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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

At Erskine's house met together also Lord Lorn


Among

the devout Protestants who gathered together in secret the leading question was, whether it was consistent with conscience to go to mass, as most then did. Knox was not merely against any one doing wrong that good might come of it, but he went on further to restore the interrupted Protestant service of God. Sometimes in one and sometimes in another of the places of refuge which he found he administered the Communion to little congregations according to the Reformed rite; this was done with greater solemnity at Easter 1556 in the house of Lord Erskine of Dun, one of those Scottish noblemen who had ever promoted literary studies and the religious movement as far as lay in his power. A number of people of consequence from the Mearns (Mearnshire) were present. But they were not content with partaking the Communion; following the mind of their preacher they pledged themselves to avoid every other religious community, and to uphold with all their power the preaching of the Gospel.[194] In this union we may see the origin of the Scotch Church properly so called. Knox had no doubt that it was perfectly lawful. From the power which the lords possessed in Scotland he concluded that this duty was incumbent on them. For they were not lords for themselves, but in order to protect their subjects and dependents against every violence. From a distance he called on his friends--for he had once more to leave Scotland, since the government recurred to its earlier severity--not again to prefer their
own ease to the glory of God, but for very conscience' sake to venture their lives for their oppressed brethren. At Erskine's house met together also Lord Lorn, afterwards Earl of Argyle, and the Prior of S. Andrews, subsequently Earl of Murray; in December 1557 Erskine, Lorn, Murray, Glencairn (also a friend of Knox), and Morton, united in a solemn engagement, to support God's word and defend his congregation against every evil and tyrannical power even unto death.[195] When in spite of this another execution took place which excited universal aversion, they proceeded to an express declaration, that they would not suffer any man to be punished for transgressing a clerical law based on human ordinances.

What the influence of England had not been able to effect, was now produced by antipathy to France. The opinion prevailed that the King of France wished to add Scotland to his territories, and that the Regent gave him aid thereto. When she gathered the feudal array on the borders in 1557 (for the Scots had refused to contribute towards enlisting mercenaries) to invade England according to an understanding with the French, the barons held a consultation on the Tweed, in consequence of which they refused their co-operation for this purpose. The matrimonial crown was indeed even afterwards granted to the Dauphin, when he married Mary Stuart;[196] but thereupon misunderstandings arose with all the more bitterness. Meetings were everywhere held in a spirit hostile to the government.

It was this quarrel of the Regent with the great men of the country that gave an opportunity to the lords who were combined for the support of religion to advance with increasing resolution. Among their proposals there is none weightier than that which they laid before her in March 1559, just when the Regent had gathered around her a numerous ecclesiastical assembly. They demanded that the bishops should be elected for the future by the nobility and gentry of each diocese, the parish clergy by the parishioners, and only those were to be elected who were of esteemed life and possessed the requisite capacity: divine service was to be henceforth held in the language of the country. The assembled clergy rejected both demands. They remarked that to set aside the influence of the crown on the elections involved a diminution of its authority which could not be defended, especially during the minority of the sovereign. Only in the customary forms would they allow of any amendments.


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