By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: John Knox
Author: Innes, A. Taylor
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "John Knox" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.




Famous Scots: Series

Published by
Oliphant Anderson
Ferrier Edinbvrgh
and London

The designs and ornaments of this
volume are by Mr Joseph Brown,
and the printing from the press of
Messrs Turabull & Spears, Edinburgh.

   _May_ 1896.




THE CRISIS: SINGLE OR TWO-FOLD?                   25





CLOSING YEARS AND DEATH                          144



The century now closing has redeemed Knox from neglect, and has gathered
around his name a mass of biographical material. That material, too,
includes much that is of the nature of self-revelation, to be gleaned
from familiar letters, as well as from his own history of his time. Yet,
after all that has been brought together, Knox remains to many observers
a mere hard outline, while to others he is almost an enigma--a blur,
bright or black, upon the historic page.

There is one real and great difficulty. For the first forty years of his
life we know absolutely nothing of the inner man. Yet at forty most men
are already made. And in the case of this man, from about that date
onwards we find the character settled and fixed. Henceforward, during
the whole later life with its continually changing drama, Knox remains
intensely and unchangeably the same. It is the contrast, perhaps the
crisis, which is worth studying. The contrast, indeed, is not
unprecedented. More than one Knox-like prophet, in the solemn days of
early faith, 'was in the desert until the time of his shewing unto
Israel'; and not the polished shaft only, but the rough spear-head too,
has remained hid in the shadow of a mighty hand until the very day when
it was launched. But each such case impels us the more to inquire, What
was it after all which really made the man who in his turn made the age?

       *       *       *       *       *

Knox was born in or near Haddington in 1505. Of his father, William
Knox, and his mother, whose maiden name was Sinclair, nothing is known,
except that the parents of both belonged to that district of country,
and had fought under the standard of the House of Bothwell. We shall
never know which of the two contributed the insight or the audacity, the
tenacity or the tenderness, the common-sense or the humour, which must
all have been part of Knox's natural character before it was moulded
from without. His father was of the 'simple,' not of the gentle, sort;
possibly a peasant, or frugal cultivator of the soil. But he saved
enough to send one of his two sons, John, now in the eighteenth year of
his age, and having, no doubt, received his earlier education in the
excellent grammar school of Haddington, to the University of Glasgow.
Haddington was in the diocese of St Andrews, but a native of Haddington,
John Major, was at this time Regent in Glasgow. He had brought from
Paris, four years before, a vast academical reputation, and Knox now
'sat as at his feet' during his last year of teaching in Glasgow. In
1523, however, Major was transferred to St Andrews, and there he taught
theology for more than a quarter of a century, during the latter half of
which time he was Provost or Head of St Salvator's College. Whether Knox
at any time followed him there does not appear. Beza, Knox's earliest
biographer, thought he did. But Beza's information as to this portion of
the life, though apparently derived from Knox's colleague and
successor,[1] is so extremely confused as to suggest that the Reformer
was equally reticent about it to those nearest him as he has chosen to
be to posterity. For nearly twenty years of manhood, indeed, Knox
disappears from our view. And when, in 1540, he emerges again in his
native district, it is as a notary and a priest. 'Sir John Knox' he was
called by others, that being the style by which secular priests were
known, unless they had taken not only the bachelor's but also the
master's degree at the University.[2] Knox in after years never alluded
to his priesthood, though his adversaries did; but so late as 27th March
1543 he describes himself in a notarial deed in his own handwriting as
'John Knox, minister of the sacred altar, of the Diocese of St Andrews,
notary by Apostolical authority.' Apostolical means Papal, the notarial
authority being transmitted through the St Andrews Archbishop; and Knox
at this time does not shrink from dating his notarial act as in such a
year 'of the pontificate of our most holy Father and Lord in Christ, the
Lord Paul, Pope by the Providence of God.' Only three years later, in
1546, he was carrying a two-handed sword before Wishart, then in danger
of arrest and condemnation to the stake at the hands of the same
Archbishop Beaton under whom Knox held his orders. And in the following
year, 1547, Knox is standing in the Church of St Andrews, and denouncing
the Pope (not as an individual, though the Pope of that day was a
Borgia, but) as the official head of an Anti-Christian system.

This early blank in the biography raises questions, some of which will
never be answered. We do not know at all when Knox took priest's orders.
It was almost certainly not before 1530, for it was only in that year
that he became eligible as being twenty-five years old. It may possibly
have been as late as 1540, when his name is first found in a deed. In
that and the two following years he seems to have resided at Samuelston
near Haddington, and may have officiated in the little chapel there. But
he was also at this time acting as 'Maister' or tutor to the sons of
several gentlemen of East Lothian, and he continued this down to 1547,
the time of his own 'call' to preach the Evangel. Nor do we know whether
the change in his views, which in 1547 was so complete, had been sudden
on the one hand or gradual and long prepared on the other. Knox's own
silence on this is very remarkable. A man of his fearless egoism and
honesty might have been expected to leave, if not an autobiography like
those of Augustine and Bunyan, at least a narrative of change like the
_Force of Truth_ of Thomas Scott, or the _Apologia_ of John Henry
Newman. He has not done so; indeed, the author who preserved for us so
much of that age, and of his own later history in it, seems for some
reason to have judged his whole earlier period unworthy of record--or
even of recal. For we find no evidence of his having been more
confidential on this subject with any of his contemporaries than he has
been with us. This certainly suggests that the change may have been very
recent--determined, perhaps, wholly through the personal influence of
Wishart, whom Knox so affectionately commemorates. Or, if it was not
recent, it is extremely unlikely that it can have been detailed, vivid,
and striking, as well as prolonged. Knox was not the man to suppress a
narrative, however painful to himself, which he could have held to be in
a marked degree to the glory of God or for the good of men. But whatever
the reason was, the time past of his life sufficed this man for silence
and self-accusation. We may be sure that it would have done so (and
perhaps done so equally), no matter whether those twenty years had been
spent in the complacent routine of a rustic in holy orders; in the
dogmatism, defensive or aggressive, of scholastic youth; in fruitless
efforts to understand the new views of which he was one day to be the
chief representative; or in half-hearted hesitation whether, after
having so far understood them, he could part with all things for their
sake. Which of these positions he held, or how far he may have passed
from one to another, we may never be able to ascertain. But there is one
too clear indication that Knox disliked, not only to record, but even to
recal, his life in the Catholic communion. His greatest defect in after
years, as a man and a writer, is his inability to sympathise with those
still found entangled in that old life. He absolutely refuses to put
himself in their place, or to imagine how a position which was for so
many years his own could be honestly chosen, or even honestly retained
for a day, by another. This would have been a misfortune, and a moral
defect, even in a man not naturally of a sympathetic temper. But Knox,
as we shall see, was a man of quick and tender nature, and had rather a
passion for sympathising with those who were not on the other side of
the gulf he thus fixed. And this one-sided incapacity for sympathy must
certainly be connected with his one-sided reticence as to the earlier
half of his own autobiography.

Incapacity to sympathise with persons entangled in a system is one
thing, and disapproval of that system, or even violent rejection of it,
is another. Knox, as is well known, broke absolutely with the church
system in which he was brought up. What was that system, and what was
Knox's individual outlook upon the Church--first, of Western Europe, and
secondly of Scotland?

We know at least that Knox, before breaking with the church system of
mediæval Europe, was for twenty years in close contact with it. And his
was no mere external contact such as Haddington, with its magnificent
churches and monasteries, supplied. It commenced with study, and with
study under the chief theological teacher of the land and the time.
Major was the last of the scholastics in our country. But the energy of
thought of scholasticism, marvellous as it often was, was built upon the
lines and contained within the limits of an already existing church
system. And that system was an authoritative one in every sense. The
hierarchy which governed the Church, and all but constituted it, was
sacerdotal; that is, it interposed its own mediation at the point where
the individual meets and deals with God. But it interposed
correspondingly at every other point of the belief and practice of the
private man, enforcing its doctrine upon the conscience, and its
direction upon the will, of every member of the church. Nor was the
system authoritative only over those who received or accepted it.
Originally, indeed, and even in the age when the faith was digested into
a creed by the first Council, the emperor, himself an ardent member of
the Church, left it free to all his subjects throughout the world to be
its members or not as they chose. But that great experiment of
toleration lasted less than a century. For much more than a thousand
years the same faith, slowly transformed into a church system under the
central administration of the Popes, had been made binding by imperial
and municipal law upon every human being in Europe.

Major, not only by his own earlier writings, but as the representative
in Scotland of the University of Paris, recalled to his countrymen the
great struggle of the Middle Age in favour of freedom--and especially of
church freedom against the Popes. That struggle indeed had Germany
rather than France for its original centre, and it was under the flag of
the Empire that the progressive despotism of Hildebrand and his
successors over the feudal world was chiefly resisted. The Empire,
however, was now a decaying force. Europe was being split into
nationalities; and national churches--a novelty in Christendom--were,
under various pretexts, coming into existence. For the last two
centuries France had thus been the chief national opponent of the
centralising influence of Rome, and the University of Paris was, during
that time, the greatest theological school in the world. As such it had
maintained the doctrine that the church universal could have no absolute
monarch, but was bound to maintain its own self-government, and that its
proper organ for this was a general council. And in the early part of
the fifteenth century, when the schism caused by rival Popes had thrown
back the Church upon its native powers, the University of Paris was the
great influence which led the Councils of Constance and of Basle, not
only to assert this doctrine, but to carry it into effect.

But Major, when Knox met him, represented in this matter a cause already
lost. Even in the previous century the decrees of the reforming Councils
were at once frustrated by the successors of the Popes whom they
deposed, and in this sixteenth century a Lateran Council had already
anticipated the Vatican of the nineteenth by declaring the Pope to be
supreme over Council and Church alike. Even the anti-Papal Councils
themselves, too, were exclusively hierarchical, and accordingly they
opposed any independent right on the part of the laity, as well as all
serious enquiries into the earlier practice and faith of the Church. So
at Constance the Chancellor of Paris, _Doctor Christianissimus_ as well
as statesman and mystic, compensated for his successful pressure upon
Rome by helping to send to the stake, notwithstanding the Emperor's
safe-conduct, the pure-hearted Huss. The result was that, even before
the time of Major, the expectation, so long cherished by Europe, of a
great reform through a great Council had died out. And the University of
Paris, instead of continuing to act in place of that coming Council as
'a sort of standing committee of the French, or even of the universal,
Church,'[3] had become a reactionary and retarding power. It opposed
Humanism, and was the stronghold of the method of teaching which the new
generation knew as 'Sophistry.' It opposed Reuchlin, and was preparing
to oppose Luther, and to urge against its own most distinguished pupils
the law of penal fire. It continued to oppose the despotism of the Pope,
but it did so rather from the standpoint of a narrow and nationalist
Gallicanism, based largely upon the counter-despotism of the King. This
selfish policy attained in Major's own time its fitting result and
reward. The despotic King and despotic Pope found it convenient for
their interests to partition between them the 'liberties' of the
Gallican Church; and by the Concordat of Bologna in 1516, Leo gained a
huge revenue from the ecclesiastical endowments of France, while Francis
usurped the right of nominating all its bishops. The University, as well
as the Parliaments, resisted, and Major, who now lectured in the
Sorbonne as Doctor in Theology, and had become famous as a
representative of the anti-Papal school of Occam, took his share in the
work. He was preparing for publication a Commentary on the Gospel of
Matthew, and he now added to it four Disputations against the arbitrary
powers of Popes and Bishops, and especially against the authority of
Popes in temporal matters over Kings, and in spiritual matters over
Councils. It was all in vain. In 1517 the University was forced by the
Crown to submit, after a protest of the broadest kind;[4] and in 1518
Major returned to his native country a famous teacher, but a defeated
churchman. Yet the grave fact for Scotland was that Major and his old
University, and the Western hierarchy everywhere, henceforward
practically acquiesced in their own defeat. A greater question had
arisen, and one which they were unwilling to face. On the other side of
the Rhine, Luther and his friends now claimed for the individual
Christian the same kind of freedom against Councils and Bishops which
the previous century had claimed for Councils and Bishops against Popes.
Paris took the lead in opposition to the new Evangel by its Academic
decrees of 1521. And when Major, in 1530, republished his Commentary, he
not only omitted from it his Disputations against Papal absolutism, but
dedicated it to Archbishop James Beaton as the 'supplanter' and
'exterminator' of Lutheranism, and, above all, as the judge who, amid
the murmurings of many, had recently[5] and righteously condemned the
nobly-born Patrick Hamilton.

It may be well thus to represent to ourselves what must have been the
outlook into the Western Church of Major, or of any one who looked
through Major's eyes, in that year 1523. But I think it very unlikely
that Knox could have derived from such an outlook, or from Major in any
aspect, a serious impulse to his career as Reformer. Knox no doubt
learned from him scholastic logic, and turned it in later days with much
vigour to his own purposes. Major, too, may have unconsciously revealed
to his pupils with how much hope the former generation had looked
forward to a council. We find afterwards that Knox and his friends, like
Luther in his earlier stages, when appealing against the hierarchy,
sometimes appealed to a General Council. But neither side regarded this
as serious. It would have been more important if we could have shown
that Major transmitted to his pupil the opposition maintained for
centuries by his university to an ultramontane Pontiff as the hereditary
opponent of all Church freedom and all Church reform. But Luther and the
German Reformers had already exaggerated this view, so far as to suggest
that the usurping chief of the Church must be the scriptural Antichrist.
And their views, brought direct to Scotland by men like Hamilton, had,
as we have seen, immensely increased the reaction in the mind of Major,
which was begun abroad before 1518. It is, indeed, curious to notice
how in his later writings the old university feeling against tyranny in
the Church almost disappears, while the equally old and honourable
feeling of the learned Middle Age, and especially of its universities,
against the tyranny of kings and nobles, finds expression alike in his
history and his commentaries. Buchanan, who proclaimed to all Europe the
constitutional rights, even against their sovereign, of the people of
Scotland, and Knox, the 'subject born within the same,' who was destined
to translate that Radical theory so largely into fact, were both taught
by Major. And they may well have been much influenced on this side by a
man who had long before written that 'the original and supreme power
resides in the whole of a free people, and is incapable of being
surrendered,' insomuch that an incorrigible tyrant may always be
'deposed by that people as by a superior authority.'[6] For even Fergus
the First, he narrates, 'had no right' other than the nation's choice,
and when Sir William Wallace was yet a boy, he was taught by his
Scottish tutor to repeat continually the rude inspiring rhyme, '_Dico
tibi verum Libertas optima rerum_.'[7] These views as to the rights of
man, and of Scottish men, may well have fanned, or even kindled, the
strong feeling of independence in secular matters and as a citizen,
which burned in the breast of Knox. But as to spiritual matters and the
Church universal, the only feelings which we can imagine Major, on his
return from abroad, to have impressed upon the younger man from
Haddington are a despair of reform, and a disbelief in revolution.

Let us turn, therefore, from abroad to the Church at home. It is
admitted on all hands that the clergy of this age in Scotland were
extraordinarily corrupt in life, a reproach which applied eminently to
the higher ranks and the representative men. But corruption of churchmen
is always a symptom of deeper things. It does not appear that Scotland
was much influenced by the spirit of the Renaissance, whether you apply
that term to the intellectual passion for both knowledge and beauty
which spread over most parts of Europe during the three previous
centuries, or to the more specific and half-Pagan culture which in some
parts of Europe was the result. It may be more important to observe that
the Church in Scotland had not enjoyed any period of inward religious
revival--any which could be described as native to it or original. On
the contrary its great epoch had been its transformation, through royal
and foreign influence, into the likeness of English and continental
civilisation, as civilisation was understood in the Middle Age. And that
transformation in the days of Queen Margaret and her sons was
accompanied, and to a large extent compensated, by a less desirable
incorporation into the western ecclesiastical system. The later 'coming
of the Friars' had not the same powerful effect in the remote north
which it had in some other realms. And in any case that impulse too had
long since yielded to a strong reaction, and the preachers were now
regarded with the disgust with which mankind usually resent the attempt
to manipulate them by external means without a real message. But there
were two great sources of ruin to the Scottish church, both connected
with its relation to a powerful aristocracy. One was the extraordinary
extent to which its high offices were used as sinecures for the
favourites, and the sons of favourites, of nobles and of kings. This did
not tend to impoverish the church; on the contrary, it made it an object
to all the great families to keep up the wealth on which they proposed
that their unworthy scions should feed. 'In proportion to the resources
of the country the Scottish clergy were probably the richest in
Europe.'[8] But the wealth, accumulated in idle and unworthy hands, was
now a scandal to religion, and a constant fountain of immorality. Still
worse was the extent to which that wealth was in Scotland diverted from
its best uses to the less desirable side--the monastic side--of the
mediæval church. In the revival which came from England before the
twelfth century, a great impulse had been given to the parochialising of
the country, and to keeping up religious life in every district and
estate. But a prejudice running back to very early centuries branded the
parish priests as seculars, and gradually drew away again the devotion
and the means of the faithful from the parishes where they were needed,
and to which they properly belonged. It drew them away, in Scotland, not
only to rich centres like cathedrals, with their too wasteful retinue,
but far more to the great monasteries scattered over the land. Kings and
barons, who proposed to spend life so as to need after its close a good
deal of intercession, naturally turned their eyes, even before
death-bed, to these wealthy strongholds of poverty and prayer; and of a
hundred other places besides Melrose, we know 'That lands and livings,
many a rood, had gifted the shrine for their soul's repose.' But the
transfer, to such centres, of lands (which were supposed, by the feudal
law, to belong to chiefs rather than to the community), was not so
direct an injury to the people of Scotland, as the alienation to the
same institutions of parochial tithes--sometimes under the form of
alienating the churches to which the tithes were paid. These parochial
tithes all possessors of land in the parish were bound by law to pay,
whether they desired it or not. And, strictly, they should have been
paid to the pastor of the parish and for its benefit. But by a
scandalous corruption, often protested against by both Parliament and
the Church, the Lords of lands were allowed to divert the tithes, which
they were already bound to pay, to congested ecclesiastical centres,
sometimes to cathedrals, more often to religious houses of 'regulars.'
After this was done the monastery or religious House enjoyed the whole
sheaves or tithes of the land in question; the local vicar, if the House
appointed one, being entitled only to the 'lesser tithes' of domestic
animals, eggs, grass, etc. This robbery of the parishes of
Scotland--parishes which were already far too large and too scattered,
as John Major points out--was carried on to an extraordinary extent.
Each of the religious houses of Holyrood and Kelso had the tithes of
twenty-seven parishes diverted or 'appropriated' to it. In some
districts two-thirds of the whole parish churches were in the hands of
the monks, and no fewer than thirty-four were bestowed on Arbroath Abbey
in the course of a single reign. When we remember that the Lords of
these great houses were generally members--often unworthy members--of
the families which were thus enriching them to the detriment of the
country, we can imagine the complicated corruption which went on from
reign to reign. Unfortunately the nepotism and simony which resulted had
direct example and sanction in the relation to Scotland of the Head of
the Church at Rome.[9] The most ardent Catholics admit this as true in
relation to Europe generally in the time with which we deal;[10] and the
Holy See had been allowed some centuries before to claim Scotland as a
country which belonged to it in a peculiar sense, and the Church of
Scotland as subject to it specially and immediately. The jealousy of an
Italian potentate which was always powerful in England, and which had
now, under Henry the Eighth, made it possible to reject the Romish
supremacy while retaining the whole of Roman Catholic doctrine, had
little influence farther north. Scotland followed the Pope, even when he
went to Avignon, and when England had accepted his rival or Anti-Pope.
And while in this it sympathised with France, it had little of that
traditional dislike to high Ultramontane claims which we saw to have
been so strong in Paris. The Pope remained the centre of our church
system, and there were in Scotland no projects of serious reform except
those which went so deep as (in the case of the Lollards and other
precursors of the Reformation) to break with the existing ecclesiastical
machine as a whole, and so to challenge the deadliest penalties of the

For it is a mistake to suppose that heresy, in the modern misuse of the
word (as equivalent to false doctrine), was greatly dreaded in the Roman
Catholic Church, or savagely punished by our ancient code. In Scotland,
as elsewhere, the fundamental law was that of Theodosius and the empire,
that every man must be a member of the Catholic Church, and submit to
it. That law was indeed the original establishment of the Church, and
for many centuries there had been in Scotland no penalty for breaking it
except death. But the Church, when its authority was thus once for all
sufficiently secured, was, in the early Middle Age, rather tolerant of
theological opinion. And not until error had been published and
persisted in, in face of the injunctions of authority--not until the
heresy thus threatened to be internal schism, or repudiation of that
authority--was the secular power usually invoked. Unfortunately Western
Europe as a whole, ever since its intellectual awakening three or more
centuries ago, was moving on to precisely this crisis; and the very
existence of the Church, in the sense of a body of which all citizens
were compulsorily members, was now felt to be at stake. The Scottish
sovereign had long since been taken bound, by his coronation oath, to
interpose his authority; and the present King, delivered in 1528 from
the tutory of the Douglases by the Beatons, had thrown himself into the
side of those powerful ecclesiastics. A statute, the first against
heresy for nearly a century, was passed two years after Knox went to
college. When he was twenty-three years old, England was preparing to
reject the Pope's supremacy; but Scotland was so far from it that this
year Patrick Hamilton was burned at St Andrews. When he was thirty-four
years old, the English revolution had been accomplished by the despotic
Henry; but his Scottish nephew had refused to follow the lead, and in
that year five other heretics were burned on the Castle-hill of
Edinburgh, the popular 'Commons King' looking on. On James V.'s death
there was a slight reaction under the Regent, and Parliament even
sanctioned the publication of the Scriptures. But Arran made his peace
with the Church in 1543, and Beaton, the able but worldly Archbishop of
St Andrews, and as such Knox's diocesan, became once more the leader of
Scotland. He had already instituted the Inquisition throughout his see;
he was now advanced to be Papal Legate; and he was fully prepared to
press into execution the Acts which a few years before he and the King
had persuaded the Parliament to pass. Not to be a member of the Church
had always meant death. But now it was death by statute to argue against
the Pope's authority; it was made unlawful even to enter into discussion
on matters of religion; and those in Scotland who were merely
_suspected_ of heresy were pronounced incapable of any office there.
And, lastly, those who left the country to avoid the fatal censure of
its Church on such crimes as these, were held by law to be already
condemned. The illustrious Buchanan was one of those who thus fled. Knox
remained, and suddenly becomes visible.

[1] Knox's later biographer, Dr Hume Brown, has given to the world a
letter from Sir Peter Young to Beza, transmitting a posthumous portrait
of Knox, which is thus no doubt the original of the likeness in Beza's
Icones, and makes the latter our only trustworthy representation of him.
The letter adds, 'You may look for (expectabis) his full history from
Master Lawson'; and this raises the hope that Beza's biography, founded
upon the memoir of Knox's colleague, James Lawson, as the _icon_
probably was upon the Edinburgh portrait, would be of great value. In
point of fact Beza's biography does give great prominence to Knox's
closing pastorate and last days, as his newly-appointed colleague might
be expected to do. But about his early years it is hopelessly
inaccurate, to say the least.

[2] So, in Shakespeare, Sir Hugh, who is 'of the Church'; Sir Topas the
curate, whose beard and gown the clown borrows; Sir Oliver Martext, who
will not be 'flouted out of his calling;' and Sir Nathaniel, who claims
to have 'taste and feeling,' and whose female parishioners call him
indifferently the 'Person' or the 'Parson.'

[3] Rashdall's 'Universities of Europe,' i. 525.

[4] The Act of Appeal of the University lays down principles which apply
far beyond the bounds of Gallicanism; that 'the Pope, although he holds
his power immediately from God, is not prevented, by his possession of
this power, from going wrong'; that 'if he commands that which is
unjust, he may righteously be resisted'; and 'if, by the action of the
powers that be, we are deprived of the means of resisting the Pope,
there remains one remedy, founded on natural law, which no Prince can
take away--the remedy of appeal, which is competent to every individual,
by divine right, and natural right, and human right.' And, accordingly,
the University, protesting that the Basle Council's decrees of the past
have been set aside, Appeals to a Council in the future.--Bulaeus'
'Hist. of the University of Paris,' vol. viii. p. 92.

[5] This uncompromising preface took the place of one in which Major, on
his arrival in Scotland in 1518, praised the same Archbishop, then in
Glasgow, for his many-sided and 'chamaelon-like mildness.' It is
generally recognised that the stern policy latterly carried on under the
nominal authority of James Beaton was really inspired by his nephew and
coadjutor, David Beaton, the future cardinal.

[6] 'Expositio Matt.' fol. 71. (Paris.)

[7] 'I tell the truth to thee, there's nought like Liberty!'--Major's
'History of Greater Britain.'

[8] Hume Brown's 'Knox,' i. 44.

[9] See Scots Acts, A.D. 1471, c. 43.


  An Petrus Romae fuerit, sub judice lis est:
  Simonem Romae nemo fuisse negat.



On this dark background Knox for the first time appears in history. But
we catch sight of him merely as an attendant on the attractive figure of
George Wishart. At Cambridge Wishart had been 'courteous, lowly, lovely,
glad to teach, and desirous to learn'; when he returned to Scotland,
Knox and others found him 'a man of such graces as before him were never
heard within this realm.' He had preached in several parts of Scotland,
and was brought in the spring of 1546 by certain gentlemen of East
Lothian, 'who then were earnest professors of Christ Jesus,' to the
neighbourhood of Haddington. On the morning of his last sermon in that
town he had received (in the mansion-house of Lethington, 'the laird
whereof,' father of the famous William Maitland, 'was ever civil, albeit
not persuaded in religion') a letter, 'which received and read, he
called for John Knox, who had waited upon him carefully from the time he
came to Lothian.' And the same evening, with a presentiment of his
coming arrest, he 'took his good-night, as it were for ever,' of all his
acquaintance, and

    'John Knox pressing to have gone with the said Master George, he
    said, "Nay, return to your bairns, and God bless you! One is
    sufficient for one sacrifice." And so he caused a two-handed
    sword (which commonly was carried with the said Master George)
    be taken from the said John Knox, who, although unwillingly,
    obeyed, and returned with Hugh Douglas of Longniddrie.'[11]

The same night Wishart was arrested by the Earl of Bothwell, and
afterwards handed over to the Cardinal Archbishop, tried by him as a
heretic, and on 1st March 1546 burned in front of his castle of St
Andrews. Ere long this stronghold was stormed, and the Cardinal murdered
in his own chamber by a number of the gentlemen of Fife, whose raid was
partly in revenge for Wishart's death. They shut themselves up in the
castle for protection, and we hear no more of John Knox till the
following year. Then we are told that, 'wearied of removing from place
to place, by reason of the persecution that came upon him by the Bishop
of St Andrews,' he joined Leslie's band in their hold in St Andrews, in
consequence of the desire of his pupils' parents 'that himself might
have the benefit of the castle, and their children the benefit of his
doctrine [teaching].' It is plain that by this time what Knox taught was
the doctrine of Wishart. Indeed he had not been long in St Andrews when,
urged by the congregation there, he consented to become its preacher.
And his very first sermon in this capacity rang out the full note of the
coming reform or rather revolution in the religion of Scotland.

