Page images
PDF
EPUB

The parliament were much displeased with this interference of the commission in politics; and although they dared not quarrel with them, yet, on the 1lth of May, they sent a circular letter to the presbyteries, complaining that the commission had gone beyond their legitimate bounds in thus censuring their public acts. But, not to be outdone by the parliament, the commission published a vindication of their own conduct in thus asserting their own privilege to censure the government in matters which related to religion and the covenant; thus affecting to act on the same principle that made the Jewish highpriest supreme judge, in the place of God, between the princes of the tribes of Israel, in all civil matters which were too difficult for them to decide. Several of the synods and presbyteries, in the presbyterian districts, also remonstrated with the parliament respecting the covenant, and the security of religion. These acts irritated the parliament, and they drew up a rough draft of an answer to the commission; but that was laid aside, and a deputation was sent to the commission desiring them to tender their advice respecting the security of religion. With this the commission complied ; and, as Argyle was a ruling-elder in it, as well as a dictator in the state, he worked the commission effectually for his own ends. On the 10th of June, accordingly, they presented the following petition, and again invoked the Searcher of all hearts to witness their sincerity and their zeal for His glory; and, after a considerable preamble, they said,

“ It is therefore our humble advice, that the above-mentioned petitions, [of the commission, the synods, and presbyteries,] being so just in themselves, and flowing from the grounds aforesaid, as they ought in equity to have been granted, so they ought yet to be granted, by the securing religion, staying the present levy, and essaying treaties with England, applications to his majesty, and all other fair and amicable ways for removing the differences between the kingdoms, before sending any forces to England, or any other way of engagement in war. And lest the taking of Berwick and Carlisle (which is so scandalous to this nation,) be looked upon by England as a breach of union on your part, that your lordships would be pleased to make it appear, that neither the parliament nor any of your number have had any accession to the surprisal or supplying of these towns, nor shall have any correspondence or com pliance with those who have been actors therein, we do also conceive it necessary, for satisfaction of the petitioners, that his majesty's late concessions and offers concerning religion may, by your lordships, directly and positively be declared

unsatisfactory to this present parliament. That albeit we should not be misunderstood, as if we bave had any thoughts of declining to restore his majesty to the same condition he was in, by the agreement of both kingdoms, when he was taken away by a party of the army under sir Thomas Fairfax, that both kingdoms may make their applications to him, yet your lordships would be pleased to declare, that there shall be no engagement for restoring his majesty to one of his houses with honour, freedom, and safety, (which doth amount to no less than the restitution of his majesty to the exercise of his royal power, ...) before security and assurance be had from his majesty, by his solemn oath under his hand and seal, that he shall, for himself and his successors, consent and agree to acts of parliament enjoining the league and covenant, and fully establishing presbyterian government, the directory for worship, and confession of faith, in all his majesty's dominions, and that his majesty shall never make opposition to any of these, or endeavour any change thereof.

“ That your lordships will make it appear, that you intend to be far from interesting yourselves in any quarrel for his majesty, that may put in his majesty's hands such power as may not only bring the bygone proceedings of both kingdoms in the league and covenant in question, but also, for the time to come, make void all the authority of parliaments, though proceeding never so rightly in reference to the religion and liberties of the kingdom. That a clear and correct course may be laid down and declared, not only against associating or joining in councils or forces with the popish, prelatical, or malignant party, but also to oppose, and effectually endeavour to suppress, all such of them as have already risen or shall hereafter rise in arms, upon whatsoever pretext, as enemies to the Cause and Covenant on the one hand, as well as sectaries on the other. That nothing be done, in carrying on the Engagement, which may break the union of the kingdoms, or may disoblige the presbyterian party in England. .... That there be no Engagement without a solemn oath, wherein the church may have the same interest which they had in the solemn league and covenant, the Cause being the same.”

As soon as the parliament rose, those who had opposed the levies went to their several homes, and used all their efforts to obstruct the raising of troops; and the marquis of Argyle entered into a secret correspondence with Cromwell,“ to desire him to send a party to Scotland with which the opposers of the Engagement might join, for making a division." This was represented in the committee of estates as worthy of notice;

but the duke made light of it, there being, he said, no cause of fear: an unaccountable line of conduct, and which carries the appearance of collusion between the dictator and the commander of the forces. No censure was inflicted, and the duke retired to Hamilton to arrange his private affairs. Hamilton and his brother Lanerk are accused of having abused the king's confidence, and of having directly disobeyed his orders in authorising the meeting of this convention; and his collu sion with Argyle seems indisputable 2.

