Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

But we are reminded it is time to end this article, already become, we fear, tedious and tiresome, though we have scarcely proceeded through half the Serjeant's performance, and have bardly even alluded to one principal section, in which Mr.Fox is most completely and unanswerably vindicated against the Observer's inputation of injustice to Sir Patrick Hume, whose defence the Right Hon. Author alledges as the principal object in making his book. Indeed the Vindicator's task is, throughout, accomplished with a completeness almost beyond example; and Mr. Fox now takes his rank decidedly among the most accurate of historians. We are glad of it; and may well give ourselves, credit that the pleasure arises from considerations independent of all political partialities. A man in the Observer's circumstances should have perceived it to be a matter of extreme delicacy to censure a work, especially a posthumous and unfinished work, of Mr. Fox. The very least that might justly be claimed in such a case was, that time should be taken for the most careful examination of the points intended to be disputed ; that some moderate degree of that solicitous balancing of evidence should be practised, for which Mr. Fox himself was represented as so remarkable; that there should be a most exemplary modesty, a cautious resistance of every temptation to boast and parade about official accuracy; and that whenever any advantage was deemed to be gained against so strong a man, it should be recollected how difficult it was to keep an advantage against him when he was alive. How much the reverse of all this has been the Observer's conduct, we need not again remark; but never did presumption precipitate itself to a deeper fall.

We ought not to have omitted, in the preceding paragraphs, one of the most remarkable of Mr. Heywood's successes. In noticing the famous bill for the preservation of the person of King James, Mr. Fox suggests that there has been something much resembling it in later years. Mr. Rose will not allow that any such instance can be found; and yet, amidst this denial, cannot help adverting to the act of the 18th of December, 1795. Mr. Heywood prints the two acts beside each other; and their substance, and in the most inaterial parts the very expressions, are the same! Art. II. A History of the Lives of the Protestant Reformers in Scotland,

By the Rev. James Scott, late Senior Minister of Perth, 8vo. pp. 264.

J. Ogle, Edinburgh. 1810. TVERY man of a pious spirit is strongly biassed in favour

of the ecclesiastical polity of his religious community. Considering it as the most agreeable to the model of the primitive churches, or the most adapted to promote the interests

mitive cring it as the cal polity of strongly biasse

of piety and virtue, he naturally transfers his admiration from the institution itself to those with whom it originates. And as the religious discipline of the larger Protestant sects may be traced, without difficulty, to some one or other of the Reformers, the respective members of those sects are very prone to exalt some of these meritorious men at the expense of others In consequence of this sectarian feeling, it is not likely the present volume should afford us, in the southern part of the island, half the pleasure it will afford our neighbours north of the Tweed, who imagine, no doubt, that they derive advantages, from the republican form of their church governinent, superior to any thing enjoyed by yus, and must therefore read the lives of its founders with a fondness and gratitude with which it cannot be expected we should fully sympathize.

But another view may be taken of the matter. The Reformers, together, were the common enemies of a most dismal and noxious superstition, as well as of a tyranny alike oppressing the soul and the body. While they attempted to deliver. men from these evils-the greatest that can afflict human society-they likewise made it their business to diffuse knowledge, liberty, and virtue. In these good works, Luther and Zuingle, Cranmer' and Knox, were fellow labourers and asso. ciates. They secured those blessings to their contemporaries, and transmitted them to posterity ;-not accidentally and in the pursuit of other objects of interest or ambition, -for in this respect they are eminently distinguished from those men, who, aiming at power or fame, found it answer their particular purposes to pay a little sinister regard to the interests of mankind: but the good of their fellow men, taken in its most comprehensive range, including both the present and the future life, was the great object to which the Reformers sacrificed their ease, their fortunes, and their reputation,--which they sought by efforts of unwearied diligence, heroic zeal, and inexhaustible patience,--and which they effectually promoted, 'amidst anathemas, proscriptions, imprisonments, and death, impelled solely by a sense of duty, and supported only by the hope of the divine approbation. The cause being the same in which they were engaged, they displayed, in common, some of the sublimest and noblest qualities incident to human nature, devotion to the well. being of their fellow creatures-courage in assailing a most potent tyranny-patience under sufferings and persecutions contempt of fame, of power, of pleasure-and perseverance in well-doing, notwithstanding the strongest allurements and the most formidable menaces. These virtues, wherever they might be found, could not fail to interést our hearts. But considering what they have procured

