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form of service contrary to the laws of making a supreme council of four memGod and this kingdom? Who dared, in bers. In this manner was constructed their conventicles, contrive a form of one of the most active and efficient counGod's public worship contrary to that cils that ever guided the affairs of any established by the general consent of this community, vigilant, prompt, and enerChurch and state ?" “If any fault or getic, placed in the very centre of the violence have been committed by any of body politic, conveying life and intellithe subjects in resisting or seeking the gence through its entire frame, and able abolition of that book, they might i'etort, to rouse it into instantaneous action at one that the bishops framing, and the council thrilling call. authorizing it, were the first and princi- When these exceedingly judicious arpal causes, necessitating either disobe- rangements had been completed, the dience to God, and breach of our laws, great body of the petitioners were solemnor else resisting those evils which would ly exhorted to return to their homes, to bring the judgment of God on the land."* reform their personal habits, to act accord
The next meeting of privy council was ing to their religious profession, and to held on the 15th of November. Again be earnest and constant in faith and did the Presbyterians assemble in the prayer to Him in whose hands are the capital, and in still increased numbers. hearts of kings, and from whom alone The council
, apprehensive of a renewal they could hope for safety to the crown, of tumultuary commotions in the town, peace to the country, and deliverance to requested the nobles to use their influence the Church. These exhortations prowith their friends to induce them to reduced a deep impression upon the assemturn quietly to their homes. The peti- bled thousands, and were at once obeyed. tioners signified their willingness to make The people quietly withdrew from the such an arrangement as would allow the scene of agitating anxiety, committing greater part to withdraw, no more re- the cause of the distressed Church to the maining than were requisite to conduct protection of its divine Head and King all necessary matters, and were empow- fearing God, and having no other fear. ered by the whole to act in their behalf. About the beginning of December a Following up this suggestion, which had meeting of privy council was appointed indeed been so far practically employed to be held at Linlithgow, to receive the before as a matter of convenience, it was communications transmitted from his maarranged, that as many of the nobility as jesty by the Earl of Roxburgh. The pleased, two gentlemen from every coun- Tables were instantly on the alert, and ty, one minister from every presbytery, summoned the whole of the commissionand one burgess from every burgh, ers of the Church to the capital, to be should form a general commission, re- prepared for any emergency, but at the presenting the whole body of the Pres- solicitation of Traquair and Roxburgh, byterians. Still more to concentrate their consented to abstain from going to Linefforts, it was resolved that the general lithgow. There is reason to believe that body of commissioners should meet only Roxburgh had it in charge to employ on extraordinary occasions, and a smaller every method by which the Presbyterinumber should be selected, who might ans might be weakened ; such as, to dereside permanently at Edinburgh, watch-tach some of their supporters by bribes ing the progress of events, and ready to and promises of preferment, and to seize communicate with the whole body on and imprison the leading men whom he any emergency. This smaller commit- could not otherwise influence; but the tee was composed of sixteen persons--. first method being indignantly rejected, four noblemen, four gentlemen, four the second was abandoned as too perilous. ministers, and four burgesses; and from Three proclamations were, however, the circumstance of their sitting in four issued by the council; in one of which separate rooms in the parliament-house, his majesty declared his abhorrence of they were designated "The Four TA- Popery, and his determination to allow
A member from each of these nothing but what should tend to the adconstituted a chief Table of last resort, vancement of religion, as it is presently
professed within this his majesty's ancient
* Rothes's Relation, p. 15.
kingdom of Scotland; and that nothing quence, honourable alike to the men and is, or will be, intended to be done therein to the cause. They are said to have proagainst the laudable laws of that his ma- duced such an impression upon Lord jesty's native kingdom.” With this Lorn, afterwards Earl of Argyle, as to proclamation the Presbyterians saw no detach him from the prelatic party, and reason to be satisfied. It was but too to incline him to that of the Presbyterians, evident that its language was equivocal, of which he subsequently proved a steady and might be interpreted to mean, that and able supporter. his majesty would allow nothing but Information of the state of affairs was what should tend to the advancement of sent by the privy council to the king, Prelacy, and that he regarded the laws through the Earl of Traquair, accompaniestablishing that system as i laudable ed by Hamilton of Orbiston, who was aplaws,” which nothing should be done pointed to take charge of the petition and against They resolved, therefore, to complaint of the Presbyterians. Some abide by their own plain and unequivo- faint hopes were entertained, that when cal complaints, and not to allow them- his majesty should receive full and acselves to be circumvented and deceived, curate accounts of the real state of affairs either by the arts of courtiers or the king- in Scotland, he might be induced to uban. craft of the sovereign.
