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as possible the aspect of a miscellaneous party assembled for convivial enjoyment round a hospitable board.
But whatever aspect they may have at the present day, these things had for nearly a century after the Reformation a more potent cause than mere logical antagonism. It was the opinion of the Calvinistic Reformers—whether a right or a wrong opinion—that the Church of Rome had carried symbolism so far as to break that commandment which saith, “Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image, nor the likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth : thou shalt not bow down to them nor worship them.” Two prominent forms of idolatry were selected for denunciation. The one was addressed in the sacrament of the atonement to the elements as having become sacred by transubstantiation. The other was the seeking the intervention of saints or other holy powers through homage or worship directly addressed to their likenesses in painting or sculpture. It was against the visible and tangible tokens of these idolatries that the preachers directed the destructive energies of their hearers, when so much mischief was done in churches that their admonitions were afterwards interpreted as if they had called for the destruction of the churches themselves. The spirit of the new order was to count the humiliating gestures of the body as made by man to express subservience to his fellow-mortal, or adoration of the work of human hands. It professed that the invisible adoration of the heart is the proper offering to the Deity, who, seeing in secret, knows that it exists without looking to an external symbol. Hence these Churches resolved to sweep away not only the mere material objects of idolatry, but also the forms in which that idolatry was practised.
If the people have been accustomed to employ certain acts as symbolical of reverence or devotion, it is useless to substitute others of a different kind, and to say that henceforth these shall be the outward and visible signs of inward homage. The absolute alternative is either to abolish all, or retain so much, and guide the spirit of its use in the right direction. This was the alternative of the Church of
England, and its spirit has been well expressed by a thoughtful layman of the day: “We have reformed from them, not against them; for, omitting those improprieties and terms of scurrility betwixt us, which only difference our affections and not our cause, there is between us one common name and appellation, one faith and necessary body of principles common to us both; and therefore I am not scrupulous to converse and live with them, to enter their churches in defect of ours, and either pray with them or for them. I could never perceive any rational conse. quence from those many texts which prohibit the children of Israel to pollute themselves with the temples of the heathen, we being all Christians, and not divided by those detestable impieties as might profane our prayers or the place wherein we make them; or that a resolved conscience may not adore her Creator anywhere, especially in places devoted to His service, where, if their devotions offend Him, mine niay please Him; if theirs profane it, mine may hallow it. ... At my devotion I love to use the civility of my knee, my hat, and hand, with all those outward and sensible motions which may express or promote my invisible devotion. I should violate my own arm rather than a church, nor willingly deface the name of saint or martyr. At the sight of a cross or crucifix I could dispense 'with my hat, but scarce with the thought or memory of my Saviour.”1
But it was far too late for soothing sentiments like these to influence Scotland. In England the old parish church, with all its decorations scarcely touched by the Reformation, gave a local harmony and natural association with the past to whatever remnants of the old ceremonial of the Church were permitted to cluster round it. The very wealth of the Establishment, keeping men contented, and all things in comfortable order, had a soothing and conservative tendency. In Scotland the temples had been desolated, and those expected to serve in them were doomed to penury. All things were cast loose, and the ardent spirits clung to the doctrines and systems that fed
i Sir Thomas Browne's Religio Medici.
their enthusiasm. All this was now sixty years old; so that what in England was the old accustomed order, became in Scotland flagrant innovation.
At the same time, those who represented the extirpators of idolatry, root and branch, could render practical reasons respecting their policy. The Puritans of England told them that the revival of symbolisation there was reproducing something like the old Popish idolatry among the English peasantry. In Scotland, wherever there existed remnants of the old apparatus of idolatry, zealots would be found prowling about them in adoration. In corners of the vast ruins of Elgin Cathedral, groups of Popish worshippers assembled secretly down to the reign of Queen Anne. In remote places where there were shrines, crosses, or holy founts, the people, though nominally Protestant, were found practising some traditional remnant of the old idolatry. Crosses, shrines, and other artificial attractions to such irregularities might be removed; but there remained the most significant of all the old centres of devotion-the consecrated wells—the springs of water from which, according to the traditions of the old Church, the earliest missionaries made the first converts to Christianity. The documents of the Church of Scotland for centuries are filled with these causes of backsliding. Though everything had been done, from the Reformation downward, to obliterate the memory of the local saints, the shrine or the well retained its spell though the peculiar saint whose virtue attached to it was entirely forgotten. The idolatrous usages thus bewailed have been in later times almost peculiar to the Highlands, where, within the memory of people still living, the parish minister has had to complain, that while his flock in all respects piously conform to the rule of the Presbyterian discipline and doctrine, it has defied all his efforts to suppress the idolatrous observances with which they are determined to implement their otherdox conformity.
