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PREPARATIONS FOR AGGRESSION – THE BOOK OF CANONS ECCLESI
ASTICAL-PASSED WITHOUT ECCLESIASTICAL AUTHORITY-REFERENCE TO AUTHORISED VERSION OF SCRIPTURE-LOST BOOK OF ORDINATION-THE FORM OF WORSHIP IN SCOTLAND--DELIBERATIONS ON AMENDING THE BOOK OF COMMON ORDER-NEW LITURGY PREPARED BEFORE LAUD's—EXAMINATION OF ITS TENOR-COMPARED WITH BOOK OF COMMON ORDER AND LAUD'S LITURGY — SHAPE AND EXTENT IN WHICH THE BOOK OF COMMON ORDER CONTINUED IN USERISE OF A PARTY INIMICAL TO FORMS OF WORSHIPPREPARATION OF "LAUD'S LITURGY”-QUESTION HOW FAR COUNTENANCED BY ANY ECCLESIASTICAL PARTY IN SCOTLAND - EXAMINATION OF THE EVIDENCE AS TO LAUD'S SHARE IN IT-LAUD AND PRYNNE - LAUD'S ULTIMATE DESIGNS-OFFENSIVE SHAPE IN WHICH THE BOOK PRESENTED-CHARGE OF HORNING.
We now approach the crisis in which this spirit of meddling and dictation raised a reactionary spirit so powerful as to crush it. Two crowning acts of dictation were perpetrated in succession; and although that which came first in order has been almost forgotten in the political storm which immediately attended the other, yet in substance it is hardly less important and significant. In 1636 a document was issued called “Canons and Constitutions Ecclesiastical, gathered and put in form for the government of the Church of Scotland, ratified and approved by his majesty's royal warrant, and ordained to be observed by the clergy and all others whom it may concern."
In the correspondence of the day, some of the Scots bishops appear as if busying themselves in the preparation of these canons. But there is a consistency of purpose, a lucid order, and a unity of composition throughout, seeming like the work of one hand, and that the hand of a master. That Laud had an opportunity for recasting the whole as he pleased is shown in the short warrant by the king : “ Canterbury, I would have you and the Bishop of London peruse the canons which are sent from the bishops of Scotland, and to your best skill see that they be well fitted for Church government, and as near as conveniently may be to the canons of the Church of England. And to that end you, or either of you, may alter what you shall find fitting ; and this shall be your warrant.” 1
The canons, as a piece of literary composition, are adapted to their purpose with a close approach to perfection, and, as a scheme of prelatical polity, might be well
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i Prynne's Hidden Works, 152. Prynne found this warrant when searching for evidence against Laud. His theory for its existence is, that Laud had obtained it after the issuing of the canons as a justifi. cation of his interference, and notes in confirmation of this that there is no date to the warrant, and that it is in the handwriting of Laud's secretary, “Master Dell.” Whoever desires to consult the original canons will find that they are most easily to be got in a very suggestive place—in the collected works of Archbishop Laud, printed in the - Library of Anglo Catholic Theology" (vol. v. 583). The original edition, printed at Aberdeen in 1636 by Edward Raban, is very rare, and so is a reprint in Edinburgh in 1720. I have found the Book of Canons referred to by recent writers in such a manner as to show that they cannot have read it.
While the document fell into obscurity, another, which was its companion, has entirely disappeared from literature. It was called the “ Book of Ordination." * Laud tells how it was discovered that under the arrangement of King James in 1620 there were two defects, one of them being that the order of deacons was made a lay office, “at which his majesty was much troubled, as he had great cause, and concerning which he hath commanded me to write that either you do admit of our book, or else that you amend your own in these two gross oversights” (Prynne's Hidden Works, 153). There is no doubt that, as amended, the book was printed. Row says, “In the year 1636 the bishops caused print a Book of Ordination” (p. 391). It is criticised in Spang's Historia Motuum, “ Animadversiones in Librum Ordinationis Episcoporum, Presbyterum, et Diaconorum” (p. 229).