don the pernicious attempt to violate the In vain did Traquair and Roxburgh conscience of an entire kingdom, by forcendeavour to persuade the petitioners to ing upon the people religious ceremonies rest satisfied with the proclamation. Find- to which they were determinedly opposing them on their guard in this matter, ed; and a hierarchy which they both dethe next attempt was to induce the peti- tested and feared. But unhappily for tioners to divide their petitions, and make both the king and the kingdom, an evil application separately, on the plea that by agency was strenuously at work, promptdoing so their conduct would bear less ing the misguided and obstinate monarch the appearance of combination, and be to provoke his destiny. Sir Robert Spotsproportionally less offensive to the king. wood, president of the Court of Session, But the Tables were aware of the maxim, hastened to London, and, aided by Laud, "divide and conquer," and therefore re- prejudiced the mind of the king against fused to expose themselves and their cause all sound and wise council; and the archto the danger of division and defeat. Yet bishop, seconding his son's misrepresentaonce more did the council attempt to tions, suggested that the Presbyterians draw the Presbyterians into a snare, re- would submit, were his majesty to resort questing them to abandon their accusa- to measures more decisive than
he tion of the prelates, and to limit their pe had yet adopted, -that it required but a tition to the subject of the Book of Can- proclamation condemning the proceeding ons and the Liturgy. This stratagem of the Tables, and prohibiting them, unalso failed, in consequence of the unalter- der pain of treason, to put an end to the able resolution of the Tables to adhere whole opposition. This advice was but to the principles stated in their complaint, too congenial to the despotic temper of and to regard the prelates as parties ac- Charles. It prevailed against the opin. cused of high offences against the Na- ions of those who counselled a milder tional Church, which they had striven to course; and Traquair was commanded subvert by the introduction of a hierarchy to be in readiness to return to Scotland not recognised in its constitution. The early in the following year, to bear down privy council then attempted to evade re- all opposition, and see his majesty's orceiving the general petition of the Tables; ders carried into effect. but such was the indefatigable persever- [1638.] In the beginning of February ance of the Presbyterian leaders, that the 1638, the Earl of Traquair returned from council was in a manner besieged, and England, bearing with him those arbitracompelled to receive the deputation, and ry commands with which his majesty listen to their complaint. Baillie' has hoped to dishearten and disunite the Presa preserved the speeches of the deputation, byterians. He was immediately request which are indeed a noble specimen of ed by some of the leading nobles to in high religious principle, loyalty, and elo- | form them respecting the nature of the measures which he was empowered to of what dissimulation and threats had propose; but he declined to give any an- failed to effect. He resolved to hasten swer till the meeting of the privy council, under night to Sterling, and there issue which was appointed to be held at Ster the proclamation, before the Presbyteriling on the 20th of February. The Pres- ans could arrive, on the morning of the byterians, however, had already received 20th, which happened to be a Monday. secret information respecting the real Even this proved abortive. His design character of Traquair's commission; and was detected; the zealous Presbyterians the intelligence having been speedily sent two of their number to anticipate this sent throughout the country, great num- new movement; and when the members bers began to flock to Sterling, to act as of privy council appeared in Sterling to occasion might require. Traquair en publish the proclamation, they were met deavoured to dissuade them from thus as- by the Lords Home and Lindsay, who sembling in dangerous numbers; and read a protest, and affixed a copy of i on ney consented so far as to promise to the market-cross, beside that of the prosend Rord Rothes and Lindsay only, as clamation, leaving them there, bane and a deputation. Learning soon after that antidote together. the intended proclamation would not only Nothing could have been more injudiprohibit any supplicants from appearing cious than his majesty's proclamation. before the council
, but also would com- The Presbyterians were all along exmand them to be incarcerated as traitors tremely unwilling to believe, and still if they should attempt it, they changed more so to affirm, that they regarded the their plan, and determined to repair to king as in any degree the direct cause of Sterling in such numbers as should prove their troubles, accusing the ambitious and a sufficient mutual protection. And, as corrupt prelates of being both the instigathey were resolved that they at least tors and the agents in all the innovations would act honourably, whatever might which had been made, and the oppresbe the conduct of their antagonists, they sions under which the country had groansent information of this change of purpose ed, ever since the institution of their into Lord Traquair. Somewhat irritated quisitorial and despotic Courts of High at the failure of his stratagem, Traquair Commission. But in this proclamation told them that by asking too much they the king declared “ that the bishops were were defeating their own object; that if unjustly accused as being authors of the they had contented themselves with sup- service book and canons, seeing whatever plicating release from the Book of Can- was done by them in that matter was by ons and the Liturgy, they might have his majesty's authority and orders.” The been successful; but his majesty would proclamation further expressed entire apnot suffer one of his estates to be brought probation of these innocent books; conunder subjection to them. This hasty demned all meetings and subscriptions answer confirmed all their apprehensions against them, prohibiting all such proIt showed the king's determination to re- ceedings, under pain of rebellion; and tain Prelacy under the designation of one ordaining that no supplicant should apof the estates of the kingdom,—an estate pear in any town where the council were essentially subservient to him, by the dex- sitting, under pain of treason.*
