westraw, Lagg, and others, with peculiar gusto, as if rolling them under his tongue, never ventures to put a profane oath into the mouth of Claverhouse. It ought not to be forgotten, too, that while the unfortunate King brought his power and influence to bear with success in perverting many of his Courtiers and Officers to the Roman Catholic Religion which he had himself embraced, he entirely failed with Lord Dundee, whom he repeatedly tried to win over to the Roman Communion Dundee replied that his life and goods were his King's, but that his religion was a matter between himself and his God."
The same writer sums up the character of Lord Dundee by saying, "He was formed by Heaven for great undertakings, and was in an eminent degree possessed of those qualities that form the accomplished gentleman, the upright statesman, and the gallant soldier. In his private life he was rather parsimonious than profuse; but in the king's service he was liberal and generous to all but himself, and freely spent his own money in buying provisions for his army. In days notorious for profligacy, there was no stain on Dundee's moral conduct. In an age infamous for the almost universal treachery of its public men, his fidelity was pure and inviolate. His worst enemies have never denied him the possession of the most undaunted courage, and military genius of the highest order."
Dundee is so largely mixed up with the religious and political commotions of the period, that I have been tempted to devote a larger space than I intended to the rescuing of his character from the persistent abuse which has hitherto blackened it. But I close my remarks with this eloquent tribute to his name and fame: "He was generous, brave, and gentle; a Cavalier sans peur et sans reproche; and as long as the summer sun shall pour his evening ray through the dancing leaves of the birch and the copsewood, down to the dark pools where the brown waters of the Garry whirl in deep eddies round the foot of Ben Vrackie, so long will every generous and noble heart swell at the recollection of him whose spirit fled with the sun's fading beam, as he set on the last victory of' Ian dhu nan Cath 'the 'Dark John of the Battles;' of him who died the death which the God of Battles, the Lord of Hosts, reserves for His best and most favoured sons; alike on sea and on mountain; on the blue wave of Trafalgar, or on the purple heather of Killiecrankie."
Dundee was dead; the king was in exile; the Dutch conqueror was on the throne, and the Revolution was an accomplished fact. The Bishops and half the Clergy said non possumus; and the Church of Scotland was in the wilderness. There are many Churchmen of the present day, both lay and clerical, who dispute the policy of sacrificing the Church's status as an Establishment for what they are pleased to call a bit of political sentiment. The answer to the accusation is, I apprehend, that from the non-juring stand-point the contention was, not for a sentiment, but for a distinct religious principle; that what is contemptuously termed a sentiment was to the non-jurors a solemn duty. The oath of allegiance then, it should be remembered, was not the same which the Revolution Settlement subsequently considerably modified, and which is now taken by the Queen's subjects. The Scottish Bishops and Clergy, and the faithful who adhered to them, had sworn allegiance to James the Seventh and his heirs; and they were not men of flexible consciences, like the Vicar of Bray, prepared to play fast and loose with their oath. The oath of the period, moreover, compelled them to swear that the infant Prince of Wales was a suppositious child. Only factious men believed, or pretended to believe, that falsehood then; no one believes it now.
Besides, we of the nineteenth century have the advantage of knowing the history of the political and religious change. Our non-juring ancestors did not and could not know that the King and his heirs, by the decree of Providence, were to be shut out from their inheritance for ever. They looked and they prayed for a second Restoration, which they fondly hoped might take place any day. Nor did the hope seem to them the chimera that it does to us. Probably the great majority even of those who outwardly complied with the Revolution Settlement, and were among the most outspoken in its support, like Marlborough and others, were Jacobites at heart, and only waited for an opportunity of openly declaring themselves. It is now capable of distinct proof, from documentary evidence subsequently brought to light, that many of William's courtiers and chief advisers were in secret correspondence with the Court of St, Germains, and that the Court of St. James's was honeycombed with Jacobitism. The hopes of the early non-jurors were of the brightest; it was only after the successive failure of the three enterprises of Killiecrankie, Sheriffmuir, and Culloden, that hope deferred gradually made the hearts of the Jacobites sick. Nevertheless, although with daily diminishing numbers, they hoped on. In their defence, it must also be remembered, that they maintained the principle of Divine Right in the line of the kingly succession; a principle, accounted I fear, in these more enlightened days, but an antiquated superstition. Yet I am bound to mention that this is one of the principles which the great divines that adorn the later Church, including the saintly Bishop Andrewes, and the martyred Archbishop Laud, and the entire catena of the Caroline Bishops, whom we all admire, praise, and are ready confidently to fall back upon in defence of truths which happen to please us better, had taught, not merely as a political duty, but, as regards the principle of obedience, and the inviolability of vows, part of the depositum of the Faith. Indeed, on any other principle, one fails to see how persistent loyalty to the sovereign who, by the grace of God, now rules over us is possible. Should a democratic upheaval,—which may God avert,—drive Queen Victoria from her throne, and substitute that human device, a republic; or should a continental invader conquer the country; then, upon Revolution principles, loyalty gives in, sheathes its sword, makes its bow, and success justifies the iniquity. In fact, Revolution principles are founded on robbery and violence; on the tyranny of the footpad; your money or your life!
