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lished.”* This was probably intended to produce the most soothing effect; but that it was gratifying to her majesty may well be doubted. The right to which the assembly alluded was only founded in an act of parliament, and her own church had begun to flatter her with a very different sort of title, that of indefeasible hereditary right,t which all kings, usurpers not excepted, have for the most part been anxious to repose upon, though maxims of policy may sometimes forbid them to avow it.
After passing an overture respecting the trial and licensing of probationers, and another for the purging of scandals in the army, the assembly proceeded to appoint a day of fasting, “ on account of the many evidences of God's displeasure, and fearful symptoms of approaching judgments, the great and crying sins of the land, atheism, irreligion, popery, many errors, and dreadful delusions, with immoralities of all kinds.” And in an act, passed “for the due observation of the fast now appointed, and of fasts and thanksgivings which may be hereafter appointed,” the assembly “recommend it to all the ministers of this church, that with due prudence and zeal, they do, in their preaching, reprove and warn of, and in prayer, confess and acknowledge the epidemical crying sins, both of former and present times, highly aggravated by the violation of our solemn covenants and engagements, and many professed resolutions to the contrary;" from which it is evident, however much the conduct of the Scotish church had been supposed, by Messrs. Mackmillan, Hepburn, and others, to be at variance with these solemn covenants and engagements, she still admitted their indissoluble obligation. Error, however, seems to have been making rapid progress, though, as usual, disguised under the garb of original illustration and novelty of expression, as we find the assembly passing an act for preserving the purity of doctrine, which enjoins “the avoiding all expressions in matters
* Printed Acts of Assembly, 1710.
7" The fulsome flattery of prerogative, the avowed preference of her majesty's hereditary to her parliamentary right, and the suspected characters of many who took the most active part in support of these tenets, afforded plausible grounds for rousing a suspicion of designs being on foot to subvert the revolution settlement and the protestant succession." Sommerville's History, &c. pp. 410, 411.
of faith contrary to the form of sound words,” and “ discharges all persons to vent any opinions contrary to any head or article of the confession and catechisms, or use any expressions in regard to the articles of faith not agreeable to the form of sound words expressed in the Word of God, and the Confession of Faith, and catechisms of this church, which are most valuable pieces of her reformation.” “ And the General Assembly does hereby farther enact, that no minister or member of this church, presume to print, or disperse in write, any catechism, without the allowance of the presbytery of the bounds and of the commission.” The ridiculous blasphemies of Antonietta Bourignon, appear also to have been still gaining ground, as another act was passed for their suppression, with a recommendation to the professors of divinity, “ to make a collection of them, and to write a full confutation of the same.”
The society for propagating christian knowledge, having been established by letter patent from the queen, in the month of August the preceding year, gave in a representation to this assembly, which thereupon passed an act, recommending to all presbyteries and synods, as well as all other charitable persons, to come forward with their collections in aid of its funds. They also appropriated one half the bursaries of all the presbyteries in Scotland for four years to the aid of hopeful and pious students having the Irish language, that so the society might be abundantly supplied with instruments for carrying into effect their benevolent and pious intentions. The commission of this assembly was empowered to send commissioners to London, “to obtain redress with relation to popery, irregularities, and other things that are grievous to this church;” and the two acts respecting the national fast were “transmitted to the secretaries of state, to be laid before the queen, in order to obtain the royal sanction thereto.”* The assembly, after appointing the next assembly to meet at Edinburgh on the tenth day of May, 1711, was dissolved with the usual forms.
Hitherto the affairs of the church had gone on pretty smoothly, no attempts having been made since the union to
* Printed Acts of Assembly, and Index to unprinted Acts of Assembly, 1710.
