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THE KING AND THE PARLIAMENT.
committee to act as conservators of the Treaty of Peace with England, and had in fact invested it with the power of the king and his estates. This body met in September, and, under the influence of Hamilton, a communication was made to Charles, requesting that the queen, who had gone to Holland, should return and act as a mediator, and pledging themselves, if this should fail, to support the throne. Among the names attached to this declaration is that of Alexander Henderson. Since the king's visit to Scotland, it had been remarked that his zeal had decayed, and bitter things were beginning to be said of him. The truth is, he had more moderation of sentiment, as he had infinitely more solidity of judgment, than most of the men with whom he acted.
Meanwhile the battle of Edgehill was fought with indecisive success; but, upon the whole, the operations of the king during the campaign, before the winter set in, had given him some advantage over his faithful Commons. This made the parliament more than ever desirous to secure the assistance of the Scotch. They despatched an agent to Edinburgh, and sent after him a declaration to the people of Scotland, which was met by a counter-declaration from the king. On the 20th of December the Privy Council met, and the two declarations were produced. The Marquis of Hamilton moved that they should publish the king's declaration. Lord Balmerino remarked, that if they published the one, they should publish the other. “Do you propose that,” said the Marquis, “because we owe the same obedience to the parliament as to the king ?” The Earl of Lanark, who had produced the king's declaration, here interposed, and said that he had his Majesty's commands for its publication. “We sit here for no good purpose," retorted Argyll
, "if every message is to be regarded as a command ;" "and they two,” says Burnet, “let fly at one another for a while with
It appears that all shades of opinion were to be found in the Council ; some were for publishing both declarations, some neither ; one man was for publishing the parliament's
, and not the king's ; but it was finally carried by a majority that the king's should be published, and not the parliament's. For some time before this, the Marquis of Hamilton and the Marquis of Argyll had been on friendly terms with one another, but now a complete rupture took place. Hamilton adhered to royalty, and Argyll gave the
1 Burnet's Memoirs, p. 201,
weight of his great name to the democratic opinions which were current in the Kirk.1
The decision of the Council was odious to the country; and the Conservators of Peace attempted to disguise its nauseousness by declaring that to publish a document was not to approve of it, and by resolving to publish the parliamentary declaration too. The Marquis of Hamilton and the Earl of Traquair now endeavoured to unite parties by a petition to the Council, expressed in very general and guarded terms, in which they simply begged their lordships not to pledge themselves to anything which might put the peace of the Church and the kingdom in jeopardy, and to bear in mind that, while they rendered to God the things which were God's, they should also render to Cæsar the things which were Cæsar's. This was known at the time as the Cross Petition; it was signed by many noblemen and gentlemen ; “but the preachers," says Burnet, “ threatened damnation to all the authors and subscribers of it, and detestable neutrality became the head on which they spent their eloquence.
The Council gave no direct answer to this A.D. 1643. petition, but appointed commissioners to proceed to England, and offer to act as umpires between the king and his commons.
These were joined by commissioners from the Church, who were instructed to beg the king to abolish Episcopacy, establish Presbytery, and call a meeting of the Scottish parliament. In February 1643, they had repeated audiences of the king at York; but his Majesty declined their mediation, refused to accede to their requests, and denied them liberty to proceed to London. 4
As the tide of feeling rose higher, it was resolved to call a convention of the Estates. The king at first refused it his consent, and even so keen a Covenanter as Sir Thomas Hope argued against it; but the convention, nevertheless, met, and Charles, under the pressure of necessity, agreed to give it his royal sanction, provided it kept within certain prescribed limits. The convention, however, declared itself free to transact what business it pleased independent of the king the government, in fact, was republican. The country had been prepared for the meeting of the convention by a solemn fast, in which the pulpits did the work which is done in our day by partisan and political newspapers. When business was begun, 1 Burnet's Memoirs, pp. 204, 205.
? Ibid. p. 206. 3 Ibid. pp. 206-9.
* Ibid. pp. 213-16.
A.D. 1643.] ENGLISH DEPUTATION TO GENERAL ASSEMBLY.
a remonstrance was read from the commission of the General Assembly, setting forth the dangers to which religion was exposed, and praying the convention to look upon the cause of their brethren in England as their own. The convention thanked the commission, and took the hint; but as the country was scarcely yet prepared for the idea of an armed intervention, they simply resolved to raise levies under the pretext of repressing some moss-troopers on the borders.