Now, this is a startlingly sudden transition. The change from the
position of a nameless notary under Papal authority, who is in addition
a minister of the altar of the Catholic Church, to that of a preacher in
the whole armour of the Puritan Reformation, is great. Was the
transition a public and official one only? Was it a change merely
ecclesiastical or political? Or was it preceded by a more private change
and a personal crisis? And was that private and personal crisis merely
intellectual? Was it, that is, the adoption of a new dogma only, or
perhaps the acceptance of a new system? Or if there was something
besides these, was it nothing more than the resolve of a very powerful
will--such a will as we must all ascribe to Knox? Was this all? Or was
there here rather, perhaps, the sort of change which determines the will
instead of being determined by it--a personal change, in the sense of
being emotional and inward as well as deep and permanent--a new _set_ of
the whole man, and so the beginning of an inner as well as of an outer
and public life?

The question is of the highest interest, but as we have said, there is
no direct answer. It would be easy for each reader to supply the void by
reasoning out, according to his own prepossessions, what must have been,
or what ought to have been, the experience of such a man at such a time.
It would be easy--but unprofitable. Far better would it be could we
adduce from his own utterances evidence--indirect evidence even--that
the crisis which he declines to record really took place; and that the
great outward career was founded on a new personal life within. Now
there is such an utterance, which has been hitherto by no means
sufficiently recognised. It is 'a meditation or prayer, thrown forth of
my sorrowful heart and pronounced by my half-dead tongue,' on 12th
March, 1566, at a moment when Knox's cause was in extremity of danger.
Mary had joined the Catholic League and driven the Protestant Lords into
England, and their attempted counter-plot had failed by the defection of
Darnley. Knox had now before him certain exile and possible death, and
on the eve of leaving Edinburgh he sat down and wrote privately the
following personal confession. Five years later, when publishing his
last book, after the national victory but amid great public troubles, he
prefixed a preface explaining that he had already 'taken good-night at
the world and at all the fasherie of the same,' and henceforward wished
his brethren only to pray that God would 'put an end to my long and
painful battle.' And with this preface he now printed the old meditation
or confession of 1566. It is therefore autobiographical by a double
title. And it is made even more interesting by the striking rubric with
which the writer heads it.


    'Be merciful unto me, O Lord, and call not into judgment my
    manifold sins; and chiefly those whereof the world is not able
    to accuse me. In youth, mid age, and now after many battles, I
    find nothing in me but vanity and corruption. For, in quietness
    I am negligent; in trouble impatient, tending to desperation;
    and in the mean [middle] state I am so carried away with vain
    fantasies, that alas! O Lord, they withdraw me from the presence
    of thy Majesty. Pride and ambition assault me on the one part,
    covetousness and malice trouble me on the other; briefly, O
    Lord, the affections of the flesh do almost suppress the
    operation of Thy Spirit. I take Thee, O Lord, who only knowest
    the secrets of hearts, to record, that in none of the foresaid
    do I delight; but that with them I am troubled, and that sore
    against the desire of my inward man, which sobs for my
    corruption, and would repose in Thy mercy alone. To the which I
    clame [cry] in the promise that Thou hast made to all penitent
    sinners (of whose number I profess myself to be one), in the
    obedience and death of my only Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ.
    In whom, by Thy mere grace, I doubt not myself to be elected to
    eternal salvation, whereof Thou hast given unto me (unto me, O
    Lord, most wretched and unthankful creature) most assured signs.
    For being drowned in ignorance Thou hast given to me knowledge
    above the common sort of my brethren; my tongue hast Thou used
    to set forth Thy glory, to oppugne idolatry, errors, and false
    doctrine. Thou hast compelled me to forespeak, as well
    deliverance to the afflicted, as destruction to certain
    inobedient, the performance whereof, not I alone, but the very
    blind world has already seen. But above all, O Lord, Thou, by
    the power of Thy Holy Spirit, hast sealed unto my heart
    remission of my sins, which I acknowledge and confess myself to
    have received by the precious blood of Jesus Christ once shed;
    in whose perfect obedience I am assured my manifold rebellions
    are defaced, my grievous sins purged, and my soul made the
    tabernacle of Thy Godly Majesty--Thou, O Father of mercies, Thy
    Son our Lord Jesus, my only Saviour, Mediator, and Advocate, and
    Thy Holy Spirit, remaining in the same by true faith, which is
    the only victory that overcometh the world.'[12]

This window into the heart of a great man is not less transparent
because it opens upwards. Its revelation of an inner life, with the
alternations proper to it of struggle and victory, will receive
confirmation as we go on. As we go on too we shall be arrested by the
intense personal sympathy which Knox showed in helping those around him
who were still weaker and more tempted than himself--a sympathy in which
many will find a surer proof of the existence of a life within, than
even in this record of his deliberate and devotional mind. What this
record now suggests to us is that the personal life which it reveals had
a foundation in some personal and moral crisis. The truth and light came
to him when he was 'drowned in ignorance,' and the change cannot have
_originated_ in any fancy as to his own predestination, or in any
foresight by himself of his own public services. The foundation, as it
is put by Knox, was deeper, and was, in his view, common to him with all
Christian men. It is a transaction of the individual with the Divine, in
which the man comes to God by 'true faith.' And this faith is, or ought
to be, absolute and assured, simply because it is faith in the offer
and promise of God himself in his Evangel. This was the teaching of
Wishart, as it had been of Patrick Hamilton before him. It was the
teaching which Hamilton had derived from Luther, and Wishart from both
Luther and the Reformers of Switzerland. Later on, when the minor
differences between the two schools of Protestantism had declared
themselves, it might fairly be said that Knox, and with him Scotland,
founded their religion not so much (with Luther) on the central doctrine
of immediate access to God through his promise, as (with Calvin) on the
more general doctrine of the immediate authority of God through his
word. But the former--the Evangel--was the original life and light of
the Reformation everywhere, and its glow as of 'glad confident morning'
now flushed the whole sky of Western Europe.[13] Knox himself always
preached it, and on the day before his death he let fall an expression
which indicates that his acceptance of it had rescued him at this very
date from the tossings of an inward sea. 'Go, read where I cast my first
anchor!' he said to his wife. 'And so she read the seventeenth of John's
Gospel.' Now the 'Evangel of John' was what Knox tells us he taught
from day to day in the chapel, within the Castle of St Andrews, at a
certain hour; and when on entering the city he took up this book of the
New Testament, he took it up at the point 'where he left at his
departure from Longniddry where before his residence was,' and whither
Wishart had sent him back to his pupils a year before. And of all parts
of this Evangel the rock-built anchorage of the seventeenth chapter may
surely best claim to be that commemorated in Knox's stately and
deliberate words.

But these conjectures must not make us forget the fact that Knox himself
places an undoubted and great crisis at the threshold of his public
life. His teaching in 1547 of John's Gospel, and of a certain
'catechism,' though carried on within the walls, sometimes of the
chapel, and sometimes of the parish kirk, of St Andrews, was supposed to
be private or tutorial. Soon, however, the more influential men there
urged him 'that he would take the preaching place upon him. But he
utterly refused, alleging that he would not run where God had not called
him.... Whereupon, they privily among themselves advising, having with
them in council Sir David Lindsay of the Mount, they concluded that they
would give a charge to the said John, and that publicly by the mouth of
their preacher.' And so, after a sermon turning on the power of the
church or congregation to call men to the ministry,

    'The said John Rough, preacher, directed his words to the said
    John Knox, saying, "Brother, ye shall not be offended, albeit
    that I speak unto you that which I have in charge, even from all
    those that are here present, which is this: In the name of God,
    and of His Son Jesus Christ, and in the name of these that
    presently call you by my mouth, I charge you that you refuse not
    this holy vocation, but ... that you take upon you the public
    office and charge of preaching, even as you look to avoid God's
    heavy displeasure, and desire that He shall multiply His graces
    with you." And in the end, he said to those that were present,
    "Was not this your charge to me? And do ye not approve this
    vocation?" They answered, "It was: and we approve it." Whereat
    the said John, abashed, burst forth in most abundant tears, and
    withdrew himself to his chamber. His countenance and behaviour,
    from that day till the day that he was compelled to present
    himself to the public place of preaching, did sufficiently
    declare the grief and trouble of his heart; for no man saw any
    sign of mirth in him, neither yet had he pleasure to accompany
    any man, many days together.'[14]

There is no reason to think that Knox exaggerates the importance of this
scene in his own history. A man has but one life, and the choosing even
of his secular work in it is sometimes so difficult as to make him
welcome any external compulsion. But the necessity of an external and
even a divine vocation, in order to justify a man's devoting his life to
handling things divine, has long been a tradition of the Christian
Church--and especially of the Scottish church, which in its parts, and
as a whole, has been repeatedly convulsed by this question of 'The
Call.' And in Knox's time, as in the earliest age of Christianity, what
is now a tradition was a very stern fact. The men who were thus calling
him knew well, and Knox himself, more clear of vision than any of them,
knew better, that what they were inviting him to was in all probability
a violent death. Rough himself perished in the flames at Smithfield; and
four months after this vocation Knox was sitting chained and half-naked
in the galleys at Rouen, under the lash of a French slave-driver. He did
not perhaps himself always remember how the future then appeared to him.
Old men looking back upon their past are apt 'to see in their life the
story of their life,' and the Reformer, after his later amazing
victories, sometimes speaks as if these had been his in hope, or even in
promise, from the outset of his career. But it is plain to us now, as we
study his letters in those early years, that he was repeatedly brought
to accept what we know to have been the real probability--viz., that,
while the ultimate triumph of the Evangel would be secure, it might be
brought about only after his own failure and ruin. Such were the
alternatives which Knox--a man of undoubted sensitiveness and
tenderness, and who describes himself as naturally 'fearful'[15]--had to
ponder during those days of seclusion at St Andrews. Of one thing he had
no doubt. The call, if once he accepted it, was irrevocable;[16] and he
must thenceforward go straight on, abandoning the many resources of
silence and of flight which might still be open to a private man.

But this was not all. It would be doing injustice to Knox, and to our
materials, to suppose that personal considerations were the only ones
which pressed upon him in this crisis. He never, in any circumstances,
could have been a man of 'a private spirit,' and his present call was
expressly to bear the public burden. But the burden so proposed was
overwhelming. Was it by his mouth that his countrymen were to be urged
to expose themselves, individually, to certain danger and possible ruin?
Was it upon his initiative that his country was to be divided,
distracted, and probably destroyed--deprived of its old faith, severed
from its old alliances, and hurled into revolt from its five hundred
years of Christian peace?[17] The risk to his country was extreme. And
if, by some marvellous conspiration of providences, Scotland passed
through all this without ruin, was Knox prepared to face the more
tremendous responsibilities of success? Did he hear in that hour the
voice by which leaders of Movements in later days have been chilled,
'Thou couldst a people raise, but couldst not rule?' For if we assume
that he felt entitled to back this weight of leadership upon God and
Evangel, the question still remained, Was even the Evangel strong enough
to bear this burden of a nation's future? That it was able to guide and
save the individual man, through all changes and chances of this life
and the life beyond, Knox may have been assured. But the questions which
rose behind were those of Church organisation and social reconstruction.
Was it possible, and was it lawful, to accept the existing Church
system, in whole or in part, and to build upon that? And if this was
impossible, if Christ's Church must go back to the Divine foundation in
His new-discovered Word, was that Word sufficient, not for foundation
merely, but for all superstructure--for doctrine, discipline, and
worship alike? Or would the Church be entitled to impose its own wise
and reasonable additions to the recovered statute-book of Scripture?
Lastly, if such a new Church shone already in 'devout imagination'
before Knox, he must have also had some forecast of its new relations to
feudal and royal Scotland. Was he to plead merely for freedom, under a
neutral civil authority? Or in the event of the chiefs of the nation, or
some of them, individually adopting the new faith, were they to adopt it
for themselves alone; or for subjects and vassals too, as under the
former regime? And were they to enforce it, by feudal or royal or even
legislative authority, on unwilling subjects and unwilling vassals too?

I think it clear that all these questions must have passed before the
mind of Knox during that week of agitated seclusion within the castle
walls. Not only so. There is evidence in his own writings that when at
the close of that time he came forth to take up the public work, he
had already formed his conclusions as to all the main principles on
which it was to proceed. And from these he never afterwards varied.
Thirteen years were still to elapse before they resulted in Scotland
in a religious revolution; and during those years of wandering and
exile Knox learned much from the wisest and best of the new
leaders--much from them; and much, too, from his own experience, which
he was in the future to reduce to details of practice. But his
principles were the same from the first. He believed fundamentally in
the gracious Word of God revealed to man, as overriding and
over-ruling all other authorities. His first sermon denounced the
whole existing church system as an Anti-Christian substitute,
interposed between man and that original message. But, strange to say,
the part of the discourse which at once aroused controversy was his
sweeping denial of the Church's right to institute ceremonies, the
ground of denial being that 'man may neither make nor devise a
religion that is acceptable to God.' He was thus Protestant and
Puritan[18] from the first, as his master Wishart was before him, and
his choice had now to be made according to his convictions. We,
looking back upon the past at our ease, may recognise that on some of
these matters he was too hasty in his conclusions--especially in his
conclusions as to his opponents, and the duty towards them which the
party now oppressed would have, in the unlikely event of its coming
into power. But we are bound to remember--Knox himself insists upon
it--that he did not take up the function of guide to his people at his
own hand, or accept it at his own leisure. He was suddenly called upon
in God's name to accept or refuse an almost hopeless task, but one in
which success and failure involved the greatest alternatives to him.
That preaching the Gospel to which he was called, if it meant on the
one hand, in the event of failure, exile or death, meant on the other,
in case of success, the salvation of a whole people now sitting in
darkness. But he had to accept the task as a whole or to refuse it;
and his conclusions as to what that task involved were fused into
unity--in some respects into premature unity--in the glow of a supreme
moral trial. For the week of deliberation before he emerged as the
teacher of the Congregation was certainly not spent upon detailed
difficulties either of future legislation or present consistency. It
prolonged itself rather in poise and struggle against the more obvious
and tremendous obstacles, reinforced no doubt by a thousand more
remote behind them. But the ultimate question was whether the gigantic
strain of all of these combined would be too much for an anchor
dropped by one strong hand into the depths of the Evangel.

And so that week saved a nation--perhaps a man.

For I think it quite a possible thing that this crisis in St Andrews,
the only one recorded or even suggested by Knox himself, may have been
the one personal crisis of his life. I cannot indeed say with Carlyle,
that before this Knox 'seemed well content to guide his own steps by the
light of the Reformation, nowise unduly intruding it on others ...
resolute he to walk by the truth, and speak the truth when called to do
it; not ambitious of more, not fancying himself capable of more.'[19]
Of all men living or dead, this is the one whom it is most impossible to
think of as acquiescing in such an easy relation to those around him, or
even as attempting so to acquiesce--at least without inward
self-question and torture. We must remember that Knox had undoubtedly
before this time embraced the doctrinal system of the Reformation, no
doubt in the form taught by Wishart. And a catechism of that doctrine,
perhaps founded upon or identical with that which Wishart brought from
Basel, he gave to his East Lothian pupils. Long before his external
'call' at St Andrews, the inward impulse to preach the message to his
fellow-men, and to champion their right to receive it, must have pressed
upon his conscience. Was this pearl worth the price of selling all to
buy it? And was such a price demanded of him individually? If these
questions were still unanswered--for that they had been put, and put
incessantly, I have no doubt--then the Knox whom we know was still
waiting to be born, and the representative of Scotland was like Scotland
itself, 'as yet without a soul.'[20] He had carried a sword before
Wishart, and he and the gentlemen of East Lothian would have defended
their saintly guest at the peril of their lives. He had been followed
thereafter by the persecution of his bishop, until he made up his mind
for exile in Germany (rather than in England, where he heard that the
Romish doctrine flourished under Royal Supremacy). And after the
'slaughter of the Cardinal,' he took refuge within the strong walls of
the vacant castle, like other men whose sympathies made them, in the
quaint words of the chronicler[21], 'suspect themselves guilty of the
death' of Beaton, though they might not have known of it before the
fact. But all this Knox might conceivably have done, and still have
borne about with him a troubled and divided mind, until the address of
Rough flashed out upon his conscience his true vocation, and sent him in
tears and solitude to make proof of the Evangel--and of the Evangel in
that form which takes hold of both eternities. This final crisis may
thus have been the only one. And if it were so, Knox would not be the
first man who has found in self-consecration a new birth; nor the first
prophet whose 'Here am I' has been answered by fire from the altar and
the assurance that iniquity is purged.

But even if we assume, what is more probable, that the crisis in St
Andrews was not the first, but the second, in Knox's religious life, the
result for the purposes of critical biography is the same. For the later
crisis resumed and gathered up into itself, on a higher plane, and with
more intensity, the elements of the change which went before. It was, on
this assumption, a new call; and a call to higher and public work. But
it was a call in the same name, and to the same man, to do new work on
the strength of principles and motives to which he had already committed
himself. It was, in short, a greater strain, but upon the first anchor.

This point has acquired more importance since Carlyle, and so many of us
who follow him as admirers of Knox, have adopted the modern trick of
speech of calling him a Prophet to his time. It is assumed that Knox
took the same view,[22] and that he held himself to have had, if not a
prophet's supernatural endowment and vocation, at least a special
mission and an extraordinary call. The question is complicated by other
things than the special and extraordinary work which he, in point of
fact, achieved. We find that, in the course of that work, Knox, a man of
piercing intuitions in personal and public matters, repeatedly committed
himself to judgments, and even predictions, which were unexpectedly
verified. And some of these he himself regarded, as we have seen already
in his deliberate Meditation, as not intuitions merely, but private
intimations given by God to his own heart and mind. Naturally, too, a
man of Knox's devout and yet passionate temper was disposed to lay as
much stress upon these incidents as they would bear; while the
marvel-mongers around him, and in the next generation, went farther
still. But the main fact to remember is, that Knox all his life insisted
that such incidents, whatever their occasional value, were no part of
his original mission, and were outside the bounds of his life-long
vocation. The passage in which he is disposed to make most of them is
the following; and it is worth quoting also, because of the striking
terms in which he incidentally describes his real work and permanent
call. He is explaining why, after twenty years' preaching, he has never
published even a sermon, and now publishes one with nothing but
wholesome admonitions for the time. (This wholesome sermon was the one
which so much offended Darnley.)

    'Considering myself rather called of my God to instruct the
    ignorant, comfort the sorrowful, confirm the weak, and rebuke
    the proud, by tongue and lively voice in these most corrupt
    days, than to compose books for the age to come: seeing that so
    much is written (and that by men of most singular condition),
    and yet so little well observed; I decreed to contain myself
    within the bonds [bounds?] of that vocation, whereunto I found
    myself specially called. I dare not deny (lest that in so doing
    I should be injurious to the giver), but that God hath revealed
    to me secrets unknown to the world; and also that he hath made
    my tongue a trumpet, to forewarn realms and nations, yea,
    certain great personages, of translations and changes, when no
    such things were feared, nor yet were appearing; a portion
    whereof cannot the world deny (be it never so blind) to be
    fulfilled, and the rest, alas! I fear shall follow with greater
    expedition, and in more full perfection, than my sorrowful heart
    desireth. Those revelations and assurances notwithstanding, I
    did ever abstain to commit anything to writ, contented only to
    have obeyed the charge of Him who commanded me to cry.'[23]

And when he did 'cry,' from the pulpit or elsewhere, he was careful to
found his claim to be heard, not on private intimations, but on God's
open word. As early as 1554 he denounces judgment to come upon England
(which, by the way, was not fulfilled in the sense which he expected),
but he adds immediately--

    'This my affirmation proceedeth, not from any conjecture of
    man's fantasy, but from the ordinary course of God's judgments
    against manifest contemners of his precepts from the

and more fully in another contemporary document--

    'But ye would know the grounds of my certitude: God grant that
    hearing them ye may understand and steadfastly believe the same.
    My assurances are not the marvels of Merlin, nor yet the dark
    sentences of profane prophesies; but, 1. the plain truth of
    God's word, 2. the invincible justice of the everlasting God,
    and 3. the ordinary course of his punishments and plagues from
    the beginning, are my assurance and grounds.'[25]

This was early in his career. At its close Knox, now very frail, was
deeply aggrieved by the troubles caused by Lethington and Kirkaldy, who
held the castle of Edinburgh. His verbal predictions of their coming
end, as reported (after the event however) by those around his
death-bed, and his assurance at the same time of 'mercy to the soul' of
the chivalrous Kirkaldy, are among the most striking incidents of this
kind in his life. But in his Will, written contemporaneously on 13th May
1572, he says,

    'I am not ignorant that many would that I should enter into
    particular determination of these present troubles; to whom I
    plainly and simply answer, that, as I never exceeded the bounds
    of God's Scriptures, so will I not do, in this part, by God's

This did not prevent him from freely describing his old friends in the
Castle as murderers, and predicting their destruction, especially as
they seemed now to be planning a counter-revolution in the interest of
the exiled Queen of Scots. They retorted by accusing him, among other
things, of prejudging her and 'entering into God's secret counsel.' Knox
roused himself to answer the charges in detail. But there remained, he

    'One thing that is most bitter to me, and most fearful, if that
    my accusers were able to prove their accusation, to wit, that I
    proudly and arrogantly entered into God's secret counsel, as if
    I were called thereto. God be merciful to my accusators, of
    their rash and ungodly judgment! If they understood how fearful
    my conscience is, and ever has been, to exceed the bounds of my
    vocation, they would not so boldly have accused me. I am not
    ignorant that the secrets of God appertain to Himself alone: but
    things revealed in His law appertain to us and our children for
    ever. What I have spoken against the adultery, against the
    murder, against the pride, and against the idolatry of that
    wicked woman, I spake not as one that entered into God's secret
    counsel, but being one (of God's great mercy) called to preach
    according to His blessed will, revealed in His most holy

The old man's irritation was most natural. For, on the one hand, his
accusers had hit a blot. He was sometimes extremely dogmatic, imperious,
and rash in his application of 'God's revealed will' both to persons and
things. But the form in which they put it--that he posed as a prophet,
as one having a special message from God's secret counsel, instead of a
general commission to proclaim that revealed will--was not only false,
but struck at the roots of his whole life and work. It is demonstrable
that from Knox's first teaching in East Lothian and first preaching in
St Andrews onwards, the meaning of both teaching and preaching was a
call to the common Scottish man, and to every man, to go to God direct
without any intermediation except God's open word.[28] And I think it
plain that this direct and divine call _to all_ was not only the meaning
but the strength of the message in Scotland as elsewhere. It seems to us
now as if the burden which it laid on the individual--on frail and
feeble women, for example, in that time of persecution--was
overwhelming. It is most pathetic to find Knox, when sitting down to
write tender and consoling messages to those in such circumstances,
pre-occupied with urging the obligation of each one of them individually
to hold fast, against possible torture or death, that which each one had
individually received. But he never shrank from it, or from pointing out
that such relation to God himself was the noblest privilege. And the
evidence is plain that all over the Europe of that age this reception of
a Divine message direct to the individual, in the newly opened
Scriptures, was, not a burden, but a source of incomparable energy and
exhilaration--alike to men and women, to the simple and the learned, to
the young and--stranger still--to the old. Knox knew it; and he knew
that his claiming a special message or ambassadorship would be, not so
much 'exceeding the bounds' of his vocation, as denying it altogether.
He was imperious and dogmatic by nature; and he took these natural
qualities with him into his new work. But he would have shuddered at the
idea of formally interposing his own personality between the hearers of
that time and the message which they received. And he would have
regarded the office of a mere prophet--the bearer, that is, of a special
message, even though that message be divine--as a degradation, if, in
order to attain it, he had to lay down the preaching of 'that doctrine
and that heavenly religion, whereof it hath pleased His merciful
providence to make _me, among others, a simple soldier and
witness-bearer unto men_.'[29]

Does it follow that Knox--who thus rejected strongly the idea of being a
prophet to his time, and insisted instead upon his merely receiving and
transmitting the one message which was common to all--that this man was
therefore little more to his age than any other might be? By no means.
The same message comes to all men in an age, and is received by many,
but it is received by each in a different way.[30] And the way in which
this message was then received by one man in East Lothian made all the
difference to Scotland, and perhaps to Europe. It must not be forgotten,
indeed, that the result of it upon Knox himself was to transform him. So
certain is this that some have felt as if this were the case of one
who, up to about his fortieth year, was an ordinary, commonplace, and
representative Scotsman, and was thereafter changed utterly, but only by
being filled with the sacred fire of conviction. This is only about half
the truth, though it is an important half--to Knox himself by far the
more important. But it is not the whole, and it is far from the whole
_for us_. The author who has enabled us to see his own confused and
changing age under 'the broad clear light of that wonderful book'[31]
the 'History of the Reformation in Scotland,' and who outside that book
was the utterer of many an armed and winged word which pursues and
smites us to this day, must have been born with nothing less than
genius--genius to observe, to narrate, and to judge. Even had he written
as a mere recluse and critic, looking out upon his world from a monk's
cell or from the corner of a housetop, the vividness, the tenderness,
the sarcasm and the humour would still have been there. But Knox's
genius was predominantly practical; and the difference between the
transformation which befell him, and that which changed so many other
men in his time, was that in Knox's case it changed one who was born to
be a statesman. He probably never would have become one, but for the
light which for him as for the others made all things new. But in the
others it resulted in a self-consecration whose outlook was chiefly upon
the next world, and in the present was doubtfully bounded by possible
martyrdom and possible evasion or escape. In the case of Knox the
instinctive outlook was not for himself only, but for others and for his
country. And while he saw from the first, far more clearly than they,
the embattled strength of the forces with which they all had to
contend, the unbending will of this man rejected all idea of concession
or compromise, evasion or escape. And his native sagacity (made keener
as well as more comprehensive now that it looked down from that remote
and stormless anchorage), revealed to him that there was at least the
possibility of the mightiest earthly fabric breaking up before him in
unexpected collapse.

