« AnteriorContinuar »
the "authority” for the “authorised version” was both alien and Erastian—the command of the king and the English Council—that its superior merit, aided perhaps by its more easy purchase as a book widely circulated in England, gave it by degrees its present hold on Scotland.
But to return to the Canons. Of infinitely greater moment than their substance was the authority whence they come forth. In this it may safely be said that they stand alone among the State papers of Christian Europe. Whoever may have given personal help in their preparation, they were adopted by the King, and were as much his sole personal act as if he had penned them all alone in his cabinet, and sent them as a despatch to those who were to obey their injunctions. On no record of ecclesiastical
titled 'Spiritual Marriage'-preached at Westminster 1626 by James Baillie, A.M., and printed at London 1627, dedicated to nine peers and seven other courtiers, all of the Scottish nation—the author quotes Scripture from the Geneva version in every page, as in Rom. xi. 25,
Partly obstinacy is come to Israel ;' Rom. xi. 22, “If thou continue in His bountifulness ;' Heb. xii. 33., “The congregation of the firstborn.' In the same manner Mr William Struthers, minister of Edinburgh, who is always characterised by Calderwood as a servile follower of the Court, quotes the Scriptures from the same translation in his • Christian Observations, and in his ‘Resolution for Death,' both printed at Edinburgh in 1628. Thus, Phil. i. 21, *Christ is to me, both in death and in life, advantage ;' i John, iii. 14, “ Translated from death to life.' We find the Geneva translation also used in Boyd's Last Battle of the Soul,' printed at Edinburgh in 1629. It is generally followed in the 'Exposition of the Lord's Prayer,' by Mr William Wischart, parson of Restalrig, printed at London 1633'; and when this writer adopts another version, it seems generally to be one of his own. John Abernethy, Bishop of Caithness, in his treatise entitled Physicke for the Soule, printed at London 1630, a quarto volume, abounding in quotations from Scripture, appears always to have used the Geneva version, as Jer. vi. 14, They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people with sweet words ;' Phil. ii. 12, * Make an end of your own salvation with fear and trembling ;' Eccles. vii. 5, Anger is better than laughter.' And so late as the year 1639, the celebrated Alexander Henderson, in preaching before the General Assembly at Edinburgh, reads a long text from the Geneva Bible, as appears from the proceedings of that Assembly, still extant in manuscript. It has been already mentioned that the Psalms in prose printed by Bryson in 1640 are according to that version..” – Lee's Memorial for the Bible Societies in Scotland, 89-92.
council or other deliberative body is any trace of their formation or adoption to be found. They were not even encumbered with those formalities of passing seals or going on the records of official departments, which are sometimes a wholesome interruption to the rash projects of despots, by inducing faithful servants humbly to remonstrate, or, as in the instance of the Parliament of Paris, exciting resistance. What in practical business the issuing of the canons most nearly resembles, is the issuing of a general order by the commander-in-chief of an army. There had been, no doubt, abrupt and peremptory documents directed to clergymen in the “injunctions” of Henry VIII, and his daughter. But these were acts rather of clerical police, as giving directions for obedience to the law, than of actual legislation.
A complete code of laws for the government of a Church, issued by a sovereign without official consultation with the responsible representatives of that Church, is unexampled in European history. In all constitutional monarchies the phraseology used about the supremacy of the sovereign would be utterly misunderstood by any one who should read it without seeking its interpretation in practice. A British Act of Parliament is the doing of the sovereign, “with the advice and consent” of the two Houses; but we all know the actual process by which a statute is made. The monarch of England was supreme in Parliament and in the Church; but the boundary of this supremacy was the veto rendering the consent of the Crown necessary to any act performed by either. In
i The chief code of ecclesiastical law in England is recognised by the title of “The Constitution and Canons Ecclesiastical, agreed upon, with the King's licence, by the Convocation of the Province of Canterbury in 1603, and published for the due Observation of them by his Majesty's Authority under the Great Seal of England." It was one of the charges against Laud, that he got certain canons voted by convocation without due deliberation and discussion, “many of which canons, by the said archbishop, were surreptitiously passed in the late convocation without due consideration and debate. Others, by fears and compulsion, were subscribed unto by the prelates and clerks there assembled, which had never been voted and passed in the convocation as they ought to have been."-State Trials, iv. 418.
Scotland the supremacy of the Crown in the Church was on the records of Parliament; and we have seen how far King James professed to extend it theoretically during his visit of 1617. Yet immediately afterwards, to give sufficiency to his favourite “Five Articles of Perth,” the Government obtained for them the sanction first of a General Assembly, and next of the Estates.
