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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

To allow the commissioners to resume their functions

as he now gave intimation of

a retrograde tendency in favour of the Catholic lords, he roused the prejudices of the Protestants against himself. They told him that the lords had been condemned to death according to the laws of God, and by the sentence of Parliament, the Great Assize of the kingdom: that the King had no right to show mercy in opposition to these. He had allowed their return into the country; the Church demanded the renewal of their exile: not till then would it be possible to deliberate upon the satisfaction offered by them. All the pulpits suddenly resounded with invectives against the King. The proud feeling of independent existence was roused in all its force in the breasts of the churchmen. Andrew Melville explicitly declared, that there were two kingdoms in Scotland, of which the Church formed one: in that kingdom the sovereign was in his turn a subject; those who had to govern this spiritual realm possessed a sufficient authorisation from God for the discharge of their functions. The Privy Council might be of opinion that the King must be served alike by Jews and heathens, Protestants and Catholics, and become powerful by their aid; but in wishing to retain both parties he would lose both. The King forced himself to ask support for his projects from Robert Bruce, at that time the most prominent of the preachers, who answered him, that he might make his choice, but that he could not have both the Earl of Huntly and Robert Bruce for his friends at the same time.[305]

justify;">By dealing gently with the Catholic lords the King had intended not only to win them over to his side, but also in prospect of the English succession, which was constantly before his eyes, to give the English Catholics a proof of the moderation of his intentions. Even in Scotland he wished not to appear the sovereign of the Presbyterian party alone. It was absolutely repugnant to him to adopt the ideas of the Church entirely as his own. But the leaders of the Church were bent on shutting him within a narrow circle in accordance with their own ideas, from which there should be no escape. In his clemency to Catholic rebels they saw a leaning to that Catholicism which fought against God and threatened themselves with destruction. The efforts which had been necessary to overpower these adversaries, and the obligations under which they had laid the King himself during the struggle, inspired them with resolution to bind him to their system by every means in their power.

But as the King also adhered to his own views, a conflict now broke out between them which holds a very important place in the history of the State as well as of the Church of Scotland.

The King ordered the Commissioners of the Church, who made demands so distasteful to him, to leave the capital. The preachers then turned to the people. From the pulpit Robert Bruce set before an already excited congregation the danger into which the ecclesiastical commonwealth had fallen owing to the return of the Catholic lords and the indulgence vouchsafed to them; and invited those present to pledge themselves by holding up their hands to the defence of their religion on its present footing. They not only gave him their assent, but went so far as to make a tumultuous rush for the council-house in which the King was sitting with some members of the Privy Council and the Lords of Session. With difficulty was the tumult so far quieted as to allow James to retire to Holyrood.[306] Here a demand was laid before him to remove his councillors, to allow the commissioners to resume their functions, and to banish the lords again from the country. It was intended that religious profession should supply a rule for the guidance of the State.

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