Our conclusion then must be that the call which Knox received was one
common to him with every man and woman of that time--to accept the
Evangel--and common to him with every preacher of that time--to preach
the Evangel; but that this man's large conception of what such a call
practically meant, not for himself alone, but for all around him and for
his country, made it from the first for him a public call, and compelled
him to hear in the invitation of the St Andrews congregation the divine
commission for his life-long work. From the first, and in conception as
well as execution, that work was great and revolutionary. And from the
first, and in its very plan, it involved serious errors. But Knox
himself, in this and every stage of his career, claimed to be judged by
no lower tribunal than that Authority whose dread and strait command he
at the first accepted. And if there are some things in that career which
his country has simply to forgive, we shall not reckon among these the
original resolve of that day in St Andrews--a resolve which has made
Knox more to Scotland 'than any million of unblameable Scotchmen who
need no forgiveness.'

       *       *       *       *       *

But there are few who will doubt the sincerity, or the strength, of the
impulse which launched Knox upon his public career. There are many
however who, recognising that he was a great public man, doubt
persistently whether he was anything more. They are not satisfied with
the evidence of trumpet-tones from the pulpit, or of solemn and
passionate prayer at some crisis of a career. These are part of the
furniture of the orator, the statesman, and the prophet. Was there a
private life at all, as distinguished from the inner side of that which
was public? And was that private life genuine and tender and strong?
Have we another window into this man's breast--opening in this case, not
upwards and Godwards, but towards the men--or women--around him? We
have: and it is fortunate that the evidence on this subject is found,
not at a late date in Knox's life, as is the Meditation of 1563, but
close to the threshold of his career.

[11] The quotations are from Knox himself--in the first book of his
'History of the Reformation in Scotland.'

When quoting from any part of Knox's 'Works' (David Laing's edition in
six volumes), I propose to modernise the spelling, but in other respects
to retain Knox's English. It will be found surprisingly modern.

[12] 'Works,' vi. 483

[13] 'The end and intent of the Scripture,' according to the translation
by George Wishart, Knox's earliest master, of the First Helvetic or
Swiss Confession, is, 'to declare that God is benevolent and
friendly-minded to mankind; and that he hath declared that kindness in
and through Jesu Christ, his only Son; the which kindness is received by
faith; but this faith is effectuous through charity, and expressed in an
innocent life.' And even more strikingly, the very first question of the
famous Palatinate Catechism for Churches and Schools, though that
catechism is Calvinistic in its conception rather than Lutheran, and
came out so late as 1563, bursts out as follows:--

'What is thy only comfort in life and death?

'_Ans._ That I, with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my
own, but belong to my faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ, who with his
precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and redeemed me from
all the power of the Devil.'

[14] 'Works,' i. 187.

[15] On his death-bed. The Regent Morton's famous epitaph spoken by
Knox's grave, is an imperfect echo of what the Reformer ten days before,
in bidding farewell to the Kirk (Session) of Edinburgh, had said of his
own past career:--'In respect that he bore God's message, to whom he
must make account for the same, he (albeit he was weak and an unworthy
creature, _and a fearful man_) feared not the faces of men.'--'Works,'
vi. 637.

[16] One of the most eloquent documents of the time is the address in
1565 to the half-starved ministers of the Kirk (inspired and perhaps
written by Knox), urging that having put their hands to the plough, they
could not look back:--

'God hath honoured us so, that men have judged us the messengers of the
Everlasting. By us hath He disclosed idolatry, by us are the Wicked of
the world rebuked, and by us hath our God comforted the consciences of
many.... And shall we for poverty leave the flock of Jesus Christ before
that it utterly refuse us?... The price of Jesus Christ, his death and
passion, is committed to our charge, the eyes of men are bent upon us,
and we must answer before that Judge.... He preserved us in the darkness
of our mothers' bosom, He provided our food in their breasts, and
instructed us to use the same, when we knew Him not, He hath nourished
us in the time of blindness and of impiety; and will He now despise us,
when we call upon Him, and preach the glorious Gospel of His dear Son
our Lord Jesus?'--'Works,' vi. 425.

[17] Seven years after this time, Knox, writing from abroad to 'his
sisters in Edinburgh,' tells of the 'cogitations' which God permitted
Satan even at that late date to put into his mind--

'Shall Christ, the author of peace, concord, and quietness, be preached
where war is proclaimed, sedition engendered, and tumults appear to
rise? Shall not His Evangel be accused as the cause of all calamity
which is like to follow? What comfort canst thou have to see the
one-half of the people rise up against the other; yea, to jeopard the
one to murder and destroy the other? But above all, what joy shall it be
to thy heart to behold with thine eyes thy native country betrayed into
the hands of strangers, which to no man's judgment can be avoided,
because they who ought to defend it and the liberties thereof are so
blind, dull, and obstinate that they will not see their own
destruction?'--'Works,' iv. 251.

[18] The two sources which, next to his own report of this sermon, best
indicate his earliest standpoint, are (1) the (second) _Basel
Confession_--better known as the First Confession of Helvetia--which
Wishart had brought with him from the Continent, and before his death
had translated into English, and which Knox, therefore, must have known
and may have used; and (2) the treatise of his friend, the layman and
lawyer, Balnaves, written two years later, and which Knox then sent from
Rouen to St Andrews with his own approval and abridgement. The former is
distinctly 'Reformed' and Puritan, and lays down that all ceremonies,
other than the two instituted sacraments and preaching, 'as vessels,
garments, wax-lights, altars,' are unprofitable, and 'serve to subvert
the true religion'; while Balnaves repeats the more fundamental
principle of Knox's sermon (that all religion which is 'not commanded,'
or which is 'invented' with the best motives, is wrong). And both
treatises shew that Knox must have had also before him from the first
the thorny question of the relation of the Church and the private
Christian to the civil magistrate--for both solve it, like Knox himself
(but unlike Luther in his original Confession of Augsburg), by giving
the Magistrate sweeping and intolerant powers of reforming alike the
religion and the Church.

[19] 'Lectures on Heroes: The Hero as Priest.

[20] Carlyle, as above.

[21] Lindsay of Pitscottie.

[22] Thus, Mrs M'Cunn, in her charming volume on Knox as a 'Leader of
Religion,' says that he 'constantly claimed the position accorded to the
Hebrew prophets, and claimed it on the same grounds as they.' And even
Dr Hume Brown, when narrating Knox's refusal in the Galleys to kiss the
'Idol' presented to him, adds: 'It is in such passages as these that we
see how completely Knox identified his action with that of the Hebrew
prophets' (vol. i. 84), the passage founded upon being one in which Knox
points out that 'the same obedience that God required of his people
Israel,' even in idolatrous Babylon, was required by Him of the
'Scottish men' in France, and was actually given by 'that whole number
during the time of their bondage,' not merely by the one unnamed
prisoner who flung the painted 'board' into the Loire. One reason why
the prisoner is unnamed is no doubt that here, as in a hundred other
places more explicitly, Knox would impress us with the feeling that no
other or higher obedience in such matters is required of minister or
prophet or apostle, than is required of the humblest man or the youngest
child in God's people.

[23] 'Works,' vi. 230.

[24] 'Works,' iii. 245.

[25] 'Works,' iii. 169.

[26] 'Works,' vi. p. lvi.

[27] 'Works,' vi. 592.

[28] The right of every man to do so, and his duty to do so, were both
there: the only question might be whether, of the two, the right to do
it (as with Luther), or the duty to do it (as with Calvin) was first and

[29] 'Works,' iii. 155.

[30] Recipitur in modum recipientis.

[31] John Hill Burton's 'History of Scotland,' iii. 339. He adds, 'There
certainly is in the English language no other parallel to it in the
clearness, vigour, and picturesqueness with which it renders the history
of a stirring period.



Before the age with which we are dealing there was, throughout Europe, a
certain barrier between the religious life on the one hand and the
domestic and private life--the ordinary _vie intime_--on the other.
Among the men and women of the new era that barrier was broken down. The
religious was no longer a recognised class: religion was no longer a
luxury for the few, or to be partaken of in sacred places and at fixed
days and hours. The common man, if a Christian man at all, was to be so
now in his common and daily life, living it out from day to day on the
deepest principles and from the highest motives. And the Christian
woman, having a similar and an equal vocation, undertook the like
responsibilities. But her responsibilities were in that age of
transition very perplexing, and more than ever invited friendly counsel
and pastoral care. Now what was John Knox's private life? He was twice
married, and we know from his correspondence that even before his first
marriage there were women of high position and character to whom he
sustained what may be called personal and pastoral relations. Have we
any documents from that time by which to illustrate, and perhaps to
test, the principles of his inward and personal life, before we go on to
find these written large in the scroll of his country's history?

Norham Castle, near Berwick, is still a very striking pile, especially
to those who come upon it, as the writer did, after four days leisurely
walking down the banks of the great border river. Every curve of the
stream had its natural beauty intertwined with some association of
history or the poets, from the first morning on Neidpath Fell, to the
fourth evening when

  'Day set on Norham's castled steep,
   And Tweed's fair river, broad and deep,
        And Cheviot's mountains lone.
   The battled towers, the donjon keep,
   The loophole grates where captives weep,
   The flanking walls that round it sweep'--

are all still there, though the inmates are no longer captives. Norham
is, indeed, best known as the scene of the whole of the first canto of
'Marmion.' In that poem Sir Hugh the Heron is supposed to have been Lord
of it, while his wife is away in Scotland, prepared to sing ballads of
Lochinvar to the ill-fated King on his last evening in Holyrood. But
when Knox, delivered from the galleys, preached in Berwick in 1549, the
Captain of the Hold of Norham, only six miles off, was Richard Bowes.
And his lady, born Elizabeth Aske, and co-heiress of Aske in Yorkshire
(already an elderly woman and mother of _fifteen children_), became
Knox's chief friend, and after he left Berwick for Newcastle his
correspondent, chiefly as to her religious troubles. Most of the letters
of Knox to her which are preserved are in the year 1553, and one of the
earliest of these acknowledges a communication 'from you and my dearest
spouse.' This means that Marjory Bowes, the fifth daughter in that large
household, had already been _sponsa_ or betrothed, with her mother's
consent, to the Scottish preacher. Knox, now forty-eight years old, had
recently declined an English bishopric, offered him through the Duke of
Northumberland, but was still chaplain to the King. A letter to
Marjory, undated, follows, in which he explains to his 'dearly beloved
sister' some passages of Scripture, and adds--'The Spirit of God shall
instruct your heart what is most comfortable to the troubled conscience
of your mother.' This communication ends with the subdued or sly
postscript, 'I think this be the first letter that ever I wrote to
you.'[32] In July, while Knox was in London, Mary Tudor ascended the
throne, and everything began to look threatening. In September Knox
acknowledges the 'boldness and constancy' of Mrs Bowes in pushing his
cause with her husband, who was as yet 'unconvinced in religion,' but he
urges her not to trouble herself too much in the matter. He would
himself press for the betrothal being changed into marriage, or at least
acknowledged. 'It becomes me now to jeopard my life for the comfort and
deliverance of my own flesh, as that I will do by God's grace; both fear
and friendship of all earthly creature laid aside.'[33] Mrs Bowes
suggested that, in addition to writing her husband, he should lay his
case before an elder brother, Sir Robert Bowes, Warden of the Marches,
who seems to have acted as head of the family. Sir Robert turned out to
be more hostile to the perilous alliance proposed for his niece than
even her father; and Knox wrote that 'his disdainful, yea, despiteful
words have so pierced my heart that my life is bitter unto me.' When
Knox was about to have 'declared his heart' in the whole matter, Sir
Robert interrupted him with, 'Away with your rhetorical reasons! for I
will not be persuaded with them.' Knox, indignant, predicted to the
mother of his betrothed that 'the days should be few that England should
give me bread,'[34] but adds again, 'Be sure I will not forget you and
your company so long as mortal man may remember any earthly
creature.'[35] He escaped from England very soon, and not till September
1555 did he return, and that on Mrs Bowes' invitation; and with the
result that he brought off to Geneva, where he was now pastor of a
distinguished English colony, not only his wife Marjory, but his wife's
mother too. Here his two sons, Nathaniel and Eleazar, afterwards
students at Cambridge and ministers of the Church of England, were born.
But in 1559 wife and mother-in-law accompanied or followed him from the
Continent to Edinburgh. During the anxious and critical winter which
followed, Mrs Knox seems to have acted as her husband's amanuensis, but
'the rest of my wife hath been so unrestful since her arriving here,
that scarcely could she tell upon the morrow what she wrote at
night.'[36] Next year brought victory and peace, but too late for her;
for in December 1560, about the time when the first General Assembly was
sitting in Edinburgh, Knox's wife died. We learn this from the 'History
of the Reformation,' in which Knox records a meeting of that date
between himself and the two foremost nobles of Scotland, Chatelherault
and Moray, upon public affairs, 'he upon the one part comforting them,
and they upon the other part comforting him, for he was in no small
heaviness by reason of the late death of his dear bedfellow, Marjorie
Bowes.'[37] And of her we have no further record, except Calvin's
epithet of _suavissima_,[38] and her husband's repetition years after,
in his Last Will, of the 'benediction that their dearest mother left' to
her two sons, 'whereto, now as then, I from my troubled heart say,

Four years passed, and Knox, still minister of Edinburgh, and now in his
fifty-ninth year, was seen riding home with a second wife, 'not like a
prophet or old decrepit priest as he was,' said his Catholic
adversaries, 'but with his bands of taffetie fastened with golden
rings.' The lady for whom he put on this state was Margaret Stewart, the
daughter of his friend Lord Ochiltree, and the same critics assure us
that 'by sorcery and witchcraft he did so allure that poor gentlewoman,
that she could not live without him.' Queen Mary was angry when she
heard of it, because the bride 'was of the blood,' _i.e._ related to the
Royal house; and even Knox's friends did not like his union at that age
with a girl of seventeen. Young Mrs Knox seems, however, to have played
her part well, especially as mother of three daughters; she tended their
father carefully in his last illness; and no one will regret that two
years after his death she made a more suitable marriage as to years with
Andrew Ker of Faudonside, one of the fierce band whose daggers had
clashed ten years before in the body of David Rizzio.

Knox's liking for feminine society, and his suspicion that he had more
qualifications for it than the world has believed, come out sometimes in
a casual way. After one of his famous interviews with Queen Mary, he was
ordered to wait her pleasure in the ante-room.

    'The said John stood in the chamber, as one whom men had never
    seen (so were all afraid), except that the Lord Ochiltree bare
    him company; and therefore began he to _forge_ talking of the
    ladies who were there sitting in all their gorgeous apparel;
    which espied, he merrily said, "O fair ladies, how pleasing were
    this life of yours if it should ever abide, and then in the end
    that we might pass to heaven with all this gay gear. But fye
    upon that knave Death, that will come whether we will or not!
    And when he has laid on his arrest, the foul worms will be busy
    with this flesh, be it never so fair and so tender; and the
    silly soul, I fear, shall be so feeble, that it can neither
    carry with it gold, garnassing, targetting, pearl, nor precious
    stones." And by such means _procured he the company of women_.'

These moralities, however merrily intended and at the time successful,
would have perhaps been more appropriate in the Forest of Arden or the
graveyard of Hamlet, than among the four Maries in Holyrood; and for
anything that is to be of autobiographical value we must go elsewhere
and go deeper. His wives contribute nothing; we may hope that they were
as happy as the countries which have no history. And if that is too much
to believe--or too little to hope--we shall find enough in the next few
pages to satisfy us that they had near them in all their trials a strong
and tender heart. But of their inward troubles, and of the sympathy
these may have drawn forth, Knox is not the historian--he refuses to be
the historian even of his own inner life. He unfolds himself in writing
only to the women who are in trouble, and at a distance. And the only
concession to domesticity is in the fact that his chief correspondent
is, if not a wife, a prospective mother-in-law.

The letters to her are the most important of all, and the following
extract is from one published among the letters of 1553 as 'The First to
Mrs Bowes.' It was by no means the first, even in that year; but it is
the one which Knox himself long afterwards selected as the first for
republication and as best illustrating the original relation between
himself and the lady recently deceased. In it he had said, writing from
London to Norham:--

    'Since the first day that it pleased the providence of God to
    bring you and me into familiarity, I have always delighted in
    your company; and when labour would permit, you know that I have
    not spared hours to talk and commune with you, the fruit whereof
    I did not then fully understand nor perceive. But now absent,
    and so absent that by corporal presence neither of us can
    receive comfort of other, I call to mind how that ofttimes when,
    with dolorous hearts, we have begun our talking, God hath sent
    great comfort unto both, _which for my own part I commonly
    want_. The exposition of your troubles, and acknowledging of
    your infirmity, were first unto me a very mirror and glass
    wherein I beheld myself so rightly painted forth, that nothing
    could be more evident to my own eyes. And then the searching of
    the Scriptures for God's sweet promises, and for his mercies
    freely given unto miserable offenders--(for his nature
    delighteth to shew mercy where most misery reigneth)--the
    collection and applying of God's mercies, I say, were unto me as
    the breaking and handling with my own hands of the most sweet
    and delectable unguents, whereof I could not but receive some
    comfort by their natural sweet odours.'[40]

The sympathy that flows through this beautiful passage comes out very
strongly in another written in bodily illness. His importunate
correspondent had proposed to call for him in Newcastle that very day.
Knox suggests to-morrow instead.

    'This day ye know to be the day of my study and prayer unto God;
    yet if your trouble be intolerable, or if ye think my presence
    may release your pain, do as the Spirit shall move you, for you
    know that I will be offended with nothing that you do in God's
    name. And O, how glad would I be to feed the hungry and give
    medicine to the sick! Your messenger found me in bed, after a
    sore trouble and most dolorous night, and so dolour may complain
    to dolour when we two meet.'[41]

Another letter, also to Mrs Bowes, is from London, and reveals a very
remarkable scene. He acknowledges receiving one letter from Marjory, and
one from her mother, the latter, as usual, full of complaint.

    'The very instant hour that your letter was presented unto me,
    was I talking of you, by reason that three honest poor women
    were come to me, and were complaining their great infirmity, and
    were showing unto me the great assaults of the enemy, and I was
    opening the cause and commodities thereof, whereby all our eyes
    wept at once; and I was praying unto God that ye and some others
    had been there with me for the space of two hours. And even at
    that instant came your letters to my hands; whereof one part I
    read unto them, and one of them said, "O would to God I might
    speak with that person, for I perceive that there be more
    tempted than I."'[42]

The persuasive ingenuity which would suggest to the Lady of Norham that
she was a source not only of comfort but of strength to those troubled
like herself, turns out much to our advantage. For Knox puts _himself_,
first of all, in the place of those whom he would either advise or
console. And in the earliest dated letter of his which we possess there
is a vivid picture of what took place between two people who were much
in earnest, three and a half centuries ago, about this life and the
next. Knox has written fully to Mrs Bowes, and adds--

    'After the writing of these preceding, your brother and mine,
    Harry Wycliffe, did advertise me by writing that your adversary
    took occasion to trouble you, because that _I did start back
    from you_ rehearsing your infirmities. I remember myself to have
    so done, and _that is my common consuetude when anything
    pierceth or toucheth my heart_. Call to your mind what I did
    standing at the cupboard at Alnwick: in very deed I thought that
    no creature had been tempted as I was. And when that I heard
    proceed from your mouth the very words that he troubles me with,
    I did wonder and from my heart lament your sore trouble, knowing
    in myself the dolour thereof.'[43]

What was the temptation which Knox thought no creature shared with him,
but which he found, as he stood at the cupboard at Alnwick, had come to
Mrs Bowes in the same form, and even in the same words? As it happens,
we can answer with great certainty. It was a temptation to infidelity or
'incredulity': the adversary 'would cause you abhor that, and hate it,
wherein stands only salvation and life,' viz., the name, as well as the
whole message, of Jesus Christ. So it is put in this letter; and in
others, apparently later, we read--

    'That ye are of that foolish sort of men that say in their
    heart, "There is no God," I wonder that the Devil shames not to
    allege that contrary [to] you; but he is a liar, and father of
    the same. For if in your heart ye said there is no God, why then
    should ye suffer anguish and care by reason that the enemy
    troubles you with that thought? Who can be afraid, day and
    night, for that which is not?'[44]


    'He would persuade you that God's Word is of no effect, but that
    it is a vain tale invented by man, and so all that is spoken of
    Jesus, the Son of God, is but a vain fable.... He says the
    Scriptures of God are but a tale, and no credit is to be given
    to them....[45] Before he troubled you that there is not a
    Saviour, and now he affirms that ye shall be like to Francis
    Spira, who denied Christ's doctrine.'[46]

In that age, which broke through the crust of mere authority to seek
some 'foundation of belief, 'there must have been many of both sexes in
this state of mind; though each doubter might think that 'no creature'
shared it. The new doctrine of individual faith and individual
responsibility was one for women as well as men, and they had a special
claim on the sympathy of their teachers when central doubts attacked
them. Whether these doubts in the case of Mrs Bowes, _or in that of
Knox_, arose in the line of any particular enquiries does not appear. He
treats them as if they were rather moral than intellectual, and born of
the feebleness of the soul under temptation. And in this relation it
says not a little for his estimate of Mrs Bowes, whom he was leaving
behind under the Marian persecution, and with her husband and most of
her family hostile to her, that, instead of attenuating, he rather
magnifies the external difficulties she had to meet.

    'Your adversary, sister, doth labour that ye should doubt
    whether this be the Word of God or not. If there had never been
    testimonial of the undoubted truth thereof before these our
    ages, may not such things as we see daily come to pass prove the
    verity thereof? Doth it not affirm that it shall be preached,
    and yet contemned and lightly regarded by many; that the true
    professors thereof shall be hated with [by] father, mother, and
    others of the contrary religion; that the most faithful shall
    cruelly be persecuted? And come not all these things to pass in

But sceptical or speculative doubts were not Mrs Bowes' chief trouble.
She writes Knox complaining of her temptations--even temptations of
sense. And chiefly and continually she complained of past guilt and
present sin, by reason of which she felt as if 'remission of sins in
Christ Jesus pertained nothing to her.'[48] This was not a case for the
'sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort' which the Church of England
ascribes to the doctrine of Predestination rightly used. Nor does Knox
deal with it--at least in his letters--by the simple and peremptory
preaching of the Evangel. He recognised it as a case calling for
sympathy, and he does not find the sympathy hard. Knox, indeed, like the
other Reformers, had parted for ever with the mediæval idea of salvation
by self-torture--even by self-torture for sin. Like all the wisest of
the human race, too--even before Christianity came to sanction their
surmise--he held that religion must be an objective thing, and that
salvation lies in dealing, not with ourselves, but with One outside of
us and above. Yet it is a salvation from sin, and the new life now
springing up throughout Europe was intensely a moral life. The faith,
too, on which the age laid so much stress as a 'coming' to God, involved
repentance as a 'turning' to God. And while repentance no longer meant
penance, whether of body or mind, it meant--and as Knox puts it
repeatedly--'it _contains within itself_ a dolour for sin, a hatred of
sin, and yet hope of mercy'; and it is renewed as often as the occasion
arises for renewed deliverance from the evil. Accordingly, Knox now acts
on the principle which he announced years afterwards in a letter to
another friend,[49] and again and again tears open his own heart to
comfort others by shewing that he, with hope or assurance in Christ,
still felt the burden and assault of sin.

