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ACT OF CLASSES.
recruiting serjeant were sorely circumscribed by the Act of Classes. The half of the population had in some one way or another incurred the taint of Malignancy, and none of these might shoulder a musket for their country in her extreme need. Every sensible, and every patriotic man, began to cry out against this suicidal absurdity. The king complained that those who were most attached to his person were debarred from his presence, and even forbidden to shed their blood in
Some of the ministers complained that the Church was ruined by its own divisions, and that Presbytery was trampled in the dust by sectaries. There was a wide-spread wish for the repeal, or at least for the modification of the Act of Classes, so that every gallant man might have it in his power to serve his country.
The matter was brought before the Committee of Estates so early as the 4th of December 1650. But it was felt that it would be dangerous to do anything without the approbation of the Church, which ruled all things, civil as well as sacred. The Moderator of the General Assembly was therefore requested to call a meeting of the Commission at Perth, that it might give its advice in the matter. Meanwhile, the subject was debated among the ministers themselves, and there was a pretty general opinion that Malignants might be admitted to serve as common soldiers, provided they made a public profession of their repentance; but that all the officers should be men upon whom the odious stigma had never been affixed.? When the Commission met on the 14th of the month, the parliament proposed the following question for its solution :"What persons are to be admitted to rise in arms, and to join with the forces of the kingdom, and in what capacity, for defence thereof, against the armies of the sectaries, who, contrary to the Solemn League and Covenant and treaties, have most unjustly invaded, and are destroying the kingdom ?” The Commission answered, “In this case of so great and ardent necessity we cannot be against the raising of all fencible persons in the land, and permitting them to fight against this enemy for defence of the kingdom ; excepting such as are excommunicated, forfeited, notoriously profane, flagitious, or such as have been from the beginning, or continue still, and are at this time obstinate and professed enemies and opposers of the Covenant and cause of God.”3
1 Balfour, vol. iv. p. 197. 2 Baillie's Letters, vol. iii. pp. 125, 126. 3 Wodrow's History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland, Introduction, vol. i. p. 2, Dr Burn's edition.
As the resolution of the Commission implied that all who had been deprived of Church privileges for their Malignancy should submit to Church discipline before they could enlist, the churches were now filled with men in sackcloth making a mock penitence. Some who had fought with the gallant Marquis of Montrose; many who had fled in the rout of the army of the Engagers, took their place at the church-doors, that by submitting to this humiliation they might once more follow the exciting fortunes of the war. Great lords, soldiers, and statesmen did penance before their parish ministers—the almighty dispensers of pardon, mercy, and military commands. The Duke of Hamilton, the Lord Chancellor Loudon, the Earl of Dunfermline, the Earl of Lauderdale, the Earl of Crawford, and other nobles, put on sackcloth for their imputed sins, now when this door of return was opened to them. Favour, it would seem, was shown to the Royalists rather than the Remonstrants, as the following curious notice in Balfour appears to testify :-“12th January, Sunday.—This day Lieutenant-General Middleton was relaxed from his excommunication, and did his penance in sackcloth in Dundee Church; and Colonel Archibald Strachan was excommunicated, and delivered to the devil in the Church of Perth by Mr Alexander Rollock the same day.” 2. General Middleton had held a high command in Hamilton's foolish expedition ; and Strachan, it will be remembered, was at the head of the Remonstrant rising in the west.
The ministers were not unanimous in regard to these healing measures. Many cried out vehemently against them as a surrender of all that was sacred—as a lowering of a Covenanted state to the level of the world. Several presbyteries deprecated the step which had been taken. The Commission vindicated its conduct.3 Pamphlets appeared upon both sides, and the odium theologicum was increased by the number of Malignants who were now raised to colonelcies in the army. But the parliament was resolved to take still another step, and now propounded to the Commission, whether they might not admit to the Committee of Estates such as had been excluded from it, provided they first gave satisfaction to the Church for their offence? The Commission gave a very guarded answer, but an answer which implied that under certain re
1 Burnet's Memoirs, p. 425; Times, vol. i. p. 58. See also Sir James Turner's Memoirs. 2 Balfour's Annals, vol. iv. p. 240.
3 Ibid. pp. 284-95.
RESOLUTIONERS AND PROTESTERS.
strictions the thing might be done. This was all that the parliament wished; and on the last day of May it rescinded the Act of Classes, one of the most bigoted and illiberal pieces of legislation which ever disgraced the statute-book of any country. In the month of July following the General Assembly met and gave the stamp of its approbation to the proceedings of its Commission. But a protest, signed by twenty-two ministers, was given in against its lawfulness, on the ground that both the king and the Commission had interfered with its constitution. Three of the leading protesters were deposed; and from this time the Church was torn into two factionshating and hated—which communicated the virulence of their feelings to the whole country. Those who adhered to the resolutions of the Commission and the Assembly were called RESOLUTIONERS; those who protested against them were called PROTESTERS. At the head of the first were Douglas, Baillie, and Dickson ; at the head of the second, Patrick Gillespie, James Guthrie, and Samuel Rutherford.
