Page images
PDF
EPUB

parties. But the one which held the Christianity, in its practical embodi original principles of the Evangelical ment as a system, has always suffered Presbyterian Church in truth and sin- more or less corruption by the intermincerity, was alone truly the Church of gling of things civil with things spiritual. Scotland; the other was its worldly In Popery, the distinctions between them counterfeit, and for that very reason it are lost by the spiritual or ecclesiastical obtained most of the world's favour. authority engrossing all power, civil and Fearful have been the consequences to sacred ; in an Erastian Church, by the Scotland of the long domination of the civil power assuming a right to dictate in worldly system; but a demonstration of spiritual matters, and in churches which inestimable value has been made, which hold what is termed the voluntary princiwill yet be understood and applied. It ple, an evil at least equal arises by the has been clearly proved, that a Church civil power being compelled to become really Erastian, but nominally and in virtually atheistic. The ruling princiform Presbyterian, is of all Protestant ple of the Church of Scotland is differChurches the worst, having neither ritur} ent from all these; she has been conto attract, nor faith and warmth to inspire strained to encounter each of them in and animate the people, whom at the succession; and she has recently been same time it deprives of every vestige of exposed to the combined hostility of spiritual liberty. It seems expressly cal. them all. She disclaims all power in culated to produce national infidelity, by matters civil; she will not surrender the driving vital religion out of its pale, and power which Christ has given her in deadening all that remain within it. If matters spiritual ; and she fearlessly tells Popery has been termed the religion of both governments and communities, that fallen man, Moderatism

may, with equal it is their duty to be Christians, to act propriety, be termed the religion of fallen as Christians, and to make it their chief Presbyterians; or, as the same secular object to promote Christ's kingdom and spirit may prevail in any church, it may glory. For this has she been, and still be termed the religion of fallen Protest- is, exposed to threefold peril,--for this ants. · And yet, notwithstanding the pre- has she been compelled to abandon the sent apparent triumph of that system, it temple where her children worshipped may be safely predicted that the reign of God, and to erect a tabernacle in the Moderatism has passed away, and can- wilderness; and for this is she still purnot again be permanently re-established. sued by the fierce wrath of her relentIts doom is written in the word of truth, less enemies. But through the triple which condemns the 6 earthly" and the darkness of the lowering tempest which “ lukewarm," manifested in tħe signs of surrounds her, there may be seen the the times; urged on by the advancing dawning brightness of a thrice glorious spirit of the age; and will soon be pro- and peaceful day. Her conflict has nounced alike by politicians, who will now been freed from every admixture of find that it can no longer subserve their a worldly nature on her side; all politipurposes; and by the indignant voice of cal parties have alike deserted' her cause, an outraged and insulted nation. The or are banded together against her, so Evangelical and Presbyterian Church that she is not even tempted to put her of Scotland has been cast out, and may trust in princes or the sons of men; be for a time trodden under foot; all ec- while the masses of an irreligious and clesiastical establishments may be over- immoral population, left in that state by thrown; and they that dwell on the earth Moderatism, seem ready to add the fierce may rejoice because Christ's witnesses and irresponsible element of physical have been slain. But that Church which force. But for these very reasons little is willing to perish rather than surrender of worldly contamination can now cleave the Crown Rights of the Redeemer, may to her, and intermingle in her procedure be persecuted, but shall not be forsaken, she is followed by the sympathy and the may be cast down, but cannot be de- prayers of all truly evangelical Churches; stroyed; for the Lord Jesus, for whom it she is in the condition to be most thorsuffers will be with it always, even to the oughly purified by the fiery trial through end of the world.

which she is passing; and bereft as she is of all human help, the more manifestly The full realization of this attempt seems will the final victory be the Lord's. to be yet premature, as it has proved to be

It has already been shown how re- in bygone times; but something has been markably the progress of events has gained in each successive conflict; and been so guided by the hand of Prusvidence, more will yet be gained in this, both beas to bring to the light the very central cause to human view the difficulties to element of the last grand controversy be surmounted are greater than ever, and between the Church and this world. because the object of the contest stands During the earlier stages of the contro- more clearly defined. versy, its true nature was apparent to

Even the fact that the antagonist powcomparatively few, and not at all to the er appears in the impassive form of abgreater part of the nation. As it advanced, stract human law, though an element of one cause of obscurity was removed after peculiar danger, is equally an element of aj jother, and its real character became purity and hope. It is not now with nore and more manifest to all who could persons that the Church has to contend discern spiritual things. And at last the so much as with principles; and who very essence of the mighty subject ap. may doubt the issue when a human prinpeared distinct and alone, in the form of ciple presumes to encounter one that is this direct and intelligible question, undeniably divine? Men have yet to be Shall the will of Christ

, or the will of taught, that law itself can have no sure inan, be the supreme law and rule of the basis but the Word of God; and that Church in spiritual matters? To this equally those who make, and those who question the Church can have but one interpret and administer a nation's laws, answer, and the world has but one. Of- are bound to regard it as their first duty ten have these conflicting answers come both to legislate and to administer not into partial collision ; but never, at any otherwise than according to the will of period in the history of the Christian Christ.

