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who write on Scottish Ecclesiastical History, against receiving presbyterian authorities, as it is so much their interest to misrepresent the facts of history. Like their popish prototypes, who consider oaths against ecclesiastical utility as not binding, they make certain assertions, such as that the church of Scotland was reformed from popery by presbyterians, &c., and although they have been repeatedly confuted by the production of stubborn facts, yet they return pertinaciously to the same assertions like the dog to his vomit.
One part of Wodrow's system was to suppress those parts of the primate's letters which showed his integrity, or which exposed p resby terian hypocrisy. The author of the Life and Times of Archbishop Sharp has restored the suppressed sentences in some of the letters, and placed them within brackets. In one of these letters, Sharp informs us that Gillespie, a furious partizan of the Covenant, and whose life he afterwards saved by interceding for him with the king, offered to use his utmost exertions to restore episcopacy in Scotland, and said "nothing could be enjoined to him for promoting that, which he would not most faithfully and vigorously obey and perfect." That part of the letter concerning Gillespie, which occupies nearly threequarters of a page of small type, is entirely suppressed by Wodrow, because, although he was to aggravate the faults of his enemies, it made no part of his plan to expose those of his friends.
Dr. Burns has prudently abstained from answering any part of the Life and Times of Sharp; but has contented himself with commenting on the faults of the author, which are numerous, and which he has done with much asperity, and, in some cases, with truth. But he has not attempted to deny or even to excuse the direct charge against himself of sympathizing with a convicted felon who attempted to murder the primate, by calling him "poor man," and "poor Mitchel," and of approving of the primate's murder by saying that Wodrow took that "just view of it which every moderate and fair man" would take. Dr. Burns, therefore, is one of those moderate and fair men who approve of the primate's murder, and does his utmost to murder his memory by retailing all Bishop Burnet's "spiteful gossip," "his private anecdotes, provincial traditions, and inflamed narratives, which, says Guthrie, ought to be adopted with caution." But Bishop Burnet has invalidated his own testimony. After making a sweeping charge against the clergy in the diocese of Glasgow, he says, "it was, after all, hard to believe all that was set about against them!" Dr. Burns cites the inflamed and spiteful description which Bishop Burnet gave of the Scottish bishops; but omits to record the just opinion which he formed of their characters after distance and more mature age had softened his spite. In the preface to his life of Bishop Bedell, says:
"I shall not add much of the bishops that have been in that (the Scottish) church since the last re-establishing of the order: but that I have observed among the few of them to whom I have the honour to be known particularly," (he was particularly known to the primate)" as great and exemplary things as ever I met with in all ecclesiastical history: not only the practice of the strictest of all the ancient canons, but a pitch of VIRTUE and PIETY BEYOND what can fall under common imitation, or be made the measure of even the most angelic ranks of men; and I saw things in them that would look liker fair ideas than what men clothed with flesh and blood could grow up to."
We add here what the present primus of the church in Scotland has said of the clergy at the Revolution, a period of which the presbyterians ought to be ashamed.1
"The truth is, our clergy, both before and after the Revolution, will bear a comparison according to their numbers with those of any church of the time, for general professional learning, for their Christian principles, and for their Christian conduct. They were not persecutors when in power. We have the proof in history,- Bishop Burnet being one of the witnesses. Their patient submission to the most vexatious persecution after the Revolution, adds to the force of the proof, which is not to be invalidated by the accusation often adduced, that they were weak and wicked, or, as the technical phrase was, scandalous. Weak men never, I believe, suffer real evil patiently, and wicked men certainly never do, if by any compliance they can avoid it. Now the episcopal clergy at the Revolution suffered the loss of every thing, and suffered in a spirit that never was exceeded in any age of the Church. The truly Christian spirit of the whole community was such, as to carry along with them in their sufferings many who might naturally have been expected anxious to escape from the connection if they found a convenient opportunity. There were not more, it appears, than twenty trimmers, if we include the liberal and moderate (!) George Meldrum; while we have numerous instances of men who, though they might have had a high station in the new (presbyterian) church, chose to suffer with the old."
Did time permit, we could give some account of these sufferings which would astonish the liberals of the present day.