for Europe in general, and especially for the Protestant states, while we partake of the blessings so largely diffused throughout the great community, modified by the common exertions of all the Reformers, we review the lives of any of them with emotions of gratitude and admiration.

With these views, we have found the present an interesting and agreeable volume. It gives an account, not of those who first introduced the reformed doctrine into Scotland, but of those who were the instruments of its final establishment. In this volume the lives of fifteen of these persons are included,

namely, of Erskine, Spottiswood, Winram, Willock, Cars. well, Knox, Row, Douglas, Lindsay, Methven, Heriot, Harlowe, Ferguson, Chrystison, and Goodman. Seven of them were originally published in the Religious Monitor," a periodical work, conducted by ministers of the Scotch Kirk. Besides the common and published histories of the period our author writes of, he las made use of large extracts from the unpublished parts of Calderwood's History-an old copy of some of Wodrow's Historical Collections--a number of an. cient writs and records extant at Perth-and extracts from Row's “Manuscript History of the Church of Scotland."*"}

These biographical sketches are drawn up with considerable care, diligence, and fidelity; and, in addition to what may be found in the ordinary sources of information, furnish several curious particulars not generally known. The narrative part of the work is clear, simple, and grave. Although Mr. Scott is evidently very partial to the Reformers, he is not by any means disposed to conceal their defects and failings; and, being a man of inflexible integrity, we may safely depend on his accounts as authentic. He seems also a very religious man, and has accordingly seasoned the different articles with a reasonable proportion of serious and enlightened piety. We should, however, have been very glad, if our worthy author had made his story a little more continuous and com. pact, if he had avoided a little needless repetition, and been somewhat less prone to supply, by conjecture, the want of accurate information. And though we have a very high idea of Mr. Scott's fidelity and diligence, it would by no means have offended our eye-sight, if he had disfigured the bottom of his pages with a minute reference to the authorities ou which he depends.

Among the Scotch Reformers, the first place is certainly due to Jobn Knox,-whether we consider the extraordinary quae lities with which he was endowed, or the share he had in ef. fecting the Reformation in his native soil, or the veneration with which his countrymen have hitherto cherished his memory. He was born at Haddington, of reputable parents, in 1504, or 1505. From the grammar-school of that town, he

n

hele aand has accomuthentic integrity, set and failimot bye

went to the university of St. Andrews, where he made such progress in the learning of the times, that, after taking academical degrees, he was admitted into orders some time before the usual age. Instead of preaching, however, he acted as a private tutor to students at college, or to young persons at home : nor was it till the thirty-sixth year of his life, that the perusal of the works of Jerome and Augustine began to open his eyes on the errors in which he had been educated, and to which be bad so far pertinaciously adhered. About 1543, while the Protestants had a little breathing time under the Earl of Arran's regency, the instructions of Mr. Thomas Williams effectually determined him in favour of the new doctrine. He still continued, however, to employ himself in the education of youth : but, associating with Wishart, the martyr,-zealously and courageously avowing his new principles, and on that account suffering several hardships, be soon became so famous among the Protestants, that, being at St. Andrew's after the assassination of Cardinal Beaton, he was actually forced, in the following manner, into the ministerial office.