The dispossessed Church although stripped of her endowments to the last penny, and vested interests, as we have before stated, totally disregarded, did not at first suffer much active persecution at the hands of the Revolution Government, beyond the abject poverty and distress into which the outed Clergy and their families were immediately plunged. Of this, deplorable instances are on record. But it suffered every kind of molestation and annoyance at the hands of the now dominant religious faction, which, by an immutable law, hated with a heart-hatred the divine Institution which it had injured and supplanted. Queen Anne had written to the Scottish Privy Council expressing her wish that the Episcopal Clergy and their flocks,—some of the Clergy still in possession, and others worshipping in Meeting-Houses,—should be protected in the peaceable exercise of their religion. Encouraged by the royal wish and intention, the Earl of Strathmore in 1702 proposed in Parliament that a toleration should be granted to all Protestants in the exercise of religious worship. Against this measure a strong representation was given in by the Commission of the General Assembly. The Moderator signed the Paper, in which the opinions of the Commission in regard to any concession to Episcopacy may be judged of from the following passage:—" We do, therefore, most humbly beseech, yea we are bold in the Lord, and in the name of the Church of God in this land, earnestly to obtest your Grace, and the most honourable Estates, that no such motion of any legal toleration to those of prelatical principles be entertained by the parliament; being persuaded that to enact a toleration for those of that way (which God of His infinite mercy avert,) would be to establish iniquity by law, and would bring upon the promoters thereof, and upon their families, the dreadful guilt of all those sins, and pernicious effects both to Church and State that may ensue thereupon." The principles embodied in this precious Document were systematically acted upon and carried out for nearly a century; and so successfully that the Church was all but exterminated.
The population north of the Tay was, as ever, for the most part Episcopalian, and largely Jacobite; and the newly established Presbyterianism had the utmost difficulty in collecting Congregations in the Parishes, and in forming Presbyteries. In the records of the Presbytery of Deer, which I have had an opportunity of examining, it appears that they had to import ministers from other districts to make up a quorum; and the Episcopal Incumbent of the Parish of Deer, Mr George Keith, a cadet of the noble house of Marischal, and a staunch Jacobite, like the head of the family, and all his name and race, kept possession of Kirk, manse, and benefice, and was upheld and supported by the body of the parishioners and landed gentry, almost to a man and woman,—indeed the women were the keenest partisans of the exiled King, and in their allegiance to the Church,—for nearly a quarter of a century after the Revolution. At Mr Keith's death in 1711, the Presbytery at length ventured on the attempt to settle a minister, but without success. The parishioners rose and resisted. The Parish Kirk was hemmed in by village houses, from the roofs of which stones and other missiles were hurled against the Presbytery. It was in fact deforced; and the ministers were compelled to depart, re infecta, and complete the formalities in the Kirk of a neighbouring parish, to which access was more easily procured. This incident is known historically as "the rabble of Deer." In other parishes of the Diocese of Aberdeen many of the parochial Clergy kept possession long after the '15,—down to 1725, and in some instances even later. Such is a specimen of what was alleged to be "the inclinations of the people," the Charter of the Presbyterian Establishment set up in 1689. During the entire reign of Queen Anne, who was personally favourable to the dispossessed Church, and showed her favour by the gift for distribution of a large Edition of the Book of Common Prayer, which was then coming into general use,—the Book, I may mention, was introduced by Mr Keith into the Parish Church of Deer the year after the Revolution,—the Church enjoyed the protection of the Civil Authorities against the ill-will of those who showed every inclination to harass and molest her. The Jacobites looked upon Anne, as probably she herself did, in the light of her brother's lieutenant; and so they forbore from any overt act in favour of the King's restoration during her lifetime. It was not until the Queen's death in 1715, and the accession of the Hanoverian dynasty, that active persecution began. There is no need to conceal the fact that the Rising in the '15 furnished the pretext. In the autumn of that year the Earl of Mar unfurled the Royal Standard at Castletown of Brae Mar and proclaimed James the Eighth. The Earl Marischal did the same in Aberdeen on the 20th of September, attended by a large representation of the nobility and gentry of the shire, the Clergy, and the Professors of the two universities. Among the concourse of loyalists were the Marquis of Huntly,—the Head of the noble House staying quietly at home, but his sympathies were well known, and his power in the north was almost regal;—the Earl of Aboyne, the Lord Forbes of Pitsligo, Sir Robert Gordon who carried the Royal Standard, and a numerous retinue of the lesser Barons and Lairds, among whom were Invercauld, Pittodrie, Stoneywood, Drum, Pitullie, Turherhall, and upwards of two hundred of the chief burgesses of the city. Aberdeen, ever true to Church and King, was delirious with joy. The mouth of the stone Lion which surmounts the market cross was made to spout forth wine for the delectation of the crowd, who drank the King's health, many of them, on their knees. The Whig magistrates were summarily deposed; and others, well affected to the cause, reigned in their stead. The Presbyterian ministers were turned out of the churches,and the dispossessed Clergy were re-installed. The Prayer Book Service was said in the Parish Church of St. Nicholas, which the Professors of the University, the Magistrates and Town Council, and the Incorporated Trades attended in state, arrayed in their robes of office. The "braif toune of Bon-Accord" was en fete; and "the auld Stuarts back again" was on every tongue! On the 22nd of December James landed at Peterhead, then little more than a fishing village, but every man and woman in it his devoted partisans. Next day he passed on through Aberdeen to Fetteresso, near Stonehaven, one of the castles of the Earl Marischal. During the halt in Aberdeen, loyal addresses were presented to him by the Professors of the two universities, by the Bishop and Clergy of the Diocese, and the Jacobite magistracy. But soon the gleam of gladness vanished. Sheriffmuir was fought and lost; or rather the battle was a drawn game; for, in the words of the song:—
And some say that nane won ava, man ;
But of ae thing I'm sure, that on Shirra Muir,