    'I can write to you by my own experience. I have sometimes been
    in that security that I felt not dolour for sin, neither yet
    displeasure against myself for any iniquity in that I did
    offend. But rather my vain heart did thus flatter myself, (I
    write the truth to my own confusion, and to the glory of my
    heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ), 'Thou hast suffered
    great trouble for professing of Christ's truth; God has done
    great things for thee.'... O Mother! this was a subtle serpent
    who thus could pour in venom, I not perceiving it; but blessed
    be my God who permitted me not to sleep long in that estate. I
    drank, shortly after this flattery of myself, a cup of
    contra-poison, the bitterness whereof doth yet so remain in my
    breast, that whatever I have suffered, or presently do, I repute
    as dung, yea, and myself worthy of damnation for my ingratitude
    towards my God. The like Mother, might have come to you,'

Mrs Bowes lived in her famous son-in-law's house till close upon her
death. By that time he had come to recognise that her experience was an
exceptional[51] and, perhaps, a morbid one; and at a very early date he
manifestly felt the pressure of her constant applications to him for
help. Yet throughout the correspondence his unfailing attitude to her is
that of admirably tender solicitude; and when he has to go into exile in
the beginning of 1554 he first sits down and writes--still partly in the
form of letters to her--a treatise on Affliction. It is of great and
permanent value, the subject not being one which our race can as yet
claim to have outgrown: but I shall make no reference to its contents.
Even in his previous and ordinary letters, however, Knox had reached the
conclusion that her case was one of inward Affliction, rather than, as
she would have it, of sin. And the treatment of this great subject of
'desertion,' by one who was a standard-bearer of the new doctrine of
faith and assurance, is remarkably beautiful. 'It is dolorous to the
faithful,' he writes another friend, 'to lack the sensible feeling of
God's mercy and goodness (and the sensible feeling thereof he lacketh
what time he fully cannot rest and repose upon the same). And yet as
nothing more commonly cometh to God's children, so is there no exercise
more profitable for his soldiers than is the same.' But to Mrs Bowes he
points out, what she certainly would not have observed, that 'it doth
no more offend God's Majesty that the spirit sometimes lie as it were
asleep, neither having sense of great dolour nor great comfort, more
than it doth offend him that the body use the natural rest, ceasing from
all external exercise.' And again, varying the figure, 'no more is God
displeased, although that sometimes the body be sick, and subject to
diseases, and so unable to do the calling; no more is he offended,
although the soul in that case be diseased and sick. And as the natural
father will not kill the body of the child, albeit through sickness it
faint, and abhor comfortable meats, no more (and much less) will our
heavenly Father kill our souls, albeit, through spiritual infirmity and
weakness of our faith, sometimes we refuse the lively food of his
comfortable promises....[52] 'You are sick, dear sister,' he had said
elsewhere, 'and therefore,' alluding even to her confidences of
scepticism as to Christian doctrine, 'you abhor the succour of most
wholesome food.' 'Fear not,' he sums up in a subsequent letter, 'the
infirmity that you find either in flesh or spirit. Only abstain from
external iniquity'--which he supplements elsewhere with the more
positive advice, 'Be fervent in reading, fervent in prayer, and merciful
to the poor, according to your power, and God shall put an end to all
dolours, when least is thought [according] to the judgment of man.' And
in the meantime, 'Dear mother, he that is sorry for absence of virtue is
not altogether destitute of the same ... our hunger cries unto God.'
Knox himself, he assured his troubled friend, never ceased to pray for
her; but 'although I would cease, and yourself would cease, and all
other creature, yet your dolour continually cryeth and returneth not
void from the presence of our God.'[53]

Mrs Bowes was not the only 'mirror and glass' in whom Knox allows us to
see his inner self 'painted,' though the woman-hearted warrior is limned
in the letters to her more nearly at full length. Two ladies in
Edinburgh, one the wife of the Lord Clerk Register, and the other of the
City Clerk, were his friends and correspondents, at a later date, but
while he was still in exile. And in a letter 'to his sisters' in that
town, he unbosoms himself as usual as to the principles of his inner
life, but adds--

    Alas! as the wounded man, be he never so expert in physic or
    surgery, cannot suddenly mitigate his own pain and dolour, no
    more can I the fear and grief of my heart, although I am not
    altogether ignorant what is to be done.'[54]

The same sentiment is expanded in one of a number of letters sent to a
group of 'merchants' wives in London,' which probably included the
'three honest poor women'[55] of whom we have already heard. Of this
group the most remarkable was Mrs Anna Locke, of the family which
afterwards yielded the famous John Locke. She, like Mrs Bowes, followed
Knox to Geneva amid the stream of exiles from London; and his letters to
her give the impression that she was not only wealthy and energetic, but
possessed of higher character and more accomplishments than the
well-born Elizabeth Bowes. The letters to the latter were written
chiefly in 1553. The following, to Mrs Locke, is sent from Scotland
after Knox's return there, and is dated on last day of 1559:--

    'God make yourself participant of the same comfort which you
    write unto me. And in very deed, dear sister, I have no less
    need of comfort (notwithstanding that I am not altogether
    ignorant) than hath the living man to be fed, although in store
    he hath great substance. I have read the cares and temptations
    of Moses, and sometimes I supposed myself to be well practised
    in such dangerous battles. But, alas! I now perceive that all my
    practice before was but mere speculation; for one day of
    troubles since my last arrival in Scotland, hath more pierced my
    heart than all the torments of the galleys did the space of
    nineteen months; for that torment, for the most part, did touch
    the body, but this pierces the soul and inward affections. Then
    I was assuredly persuaded that I should not die till I had
    preached Jesus Christ, even where I now am. And yet having now
    my hearty desire, I am nothing satisfied, neither yet rejoice.
    My God, remove my unthankfulness!'[56]

Men of this expansive and confiding temperament are attractive, and will
occasionally get into trouble, even in later life. We find Mrs Bowes ere
long complaining that she 'had not been equally made privy to Knox's
coming into the country with others,' and needing to be assured that
'none is this day within the realm of England, with whom I would more
gladly speak (only she whom God hath offered unto me, and commanded me
to love as my own flesh, excepted) than with you.'[57] Mrs Locke, later
on, points out that she has not had a letter for a whole year. And this
elicits not only the assurance that it is not the absence of one year or
two 'that can quench in my heart that familiar acquaintance in Christ
Jesus, which half a year did engender, and almost two years did nourish
and confirm,' but also the following striking general statement, which,
like many things from Knox, impresses us by a certain straightforward
and noble egotism:

    'Of nature I am churlish, and in conditions[58] different from
    many: yet one thing I ashame not to affirm, that familiarity
    once thoroughly contracted was never yet broken on my default.
    The cause may be that I have rather need of all, than that any
    have need of me.'[59]

It may be true that Knox never broke a friendship with either sex. But
his friendships with men were masculine and very reserved in tone; and
we may be quite sure that the memorable concluding sentence of the above
paragraph would never have been written except to a woman. Most people
will be delighted to see already fallen under the 'regimen of women' the
very man who was to set the trumpet to his lips against it. But those
who study Knox's life are indebted to his familiar correspondence, and
especially to the earlier part of it, for far more than the
gratification of this not unkindly malice. For these letters, I think,
prove to all--what the finer ear might have gathered with certainty from
many things even in his public writings--that the main source of that
outward and active career was an inner life.

We must part for ever with the idea of Knox as a human cannon-ball,
endowed simply with force of will, and tearing and shattering as it
goes. The views which at a definite period gave this tremendous impulse
to a nature previously passive, are not obscure, and are perfectly
traceable. They are views upon which Knox continually insists as common
to himself with all Christian men, and which _were_ common to him with
the mass of Christian men--and women--who were the strength of that time
and the hope of the age to follow. They were views which, when received
with full conviction by any individual, led outwardly to suffering on
the one hand, or, on the other, to shattering the whole compacted system
of opposing intolerance. But they were views which, when thus translated
into convictions, not only pressed outward with explosive force, but
also, and necessarily, spread inwards in reflux and expansion to refresh
and animate the man. They might have done so--in the case of some men of
that time they did--without overflowing into the private life and into
sympathetic converse and confidence with others. But Knox was so
constituted as to need this also and to supply it. And the fragments of
his correspondence which are all that remain to us, and which probably
were all that an extraordinarily busy public work permitted, are
conclusive on some things and instructive on others. They are conclusive
as to the existence, under that breastplate of hammered iron with which
Knox confronted all outward opposition, of a private and personal
life--a life inward, secret, and deep, and a life also rich, tender, and
eminently sympathetic. They are conclusive also, I think, of this inner
life being the source and spring of the life without, instead of being
merely derived from it. And they will thus be found instructive as to
the influence of that hidden life, in its strength and its limitations
alike, on the external career which we have now to trace.

[32] 'Works,' iii. 395.

[33] 'Works,' iii. 376.

[34] 'Works,' iii. 378.

[35] 'Works,' iii. 358.

[36] 'Works,' vi. 104.

[37] 'Works,' ii. 138.

[38] 'Calvini Epistolæ,' Ep. 306.

[39] 'Works,' vi. p. lvii.

[40] 'Works,' iii. 337.

[41] 'Works,' iii. 352.

[42] 'Works,' iii. 379. Compare, or contrast, this scene of the three
poor women with another recorded by a still greater master of English.
The tinker had gone on business one day to Bedford:

    'In one of the streets of that town, I came where there were
    three or four poor women sitting at a door in the sun, and
    talking about the things of God.... But they were far above, out
    of my reach; for their talk was about a new birth, the work of
    God on their hearts, also how they were convinced of their
    miserable state.... And methought they spake as if joy did make
    them speak; they spake with such pleasantness of Scripture
    language, and with such appearance of grace in all they said,
    that they were to me as if they had found a new world, as if
    they were people that dwelt alone, and were not to be reckoned
    among their neighbours.'--Bunyan's _Grace Abounding_.

[43] 'Works,' iii. 350.

[44] 'Works,' iii. 360.

[45] 'Works,' iii. 366.

[46] 'Works,' iii. 368.

[47] 'Works,' iii. 357. Browning makes his good old Pope feel, in the
later Renaissance, as if Christian heroism had been

                           'so possible
  When in the way stood Nero's cross and stake,
  So hard now'--

and, looking back almost regretfully to Nero's time, to ask--

  'How could saints and martyrs _fail_ see truth
   Streak the night's blackness?'

'The Ring and the Book. The Pope,' line 1827.

[48] 'Works,' vi. 514.

[49] 'The examples of God's children always complaining of their own
wretchedness serve for the penitent that _they_ slide not into
desperation.'--'Works,' vi. 85.

[50] 'Works,' iii. 386.

[51] 'Works,' vi. 513.

[52] It is of the letter from which the above is taken that Knox in
publishing it long after says apologetically, 'If it serve not for this
estate of Scotland, yet it will serve a troubled conscience, so long as
the Kirk of God remaineth in either realm.'--'Works,' vi. 617.

[53] 'Works,' iii. 362.

[54] 'Works,' iv. 252.

[55] 'Honest' in that age meant something nearly equivalent to
'honourable,' and that they were 'poor women' may refer to troubles
which they brought to him, other than want of money.

[56] 'Works,' vi. 104.

[57] 'Works,' iii. 370.

[58] 'Conditions' refers to inward nature, not outward circumstances. It
may be explained by a letter written nine years later, also to a friend
in England, in which Knox apologises for not having written him for
years, during which the Reformer had been 'tossed with many storms,' yet
might have sent a letter, 'if that this my churlish nature, _for the
most part oppressed with melancholy_, had not staid tongue and pen from
doing of their duty.'--'Works,' vi. 566. Knox in 1553 was suffering
severely from gravel and dyspepsia; one of these was already an 'old
malady'; and both seem to have clung to him during the rest of his life.

[59] 'Works,' vi. 11.



Knox had preached only for a few months in St Andrews in 1547, when the
castle capitulated to the foreign fleet, and he and his companions were
flung into the French galleys. There for nineteen months he toiled at
the oar under the lash, and through the cold of two winters, and the
heat of the intervening summer, had leisure to count the cost of the
choice so recently made. It is a tribute to his constancy that men
chiefly remember this dark time by its spots of colour--as when, at
Nantes, he flung Our Lady's image into the Loire--'She is light enough:
let her learn to swim!' And when off St Andrews they pointed out to him
the steeple of the kirk, the emaciated prisoner replied, 'Yes, I know it
well: and I am fully persuaded, how weak that ever I now appear, that I
shall not depart this life till that my tongue shall glorify His godly
name in the same place.' But this first apprenticeship to sorrow went
deep into the man. It was when he was 'in Rouen, lying in irons, and
sore troubled by corporal infirmity, in a galley named _Notre Dame_,'
that he sent a letter to his St Andrews friends. And in it he asks them
to 'Consider'--his countrymen have scarcely as yet considered it
sufficiently--'Consider, brethren, it is no speculative theologue which
desireth to give you courage, but even your brother in affliction, which
partly hath experience what Satan's wrath may do against the chosen of
God.'[60] His spirit indeed was in no wise broken: on his escape from
France he became again a garrison preacher, and gained over King
Edward's rude soldiers in Berwick an ascendancy, even greater than he
had held in St Andrews over the young lairds of Fife. But, though not
broken, it was chastened. It was during the following years, and
especially in 1553, that he wrote the deeply sympathetic letters from
which we have already quoted. And in 1554, when he left England to
escape Mary Tudor, he introduces into a short but admirable treatise on
Prayer some autobiographical references, which seem to date back to the
extreme suffering of his captivity, 'when not only the ungodly, but even
my faithful brethren, yea, and my own self, that is, all natural
understanding, judged my cause (case) to be irremediable.'

    'The frail flesh, oppressed with fear and pain, desireth
    deliverance, ever abhorring and drawing back from obedience
    giving. O Christian brethren, I write by experience ... I know
    the grudging and murmuring complaints of the flesh; I know the
    anger, wrath, and indignation which it conceiveth against God,
    calling all his promises in doubt, and being ready every hour
    utterly to fall from God. Against which rests [remains] only

Knox's faith sprang readily to whatever active duty was set before it.
On his escape from France he spent, as we have seen, five years in
England, and at the close of that period we have his own assurance that
he had become almost an Englishman.

    'Sometime I have thought that impossible it had been, so to have
    removed my affection from the realm of Scotland, that any realm
    or nation could have been equally dear to me. But God I take to
    record in my conscience that the troubles present (and appearing
    to be) in the realm of England are doubly more dolorous unto my
    heart than ever were the troubles of Scotland.'[61]

He had laboured incessantly in many parts of England, first as licensed
preacher and then as King's chaplain, and this of course brought him in
contact with church politics as well as the Evangel. It was owing to
Knox's remonstrances that, when King Edward's Council put kneeling at
the Sacrament into the Prayer-Book, they accompanied it with the Rubric,
which is still retained, and which testifies 'that thereby no adoration
is intended or ought to be done.' So far his position was reasonable,
and even conciliatory. But as early as 1550, when requested, perhaps by
the Council of the North, to 'give his confession' in Newcastle as to
the Mass, he repeated the Puritan view of his first St Andrews sermon,
but now in his favourite form of a syllogism, and with its major clause
dangerously enlarged.

    'All worshipping, honouring, or service invented by the brain of
    man in the religion of God, without his own express commandment,
    is _Idolatry_.[62] The Mass is invented by the brain of man
    without any commandment of God, therefore it is idolatry.'

To Knox's five years in England now succeeded five years which may be
said to have been spent on the Continent. He first drifted to Frankfort,
and was put in charge of the English congregation there. Very soon the
two parties, which have ever since divided the Church of England, made
their appearance in this representative fragment of it. Knox, of course,
took the Puritan side as to the form of worship; but a large part of his
congregation insisted on the full service of King Edward's book. The
matter was brought to a close in rather an unfortunate way by two of
Knox's opponents lodging an accusation against him before the
Magistrates, of treason against the Emperor, the English Queen, and her
Spanish husband. Frankfort was an imperial city, and Knox was thus no
longer safe there. He went to Geneva, which was then, under Calvin's
influence, an illustrious centre of the reformed faith; and was at once
called to be co-pastor there (along with Goodman) of the
English-speaking congregation. Knox's later biographer points out the
historic importance of this 'the first Puritan congregation.' It was the
source of Elizabethan Non-conformity, and 'it is in the writings of Knox
and Goodman that those doctrines were first unflinchingly expounded
which eventually became the tradition of Puritanism.'[63] The Church
Order, too, which they adopted became afterwards that of worship in
Scotland; their Psalms were the model for the English and Scotch
versions; and, above all, the Genevan Bible, prepared by the members of
Knox's congregation at the very time he was their minister, continued
for three-quarters of a century thereafter to be 'the household book of
the English-speaking nations.' It is called the happiest and most
peaceful time of Knox's life. But it was a time of incessant preparation
for still greater things, and in this short biography we must confine
ourselves to what bears either on the man himself or on his supreme work
for his native country.

For during all Knox's life on the Continent he seems to have kept in
view the problem of how the Evangel could be set free in Scotland. He
never had any doubt as to the duty of the individual to confess it in
the teeth of the Magistrate and of the law. But how could men combine
together to do so, against authority otherwise lawful? On this and
similar points he proposed questions on his first arrival in Switzerland
to the leading theologians. Bullinger, with the approval of Calvin, gave
an answer which may have suggested to Knox the idea that a people (the
Armenians are specially instanced) may revolt against 'their legitimate
magistrate' who persecutes the truth, provided they have an inferior
magistrate to lead them.[64] And next year, 1555, Knox made a memorable
visit to Scotland. There James the Fifth's widow, Mary of Lorraine, was
now Regent, and so chief 'Magistrate.' She was during all those years
not disposed to be intolerant, and the prospect was everywhere
encouraging. From Edinburgh Knox writes to Mrs Bowes (still in
Northumberland), thanking her for being

    'the instrument to draw me from the den of my own ease (you
    alone did draw me from the rest of quiet study) to contemplate
    and behold the fervent thirst of our brethren, night and day
    sobbing and groaning for the bread of life. If I had not seen it
    with my eyes in my own country, I could not have believed it.
    Depart I cannot, unto such time as God quench their thirst a
    little.' And accordingly later on he adds, 'The trumpet blew the
    old sound three days together, till private houses of
    indifferent largeness could not contain the voice of it. God for
    Christ his Son's sake grant me to be mindful that the sobs of my
    heart have not been in vain, nor neglected in the presence of
    his Majesty. O sweet were the death that should follow such
    forty days in Edinburgh as here I have had three!'[65]

It was in the midst of this glowing enthusiasm that Knox attended an
Edinburgh supper party in the house of Erskine, the Laird of Dun, where
the question was formally discussed whether those who believed the
Evangel could countenance by their presence the celebration of the Mass?
Knox maintained the negative, and as young Maitland of Lethington and
other acute doubters were there, all views were well represented. But in
the end the Reformer's zeal prevailed, and another step was taken to
making Protestantism a public if not a permitted thing in Scotland. From
Edinburgh he took journeys to Forfarshire, to West Lothian, to Ayrshire,
and to Renfrewshire; and after half a year spent in incessant preaching,
followed occasionally by administering the Sacraments, he was at last
cited to appear before the bishops in the Blackfriars Church, Edinburgh.
He went, but attended by so many friends that nothing was attempted
against him for the time. And now, at the suggestion of Glencairn and
Marischal, two of the lords who were favourable to the new doctrine,
Knox sat down to write a letter to the Queen Dowager, as Regent of
Scotland. It had hitherto been Mary of Lorraine's policy to play off the
Protestant party, which had leanings to England, against the Catholic
side, which was faithful to France. Knox accordingly blesses 'God, who
by the dew of his heavenly grace, hath so quenched the fire of
displeasure in your Grace's heart,' and with unprecedented courtesy
apologises 'that a man of base estate and condition dare enterprise to
admonish a Princess so honourable, endued with wisdom and graces
singular.' Those whom Knox represented were a small minority of
Scotchmen; but that did not prevent him demanding of the Regent far more
than mere neutrality or 'indifferency' between the contending parties.
He demands of her the reform of both religion and the church. He admits
that 'your Grace's _power_ is not so free as a public Reformation
perchance would require'; you 'cannot hastily abolish superstition, ...
which to a public Reformation is requisite and necessary. But if the
zeal of God's glory be fervent in your Grace's heart, you will not by
wicked laws maintain idolatry, neither will you suffer the fury of
Bishops to murder and devour.' The Queen Regent was not disposed to go
very far with the bishops, but still less was she fervent for God's
glory and public Reformation. Accordingly, on the first Court day she
handed Knox's letter, perhaps unread, to the Bishop of Glasgow, with the
words, 'Please you, my Lord, to read a Pasquil.' The unwise jest came to
Knox's ears, and some years after he published his letter with resentful
additions and interpolations. In these he assumed--much too soon--that
there was no longer hope of the Regent becoming personally convinced of
the Evangel. But he at the same time modified his 'Petition' on behalf
of his party to this, 'that our doctrine may be tried by the plain word
of God, and that liberty be granted to us to utter and declare our minds
at large in every article and point which are now in controversy'; and
on his own behalf and 'in the name of the Lord Jesus, that with
_indifferency_ I may be heard to preach, to reason, and to dispute in
that cause.'

But now, in July 1556, letters came to Knox in Edinburgh from his
congregation in Geneva, 'commanding him in God's name, as he was their
chosen pastor, to repair unto them for their comfort.' He at once
complied, sending before him from Norham to Dieppe his wife and her
mother. Scotland was not yet ripe. The lay professors of the Evangel
indeed were not seriously molested after his departure. But on the other
hand Knox himself was at once cited to appear in Edinburgh, condemned in
absence as a contumacious heretic, and burned at the Cross in the High
Street--in effigy. Neither this, nor his daily work in Geneva, had the
effect of withdrawing him for a day from his solicitude for his native
country. On leaving it he wrote an admirable 'Letter of Wholesome
Counsel'[66] urging the continual study of the word of God in families
and in congregations.

    'Within your own houses, I say, in some cases, ye are bishops
    and kings; your wife, children, servants, and family are your
    bishopric and charge; of you it shall be required how carefully
    and diligently ye have always instructed them in God's true
    knowledge, how that ye have studied in them to plant virtue and
    repress vice. And therefore, I say, ye must make them partakers
    in reading, exhorting, and in making common prayers, which, I
    would, in every house were used once a day at least.'

And for each congregation he urged an order of procedure much nearer
that of apostolic times than that which the Reformed Church, at his own
instance, afterwards instituted in Scotland.

    'I think it necessary that for the conference [comparing] of
    Scriptures, assemblies of brethren be had. The order therein to
    be observed is expressed by St Paul,' ... after 'confession' and
    'invocation,' 'let some place of Scripture be plainly and
    distinctly read, so much as shall be thought sufficient for one
    day or time, which ended, if any brother have exhortation,
    question, or doubt, let him not fear to speak or move the same,
    so that he do it with moderation, either to edify or to be
    edified. And hereof I doubt not but great profit shall shortly
    ensue; for, first, by hearing reading and conferring the
    Scriptures in the Assembly, the whole body of the Scriptures of
    God shall become familiar, the judgments and spirits of men
    shall be tried, their patience and modesty shall be known, and
    finally their gifts and utterance shall appear.'

If any difficulty of interpretation occurs, it should be 'put in writing
before ye dismiss the congregation,' with the view of consulting some
wise adviser. Many, he hopes, would be glad to help them.

    'Of myself I will speak as I think; I will more gladly spend
    fifteen hours in communicating my judgment with you, in
    explaining as God pleases to open to me any place of Scripture,
    than half an hour in any matter beside.'

Before six months had passed, however, Knox, who was again abroad, had
become troubled by the too great freedom of opinion and the dangers of
consequent freedom of life even in the Protestant community, and his
letter 'To the Brethren'[67] in Scotland from Dieppe, against
Anabaptists and Sectarians, foreshadows the more rigid form which was to
be one day impressed upon Church doctrine and life in his native land.

During the ensuing year, 1557, everything was peaceful and hopeful. The
Protestants kept their worship private, but it spread from town to
town, and from the land of one friendly baron to his neighbours'
territory. Knox had been formally condemned, but those he left behind
were not molested, and in March four of the Lords wrote him to Geneva
asking him to return to Scotland. They accompanied this with assurances
that though 'the Magistrates in this country' were in the same state as
before, the Churchmen there were daily in less estimation. After
consulting Calvin, Knox said farewell to his congregation, and had got
as far homewards as Dieppe, where he was much disappointed to receive
'contrary letters.' His reply, indignantly acquiescing, indicates the
plan which by this time he had formed in order to solve the combined
difficulties in theory and practice which beset Scotland. He reminded
his correspondents--Glencairn, Lorne, Erskine, and James Stewart--in
very memorable words, that they were themselves magistrates, or at least
representatives of the people, and had duties accordingly.

    'Your subjects, yea, your brethren, are oppressed, their bodies
    and souls holden in bondage; and God speaketh to your
    consciences (unless ye be dead with the blind world) that you
    ought to hazard your own lives (be it against kings and
    emperors) for their deliverance. For only for that cause are ye
    called Princes of the people, and ye receive of your brethren
    honour, tribute and homage at God's commandment; not by reason
    of your birth and progeny (as the most part of men falsely do
    suppose), but by reason of your office and duty, which is to
    vindicate and deliver your subjects and brethren from all
    violence and oppression, to the utmost of your power.'[68]

The effect of this and other encouragements was to bring matters to a
point in Scotland. The Protestant party, which had now been joined by
Argyll and Morton, entered into the kind of engagement which was then
called a 'Band,' and afterwards became widely known in Scotland as a
'Covenant.' This document, dated 3rd December 1557, bound the
signatories to 'apply our whole power, substance, and our very lives, to
maintain, set forward, and establish the most blessed Word of God and
his congregation ... unto which holy word and congregation we do join
us, and also do forsake and renounce the congregation of Satan.' This
important step, which seems to have been represented by rumour in Dieppe
as something like rebellion in Scotland, apparently startled Knox. A
fortnight after it took place he writes the 'Lords of the Congregation,'
as they were henceforth called, a letter of caution, urging them to

    'seek the favour of the Authority, that by it, if possible be,
    the cause in which ye labour may be promoted, _or at the least
    not persecuted_, which thing after all humble request if ye can
    not attain, then, with open and solemn protestation of your
    obedience to be given to the Authority in all things not plainly
    repugning to God, ye lawfully may attempt the extremity, which
    is to provide, whether the Authority will consent or no, that
    Christ's Evangel may be duly preached, and his holy Sacraments
    rightly ministered unto you, and to your brethren the subjects
    of that realm.'