In this terous use of which he might vitiate every manner did the king openly take upon court, undermine all the bulwarks of lib- himself all the blame of those measures erty, and succeed in establishing a perfect against which the great body of the nation and absolute despotism, civil and religious. had petitioned and complained, as if to This, indeed, there is every reason to be- tell the kingdom that no redress should lieve, was his majesty's 'unavowed but be granted to any of their grievances. real design,-a design happily frustrated It might have been thoroht that the by the promptitude, firmness, and energy depths of meanness and duplicity had which God bestowed upon our Presbyteri- now been explored. But the council
found a still lower deep. Great numTraquair had now but one resource bers of the Presbyterians had arrived in left, and that an abundantly mean one, Sterling before the day was far advanced, to attempt the accomplishment by stealth
Baillie, pp. 32, 33.
and the council entreated their leaders to nant engagements to Him and His holy persuade them to withdraw, lest any tu- law. mult should arise; promising that no act This great idea re-assured their minds; of ratification should be passed, and that yet they were aware that it would require their protest and declinature against the to be cautiously introduced to the notice of prelates sitting as members of council the weaker and less decided of the bre should be received. Yet no sooner had thren. A public fast was intimated, in the mass of the supplicants withdrawn, which the confession of the defections of than the council admitted two of the pre- the Church and nation formed naturally a lates, ratified the proclamation, and re- leading subject of the addresses which the fused to receive the protest and declinature; most eminent of the ministers were sethus violating their own pledged honour, lected to deliver to crowded audiences of and degrading the faith of courts beneath earnest and deep thinking men. In this the level of common falsehood. Several manner the idea of renewing the Covehigh-minded nobles, who had hitherto nant was infused into their minds, while supported the prelatic measures, recoiled the sacred duties in which they were enfrom the contamination of this act, and gaged had for a time entirely banished soon afterwards joined the Presbyterians all narrow, selfish, and worldly consiThe publication of this proclamation in derations. On the immediately following other towns was met with equal prompti- day, Monday the 26th of February, the tude by a protest; and thus, according to subject was openly mentioned ; and it the received opinions on such matters in was found that already there was a strong Scotland, the binding force of the procla- and very prevalent inclination to renew mation was neutralized, till the subjects the Covenant. Alexander Henderson of which it treated should be freely and and Johnston of Warriston were apfully discussed in Parliament and As- pointed to draw it up, and Rothes, Lousembly
don, and Balmerino to revise it. The These proceedings hastened on the utmost care was taken that it should concrisis. The Presbyterians now saw tain nothing which could justly give clearly that the king himself was deter- offence to even the most tender and scrumined to support the prelates, and ruin pulous conscience. Objections of every them, if in his power. "Unless, therefore, kind were heard and considered, and they were prepared to bow their necks forms of expression altered, so as to rebeneath prelatic despotism in the Church, move whatsoever might seem liable to and arbitrary power in the State, they objection. Baillie and the brethren of must maintain their position ; and to do the west country appear to have been the so without a more decided and permanent most scrupulous, but all their difficulties bond of union than that which the Tables were removed or answered. afforded was impossible. So reasoned the The Covenant consisted of three parts; nobility. On the other hand, Henderson, the first, the Old Covenant of 1581, exDickson, and some more of the leading actly as at first prepared; the second, the men among the ministers, looking more acts of Parliament condemning Popery, deeply into the matter, became convinced and confirming and ratifying the acts of that the Church and the nation were suf- the General Assembly,—this was written fering the natural and penal consequences by Johnston; and the third, the special of their own defections. And calling to application of the whole to present cirmind how greatly God had blessed the pre- cumstances,—this was the production of vious Covenants, in which the nation had Henderson, displaying singular clearness bound itself by the most solemn obligations of thought and soundness of judgment. to put away all idolatry, superstition, and At length the important day, the 28th immorality, and to worship God in sim- of February, dawned, in which Scotland plicity and faithfulness according to his was to resume her solemn covenant union own Word, they arrived at the important with her God. All were fully aware, conclusion, that their duty and their safety that on the great transaction of the day, were the same, and would consist in re- and on the blessing of God upon it, would turning to God, and renewing their cove- depend the welfare or the wde of the
Church and kingdom for generations to silent.
