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“of righteousness commanded by the law of God ?” This was an obligation incumbent on all Christians. Not to violate the laws, which had been made in opposition to the covenant ? Such an engagement was unlawful and anti-christian. That the latter was the real meaning could not be doubted : if many submitted, a greater number refused to subscribe the bonds; and Tweedale, after a short trial, abandoned a measure, which seemed more likely to produce disturbance than tranquillity *
About this time happened an event which revived the angry passions of the two parties. Among the men,
who had fought for the covenant at Rullion Green, was 1668.“ a youth of much zeal and piety," named James July Mitchell. After the defeat he brooded over the sufferings 11.
of his brethren, till he had wound up his mind to the highest pitch of enthusiasm, and believed that he felt a call from Heaven to avenge the blood of the martyrs on the apostate and persecuting prelate, archbishop Sharp. It was a little after mid-day: the archbishop's carriage drove to the door, and Mitchell took his station with a loaded pistol in his hand. Sharp came from the house, followed by Honeyman, bishop of Orkney. The first had already seated himself, when the assassin discharged his pistol ; but at the very moment Honeyman raised his arm to enter the carriage, and received the ball in his wrist. To the cry that a man was killed, a voice replied, “ It is only a bishop.” Mitchell crossed the street, walked quietly away, changed his coat, and mixed again with the crowd. The council offered a tempting reward for the apprehension of the assassin, but six years elapsed before he was discovered •-.
. Wodrow, 277, 8. Kirkton, 266. 272. Burnet, i. 414. 420. Lamont, 252.
† Wodrow, 292. Kirkton, 278. Burnet, i. 481. It was urged in defence of Mitchell, that he acted like Phineas, by divine impulse. Anuand, dean of Edinburgh, replied that could not be, otherwise he would have suc. ceeded in the atiempt. To evade this argument, it was remarked, that “ Israel failed against the city of Ai, because there was an Achan in the
camp, and, alas! there are many Achans in the camp of our Israel." Kirkton, 366, note.
INDULGENCE TO EJECTED MINISTERS.
This daring outrage did not, however, provoke Tweedale to recede from his purpose. He still hoped to win by conciliation, where he despaired of prevailing by severity. He made to the ejected ministers an offer,
June called “ the indulgence,” that they might enter on their
7. former churches, if these were vacant, or on any other at the nomination of the patron, enjoy the manse and glebe without stipulation, and in addition receive the annual stipend, provided they would accept collation from the bishop, and attend the presbyteries and synods. The moderation of the proposal alarmed the more zealous, or more fanatic of the covenanters ; they pronounced it a snare for the consciences of the unwary: besides the consent of the patron, a call from the parish was necessary for the lawful exercise of the ministry; and, moreover, to accept any ecclesiastical office at the invitation of the civil power, was a backsliding towards Erastianism. In defiance of this reasoning, three-and-forty ministers accepted the offer of the government, but they soon discovered that, at the same time, they had forfeited the confidence of the people. They no longer preached with the fervid eloquence of men suffering persecution. Their exhortations to the practice of virtue and godliness appeared dull and lifeless, in comparison with the fierce invectives which they formerly poured forth against apostates and oppressors. It was inferred that the Spirit of God had abandoned them ; that they had be
“dumb dogs that could not bark;” and their churches were deserted for the ministry of those whose fanatical language harmonised better with the excited feelings of their hearers *.
Tweedale hitherto had acted by the advice, and been supported by the influence of Lauderdale. At length that nobleman came himself to Scotland, and held a parliament with the title of royal commissioner. 1o. Its first act was to enable the king to appoint commissioners, authorised to treat with certain commissioners from
* Wodrow, 304. Kirkton, 288. Burnet, i. 488.