One day, when he had come to hear Mr. Rough preach, Mr. Rough, delivered a sermon, in which he treated of “the election of ministers," In the conclusion of the sermon he said: “When any considerable number of Christians perceive in any man the gifts of God," (probably he meant a man in clerical orders, which Mr. Knox had long been,) 6 and shall desire him, for their instruction, to preach the Gospel, it is dangeruus for such a man to refuse their request." Then addressing his discourse to Mr. Knox, he said: “ Brother, be not offended, when I speak to you that which I have in charge, even from all those who are here present; which is this: In the name of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ, and in the name of those who now presently call you by my mouth, I charge you that you refuse not this holy vocation, but that, as you tender the glory of God, the increase of Christ's kingdom, the edification of your brethren, and the comfort of me, whom you know well enough to be oppressed by the multitude of labours, you shall take upon you the public office and charge of preaching; even as you look to avoid God's heavy displeasure, and desire that he shall multiply his graces with you." Then turning to the congregation, he said: “Was not this your charge unto me? and do you approve of this vocation ?” They answered: “ It was, and we approve of it." 15. Mr. Knox was abashed. He burst into tears, and silently went home to pray and meditate in his own chamber. For some days he scarcely held conversation with any person, but privately considered of what was his duty. At last he determined to comply with the call which had been given him by Mr. Rough and a Protestant people, which he valued more than any imposition of hands which he had formerly received from a popish bishop. He resolved, depending on the help of God, to go forth publicly into the world as a professed minister of the Gospel, and, as his after-conduct shewed, faithfully to declare the truths of Christ, and to confute the adversaries, notwithstanding any danger to which he might thereby be exposed.' pp. 105-6.

Being left in the castle of St. Andrew's by Mr. John Rough, who retired into England, he endeavoured, but with little success, to check the wickedness of those who held that fortress; and, when it was taken in 1947, he was sent to the galleys with the greater part of the captives. Here he composed the Confession of Faith, afterwards adopted, with some additions, in the Kirk; and consoled his fellow sufferers with the certain hope of deliverance. After nine months confinement, he made his escape into England, at that time the common refuge of the Scotch Protestants. He refused a bishopric and the rectory of All Hallows, London; but, accepted the office of king's chaplain, and an annual pension of forty pounds, with full authority to preach the Gospel where it was little known, or where the errors of popery particularly prevailed : --for, the Catholic clergy, dispersed in all parts, were using their utmost efforts to bring the people back to their old er-, rórs, and Knox appeared to Cranmer, and other Protestants, admirably qualified to oppose these dangerous men. .

During the five years that he remained in England, he preached chiefly in the northern counties where the Catholics were the most numerous. His zeal and activity, brought upon him the wrath of Tonstal, bishop of Durham.s. Being cited before this prelate, he eagerly embraced the opportunity it afforded him of impugning the ancient errors, and by the force of his arguments confounded both the bishop and his clergy. It is likely he was not very temperate or prudent in his zeal.

• It was contrary to Mr. Knox's natural temper to conceal any opinion he entertained, either of the character of persons, or of the measures they were pursuing. He was honest in his zeal ; and it was always a good object which he had ultimately in his view. When his zeal seems to have carried him beyond the usual bounds of prudence, it is remark. able how the divine Providence protected him against those fatal cffects which often might have been expected. He suffered, however, some trouble, in consequence of the instance of his conduct which he next re. lates. “ It cometh to my mind,” says he, “that upon Christmas-day, anno 1552, preaching in Newcastle-upon Tyne, and speaking against the obstinacy of the papists, I made this affirmation,--that whoever in their hearts were enemies to Christ's gospel and doctrine, which then was preached within the realm of England, were enemies also to God, and secret traitors to the crown and commonwealth of England; for as they thirsted for nothing more than the king's death, which their iniquities could procure, they cared not who should reign over them, provided that their idolatry might be erected again. How these my words at that time pleased men, the crimes and action” (action at law,)“ intended against me did declare. But let my very enemies now say their conscience, if these my words have not proved true. pp. 113, 114. 2. The accession of Mary, and the restoration of the old religion, obliged Knox to quit England and retire to Geneva,

« ElőzőTovább »