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immediately prior to the Reformation; second, to give some account of the discussion itself, known only in a general way to other than special students in Church history. That the Roman Church in Scotland was in the early part of the sixteenth century corrupt and inefficient beyond all precedent at home, indolent and ignorant beyond anything heard of in either Italy or Spain, requires little argument beyond the plain statement of fact that, when her fall came, she fell almost without a struggle, and with hardly the honour of a dissolution. Had the old Church not reformed herself in a degree second only to what was pressed for by the Reformers, she would have died and made no sign-crumbled away to forgetfulness under the pressure of her own incompetence. But she did reform herself, and won through poverty and persecution a spirit of toleration and a wealth of learning to which for generations earlier she had either been a stranger or a remorseless foe. This made the Romanism of later years something altogether different from the Romanism by which it was preceded-different in character as well as different in influence—and the good change has been carried on with ever-increasing force till our own day. A like “revival,” but on a more gigantic scale, took place in the south of Europe after the preaching of Luther. Almost at the moment when “Friar" Martin was challenging Romish doctrine at Worms (1521) under protection afforded by the Elector, there passed out from the Theatine Convent of Venice that Ignatius Loyola, in early life a Spanish hidalgo, but now poor, lame, and obscure, yet destined to found an Order famous in the histories of Churches as well as of States, for infusing new zeal into every department of knowledge—the pulpit, the press, the confessional, and the academies. As scholars, physicians, merchants, and missionaries, the Jesuits came to be found everywhere and under every disguise, uniting philosophy, literature, and science to the early orthodox teaching in religious belief and personal subjection to the will of the Church. Loyola was born 1491, eight years after Luther, and died 1556, when Knox was preaching the reformed doctrines in Geneva.
Long before the year last mentioned the fair ecclesiastical system built up by King David was tottering to ruin. Nor can it be said that the foundation of even such seats of learning as St. Andrews, Glasgow, and Aberdeen could either save it or vindicate its existence. The later Provincial Councils of the Church appeared heartless in procedure or divided in council—sometimes both-and thus sounds of only an uncertain kind came to be given out for the guidance of the faithful. With one half of the land in possession of the Church, prelates had naturally become arrogant and indolent, and lay nobles discontented, while the rapidly rising middle class, strongly favouring for the most part the "new learning ” from Germany, were severely hostile. This unhappy state of matters was but ill compensated for by swarms of wandering friars, who usurped the place of parochial priests without discharging any duty to the common people. In the higher ranks of the clergy immorality had become so common that it ceased to be spoken of as a vice, and the illegitimate children of archbishops, as well as of the lesser dignitaries, ranked so high among the nobility as to make even Royal alliances, of which descendants boasted. It is not quite correct to say that this corrupt system was overthrown by the influence of a rapacious nobility. In the unjust division made of Church property at the Reformation most of them no doubt exhibited all the greed of sacrilegious zealots, eager to share the spoil; but the reforming lords were few in number—not more than half-a-dozen—the most notable being Argyll, Glencairn, Cassillis, and Rothes. The Hamiltons, Gordons, Douglases, and Athols—the Regent himself till the eve of the Reformation-all remained on the side of the old Church, or were identified in only a remote degree with the establishment of Presbytery. In Scotland the Reformation was in the main effected through a few resolute scholars, backed by the lesser barons, gentry, burghers, and the great body of the common people a degree or two above mere serfdom, whose rising power the Church so blindly failed to recognise. It was to such classes the keen satires of Lindsay and Dunbar specially appealed. Failing to assimilate itself to the new complicated conditions of life, and remorselessly as she put forth her power early in the struggle, Romanism fell in Scotland when the weapons of carnal warfare were withdrawn from its grasp. Blind enough herself, but full of suspicion towards the people, she sought in a hesitating way at first to
check the fury of the storm bursting over her by cautioning the clergy to avoid controversy with any one assailing either her purity or her proud pretensions. This advice, cunningly enough devised, as she well knew, is thought to have been all but universally observed. The only known exception now falls to be noticed as occurring in the experience of Quentin Kennedy, last Abbot of the rich foundation at Crossraguel, near Maybole, Ayrshire.