England, respecting a union of the two kingdoms; a wise and beneficial measure, which Charles had much at heart, but which he was never able to accomplish. In England, it was opposed through distrust of the royal motives; in Scotland, through fear that it would be accompanied with the loss of national independence. 2o. It had been discovered, that the indulgence so lately granted was a violation of the laws for the establishment of episcopacy; and to secure it from disturbance, and its authors from prosecution, the act of allegiance was converted into an act of unqualified supremacy, declaring the external government of the church an inherent right of the crown, and giving the force of law to all acts, orders, and constitutions respecting that government, or ecclesiastical meetings, or the matters to be proposed and determined in such meetings, provided those acts, orders, and constitutions, were recorded and published by the lords of the privy council. 3o. When the regular army was disbanded, it had been deemed prudent to raise the militia of horse and foot, voted in the parliament of 1663; and the men had been embodied and armed in all but the western counties, where it would have been madness to put weapons into the hands of enthusiasts, ready, at the first call of their leaders, to break into rebellion. It was now not only declared that the right to levy and command the army resided in the crown, but moreover enacted, that the forces so levied should march into any part of the king's dominions in pursuance of orders transmitted to them from the privy council. These two acts excited surprise both in Scotland and England. By the first every vestige of the independence of the church was swept away ; by the second, the king was placed at the head of a standing army of twenty thousand men, bound to execute his orders, and to march into any part of his dominions. It might, indeed, be doubted whether these words could be so construed as to extend to England, where the Scottish parliament could claim no authority; but the leaders of the CHAP. 1.] ACT AGAINST FIELD CONVENTICLES. 77 opposition in England chose to interpret them in that sense, and to make them on that account one ground of their address for the removal of Lauderdale from the councils and the presence of the sovereign *.
Though the recent act of supremacy shocked the religious feelings of every true son of the kirk, the government persisted in its former plan of conciliation. Burnet, who had opposed the indulgence, because it gave jurisdiction without collation from the bishop, was compelled by threats to resign the archiepiscopal see of Glasgow ; Leighton, a prelate of more moderate principles, succeeded in his place; and several ministers were again admitted by “indulgence” into vacant churches. Still the obstinacy of the majority refused every proposal ; the conventicles grew more numerous; and the regular curates were exposed to so many insults and injuries from the zeal of their opponents, that those who obeyed were said to suffer no less than those who transgressed, the law. The council determined to combine severity with indulgence; and, while they observed the terms which had been granted to the more moderate, condemned to imprisonment the ministers who had preached at illegal assemblies, and exacted fines from the persons who had afforded the opportunity of committing the offence. But field conventicles became a special object of alarm. From the stubborn and enthusiastic character of the men who frequented them, they were considered as nurseries of sedition and treason; and, in the next session of parliament, Lauderdale asked for some legal provision to abate so dangerous a practice. It was
1670. enacted that every unauthorised meeting for religious July worship, even in a private house, should be deemed a 28. field conventicle, if any of the hearers stood in the open air; and that every minister, who preached or prayed on any such occasion, during the three following years,
• Wodrow, 309; App. No. 35. Kirkton, 301.3. Lamont, 267. Burdet, i. 492. 4, 5.
should incur the forfeiture of his property, and the punishment of death. The covenanters exclaimed loudly against the cruelty of the enactment; though such complaint came with less grace from men, who had formerly demanded and enforced laws of still greater inhumanity against the professors of the catholic faith. The sequel, however, showed that the measure was not only inhuman, it was also impolitic. It did not put down the field conventicles, but it changed them into conventicles of
armed men *. Aug. Before the terror, excited by this act, had subsided, 9. the commissioner, with the aid of Leighton, the successor of Burnet, made an attempt to restore tranquillity
“ a comprehension” of the dissenting ministers. The sole condition required was, that they should attend presbyteries as they were established before the year 1638; and to make this the less objectionable, it was offered that the bishops should waive their claim of a negative voice, and that all who pleased should be at liberty to protest against it. But many saw, or thought that they saw, even in this proposal, a conspiracy to undermine the rights of the kirk. In a few years a new race of ministers would succeed, less aware of the arts of their enemies, and less habituated to contest the authority of the bishops ; those prelates would gradually 'resume their claims, and the presidents would ultimately become the masters of their respective presbyteries. It was therefore replied, that such assemblies could bear no resemblance to those which existed before the year 1638. They had no power of the keys, no ordination, no jurisdiction. The bishop would be bishop still, though he should abstain from the exercise of his negative voice. To assent to such terms would be an apostacy from the principles of the kirks—"an homologation of episco
• Kirkton, 301. 5. Wodrow, 329 ; App. p. 130. Burnet, i. 590. Salmon, Examin. 586.
+ Wodrow, 335, App. p. 132, 3. Kirkton, 296. Burnet, i. 476. 503. 513