ARGYLE CROSSED over the Firth to Fife, to persuade the gentry there," not only to stand out (against the levy], but to be in readiness to rise upon the other account, whenever the call should be given.” He met with complete success in that county. He was not so well received in Stirlingshire, where they were more favourable to the Engagement; but at Glasgow and Dumbartonshire he was successful in preventing the levies. The Edinburgh women began again to shew that riotous conduct to which they were secretly drilled by Argyle's agents; and they assaulted the lord provost and the members of the committee of estates. On the 1st of June, they attacked the duke himself, on his return from Hamilton, with stones and rubbish, one Mrs. Kelty being their ringleader, who concealed herself, but her husband was imprisoned till she should be produced. The effects of Argyle's intrigues now appeared, in petitions to the committee against the Engagement, from Fife and the western counties, which were rejected; and the committee presented their declaration to the commission, which highly incensed them, because they greatly doubted the sincerity of their professions. Their suspicions, they said, were grounded on the circumstance that many known malignants, and men disaffected to the covenant, were now the principal officers in this expedition, which they construed into a design to replace the king's friends in power, and to depress the covenanters 3. The brethren, therefore, became more active and violent. They removed the earl of Crawford from the commission, where he had sat for some time as a ruling-elder, on the pretence that he had not done penance for his intended combat with Argyle, The commission refused to treat farther with the parliament, and sent an act into the several presbyteries, commanding all the ministers to preach against the unlawfulEngagement, under pain of deposition. As soon as this was known the parliament issued a contrary order, which was obeyed by all the

1 Guthry's Memoirs, 223.-Stevenson's Church and State, 506-509. · Intercepted Letter, p. 20. 3 Stevenson's Church and State, 600. VOL. II.

2 F

episcopal clergy; but the presbyterian ministers followed the orders of the commission, “because they knew they were in earnest; but as for the parliament, they knew not well what they meant. And, indeed, when such as did not obey the commission came afterwards to be prosecuted for it, they found little sympathy from the parliament-men?.”

SO ACTIVE and persevering had the presbyterian ministers been in the west of Scotland, that their partisans began “to draw to a head” in order to oppose the Engagement with arms; aud the forces destined for the king's rescue were sent to Glasgow to repress the rising. During Argyle's absence the duke was all-powerful in the parliament; but he quashed a motion which was made to censure Argyle for his late trafficing against the Engagement, and for holding treasonable correspondence with Cromwell. The marquis of Huntly had remained ever since his capture in the common jail of the city; and, although the duke was frequently importuned for his release, yet all that could be obtained was an exchange of prisons, from the jail to the castle. The severity practised towards this nobleman shews the real enmity which the duke entertained towards the king, and his desire to gratify the revenge of Argyle and his faction. The parliament appointed the next to be holden in March, 1650, and they selected a grand committee to govern in the interval, with plenary power in all emergencies, and with power to call a parliament pro re nata before the appointed time, if they should see cause; nine of the committee at home were to be a quorum, and seven of those who attended the army, and the two committees were to correspond. “In relation,” says Guthry,“ to this model of the committee of estates, one thing was remarked by those who were possessed with prejudice against the duke; and it was, that his grace would needs have the marquis of Argyle and his adherents 10minated members of the committee, notwithstanding they had openly deserted the parliament, and were actually employed in stirring up disobedience thereto. This, with many former things that now (at the close of the parliament) the jealousy which royalists had of the duke, began to increase, and grow more universal than at the first sitting down thereof 2."

Under pretence of a sacramental Occasion, the presbyterians “ drew to a head” at Mauchline, in Ayrshire, on the 12th of June, under the command of their ministers, William Adair, William Guthrie, Gabriel Maxwell, and John Nevay, who had instigated the massacres of the royalists, or malignants as they called them, at Philipshaugh and Dunaverte. The presbyterian communicants consisted of 2000 foot and 200 horse, well posted, and who offered battle to Middleton, because " the duke of Hamilton's unlawful Engagement of war against England was a manifest breach of the solemn league and covenant?” Among the insurgents were 600 of the duke of Hamilton's own tenants, and they were the most violent of the party; but Middleton charged them, and put the whole to the rout, with the loss of eighty killed, and a great many taken prisoners, among whom were the ministers, but they were liberated at the instance of the duke of Hamilton. This defeat prevented general Lambert from advancing farther than Carlisle, which city he had reached in order to co-operate with Argyle's party that were opposed to the “ duke's engagement;" but on hearing of the dissipation of Argyle's covenanters he immediately retreated. This skirmish with the military communicants of the fighting church is represented as an act of great profaneness and malignancy ; but there were gatherings of all the western covenanters under the pretence of holding communions, which were dissipated in detail by Middleton, particularly at Carsphairn or Kersfern; where, it is said,“ the soldiers profaned the holy communion-elements, eating the bread and drinking the wine. On which occasion the minister went up to a hill and prayed; and being inquired at, by some of his familiars, what answer he had got to his prayers, he replied, that he fought neither with small nor great, but with the duke himself, whom he never left until he was beheaded ; which was too sadly verified 2.”

| Guthry's Memoirs, 226.

; Ibid. 228.

THE TRANSACTIONS which have been detailed in this chapter clearly show the character of the presbyterian principles, and the obligations of the covenant as explicated by their public proceedings: they consistently shewed their faith by their works, their love of God by their hatred and persecution of His servants, their loyalty and affection for the king, of which they were for ever boasting, by beheading his faithful nobles and officers, massacring his defenceless soldiers in cold blood, and taking every means in their power to prevent the rescue of his person from that death to which their master, Argyle, had consented. We have the divine word that the church is certainly militant here on earth, and the christian course is compared to the life of a good soldier ; but her warfare is with far different parties, and with other weapons than the covenant put into the hands of its supporters. Prayers and tears are the church's

Scots Worthies, Life of Nevay, 288.

? Stevenson's Church and State, 608

« PreviousContinue »