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CHAPTER VIII.

CHURCH AND STATE.

NOTHING has so much tended to complicate all ecclesiastical movements in Scotland, as the circumstance that the exact relations of the Scottish Kirk have never been accurately defined. The Reformation was consummated during the minority of Mary. When the Scottish queen came from France to Scotland to ascend the throne of her ancestors--apt pupil of the wily Cardinal of Lorraine—she took good care to legalise as little as possible of the doings of the reformers. The voice of the nation was too decidedly in their favour to allow even the queen to set herself in open opposition to what had been done. In these circumstances she very naturally resorted to what is, on almost all occasions, the strategy of the weak-dissembling. When Mary had abdicated the throne, and James VI. reigned in her stead, that amalgam of the pedant and the tyrant, though he blessed God that the Scottish kirk was the purest kirk in Christendom, did not, on that account, leave it to manage its own affairs. It is probable the vain-glorious monarch imagined, that for much of its purity it was indebted to the circumstance that he deigned to lift upon it the light of the royal countenance. And despite his eulogium, no sooner had James succeeded to the throne of “that bright occidental star,” Elizabeth, than getting enamoured with the smooth ways of England's bishops, the vigorous selfassertion of the Scottish presbyters became odious in his eyes, and the famous Hampton Court conference was held, to convince Andrew Melville and his coadjutors how antiquated and unscriptural were their ideas. The Scottish clergy, who had been summoned before the king, were a set of stubborn republicans: neither crown nor crosier could induce them to swerve from the simplicity of presbyterial order. The routine and pompous ceremonial of Episcopacy only served as a theme for the satire of the intrepid rector of the university of Glasgow; and after enduring the most humiliating discomfiture, James was obliged to let go the Scottish presbyters, without the gratification of a solitary conversion. Episcopacy being deemed a more pleasant form of faith than the Presbytery, the great object of the Stewarts was to upset, as best they might, the Presbyterian Church. So long as James VI. lived, the scheme was pursued with something like respect for the predilections, and something like consideration for the prejudices of the nation. But, from the moment that his son Charles ascended the throne, the schenie of amalgamation or assimilation was pursued with a hot haste that indicated an utter disregard of the feelings of the country. Happily, Jenny Geddes's cutty-stool cut short the monarch's magnificent plan.

"Thou foul loon, wilt thou daur say mass at my lug ?” gathered up into a single sentence a nation's idea of Episcopacy. Jenny's stool proved the tocsin which summoned the nation to the conflict with its ancient kings. How that struggle was fought out, need not be here recapitulated. The story of the whole Iliad of woes through which the nation passed, is “familiar in our mouths as household words."

At the Revolution Settlement, unfortunately, what was only a drawn battle was veiled under the semblance of a triumph. The party was undoubtedly defeated who had sought to trample in the dust the standard of Zion,” but the principles of the martyr-heroes did not receive that sanction and that prominence which they were entitled to receive. William, with none of the bigot's zeal which induced his father-in-law, James VII., to forego, as the French sarcastically expressed it, “three kingdoms for a mass," had all the love of power which characterized the Stuarts; and he, more than any other British monarch, is the father of Erastianism in the Scottish Church. Diplomacy did much during his reign to bring to reason the Scottish clergy; and the spirit and temper which William managed to introduce into the Church, rendered the encroachments upon her liberties, which took place under a subsequent sovereign, capable of comparatively easy accomplishment. The Revolution Settlement brought indeed peace, but it did not bring liberty to the Scottish Church. Her spiritual independence, for which on so many a battlefield her sons had contended unto the death, was yet unsecured. To prove this, one has only to listen to the formula with which the General Assemblies of the Scottish Kirk are to this day closed. The first quarrel of the Kirk arose out of the circumstance of the sovereign disputing its right to meet independent of his will. And to this day the Church of Scotland is opened not only by a Royal Commissioner, but, what is more striking and more important, when the Moderator has, in the most solemn manner, and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, declared the Assembly dissolved, the Commissioner instantly rises from his chair of state, and, as if in solemn mockery of the Moderator, repeats precisely the same formula, with this slight difference, that the authority under which he declares the Assembly dissolved is not, like the Moderator's, the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, but his sovereign lady the Queen's.

The scars of the fiery trial through which Scotland had passed, were too deeply imprinted on the heart of the nation to be obliterated even by a change of dynasty. The product of the persecution was a fierce and defiant fanaticism, ready to dare anything in behalf of ideas for which so much had been suffered; while, by the side of this stoical piety and fortitude, there had gradually grown up, to the great grief of the faithful, a wild and ribald licentiousness both in thought and manners. In their correspondence, the good men among whom there still lingered the last fires of the antique piety of the heroic age which had passed away, are constantly bewailing the heresy and the infidelity of their times. Wodrow's description of the illuminati of his day is by no means exaggerated. “They were born,” says the minister of Eastwood, “under the bright light of the gospel, and pains taken in their education, and they want not a certain measure of head knowledge; but their light eats out their exercise, and they rest, I fear, too much on their knowledge, and turn light, airy, and frothy, and woefully evaporate in questions and debates too high for them."

At no former epoch in the history of the Scottish Church, had there been so great a dearth of intellectual power among her clergy. Since the death of Alexander Henderson, so quickly followed by the death of Gillespie, the Church of Scotland produced no leader worthy to he named in the same breath with the three great men, who had in each eventful crisis of her history hitherto guided her destinies. In Knox, Melville, and in Hender

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