But the General Assembly, at this period, was really the governing body of Scotland, and it met on the 2d of August. Sir Thomas Hope, the Lord Advocate, produced a commission to appear for his Majesty, and is the only instance of a commoner holding this high post. A few days after the meeting began its sittings, a deputation from the parliament of England landed at Leith, and were introduced to the Assembly. The ministers had been exhorted beforehand to be more than usually grave in the presence of the puritanic strangers from the south; and the Moderator exercised his authority with greater than ordinary severity. The deputation represented to the House that they acknowledged with thankfulness the zeal of the Scotch Church in extirpating every relic of Popery ; that they were anxious to have the same good work perfected among themselves, and had begun it by removing the High Commission, ejecting the bishops from the House of Peers, abolishing Episcopacy, and calling an Assembly of Divines to meet at Westminster; and that now, in the time of their danger and distress, they were anxious, not only for the prayers of their brethren in Scotland, but for such other assistance as they could give. These representations were backed by a letter from some of the Puritan clergy, and another from the Assembly of Divines, which had already begun its sittings, both couched in the unctuous phraseology of the time.3
The proposals of the English were keenly canvassed in committee. Some thought that Scotland might still act as a mediator, but this was repudiated as hopeless and vain. The parliamentary commissioners were anxious for a civil league, but the Assembly would hear of nothing but a religious Covenant. What was liberty to them without religion? What was religion without Presbytery? Was not the establishment of their favourite polity in England the burden of all their prayers
1 Guthrie's Memoirs, p. 114. Burnet, p. 233.
Baillie, vol. ii. p. 88.
—the end of all their toils; for what else did they meddle with such matters; and now would they descend from their high position ? Henderson produced a draft of a proposed League and Covenant. The commissioners suggested that room should be left for the toleration of Independency; but the Assembly would not hear of this—there must be Presbytery, and Presbytery only, over all the land. Finally, the Solemn League and Covenant, as we now have it, was brought before the Assembly, prefaced by a speech by Henderson, and every man gave it his assent. The Convention of Estates was still sitting, and on that very afternoon they also gave it their concurrence.1
The subscribers to this Covenant bound themselves to labour for the preservation of the Reformed religion in Scotland, and for the reformation of religion in the kingdoms of England and Ireland in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, according to the Word of God, and the example of the best Reformed Churches; to endeavour the extirpation of Popery, prelacy, superstition, heresy, and schism ; to defend the privileges of the parliament, and the person and authority of the king; and reveal all malignants and incendiaries who should obstruct their purposes. It was afterwards noted that England was not expressly pledged to Presbytery by this Covenant, and said that the Scotch ministers had been outwitted by the English diplomatists; but it is probable that there was perfect good faith on both sides at the time. The enthusiastic Covenanters never doubted but that if the Church of England was reformed according to the Word of God, it must be made Presbyterian, and they fondly dreamt that the great work for which it was worth to have lived, and even to have died, was now accomplished.
The Solemn League and Covenant was carried to England, and the 22nd of September was appointed for subscribing it. On that day both Houses of Parliament, the Assembly of Divines, and the Scotch Commissioners, assembled at St Margaret's Church, at Westminster. The business on hand was opened with prayer. Nye and Henderson explained the benefit the Church and the kingdom would derive from such a holy alliance. The Covenant was then read from the pulpit, article by article, and while this was being done, every person stood up, and with his right hand raised to heaven, worshipped God, and entered into Covenant with Him. The Commons then went up to the chancel and subscribed their
i Baillie's Letters, &c., vol ii. p. 91.
THE SOLEMN LEAGUE AND COVENANT.
names to one parchment copy, while the Assembly put their signatures to another. It was afterwards subscribed in every county of England; and the Committee of Estates in Scotland more than emulated the zeal which had been displayed in the south, by ordering subscription on the pain of the confiscation of goods. With beggary before them, very few refused their names.
As the result of the Covenant thus concocted by the Church, and solemnly sworn in the presence of heaven, the Scotch army, mustering twenty-one thousand men, under the command of Leslie, now Earl of Leven, crossed the Tweed at Berwick, and entered England, to seek for conformity of religion amid the horrors of civic warfare.
The government of Scotland at this period approximated very closely to a theocracy. The power of the king was gone; the power of the parliament was in abeyance; the General Assembly was the governing body, and its ministers and elders constantly declared that they had derived their legislative authority from Jesus Christ, the King and Head of His Church. Never since the Jewish theocracy was dissolved had such a spectacle been seen. The Old Testament epoch seemed to have been revived in our country. Every act assumed to itself a religious character; even the wars were religious wars, and this was proved by the fact, that in the Old Testament the wars of God's people were called the wars of the Lord. These ideas were associated with something of the old Hebrew exclusiveness. The men of those days regarded their nation as the chosen nation; their Church as the Church : the world, as of yore, was divided into Jews and Gentiles.
Religion was dominant in the national mind; but it was not that broad, loving religion which we see reflected in the gospel of Jesus. It was narrow in its notions, and somewhat bitter in its spirit. It hated Popery and Prelacy with an equal hatred, and was not always able to separate between Popery and the Papist, between Prelacy and the Prelatist, so as charitably to love the one, while it piously detested the
1 Neal's History of the Puritans, vol. i.