Christ. And formidable as is the might Church, has this question been raised of human law, it has already so far been, with such unavoidable precision, and the and will yet more be compelled to feel, antagonist deliverances given with such that its utmost energy sinks into absolute appalling emphasis. The two contend-powerlessness, when directed against ing principles which these answers em conscience enlightened and upheld by body, are now brought front to front, in Him who alone is Lord of the conscience. the attitude of determined hostility, and Then will men learn the full meaning till the one or other perish there can be of those simple yet sublime words. no peace and rest for Christendom. “ Whether it be right in the sight of God

The same idea might be stated and il- to hearken unto you more than unto God, lustrated in a somewhat different man- judge ye.” ner,---Is it the duty of the State to give en- Repeatedly has the thought been sugcouragement and support to the Church gested, during the course of this history, of Christ, without attempting to deprive that civil and religious liberty exist and it of that spiritual independence which is fall together. Nowhere has this been necessary for the right discharge of all more signally proved than in Scotland, its spiritual duties? From the very be- and never more manifestly than at preginning of her existence the Church of sent. Before the Church of Scotland Scotland has maintained the affirmative could be assailed, it was necessary to vioof this great question, and it has been late the British constitution, as in the her constant endeavour to demonstrate case of the Patronage Act of Queen to the world, that a Christian Church Anne. Before she could be overthrown, may be in connection with the State, it was necessary to subvert it, as has been thus giving to rulers the opportunity too manifestly done by the recent proof obeying the King Eternal, and reali- ceedings of the civil courts and the Lezing the predictions of His Word; and gislature. And in the endeavour to may, nevertheless, maintain its alle- crush the Free Church, even the theory giance inviolate to its own Divine King, of toleration is set aside, and liberty of and enjoy that spiritual freedom where conscience is denied. And it were well with Christ has made his people free. for the nation, if all who value the rights and privileges of freemen were aware, has been engaged in bu sting asunder that whether such be her desire or not, the fetters, and casting of the yoke of the Free Church of Scotland is at this that cold, worldly, upspiritual, unchrismoment the chief safeguard of all liber- tian system, so well designated Moderaty, civil and religious. She cannot be tism. In each of these Reformations the overborne without a fatal shock being Church has experienced the most despe-' given to the very freedom of the soul, rate opposition, has been for a time overfrom which all other freedom springs. borne, and in the First and Second she And those who support her antagonists ultimately obtained the victory. By the may yet mourn to know, that they have Black Acts of 1584, she was overpowerbeen busily engaged in forging fetters ed and enslaved, but regained her liberty for themselves.

in 1592. By the Glasgow Act of 1662, With strangely unobservant eye and she was disestablished, silenced, driven mind must that reader have perused these to the mountain solitudes, and the best pages, who has not clearly perceived that blood of her sons and daughters shed the contest in which the Church of Scot- like water ; but the revolution of 1688 land has been engaged, is precisely the terminated for a time her sufferings, same in which for centuries she has sanctioned her principles, and ratified her fought, and bled, and conquered. “ Take liberties. By the recent decisions of the from us the liberty of Assemblies, and Civil Courts, the rejection of her Claim take from us the Gospel," said John of Rights by the Legislature, and the Knox. “What is Cæsar's, or what is Bill of Lord Aberdeen, her constitution ours, let it be given to Cæsar, but that has been again subverted, and those who may not derogate from Christ's right; let continue to hold and defend it have been the God by whom kings reign have His once more, like their forefathers, comown place and prerogative," said Alex- pelled to forsake their homes and places ander Henderson. “We can die, but we of worship, and to bear a full and public cannot forswear ourselves, and be false testimony against an Erastianized Estraitors to Christ," said the Covenanters. tablishment, and Erastian principles in “ The spiritual independence of the Re- the State. ueemer's kingdom, in all matters touch- But the end is not yet. If her prining the doctrine, government, and disci- ciples be, as we believe, sacred and divine, pline of the Church, and the sole Head- they must and will finally conquer. ship of the Lord Jesus Christ, on which And though the warfare of argument is it depends, as also the rights and privi- ended, the sterner warfare of principle is leges of the Christian people