The armies of the king and Cromwell were again in motion. Charles had taken up a strong position near Stirling, and Cromwell, thinking it dangerous to attack him, turned his position, crossed the Forth at Queensferry, and pushing on to Perth, took easy possession of it. Charles now resolved to carry the war into England. Breaking up his camp, he began a rapid march southward, and Cromwell, hearing of this movement, instantly gave chase. The hostile armies met at Worcester, and there Cromwell obtained “his crowning mercy.” It was on the 3d of September the battle was fought-Cromwell's lucky day; the day on which he had conquered at Dunbar; the day on which he afterwards died. Charles fled from the field, and after skulking about the country for some time in disguise, managed to escape to France. Cromwell commissioned General Monk to complete the subjugation of Scotland, and he did it more effectually, though less cruelly, than had Edward I. For nine years Presbyterian Scotland was little better than a province of Puritanic England.
On the 21st of July 1652 the General Assembly again met; and again the Anti-Resolutioners protested against its autho1 Wodrow, vol. i. p. 3.
Balfour, vol. iv. pp. 296, 297. 3 See Peterkin's Records for an account of this Assembly; but its Acts have not been preserved, and no Assembly after 1649 till the Revolution is recognised as lawful.
rity. The Assembly vindicated its lawfulness, and threatened the Protesters with the discipline of the Church, unless they withdrew from their protests. Once more, in July 1653, the Assembly met, to meet no more for many sad years.
When the Moderator was in the act of calling the roll, Colonel Cotterel entered the church, which he had already surrounded by a troop of horse and a company of musketeers, and demanded of the ministers by whose authority they met-by the authority of the parliament of the Commonwealth of England, or by authority of the Scottish judges? The Moderator replied that they were an ecclesiastical synod, and meddled not with civil affairs; that they met by the authority of Jesus Christ and the laws of the land ; and that the English army, by the Solemn League and Covenant, were pledged to maintain their privileges. The English colonel told them they must begone. The Moderator asked to be allowed to pray, and began; but the soldier, though a Puritan, grew weary, and told him he must stop and go at once. When the ministers, mourning over the violence done to their Zion by the triumphant sectaries, were come to the door of the church, they were placed between two files of soldiers, marched through the town to the Port, and then ordered to disperse and never to meet again.1
Though the English Puritans thus put down the General Assembly, they did not interfere with the meetings of kirksessions, presbyteries, and synods. They seldom disturbed the established worship. In a few cases they broke in upon the devotions of the ministers, who ventured to pray for the king. On one occasion they laid hold of some north-country ministers, and having charged them with desecrating the Sabbath by travelling upon it, had the impudence to mulct them in forty shillings. They had a special contempt for the stool of repentance which stood in every church. In some instances they broke it down; in others they gravely took their seat upon it during the time of sermon, to show their scorn for what they considered as the Presbyterian ordinance of penance.2 Of course, as often as they be ? lieved themselves moved, they preached, to the great horror of the regularly ordained presbyters. But these things were trifles, and did not seriously wound the religious feelings of
1 Lamont's Diary. Baillie's Letters, vol. iii. p. 225. It is in an interesting letter to Mr Calamy that Baillie gives an account of this matter. The Assembly made one more attempt to meet, but were dispersed before they were constituted.
2 Lamont's Diary. Peterkin, p. 656.
THE PURITAN ARMY.
the people. The strict military discipline which was engrafted on their puritanic piety, prevented them from running into many excesses, or trampling on the rights of the nation they had conquered. A few stray notices in our session records show that they were men of like passions with ourselves, and that the sternness of their virtue sometimes yielded to the fascinations of Covenanted maidens. But in general they were well-behaved and exemplary, and perhaps never did another victorious army use its power with such moderation. Scotland, instead of being beggared, was enriched by the invasion of Cromwell.
The bitterness which existed between the Resolutioners and Protesters increased instead of abating. The Resolutioners embraced the great majority of the clergy; but the Protesters, from affecting a greater fervour of devotion, were the greatest favourites with the people. They were peculiarly vehement in their sermons and prayers, and spoke as if they were ventriloquists, or, to give the description of Baillie, they had “a strange kind of sighing, the like whereof I had never heard, as a pythonising out of the belly of a second person.”] The people responded to their preaching by groans and sighs. They ordained that the sacrament of the Supper should be dispensed every month ; but in general they cut off one-half of the communicants as unworthy, and in some cases where the magistrates or principal men were esteemed guilty of what was called defection, they gave the communion to none. It is to these Protesters we owe our sacramental fasts ; for such days of fasting were unknown to their time. On the fast-day, sermon after sermon was kept up for eight or ten hours together. On the Saturday, two or three preparation-sermons were preached. On the Sunday the solemn services were protracted during the whole day. On the Monday, three or four thanksgivingsermons concluded the season devoted to communion. On such occasions eight or ten ministers were brought together, and the services of all were required. The people flocked in crowds from the neighbouring parishes, till the church could not hold them, and they were compelled to meet in the churchyard ; and those scenes were begun which continued almost to this day, but which now, under the sting of the satirist and the good sense of the community, have all but disappeared.2
1 Letters, &c., vol. iii. p. 245.
2 Burnet's History, vol. i. p. 67. Baillie's Letters, &c., vol. iii.
Kirkton's History, pp. 54, 55.