injure her in regard to any of her essential privileges. The clouds, however, were now thickening in her horizon, and, without some unforeseen interposition, a storm was evidently approaching. She had, indeed, been under the necessity of proceeding with extreme caution, seldom venturing to make any very direct or pointed assertion of her privileges, lest haply she might awaken that spirit of opposition, which, though by circumstances kept under for the present, she well knew was not yet extinguished ; and without this species of temporizing, which her friends at court, real and pretended, as well as her own leaders, glossed over with the names of liberality, moderation, and prudence, it does not appear that the politicians of that day, any more than those of this, thought it possible she could have been quietly tolerated so long. Even the very small approximation which this last assembly made towards claiming the indisputable rights of a national church, appears to have been highly offensive, for we find Sunderland, immediately after the rising of the assembly, writing to Mr. Carstares, thus expresses himself: “ I hope the assembly will be very sensible of. ber majesty's goodness in condescending to interpose the civil sanction to their act [for the due observance of fast days], for which it must be owned there was no occasion, the government not having been wanting hitherto in any thing necessary for promoting either the civil or religious concerns of the people; so that if we could see into the views of some, who perhaps have been most active and zealous for this step, we should probably find them different from what they appear to be, and to fall but too much in with the like humour here which has already raised so great a ferment, and which, if not diverted, must necessarily end in the disturbance of the quiet, both of church and state. And I dare not promise you, if the assembly should offer again at the like step, that they will meet with the same easiness and compliance in the government. And, therefore, I hope, it will be the care and study of the cautions and prudent of the ministers to keep them, as much as possible from unnecessarily asserting of their authority and privileges; which is what their enemies desire above all things they should, and which cannot fail to bring that upon them they seem so much to apprehend from the Union.” No
language can be planer than this, nor is it possible to paint in stronger colours the dependant condition of the church of Scotland. Three short years had yet scarcely elapsed since her constitution had been fixed, and her liberties guaranteed in a solemn treaty, which was declared to be inviolable; and yet, but a second time to claim that which was confessedly her due and just rigbt, “ cannot fail to bring upon her all the evils she apprehends," that is to say, the subversion of her unalterable constitution.*
Sunderland, when he wrote the above, was on the eve of losing his place, and knowing what was all along designed with regard to the Scotish church, and that those who were to succeed him would be less disposed to stand between her and the evil intentions of her enemies, had he been a better man, might be supposed to have intended it as a friendly warning to stand prepared for what was most certainly approaching; but the probability is, that Sunderland still hoped to preserve his place, and that he was only sounding Çarstares, preparatory to his adopting those measures, which he could not fail to perceive would be necessary if he intended to keep in her majesty's good graces. This view of the matter is greatly strengthened, if not confirmed, by letters to the same Mr. Carstares from other individuals, who were either already basking in the full sunshine of court favour, or in expectation of doing so immediately. The first is from lord Ilay, an apology for himself and his brother, the duke of Argyle, both of whom had recently gone over to the tories. “I have heard,” he says, “lately from Scotland that there are some very busy in insinuating that my brother and I are taking measures against the interest of our church and revolution establishment. I was always of opinion that. it was very obviously our interest not to mingle ourselves with the factions here, I mean as Scotchmen; for, it being very plain that no party here has our country much at heart, the exasperating any side here might, at some conjuncture or other, draw both upon us, and crush us at once. The queen has been pleased to remove the earl of Sunderland, as
• Letter to Mr. Carstares, dated May 22d, 1710.
'tis said, for behaving himself disrespectfully towards her, and some are so bold as to censure even her majesty's making that step ; I, for my part, think it my duty to approve of it, as I shall of any other alteration she may happen to make; and think our interest, both of church and state, as secure under those she may employ as it has been hitherto.”* This was certainly a pretty strong expression of confidence, though it could have no effect in soothing the suspicions of any but such as had attained to the same implicit belief in the immaculacy of her majesty's intentions, of which there were, we suspect, at that time, very few among Scotish presbyterians. The next is from the earl of Marr, who was just now come into great favour at court, and had obtained å commission for his brother, lord Grange, to be justice clerk. “ Some people are at pains to give out here, that the change the queen has thought fit to make will give your brethren some discontent; but I hope they will be wiser than to show any dislike to what the queen, to whom they have been so much obliged, thinks fit to do for her service either here or there. They owe the queen more, personally, than any minister ever she had, and it would be an odd requittal for all her favours, tó suspect her inclinations to them now. 'Tis in nobody's power to hurt them but their own. There is nothing but the continuance of that favour the queen has always shown them designed to them; and if they be not made tools 'of by some people, for their own bye-ends, they will be as safe as ever. As I have told you often, I wish them well, and the continuance of their church-government; and this makes me the more concerned for them upon this juncture. I know, as they may, your prudence, from a long tract of experience; and I wish they may take your 'advice, in behaving themselves with that duty and submission to so good a queen, who, I may say, has established them even beyond what their best friends could have expected. They need not be afraid that her majesty will ever go into high or violent measures.”+
* Letter to Mr. Carstares, July 5th, 1710. + Letter to Mr. Carstares, July 22d, 1710.