In the summer of 1562, when Knox was labouring in the West Country, denouncing Popery as Antichrist, Quentin Kennedy, with more bravery than discretion, stepped forward to dispute the point with the dauntless Reformer. The Abbot belonged to one of the first families in Scotland, his father being the famous Gilbert, second Earl of Cassillis, and his nephew, also Gilbert, third Earl, the pupil and patron of George Buchanan, who wrote one of his early satires against the Franciscans while residing with the young Earl at Cassillis. The Abbot's grandnephew was the rapacious and unscrupulous fourth Earl Gilbert, best known as “King of Carrick," but still niore notorious in the annals of violence for having roasted Quentin's successor in the Abbey lands, Allan Stewart, Commendator, before a fierce fire in the dark vault of Dunure Castle, for the purpose of extorting a grant of that property, as lying contiguous to his own estate. Abbot Quentin Kennedy also possessed what many of his brethren lacked: he was of blameless life, and something of a scholar. With but narrow notions of statecraft, and even little of that dialectic or theological skill which distinguished Knox, Abbot Kennedy was yet probably the foremost champion at the time Rome could have expected to appear in Scotland in her defence. His first appearance as a polemical writer was in 1558, four years before his encounter with Knox, when he published a short synopsis of Catholic belief, known still to collectors of curiosities as the “Compendious Tractive," showing “the nerrest and onlie way to establish the conscience of a Christian
” in all matters which were in debate concerning faith and religion. This, as explained, was nothing else than implicit faith in the decision of the Church. When any point of religion was controverted, Scripture might bę cited as a
witness, but holy mother Church was to be the judge. It was held to be sufficient for those who did not occupy the place of teachers that they had a general knowledge of the Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord's Prayer, according to the sense in which they were explained by the Church; while as to the Sacraments and all other secrets of Scripture every Christian man was to “stand in the judgment of his pastor." On the 30th August, according to M'Crie, Abbot Kennedy read in his chapel at Kirkoswald a number of articles respecting the mass, purgatory, praying to saints, and the use of images, which he said he would defend against any who challenged them; but in the meantime promised to declare his mind more fully respecting them on the following Sunday. Knox, who is presumed to have been living at the time with Lord Ochiltree (whose daughter became the Reformer's second wife), no way reluctant to accept the challenge, set out for the scene of controversy on the day indicated. In the morning he sent forward certain gentlemen who accompanied him to inform the Abbot of the purpose in view, and desiring him either to preach according to promise, or to attend a sermon to be delivered by the Reformer himself. The Abbot did not appear, but on coming down the pulpit stairs a letter from him was put into Knox's hand. This led to an epistolary correspondence almost as curious as the “Disputation" itself, but too lengthy for quotation or even further reference. Knox wished the debate to be conducted publicly in St. John's Church, Ayr. The Provost's house in Maybole was afterwards mutually agreed upon. “Ye sall," writes Knox, “be assured I sall keip day and place in Mayboill, according to my writing, and I haif my life, and my feit louse.” The date was fixed to be September 28, at eight o'clock in the morning; forty persons to be admitted by each champion as witnesses, with “as many more as the house might goodly hold, at the sight of my Lord of Cassillis." Notaries or scribes were also chosen on each side to record the papers which might be given in by the parties, and the arguments put forward.
The particulars of the controversy were printed at the time in a now unique black-letter tract, entitled “Coppie of the Resoning which was betwixt the Abbote of Crossraguell (Quentin Kennedy) and John Knox, in Mayboill, concerning the Masse, in the year of God a thousand five hundred three score and two yeires. Edinburgh [printed by]: Robert Lepraik, 1563." A copy of this original, very rare black-letter pamphlet was discovered by Sir Alexander Boswell in the Auchinleck Library, and reprinted at Edinburgh in facsimile, 1812. Even this reprint is now a choice curiosity difficult to obtain.
The opening scene of the controversy was highly characteristic. When parties on each side were duly gathered together, Knox desired the Abbot to offer up public prayer; "whereat the Abbot was soir offended at the first; but when the said John wold in nowise be stayed, he and his gave audience, which being ended, the Abbote said, Be my faith, it is weill said.'” The debate itself was entirely confined to the interpretation of that text in the Old Testament, where it is said that Melchisedec brought out bread and wine in presence of Abraham and his company; the Abbot asserting that those elements were brought out as an oblation to God; and Knox, that they were produced merely for the refreshment and consumption of the visitors, contending that the mysterious King of Salem was the figure of Christ in that he offered bread and wine unto God; so, continued the Abbot, it behoved Christ to offer in His Last Supper His own body and blood under the forms of bread and wine. The second day was again mostly taken up with Abbot Kennedy, who urged against Knox that Abraham and his company had a sufficiency of provision in the spoil taken during their late victorious engagement at Dan, and did not therefore need Melchisedec's bread and wine.
When parties met on the third day the Abbot presented a paper, in which he stated certain other objections to the view taken of the text by Knox, who in turn pressed his opponent to produce proof for the final argument on which he intended to rest
The Abbot appeared indisposed to do this verbally, but put into Knox's hand a small book on the subject, presumed to have been, although Knox does not mention it distinctly, Kennedy's “Familiar Commune on the Mass," printed the preceding year. By this time the audience expressed feelings of weariness. The gentlemen present had not been able to find suitable entertainment either for