The Lords of the Congregation were disposed to be at least as cautious
as Knox, and during the following year, 1558, there was a remarkable
approximation to a possible settlement in Scotland on the basis of
toleration. The 'Band' of the congregation does not at all suggest that
the Barons who joined in it, and thereby bound themselves to defend
their religion against the pressure and tyranny of outsiders, would
think it right themselves to exercise a counter pressure and tyranny
upon their own vassals within their own lands. And Knox's intimation
that the Authority--_i.e._, the Regent and Parliament--though refusing
to promote the Evangel, ought to be asked at least _not to persecute
it_, was most timely. He held, indeed, at this time, that such a
concession, if granted, ought to bar not only insurrection, but even a
partial and divided establishment of religion. The state of matters was
reflected in two resolutions which the Congregation came to immediately
after the Band. By the first, common prayers were to be read on Sundays
in the churches--which must mean in the churches where the innovators
had influence--by the curates, 'if qualified,' and, if not, by those of
the parishioners who were. But the second provided that preaching be, in
the meantime, 'had and used privately in quiet houses,' great
conventions being avoided 'till God move the Prince to grant public
preaching.' And another influence now entered into the history. Knox had
initiated an aristocratic revolution. But the Burghs of Scotland had
been there, as in every other country of Europe, fortresses of freedom
and the advance-guard of constitutional civilisation. And it was now
resolved, that the brethren in every _town_ 'should assemble together.
And this our weak beginning did God so bless, that within few months the
hearts of many were so strengthened, that we sought to have the _face of
a church_ among us.'... And the town of Dundee in particular 'began to
erect the face of a public church reformed.'[69] Henceforward the great
towns became more and more prepared to be the centres of the future
struggle. Meantime, however, early in 1558, the 'First Petition of the
Protestants of Scotland' was presented to the Regent. It protested
against the existing tyranny, and craved, in general and cautious terms,
a 'public Reformation,' laying stress on church services in the vulgar
tongue, and offering to submit differences to be publicly decided, not
only by the New Testament, but by the writings of the Fathers and the
laws of Justinian. The offer seems to have been at once accepted. But,
according to the account of Knox, who, of course, was still abroad, the
proposed public discussion came to nothing, because both parties fell
back upon other conditions of arbitration; the Protestants now demanding
that the Scriptures alone should decide all controversy, the Catholics
insisting on Councils and Canon Law. The next step was a proposal by the
Bishops of 'Articles of Reconciliation,' according to which the Old
Church was to remain publicly established, while the Protestants might
privately pray and baptise in the vulgar tongue. This the innovating
party declined, and pressed for 'reformation.' And now the Regent, whom
Knox afterwards came to regard as 'crafty and dissimulate,' and who, no
doubt, even now desired to please and 'make her profit of both parties,'
announced to the Congregation her decision. 'She gave to us permission
_to use ourselves_ godly, according to our desires, provided that we
should not make public assemblies in Edinburgh or Leith'--_i.e._, in the
capital. The Queen went so far as to promise positive 'assistance to our
preachers,' the assistance no doubt being rather private and personal,
and the whole arrangement being an interim one, 'until some uniform
order might be established by a Parliament.' It was a great step in
advance; indeed, Knox says, 'we departed fully contented with her
answer;'[70] and it is impossible not to speculate on what the result
might have been had the order finally established by Parliament been
that both parties should permanently 'use themselves godly according to
their desires,' with a publicly acknowledged right of proselytism or

But from both sides there still came some things hostile to the advent
in Scotland of that toleration which the modern conscience has approved.
In April 1558 Walter Myln, a priest eighty-two years of age, was seized
by order of the Archbishop of St Andrews, condemned for heresy, and
burned there amid the general but ineffectual resentment of the people.
The sentence was quite legal under the laws which still enforced
membership of the Catholic Church upon all Scotchmen. But the last man
who had been so condemned was Knox; and he no longer delayed to publish
in Geneva an Appellation or appeal against his sentence, directed to the
nobles, the estates and the commonalty of Scotland. His demand for a
return to the primitive Gospel under the Divine authority is powerful
and eloquent. His reasons, on the other hand, for 'appeal from the
sentence and judgment of the visible Church to the knowledge of the
temporal magistrate' are difficult to reconcile with the position which
Knox afterwards took up when that Church was on his own side; and they
are indeed chiefly drawn from the Old Testament. It is not until we
observe from his re-statement of the case farther on, that his was an
appeal 'against a sentence of death,' that the argument once more
straightens itself out so as to suit the lips even of Paul. But Knox
declines now to remain on the defensive. He accuses his accusers of
heresy and idolatry, and calls upon the nobles of Scotland to decide
against them according to God's Word. Here, again, the appeal, so long
as it is made to the conscience of all men and of nobles alike, is very
cogent. Nor is it less so as addressed specially to the most
representative and intelligent Scotchmen of the time, for such the Lords
of the Congregation undoubtedly were. It becomes doubtful only when it
insists on the right of these temporal 'Princes of the people' to reform
the Church--apparently even without the consent of its majority; and it
becomes worse than doubtful when he urges their duty as magistrates to
repress false religion and to punish idolatry with death. Along with
this, however, was published a shorter letter 'To his Beloved Brethren
the Commonalty of Scotland.' To these subjects born within the same,
their brother John Knox wishes in it 'the spirit of righteous judgment;'
and that in a tone of independence which must have sounded to Scottish
peasants and burghers like a call to a new life. For in this treatise,
unlike the last, each private Scottish man is urged to judge of what
claimed to be the original truth, even against an admittedly ancient
system. And 'If that system was an error in the beginning, so it is in
the end, and the longer that it be followed, and the more that do
receive it, it is the more pestilent, and more to be avoided.'

    'Neither would I that ye should esteem the Reformation and care
    of religion less to appertain to you, because ye are no kings,
    rulers, judges, nobles, nor in authority. Beloved brethren, ye
    are God's creatures, created and formed to His own image and
    similitude, for whose redemption was shed the most precious
    blood of the only beloved Son of God.... For albeit God hath put
    and ordained distinction and difference between the king and
    subjects, between the rulers and the common people, in the
    regimen and administration of civil policies, yet in the hope of
    the life to come He hath made all equal.... And this is the
    equality which is between the king and subjects, the most rich
    or noble, and between the poorest and men of lowest estate; to
    wit, that as the one is obliged to believe in heart, and with
    mouth to confess, the Lord Jesus to be the only Saviour of the
    world, so also is the other.'

And by this time Knox has reasoned out for himself the right of the
people to maintain the true Church, and to band in defence of it--though
that right he even now recognises only when they cannot do better.

    'And if in this point your superiors be negligent, or yet
    pretend to maintain tyrants in their tyranny, most justly ye may
    provide true teachers for yourselves, be it in your cities,
    towns, or villages: them ye may maintain and defend against all
    that shall persecute them, and by that means shall labour to
    defraud you of that most comfortable food of your souls,
    Christ's evangel truly preached. Ye may, moreover, withhold the
    fruits and profits which your false Bishops and clergy most
    unjustly receive of you, unto such time as they be compelled
    faithfully to do their charge and duties.'

These appeals by Knox can only have made their way in Scotland gradually
and privately. But as the year 1558 went on, the prospect of union
became more hopeful. The Queen Regent acted as if 'the duty of the
Magistrate' were to prevent majorities and minorities from laying hands
on each other. And, then at least, this was not an easy work. The
Bishops tyrannised in details in localities where the barons were still
on their side; but Myln was the last Protestant martyr in Scotland. On
the other hand, the adherents of the congregation became so bold,
especially in the towns, that (as Knox tells us) 'the images were stolen
away in all parts of the country, and in Edinburgh was that great idol
called St Gile first _drowned_ in the North Loch, and after burned.'[71]
This was too much, and the Regent allowed the Bishops to summon the
iconoclast preachers for the 19th of July. But a party of Western lairds
heard of it on their way from the army of the Border, and insisted on
interviewing the Queen. Knox's vivid account of what followed must be
quoted. It includes a delicious phonograph of the Scots speech of Mary
of Lorraine, who, to the desire to please all men which was common to
her with her more famous daughter, seems to have added real good nature
and kindliness of heart. James Chalmers of Gadgirth, a rough
Ayrshireman, burst out against the Bishops--

    '"Madam, we vow to God we shall make one day of it. They oppress
    us and our tenants for feeding of their idle bellies; they
    trouble our preachers, and would murder them and us: shall we
    suffer this any longer? No, madam, it shall not be." And
    therewith every man put on his steel bonnet. There was heard
    nothing of the Queen's part but "My joys, my hearts, what ails
    you? Me means no evil to you nor to your preachers. The Bishops
    shall do you no wrong. Ye are all my loving subjects. Me knew
    nothing of this proclamation. The day of your preachers shall be
    discharged, and me will hear the controversy that is betwixt the
    Bishops and you. They shall do you no wrong. My Lords," said she
    to the Bishops, "I forbid you either to trouble them or their
    preachers." And unto the gentlemen, who were wondrously
    commoved, she turned again and said, "O, my hearts, should ye
    not love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your
    mind? and should ye not love your neighbours as yourselves?"
    With these and the like fair words she kept the Bishops from
    buffets at that time.'[72]

Her daughter Mary, the celebrated Queen of Scots, had been married in
April to Francis, the Dauphin of France, and the Regent, rejoicing in
this long hoped-for alliance, had one thing more at heart. The Scots
Parliament was to meet in November, and she hoped that it would confer
the crown 'Matrimonial' of Scotland upon her son-in-law, thus
consolidating the two kingdoms. In view of this meeting the Lords of the
Congregation prepared a petition, the leading prayer of which would have
practically freed Scotland from the intolerance of existing legislation
in the matter of religion--

    'We most humbly desire that _all such Acts of Parliament_, as in
    the time of darkness gave power to the churchmen to execute
    their tyranny against us, by reason that we to them were delated
    as heretics, may be _suspended and abrogated_.'[73]

Here again was a proposal which, if taken by itself, would have
satisfied the modern view of liberty of conscience. But the petitioners
went on to say that they did not object to a _temporal_ judge of heresy,
provided he judged according to the Word of God; and they looked forward
to a decision of 'all controversies in religion,' not however by
Parliament, but by a General Council. This proposal was first handed to
the Queen Regent, who 'spared not amiable looks and good words in
abundance, but always she kept our Bill close in her pocket.' Both
parties in Parliament being thus pleased, the Crown Matrimonial was
consented to, and before the Session closed, the Protestant Lords read
an important protest, repeating the positions which they had already
taken up.

    1. 'We protest, that seeing we cannot obtain a just reformation,
    according to God's word, that it be lawful to us _to use
    ourselves_ in matters of religion and conscience, as we must
    answer unto God.

    2. 'That we shall incur no danger in life or lands, or other
    political pains, for not observing such Acts as heretofore have
    passed in favour of our adversaries.'

They added a protest that if any tumult should arise 'for the diversity
of religion,' and if any abuses should be 'violently reformed,' it
should not be imputed to them, who desired a reformation in matters of
religion by the Authority. From that Authority, however, they, in
closing--somewhat inconsistently but most rightfully--demanded once more
the 'indifferency' which becometh God's Lieutenant.

Parliament declined to record the Protest, but the Queen Regent said in
her confidential way to the Lords, 'Me will remember what is protested;
and me shall put good order after this to all things.' Knox was
delighted, and in writing to Calvin commended her 'for excellent
knowledge in God's word, and good will towards the advancement of his
glory.' There is no reason to suppose that Mary of Lorraine had attained
to much more than a kindly appreciation of all parties around her, and
to that general sense of justice which is strong in rulers and other men
so long as they have no personal interest to the contrary. Yet under
this feminine 'regimen' Scotland was now within measurable distance of
being, alone among the commonwealths of Europe, the home of liberty of
worship and freedom of conscience. But that great time was not come; and
the small northern land was now caught up again into the whirl of
European politics. On the 17th November 1558 Mary of England, the
unhappy wife of Philip, died; and her Protestant sister Elizabeth, the
daughter of Anne Boleyn, succeeded. It became at once the chief point in
the policy of Catholic Europe that France and Scotland should be fast
bound together in religion and turned, along with Spain, as one force
for the restoration or re-conquest of England. For if the English queen
was an illegitimate heretic, then Mary Stuart, already Queen of Scotland
and Dauphiness of France, was now Queen of England too; and without
delay the French king quartered the arms of England with those of Mary's
own country and that of her adoption. The magnificent bribe of a third
crown for that fair 'daughter of debate' was too much for her mother in
Scotland, who in any case would have found a continued toleration there
irreconcileable with the traditions of their House of Guise. The Regent
now, in her mild way, joined the cruel Catholic crusade of the French
Court, and from the beginning of 1559 the conciliatory policy which had
distinguished the previous year in Scotland was at an end.

But its results were not ended. They had spread through all ranks, and
had gone down to the foundations of society. On New Year's Day of 1559
there was found affixed to the door of every religious house in Scotland
the following document--the most extraordinary imitation of a legal writ
that Scotland has seen. It is probably not written by Knox, but by some
other strong pen. It bears to be a notice or 'summons' of ejectment for
the ensuing Whitsunday, and is called


    The Blind, Crooked, Bedrels [bedfast], Widows, Orphans, and all
    other Poor, so visited by the hand of God as they may not work,


    The Flocks of all Friars within this realm, we wish restitution
    of wrongs bypast, and reformation in time coming, for

                *       *       *       *       *

    Ye yourselves are not ignorant, and though ye would be it is
    now, thanks to God, known to the whole world, by His infallible
    word, that the benignity or alms of all Christian people
    pertains to us allanerly [exclusively]; which ye, being hale of
    body, stark, sturdy, and able to work, what [partly] under
    pretence of poverty (and nevertheless possessing most easily all
    abundance) what [partly] through cloaked and hooded simplicity,
    though your proudness is known, and what [partly] by feigned
    holiness, which now is declared superstition and idolatry, have
    these many years, express against God's word and the practice of
    His Holy Apostles, to our great torment alas! most falsely
    stolen from us. And as ye have, by your false doctrine and
    wresting of God's word (learned of your father Satan), induced
    the whole people high and low, into sure hope and belief, that
    to clothe, feed, and nourish you is the only acceptable alms
    allowed before God, and to give one penny or one piece of bread
    once in the week, is enough for us; Even so ye have persuaded
    them to build to you great hospitals, and maintain you therein
    by their purse, which only pertains now to us by all law, as
    builded and doted [given] to the poor--of whose number ye are
    not, nor can be repute, neither by the law of God, nor yet by no
    other law proceeding of nature, reason, or civil policy.... We
    have thought good, therefore, before we enter with you in
    conflict, to warn you, in the name of the great God, by this
    public writing, affixed on your gates, where ye now dwell, that
    ye remove forth of our said hospitals betwixt this and the feast
    of Whitsunday next, so that we the only lawful proprietors
    thereof may enter thereto, and afterward enjoy these
    _commodities of the Kirk_, which ye have hereunto wrongously
    holden from us: Certifying you, if ye fail, we will at the said
    term, in whole number (with the help of God and the assistance
    of His saints in earth, of whose readie support we doubt not),
    enter and take possession of _our said patrimony_, and eject you
    utterly forth of the same.

    _Let him therefore that before has stolen, steal no more; but
    rather let him work with his hands that he may be helpful to the

    FIRST DAY OF JANUARY, 1558 {1559}.[74]

As it turned out, this summons was in some cases literally fulfilled,
and a revolutionary ejectment carried out by Whitsunday 1559. But now
from another side came another warning to put the house of the Church in
order. The Catholic barons presented a petition for its reform, and the
Regent called a Provincial Council on 1st March. It dealt, however,
almost exclusively with the lives and duties of the clergy, and leaving
untouched the central grievance--the legal authority of the Church and
of the Pope over all subjects--had no effect whatever on the public.
Immediately after, all 'unauthorised' preaching was forbidden. The
Protestants, astonished, waited on the Regent and reminded her of her
promises. She replied, in words which were often recalled during the
reigns of her Stewart descendants, that 'it became not subjects to
burden their Princes with promises, farther than it pleaseth them to
keep the same,' and the preachers were ordered to appear before her at
Stirling. But now Knox, who had kept up constant communication from
Geneva with his friends, suddenly appears on the scene. On 2d May he
writes from Edinburgh to Mrs Locke:

    'I am come, I praise my God, even in the brunt of the battle:
    for my fellow-preachers have a day appointed to answer before
    the Queen Regent, the 10th of this instant, where I intend, if
    God impede not, also to be present: by life, by death, or else
    by both, to glorify His godly name, who thus mercifully hath
    heard my long cries.'[75]

The day after this letter was written, Knox was 'blown loud to the
horn,' _i.e._, declared an excommunicated outlaw: but he had meantime
left for Dundee, where he was received with acclamation, and from thence
departed to Perth, now the centre of Protestantism. There, day by day,
he preached to excited multitudes in the Parish Church; and it was
after a sermon there, 'vehement against idolatry,' that a foolish
priest, attempting to perform mass in the same building, was set upon by
the mob of Perth, who had an old feud with the clergy. From the church
the multitude streamed away to the magnificent Religious Houses which
had adorned the town, and sacked and burned them so thoroughly that only
the walls were left standing. It wanted yet four days to that
Whitsunday, for ejection on which the 'rascal multitude' had last New
Year's Day warned the Friars! The Queen Regent resented this outrageous
violence, but was forced to come to an interim agreement with the Lords
of the Congregation. On her entry into Perth they moved into Fife, and
Knox having preached in Crail and Anstruther, resolved to do so also in
the Parish Church of St Andrews on Sunday. But the St Andrews populace
had not yet declared themselves; the Regent's hostile army was only
twelve miles off; and the Archbishop--who had occupied the town with a
hundred spears and a dozen of culverins--now threatened his life if he
attempted it. It was a moment for a bold man. At the hour fixed Knox
made his appearance. No one ventured to attack him. He preached with his
usual impetuous eloquence on 'casting the buyers and sellers out of the
temple,' and at its close the magistrates and council permitted the
majority of the people to destroy most of the monasteries, and strip the
churches and cathedral of their apparatus of 'idolatry.' Knox was always
more comfortable where he could say that such proceedings were
countenanced by the local authority, or by the majority of a civic
community. In Edinburgh, to which the Congregation next moved, the
majority had hitherto been hostile to them; and now, on the Queen
Regent's departure, the pulpits were for the first time opened to what
was the legitimate glory of the new movement--free and unfettered
preaching. Knox, church-statesman though he was, threw himself into this
work with a delight that lifted him above calculation of consequences.

    'The long thirst of my wretched heart is satisfied, in abundance
    that is above my expectation; for now, forty days and more hath
    God used my tongue in my native country to the manifestation of
    His glory. Whatever now shall follow, as touching my own
    carcase, His Holy Name be praised.'[76]

The castle, however, still remained faithful to the Regent, and on her
forces approaching Edinburgh, both parties agreed to a truce till
January, which, as respects the town and its religion, provided that--

    'The town of Edinburgh shall, without compulsion, use and choose
    what religion and manner thereof they please, to the said day;
    _so that every man may have freedom to use his own conscience_
    to the day foresaid.'[77]

The truce was to be for six months, to January 1560, and it was employed
by both parties in preparing for a renewed struggle, and, on the side of
the Congregation, in negotiations with Elizabeth and her ministers.
Politically, this last step was of the highest importance. For the first
time for centuries, it healed the breach with 'our auld enemies of
England,' as the Scots statutes had so often described them, and
founded an alliance between the two kingdoms, which has since that date
been only changed in order to become a union. And in this negotiation
the agent and secretary was Knox.[78] He corresponded with the Queen's
great minister Cecil (Elizabeth herself would not hear Knox's name). And
it says not a little for the self-command and honesty of the English
statesman, that he trusted so fully a man whose first letter, written
several years before--a letter, too, asking a favour--commenced by
Knox's 'discharging his conscience' in this way:--

    'In time past, being overcome with common iniquity, you have
    followed the world in the way of perdition: for ... to the
    shedding of the blood of God's dear children have you, by
    silence, consented and subscribed. Of necessity it is, that
    carnal wisdom and worldly policy, (to both which, you are
    bruited to be much inclined) give place to God's simple and
    naked truth.'

Cecil had made no answer to this or to similar subsequent remarks, but
he now wrote asking the Congregation,

    'if support should be sent hence, what manner of amity might
    ensue betwixt these two realms, and how the same might be hoped
    to be perpetual, and not to be so slender as heretofore hath
    been, without other assurance of continuance than from time to
    time hath pleased France.'

And the answer, in Knox's handwriting, is signed by the Protestant
lords, and assures England

    'of our constancy (as men may promise) till our lives end; yea,
    farther, we will divulgate and set abroad a charge and
    commandment to our posterity, that the amity and league between
    you and us contracted and begun in Christ Jesus may by them be
    kept inviolated for ever.'

There was to be in the future a still more Solemn League and Covenant
between the two nations, it too having for its object the deliverance
(and, alas! also the uniformity) of religion in both kingdoms. But that
public, and this private, league were alike disavowed by the Sovereign,
and both became the badge of rebellion. The Queen Regent, indeed, had
now fortified Leith, and was filling it with French soldiers. The Lords
of the Congregation, founding on this as a breach of faith, resolved to
suspend her from the regency, and did so by a proclamation, strangely
signed: 'By us, the nobility and commons of the Protestants of the
Church of Scotland.' The preachers approved, Knox, however, demanding
that a door be still kept open for her restoration. War, of course, at
once followed, and it turned out to be very much a fight between
Edinburgh and Leith, then not unequally matched.[79] Soon the
Protestants got the worst of it. On the last day of October the French,
pouring up Leith Walk, drove them back into the Canongate, attacked
Leith Wynd, and sent their horsemen in headlong flight through the
Netherbow Port and up the High Street. Five days after, the forces of
the Congregation having advanced to Restalrig, were enclosed by two
advancing bodies of the enemy, and so jammed in near Holyrood, between
the crags of the Calton on the one side and the crags of Arthur Seat on
the other, as to be extricated only with most serious loss. Confusion
and dismay seized upon all, and at midnight they marched out of
Edinburgh, pursued by voices of reproach and execration from the
overhanging roofs. Next night they gathered helplessly at Stirling. But
on the following day Knox entered the pulpit there, and preached a
memorable sermon. It recalled the despairing Congregation to a mood of
resolute trust and hope. And yet his text was the Psalm which tells of
the vine brought from Egypt to be planted in the land, but now wasted
and broken down; and the preacher throughout refused even to suggest to
the shrinking multitude any lower hope than the vouchsafed shining again
of the Divine countenance. There remains only, he concluded,

    'that we turn to the Eternal our God, who beats down to death,
    to the intent that he may raise up again, to leave the
    remembrance of his wondrous deliverance, to the praise of his
    own name ... yea, whatsoever shall become of us and of our
    mortal carcases, I doubt not but that this cause, in despite of
    Satan, shall prevail in the realm of Scotland.'

But his words were as life from the dead, and the sermon, which Buchanan
also commemorates, was long after recalled by the preacher himself in St
Giles, in another great crisis of the Evangel.

    'From the beginning of God's mighty working within this realm, I
    have been with you in your most desperate tentations. Ask your
    own consciences, and let them answer you before God, if that
    I--not I, but God's Spirit by me--in your greatest extremity
    willed you not ever to depend upon your God, and in His name
    promised unto you victory and preservation from your enemies, so
    that ye would only depend upon his protection and prefer His
    glory to your own lives and worldly commodity. In your most
    extreme dangers I have been with you: St Johnstone, Cupar Muir,
    and the Crags of Edinburgh, are yet recent in my heart: yea,
    that dark and dolorous night wherein all ye, my Lords, with
    shame and fear left this town, is yet in my mind; and God forbid
    that ever I forget it!'

'The voice of one man,' it was afterwards said of Knox by the English
ambassador in Edinburgh, 'is able in one hour to put more life in us
than five hundred trumpets continually blustering in our ears.' This day
in Stirling was the very lowest point of the fortunes of the
Congregation, and from this hour they began to rise. There were reverses
still; but Scotland was sick of the French, and the end was to come with
the coming year. In April 1560, the English forces surrounded Leith; the
Queen Regent withdrew from it into the Castle of Edinburgh; and the
Lords of the Congregation, stronger than they were originally by the
accession of the Duke of Hamilton and the Earls of Morton and
Huntly,[80] made one more 'Band' or Covenant. In it for the last time
they fall back on liberty of conscience; for all they bind themselves to

    'with our bodies, goods, friends, and all that we may do, to set
    forward the Reformation of Religion, according to God's word;
    and procure, by all means possible, that the truth of God's word
    may have _free passage within this realm_, with due
    administration of the Sacraments, and all things depending upon
    the said word.'[81]

A copy of this Band, by which each subscriber also bound himself not to
make separate overtures to the Regent, was brought to her in the Castle.
Knox, who by this time was become very hostile to Mary of Lorraine, and
reports much doubtful gossip as to her rejoicing over the victories and
cruelties of her soldiers, says that when she read the Band, she spoke
in quite another and milder sense.

    'The malediction of God I give unto them that counselled me to
    persecute the preachers, and to refuse the petitions of the best
    part of the true subjects of this realm.'

But the time was past for her co-operating for the welfare of that
realm. She had fallen into a dropsy, and, becoming daily worse, sent for
the Earls Argyll, Glencairn, and Marischal, and the Lord James (her
husband's son). They came to her separately, and to each she confessed
that she had made a mistake, and should have acceded to the arrangement
they had proposed. 'They gave unto her both the counsel and the comfort
which they could in that extremity, and willed her to send for some
godly learned man, of whom she might receive instruction.' They proposed
Willock; but even that gentle preacher did not set forth 'the virtue and
strength of the death of Jesus Christ,' without touching also upon 'the
vanity and abomination of that idol, the mass.' The dying woman said
nothing, good or bad, of the form in which Christianity had been first
presented, long years ago, to her childish eyes. But 'she did openly
confess "that there was no salvation but in and by the death of Jesus
Christ."' And Knox, holding that in this 'Christ Jesus got no small
victory' over her, grudges extremely that to her approval of 'the chief
head of our religion, wherein we dissent from all Papists and Papistry,'
she added no condemnation of opposing ways. But Mary of Lorraine had
uttered the last even of her good-natured 'maledictions,' and on the
10th of June the Regent of Scotland ended her 'unhappy life'--a life,
that is, which had pleased neither party, though in its later years a
great revolution, carried through at the expense of comparatively little
violence or bloodshed, had narrowly missed attaining an even ideal

And now those troubles were over. Nine months before, her daughter had
become Queen of France, and a treaty was now concluded at Edinburgh,
between the Queen of England on the one part and the 'King and Queen of
France and Scotland' on the other, by which the French troops and
officials withdrew from Scotland, and an indemnity was granted to the
insurgent nobility for all that the Congregation had done. Elizabeth
still looked on them as rebels; but Cecil, with more foresight,
instructed her plenipotentiaries to provide 'that the government of
Scotland be granted to the nation of the land'; and the treaty provided
for a Council of Administration in the absence from Edinburgh of the
Sovereigns, and--more important still--for an immediate meeting of the
Estates, which was to be as valid as if presided over by them.[82] The
most important Parliament which Scotland has ever seen sat on 1st August
1560, and was very largely attended by nobles, lairds, and burgh
representatives. Naturally, a petition was at once laid before it for
the abolition of the old Church system. Equally naturally, this was met
by a request for a statement of the new Church doctrine--a confession of
faith. It was prepared by Knox and three others, and in four days
presented to the Parliament.

'I never heard,' says the English envoy to Cecil, 'matters of so great
importance, neither sooner despatched nor with better will agreed unto.'
Knox's narrative, which is borne out by the records of Parliament, says

    'This our Confession was publicly read, first in audience of the
    Lords of the Articles, and after, in audience of the whole
    Parliament, where were present, not only such as professed
    Christ Jesus, but also a great number of the adversaries of our
    religion, such as the fore-named bishops, and some others of the
    temporal estate, who were commanded, in God's name, to object,
    if they could, anything against that doctrine.'

The ministers were present to defend it, but there was no opposition,
and a second day was appointed, when the Confession was again read over,
article by article, and then a vote was taken. Three, or at the most
five, temporal peers voted against ratifying it; 'and yet for their
disassenting they produced no better reason but, We will believe as our
fathers believed.' Nor was this strange, for the Bishops present, Knox
says, 'spake nothing,' Randolph explaining that the three who got to
their feet, headed by the St Andrew's primate, said the doctrine was a
matter new and strange to them, which they had not examined, and which
they could not 'utterly condemn,' or, on the other hand, quite consent
to. The vote on the side of the majority was largely a rejoicing
outburst of individual conviction. The Earl Marischal indeed, took the
obvious ground that

    'seeing that my Lords Bishops, who for their learning can, and
    for that zeal they should bear to the verity, would (as I
    suppose) gainsay anything that directly repugns to the verity of
    God--seeing, I say, my Lords here present speak nothing in the
    contrary of the doctrine proposed, I cannot but hold it to be
    the very truth of God, and the contrary to be deceivable

The rest of the Lords, says Randolph, with common consent, and 'as glad
a will as ever I heard men speak,' allowed the same.

