Friday, October 24, 2014

Reformation Month: Biography of Andrew Melville (Part 2)

After the storm had abated, he returned to St. Andrews in 1586, when the Synod of Fife had excommunicated Patrick Adamson, pretended Archbishop of St. Andrews, on account of some immoralities. Adamson having drawn up the form of an excommunication against Andrew Melville, and James, his nephew, sent out a boy with some of his own creatures to the kirk to read it, but the people paying no regard to it, the Archbishop, though both suspended and excommunicated, would himself go to the pulpit to preach; whereupon some gentlemen, and others in town, convened in the new college, to hear Andrew Melville. The Archbishop being informed that they were assembled on purpose to put him out of the pulpit and hang him, for fear of this called his friends together, and betook himself to the steeple ; but at the entreaty of the magistrates and others, he retired home.

This difference with the Archbishop brought the Melvilles again before the King and Council, who, pretending that there was no other method to end that quarrel, ordained Mr. Andrew to be confined to Angus and the Mearns, under pretext that he would be useful in that country in reclaiming Papists. Because of his sickly condition, Mr. James was sent back to the new college; and the University sending the Dean of Faculty and the masters with a supplication to the King in Mr Andrew's behalf, he was suffered to return, but was not restored to his place and office until the month of August following.

The next winter, he laboured to give the students in divinity under his care a thorough knowledge of the discipline and government of the Church; which was attended with considerable success. The specious arguments of Episcopacy vanished, and the serious part, both of the town and University, repaired to the college to hear him and Robert Bruce, who began preaching about this time.

After this he was chosen moderator in some subsequent Assemblies of the Church; in which several acts were made in favour of religion, as maintained at that period.

When the King brought home his Queen from Denmark in 1590, Andrew Melville made an excellent oration upon the occasion in Latin, which so pleased the King, that he publicly declared, he had therein both honoured him and his country, and that he should never be forgotten; yet such was the instability of this prince, that, in a little after this, because Melville opposed his arbitrary measures in grasping after an absolute authority over the church, he conceived a daily hatred against him ever after, as will appear from the sequel.

When Andrew Melville went with some other ministers to the Convention of Estates at Falkland in 1596 (wherein they intended to bring home the excommunicated lords who were then in exile), though he had a commission from last Assembly to watch against every imminent danger that might threaten the Church, yet, whenever he appeared at the head of the ministers, the King asked him, who sent for him there? To which he resolutely answered, "Sire, I have a call to come from Christ and His Church, who have a special concern in what you are doing here, and in direct opposition to whom ye are all here assembled ; but, be ye assured, that no counsel taken against Him shall prosper; and I charge you, Sire, in His name, that you and your Estates here convened favour not God's enemies, whom He hateth." After he had said this, turning himself to the rest of the members, he told them, that they were assembled with a traitorous design against Christ, His Church, and their native country. In the midst of this speech, he was commanded by the King to withdraw. 

The Commission of the General Assembly was now sitting, and understanding how matters were going on at the Convention, they sent some of their members, among whom Andrew Melville was one, to expostulate with the King. When they came, he received them in his closet. James Melville, being first in the commission, told the King his errand; upon which he appeared angry, and charged them with sedition. Mr. James, being a man of cool passion and genteel behaviour, began to answer the King with great reverence and respect; but Mr. Andrew, interrupting him, said, "This is not a time to flatter, but to speak plainly, for our commission is from the living God, to whom the King is subject;" and then, approaching the king; said. "Sire, we will always humbly reverence your Majesty in public, but having opportunity of being with your Majesty in private, we must discharge our duty, or else be enemies to Christ. And now. Sire, I must tell you, that there are two kings and two kingdoms in Scotland: there is King James, the head of the Commonwealth, and there is Christ Jesus, the Head of the Church, whose subject King James VI is, and of whose kingdom he is not a head, nor a lord, but a member; and they whom Christ hath called, and commanded to watch over His Church, and govern His spiritual kingdom, have sufficient authority and power from Him so to do, which no Christian king nor prince should control or discharge, but assist and support, otherwise they are not faithful subjects to Christ. And, Sire, when you was in your swaddling clothes Christ reigned freely in this land in spite of all His enemies; His officers and ministers were convened for ruling His Church, which was ever for your welfare. Will you now challenge Christ's servants, your best and most faithful subjects, for convening together, and for the care they have of their duty to Christ and you? The wisdom of your counsel is, that you may be served with all sorts of men, that you may come to your purpose, and because the ministers and Protestants of Scotland are strong, they must be weakened and brought low, by stirring up a party against them. But, Sire, this is not the wisdom of God, and His curse must light upon it; whereas, in cleaving to God, his servants shall be your true friends, and He shall compel the rest to serve you."