But Mar, the leader of the enterprise, was incompetent, if not a poltroon. He made little or no attempt to keep his army together, although the bulk of it marched off the field unbroken. The two Marischal Keiths,—the younger brother, James, afterwards the great Field Marshall of Frederic of Prussia, and both of them the bravest of the brave,—failed to prevail with Mar to persevere in the attempt, although they urged him on the field with passionate tears, and so it took end. In the battle, a gray-headed Highlander, who had fought at Killiecrankie, was heard, shouting at every blow of his Lochaber axe, "Och! for an 'oor o' Dundee!" James himself was not made of the stuff which creates enthusiasm among soldiers. He half-hearted in his own cause, and was among the first to counsel the dispersion of his adherents. About the only thing remembered of him in connection with the Rising is a feeble joke that he made. At Perth there was no bridge, as now, across the Tay. The season was winter, and the river was frozen over. James was invited to cross, and exhibited some reluctance. When assured that the ice would bear, and that there was no danger, he ventured; and turning round to the gentlemen about him, said with a sickly smile, "Ah! my friends, you have indeed led me on the ice!" And so, through faint-heartedness and mismanagement on the part of those who were entrusted with conducting it, the gallant attempt took end; and nothing more was done till thirty years after, when Bonnie Prince Charlie unfurled his father's standard at Moydart.but
From what can be gathered from the Publications of the period, and other sources, the number of the Clergy and Congregations during Queen Anne's reign, down to the Hanoverian succession would seem to have been about three hundred. In a rare Pamphlet, of which I possess a copy, intituled, "A representation of the state of the Church in North Britain, as to Episcopacy and Liturgy, and of the sufferings of the Orthodox and Regular Clergy from the enemies of both; but more especially of the Episcopal Churches within the Diocese and Shire of Aberdeen," there is a detailed account of the cruel treatment to which the Clergy in those parts were subjected after 1715. It is significant of the virulence of the persecution, that this Pamphlet was printed in London in 1718. Evidently it was not safe for a Scottish printer to take it in hand.
The Honourable Archibald Campbell, a younger son of the House of Argyle, was Bishop of Aberdeen about that time. By careful study, he had worked himself out of those principles, religious and political, in which he had been educated, which in that family were traditional, and had become an ardent Jacobite and zealous Churchman. Another curious and similar change of front, it may be noticed in passing, took place about the same time, in the conversion of a grandson of the famous Andrew Cant, the northern apostle of the Covenant, who had renounced Covenanting and Presbyterian principles, and ultimately became one of the Bishops of the suffering Church. The see of Aberdeen was administered by a Commissary, in the person of Dr James Gadderar, Bishop Campbell residing chiefly in London. In the scarce Pamphlet, whose title I have given, most of the old Congregations which still remain are mentioned, together with many others which have long ceased to exist; most of them, as is known, coming to an end, either in the fiery persecution,—literally so, for in many cases the chapels were burnt,—consequent on the failure in the '15, and finally at Culloden. Detachments of mounted dragoons scoured the country; and, acting on the information of the Presbyterian authorities, harassed the nonjuring Clergy, spoiled their goods, shut up their places of worship; and, except in the cases where the Clergy were in hiding, imprisoned their persons. But again I have to tell that all this is carefully excluded from the popular histories which treat of those times.
The Bishops, in continuing the succession, were obliged to act with the greatest secresy and caution. To use the language of a historian who describes it, "the prelates celebrated with a mournful privacy the august solemnities of the Church. The rites were shorn of the old cathedral splendour. The 'Veni Creator' must be murmured like a voice out of the dust. But yet they had with them the eternal Pontiff, and the unfailing powers of His kingdom. They were speaking His words, and doing His work; and it was in full assurance of Him for their unseen Consecrator, that the Priests about to fill the places of those worn out old men, knelt before them to receive the Holy Ghost for the office and work of Bishops in the Church of God."
"As the Liturgy," says the little work from which I have been quoting, "was the chief object of dislike, so the first attack was upon the Pastors of the Episcopal persuasion, where the Liturgy was used." It is to be observed that many of the dispossessed Clergy, when left at liberty to do it, had introduced the Book of Common Prayer into their churches, many of them being the parish churches, of which public opinion was strong enough to help them to keep possession. During the whole of Anne's reign, the substitution of the Prayer Book Offices for the extemporaneous worship of the late Establishment period, went on rapidly; and to encourage it, the Queen sent a farther gift of a large impression of the Folio Prayer Book for the use of the Clergy in the public services of the Church. "These congregations were instantly desolated. On the marching north of a party of Argyle's army, the Presbyterians took advantage to threaten those Clergy with imprisonment, which put those who could do so under the necessity to abscond." As showing that the military were acting at the instigation of the Presbyterian authorities, and that the persecution was quite as much a religious as a political one, it is noticeable that in the churches of the Aberdeen Diocese, where the extempore mode of worship still continued, the Clergy were not at first interfered with. Doubtless it was expected that they would in time comply, as they had not adopted the hated Service Book, which the preachers were in the habit of denouncing as a thinly disguised Mass Book." The desolations, continues the writer of the pamphlet, "began at Aberdeen, where the Liturgy had been used with great decency and order for more than four years,"—in those congregations, it is understood, which had been forced out of the parish church of St. Nicholas, and the Cathedral. The violence used was very great. " Mr. Dunbreck fled; Dr. George Garden, who made not so much haste to escape, was seized and thrown into prison, where he lay for five months, until he managed to elude his jailors and make his escape into a foreign country." Two others of the Aberdeen Clergy, Dr. Burnett and Mr. Blair, were in hiding; and "Dr. James Garden," Professor of Divinity in King's College, "cannot with safety keep his own house, but under the infirmities of old age, has been forced to wander from place to place. Thus was that congregation, composed of the best and most intelligent burgesses and people of the town, deprived of the worship of God, and of their rightful Pastors." In the country parishes, the treatment of the Clergy was the same or worse. The minister of Aberlour was banished the kingdom for the crime of baptising an infant. In the western districts, the Clergy were "rabbled;" they, their wives and children, were driven from the manses in the midst of a snow storm; and more than one of the "outed" ministers perished under the infliction. Once more I have to state that this Confessorship is suppressed in the histories which circulate most among Scotsmen, who have yet to learn that there are two sides to this portion of the ecclesiastical history of our country.