    'Divers, with protestation of their conscience and faith,
    desired rather presently to end their lives than ever to think
    contrary unto that allowed there. Many also offered to shed
    their blood in defence of the same. The old Lord of Lindsay, as
    grave and goodly a man as ever I saw, said: "I have lived many
    years; I am the oldest in this company of my sort; now that it
    hath pleased God to let me see this day, where so many nobles
    and others have allowed so worthy a work, I will say, with
    Simeon, _Nunc dimittis_."'

It was the birthday of a people. For not in that assembly alone, and
within the dim walls of the old Parliament House of Edinburgh, was that
faith confessed and those vows made. Everywhere the Scottish burgess and
the Scottish peasant felt himself called to deal, individually and
immediately, with Christianity and the divine; and everywhere the
contact was ennobling. 'Common man' as he was, 'the vague, shoreless
universe had become for him a firm city, and a dwelling-place which he
knew. Such virtue was in belief: in these words well spoken, _I
believe_.'[83] But being a common man in Scotland, his religion could
not be isolated, or his faith for himself alone. Wherever he dwelt, 'in
our towns and places reformed,' he was already a member of a
self-governing republic, a republic within the Scottish State but not of
it, and subject to an invisible King. 'The good old cause' was already
born. It kindled itself, as that son of the Burgher mason in Annandale
says again, 'like a beacon set on high; high as heaven, yet attainable
from earth, whereby the meanest man becomes not a citizen only, but a
member of Christ's visible Church; a veritable hero, if he prove a true

       *       *       *       *       *

Day by day at this critical epoch Knox preached in St Giles from the
'prophet Haggeus,' on what he called The Building of the House. In one
sense the foundation was laid already. In another, Parliament might be
called upon to supply one. What foundation was Parliament to lay, and
what structure was promised for the days to come?

[60] 'Works,' iii. 10.

[61] 'Works,' iii. 133.

[62] 'Works,' iii. 34. The rashness of the general proposition here can
only be appreciated when we remember Knox's view that it was the duty of
the Magistrate not only to suppress idolatry, but to punish it with

[63] Hume Brown, i. 203.

[64] 'Works,' iii. 224.

[65] 'Works,' iv. 217, 218.

[66] 'Works,' iv. 129.

[67] 'Works,' iv. 261.

[68] 'Works,' i. 272.

[69] 'Works,' i. 300.

[70] 'Works,' i. 307.

[71] 'Works,' i. 256.

[72] 'Works,' i. 258.

[73] 'Works,' i. 310.

[74] 'Works,' i. 320.

[75] 'Works,' vi. 21.

[76] 'Works,' vi. 26.

[77] 'Works,' i. 378. Knox objected to this unlimited freedom of
conscience being granted, even for a time; and actually succeeded in
retaining the public worship on the ground that Edinburgh _had_ chosen
already, though under compulsion. The interest lies in the fact that, at
every turn of the open struggle which now took place between the two
parties, the true ultimate solution, that of toleration, came to the
front. But it was proposed, or suggested, by each party only when that
party was in the minority, and ignored as soon as it regained the power
to do wrong. See the following additional pages in Knox's own
History:--'Works,' i. 389, 390, 428 ('idolatry _and_ murder'), 432, 442
('chief duty'), and 444.

[78] Knox himself takes care in his History 'to let the posterity that
shall follow understand, by what instruments God wrought the familiarity
and friendship, that after we found in England.'--'Works,' ii. 43.

[79] 'It is not unknown to the most part of this realm, that there has
been an old hatred and contention betwixt Edinburgh and Leith; Edinburgh
seeking continually to possess that liberty which by donation of kings
they have long enjoyed, and Leith, by the contrary, aspiring to a
liberty and freedom in prejudice of Edinburgh.'--Declaration of the
Lords of the Congregation in 1559. 'Works,' i. 426.

[80] Lesser barons sign too, from Cranstoun and Cessford on the Borders,
to Leslie of Buchan and John Innes of that Ilk in the North.

[81] 'Works,' ii. 61. It is dated 26 April 1560.

[82] It does not say that all its acts were to be valid. On the
contrary, 'certain Articles concerning religion' having been presented
on the part of the nobles and people of Scotland, and not meddled with
by the plenipotentiaries 'as being of such importance that they judged
them proper to be remitted to the King and Queen,' it was provided that
the Estates, on their meeting, should choose some persons of quality 'to
repair to their Majesties and remonstrate to them the state of their
affairs, particularly those last mentioned.'

[83] Thomas Carlyle.



The Confession presented to the Parliament of 1560 was one of a group
which sprang as if from the soil, in almost every country in Europe.
They had all a strong family likeness; but not because one imitated the
other. They were honest attempts to represent the impression made on the
mind of that age by the newly discovered Scriptures, and that
impression--the first impression at least--was everywhere the same. And
everywhere it was overwhelmingly strong. So far as Knox at least is
concerned, he plainly held the extreme view, not only that no one could
read the Scriptures without finding in them the new doctrine, but
that--as he quite calmly observed on one memorable occasion in St
Giles--'all Papists are infidels,' either refusing to consult the light,
or denying it when seen. And, of course, nothing was more calculated to
confirm this view than a scene like that which we have just described,
and which had been recently rehearsed in innumerable cases in Scotland
and elsewhere. But, in truth, the new light dazzled all eyes. Later on,
men had to analyse it, and they found there were distinctions to be made
as to its value:--for example, between truth natural and truth revealed,
between the Old Testament and the New, between the truths even of the
New Testament and its sacraments--distinctions which some among
themselves admitted, and which others refused. The very last
publication, too, of Knox in 1572 was an answer to a Scottish Jesuit;
for by that time a counter-Reformation, which also was not without its
convictions, had begun. But, in the meantime, the energy and the triumph
were all on one side. And although only the first step had been taken,
it must be remembered that the first step was, in Scotland, the great
one. With the really Protestant party, and, of course, with the
Puritans, the confession of truth was fundamental. Subsequent
arrangements as to the State, and even as to the Church, were
subordinate--they were, at the best, mere corollaries from the central
doctrine affecting the individual. In every case truth comes first: and
human authority a long way later on. In this transaction, for example,
of the 17th August 1560, nothing is clearer than that the Parliament did
not adopt the doctrine in any way on the authority of the new-born
Church. All the forms of a free and deliberate voting of the doctrine
_as truth_--as the creed of the estates, not of the Church, were gone
through. Still less, on the other hand, did the Church really adopt it
on the authority of the Parliament; (though it must be confessed that
this expression of it--the written creed of 1560--had no formal sanction
other than that of the State). But it was the confession 'professed by
the Protestants,' and exhibited by them 'to the estates;' and it
contained in itself abundant and adequate foundation for that
independence of the Church which became so dear to Scotland in following
ages, and of which Knox himself has always been recognised as, more than
any other man, the historical embodiment.

The great confession in this creed that 'as we believe in one
God--Father, Son, and Holy Ghost--so do we most constantly believe that
from the beginning there has been, now is, and to the end of the world
shall be, one Kirk,' is there so deduced from the everlasting purpose
and revelations of God, and is so concentrated upon the duty and the
privilege of the individual man, that the church in Scotland, even had
it never become national, would have stood square and perhaps risen high
upon this one foundation. But it was by no means intended to stand on
that foundation alone, however adequate. And it was with a view to
further steps--not all of them taken at this time--that clauses as to
the civil magistrate were introduced in the penultimate chapter,
assigning to him 'principally' the conservation and purgation of the
religion--by which, it is carefully explained, is meant not only the
'maintenance' of the true religion, but the 'suppressing' of the false.
One more remark may be made. Theoretically, the Church could improve its
creed. In France it was read aloud on the first day of each yearly
Assembly, that amendments or alterations upon it might be proposed; and
in Scotland also the view was strongly held that the only standard
unchangeable by the Church was Scripture. This theoretical view,
however, was not to have much immediate practical result; especially as
the Confession was now ratified by the Parliament. And this was done
without change or qualification, though the preface prefixed to it by
the Churchmen admits its fallibility and invites amendment--a view in
which Knox had long since been encouraged by his earliest teacher.[84]

The congregation had confessed the doctrine to the Parliament, and the
Parliament had accepted and approved it. Had the Parliament more to do?

Some things were absolutely necessary. It had to wipe out the previous
legislation against the profession of the new faith. The Evangel had to
be set free by statute. Once liberated from the ban of the law under
which its previous victories had been won, it could finish its work
independently, and without difficulty sweep the whole of Scotland. And
Knox had no doubt as to the right of the Kirk to act independently, or
as to its duty to do so--if it could not do more and better. Already,
before the Parliament met, the members of it who were Protestants had
gathered together in Edinburgh, and arranged for fixing this and that
minister of the word in the various centres of population. And once the
legal obstacles to proselytism were removed, the way would be open for a
more glorious advance than they had yet seen. But such a work in the
future, though comparatively easy, and though in Knox's view certain in
its result, would be slow. Why not do it all at a stroke? Instead of
merely revoking the intolerant laws, why not turn them against the other

A very strong petition had been already presented against the Romish
Church, and exactly a week after the ratification of the Confession,
three Acts were passed.[85] These three Acts, with that ratification,
constituted the public 'state of religion' during the seven years of
Mary's reign, and they were re-enacted on her abdication in 1567 as the
foundation of the regime of Protestantism. Of the three, the first was
only ambiguously intolerant, for though it ordained that the Pope 'have
no jurisdiction nor authority within this realm,' that might be held to
reject mainly the Papal encroachment upon civil power. The second was
not intolerant at all, and as being well within the power and duty of
the nation, it ought to have come first. By it all Acts bypast, and
especially those of the five Jameses, not agreeing with God's Word and
contrary to the Confession, and 'wherethrow divers innocents did
suffer,' were abolished and extinguished for ever. But the third, passed
the same day, proceeded on the preamble that 'notwithstanding the
reformation already made, according to God's Word, yet there is some of
the said Papist Kirk that stubbornly persevere in their wicked idolatry
saying Mass and baptising.' And it ordained, against not only them but
all dissenters and outsiders for all time, 'that no manner of person in
any time coming administer _any_ of the Sacraments foresaid, secretly or
any other manner of way, but they that are admitted, or have power to
that effect.' And lastly, with regard to the large minority (if, indeed,
it was not a clear majority) of the nation who still clung to their
ordinary worship, it provided that no one 'shall say Mass, nor yet hear
Mass, nor be present thereat,' under the pains, for the first fault, of
confiscation of goods and bodily punishment, for the second, of
banishment, and for the third, of _death_.

This has always remained the fundamental positive ordinance among the
statutes of the Reformation; though it may be fair to take along with it
the first of these three Acts, and especially a positive clause in it
which forbids bishops to exercise jurisdiction by Papal authority. No
farther establishment of the Church was at the time attempted; and there
was indeed no farther legislation till Mary's downfall in 1567. In that
year the three Acts of 1560 were anew passed; and they were followed by
the formal statement (more or less implied even in the legislation of
1560) that the ministers and people professing Christ according to the
Evangel and the Reformed Sacraments and Confession are 'the only true
and holy Kirk of Jesus Christ within this realm.' An Act followed by
which each king at his coronation was to take an oath to maintain this
religion, and also, explicitly, to root out all heretics and enemies 'to
the true worship of God that shall be convict by the true Kirk of God.'
It seems difficult for statutory religion to go farther: but the solid
system and block of intolerance was completed by a group of statutes in
1572, the year of Knox's death. They ordain that Papists and others not
joining in the Reformed worship shall after warning be excommunicated by
the Church (of which a previous Act, somewhat inconsistently, had
declared them not to be at all members); and that 'none shall be reputed
as loyal and faithful subjects to our sovereign Lord or his authority,
but be punishable as rebels and gain-standers of the same, who shall not
give their confession, and make their profession of the said true

Scotland had taken the wrong legislative turning. The only defence of
these statutes, and it is a very inadequate one, is that they could not
be fully enforced and were not, and that perhaps they were not quite
intended to be enforced. In point of fact Scotland in the Reformation
time had little blood-shedding for mere religion on either side to shew,
compared to the deluge which stained the scaffolds of continental
Europe. That is no answer to the criticism that the only law now needed
was one to 'abolish and extinguish' the persecuting laws which had been
enacted of old. But even to such a critic, and on the ground of theory,
there is something to be said. It is not true that the new theory was
worse than the old. On the contrary, the old theory allowed no private
judgment to the individual at all; he was bound by the authority of the
Church, and it was no comfort to him to know that the state was bound by
it too. On the Protestant theory neither the individual nor the state
were in the first instance so bound; both were free to find and utter
the truth, free for the first time for a thousand years! It was this
feeling--that the state was free truthwards and Godwards--which
accounted for half of the enthusiasm in the Scots Parliament a week
before. And it was not at once perceived, there or elsewhere, that for
the state to make use of this freedom by embracing a creed itself--even
though it now embraced it as the true creed and no longer as the
Church's creed--was perilous for the more fundamental freedom of the
individual. He would be sure to feel aggrieved by his state adopting the
creed which was not his. And the state might readily be led into holding
that it had adopted it not for its officials only but for its subjects,
and might shape its legislation accordingly.

Knox was more responsible for the result than any other man, and for him
also there is something to be said. The view that the state must adopt a
religion for all its subjects and compel them all to be members of its
Church, was common ground in that age; both parties proclaimed it
(except when they were in too hopeless a minority), and the few
Anabaptists and others who anticipated the doctrine of modern times had
not been able to get it into practical politics. Knox too, in his first
contact with the Reformed faith (and the contact, as we know, was a
plunge), had found the tenet of the magistrate's duty in an exaggerated
form. And in that form he now reproduced it. The statement of his
Confession of 1560 that 'To Kings, Princes, Rulers, and Magistrates we
affirm that chiefly and most principally the conservation and purgation
of the Religion appertains,' is not at all stronger than that in the
First Confession of Helvetia which Wishart had brought with him before
1545. Switzerland, taught by bitter experience, exchanged it for a
milder statement in its Second Confession of 1566.[86] But Calvin and
Beza and Knox's friends in the French Protestant Church generally had
held to the stronger view of the magistrate's duty, even amid all his
persecutions of them; and Knox's passionate indignation against idolatry
had led him, even in his early English career, to maintain the duty not
only of the magistrate, but even of the subject in so far as he had
power, to punish it with death. Indeed his only chance of escaping from
the vicious circle of that murderous syllogism[87] was by going back to
the right of the individual to stand against the magistrate, and if need
be to combine against him, in defence of truth. On this side even that
early Helvetic Confession had proclaimed (in Wishart's words but in
Knox's spirit), that subjects should obey the magistrate only 'so long
as his commandments, statutes, and empires, evidently repugn not with
Him for whose sake we honour and worship the magistrate.' And Knox in
later years had travelled so far on the road of modern constitutionalism
as to maintain the right of subjects to combine against and overthrow
the ruler whose intolerant statutes so _repugned_. How far he had
exactly gone would have appeared had the chapter 'of the obedience or
disobedience that subjects owe unto their magistrates' appeared in the
Scottish Confession unrevised. Randolph says that the 'author of this
work' was advised by Lethington and Winram to leave it out. Something,
if not a whole chapter, has been left out; and the consequence is that
the first Confession of the Scottish Church and people is very much
overweighted on the side of absolute power. But had that chapter gone
in, it would have been difficult not to have recognised even then, that
there was an inconsistency between the alleged high function of the
magistrate as to religion, and the _disobedience_ which on that head his
subjects may 'owe unto him'--an inconsistency even in theory. The
inconsistency in practice Providence was to make its early care.

       *       *       *       *       *

It had been necessary for Parliament to revoke its old persecuting
statutes. And on that side it had gone farther, proscribing the old
religion and Church, and setting up, if not a new church, at least a new
religion. But, on another side, and one with which Parliament alone
could deal, there was also something necessary. What was to be done with
the huge endowments of the Church now abolished and proscribed? And what
provision was to be made by the State for that 'maintenance of the true
religion' to which it had bound itself, and for its spread among a
people, half of whom were not even acquainted with it, though all of
them were already bound to it by law?

The question of the endowments was a more difficult one, theoretically
and practically, than that of the yearly tithes. For the former had been
actual gifts, made to the Church or its officials by kings, barons, and
other individuals, when there was no law compelling them to give them.
What right had the State now to touch these? Two things are to be
recalled before answer. All these individual donors had been by law
compelled not only to be members of that Church, but to accept it
(whether they wished to do so or not) as the exclusive receiver of
whatever charities they might desire to institute or to bequeath. For
many centuries past in Scotland the proposal to do otherwise would have
been not only futile, but a deadly risk to him who tried it. Then,
secondly, the same law which had bound the individual to the Church as
the exclusive administrator of charities, had kept him in compulsory
ignorance of other objects of munificence than those which the Church
sanctioned; or if by chance that pious ignorance was broken, it sternly
forbade him to support them. For reasons such as these the modern
European state has never been able to treat ancient endowments made
under the pressure of its own intolerance with the same respect as if
the donors had been really free--free to know, and free to act. The
presumption that the donor or testator, if he were living now, would
have acted far otherwise than he did, and that in altering his
destination the State may be carrying out what he really would have
wished, is in such cases by no means without foundation. Knox and others
reveal to us that this feeling was overwhelmingly strong at the time
with which we are dealing, especially in the minds of the descendants
and representatives of the donors themselves. And in the minds of the
common people, and of Knox as one sprung from them, there was lying,
unexpressed, the feeling which in modern times has been expressed so
loudly, that the claim of the individual, whether superior or sovereign,
to alienate for unworthy uses huge tracts of territory which carry along
with them the lives and labours of masses of men--and of men who have
never consented to it--is a claim doubtful in its origin and pernicious
in its results. All over Protestant Europe the conclusion even of the
wise and just was, that, subject to proper qualifications, the ancient
endowments of the Church were now the treasury of the people.

But there was another part of the patrimony of the old Church on which
Knox had a still stronger opinion--viz., the yearly tithes or Teinds. To
these, in his view, that Church and its ministers had neither the divine
right which they had claimed, nor any right at all. The 'commandment' of
the State indeed had compelled men, often cruelly and unjustly, to pay
them to the Church. But the State was now free to dispose of them
better, and it was bound to dispose of them justly. And in so far as
they should still be exacted at all, they must now be devoted to the
most useful and the most charitable purposes--purposes which should
certainly include the support of the ministry, but should include many
other things too. One of the positions taken up by Knox in his very
first sermon in St Andrews (following the views which he reports as held
by the Lollards of Kyle), was, 'The teinds by God's law do not appertain
of necessity to the Kirkmen.'[88] And now the Book of Discipline, under
its head of 'The Rents and Patrimony of the Kirk,' demanded that

    'Two sorts of men, that is to say, the ministers and the poor,
    together with the schools, when order shall be taken thereanent,
    must be sustained upon the charges of the church.'[89]

And again--

    '_Of the teinds_ must not only the ministers be sustained, but
    also the poor and schools.'

The kirk was now powerful, and the poor and the schools were weak; and
Knox now as ever put forward the strong to champion those who could not
help themselves. But he had long before come to the conclusion,[90] that
of the classes here co-ordinated as having a right to the teinds, it was
the right of the poor that was fundamental, and the claim of the
ministers was secondary or ancillary, and perhaps only to be sustained
in so far as they preached and distributed to the poor, or possibly
only in so far as they were of, and represented, the poor. Accordingly
the Assembly of 1562, in a Supplication, no doubt written by Knox, and
certainly breathing what had been his spirit ever since the early days
of Wishart, conjoins the cause of both in passionate eloquence:

    'The Poor be of three sorts: the poor labourers of the ground;
    the poor desolate beggars, orphans, widows, and strangers; and
    the poor ministers of Christ Jesus His holy Evangel: which are
    _all_ so cruelly treated.... For now the poor labourers of the
    ground are so oppressed by the cruelty of those that pay their
    Third, that they for the most part _advance upon the poor_
    whatsoever they pay to the Queen or to any other. As for the
    very indigent and poor, _to whom God commands a sustentation to
    be provided of the Teinds_, they are so despised that it is a
    wonder that the sun giveth light and heat to the earth where
    God's name is so frequently called upon, and no mercy, according
    to His commandment, shown to His creatures. And also for the
    ministers, their livings are so appointed, that the most part
    shall live but a beggar's life. And all cometh of that

The position that the 'patrimony of the Church' is fundamentally rather
the 'patrimony of the poor,' and that ecclesiastics are merely its
distributors, was anything but new. It is a commonplace[92] among the
learned of the Catholic Church--the difference was that at this crisis
it was possible for Scotland to act upon it, and that the state was
urged to remember the poor by a man who, with all his devotion to God
and to the other world, burned with compassion for the hard wrought
labourers of his people. For it will be observed that here, as
elsewhere, Knox is concerned, not only for the 'very indigent,' and the
technically 'poor,'[93] but for those especially whom he calls 'your
poor brethren; the labourers and manurers (hand-workers) of the ground.'
In the Book of Discipline, before entering upon its provisions for
dividing the tithe between the ministers, the poor, and the schools, he
urges that the labourers must be allowed 'to pay so reasonable teinds,
that they may feel some benefit of Christ Jesus, now preached unto
them.' For

    'With the grief of our hearts we hear that some gentlemen are
    now as cruel over their tenants as ever were the Papists,
    requiring of them whatever before they paid to the Church, so
    that the Papistical tyranny shall only be changed into the
    tyranny of the lord or of the laird.'... But 'the gentlemen,
    barons, earls, lords, and others, must be content to live upon
    their just rents, and suffer the Church to be restored to her
    liberty, that in her restitution, the poor, who heretofore by
    the cruel Papists have been spoiled and oppressed, may now
    receive some comfort and relaxation.'

For Knox had now fully conceived that magnificent scheme of
statesmanship for Scotland, which is preserved for us in his book of
Discipline, presented, after the Confession, to the Estates of Scotland
in 1560.[94] How long this project may have been in incubation in his
mind, we do not know. But the germ of it may have been very early
indeed. It may have come into existence simultaneously with his earliest
hope for the 'liberty' and 'restitution' of the oppressed and captive
kirk. For I shall now for the last time quote a passage from that early
Swiss Confession which his master Wishart had brought over with him to
Scotland so long ago; a passage which in its bold comprehensiveness may
well have been the original even in his (Knox's) early East Lothian
days, of his later 'devout imagination.' The Church, said the Swiss
Reformers, as translated by the Scot (and translated, as there is high
authority for believing,[95] for the express purpose of founding a
Protestant Church in Scotland--or at least in those burghs of Scotland
which had received his teaching), is entitled to call upon the
magistrate for

    'A right and diligent institution of the discipline of citizens,
    and of the schools a just correction and nurture, with
    liberality towards the ministers of the Church, with a
    solicitate and thoughtful charge of the poor, to which end all
    the riches of the Church [in German, _die Güter der Kirche_] is

Knox's 'Book' and scheme are an expansion of this one sentence. It was
statesmanship in the fullest sense, including a poor-law and a system of
education, higher and elementary, for the whole country. But it was in
the first place a Book of the Church. And while its 'system of national
education was realised only in its most imperfect fashion, its _system
of religious instruction_ was carried into effect with results that
would alone stamp the First Book of Discipline as the most important
document in Scottish history' (Hume Brown). Even on the Church side it
is somewhat too despotic. The power of discipline and of exclusion which
is necessary to every self-governing society was rightly preserved. But
in its application it tended here, as in Geneva, to press too much upon
the detail of individual life. So, too, the prominence now given to
preaching, and the duty laid down of habitually waiting upon it, may
seem inconsistent with the primitive Protestant authority of the Word of
God alone. This, however, would have been modified, had the system of
'weekly prophesyings' (which provided for not one man only but for all
who are qualified communicating their views), taken root in Scotland, as
it has so largely done in Wales. And even as it was, this work of a
trained ministry, and especially the preaching, passed in those early
days like a ploughshare through the whole soil and substance of the
Scottish character, and left enduring and admirable results.

