Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Reformation Month: Biography of Andrew Melville (Part 3)

There are other instances of the magnanimity of this faithful witness of Christ, which are worthy of notice. In the year 1606, he, and seven of his brethren, who stood most in the way of having Prelacy advanced in Scotland, were called up to England, under pretence of having a hearing granted them by the King, who had now succeeded to that throne, with respect to religion, but rather to be kept out of the way, as the event afterwards proved, until Episcopacy should be better established in Scotland. Soon after their arrival they were examined by the King and Council, at Hampton Court, on the 20th of September, concerning the lawfulness of the late Assembly at Aberdeen. The King, in particular, asked Andrew Melville, whether a few clergy, meeting without moderator or clerk, could make an Assembly? He replied, there was no number limited by law; that fewness of number could be no argument against the legality of the court; especially when the promise was in God's word given to two or three convened in the name of Christ; and that the meeting was ordinarily established by his Majesty's laws. The rest of the ministers delivered themselves to the same purpose; after which Andrew Melville, with his usual freedom of speech, supported the conduct of his brethren at Aberdeen, recounting the wrongs done them at Linlithgow, whereof he was a witness himself He blamed the King's Advocate, Sir Thomas Hamilton, who was then present, for favouring Popery, and maltreating the ministers, so that the Accuser of the brethren could not have done more against the saints of God than had been done; that prelatists were encouraged, though some of them were promoting the interests of Popery with all their might, and the faithful servants of Christ were shut up in prison: and, addressing: the Advocate personally, he added, "Still you think all this is not enough, but you continue to persecute the brethren with the same spirit you did in Scotland." After some conversation betwixt the King and the Archbishop of Canterbury, they were dismissed, with the applause of many present for their bold and steady defence of the cause of God and truth; for they had been much misrepresented to the English.

They had scarcely retired from before the King, until they received a charge not to return to Scotland, nor come near the King's, Queen's, or Prince's Court, without special license, and being called for. A few days after, they were again called to Court, and examined before a select number of the Scots nobility; where, after Mr. James Melville's examination, Mr. Andrew being called, told them plainly, "That they knew not what they were doing; they had degenerated from the ancient nobility of Scotland, who were wont to hazard their lives and lands for the freedom of their country, and the Gospel which they were betraying and overturning." But night drawing on, they were dismissed.

Another instance of his resolution is this: He was called before the Council for having made a Latin epigram upon seeing the King and Queen making an offering at the altar, whereon were two books, two basins, and two candlesticks, with two unlighted candles, it being a day kept in honour of St. Michael. The epigram is as follows:

"Cur stant clausi Anglis, libri duo, regia in ara,
Lumina coeca duo, pollubra sicca duo?
Num sensum cultumque Dei tenet Anglia clausum
Lumine coeca suo, sorde sepulta sua,
Romano et ritu, Regalem dum instruit Aram?
Purpuream pingit religiosa lupam!"

The following is an old and literal translation:
"Why stand there on the Royal Altar hie,
Two closed books, blind lights, two basins drie?
Doth England hold God's mind and worship closse,
Blind of her sight, and buried in her dross?
Doth she, with Chapel put in Romish dress,
The purple whore religiously express!"

When he compeared, he avowed the verses, and said, he was much moved with indignation at such vanity and superstition in a Christian church, under a Christian King, born and brought up under the pure light of the Gospel, and especially before idolaters, to confirm them in idolatry, and grieve the hearts of true professors. The Archbishop of Canterbury began to speak, but Andrew Melville charged him with a breach of the Lord's-day, with imprisoning, silencing, and bearing down of faithful ministers, and with upholding Antichristian hierarchy and Popish ceremonies; shaking the white sleeve of his rochet, he called them Romish rags, told him that he was an avowed enemy to all the Reformed Churches in Europe, and therefore he would profess himself an enemy to him in all such proceedings, to the effusion of the last drop of his blood; and said, he was grieved to the heart to see such a man have the King's ear, and sit so high in that honourable Council. He also charged Bishop Barlow with having stated, after the conference at Hampton Court, that the King had said he was in the Church of Scotland, but not of it; and wondered that he was suffered to go unpunished, for making the King of no religion. He refuted the sermons, which Barlow had preached before the King, and was at last removed; and order was given to Dr. Overwall, Dean of St Paul's, to receive him into his house, there to remain, with injunctions not to let any have access to him, till his Majesty's pleasure was signified. Next year he was ordered from the Dean's house to the Bishop of Winchester's, where, being not so strictly guarded, he sometimes kept company with his brethren; but was at last committed to the Tower of London, where he remained for the space of four years.

While Andrew Melville was in the Tower, a gentleman of his acquaintance got access to him, and found him very pensive and melancholy concerning the prevailing defections among many of the ministers of Scotland, having lately got account of the proceedings at the General Assembly held at Glasgow in 16 10, where the Earl of Dunbar had an active hand in corrupting many with money. The gentleman desired to know what word he had to send to his native country, but got no answer at first; but upon a second inquiry, he said, "I have no word to send, but am heavily grieved that the glorious government of the Church of Scotland should be so defaced, and a Popish tyrannical one set up; and thou, Manderston (for out of that family Lord Dunbar had sprung), hadst thou no other thing to do, but to carry such commissions down to Scotland, whereby the poor Church is wrecked ? The Lord shall be avenged on thee; thou shalt never have that grace to set thy foot in that kingdom again!" These last words impressed the gentleman to such a degree, that he desired some who attended the Court to get their business, which was managing through Dunbar's interest, expedited without delay, being persuaded that the word of that servant of Christ should not fall to the ground; which was the case, for the Earl died at Whitehall a short time after, while he was building an elegant house at Berwick, and making grand preparations for his daughter's marriage with Lord Walden.

In 1611, after four years' confinement, Andrew Melville was, by the interest of the Duke de Bouillon, released, on condition that he would go with him to the University of Sedan; where he continued enjoying that calm repose denied him in his own country, but maintaining the usual constancy and faithfulness in the service of Christ, which he had done through the whole of his life.

The reader will readily observe, that a high degree of fortitude and boldness appeared in all his actions; where the honour of his Lord and Master was concerned, the fear of man made no part of his character. He is by Spottiswoode styled the principal agent, or Apostle of the Presbyterians in Scotland. He did, indeed, assert the rights of Presbytery to the utmost of his power against diocesan Episcopacy. He possessed great presence of mind, and was superior to all the arts of flattery that were sometimes tried with him. Being once blamed as being too fiery in his temper, he replied, "If you see my fire go downward, set your foot upon it; but if it goes upward, let it go to its own place." He died at Sedan, in France, in the year 1622, at the advanced age of 77 years.
This biography is from, The Scot's Worthies, by John Howie (1736-1793)

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