"Mr. William Livingstone, the Parson of Deer after Mr. Keith's death in 1711, was seized by a party of military, and forced away from his family and flock. They rifled his house of everything of value within it; leaving not so many clothes as would cover his wife and an infant a few months old. Mr. Alexander, the aged Parson of Kildrummie,"—the father of Bishop Alexander, who ministered for many years to the faithful in the town of Alloa,—" was seized, and carried a prisoner to Aberdeen. From thence he was taken, along with Dr. Garden, to Edinburgh. But on their way there, they were both thrust into a noisome dungeon at Cupar-Angus, where the worst of criminals were imprisoned; and after many months of suffering were at last set at liberty on bail." Mr. William Dunbar, Parson of Cruden, and afterwards Bishop of Aberdeen, underwent the same sort of treatment. Mr. Dunbar, after his expulsion in 1717, from the church and parish of Cruden, retired to the neighbouring town of Peterhead; and on Bishop Gadderar's death, succeeded him as Bishop of the Diocese. Bishop Gadderar presided over the Diocese until 1733. About the beginning of his Episcopate in 1723, the persecution seems to have somewhat slackened. I possess a manuscript record, probably in the Bishop's own handwriting, of the Ordinations performed by him from 1723 to 1726. In the course of those three years, he conferred Holy Orders on twenty-eight Deacons and Priests; a fact proving how numerous the congregations in the Diocese were at the period. The memory of Bishop Gadderar continued green among Aberdeen Churchmen down to the end of the first quarter of the present century. As a youth, I have often heard his name mentioned with veneration by the older Clergy.
Of Bishop Dunbar, who resided, as I have said at Peterhead, where he ministered to a numerous congregation, I have heard Bishop Torry, who succeeded him after a long interval in ministering to the same flock, relate an anecdote, showing the Bishop's loyal principles and ready wit. A company of soldiers, after the suppression of the Rising in 1746, was sent to Peterhead to overawe its Jacobite inhabitants; that is to say, about the entire population. The commanding officer, an Englishman, and, as it happened, the son of an English Bishop, out of a feeling of respect to one bearing the Episcopal title and character, invited Bishop Dunbar to the mess dinner. After dinner, the first toast, as usual, was "King George!" The toast was duly honoured by all at the table, with the exception of the Bishop; who, lifting his glass, quietly but audibly drank to "Our Lawful King. A young officer, with a rude oath,—exclaimed, "our lawful King, sir! why … it, that is not King George!" "Gentlemen," replied the Bishop, "I take you all to witness that this young man affirms, although he need not have sworn it, that King George is not our lawful King! In that sentiment," he added, "I have the honour of entirely agreeing with him." It need not be told on which side the laugh of the company was.
I have mentioned Mr Alexander, the Parish minister of Kildrummie, as one of the persecuted Clergy, who under the protection of his patron the Earl of Mar, and with the good will and affection of the parishioners, kept possession until after the '15. His son, Mr John Alexander, was ordained as his father's assistant, and successor (as was hoped), while the father continued to minister in the Parish Church. He became eventually Bishop of Dunkeld. Bishop Jolly, as a young man, had seen and conversed with Bishop Alexander. I myself had the privilege of knowing Bishop Jolly, I am proud and thankful to say, from my school days in 1821 to his death in 1838, and took part in the solemnities at his burial. So it comes to this; that I knew and conversed with a man, who had known and conversed with a man who had ministered as a Scottish Priest in a Scottish Parish Church. This may be accepted as a bit of commentary on the boasted antiquity of "the Auld Kirk."
The fierce and protracted persecution after Culloden left the suppressed Church with about forty Clergy of all orders, and in most cases with mere skeletons of congregations. The nobility and gentry could not attend the Episcopal worship, save at the risk of pains and penalties, and they would not attend the Presbyterian worship; the result in many cases being the utter neglect of any religious profession whatever, and an immoral life and conversation. So violent and persistent was the persecution, that even the most hopeful began to despair of any successors to the hunted and harried Clergy, many of whom were languishing in prison, or were in penal banishment; in plainer language, they were sold as slaves to the American planters. But our platform lecturers quietly suppress all mention of those sufferings; as also do our school histories; in which, however I am bound to mention, the Cameronian Covenanters are glorified as saints and martyrs; and Episcopacy, its ritual, and worship are disparaged and villfied; and our children, who, in the absence of Church schools in country districts, are compulsorily sent to the Board Schools, are systematically indoctrinated, under the guise of "use and wont," in falsehoods and frauds such as these miscalled histories. It were much to be wished that more notice were taken of this hardship in the education of our children, and a remedy provided.