Dr. Burns cites the words of Mr. Le Bas, who we believe is the writer of the notice of the Life and Times of Archbishop Sharp in the British Critic, where he makes some remarks on the author's qualifications for the historical office; but Dr. B. stops just at that point where Mr. Le Bas challenges any one to dispute the truth of the history:
"But we firmly believe, says he, that the most suspicious among them will find themselves utterly baffled in any attempt to impeach his historical integrity. At all events we are heartily glad of his publication: it was high time that the memory of Sharp should have fair play; and this it never could have so long as public estimate of him should be formed upon the loose and spiteful gossip of Bishop Burnet." 2
Again, the reviewer of the Life and Times of Sharp, in the British Magazine says that the author "shows us by his work that he carried with him in his research, ability, industry, and right principle." What is thought right principle by a man of principle, is called "malignity," "a thorough spirit of blind bigotry and intolerance,' by the Eclectic Reviewer; and "maniac raving," "bigotry of his creed, the blindness of his prejudices and the rancour of his passions," as well as the "popishness of his principles," by Dr. Burns. And this is all the answer which is given to Mr. Le Bas' challenge. Dr. Burns entirely neglects the weightier matter of impeaching the author's historical integrity, or of disproving the new face which the facts of history assume when stript of the malignity and enormous lies of presbyterian authors, editors, and reviewers. Instead of answering the "Critic's" challenge, Dr. Burns lashes himself into a phrenzy of passion, and contents himself with what he calls culling "a fragrant bouquet" of sundry expressions occasioned by the author's "deep and honest indignation against schism
1 Note to Charity Sermon preached before the "Gaelic Episcopal Society," 1831. 2 British Critic, No. 51, for July, 1839, pp. 106, 107.
and rebellion," with which the schismatical and rebellious conduct of the presbyterians and the treacherous policy of men in power inspired the author, "as a faithful, honest, and most laborious chronicler." The author also challenged the production of that letter which Wodrow was "apt to believe," and Burnet only "suspected" that the king had written, and which they said either one or other of the archbishops, or somebody else, had suppressed till after the execution of some presbyterian rebels, and which has produced so much misplaced indignation. There is, however, not a word about it. Pity it is that presbyterians lay so much stress on the fourth commandment and show such an utter forgetfulness of the ninth. But, although Dr. Burns has not condescended to answer either of the above named challenges; yet he has not thought it beneath his dignity to exaggerate the amount of the military in the western counties. Sir James Turner, the commander, was tried by court-martial," and it appears on Sir James's oath that the army, as it was called, with which he was said so mightily to have oppressed that part of the country (five large counties) only amounted to sixty men rank and file.!"2
We beg leave to "cull a fragrant bouquet" from the christian sentiments contained in the "Christian Instructor." After quoting some of Bishop Burnet's "spiteful gossip," about General Dalzell, the reviewer adds, "the cold-blooded, or, if Burnet prefer the word, the hot-blooded butcheries of this monster, admirably fitted him to be the executioner of the edicts of a Nero and his hierophants, or of men who were just as blood-thirsty a Charles II. and his bishops." This sentence is written in that spirit of mendacity and malignity which pervades almost all the presbyterian historians who write of the events of that period. The rebel saints of the covenant drew down severities on their own heads, and the treacherous policy of Lauderdale and others in power inflicted cruelties which Charles interfered to terminate as soon as ever they came to his knowledge. So far were the bishops from deserving the title of "bloodthirsty," that they used every means in their power to soften the rigour of the privy council, and some of them even braved the tyrannical statute of leasing-making, and the penalties with which Lauderdale was so ready to visit them, and appealed to the king against that stateman's abuse of power. Archbishop Burnet was deprived and threatened by Lauderdale with all the pains and penalties of high treason, for soliciting the king by letter to spare the lives of the presbyterian rebels, who were taken prisoners after the action at Pentland. Bishop Wishart, who had himself suffered a long imprisonment for his loyalty during the presbyterian usurpation, never forgot what he himself had suffered in a loathsome dungeon, where he was only allowed one change of linen in the course of seven months: "in pursuance of this charitable sympathy, it was his daily practice to send provisions from his own kitchen, all the time he sat bishop in Edinburgh, to the prisoners. In particular at this time," (after the presbyterian rebellion) "he nearly killed the Westland whigs, taken at Pentland, with over-repletion. Burnet himself
1 Life and Times, pp. 350, 351.
2 Ib. p. 72.
admits that the prisoners were in greater danger from full feeding than they had been during their short campaign." And Kirkton says, yea, even among the curates, some had so much of a man as to preserve some" of the discomfited rebels. And now let us use the words of Bishop Hamilton's biographer, with which we entirely concur, and which are as applicable to the editor of the "Christian Instructor" as to Wodrow himself."
"Malice, perverse lying, and backbitings, are downright contradictory to the spirit of Christianity; and the vermin who not only use, but avowedly print them, should be looked upon by all good and honest men as the cankers of society, and the shame of any religion whatever, only fit for a common stage, but in no ways for the pulpit."
The Reviewer, in the Christian Instructor, of the Life and Times of Sharp is exceedingly indignant at the author for asserting that the presbyterians have cut themselves off from the communion of the Church Catholic, and have been given up to a state of anarchy and division." After some peevish criticism, he enumerates a long list of sectaries which exist in England, beginning with the Papists, and asserts "there never was a church so torn up with intestine divisions, &c." This we deny; for the Church of England is the most united church in the world at this moment: but the sectaries make no part of her communion, they went out from her self-excommunicated, and she is no ways answerable for their divisions or subdivisions, nor even for their existence.
