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Act of As
By these acts the bishops are constituted moderators at these CHARLES meetings; and, in their absence, the minister nominated by the bishop.
5. To prove the nullity of the elections, it is alleged in the protestation, that the covenanting-presbyteries have taken in a lay-ruling elder, as they call him, out of every session and parish. Now these lay-elders being commonly lords of the manor, or persons of the biggest interest within the precinct, the electors are overruled both by the bulk and number of these men; by their number, I say, which frequently amounts to a majority: for the ministers being some of them absent, and others put in a black list, and disclaimed, the remaining part fall short of the proportion of the ruling-elders: and thus the representatives of the clergy are in effect chosen by the laity, contrary to all order, decency, and customary practice: and for this, besides the usage of the universal Church, they cite the acts of assemblies in Scotland ; in one of which the famous Presbyterian Andrew Melvil was moderator.
sembly at 6. It is urged in the declinator, that the members of this St. Anmeeting have thrown themselves out of all pretensions to an April 24, ecclesiastical assembly, by their notorious misbehaviour, of A.D. 1582. which they give several instances.
sembly at First, these ministers, by seditious sermons and pamphlets, A.D. 1597. have reproached the king, arraigned the government, and harangued the people towards rebellion ; and to debauch the subjects from their allegiance, have affirmed that all sovereign authority is originally in the collective body, and from thence derived upon the prince: and that in case of mal-administration, the king forfeits his authority, and the power escheats to the people. The bishops allege farther, that the members of this pretended assembly are schismatical and perjured persons; that they have sworn obedience to their ordinary, and yet made no conscience of so solemn an engagement. That they are either actually under the censures of the Church of Ireland or Scotland, or at least deserve to be convented before their ordinaries, for the scandalous liberties they have taken. For instance, for declaiming in their pulpits against the administration and laws of the kingdom: for reproaching people by name in their sermons, without any notoriety of fault: for holding meetings without his majesty's knowledge or consent : for invading other men's pulpits without call or authority: for
Act of As
LAUD, presuming to convent their brethren, and proceed against them Abp. Cant.
to the censures of suspension and deprivation : for pressing the people to subscribe a covenant, not allowed by authority, and opposing the signing another covenant, enjoined by his majesty
and the lords of the council. That most of these irregularities Acts of As- stood condemned by general assemblies of their own nation. sembly at Edinburgh,
Besides this misbehaviour of the assembly ministers against May 22, the Church and State, it was in the bishops' power to charge 1590. Acts of As- them with a great many personal blemishes, which in charity sembly at Perth,
they forbore to mention. May 1, 1596. 7. The declinator resumes the bishop's exception against
laymen's having a decisive vote in a general assembly : but then they throw in a reserve of privilege for the king or his commissioner. But in other cases they declare it an invasion upon the pastoral office, and contrary to the practice of antiquity ; and here they cite several authorities in proof of their assertion : but these testimonies, and several others, having been already mentioned in the course of this history, need not
be repeated. 785. 8. The commissioners of this pretended assembly, or, at
least, the greatest part of them, have already declared themselves against episcopacy, and, by consequence (by being professed enemies), are by no means qualified for judges ; that it was upon this score of being precondemned, that the reformers protested against the council of Trent; that prejudice and disaffection was reckoned a sufficient excuse for Athanasius' not appearing at the councils of Tyre and Sardica.
9. The bishops complain loudly, as they had reason, of the scandalous summons abovementioned, issued by the presbytery of Edinburgh. By the way, this infamous libel was read in the college church of Edinburgh after the communion, and
ordered to be read in all the churches of Scotland, which was Memoirs of done accordingly. Besides the calumnies in this charge, they Hamilton,
set forth the rudeness and illegality of proceeding in this
manner (especially against their superiors), from several Large Declaration, topics.
10. The declinator dilates upon the injury done to the episcopal character, by excluding the prelates from voting in the assembly; and that their not allowing an archbishop or bishop this privilege, unless elected by their presbyteries, is contrary to general practice, and without precedent in the earliest and
best ages of the Church. And further, barring the bishops a CHARLES precedency in ecclesiastical assemblies is a breach of the acts of parliament of their own kingdom ; and here they cite two statutes enacted in the years 1606 and 1609.
Lastly. The declinator sets forth what a contradiction it is to reason and primitive practice, that archbishops and bishops should be judged by presbyteries ; and, which carries the absurdity further, by a mixed company of presbyters and laics. That by the canons of the ancient Church, bishops are to be tried by none beneath their own order. After this the bishops Concil.