Mr Alexander Keith, the worthy son of a worthy father, the Parson of Deer already mentioned, was the Pastor of the remnant of the Cruden Congregation at the '45 period, and nearly twenty years later on. The inscription on his gravestone in the church-yard of that Parish is a touching proof of how deeply the iron had entered into the souls of the Clergy; and how they thought they had seen the last of the ancient Church of Scotland. The inscription is as follows:—"S. M. of the Rev. Mr. Alex. Keith, whose purity of heart, sanctity of manners, easiness of conversation, and unwearied attention to all the duties of his office as a Minister of the Church of Scotland under the many trying events of eight and forty years, rendered his life valuable, his death lamentable, and his memory precious. Ob. Oct. 27, 1763, Æt. 68. Ultime Scotorum in Crudenanis, Kethe, Sacerdos! Fratribus et Plebi diu memorande, vale!" I remember standing many years since at the side of the grave, in the company of the venerable Dean of the Diocese, Mr. Cumming of Longside, and reading the inscription. The Dean said to me, "The old man," the title by which he always spoke of his grandfather and predecessor, Dean Skinner, "The old man," said he, "wrote that epitaph," I went back upon the word "ultime." "But why 'ultime,'" I said. Never shall I forget the wistful look, the quivering lip, and the brimful eyes of my venerable friend, as he replied, "Ah! the Clergy of those sad days never expected to have any successors." The epitaph is one of the many proofs that might be adduced that the Church, at the lowest point of her depression, although "minished and brought low through oppression, plague, and trouble," clung to her inalienable title of the the Church of Scotland, which she maintained she had never forfeited. It was after the persecutions had virtually ceased, about the end of the last century, and when those who managed her affairs thought it would be indiscreet to assert the title when they were approaching the Legislature to be freed from the pains and penalties which had nearly extinguished her, that they described her as "the Scottish Episcopal Church," and sometimes as "the Episcopal Communion in Scotland." Probably the title page of her Eucharistic Office is the only document in which her ancient title is still proclaimed;—"The Communion Office of the Church of Scotland." John Skinner of Linshart, the accomplished divine and poet, the writer of the epitaph above described, and of many a scholarly Latin composition, and who died Dean of Aberdeen in 1808, lay in the jail of the county town for six months, for the crime of saying the Morning Service in the presence of a congregation consisting of more than five persons which the statute, made and provided for extinguishing Episcopacy in Scotland, declared to be a congregation beyond which none should be allowed to meet. The violation of the statute rendered the officiating Clergyman liable, for the first offence, to imprisonment for six months; and for the second offence, banishment to the Plantations for life, which meant, as I have before stated, being sold to the Planters as slaves.
Nor did the faithful laity escape. They incurred sharp penalties for being present at the interdicted worship. Those of position were subjected to heavy fines, in addition to their being incapacitated for any office of privilege or trust. If Peers, they were debarred from taking their places in the House of their order; if Commoners, from being elected as members of Parliament; or even from discharging the humbler functions of Justices of the Peace. The law was frequently evaded by the contrivance that only five worshippers were under the purview of the officiating minister; while the passages, bed-rooms, and closets of the dwelling houses in which the worship was conducted,—as often as ten or twelve times in the course of the Sunday, in the presence of fresh relays,—were packed full of people, all more or less within ear-shot. But it sometimes happened that more than the statutable five ventured, with or without the sanction of the minister, to put in an appearance; in which case spies were seldom wanting to lodge information with the authorities, who rarely were inclined to show mercy or forbearance. One of Dean Skinner's neighbours, Mr. Sangster,—he died Dean of the Diocese in 1826, so near are those times brought to our own day,—also suffered imprisonment for the like offence. These are but specimens from the district which is best known to the writer; but the same persistent persecution went on throughout the whole of Scotland for nearly fifty years, until the Church was reduced to the verge of extinction. Indeed, the marvel is that a vestige of it was left. Much of this was told to the writer by Bishop Jolly. When I went to pay my duty to him, and receive his blessing, after my ordination as a Deacon, I well remember the saintly man lifting up his eyes and hands, and,—adverting to the faithlessness which had made himself and others despond and despair when no light appeared in the thick gloom,—thanking God that youthful labourers were at length being raised up in greater numbers to take the places of the old.
Among the last of the Clergy whom I have known who had been forced to worship God in the hidden, make-shift way I have mentioned, was Dr. Patrick Torry, Bishop of St. Andrews, Dunkeld, and Dunblane, who died at Peterhead in extreme old age, so late as 1852. I have heard the Bishop tell that when a young Priest at Arradoul in the Enzie,—now represented by the Buckie Congregation—he had been forced to celebrate the Holy Communion on the table of a farm kitchen, hastily scoured, and prepared for the occasion.
