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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

As the preachers did not appear


But

this assembly was not content with rejecting the proposals: they confirmed the usages and services stigmatised by their opponents as superstitious, and forbade the celebration of the sacraments in any other form than that sanctioned by the Church. The royal court at Stirling called a number of preachers to its bar for unauthorised assumption of priestly functions.

The preachers were ready to come: the lords in whose houses they sojourned were security for them. And already they had the popular sympathy as well as aristocratic protection. It was an old custom of the country that, in especially important judicial proceedings, the accused appeared accompanied by his friends. Now therefore the friends of the Reformation assembled in great numbers at Perth from the Mearns, Dundee, and Angus, that, by jointly avowing the doctrines on account of which their spiritual leaders were called to account, their condemnation might be rendered impossible.

As to the Regent we are assured that she was not in general firmer in her leaning towards the hierarchy than other Princes of the time, and had once even entertained the thought that the supreme ecclesiastical power belonged to her;[197] but, perhaps alarmed by the vehemence of the preachers, she had done nothing to obtain such a power. It now appeared to her that it would be a good plan to check the flow of the masses to the place of trial by some friendly words which she

addressed to Erskine of Dun.[198] The Protestants saw in them the assurance of an interposition in the direction of lenity, and stayed away; but without regard to this and without delay the Justiciary at Stirling, Henry Levingstoune, proceeded to business on the day appointed, 20 May 1559. As the preachers did not appear, those who had become security for them were condemned to a money-fine, while they themselves were denounced as rebels,[199] as having withdrawn themselves from the royal jurisdiction; an edict followed which pronounced them exiled, and in the severest terms forbade any to give them protection or favour.

The news fell like a spark of fire among the inflammable masses of Protestants assembled at Perth. The sentence promulgated was an open act of hostility against the lords, who felt themselves bound by their word which they had given to the preachers and by their vow to each other. They considered that the Regent's promise had given them a right against her; Lord Erskine, whom the others had warned, declared that he had been deceived by her. While the Regent had prevented a collision between the two parties at Stirling, she had occasioned in one of them, at Perth, the outbreak of a popular storm against the hierarchy of the land, their representatives, and the monuments of their religion. John Knox, who had come, as he said, to be where men were striving against Satan, called on them in a fiery sermon to destroy the images which were the instruments of idolatry. The attempt of a priest, after the sermon, to proceed to high mass and open the tabernacle of the altar, was all that was needed to cause a tumult even in the church itself, in which the images


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