There is little difficulty to conjecture how this discourse was relished by the King. However, he kept his temper, and promised fair things to them for the present; but it was the word of him whose standard maxim was “Qui nescit dissimulare, nescit regnare.” (He who knows not how to dissemble, knows not how to reign.) In this sentiment, unworthy of the meanest among men, he gloried, and made it his constant rule of conduct; for in the Assembly at Dundee in 1598, Andrew Melville being there, he discharged him from the Assembly, and would not suffer business to go on till he was removed.

This biography is from, The Scot’s Worthies, by John Howie (1736-1793)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Reformation Month: Biography of Andrew Melville (Part 1)

ANDREW MELVILLE, after finishing his classical studies, went abroad, and taught for some time, both at Poitiers in France, and at Geneva. He returned to Scotland in July 1574, after having been absent from his native country nearly ten years. Upon his return, the learned Beza, in a letter to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said, "The greatest token of affection the kirk of Geneva could show to Scotland was, that they had suffered themselves to be spoiled of Mr. Andrew Melville."

Soon after his return, the General Assembly appointed him to be the Principal of the College of Glasgow, where he continued for some years. In the year 1576, the Earl of Morton being then Regent, and thinking to bring Andrew Melville into his party, who were endeavouring to introduce Episcopacy, he offered him the parsonage of Govan, a benefice of twenty-four chalders of grain yearly, besides what he enjoyed as Principal, providing he would not insist against the establishment of bishops; but Melville rejected his offer with scorn.

He was afterwards translated to St. Andrews, where he served in the same station as he had done at Glasgow; and was likewise a minister of that city. Here he taught the divinity class, and, as a minister, continued to witness against the encroachments then making upon the rights of the Church of Christ.

When the General Assembly sat down at Edinburgh in 1582, Andrew Melville inveighed against the absolute authority which was making its way into the Church: whereby, he said, they intended to pull the crown from Christ's head, and wrest the sceptre out of His hand. When several articles, of the same tenor with his speech, were presented by the commission of the Assembly to King James VI and Council, craving redress, the Earl of Arran cried out, "Is there any here that dare subscribe these articles." Melville went forward and said, "We dare, and will render our lives in the cause;" and then took up the pen and subscribed. We do not find that any disagreeable consequences ensued at this time.

But in the beginning of February 1584, he was summoned to appear before the Secret Council, on the 11th of that month, to answer for some things said by him in a sermon on a fast-day, from Dan. iv. At his first compearance, he made a verbal defence; but being again called, he gave in a declaration, with a declinature, importing that he had said nothing, either in that or any other sermon, tending to dishonour King James VI, but had regularly prayed for the preservation and prosperity of his Majesty; that, as by acts of Parliament and laws of the Church, he should be tried for his doctrine by the Church, he therefore protested for, and craved, a trial by them, and particularly in the place where the offence was alleged to have been committed; and that as there were special laws in favour of St Andrews to the above import, he particularly claimed the privilege of them. He further protested, that what he had said was warranted by the word of God; that he appealed to the congregation who heard the sermon; that he craved to know his accusers; that, if the calumny was found to be false, the informers might be punished; that the rank and character of the informer might be considered, etc., after which he gave an account of the sermon in question; alleging that his meaning had been misunderstood, and his words perverted.

When he had closed his defence, the King, and the Earl of Arran, who was then Chancellor, raged exceedingly against him. Melville remained undisquieted, and replied, "You are too bold, in a constituted Christian kirk, to pass by the pastors, and take upon you to judge the doctrine, and control the messengers of a Greater than any present. That you may see your rashness, in taking upon you that which you neither ought, nor can do" (taking out a small Hebrew Bible, and laying it down before them), "there are," said he, "my instructions and warrant,—see if any of you can control me, that I have passed my injunctions." The Chancellor opening the book, put it into the King's hand, saying, "Sire, he scorneth your Majesty and the Council." "Nay," said Andrew Melville, "I scorn not, but I am in good earnest." He was, in the time of this debate, frequently removed, and instantly recalled, that he might not have time to consult with his friends. They proceeded against him, and admitted his avowed enemies to prove the accusation; and though the whole train of evidence which was led proved little or nothing against him, yet they resolved to involve him in troubles, because he had declined their authority, as the competent judges of doctrine, and therefore remitted him to ward in the Castle of Edinburgh, during the King's will. Being informed, that if he entered into ward, he would not be released, unless it should be to bring him to the scaffold, and that the decree of the Council being altered, Blackness was appointed for his prison, which was kept by some dependants of the Earl of Arran, he resolved to get out of the country. A macer gave him a charge to enter Blackness in twenty-four hours; and, in the meanwhile, some of Arran's horsemen were attending at the West Port to convoy him thither; but, by the time he should have entered Blackness, he had reached Berwick. Messrs Lawson and Balcanquhal gave him the good character he deserved, and prayed earnestly for him in public, in Edinburgh; which both moved the people and galled the Court exceedingly.