The persecutions had reduced the number of Clergy from about five hundred who refused to conform to the new order of things at the Revolution, and to accept the Prince of Orange as their king, and Presbyterianism as their religion, to about one-tenth of that number in the closing years of the century. Even down to the period of my own youth, the number was hardly over seventy; and even that small increase was chiefly made up of the ministers of the so-called "English Chapels," who had qualified by taking the oaths to the Hanoverian government, having previously received their orders at the hands of English or Irish Bishops. For it is to be kept in view that no submission on the part of those who had been ordained by Scottish Bishops was of any avail. Mr. Skinner of Longside, and others, whatever their leanings and sympathies may have been, were ready to take the oath to the reigning sovereign. They did so,and prayed for him publicly by name; but it did not save them from the clutches of the penal statute; they were imprisoned notwithstanding. They had received their orders from the politically tainted Bishops of Scotland; and the object of the statute was to uproot Scottish Episcopacy. Most of the ministers of the "English Chapels," on the submission of the Bishops and Clergy at the close of the century, and the consequent relaxation of the penal laws,—I say relaxation, for the whole of the penalties were not swept away until about seventy years later,—saw it to be their duty to abandon the schismatical position to which only a supposed necessity gave the colour of justification, and to submit to their native Bishops. Fresh missionary ground, to which the Church now owes so much of her expansion and increase year by year, was not dreamed of in those days; not, in fact, until within less than twenty years since. In the early days of "the Church Society," a standing bit of the annual speeches by laymen of position and influence was sure to be an elaborate apology for the existence of Episcopacy in Scotland. Our Church, said the speakers, amid much and hearty applause, was not a proselytizing Church, not aggressive; oh no! very far from it; she only desired to keep together the few congregations she happened to possess, and to make the Clergy a little more comfortable; our dear brethren of the Establishment and the "denominations" need have no fear of our encroaching on their domains. Happily such abject apologetic speeches are never heard now. The Church is awakening to her mission and her responsibilities. An influx of Home Missionary zeal, under the healthy and fostering influences of the Representative Church Council, and an absence of the unworthy fear of being stigmatised as proselytizers, have worked a marvellous change. May this fresh Home Missionary zeal suffer no coldness or abatement, and may our Divine Head prosper it, until Scotland is re-conquered to the obedience of the Faith.
In my early youth, the dark shadow of the persecuting times, although direct persecution by the State had ceased, still brooded over the elder Clergy. They shrank from observation. The Bishops never allowed, if they could help it, the mention of an Episcopal act to appear in the newspapers; afraid that outsiders should come to know that there were live Bishops in Scotland. Our Churches were all Chapels; which term was in current use both in town and country, Edinburgh not excepted, until within something less than fifty years since; nor is the term yet, although less frequently heard than it was, by any means out of use. But even Chapel was an advance on the Meeting House of a former generation. The truth is, that for a long period,—all through the first half of the last century, —the Clergy rather encouraged the use of the words Chapel and Meeting House as provisional names, because they expected the Parish Churches to be again restored to them. Culloden blasted the last remnant of that hope.
The Ritual, as I have already mentioned, was the baldest and meanest conceivable; and the people, long accustomed to it, were rather suspicious and intolerant of any thing better. The Clergy took all sorts of liberties with the arrangements and words of the Prayer Book; here and there improving them, as they fondly imagined. Of this, curious and grotesque instances might be mentioned. A surpliced Priest was never seen; except, perhaps, in one or two of the large towns, and then only in the cases of Clergy imported from England. All the Offices that could be performed in private were so performed, including that for the Burial of the Dead; which Office was said in a mysterious, hidden sort of way, at the "Chesting," the evening before the funeral, in the presence of a few women. This mysterious manner of saying the Burial Service was much suspected by the Presbyterian neighbours, especially when they happened to see a plate with some earth carried in, as something superstitious and unholy; and the more so, as at the period I am speaking of, they had not themselves begun to have any "services" at funerals, now so universal. I can distinctly remember their commencement in some of the large towns before the custom had extended to the country parishes. At first, it was in a very tentative sort of way. The ministers knew that their "Directory for Public Worship" distinctly prohibited any religious service at funerals; so they made the prayer a sort of prolonged grace before the compound called "Burial Wine" and cake were handed round;—a grace, with a few hortatory and comforting words to the family mourners, couched more or less in a precatory form. Gradually advances were made, to what is now called "a funeral service." Now the refreshments are offered to each guest on entering the house of mourning, without the formality of a grace; and, the company being all assembled, a bow is made to the minister, who forthwith proceeds to read a chapter proper to the occasion, often the Burial Lesson of our Office;—after which a long prayer is put up, largely partaking of the hortatory, the homeletic, and the sympathetic. Of late, another step in advance has been taken, and the "service" is occasionally performed at the open grave, in defiance of the "Directory," by the minister arrayed in gown, hood, and bands; and very recently another venture has been made, and the minister so vested, has actually been seen, Prayer Book in hand, boldly reading the Church's Burial Office at the interment. The change, whatever it may lead to, is most marked, and very marvellous. The last small attempt at persecution that I know about happened to myself, shortly after I became a clergyman. Greatly daring, I made up my mind to brave public opinion and possible danger, and resolved to bury a deceased member of my flock in conformity with the Rubric, by saying the prescribed portion of the Office at the grave. The thing was hitherto unheard of. The grave-digger, and the Presbyterian element of the company glowered at me. The Episcopalian portion hung down its head, and looked uneasy and sore distressed at the temerity of their young ritualistic parson; and I was afterwards told that the irate grave-digger and the village heads had met in solemn and indignant conclave to consider whether I ought not to be informed upon, and the sheriff of the county be invited to take notice of me. But happily, the effervesence subsided, and nothing came of it.
