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ministers, one lay commissioner;* and, as all the boroughs and universities' sent likewise commissioners, the lay members in that ecclesiastical court nearly equalled the ecclesiastics, Not only this institution, which James, apprehensive of zeal in the laity, had abolished, was now revived by the Covenanters, they also introduced an innovation, which served still further to reduce the clergy to subjection. By an edict of the tables, whose authority was supreme, an elder from each parish was ordered to attend the presbytery, and to give his vote in the choice both of the commissioners and ministers who should be deputed to the assembly. As it is not usual for the ministers, who are put in the list of candidates, to claim a vote, all the elections by that means fell into the hands of the laity: the most furious of all ranks were chosen : and the more to overawe the clergy, a new device was fallen upon, of choosing to every commissioner four or five lay assessors, who, though they could have no vote, might yet interpose with their advice and authority in the assembly.t
The assembly met at Glasgow; and, besides a great concourse of the people, all the nobility and gentry of any family or interest were present, either as members, assessors, or spectators; and it was apparent that the resolutions taken by the Covenanters could here meet with no manner of opposition. A firm determination had been entered into of utterly abolishing episcopacy; and as a preparative to it, there was laid before the presbytery of Edinburgh, and solemnly read in all the churches of the kingdom, an accusation against the bishops, as guilty, all of them, of heresy, simony, bribery, perjury, cheating, incest, adultery, fornication, common swearing, drunkenness, gaming, breach of the Sabbath, and every other crime that had occurred to the accusers. The bishops sent a protest, declining the authority of the assembly : the commissioner, too, protested against the court, as illegally constituted and elected; and, in his majesty's name, dissolved it. This measure was foreseen, and little regarded. The court still continued to sit, and to finish their business.Ş All the acts of assembly, since the accession of James to the crown of
* A presbytery in Scotland is an inferior ecclesiastical court, the Bame that was afterwards called a classis in England, and is composed of the clergy of the neighboring parishes, to the number commonly of between twelve and twenty. + King's Decl. p. 190, 191, 290. Guthry, p. 39, etc.
King's Decl. p. 218. Rush. vol. ii, p. 787. § May, p. 44.
England, were, upon pretty reasonable grounds, declared null and invalid. The acts of parliament which affected ecclesiastical affairs were supposed, on that very account, to have no manner of authority. And thus episcopacy, the high com. mission, the articles of Perth, the canons, and the liturgy, were abolished and declared unlawful; and the whole fabric which James and Charles, in a long course of years, had been rearing with so much care and policy, fell at once to the ground. [1639.] The covenant, likewise, was ordered to be signed by every one, under pain of excommunication.*
The independency of the ecclesiastical upon the civil power, was the old Presbyterian principle, which had been zealously adopted at the reformation, and which, though James and Charles had obliged the church publicly to disclaim it, had secretly been adhered to by all ranks of people. It was commonly asked whether Christ or the king were superior; and as the answer seemed obvious, it was inferred, that the assembly, being Christ's council, was superior in all spiritual matters to the parliament, which was only the king's. But as the Covenanters were sensible that this consequence, though it seemed to them irrefragable, would not be assented to by the king, it became necessary to maintain their religious tenets by military force, and not to trust entirely to supernatural assistance, of which, however, they held themselves well assured. They cast their eyes on all sides, abroad and at home, whence .ever they could expect any aid or support.
After France and Holland had entered into a league against Spain, and framed a treaty of partition, by which they were to conquer and to divide between them the Low Country prov. inces, England was invited to preserve a neutrality between the contending parties, while the French and Dutch should attack the maritime towns of Flanders. But the king replied to D’Estrades, the French ambassador, who opened the proposal, that he had a squadron ready, and would cross the seas, if necessary, with an army of fifteen thousand men, in order to prevent tnese projected conquests. This answer, which proves that Charles, though he expressed his mind with an imprudent candor, had at last acquired a just idea of national interest, irritated Cardinal Richelieu ; and, in revenge, that politic and enterprising minister carefully fomented the first commotions in Scotland, and secretly supplied the Covenanters with money
* King's Decl. p. 317.
+ Mem. D’Estrades, vol. i.
and arms, in order to encourage them in their opposition against their sovereign.