This biography is from, The Scot’s Worthies, by John Howie (1736-1793)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Reformation Month: Biography of William Row (Part 2)

Again, being deputed to open the Synod of Perth, in 1607, to which King James sent Lord Scone, captain of his guards, to force them to accept a Constant Moderator, Scone sent notice to Row, that if, in his preaching, he uttered aught against constant moderators, he should cause ten or twelve of his guards to discharge their culverins at his nose; and when he attended the sermon which preceded that synod, he stood up in a menacing posture to outbrave the preacher. But Row, no way dismayed, knowing what vices Scone was charged with, particularly that he was a great belly-god, drew his picture so like the life, and condemned what was culpable with so much severity, that Scone thought fit to sit down, and even to cover his face. After which Row proceeded to prove, that no constant moderator ought to be suffered in the Church; but knowing that Scone understood neither Latin nor Greek, he wisely avoided naming the constant moderator in English, and always gave the Greek or Latin name for it. Sermon being ended, Scone said to some of the nobles attending him, "You see I have scared the preacher from meddling with the constant moderator; but I wonder who he spoke so much against by the name of pr┼ôstes ad vitam." They told him that it was Latin for the constant moderator; which so incensed him, that when Row proceeded to constitute the Synod in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Scone said, "the devil a Jesus is here:" and when Row called over the roll to choose their moderator after the ancient form, Scone would have pulled it from him, but he, being a strong man, held off Scone with one hand, and holding the synod-roll in the other, called out the names of the members. 

After this William Row was put to the horn, and on the 11th of June following, he and Henry Livingstone, the moderator, were summoned before the Council, to answer for their proceedings at the Synod above mentioned. Livingstone compeared, and with great difficulty obtained the favour to be warded in his own parish. But Row was advised not to compear, unless the Council would relax him from the horning, and make him free of the Scone comptrollers, who had letters of caption to apprehend him, and commit him to Blackness. This was refused, and a search made for him; which obliged him to abscond, and lurk among his friends for a considerable time.

Row was subjected to several other hardships during the remainder of his life, but still maintained that steady faithfulness and courage in the discharge of his duty, which is exemplified in the above instances, until the day of his death, of which, however, we have no certain account.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Reformation Month: Biography of William Row (Part 1)

WILLIAM ROW was a son of Mr. John Row, minister at Perth, who gave him a very liberal education under his own eye. [As this family occupies a very prominent place in the ecclesiastical history of Scotland, a few additional particulars may be furnished regarding it. The founder of the family was John Row, who in his earlier years was a staunch and zealous adherent of the Romish Church. At the commencement of the Reformation in Scotland, he was residing in Rome, where he had been for seven or eight years; and so great was the confidence reposed in him by the Pope and Cardinals, that, on his proposing to return to his native country, he was invested with the character of Legate or Nuncio, and was instructed to inquire minutely into the nature and causes of the prevailing disaffection, and report. As his son remarks, however, he proved "a corbie messenger to his master;" for not only did he not return to Rome, but he speedily embraced the great principles of the Reformation himself, and became one of their ablest and most strenuous supporters. He was one of the six ministers selected to draw up the Confession of Faith, and the First Book of Discipline; and for a period of twenty years, besides discharging his ordinary pastoral duties in Perth, he took an active and prominent part in all the proceedings of the Church. On his death, which occurred at Perth on the i6th October 1580, he left several children, five of whom afterwards became ministers. One of these was John, who for fifty years was minister of Carnock in Fife, and is known as the author of the "History of the Kirk of Scotland," and as the father of John Row, principal of King's College, Aberdeen. Another was William, the subject of the present memoir. —Ed.]

William Row was settled minister at Forgandenny, in the shire of Perth, about the year 1600, and continued there for several years. He was one of those ministers who refused to give public thanks for King James VI. 's deliverance from his danger in Cowrie's conspiracy, until the truth of that conspiracy was made to appear. This refusal brought upon him the King's displeasure. He was summoned to appear before the King and Council at Stirling, soon after. On the day appointed for his compearance, two noblemen were sent, the one before the other, to meet him on the road, and, under the pretence of friendship, to inform him that the Council had a design upon his life, that he might be prevailed on to decline going up thither. The first met him near his own house, the second a few miles from Stirling; but Row told them that he would not, by disobedience to the summons, make himself justly liable to the pains of law, and proceeded to Stirling, to the amazement of the King and his Court. When challenged for disbelieving the truth of the Cowrie conspiracy, he told them one reason of his hesitation was, that Henderson, who was said to have confessed that Cowrie hired him to kill the King, and to have been found in his Majesty's chamber for that purpose, was not only suffered to live, but rewarded: "Whereas," said he, "if I had seen the King's life in hazard, and not ventured my life to rescue him, I think I deserve not to live."