Even the obsequious Heylyn, the spirit of his priestly order dominating alike over his adulation of royalty and his hatred of Puritanism, muttered certain doubts and difficulties about these canons. The Scots, he said, complained of them as Erastian and prelatical, and as “subjecting the whole nation to the discipline of a foreign Church.” But according to his own opinion, “juster cause they seemed to have for disclaiming the said Book of Canons, because not made nor imposed upon them by their own approbation and consent, contrary to the usage of the Church in all times and nations.” Then explaining how canons and constitutions ecclesiastical “ were to be advised and framed by bishops and other learned men assembled in a general council, and testified by the subscription of such bishops as were then assembled," he continues : “ And though it could not be denied but that all Christian emperors, kings, and princes reserved a power unto themselves of ratifying and confirming all such constitutions as by the bishops and clergy were agreed on, yet still the said canons and constitutions were first agreed on by the bishops and clergy before they were tendered to the sovereign prince for his ratification."
For this departure, however, by those whom he devoutly followed, from the proper orthodox faith, he seems to find some consolation in contemplating it as a punishment or retaliation on the Scots Presbyterians for their assertions of independence : “ The Scottish Presbyters had formerly disclaimed the king's authority either in calling their Assemblies or confirming the results thereof, which they conceived to be good and valid of themselves without any additional power of his to add strength unto them. And therefore now they must needs think themselves reduced to a very great vassalage in having a body of canons so imposed upon them, to the making whereof they were never called, and to the passing whereof they had never voted. But as they had broke the rules of the primitive Church by acting sovereignty to themselves without requiring the king's approbation and consent in the times foregoing, so were they now upon the point of having those old rules broken upon them by the king, in making canons and putting laws and orders on them for their future government, to which they never had consented." 1
The course suggested by Heylyn—that of the ecclesiastical authorities framing canons for the royal sanction —was exactly the course which the Scots prelates themselves anticipated. In the Aberdeen Assembly of 1616, where their influence predominated, it was resolved, “That there be ane uniform order of Church discipline throughout all the kirks of this kingdom ; and to that effect it is statute and ordained that a book of canons be made, published, drawn furth of the books of former Assemblies; and where the same is defective, that it be supplied by the canons of councils and ecclesiastical conventions in former times.” The Archbishop of Glasgow, with the assistance of William Struthers, minister in Edinburgh, was to make a draft of the canons, to be revised by commissioners, “to whom power is given to try, examine, and after their allowance and approbation thereof, to supplicate to his majesty that the same may be ratified and approved by his royal authority.”2 Whatever humiliation the prelates may have felt on seeing their authority usurped by one man, and he an English prelate, they had to endure it all in silence; for they were in the position of those who have no friends. The powerful aristocracy were their bitter enemies, and a democratic party equally hostile to them was waxing in size and strength.
It would be an error to suppose that all who took part with the Cavaliers against the Covenanters supported or
1 Life of Laud, 303.
: Book of the Universal Kirk, 1128.
approved what the king and Laud were doing. James Gordon, a member of a cavalier family, who might come within his own definition as a sober man, who rather favoured the bishops, thus expresses himself about the canons: “ This Book of Canons, which had the same common parents as the Service-book, felt the like fate; and sober men thought that by such a damnatory sentence it got but justice. The informality of its introduction was notorious; and for the strain thereof, many who understood both deemed that it resembled a Boniface, a Gregory, or a Clement sitting in the Vatican of Rome, compiling their decretals or Clementines or Extravagants. For many sober ministers, who otherwise favoured the bishops, were startled with these canons, and thought them grossly extravagant, as betraying a ton great neglect of all the Church in the introduction of them, and a too great usurpation of power to themselves in the canons there set down. . . . The Book of Canons being overthrown, the next book which was brought to the test was the Book of Ordination, another whelp of that same litter with the two former."1 One of these “former" is the Service-book, of which presently. The “ Book of Ordination” has dropped out of literature and history, no copy of it being now known to exist. 2
We have now seen how the elements of personal and national exasperation were thickly sown throughout Scotland. They were the tampering with the powers and privileges of Parliament, the encroachments of the prerogative, the Prelacy and religious ceremonials which shocked the Presbyterians, the coercive conformity to the institutions of England which outraged the national feeling, and, most substantial and effective of all, the extraction from the grasp of the aristocracy of a portion of the old ecclesiastical revenues, and the suspicion that the remainder would follow ; for, whether well founded or not, such a suspicion still existed, and was keenly felt. 3
1 History of Scots affairs, by James Gordon, Parson of Rothiemay, ii. 92.
2 See above, p. 105, note. 8 The commissary-clerk of Aberdeen, a provincial legal practitioner, VOL. VI.