The venerable Alexander Jolly, Bishop of Moray, is the typical Scottish Churchman of the latter half of the last century, and eight and thirty years of the present. In the early years of his Episcopate, the Church began to emerge from the thick gloom in which she had for a century lain. Charles Edward Stuart was dead;—Charles the Third, he was, by the Grace of God, but not by the will of the people, in the eyes of the Loyal Remnant;—and his brother Henry Benedict, the Cardinal of York, became Henry the Ninth, D.G., King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith. Henry had a gold medal struck, which I have seen, with this inscription, "Henricus, Dei gratia, sed non voluntate Hominum, Mag. Brit. Fr. et Hib. F. D. Rex." Bishop Abernethy Drummond of Edinburgh, the ruling mind among the Scottish Bishops of the period, contrived to satisfy himself, and his reasoning pretty easily satisfied the majority of his brethren of the Episcopate, that a Roman Priest was disqualified from sitting on the throne of Great Britain. So the Bishops quietly ignored Henry's pretensions, and forthwith came to terms with the Hanoverian government. Some may think it was a pity that they stultified the high-souled contention of a hundred years of their Church's history by rushing up to the Hanoverian throne with such undue, not to say indecent, haste, when the breath had scarcely left poor Charles's body. If they could only have had a little longer patience, and waited on a few years more, until Henry's death, their political logic, which they and their predecessors had closely bound up with their religion, would not have been so liable to be called in question. Henry the Ninth was the last Stuart who claimed the allegiance of his subjects; and the stoutest maintainer of the doctrine of Divine Right has never contended that allegiance is due, if no allegiance is claimed. The moment Henry of York died, George the Third became "our lawful King;" but, on Divine Right principles, not a moment sooner. On Revolution principles, of course, any lucky adventurer might become "our lawful king" any day. Much, however, it must be allowed, taking frail human nature as we find it, may be urged, if not in defence, yet in palliation, of the step which the Bishops and Clergy took. The Church was ground to the dust, and was moaning her Psalm "Adhœsit pavimento" They feared its utter extinction. They were weary and heart-sick with waiting for that which never came; and they saw that what, to a former generation, was a deep-seated principle and an eager hope, was fast becoming an antiquarian sentiment. Yet Jacobitism died hard. One aged Bishop,—his brethren discovered he was in his dotage,—two stout-hearted Highland Priests, and one in the Diocese of Brechin, refused to give in. Nor were the flocks altogether quiescent. There were many groanings, and murmurings, and searchings of heart at the surrender. Who has not heard of the redoubtable Charles Hacket, the Laird of Inveramsay in the Garioch, who sternly interviewed the Bishops before they dispersed from the Aberdeen Synod, where Jacobitism was renounced, and Hanoverianism accepted, and who roundly scolded the Right Reverend Fathers, telling one of them, from whom he had hoped for a firmer consistency, "As for you, sir, I would not have believed this of you; I am perfectly ashamed of you!" It is related of the same stout adherent of the fallen dynasty, that on the first Sunday that George's name was pronounced in the Service at the Folla Chapel where he attended, he got up from his knees, ostentatiously brushed them with his hand, and blew his nose vigorously, as an indignant protest against the falling away.
Another old Trojan was Mr. Oliphant, Laird of Gask, in Perthshire. When Charles-Edward died, and was succeeded by his brother Henry, the bulk of the Scottish Jacobites, as we have said, transferred their allegiance to the King in possession. Not so did the unswerving, uncompromising Laird of Gask. Mr. Cruickshank, the Clergyman at Muthill,—the old man was alive and ministering there for several years after I was in orders,—and who used to perform the Service at the houses of the Jacobite nobility and gentry in turn, wrote to Mr. Oliphant to say that he had conformed to the Government. An answer was speedily despatched in these words:—" July 3rd, 1788—Mr. Oliphant presents his compliments to Mr. Cruickshank; and as he has incapacitated himself from officiating at Gask, his gown is sent by the carrier, and the books he gave the reading of. As Mr. Cruickshank has received his stipend to this Whitsuntide, there is no money transactions to settle between him and Mr. Oliphant." Thus did the compliant parson of Muthill receive his mittimus! About the same period George the Third was seized with his mental ailment; which being reported to the Laird of Gask, he remarked to one of the conforming Clergy, in the broad Doric which all classes of society then used, "Ye see what ye ha' dune to the honest man! he never has had a weel day sin' ye tuick him by the han'!" The unswerving Jacobitism of Gask being reported to George the Third, the member for Perthshire received this message from the monarch to the sturdy upholder of the dethroned House;—" Give my compliments,—not the compliments of the King of England, but those of the Elector of Hanover,—to Mr. Oliphant; and tell him how much I respect him for the steadiness of his principles." He was a specimen of many a Jacobite gentleman of the period, "the brave old Scottish Cavalier, all of the olden time," true to his king and to his God.
Jacobitism was a deep-seated principle, which a people of democratical tendencies scarcely understand; and, as we have said, it died hard. That there was a small but resolute phalanx of its adherents in Edinburgh, after the defection of its Bishop, all the Clergy, and the great body of Churchmen there, is proved by the records of the Scotch Episcopal Friendly Society, where it appears they tried by force of law to prevent certain funds of which they claimed the management from being handed over to that institution, which consisted of the conforming Clergy. They were non-suited, we need hardly say, with certain contemptuous obiter dicta from the bench. They continued to meet as a congregation,—the remnant of a remnant,—for several years after the surrender, declining to acknowledge Dr. Abernethy Drummond, the renegade Bishop of that see; and persisted in praying devoutly for "Henry, our most gracious King and governor." But a few years more saw the last of the Jacobites. They had, indeed, in the words of old Counsellor Pleydell, become "the shadow of a shade."