Whoever may have been the leader in the preparation of the Five Articles of Perth, they are a fair specimen of that capacity for imparting a reverend and devotional feeling in idiomatic and expressive language which has
so enriched the literature of the Church of England. The first and most offensive article may be taken as an example of the manner and method of the whole :
“Seeing we are commanded by God Himself, that, when we come to worship Him, we fall down and kneel before the Lord our Maker, and considering withal that there is no part of divine worship more heavenly and spiritual than is the holy receiving of the blessed body and blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, like as the most humble and reverent gesture of our body in our meditation and the lifting up of our hearts best becometh so divine and sacred an action; therefore, notwithstanding that our Church hath used since the reformation of religion to celebrate the holy communion to the people sitting, by reason of the great abuse of kneeling used in the idolatrous worship of the sacrament by the Papists, yet seeing all memory of bypast superstitions is past, in reverence of God, and in due regard of so divine a mystery, and in remembrance of so mystical an union as we are made partakers of, the Assembly thinketh good that the blessed sacrament be celebrated hereafter meekly and reverently upon their knees.”
The Articles were carried in the Assembly by a majority of eighty-six to forty-one. It was maintained by the defeated party that the meeting was not a free and fair Assembly, and that all manner of sinister influences were used to secure the passing of the Articles. No doubt it was so. The bishops and the officers of the Crown in Scotland claimed credit for their services on the occasion. It was then as it ever is in political interests—whatever influences the condition of the times permits to be used are used.
It was resolved that the Five Articles should have every available political sanction. They had the injunction of the prerogative and the assent of the Church. They were passed by the Estates in 1621, in a house unusually full. This was the climax of the contest; for whatever might
i See an account of the contest in a report by Lord Binning to the king; Original Letters (Bannatyne Club), 573 et seq.
have been done without consulting the Estates, had these rejected the Articles, it would have been a direct and a formidable violation of the oldest and strongest power in the constitution to have attempted to sustain them. There was therefore much excitement outside during the meeting of the Estates; and the faithful historian of the Church, who was doubtless present, tells us how, in the following shape, “ God appeared angry at the concluding of the Articles :"
“The grand commissioner rising from the throne to ratify the Acts by touch of the sceptre, at that very moment the heavens sent in at the windows of the house, which was dark before by reason of the darkness of the day, an extraordinary great lightning ; after the first a second, and after the second a third more fearful. Immediately after the lightnings followed an extraordinary great darkness, which astonied all that were in the house. The lightnings were seconded with three loud cracks of thunder. Many within the Parliament House took them to be shots of cannons out of the castle. It appeared to all who dwelt within the compass of ten or twelve miles that the clouds stood right above the town, and overshadowed that part only. The beacon standing in the entry of Leith haven was beaten down with one of the blasts of thunder. After the lightning, darkness, and thunder, followed a shower of hailstones extraordinary great; and after all, rain in such abundance that it made the gutters run like little brooks.” 1
It may be noted in passing, that the Act of the Estates authorising the Five Articles is the only statute on the face of the records of the Scots Parliament which either authorises or dictates on matters of religious ceremonial. It was superseded by various laws passed during the civil war; but these were collectively repealed or “reschinded,” as it was termed, at the Restoration. According to the English doctrine of statute law, the Act called “A Ratification of the Five Articles of the General Assembly of the Kirk holden at Perth” would be
i Calderwood, vii. 505.