Carthag. 1. wave this primitive privilege, and sink themselves to modern can. 11 constitution ; declaring, that for any charge relating to life or
Carthag. doctrine, they are willing to abide the trial of a general assem- A. D. 419. bly, lawfully constituted, or of his majesty's high commissioner. They conclude with a solemn protestation, that this declinator is not made use of out of any consciousness of immorality or misconduct in their function ; and therefore they humbly intreat his grace the commissioner for a free and lawful general assembly. This instrument is signed by the following prelates, though at different places, and dispersed by the persecution :
Notwithstanding this protestation, the covenanting synod went on. Alexander Henderson was their moderator, and Archibald Johnston their clerk or registrar. The lord com- This Johnmissioner sat about a week with these men, in hopes to bring clerk of their them off their extravagant demands; but finding the reducing Tables at them to order and customary form wholly impracticable, and Rushworth, that they were unalterably resolved to exclude the bishops, he pt 2. p. 847. dissolved the assembly by proclamation, and commanded the The commembers to retire under pain of treason.
This dissolution solves the was publicly protested against by several hundreds, and instru- assembly.
Nov, 28, ments taken in their names by the earl of Rothes.
Notwithstanding this discharge, the assembly sat every day Memoirs. for several weeks; neither did they break up till they had gone notwiththrough their affairs, and were pleased to dissolve themselves. standing. The main things transacted were these :-- .“ All general assem
LAUD, blies since the year 1605 were declared void ; the Common Abp. Cant.
Prayer-book, the Book of Canons and Ordination, the High The business done by this Commission, and the Articles of Perth, were all nulled and pretended
condemned ; and the covenant allowed by king James, in the assembly.
year 1580, was declared the same in substance with that they had now taken, and that episcopacy was abjured in the former.”
After this, they proceeded to depose the bishops, and excomSee Records, municated all of that order who refused to submit to their num. 113.
authority. A great many of the presbyters were likewise deprived. They appointed commissioners also to sit in several places, after the recess, for ejecting and deposing all those they found untractable. Their last business was a resolve, that a letter should be sent to the king to intreat his royal assent to every thing that had been done in this pretended assembly. And thus these Covenanters, having succeeded in their mutiny, and outraged the constitution in Church and State, broke up their meeting on the 20th of December. When their commissioners, or triers, came to Edinburgh, they found little business with the ministers; for all the clergy had retired from that town for fear of persecution. All of them, I say, excepting Ramsey and Rollock, who, being both zealous Covenanters, had no reason to be apprehensive of hardship.
These Covenanters, to strengthen their party, and draw the nanters keep an agent at English mal-contents into the confederacy, kept an agent at This agent London, to transact with the Nonconformists. To proceed. was Eleazar Upon this defiance of the government, the commissioner left Borthwick, a minister. Scotland and came to court. The king being apprehensive of
these consequences, from the nature of the engagement, we need not wonder his majesty expressed his aversion in such strong language. Indeed, he could expect nothing but disobedience of the most provoking kind; for there was scarce any instance of rebellion which might not be justified by their principles. To mention some of their treasonable tenets, as
they lie in the king's large declaration, penned by Dr. BalP. 408, et canquel.
The Covenanters' disloyal tenets.
“ To begin, The Covenanters hold, that if a law is interpreted by the government in a sense disliked by the majority of the people, the body of the kingdom, for whose benefit the law was made, may fairly overrule such a construction, and redress the grievances suffered by it.
“2. They maintain, it is lawful for subjects to form an CHARLES association without the king, and to enter into a covenant for mutual defence against all persons whatsoever. The universality of which proposition implies hostility and treason against the king; and therefore, to prevent the effect of this danger- James 6. ous implication, all those who enter into such criminal engage-par.120 ments, are capitally punishable by the laws.
parl. 9. “3. If any subjects are summoned before the king and act. 75. council for any misdemeanour, if those who are thus to make 786. their appearance conceive the business for which they are questioned, concerns the glory of God, or the good of the Church, it is then lawful for them to appeal from his majesty and the board to the next general assembly and parliament;' and that, hanging the appeal, they may disobey the government. Though, as his majesty observes, those ministers who appealed from his royal father and his council were indicted and found guilty of treason.
“ 4. That applying to the king for calling a general assembly is rather matter of ceremony and interest, than duty; and in case they are refused by the crown, they may convene themselves.
“ 5. If either the king, or his commissioner, present at an assembly, shall refuse to give his assent, upon a persuasion that the thing is unjust, and clashes with the laws of the realm : in this case, if the matter happens to be carried by a majority of the members, the king is then obliged by the law of God to execute such an act of the assembly: and provided the ministers of state or the magistracy shall refuse to do their part, they must then be liable to the highest censures of the Church, and by consequence incur the forfeiture of their places and estates.
6 6. The Covenanters assert, “that an assembly may repeal acts of parliament, and supersede the obligation of the laws, provided they any ways intrench upon the business of the Church.'
“7. The subjects protesting against the laws, whether the protestation is made coram judice or non judice, discharges the protesters from their obedience to such laws: and by the Covenanters' doctrine the people are thus disengaged before the legality of their protestations are tried by competent judges ; nay, though they are disclaimed by the council and the ministers of justice when they are made."