But the chief resource of the Scottish malecontents was in themselves, and in their own vigor and abilities. No regular established commonwealth could take juster measures, or execute them with greater promptitude, than did this tumultuous combination, inflamed with bigotry for religious trifles, and faction without a reasonable object. The whole kingdom was in a inanner engaged, and the men of greatest abilities soon acquired the ascendant, which their family interest enabled them to maintain. The earl of Argyle, though he long seemed to temporize, had at last embraced the covenant; and he became the chief leader of that party; a man equally supple and inflexible, cautious and determined, and entirely qualified to make a figure during a factious and turbulent period. The earls of Rothes, Cassils, Montrose, Lothian, the lords Lindesey, Loudon, Yester, Balmerino, distinguished themselves in that party. Many Scotch officers had acquired reputation in the German wars, particularly under Gustavus; and these were invited over to assist their country in her present necessity. The command was intrusted to Lesley, a soldier of experience and abilities. Forces were regularly enlisted and disciplined. Arms were commissioned and imported from foreign countries. A few castles which belonged to the king, being unprovided with victuals, ammunition, and garrisons, were soon seized. And the whole country, except a small part, where the marquis of Huntley still adhered to the king, being in the hands of the Covenanters, was in a very little time put in a tolerable posture of defence.*
The fortifications of Leith were begun and carried on with great rapidity. Besides the inferior sort, and those who labored for pay, incredible numbers of volunteers, even noblemen and gentlemen, put their hand to the work, and deemed che most abject employment to be dignified by the sanctity of The cause. Women, too, of rank and condition, forgetting the delicacy of their sex and the decorum of their character, were intermingled with the lowest rabble, and carried on their shoulders the rubbish requisite for completing the fortifications.t
We must not omit another auxiliary of the Covenanters and no inconsiderable one; a prophetess, who was much
* May, p. 49.
t Guthry's Memoirs, p. 46.
followed and admired by all ranks of people. Her name was Michelson, a woman full of whimseys partly hysterical, partly religious ; and inflamed with a zealous concern for the ecclesiastical discipline of the Presbyterians. She spoke at certain times only, and had often interruptions of days and weeks :- but when she began to renew her ecstasies, warning of the happy event was conveyed over the whole country ; thousands crowd. ed about her house; and every word which she uttered was received with veneration, as the most sacred oracles. The cov. enant was her perpetual theme. The true, genuine covenant, she said, was ratified in heaven: the king's covenant was an invention of Satan: when she spoke of Christ, she usually gave him the name of the Covenanting Jesus. Rollo, a popular preacher, and zealous Covenanter, was her great favorite, and vaid her, on his part, no less veneration. Being desired by the spectators to pray with her, and speak to her, he answered, " that he durst not; and that it would be ill manners in him to speak while his master, Christ, was speaking in her.”*
Charles had agreed to reduce episcopal authority so much, that it would no longer hàve been of any service to support the crown ; and this sacrifice of his own interests he was willing to make, in order to attain public peace and tranquillity, But he could not consent entirely to abolish an order which he thought as essential to the being of a Christian church, as his Scottish subjects deemed it incompatible with that sacred institution. This narrowness of mind, if we would be impartial, we must either blame or excuse equally on both sides ; and thereby anticipate, by a little reflection, that judgment which time, by introducing new subjects of controversy, will undoubtedly render quite familiar to posterity.
So great was Charles's aversion to violent and sanguinary measures, and so strong his affection to his native kingdom, that it is probable the contest in his breast would be nearly equal between these laudable passions and his attachment to the hierarchy. The latter affection, however, prevailed for the time, and made him hasten those military preparations which he had projected for subduing the refractory spirit of the Scottish nation. By regular economy, he had not only paid all the debts contracted during the Spanish and French wars, but had amassed a sum of two hundred thousand
* King's Declaration at large, p. 227. Burnet's Memoirs of Ham
pounds, which he reserved for any sudden exigency. The queen had great interest with the Catholics, both from the sympathy of religion, and from the favors and indulgences which she had been able to procure to them. She now employed her credit, and persuaded them that it was reasonable to give large contributions, as a mark of their duty to the king, during this urgent necessity.* A considerable supply was obtained by this means; to the great scandal of the Puritanș, who were offended at seeing the king on such good terms with the Papists, and repined that others should give what they themselves were disposed to refuse him.
Charles's fleet was formidable and well supplied. Having put five thousand land forces on board, he intrusted it to the marquis of Hamilton, who had orders to sail to the Frith of Forth, and to cause a diversion in the forces of the malecontents. An army was levied of near twenty thousand foot, and above three thousand horse ; and was put under the command of the earl of Arundel, a nobleman of great family, but cele: brated neither for military nor political abilities. The earl of Essex, a man of strict honor, and extremely popular, especially among the soldiery, was appointed lieutenantgeneral: the earl of Holland was general of the horse. The king himself joined the army, and he summoned all the peers of England to attend him. The whole had the appearance of a splendid court, rather than of a military armament; and in this situation, carrying more show than real force with it, the camp arrived at Berwick.t
The Scottish army was as numerous as that of the king. but inferior in cavalry. The officers had more reputation and experience; and the soldiers, though undisciplined and il! armed, were animated, as well by the national aversion to England, and the dread of becoming a province to their old enemy, as by an unsurmountable fervor of religion. The pulpits had extremely assisted the officers in levying recruits, and had thundered out anathemas against all those who went not out to assist the Lord against the mighty.” Yet so prudent were the leaders of the malecontents, that they im mediately sent submissive messages to the king, and craved o be admitted to a treaty. Charles knew that the force of the Covenanters was con
* Rush. vol. ii. p. 1329. Franklyn, p. 767.