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balanced against the Presbyterian model framed by Melville in the Second Book of Discipline. There is throughout a tone of reverend piety suited to the occasion, which yet never overloads the composition so as to render the practical precepts to which it is directed in any way obscure. Those who expected to find in the book the marks of the Popish Beast deeply imprinted were probably disappointed. It begins with a denunciation of all foreign and usurped authority in the Church, and levels excommunication against any who affirm “that the king's majesty hath not the same authority in causes ecclesiastical that the godly kings had among the Jews and Christian emperors in the primitive Church.” A large proportion of the book is given to the conduct and carriage of the clergy, conveying admonitions towards decorum and a Christian life. There is no place in the organisation for assemblies, presbyteries, or any other form of Presbyterian action. The disputed points of religious observance are briefly dealt with, and, even on such matters of deadly quarrel as the kneeling at the sacrament, with good taste and feeling, thus :
“Superstition and profaneness are both of them extremities to be avoided ; as therefore the adoration of the bread is condemned, so the unreverend communicating and not discerning of those holy mysteries must be eschewed. Therefore it is ordained that the holy sacrifice of the Lord's Supper be received with the bowing of the knee, to testify the devotion and thankfulness of the receivers for that most excellent gift."
However far precepts like the following were at variance with the practice of the clergy of the day, it may be questioned whether they would be in themselves universally unacceptable to their congregations :
“Albeit the whole time of our life be but short to be bestowed in the service of God, yet seeing He tempereth that work to our weakness, it is ordained that preachers in their sermons and prayers eschew tediousness, and by a succinct doing leave in the people an appetite for farther instruction, and a new desire to devotion.".
One clause, not in itself perhaps likely to arrest the attention of a casual reader, has so remarkable a reference to peculiarities in the history of Scots devotion, that it must not pass unnoticed. It provides that each church shall have a Bible and prayer-book at the charge of the parish : “ The Bible shall be of the translation of King James; and if any parish be unprovided thereof, the same shall be amended within two months at most after the publication of this constitution.”
Perhaps in Scotland more thoroughly than in any other part of the British empire, the “authorised version” has been exclusively reverenced as the only true version -as the Bible itself. Yet this version has never been authorised or adopted in preference to others by, any ecclesiastical authority in Scotland. Anything standing on the records of the Church of Scotland which can be called an adoption of one version in preference to others, is older than the English authorised translation. In 1574 the General Assembly gave its countenance to the edition of the Geneva version printed in Edinburgh by Bassendyne. The members resolved themselves into an association for promoting the sale of the book, and required that every beneficed clergyman should buy a copy of it for his church. It was to be called “the common book of the kirk, as a most meet ornament for such a place, and a perpetual registrar of the Word of God, the fountain of all true doctrine, to be made patent to all the people of every congregation, as the only right rule to direct and govern them in matters of religion, as also to confirm them in the truth received, and to reform and redress corruptions wheresoever they shall spring up.” 2 In 1601 the Assembly find it rumoured • that there were sundry errors that merited to be corrected in the vulgar translation of the Bible," and direct that “every one of the brethren who has best knowledge of the language employ their travails" in the correction of these errors, and report the result to the Assembly.3
Thus we may hold that whatever countenance from
1 Book of the Universal Kirk, 327, 328. 3 Ibid., 443.
3 Ibid., 970.
authority had been given to the Geneva version was revoked; but it was transferred to no other, so that no translation of the Bible has ever been an “authorised version” to Scotland.
In the words of one who knew more about the devotional literature of Scotland than any other man of any period, “no law either of the Church or State has ever prescribed the use of any particular translation of the Scriptures in Scotland."1 Hence we are driven to the conclusion, that the only place where the version of the Scriptures so absolutely adopted by general assent had the sanction of an authority professing to be ecclesiastical, was in the abjured canons attributed to Laud. The consideration is here inevitably suggested, that had these canons not been buried in oblivion-had they been matter of public contest and criticism, like the Service-book—the natural result would have been, that the “authorised version" of the Bible would have been abjured and denounced throughout Scotland, as having been adopted and certified by the Erastian Privy Council of King James, and thrust upon the country by his tyrannical son and the Popish Primate of England.
The version which had prevailed in Scotland for some years held its ground. Scotland took her Bible, as well as her form of worship, from the favoured fountain of Geneva. It rather strengthened than relaxed the preference for the book, that Laud endeavoured to suppress it in England, where it was popular among the Puritans ; and though censured, as we have seen, from authority, it continued to be used both by the populace and the learned. It was not until it came to be forgotten that
1 Memorial for the Bible Societies in Scotland (p. 13), by the late Principal Lee. He could not, of course, as a Presbyterian, acknowledge any authority in King Charles's Canons.
Principal Lee, with curious industry, traced out the following instances in which it had been cited by Scots authors appealing to Scriptural authority: “ William Cowper, Bishop of Gallowaywhose • Dikaiologie' was printed at London in 1614, and his • Triumph of a Christian’in 1615, and whose collected works were printed there in 1629-continued to the last to use the Geneva version in his quotations, and in the texts of his sermons. In the sermon en