, we will yet only beginning. Other Churches assert

, and at all hazards defend, by the are now learning the meaning of her testihelp and with the blessing of Almighty mony, and are employing its high and holy God," was the solemn declaration of terms. The very sympathy which her those true-hearted Presbyterians, and wrongs, her sufferings, and her undauntfaithful servants of the Lord, who have ed bearing have called fo..h, have tended been, and still are so strenuously endea- unspeakably more to diffuse her prinvouring to effect the Church of Scotland's ciples than could have done her early Third Great Reformation. The First and complete triumph in their defence, Reformation, like a whirlwind, dashed Evangelical Christianity can now lift a to the earth, and swept away the apostate more erect and ennobled head in the and idolatrous Church of Rome, though world, since God has enabled the Free deeply rooted in the deceived and blind- Church of Scotland to give an undenied nation. The Second Reformation, af- able proof that religion is something more ter a long and painful struggle, overthrew than a system of dead forms and vague and banished from Scotland that perjured professions,--that there are still Chrisand blood-thirsty prelatic usurpation, tians on earth, even in this secular and which the craft of one sovereign, and the selfish age, to whom grace has been given fierce despotism of his three successors, to suffer the loss of all things in their had in vain attempted to erect upon the Divine Redeemer's cause. Humbly and ruins of the persecuted Presbyterian gratefully let the Free Church adore her Church. And the Third Reformation sole Head and King, that He has not with rawn from her that hidden spiritual | Judge of all the earth will do right life which has enabled her to dare the Earnestly is it to be wished and hoped furnace, and will bring her unscathed that the warfare may continue to be through all its purifying fires. And let spiritual, not carnal,--not waged against other Churches seek to realize a similar kings, and governments, and armed union with Him, both as the first and troops, as in former days; but not the most certain step towards union with each less arduous may be the contest

, and not other, and as a preparation for their own the less protracted may be the struggle, approaching hour of trial, She has al- against an antagonist power entrenched ready drunk deeply of the cup out of within legal forms, and aided by the ag which all other Churches will have ere gressive might of that modern despotism long, perhaps, to drink; and unspeakably abstract human law,-forgetful, in its the most fearful will it be for that Church pride, of those high spiritual laws which which shall have to drain the dregs. mould time, which frame and govern For it seems evident to almost every re- life, which made and guide the universe, flecting mind, that the last great conflict which were promulgated from heaven to between the Church and the world, fore- lead immortal souls to its abodes of evertold in sacred prophecy, has already be- lasting peace, and which have their sum gun.

The various events which may and centre in Him who is the King Etertake place during its progress cannot be nal. Whether the early triumph of these fully foreseen; but the issue is certain, high spiritual laws shall glad the hearts and it is awful,--the destruction of all of those who are now, exposed to every that take counsel together against Jeho- peril, their dauntless defenders,-or vah, and against his Anointed. 6 Be whether it be reserved for that day, near wise now, therefore, O ye kings; be in- or remote, when angels shall proclaim, structed, ye judges of the earth. Serve "The kingdoms of this earth are become the Lord with fear, and rejoice with the kingdoms of our Lord and of his trembling: Kiss the Son, lest he be Christ

, and He shall reign for ever and angry, and ye perish from the way, when ever," --it becomes not short-sighted man his wrath is kindled but a little.'' to conjecture; but the Free Church of

It would be equally presumptuous and Scotland may, and, as we pray and trust, unwise to hazard any definite opinion re- she will, go forward in her holy course specting the exact nature and probable of reformation, completing her great tesextent and duration of the fearful conflict timony, bearing the cross and defending of irreconcilable principles which has the crown of her only and Divine Head rent asunder the Church of Scotland, ex- and King, strong in the Lord and in the pelled her genuine children from the power of his might, in the spirit of faith temples where their fathers worshipped and prayer, and hope,-encouraging her God, is rapidly spreading into other lands heart with these sacred words, THE and rousing other Churches, and may LORD IS OUR JUDGE, THE LORD is our soon convulse Christendom and the LAWGIVER, THE LORD IS our K.NG; world. Enough to know that the Lord HE WILL SAVE US." God Almighty reigneth, and that the

APPENDIX.