The Church of Scotland's mission is, of course, an undying one, unless she is to settle down, as was at one time, and not so very long ago, but too likely, into a few fashionable Chapels for the accommodation of the rich; where the poor were not expected, and were not made welcome. The goodly tree has again and again been cut down, even to the ground; but, blessed be God, it is now taking root downward, and bearing fruit upward;—slowly, no doubt, but on that account, let us hope and believe, all the more surely. The great mistake of her last Establishment was her unliturgical condition. The people saw little or no outward difference in the worship when Presbyterianism took her place, and so the gradual transference of the masses was the more easily accomplished.
From the low estate of seventy Clergy, with, in most cases, their scanty flocks, in 1828 when I began my ministerial life, I thank God that I have lived to see a clerical roll of about two hundred and sixty. But it is the "day of small things" still. We are far away yet from the reconquest of Scotland to Evangelical Truth and Apostolic order, which is surely our mission, else we have no business here. Let us not be high-minded, but fear. Perhaps it may not be the will of Providence that our mission is to prosper and culminate under a State Establishment again; unless, if it should please God, by a corporate re-union with the existing Establishment, which, we have the strongest evidence for asserting, many on both sides are sighing for, and praying for, under conditions which are daily becoming more possible, more feasible, and more hopeful. The democratical tendencies of the times, and the antagonism to all institutions that are old and venerable, are, no doubt, to a large extent, against this consummation. The religious Establishment of Scotland is at present selected, from its supposed weakness compared with the Church of England, as the object of the combined attack of the dissenting bodies which at various times have forsaken its communion. Episcopalians, as we are called, let us say in passing, never having belonged to the Presbyterian Establishment, cannot properly be termed dissenters from it; and they never make common cause with dissenters against the present Establishment.
Although we do not forget that we were ourselves disestablished and disendowed with extreme rigour, we accept the situation (under the old historical protest), feel no resentment, and bear no malice. We are also willing witnesses to the fact of the general mildness and tolerance of the Establishment as it now exists, contrasted with the bitter intolerance and malignity which it long manifested towards the communion which it had supplanted, and therefore hated. We appreciate its willingness to live and let live. Socially, its office-bearers are on the best of terms with us; although in their corporate capacity, as might be expected from the nature and extent of our exclusive claims, symptoms may often be detected that, as a communion, they bear us no especial good will. But in the time of the troubles that threaten them, and possibly await them, it may be that they shall find that, while it is the fruit of their own loins, their own "kith and kin," that are their deadliest foes, the once hunted and harried Episcopalians are their fastest friends. The politico-religious dissenters seem aware of the hopelessness, as yet, of attacking the English Establishment, which continues firm in the affections of the great majority of the people, and whose roots are entwined with the social system of England, and the institutions of the realm. When the democratical upheaval is strong enough, if ever, to destroy it, it will probably perish along with the monarchy, as it did before in the Great Rebellion. Meanwhile the crusade against the northern Establishment is gathering its forces. It denounces what it calls "the unholy alliance of religion with the State;" forgetting, it would appear, that God did once establish His Church upon earth, and allied it with the State, and made it conterminous with the kingdom of His chosen people. Christians have generally accepted this as a lesson and a guide for Gospel times, as a sanction for the principle of Church Establishments. They forget, also, that Christendom, so soon as it emerged from the Catacombs and pagan persecution, accepted that intimation of the Divine will, and has, with rare and late exceptions, continuously acted upon it. The exceptions, I may remark, have been the result of the successful assertion of democratical principles, as in the American States, and the work of sympathisers with those principles nearer home. The hideous spectacle of democratical, atheistic France, where Christianity is not only disestablished, but barely tolerated, it is sufficient only to point to as a solemn warning.
Most Churchmen, I hope and believe, accept the principles of religious Establishments, where the kings are the nursing fathers of the Church, and their queens the nursing mothers. When the parties to the compact are each careful to perform their respective duties, and not to infringe, the one upon the province of the other, then the Truth is defended; Religion flourishes, is repected as the law of the land, and is dignified in the sight of all beholders; and the State is sanctified and blessed, and God is glorified; and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of God and of His Christ.
May our daily and diligent work, as Scottish Churchmen, be to rebuild the waste places of Zion; to rear and train afresh the imperishable vine, a slip of which S.Columba and his fellow-missionaries planted in our Scottish soil; but which the wild boar out of the wood had all-but rooted up, and the wild beast of the field devoured. And let our prayers go up for our dear Mother, the Church of Scotland, esto perpetua, till the Second Advent dawns:, and her King comes back to claim His own from the stewards or His mysteries.
Printed by St, Giles' Printing Co., Johnston Terrace, Edinburgh,
- Wise in their generation, they acted on the well understood Macchiavellian maxim, "calumniare audacter, aliquid adhoerebit."
- To this day, many an ignorant Scottish peasant believes that "the Bloody Claver'se" was in league with Satan, who supplied him with a black horse which he rode, and did impossible leaps, and climbed impracticable rocks.
- The proverb is as old as it is true, "odisse quem læseris.'