But the case is essentially different with the Kirk. All the seceders from her still claim union with her, they did not dissent from either her doctrines or discipline; for they adopt the same standards and the same government. They only seceded from the establishment on account of her "right-hand defections and left-hand backslidings," her "staggerings and short-comings." The founders of the Secession protested:
"that we still hold communion with all and every one who desire, with us, to adhere to the principles of the true presbyterian covenanted church of Scotland, in her doctrine, worship, government, and discipline. But in regard that the prevailing party in this established church who have now cast us out from ministerial communion with them, are now carrying on a course of defection from our reformed and covenanted principles; and particularly are suppressing ministerial freedom and faithfulness, in testifying against the present backslidings of the church, and inflicting censures on ministers for witnessing by protestations and otherwise against the same. Therefore we do. protest that we are obliged to make a SECESSION from them; and that we can have no ministerial communion with them, till they see their sins and mistakes, and amend them. And in like manner we do protest, that it shall be lawful and warrantable for us to exercise the keys of doctrine, discipline and government, according to the word of God, and Confession of Faith, and the principles and constitution of the covenanted Church of Scotland; as if no such censure had passed on us. ... And we hereby appeal unto the first free, faithful, and reforming General Assembly of the Church of Scotland."
The secession is again divided into various bodies, but which are all looking forward to a "free and faithful general assembly," when they can suppose that the kirk "has seen her sins and mistakes, and amended them." The kirk recognises the Seceding and Relief bodies as sister churches, and some of them have again united with the establishment, and hence the canker in her assembly. In the reign of Charles II. the presbyterian dissenters set up an Erastian communion,
1 Note to Kirkton's Hist., cited in Life and Times, pp. 360, 361.
and which is admitted by Dr. M'Crie, by accepting collation to benefices from the Privy Council, and for which Mr. Hutchison in the name of his brethren thanked the lords of Council and the king, saying, "Our prayer to God is, that the Lord may bless his majesty in his person and government, and your lordships in your public administration; and especially in pursuance of his majesty's mind testified in his letter, wherein his singular moderation eminently appears, that others of our brethren may in due time be made sharers of the liberty that through his majesty's favour we now enjoy." The Erastian ministers were called "dumb dogs that could not bark," by the other presbyterians the non-intrusionists of that day, of whom Burnet says they "knew very little of the essentials of religion." This is not wonderful when these men were made ministers during the usurpation, which Dr. Chalmers calls the "golden age of the" (so-called) "church." We shall make some extracts from the records of a southern presbytery, from 1649 till 1661, described by Dr. Chalmers as "the days of the greatest glory of the Church of Scotland." One of the causes enumerated for a fast in 1657 is, “ the doleful division of ministers yet unreconciled." In 1658 a national fast was proclaimed, because among other things "of the abomination of drunkenness ;" and in 1659, another fast was held for the following causes, "the contempt of the gospel of Christ; Sabbathbreaking, drunkenness, swearing, whoredom; and even such pagan like filthiness of uncleanness abounding among us as is not to be named among Christians.2
At the Revolution, when the presbyterians again fulfilled their covenant oath of extirpating the church, they split into two divisions within the space of three years after their establishment, and they are at this moment a monument of retributive justice, in the spectacle of a house divided against itself, and still continuing their Erastian foundation by applying to parliament to settle their differences. Dr. Burns may have his desire gratified more than once in seeing many "specimens of partial judges, and passionate gentlemen, among his non-intrusion brethren, who assert that their more respectable brethren do not preach the gospel, but resemble the councilcurates of the golden age, "dumb dogs that cannot bark." The nonintrusion gospel which is the mania of the present time in Scotland is, to set the ordinance of man at utter defiance, calling it" a hateful curse to the Church of Scotland," and to resist the powers that be, which the gospel of Christ tells us is, to resist the ordinance of God, and to bring down damnation on themselves. (Rom. xiii.) The nonintrusionists are fast alienating the people from the kirk, and Dr. Burns may recollect that he himself lamented, as far back as the year 1831: that "Many of the most intelligent of our parishioners in the middle ranks have been forced to join the dissenters; and our nobility and gentry, who in former days counted it an honour to rally round the kirk,' and to consecrate their labours to her service, have either become very careless about religion altogether, or have thrown their weight into the scale of a domineering episcopacy.'
1 Cited in Life and Times, p. 325.
2 Extracts cited in the Aberdeen Constitutional, of May 1, 1840.
3 Hints on Ecclesiastical Reform, addressed to the Lay eldership of the church of Scotland, by Robert Burns, D.D., Paisley, 1831, p. 12.