No. I.

Note on the Death of Rizzio, p. 68.

In the seventh volume of his History of ScotNote on the Death of Cardinal Beaton, p. 33.

land, Mr. Tytler has directly, and even ostentaThe attempt which has been made by Patrick tiously, charged John Knox with being "precogFraser Tytler, Esq., in his History of Scotland, nizant of, and implicated in,” the murder, of to prove that the great and pious Scottish Re- David Rizzio. This charge has been met, and, formers were implicated in some of the most crim- as most people think, completely refuted, by the inal transactions of that dark and stormy period Rev. Thomas M'Crie, son of the distinguished in which they lived, having been briefly alluded biographer of Knox. It is not my intention, certo in the body of this work, it may seem neces- tainly, to retrace the ground which has been so sary to take more specific notice of his opinions ably occupied by Mr. M'Crie, thinking it enough than. could there appropriately be done. With to refer the reader to his answer to Mr. Tytler, as regard to the charge insinuated against Wishart, it appeared in the appendix to his “ Sketches of however, that he was concerned in a conspiracy Scottish Church History." Still, as there may against the life of Cardinal Beaton, little need be be different methods of demonstrating the same said, till Mr. Tytler give a satisfactory answer to truth, I think it expedient to offer, very briefly, the complete "Vindication of George Wishart, " my reasons for regarding Mr. Tytler's accusation which appeared in the Edinburgh Christian Mon- as utterly untenable; and this, I trust, I may do itor, vol. iii. p. 475, in the year 1823. The without being suspected of intending any disregrounds of this accusation are, the prophetic lan- spect to that gentleman. guage of Wishart at the stake, which some men Every historian finds himself often compelled think more likely to have proceeded from actual to balance conflicting evidence, in order to arrive knowledge of an intended assassination, than at the truth of any subject respecting which confrom any preternatural enlightenment granted to tradictory statements have been made. The evithe dying martyr; and the casual mention in dence thus to be estimated is to be of two kinds, some manuscript correspondence of the period, -the evidence of facts, and the evidence of moral that "a Scottishman called Wysshert," was said probability. These kinds of evidence sometimes to have been employed by Henry VIII. in some seem opposed to each other, and sometimes they alleged conspiracy against the life of the cardinal. coincide. When they coincide, a conclusion The first of these conjectural suppositions we amounting to absolute certainty is obtained; but leave to those who can entertain it; because when they are opposed to each other, the task neither reasoning, nor reference to many similar becomes considerably difficult to determine to well-authenticated cases, would be likely to pro- which of them the greatest credit is due, and very duce conviction in their minds. Another answer opposite conclusions will be drawn from the same might be given, which would be more satisfactory data by minds differently constituted. It requires to some; neither Fox, in his account of Wishart's a higher cast of mind to appreciate duly the eviziartyrdom, nor Knox, make any mention of his dence of moral probability, than it does that of prophetic language; those, therefore, who wish facts; although, no doubt, when the facts can be, to fasten this charge upon him must first provel or have been, fully ascertained and substantiated, that he spoke such words. With regard to the nothing more is required, and the controversy is other, it is enough to state, that in the " Vindica- at an end. Yet such is the power of moral protion" referred to above, it is proved, by direct his- bability, that every man must have felt himself torical testimony, that if any such person existed constrained in peculiar instances to reject inas is mentioned in the manuscript, he could nei- stinctively the argument of facts, and to say, "I ther have been the martyr, nor his brother the cannot believe that a man of a character so high laird of Pittarow. This of itself is enough to vin- and noble could have done a deed so base.” dicate the memory of Wishart from any such mere will not be a small amount of the evidence of facts conjectural aspersion ; for no conjecture, founded that will suffice to set aside such an instinctive on the mere similarity of a name, loosely men- moral conviction ; and when facts are brought tioned in the gossiping language of epistolary cor- forward with that view, they will be met by a siftrespondence, may ever be allowed to set aside ing investigation whether they really occurred, direct historical testimony. It would, besides, re- and on what authority we are asked to believe quire the most incontrovertible evidence to sub- that they actually took place as they are said to stantiate such a charge against all the moral im- have done. Nothing short of the direct testiprobabilities, or rather impossibilities, which it has mony of a sufficient number of witnesses of unto encounter, when brought against the mild, pa- doubted veracity, and adequately acquainted with tient, gracious, and heavenly-minded martyr, the facts which they relate, will ever substantiate George Wishart.

a charge which is instinctively felt to be morally

It

« EelmineJätka »