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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

1597 the current set in the opposite direction


But

in political conflicts nothing is more dangerous than to overstep the law by any act of violence. It was the violence attempted by the leaders of the Presbyterians against the King, their attack on the rights of his crown, that procured him the means of resistance. He betook himself with his court to Linlithgow and there collected the nobles, who for the most part stood by him, the borderers, whose leaders the Humes and Kerrs took up arms for him, and bodies of Highlanders, a force to which the magistrates succumbed, not wishing their city to be destroyed; so that even the ministers thought it advisable to leave. On New-Year's Day 1597 James made his entry with a warlike retinue into Edinburgh, where a convention of the Estates met and passed decisive resolutions in his favour. Both the provost and baillies of the town were obliged to take a new oath of fealty by which they bound themselves to suffer no insults to the King and his councillors from the pulpit: and it was resolved that the citizens should henceforth submit the magistrates of their choice to the King for his approval. The right of deposing the ministers was assigned to the King, who was acknowledged sole judge of all offences, even of those committed in sermons and public worship.[307]

The King had now the Temporal Estates on his side; for however popular the footing on which the Presbyterian Church might be constituted, no one wished to give it uncontrolled sway. King James was

able to form plans for transforming its constitution in such a manner as to make it consistent with the authority of the crown.

A series of questions which he dedicated to the consideration of the public was well calculated to further his end. He asked whether the external regimen of the Church might not be controlled both by King and clergy, and the legislative power be vested in them in common. Might not the King, as a religious and pious magistrate, have the power of summoning General Assemblies? Might he not annul unjust sentences of excommunication? Might he not interfere if the clergy neglected their duties, or if the bounds of the two jurisdictions became doubtful.

At the next assembly of the Church at Perth (Feb. 1597) the current set in the opposite direction. 'Mine eyes,' so says one of the most zealous adherents of the Church, 'witnessed a new sight, preachers going into the King's palace sometimes by night, sometimes in the morning,--mine ears heard new sounds.' The greatest pains had been taken to secure the presence of a number of ministers from the northern provinces, who were still more anxious about the spread of their doctrines than about controversies touching the constitution of the Church; and who rather reproached the clergy of the southern counties with having taken on themselves the government of the Church. But even among the latter the King, who spared neither threats nor flatteries, won adherents. Moreover an opinion gained ground that concessions must be made to him, as far as conscience allowed, in order not to alienate him entirely from the Church or drive him to take the opposite side. The answers to his questions contained admissions. The right of taking the initiative in everything relating to the external government of the Church was conceded to him, together with a share in the nomination of ministers in the principal towns; properly speaking the patronage of the Church in these towns was made over to him. The Church itself made a most important concession in renouncing its right of using the pulpit to attack the crown. Henceforward no one was to venture to impugn the measures of the King, until an officer of the Church had made a remonstrance to him on the subject. And the same ideas prevailed also in the subsequent assemblies at Dundee and Perth. The former of these conceded to the King a share in all the business which the Church took in hand; it allowed him to stay the proceedings of the Presbyteries when they ran counter to the royal jurisdiction or to recognised rights. In Dundee the excommunicated lords were admitted to a reconciliation and acknowledged as true vassals of the King, after making a declaration by which they acknowledged the Scottish to be the true Church; although the stricter party would not even then forgive them. But the point of chief importance was that the King succeeded in getting a Commission formed to co-operate with him in maintaining peace and obedience in the kingdom. Invested with full powers by the Church but dependent on the King, this Commission procured him a preponderating influence in all ecclesiastical affairs. For the most part it consisted of men of moderate views.


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