A solemn stillness followed, come. By day-break all the commis- deep, unbroken, sacred. Men felt the sioners were met; and the Covenant near presence of that dread Majesty to being now written out, it was read over, whom they were about to vow allegiance and its leading propositions deliberately and bowed their souls before Him, in the examined, all being invited to express breathless awe of silent spiritual adora their opinions freely, and every objection tion patiently heard and answered. From Rothes at length, with subdued tone, time to time there appeared some slightly broke the silence, stating that if any had doubtful symptoms, indicative of possible still objections to offer, they should repair disunion ; but these gradually gave way if from the south or west parts of the before the rising tide of sacred emotion kingdom, to the west door of the church, with which almost every heart was heav- where their doubts would be heard and ing. Finally, it was agreed that all the resolved by Loudon and Dickson ; if commissioners who were in town, with from the north and east, to the east door
many of their friends as could attend, where the same would be done by Henshould meet at the Grayfriars church in derson and himself, "Few came, prothe afternoon, to sign the bond of union posed but few doubts, and these few with each other, and of covenant with were soon resolved.” Again a deep and God.
solemn pause ensued; not the pause of As the hour drew near, people from irresolution, but of modest diffidence, all quarters flocked to the spot; and be- each thinking every other more worthy fore the commissioners appeared, the than himself to place the first name upon church and churchyard were densely fil this sacred bond. An aged nobleman, led with the gravest, the wisest, and the the venerable Earl of Sutherland, at last best of Scotland's pious sons and daugh- stepped slowly and reverentially forward,
With the hour approached the and with throbbing heart and trembling men; Rothes, Loudon, Henderson, Dick- hand subscribed Scotland's Covenant son, and Johnston appeared, bearing a with God. All hesitation in a moment copy of the Covenant ready for signa- disappeared. Name followed name in ture. The meeting was then constituted swift succession, till all within the church by Henderson, in a prayer of very re. had given their signatures. It was then markable power, earnestness, and spirit- removed into the churchyard, and spread uality of tone and feeling. The dense out on a level grave-stone, to obtain the multitude listened with breathless rever- subscription of the assembled multitude. ence and awe, as if each man felt him. Here the scene became, if possible, still self alone in he presence of the Hearer more impressive. The intense emotions of prayer. When he concluded, the of many became irrepressible. Some Earl of Loudon stood forth, addressed the wept aloud; some burst into a shout of meeting, and stated, explained, and vindi- exultation ; some, after their names, adcated the object for which they were as-ded the words, till death ; and some sembled. He very judiciously directed opening a vein, subscribed with their their attention to the covenants of other own warm blood. As the space became days, when their venerated fathers had filled, they wrote their names in a conpublicly joined themselves to the Lord, tracted form, limiting them at last to the and had obtained support under their initial letters, till not a spot remained on trials, and deliverance from every dan- which another letter could be inscribed. ger; pointed out the similarity of their There was another pause. The nation position ; and the consequent propriety had framed a Covenant in former days, and duty of fleeing to the same high and had violated its engagements: hence tower of Almighty strength; and con- the calamities in which it had been and cluded by an appeal to the Searcher of was involved. If they, too, should break hearts, that nothing disloyal or treason this sacred bond, how deep would be their able was meant. Johnston then unrolled guilt! Such seem to have been their the vast sheet of parchment, and in a thoughts during this period of silent comclear and steady voice read the Cove-muning with their own hearts; for, as if nant aloud. He finished, and stood moved by one spirit,--and doubtless they