Had Knox been able to throw himself directly upon the people, all would
have been well. But the people were to be approached through hereditary
rulers, whose consent was necessary for funds with which the Church
might administer, not the department of religion and worship only, but
those also of national education and national charity. That the Church
should be administrator was not the difficulty. Whether, indeed, the
selection of one religion, to be by ordinance of Parliament the religion
of the subjects of the State, was justifiable, will always be gravely
questioned. But, rightly or wrongly, that had already been done; and it
was clearly fitting that the body which was thus in a sense made
co-extensive with the nation, should undertake national duties, of a
kind cognate with those properly its own. No one--except perhaps the
Catholics--doubted that the new Church, with both the new learning and
the new enthusiasm behind it, was better fitted to administer alike
education and charity than either the Estates or the Crown. And Knox's
great scheme proposed that the Church, in addition to administering its
own religion and worship, should in every parish provide--1. That those
not able to work should be supported; 2. that those who were able should
be compelled to work; 3. that every child should have a public school
provided for it; 4. that every youth of promise should have an open way
through a system of public schools on to the Universities. It was a
great plan, but a perfectly reasonable one. And there was abundance of
money for it. For the wealth of the Church now abolished, which the law
held to be, at least after the death of the existing life-renters, at
the disposal of the Crown,[97] and which was indeed afterwards
transferred to it by statute,[98] is generally calculated to have
amounted to nearly one half of the whole wealth of the country. But the
crowning sin of the old hierarchy had been that on the approach of the
Reformation they commenced, in the teeth of their own canons, to
alienate the temporalities which they had held only in trust, to the
lords and lairds around them as private holders. And the process of
waste thus initiated by the Church and the nobles was continued by the
Crown and its favourites; the result being that the aristocracy so
enriched became a body with personal interests hostile to the people and
their new Church. Even in the first flush of the Reformation all that
the Reformers could procure was an immediate 'assumption' by the Crown
of one-third of the benefices. And even of this one-third, only a part
was to go to the Church, the rest being divided between the old
possessors and the Crown; or, as Knox pithily put it, 'two parts are
freely given to the devil, and the third must be divided between God and
the devil.' Even God's part, however, was scandalously ill-paid during
Mary's reign, and in addition the Church objected to receiving by way of
gift from the Crown what they should have received rather as due from
the parishes and the people. This came out very instructively in the
Assembly of December 1566. The Queen was now courting the Protestants,
and had signed an offer for a considerable sum for the maintenance of
the ministers. What was to be said to her offer? The Assembly first
requested the opinion of Knox and the other ministers, as the persons
concerned. They retired for conference, and 'very gravely' answered--

    'That it was their duty to preach to the people the Word of God
    truly and sincerely, and to crave of the auditors the things
    that were necessary for their _sustentation_, as of duty the
    pastors might justly crave of their flock.'[99]

This striking reversion to the Apostolic rule--all the more striking
because it is easily reconcilable with the now accepted doctrine of
toleration--was, no doubt, not only in substance but in form the
utterance of Knox. But so also, if we are to judge by internal evidence,
was the formal answer of the Assembly. They accepted the Queen's gift
under the pressure of present necessity, but

    Not the less, in consideration [of] the law of God ordains the
    persons who hear the doctrine of salvation at the mouths of his
    ministers, and thereby receive special food to the nourishment
    of their souls, to communicate temporal _sustentation_ on [to]
    their preachers: Their answer is, That having just title to
    crave the bodily food at the hands of the said persons, and
    finding no others bound unto them, they _only require at their
    own flock_, that they will sustain them according to their
    bounden duty, and what it shall please them to give for their
    sustentation, if it were but bread and water, neither will they
    refuse it, nor desist from the vocation. But to take from others
    contrary to their will, whom they serve not, they judge it not
    their duty, nor yet reasonable.'[100]

The principle so admirably laid down by Knox has become the principle of
modern Presbyterianism throughout the world. And even in that day it
required nothing to be added to it except the recognition that
Catholics, and others outside the 'flock,' who were merely statutory
'auditors,' were not bound to its pastor in the tithe, or other
proportion, of their means. Elementary as this may now seem, it was of
course too much for that age. The same Assembly went on to declare that
'the teinds properly pertain to the Kirk,' and while they should be
applied not only to the ministers, but also to 'the sustentation of the
poor, maintaining of schools, repairing of kirks, and other godly uses,'
such application should be 'at the discretion of the Kirk.' It was all
right, provided the intolerant establishment were to remain. For in that
case the tithes as a State tax were the proper means for the State
maintaining church and school and poor; and as the Church had already
been set by the State over both poor and school, it was the fit
administrator of all. And all this ascendancy was about to be renewed;
for two months after this Assembly Bothwell murdered Darnley, and three
months later Mary married Bothwell and abdicated. And the great
Parliamentary settlement of 1567 commenced with the long delayed
ratification of the three old statutes of 1560; two Acts being now
added, one declaring that the Reformed Church is the only Church within
the realm, the other giving it jurisdiction over Catholics and all
others. It was fit that between these two later Acts should be
interposed another,[101] giving the ministers a first claim on the
'thirds' of benefices, 'aye and until the Kirk come to the full
possession of their proper patrimony, which is the teinds.' The proper
patrimony of the ancient Church was, perhaps, rather the endowments
which had been gifted to it; yet Knox, who abhorred the idea of
inheriting anything from that old Church, took a share of that money,
even from the State, with reluctance. But the tithes, to be enforced
yearly from Scotsmen by the law, he claimed freely, for they were due to
the poor, were due to learning and the school, and were above all due to
the Kirk, as entrusted with these other interests no less than with its

The battle was not over. The scheme of the Book of Discipline remained,
even after the statutes of 1567, a mere 'imagination,' all attempted
embodiment of it being starved by the nobility and the crown. And in our
own century the Church, retaining its statutory jurisdiction over
Catholics and Nonconformists, has lost its statutory control over both
the schools and the poor, while it has never got anything like 'full
possession' or even administration of the teinds, in which all three
were to share, but of which it desired to be sole trustee.

It it easy for us, looking back--superfluously easy--to see the
fundamental mistake in Knox's legislation. But taking that first step of
intolerant establishment as fixed, I see nothing in his proposed
superstructure which was not admirable and heroic, and also--as heroic
things so often are--sane and even practicable. And it was all conceived
in the interest of the people--of those 'poor brethren' of land and
burgh, with whom Knox increasingly identified himself. No doubt the Kirk
had no right to claim administration, even as trustee, of the tenth of
the yearly fruits of all Scottish industry. But when we think of the
objects to which these fruits were to be applied, we shall not be
disposed to deal hardly with such a claim. It is not the divided and
disinherited Churches of Scotland alone--it is, even more, the 'poor
labourers of the ground'--who have reason, in these later days, to join
in the death-bed denunciation by Knox of the 'merciless devourers of the
patrimony of the Kirk.'

       *       *       *       *       *

Knox's statesmanship may have failed--partly because an unjust and
unchristian principle was unawares imbedded in its foundation, and
partly because the hereditary legislators of Scotland could not rise to
the level of its peasant-reformer. But Knox's churchmanship did not
fail. It might well have been contended that the freedom of the Church
had been compromised by the legislation which was granted or petitioned
for. But that was not the Church's view, and the internal organisation
which nobles and politicians refused to sanction, the Church, claiming
to be free, instantly took up as its own work. In each town or parish
the elders and deacons met weekly with the pastor for the care of the
congregation. And these 'particular Kirks' now met half-yearly
representatively as the 'Universal Kirk' of Scotland. From its first
meeting in December 1560 onwards, the General Assembly or Supreme Court
of the Church was convened by the authority of the Church itself, and
year by year laid the deep foundations of the social and religious
future of Scotland. It was a great work--nothing less than organising a
rude nation into a self-governing Church. And there were difficulties
and dangers in plenty, some of them unforeseen. The nobles were
rapacious, the people were divided, the ministers leaned to dogmatism,
the lawyers leaned to Erastianism, the Lowlands were menaced by
Episcopacy, the Highlands were emerging from heathenism, and between
them both there stretched a broad belt of unreformed Popery. There were
a hundred difficulties like these, but they were all accepted as in the
long day's work. For in Scotland the dayspring was now risen upon men!

What we have here to remember is, that of this huge national struggle
the chief weight lay on the shoulders of Knox, a mere pastor in
Edinburgh. And during the first seven years of its continuance this
indomitable man was sustaining another doubtful conflict, in which the
issues not for Scotland only, but for Europe, were so momentous that it
must be looked at separately.

[84] The writers of the Scottish Confession in 1560 protest 'that if any
man will note in this our Confession any article or sentence repugning
to God's holy word, that it would please him of his gentleness, and for
Christian charity's sake, to admonish us of the same in write; and we of
our honour and fidelity do promise unto him satisfaction from the mouth
of God (that is, from His Holy Scriptures), or else reformation of that
which he shall prove to be amiss.'--'Works,' ii. 96.

Wishart, the translator in or before 1545 of the First Helvetic
Confession, adds to it this similar and very beautiful declaration:--

'It is not our mind for to prescribe by these brief chapters a certain
rule of the faith to all churches and congregations, for we know no
other rule of faith but the Holy Scripture; and, therefore, we are well
contented with them that agree with these things, howbeit they use
another manner of speaking or Confession, different partly to this of
ours in words; for rather should the matter be considered than the
words. And therefore we make it free for all men to use their own sort
of speaking, as they shall perceive most profitable for their churches,
and we shall use the same liberty. And if any man will attempt to
corrupt the true meaning of this our Confession, he shall hear both a
confession and a defence of the verity and truth. It was our pleasure to
use these words at this present time, that we might declare our opinion
in our religion and worshipping of God.'--'Miscellany of Wodrow
Society,' i. 23.

This 'declaration' is not in the original Confession, either in Latin or
German, and must have been written, probably by Wishart himself, rather
for the English readers or the Scottish churches for whom the rest was
translated. It is a remarkable legacy.

[85] As now in the Statute Book, 1567, chaps. 2, 3, and 5.

[86] It may be interesting to read the statement of the First Helvetic
in Wishart's translation (though this is one of the paragraphs in which
that translation mangles the Latin and German originals). It is given in
the 'Miscellany of the Wodrow Society,' i. 21:

'Seeing every magistrate and high power is of God, his chief and
principal office is (except he would rather use tyranny) to defend the
true worshipping of God from all blasphemy, and to procure true religion
... _then after_ to judge the people by equal and godly laws to exercise
and maintain judgment and justice, &c.' (Sec. 26); and (Sec. 24), 'They
that bring in ungodly sects and opinions ... should be constrained and
punished by the magistrates and high powers.'

The Second Helvetic Confession of 1566 rather inverts the order put by
the First. 'The magistrate's _principal_ office is to procure and
preserve peace and public tranquillity. _And_ he never can do this more
happily' than by promoting religion, extirpating idolatry, and defending
the Church.... For 'the care of religion belongs,' not to the magistrate
simply, but 'to the pious magistrate.'

[87] See page 67 and note.

[88] 'Works,' i. 8, 194.

[89] 'Works,' ii. 221, 222.

[90] Knox's opinion was asked upon the point in or before 1556, and he
answered ('Works,' iv. 127), 'Touching Tithes, by the law of God they
appertain to no priest, for now we have no levitical priesthood; but by
law, positive gift, custom, they appertain to princes, and by their
commandment to "men of kirk," as they would be termed. In their first
donation respect was had to another end, as their own law doth witness,
than now is observed. For first, respect was had that such as were
accounted distributors of those things that were given to churchmen,
should have their reasonable sustentation of the same, making just
account of the rest, how it was to be bestowed upon the poor, the
stranger, the widow, the fatherless, _for whose relief all such rents
and duties were chiefly appointed to the church_. Secondly, that
provision should be made for the ministers of the church, &c.'

[91] 'Works,' ii. 340.

[92] Thomassin, a very great authority, devotes no fewer than eight
chapters of his third folio _De Beneficiis_ to proving from Councils and
the Fathers that 'Res Ecclesiae, res et patrimonia sunt pauperum. Earum
beneficiarii non domini sunt sed dispensatores.' After voluminous
evidence from all the centuries, he holds it superfluously plain that
all beneficed men are 'mere dispensers and administrators, not
proprietors nor even possessors, of what is truly the patrimony of the
poor,' and what is held as trustee for the indigent by Christ Himself;
so much so, that when this property of the poor is diverted to support a
bishop or other dignitary, he is not entitled to enjoy his house, table,
or garments, unless these have a certain suggestion and savour of
destitution--_necesse est paupertatis odore aliquo perfundi_.
Thomassin, of course, holds that the Church has a divine right to
tithes; but it is a divine right to administer, not to enjoy, them. Knox
and the Reformers denied the divine right even to administer: they urged
that the State should make the Kirk _its_ administrators.

[93] For them too, and even for the strong and sturdy and the Jolly
Beggars among them, he had a certain fellow-feeling; as is witnessed by
the zest with which he records their 'Warning' (p. 82). The one point,
indeed, at which Knox and Burns come together is 'A man's a man for a'

[94] 'Works,' ii. 183 to 260.

[95] I am indebted for this view to Dr. A.F. Mitchell, Emeritus
Professor of Church History in St Andrews, to whom all are indebted who
are interested in the historical learning of either the Reformation or
the Covenant.

[96] The 'end' to which or for which all the Church patrimony is here
said to be given, does not seem to be merely the 'charge of the poor';
though Protestants as well as Catholics often urge that as fundamentally
true. It seems to be rather the whole group of good objects which are
gathered together. The Latin and German originals must be consulted.

[97] Stair's 'Institutions,' ii. 3, 36. Erskine's 'Institutes,' ii. 10,

[98] 1587, c. 29.

[99] 'Works,' ii. 538.

[100] 'Book of the Universall Kirk of Scotland,' p. 46. The significance
of this utterance was long ago pointed out by the Rev. J.C. Macphail,
D.D., of Pilrig Church, Edinburgh.

[101] 1567, c. 10.



Parliament had made a great and revolutionary change. It had acted as if
the government had been already granted to it, or, in Cecil's phrase, to
'the nation of the land.' And the change was on one side a breaking off
of the old alliance with Catholic France. But the sovereigns of
Scotland, now and for the last twelvemonth, were no other than the King
and Queen of France. They, rather than Parliament, were the 'Authority,'
which, according to the consistent theory of that age, had the right to
make and enforce changes of religion; and which, according to the more
puzzling theory of Knox, had the right to do so--provided the religion
so to be enforced was the true one. Accordingly the new Confession of
Faith and the statutes passed by the late Parliament, were sent to Paris
by the Lord St John. He waited there long, but, of course, brought back
no ratification. But that, says Knox, 'we little regarded, nor yet do
regard'; for, he adds, falling back rather too late upon one of those
great principles his utterance of which has sunk into the hearts of his

    'all that we did was rather to shew our dutiful obedience than
    to beg of them any strength to our religion, which from God has
    full power, and needeth not the suffrage of man, but in so far
    as man hath need to believe it, if that ever he shall have
    participation of the life everlasting.'[102]

It was no wonder that the royal pair did not ratify a Protestant
Confession, for during their brief reign over France they were the
centre of a keen crusade against Protestantism, conducted far more by
Mary's counsellors and uncles, the Guises, than by her feeble-minded
husband. Towards the end of 1560 this had gone so far that secret
preparations seem to have been made for immediately anticipating the St
Bartholomew of twelve years later. But the sudden death of Francis and
the widowhood of Mary changed the whole situation. The new King was in
the power, not of the Guises, but of his mother, Catherine de Medici;
and Mary of Scots would now have to accept a second or a third place in
Paris. But in Europe, and in the politics of Europe, the beautiful young
widow sprang at once into the foremost rank, and became the star of all
eyes. Ex-Queen of France, Queen-presumptive of England, and actual Queen
of Scotland, which had always been the link between the other two, and
to which she was now to return, the marriage destiny of this girl of
eighteen would probably decide the wavering balance of Christendom.[103]

Mary understood her high part, and accepted it with alacrity.
Fascinating and beautiful, keen-witted and strong-willed, she would have
found herself at home in this great game of politics, even if it had not
turned upon an element of intense personal interest for herself. But
while all men knew that her hand was the chief prize of the game, almost
the first man to act on this knowledge, strange to say, was Knox. The
Treaty of Edinburgh had acknowledged the right of the Duke (Hamilton or
Chatelherault), and of his eldest son Arran, as the next in succession
to the Scottish crown after its present holder. And while that present
holder was still married to the King of France, the Scottish nobles had
urged Arran as a suitable husband for Elizabeth of England. It would be
the best arrangement, they thought, for binding the two countries
together, and counteracting the inevitable pull asunder from the
Sovereigns in Paris. Elizabeth, however, had replied, to the grave
displeasure of the Estates, that she was not 'presently disposed to
marry.' And now a new question was raised. Scotland was, of course,
still more deeply interested in the probable second marriage of its own
Queen. Arran, an extremely flighty young man, was at this moment much
under the personal influence of the Reformer; and it was with Knox's
privity, and perhaps on his suggestion, and certainly without the
knowledge of the nobility generally, that before Mary had been a widow
for a month, her young Protestant cousin sent her a ring and a secret
letter of courtship. It was again in vain. When Elizabeth refused him,
the Estates had been offended, but Arran himself bore the loss with much
resignation. Now, however, the case was different; and though Mary at
all times treated her young kinsman with kindness, Arran took her prompt
rejection of his present overtures grievously to heart, and his wits,
never very stable, were soon completely overturned. Knox, however, had
now fair warning that Mary Stuart knew herself to be more than a mere
Queen of Scots, and that the infinitely difficult questions, which her
approaching return to Scotland must necessarily raise, were not to be
evaded on easy terms.

There was among these one theoretical question which _ought_ to have
been a difficulty for Knox, but of which he was not now disposed to
make much. According to his view women should not be sovereigns at all.
But, in truth, this was but one branch of the general grievance of
arbitrary power in that age. The Reformation took place, we must always
remember, at a time when the hereditary authority of kings was greater
than either before or since. And this arbitrary power of one man became,
if possible, a little more absurd when it happened to be the power of
one woman. In 1557, Knox had found himself confronted with a Queen of
England, a Queen of Scotland, and a Queen-Regent in Scotland--all of
them ladies immersed in Catholicism, and each in a position which, in
his view, implied the duty of selecting religion for all her lieges. We,
in our time, have a very simple way of getting rid of such an
intolerable difficulty. But in that age a man even of the boldness of
Knox was thankful to mitigate it. He thought he found a mitigation in
the view (held by thinkers and publicists at the time commonly enough)
that women should not be entrusted with such a power; and, in 1558, he
published anonymously his 'First Blast of the Trumpet against the
Monstrous Regiment [Regimen or Rule] of Women.' Though anonymous, the
book was well known to be his; and being Knox's it was founded not so
much on theory as on Scripture precedents, largely misread according to
the exigencies of the argument. But the publication was, in any case, a
practical mistake. Mary of England died immediately after, and was
succeeded by Elizabeth, who was rather more of a woman than her sister,
but to whom Knox and Scotland looked as their only ally against
Continental Catholicism. Knox repeatedly tried to explain to the new
English Queen; but that very great but very feminine ruler never forgave
his book. Meantime he came, as we saw, into more personal contact with
the Queen-Regent of Scotland, and had the highest hopes from her.
Ultimately she disappointed these; but even when she was deposed by the
nobles, to whom he had originally looked as the agents in the Reform,
Knox insisted on keeping open a door for her restoration, in the event
of her coming in the meantime to think with himself. And now her
daughter was come to her native country as Queen in her own right. Knox,
taught by experience, had already taken part in private overtures to
her, and was no longer disposed to stand on any theoretical difficulty
as to the rule of a woman. The practical difficulties were enough.

And the practical difficulties were tremendous. Had Mary ruled as a
modern constitutional Queen, with toleration of religion all around,
things would have been easy. She would have enjoyed the freedom which
she granted to the lowest of her subjects, and every one of them would
have supported her enthusiastically against domestic and foreign
aggression. But the reign of religion which, according to her first
proclamation, she, on her arrival, 'found publicly and universally
standing,' was very different. It was one by which half the lieges were
forbidden the exercise of their own religion and of their ordinary
worship; and by which Scotland and all its rulers were pledged to a
faith she had been trained as a child to detest, and as a Queen to
suppress. The situation was impossible from the first. The only question
was, how long it would last.

Knox would have met it fairly by making her acknowledgment of the
Protestant Acts and Confession a condition of her being acknowledged by
Scotland. And had the fact been known that Mary, by three secret
documents, executed just before her childless marriage to the Dauphin,
had already handed over her native kingdom, in the event of her having
no issue, to the King of France, the crisis, which was to be postponed
for so many years, might have come at once. But an intermediate plan
was arranged in Paris through 'the man whom all the godly did most
reverence,' and whose weight of character was gradually giving him the
foremost place in Scotland--Lord James Stewart, the Queen's natural
brother. Mary, quick to understand men, put herself under her brother's
guidance, and the result was that she was joyfully received in
Edinburgh, and a proclamation was issued forbidding, on the one hand,
any 'alteration or innovation of the state of religion' as Her Majesty
found it in the realm on her arrival, and, on the other, any tumult or
violence, especially against Her Majesty's French domestics and
followers. So, on the first Sunday, while the Evangel was publicly
preached in St Giles in Edinburgh, and in all the great towns and burghs
of Scotland, mass was privately celebrated in her chapel at Holyrood,
the Lord James with his sword keeping the door, to 'stop all Scottish
men to enter in,' whether to join in the worship or to disturb it. It
was drawing a different line from that which had been fixed by the
recent Parliament, whose Acts also the new Queen had evaded ratifying.
Knox's passion against 'idolatry,' beyond all other forms of false
religion or irreligion, was fully shared by the mass of his followers,
and he tells us that, on this occasion, he worked in private 'rather to
mitigate, yea to sloken, that fervency that God had kindled in others.'
But in the pulpit 'next Sunday' he said that 'one Mass was more fearful
to him than if ten thousand armed enemies were landed in any part of the
realm, of purpose to suppress the whole religion'--an exaggeration of
intolerance which is unintelligible, until we remember that the 'one
mass' which he was thinking of was that of the ruler who might soon have
the power, and perhaps had already the intention, of suppressing

Mary had come to Scotland with the deliberate plan of conciliating and
capturing her native kingdom, and she was not the woman to shrink from
whatever seemed to be necessary in the process. It may have been her
brother who suggested a meeting between two people whom, in different
ways, he certainly liked as well as admired. In any case, Knox was now
at once sent for to the Court, and there followed the first of the
famous interviews between Knox and the Queen, recorded in the Fourth
Book of his History. The detailed truth of these Dialogues is not to be
inferred merely from their vigour and verisimilitude. It results equally
from the fact that, throughout, Knox represents the young Queen as
meeting him with perfect intelligence, while on most points she actually
has the better of the argument. The vindication of Knox has come, not so
much from what he has himself so faithfully recorded, as from the
judgment of history on the whole situation, and on the relation to it of
speakers who were also actors.

The first is probably the most important of the dialogues.[104] Mary and
her brother received Knox in Holyrood, two ladies standing in the other
end of the room. She commenced by taxing him with his book against her
'regimen.' He explained that, if Scotland was satisfied with a female
ruler, he would not object.

    'But yet,' said she, 'ye have taught the people to receive
    another religion than their Princes can allow: And how can that
    doctrine be of God, seeing that God commands subjects to obey
    their Princes?'

    Knox, in answer, ignored the article of his Confession which
    bears closely on this point,[105] and fell back on the more
    fundamental truth.

    'Madam, as right religion took neither original nor authority
    from worldly princes, but from the Eternal God alone, so are not
    subjects bound to frame their religion according to the
    appetites of their Princes.'

    He easily illustrated this by instances of men in Scripture, who
    resisted such commands of Princes, and suffered.

    'But yet,' said she, 'they resisted not with the sword.'

    'God,' said he, 'Madam, had not given unto them the power and
    the means.'

    'Think ye,' quoth she, 'that subjects, having power, may resist
    their Princes?'

    'If their Princes exceed their bounds,' quoth he, 'Madam, and do
    against that wherefore they should be obeyed, it is no doubt but
    they may be resisted, even by power.'

    That Princes should regulate the religion of subjects Knox held
    to be within their 'bounds,' but only apparently if they
    regulated it aright, and according to the Word. Otherwise, he
    now explained, the prince might be restrained, like a father
    'stricken with a frenzy.' At this remarkable argument the Queen
    'stood, as it were, amazed more than the quarter of an hour.'
    Recovering herself, she said--

    'Well, then, I perceive that my subjects shall obey you and not

    'God forbid,' answered he, in words which really express his
    fundamental view, 'that ever I take upon me to command any to
    obey me, or yet to set subjects at liberty to do what pleaseth
    them. But my travel is that both princes and subjects obey God,
    who,' he added, 'commands queens to be nurses unto His people.'

    'Yea,' quoth she, 'but ye are not the Church that I will
    nourish. I will defend the Kirk of Rome, for, I think, it is the
    true Kirk of God.'

    'Your will,' quoth he, 'Madam, is no reason; neither doth your
    thought make that Roman harlot to be the true and immaculate
    spouse of Jesus Christ.'...

    'My conscience,' said she, 'is not so.'

    'Conscience, Madam, requires knowledge, and I fear that right
    knowledge ye have none.'

    'But,' said she, 'I have both heard and read.'

    ... 'Have ye heard,' said he, 'any teach, but such as the Pope
    and his Cardinals have allowed?'

    The Queen avoided a direct answer,[106] but took the next point
    with unfailing acuteness.

    'Ye interpret the Scriptures,' said she, 'in one manner, and
    they interpret in another; whom shall I believe? and who shall
    be judge?'

    And Knox's answer is from his side perfect--

    'Ye shall believe God, that plainly speaketh in His word; and
    farther than the word teacheth you, ye neither shall believe the
    one nor the other. The word of God is plain in itself; and if
    there appear any obscurity in one place, the Holy Ghost, who is
    never contrarious to Himself, explains the same more clearly in
    other places.'

The conference was long, and was ended with mutual courtesies. Both
parties in the country suspected that the new sovereign might be
gradually coming round to the new faith. No triumph could have been more
glorious for Knox, and at the opening of the interview he had used every
method of conciliation. But he never henceforth deceived himself as to
the chances in this case. Outwardly, the Queen remained friendly, and he
remained loyal; but his opinion as expressed privately, immediately
after this first meeting, was recorded later on.