The two following anecdotes will show what an uncommon degree of courage and resolution he possessed. 

Being at Edinburgh, before the Assembly there, at which the King wanted to bring in some innovation, and meeting with James Melville, who was sent for by the King, he accompanied him to Holyrood House. While Melville was with the King, Row stood behind a screen, and not getting an opportunity to go out with his brother undiscovered, he overheard the King say to some of his courtiers, "This is a good simple man; I have stroked cream on his mouth, and he will procure me a good number of voters, I warrant you." This said, Mr. Row got off, and overtaking James Melville, asked him what had passed. Melville told him all; and said, "the King is well disposed to the Church, and intends to do her good by all his schemes." Row replied, "the King looks upon you as a fool and a knave, and wants to use you as a coy-duck to draw in others;" and told him what he had overheard. Melville suspecting the truth of this report, Mr. Row offered to go with him and avouch it to the King's face. Accordingly, they went back to the palace, when Melville, seeing Row as forward to go in as he was, believed his report, and stopped him ; and next day, when the Assembly proceeded to voting, Melville having voted against what the King proponed, his Majesty would not believe that such was his vote, till he, being asked again, did repeat it.

This biography is from, The Scot's Worthies, by John Howie (1736-1793) 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Reformation Month: Biography of David Black (Part 2)

A decree of council was passed against him, upon which his brethren of the Commission directed their doctrines against the Council. The King sent a message to the commissioners, signifying that he would rest satisfied with Black's simple declaration of the truth; but Robert Bruce and the rest replied: That if the affair concerned Mr. Black alone, they should be content; but the liberty of Christ's kingdom had received such a wound by the proclamation of last Saturday, that if Mr. Black's life, and a dozen of others besides, had been taken, it had not grieved the hearts of the godly so much, and that either these things behooved to be retracted, or they would oppose so long as they had breath. But, after a long process, no mitigation of the Council's severity could be obtained; for Black was charged by a macer to enter his person in ward on the north of the Tay, there to remain at his own expense during his Majesty's pleasure; and though he was next year restored to his place at St. Andrews, yet he was not suffered to continue, for, about the month of July that same year, the King and Council again proceeded against him; and he was removed to Angus, where he continued until the day of his death. He had always been a severe check on the negligent and unfaithful part of the clergy, but now they had found means to get free of him.

After his removal to Angus, he continued the exercise of his ministry, preaching daily unto such as resorted to him, with much success, and an intimate communion with God, until a few days before his death. In his last sickness, the Christian temper of his mind was so much improved by large measures of the Spirit, that his conversation had a remarkable effect in humbling the hearts, and comforting the souls of those who attended him, engaging them to take the easy yoke of Christ upon themselves. He found in his own soul also such a sensible taste of eternal joy, that he was seized with a fervent desire to depart and to be with the Lord, longing to have the earthly house of this his tabernacle put off, that he might be admitted into the mansions of everlasting rest. In the midst of these earnest breathings after God, the Lord was wonderfully pleased to condescend to the importunity of His servant, to let him know that the time of his departure was near. Upon this, he took a solemn farewell of his family and flock, with a discourse, as Melville says, that seemed to be spoken out of heaven, concerning the misery and grief of this life, and the inconceivable glory which is above.

The night following, after supper, having read and prayed in his family with unusual continuance, strong crying, and heavy groans, he went a little while to bed: and the next day, having called his people to the celebration of the Lord's Supper, he went to church.

Having brought the communion service near a close, he felt the approach of death, and all discovered a sudden change in his countenance, so that some ran to support him. But pressing to be on his knees, with his hands and eyes lifted up to heaven, in the very act of devotion and adoration, as in a transport of joy, he was taken away, with scarcely any pain at all. Thus this holy man, who had so faithfully maintained the interest of Christ upon earth, breathed forth his soul in this extraordinary manner, so that it seemed rather like a translation than a real death. See more of him in Calderwood's History; De Foe's Memoirs; and "Hind Let Loose."

This biography is from: The Scot's Worthies, by John Howie (1736-1793)

Visitor Counter

Flag Counter