    'If there be not in her a proud mind, a crafty wit, and an
    indurate heart against God and His truth, my judgment faileth

Induration of heart was not a charitable judgment to pass against a
young woman brought up in the worst school of morals in Europe, but whom
the speaker held never to have met 'God and his truth' till that
forenoon. Yet, as usual, Knox's judgment was by no means wholly wrong.
There is a certain brilliant hardness about the charm of Mary Queen of
Scots, even with posterity; and as to religion, whatever may have been
the case in the later years of her sad imprisonment, there is no
evidence in her early days in Scotland of personal or earnest interest
in the religion even of her own church.[107] And a tender and serious
interest in religion was held by the whole Protestantism of that day to
be the one gate for the individual into 'God's truth.' Had his Queen
shown anything of this spirit of earnest enquiry, our rough Reformer
might have been precipitate to help her steps, though they should be as
yet on the wrong side of the dividing line. But Mary made no pretences
on the subject, and it was her misfortune, and that of all around, that
her opinion on religion--a matter in which she took no more interest
than was natural to her years--should have been all important to her
subjects. They at least were, or professed to be, in earnest about it;
and the man who in her presence now represented that earnestness made no
pretences either. But we may be sure that Knox's judgment on a 'proud
mind' as to the more central and personal truths of religion, would not
be mitigated by that keen 'wit' which played so freely round its
external parts, and transfixed so easily his own theory of Church and
State. We know from himself that Mary, having found the weak point of
the intolerant legislation, took care to press upon it. She was 'ever
crying conscience, conscience! it is a sore thing to constrain the
conscience;'[108] and she selected for her 'flattering words' the best
of the men around her, till from the question, 'Why may not the Queen
have her own Mass, and the form of her religion? what can that hurt us
or our religion?' there came a formal discussion and a vote of the Lords
that they were not entitled to constrain her. This state of matters
continued during the year 1562. But the real danger, of course, was from
abroad, and Knox had intelligence of all that was going on there. In
December 1562 a victory of the Guises in France had been followed by
dancing at Holyrood; and Knox preached against 'taking pleasure for the
displeasure of God's people.' The Queen sent for him, and suggested his
speaking to herself privately rather than haranguing publicly upon her
domestic proceedings: a proposal which he so promptly rejected that she
at once turned her back on him. It was on this occasion that, hearing
the whisper as he went out, 'He is not afraid,' he replied, with a
'reasonably merry' countenance, 'Wherefore should the pleasing face of a
gentlewoman affray me? I have looked into the faces of many angry men,
and yet have not been affrayed above measure.' But the effect of that
pleasing face upon others around may be measured by a letter written
next day to Cecil by Randolph, who had for some time been Queen
Elizabeth's envoy in Edinburgh. He was an intelligent and well-meaning
man; but Mary was far more than a match for him, as she had been in
France for an abler diplomatist, Throckmorton. Randolph tells the
English minister that Knox is still full of 'good zeal and affection' to
England. 'I know also that his travail and care is great to unite the
hearts of the princes and people of these two realms in perpetual love
and hearty kindness.' In the previous year Randolph had heard an
incident of Knox's first interview with Mary, which we only know from
his letter. Even then Knox 'knocked so hastily upon her heart that he
made her weep, as well you know there be of that sex that will do that
as well for anger as for grief.' But since that date the Queen of Scots
had turned her caressing courtesy directly upon this Englishman, and
even the golden cup which she presented to him at Lord James Stewart's
marriage had perhaps less influence with Randolph than the bright eyes
of one of her 'four Maries' whom he was now pursuing. So he adds now
that Knox 'is so full of mistrust in all the Queen's doings, words, and
sayings, as though he were either of God's privy counsel, that know how
He had determined of her from the beginning, or that he knew the secrets
of her heart so well, that neither she did nor could have for ever one
good thought of God or of His true religion.' No criticism could be more
acute. And yet the research of later times has shown that Knox's
judgment, or information, as to what Mary of Scots was now doing, was
superior to that of all around him. This was the very close of 1562, and
in the next month of January she extended her Catholic correspondence,
which had hitherto been chiefly with the Guises and her Cardinal uncle,
by letters to the Pope.[109] On the 31st she writes Pius IV. assuring
him of her devotion to the Church, and that for it and for the
restoration to it of her kingdom she is ready to sacrifice her
life.[110] The bearer, too, of this secret missive was Cardinal
Granvelle, from Madrid, and deep at this moment in the persecuting
plans of Alva and his master Philip. For a new and greater danger was
now rising for Scotland. Hitherto the chief pretenders for the hand of
the Queen of Scots had been the Archduke Charles, and the Duke of Anjou.
(The new King of France was also supposed to be in love with her.) But
now the project was pressed of a marriage between her and Don Carlos,
the oldest son of Philip and the heir of the mighty monarchy of Spain.
And it was with this full in her mind, and with the determination to
take a step forward in her own kingdom, that Mary again sent for
Knox--this time to Lochleven, where she was hawking. The occasion was
well chosen. The Queen's mass was now tolerated: why should not private
subjects also be allowed to have it, provided they worshipped privately?
'Who can stop the Queen's subjects to be of the Queen's religion?'
Already many Catholics had acted upon this reasoning at Easter of 1563;
but in the West the Protestant barons and magistrates, instead of
complaining to the Queen and her Council, had apprehended the
wrong-doers and proposed to punish them. 'For two hours' the Queen urged
him to persuade the gentlemen of the West 'not to put hands to punish
any man for _the using of themselves_ in their religion as pleased
them.' Nothing could be more clearly right. But nothing could be more
clearly against the law; and Knox assured her that if she would enforce
that law herself her subjects would be quiet. But 'Will ye,' said she,
'that they shall take my sword into their hand?'

'The sword of justice, Madam,' he answered, 'is God's; and if the
magistrate will not use it the people must do so. And therefore it shall
be profitable to your Majesty to consider what is the thing your Grace's
subjects look to receive of your Majesty, and what it is that ye ought
to do unto them by mutual contract. They are bound to obey you, and
that not but in God. You are bound to keep laws unto them. You crave of
them service: they crave of you protection and defence against wicked

The Queen, 'somewhat offended, passed to her supper,' and Knox prepared
to return to Edinburgh. But her brother, afterwards the Regent, had
heard the result of the conference, and Mary learned that matters could
not safely be left in this condition. Next morning the Queen sent for
Knox as she was going out hawking. She had apparently forgotten all the
keen dispute of the evening before; and her manner was caressing and
confidential. What did Mr Knox think of Lord Ruthven's offering her a
ring? 'I cannot love him,' she added, 'for I know him to use
enchantment.' Was Mr Knox not going to Dumfries, to make the Bishop of
Athens the superintendent of the Kirk in that county? He was, Knox
answered; the proposed superintendent being a man in whom he had
confidence. 'If you knew him,' said Mary, 'as well as I do, ye would
never promote him to that office, nor yet to any other within the Kirk.'
In yet another matter, and one more private and delicate, she required
his help. Her half-sister, Lady Argyll, and the Earl, her husband, were,
she was afraid, not on good terms. Knox had once reconciled them before,
but, 'do this much _for my sake_, as once again to put them at unity.'
And so she dismissed him with promises to enforce the laws against the

Knox for once fell under the spell. He seems to have believed that this
most charming of women was at last leaning to the side of her native
land. And so he sat down and wrote a long letter to Argyll. He went to
Dumfries, and on making enquiry, he found that the Queen was right in
her shrewd estimate of the proposed superintendent, and took means to
prevent the election. It turned out, too, that she had kept her promise
about citing offenders, and no fewer than forty-eight persons, one of
them an Archbishop, had been indicted. The first Parliament since her
landing had been summoned for June, and Moray and Lethington seem to
have suggested to Knox that the Queen would be glad then to ratify the
Acts of 1560, in exchange for the approval by the estates of some
suitable marriage. Even now, it was these two heads of the Protestant
party whom Knox trusted rather than Mary. But the young Queen had
outwitted all of them together. The prosecutions throughout the country
had pacified the Protestants, and they did not come up to the
Parliament. When it met, it did not even ask that the 'state of
religion' should be ratified. Meantime the Cardinal of Lorraine had
carried to the Council of Trent the adhesion of the Queen of Scots, and
a special congregation was held by it for the private reception of her
letter. Worse still, the plan for a Spanish marriage, and for setting a
Scoto-Spanish queen upon the throne of the Bloody Mary, was now actively
prosecuted. All this spring, while professing to carry out her promises
to Knox, Mary was negotiating with Madrid, and 'already, in imagination,
Queen of Scotland, England, Ireland, Spain, Flanders, Naples, and the
Indies,' she was but little interested in the plans which her Scottish
nobility were proposing for her to England. Knox had hoped that if not a
Protestant noble like Leicester or Arran, at least a royal Protestant
like the King of Denmark or the King of Sweden, would, with Elizabeth's
help, be a successful suitor. But Queen Elizabeth, whom Knox pithily
describes as 'neither good Protestant nor yet resolute Papist,' was not
disposed to help any one to marry before herself, least of all her
lovely cousin. And the Scottish statesmen, Moray and Maitland, like her
own English advisers often, were now so driven to desperation by
Elizabeth's vacillations that they had actually--possibly with the hope
of frightening her--pressed both at home and abroad the project of
marrying the Queen of Scots to the heir of Spain! This apparently came
to the knowledge of Knox along with the refusal to meet his hopes on the
part of the Scots Parliament; and now his cup was full. Lord James
Stewart, by this time the Earl of Moray, son-in-law of the Earl
Marischal, and gifted with great estates of the forfeited Earl of
Huntly, had been his chief friend. But 'familiarly after that time they
spake not together more than a year and a half; for the said John, by
his letter, gave a discharge to the said Earl of all farther
intromission or care with his affairs.' In this stately letter Knox
recalled all their past career in common, and added that, seeing his
hopes had been disappointed,

    'I commit you to your own wit, and to the conducting of those
    who better please you. I praise my God, I this day leave you
    victor of your enemies, promoted to great honours, and in credit
    and authority with your sovereign. If so ye long continue, none
    within the realm shall be more glad than I shall be; but if that
    after this ye shall decay (as I fear that ye shall) then call to
    mind by what means God exalted you.'

But the pulpit remained to him, and the pulpit in those days had
sometimes to combine the functions of free Parliament and free press.
Knox went into St Giles', and in a great sermon before the assembled
Lords, from whose retrospective eloquence we have already quoted,[111]
he drove right at the heart of the situation.

    'And now, my Lords, to put end to all, I hear of the Queen's
    marriage; dukes, brethren to emperors, and kings, all strive for
    the best game. But this, my Lords, will I say--note the day, and
    bear witness after--whensoever the nobility of Scotland,
    professing the Lord Jesus, consent that an infidel (and all
    Papists are infidels) shall be head to your Sovereign, ye do as
    far as in you lieth to banish Christ Jesus from this realm; ye
    bring God's vengeance upon the country, a plague upon
    yourselves, and perchance ye shall do small comfort to your

That sovereign could scarcely be expected to take the same view, and for
the last time the Queen sent for Knox. No one knew so well as she that
he had laid his finger on the true hinge of the political question, and
that her opponent would have a far stronger case now than at any of
their previous interviews. She burst into tears the moment he entered.
'I have borne with you,' she said most truly, 'in all your rigorous
manner of speaking; I have sought your favour by all possible means.'
'True it is, madam,' he answered, 'your Grace and I have been at divers
controversies, in the which I never perceived your Grace to be offended
at me.' Knox's complacency is sometimes thick-skinned: but he was not
wrong in thinking that Mary, a woman with immensely more brains than the
generality of her posthumous admirers, had from the first understood
and, perhaps, half liked her uncompromising adversary, and that she had
at least enjoyed the dialectic conflicts in which she had held her own
so well. But the matter was more serious now. 'What have you to do with
my marriage?' she demanded. Knox in answer hinted that she had herself
invited him to give her private advice; but what he had said was in the
pulpit, where he had to speak to the nobility and to think of the good
of the whole commonwealth.

'What have you to do,' she persisted, 'with my marriage? or what are you
within this commonwealth?'

'A subject born within the same,' said he, 'Madam. And albeit I neither
be earl, lord, nor baron within it, yet has God made me (how abject that
ever I be in your eyes) a profitable member within the same.'

Under the new discipline the preacher claimed a right to utter opinions
even as to private marriages, and used it much beyond what the
fundamental principles of Protestantism could justify. But Knox was now
dealing with his Queen, and he felt himself well within the line of his
duty in repeating to herself the deadly consequences to Scotland if its
nobility ever consented to her being 'subject to an unfaithful husband.'
It was unanswerable, except by a new passion of tears, under which the
Reformer stood at first silent and unmoved. He broke silence at last
with a clumsy attempt to explain or to console; and Mary's indignation
was not diminished by Knox's quaint protest that he was really a
tenderhearted man, and could scarcely bear to see his own children weep
when corrected for their faults. She broke with him finally; and Knox,
dismissed to the ante-chamber, found himself so solitary, though among
the ladies of the Court, that (as we have already seen) he attempted to
'procure the company of women' by moralisings which they too may have
found impressive rather than delightful.

From this point--June 1563--the history slopes steadily downwards.
Mary's ambition was still to be Queen of Spain. Messengers on the
subject went to Spain and came to Scotland. But her plans were secretly
counterworked by her old enemy Catherine de Medici, the French
Queen-mother, and Philip changed his mind continually. In December an
incident happened which shewed Knox's new position. A riot arose in the
Queen's absence between Catholics who wished to worship in her private
chapel and Protestants who wished to prevent or denounce it. The latter
were indicted for 'invading' the palace. Knox instantly wrote a letter
summoning the faithful to attend in a body along with them; and he was
cited to appear before the Queen in Council on a charge of 'convocation
of the lieges.' Once more he stood before Mary, but now it was at her
bar. Knox had the weakness of listening to gossip, especially as to what
his feminine adversaries said; and he records not only what he saw, that
'her pomp lacked one principal point, to wit, womanly gravity,' but also
that she was heard to observe--this time apparently in admirable
Scots--'Yon man gart me greet, and grat never tear himself. I will see
if I can gar him greet.' Knox absolutely refused to withdraw his letter
or to apologise for it: and though the Council did not desire to justify
his conduct, they heard with some sympathy his plea that Papists were
not good advisers of princes, being sons of him who was 'a murderer from
the beginning.' Lethington, the Secretary, conducted the prosecution,
and it was probably he who at this point remarked--

'You forget yourself: you are not now in the pulpit.'

'I am in the place,' said Knox--and again his word has become
memorable--'where I am demanded of conscience to speak the truth, and
therefore the truth I speak, impugn it whoso list.'

The votes were taken twice over; but the nobles steadily refused to find
Knox guilty, and 'that night there was neither dancing nor fiddling in
the palace.' During the whole of 1564, however, Knox and the General
Assembly were divided from the Protestant courtiers, who argued, with
perfect justice, that the attitude of the Reformer and his fellow
preachers to the Queen was one of scarcely veiled disloyalty. In a long
and formal conference upon the subject, Knox said some things so plainly
that Lethington answered--

'Then will ye make subjects to control their princes and rulers?'

'And what harm,' said the other, 'should the Commonwealth receive, if
that the corrupt affections of ignorant rulers were moderated, and so
bridled by the wisdom and discretion of godly subjects that they should
do wrong nor violence to no man?'

But even the leading men of the Court, themselves Protestants, were now
beginning to be disquieted by a sense that they did not know what their
queen was planning, and that they could not be responsible for her
actions. During this year, 1564, she was making herself more
independent, both of them and of her old advisers in France; one great
step being the promotion of the Italian, Rizzio, who was now her
confidential secretary. The Spanish marriage was becoming more hopeless,
and the eyes of Mary's Catholic friends were now turning in another
direction. The man at the English court nearest to the English throne
was young Henry Darnley, and Elizabeth had herself jealously suggested
that 'yonder long lad' might possibly please her Scottish cousin. Mary
and he were both great-grandchildren of Henry VII., and their union
would consolidate the Scottish claim to the English crown--a dangerous
result for the daughter of Ann Boleyn. That was a sufficient reason for
Darnley not being encouraged to go to Scotland; but he was at last
allowed to leave London secretly in February 1565. The young people met
in Wemyss Castle, and it was soon plain that Mary and her handsome
cousin were on the best terms. Archbishop Beaton, acting as her
secretary in Paris, was still pressing King Philip, and on the 15th of
March he warned the Spanish ambassador that unless his master came to
the rescue Mary would have to throw herself away on her English
relative. There was no response, and between the 7th and 10th of April,
Mary of Scots and Henry Lord Darnley were privately married in Rizzio's
apartment in Holyrood. No one knew it; and nearly two months after, the
Archbishop again urges the King of Spain to consent, for his Queen is
not yet married, and there is still time for the greater alliance.
Seven weeks more passed, and on the 29th June the public marriage took
place, and Mary gave her husband the title of king.

It was the downfall of Moray, and, as Knox points out, of the whole
temporising Protestant policy since the Queen came to Scotland. Moray
saw that clearly enough, and confederating with a number of the other
Lords to protest against the marriage and the proposed kingship, the
whole party were within three months driven out of Scotland by the
energy of the Queen. In the field, Knox confesses, 'her courage
increased manlike so much, that she was ever with the foremost.' And in
her proclamation she frankly made it her case against the recalcitrant

    'that the establishment of Religion will not content them, but
    we must be forced to govern by Council, such as it shall please
    them to appoint us; a thing so far beyond all measure, that we
    think the only mention of so unreasonable a demand is sufficient
    ... for what other thing is this but to dissolve the whole
    policy, and in a manner to invert the very order of nature, to
    make the Prince obey and subjects command?'

For now the triumph of absolutism and of Rizzio, as the Papal agent, was
complete--more so than Moray or Knox knew. France and Spain, long
divided, seemed at last to be working together for the faith. And the
greatest of European monarchs, though he declined to wed his heir in
Scotland, had by no means abandoned the cause there. On the contrary, in
this very spring of 1565, while the Darnley-marriage was preparing, the
savage Alva and Granvelle were laying down at Bayonne, by Philip's
authority, the first lines of the plan for sending an Armada against
Protestant England, in order to place Mary on its throne: and the
assurance to that effect, given by Alva's own lips to Mary's envoy, was
carried by him to Scotland in time to swell the exultation of her

One man was left in Scotland, and he now had at least the people of
Edinburgh with him. Darnley, though a Catholic, thought it prudent to
come to Knox's preaching on a Sunday very soon after the marriage, but
was so unfortunate as to hear a sermon on the text--'Other lords than
Thou have had dominion over us.' The preacher explained that in very bad
cases of ingratitude of the people, God permitted such lords to be 'boys
and women,' and the weakness of Ahab was specially dwelt upon in not
restraining his strong-minded wife. Worse than all, the service was an
hour longer than he had expected; and the king, characteristically,
'would not dine, and with great fury passed to the hawking.' Knox was
summoned to the Council, and ordered not to preach while the Court
remained in town. He gave the particularly cautious answer that '_if the
Church_ would command him either to speak or abstain, he would obey, _so
far_ as the Word of God would permit him'; but times were changed, and
in this matter the Church had now to obey the Authority. The Lords of
the Congregation, for four years the Queen of Scots' nominal advisers,
were very soon in exile in England; and Queen Elizabeth, in mortal dread
of the apprehended union of France and Spain in a Catholic crusade
against her own crown, received 'her sister's rebels' with upbraiding
and almost menace. Knox and the General Assembly maintained a defensive
warfare all through the year 1565-6. But they had no representation in
the Court, and Rizzio succeeded so far that Mary herself tells[113] how
she had arranged for the counter-revolution being commenced by a
Parliament in April 1566, 'the spiritual estate being placed therein in
the ancient manner, tending to have done some good anent restoring the
old religion.' Two things prevented this smooth programme being carried
out. Mary's rather weak fancy for Darnley seems to have only lasted for
a few weeks after her marriage. He turned out to be a fool; and his wife
and the nobility declined to promise him the Crown-matrimonial, _i.e._,
to make him successor to her in case there were no children. Darnley now
courted the banished lords, and made a 'Band' with them according to the
old Scots fashion, a fashion which was to break out nearer home in more
savage survival still. For Mary's imprudent favouritism of Rizzio had
roused the deadly jealousy both of her husband and of the nobles who
remained at home. And on the 9th of March a band of men headed by Morton
and Ruthven dragged the Italian out from her supper-table at Holyrood,
and stabbed him to death in the ante-chamber; Darnley and the lords
remaining in order to make terms with their Queen. The outrage was
unavailing; in two days Mary had talked over her husband, escaped with
him from Holyrood to Dunbar, and summoned her new favourite, Lord
Bothwell, to her aid. Years before, when fighting the Earl of Huntly in
the far North, she had expressed to Randolph her regret 'that she was
not a man to know what life it was to lie all night in the fields, or to
walk on the causeway, with a jack and knapschalle, a Glasgow buckler,
and a broadsword.' And now, as before, her energy swept the field clear
of her enemies, and she returned to Edinburgh victorious. Knox may not
have known of the formal Band; but he was even more opposed to his Queen
than were those who signed it, and on 17th March 1566 he 'departed of
the Burgh at two hours afternoon, with a great mourning of the godly of
religion.' Five days before, on the very day, indeed, after Mary had
ridden away through the night from Holyrood, he had penned, 'with
deliberate mind to his God,' his retrospective confession,[114]
prefixing to it the prayer--

    'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit, and put an end, at thy good
    pleasure, to this my miserable life; for justice and truth are
    not to be found among the sons of men!'

It was the old sigh, which has been breathed from the most heroic hearts
in times of crisis and failure; 'Let me now die, for I am not better
than my fathers!' And here once again it was premature. For the Queen,
now awakened to the whole situation, saw how rash had been her recent
aggressive policy. After the birth of her son in June 1566, instead of
framing Parliamentary enactments against the new religion, she vaguely
proposed to make some provision for the ministers, and allowed the
banished lords, one by one, to come back. And though they now found
their unfortunate confederate, Darnley, in neglect and disgrace, they
found also their sovereign passing rapidly under a new and more
controlling influence; and the Earl of Bothwell was a nominal
Protestant. Knox at first was forbidden to return to his pulpit, and he
visited the Churches in Ayrshire and Fife, occupying himself among other
things in revising the first four books of his history--the only part
which is finished by his trenchant pen. But in December the General
Assembly met in Edinburgh, and Knox was with them. We have already seen
the striking answer sent by this Assembly[115] as to the proposed gifts
of the Queen. But their attention was arrested at this moment by another
and very inconsistent order of the Crown restoring the Archbishop of St
Andrews, the head of the old hierarchy, to his consistorial
jurisdiction, contrary to the law of 1560. It was either a very absurd,
or a very alarming, step; and Knox, at the request of the Assembly,
prepared a powerful manifesto on the subject. He then went away, with
their approval, on a long-meditated visit to England, to visit his sons
in Northumberland or Yorkshire, and to strengthen his friends on the
more Puritan side of the English Church in their new troubles under
Elizabeth. Little is known of his proceedings there; though he remained
in England during the whole time between the Assembly of December 1566
and another which sat on 25th June 1567.

But between these dates, and in Knox's absence, the most amazing tragedy
in the history of Scotland had unrolled itself in Edinburgh. Week by
week, the increasing power of Lord Bothwell over the Queen, and her
increasing dislike of her husband, had attracted the attention of men.
But before February there was a sudden reconciliation between her and
Darnley. She brought him to a house in Kirk of Field, near Edinburgh,
and at midnight of the 9th it was blown up with gunpowder by the
servants of Bothwell, the body of the King being found in the garden. On
21st April Bothwell waylaid and carried off Mary to Dunbar. But he was
still a married man, having wedded Lord Huntly's sister fourteen months
before. And now in May, came in the new consistorial jurisdiction of the
Archbishop, for the only act which that prelate ever performed under it
was to confirm a sentence of nullity of this very marriage, and that on
the ground that Bothwell and his wife being too nearly related, had not
procured a Papal dispensation (the Papal dispensation having not only
been procured before the marriage, but having been granted by the hands
of the Archbishop himself as Legate). Ten days after this divorce, and
in spite of dissuasions from her friends at home and abroad, the
ill-fated Queen publicly married the murderer of her husband, and the
strong shudder of disgust that passed through the commons of Scotland
shook her throne to the ground. So upon Mary's half-compulsory
abdication, Moray became Regent for the infant King, who was crowned at
Stirling, Knox preaching the coronation sermon. (There were men present
on this triumphal occasion before whom he had preached once before in
the same place, when sunk in despair after that 'dark and dolorous'
flight from Edinburgh.) And now came that great winding up already
discussed in our last chapter, the Protestant legislative settlement of
Church matters in 1567.

It was the second great climax of Knox's life; and now his public work
was done. We shall not find it necessary to follow his later years in
detail. They were troubled by ineffectual attempts to reverse the
verdict of the people already given. For Mary had a majority of the
nobles still with her, and Elizabeth of England resented the claim of a
nation to judge its sovereign. An appeal to arms followed: the Regent
was victorious at Langside, and the Queen of Scots fled to a long
captivity in England. But her claims threw Scotland into civil war
during most of the remaining life of Knox. Moray was assassinated in
1570 by one of the Hamiltons whose life he had spared upon Knox's
intercession; and next Sunday Knox, who had long since returned into
friendship with him, preached on 'Blessed are the dead,' and 'moved
three thousand persons to shed tears for the loss of such a good and
godly governor.' But Lethington had now gone over to the exiled Queen,
and took with him even Kirkaldy, who had fought with Moray at Langside.
Henceforth the Castle, where they resided, was a danger to Edinburgh,
and in July, 1571, Knox, by agreement of both parties there, was sent
for a twelvemonth to St Andrews to be out of harm's way. He had left
Edinburgh in wholly broken health, after a fit of apoplexy: he returned
feebler still, and had a colleague at once appointed. Yet when the news
came from Paris, in September, 1572, of the great massacre of St
Bartholomew, Knox himself took charge of organising the protest of
Scotland against the gigantic crime. But that crime of France saved
Scotland, and the voice of Scotland's leader was no longer needed. The
end was now near, and while 'so feeble as scarce can he stand alone' he
sends a farewell message to 'Mr Secretary Cecil' through Killigrew, the
new English envoy.

    'John Knox doth reverence your Lordship much, and willed me once
    again to send you word, that he thanked God he had obtained at
    His hands, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is truly and simply
    preached throughout Scotland, which doth so comfort him as he
    now desireth to be out of this miserable life.'[116]

And with an explosion, equally characteristic, against one who had
anonymously accused Knox of 'seeking support against his native
country,' we may close our notices of this great public life.

    'I give him a lie in his throat!... What I have been to my
    country, although this unthankful age will not know, yet the
    ages to come will be compelled to bear witness to the truth....
    To me it seems a thing most unreasonable, that, in this my
    decrepit age, I should be compelled to fight against shadows and
    howlets, that dare not abide the light!'[117]

[102] 'Works,' ii. 126.

[103] So much was this looked forward to, that two months _before the
death_ of her husband King Francis, the English ambassador, writing from
Paris to London of the King's feeble health, says: 'There is much talk
of the Queen's second marriage. Some talk of the Prince of Spain, some
of the Duke of Austrich, others of the Earl of Arran.

[104] 'Works,' ii. 277.

[105] 'To Kings, Princes, Rulers, and Magistrates we affirm that,
chiefly and most principally, the reformation and purgation of the
Religion appertains, so that, not only are they appointed for civil
policy, but also for maintenance of the true Religion, and for
suppressing of idolatry and superstition whatsoever.... And, therefore,
we confess and avow that such as resist the supreme power (doing that
thing which appertains to his charge) do resist God's ordinance, and
therefore cannot be guiltless.'--'Works,' ii. 119.

[106] Mary may not have met a Protestant teacher before, except those
whom she and her husband had more than once viewed suffering on the
scaffold; but she had read books like the Colloquies of Erasmus with
keen appreciation, she was instructed in the great controversy from the
Catholic side, and one of the youthful exercises which remain written in
her girlish hand is a letter to John Calvin in defence of purgatory.

[107] See Hume Brown, ii. 171, note.

[108] 'Works,' ii. 276. Her answer to the General Assembly in 1565, was
that 'she prays all her loving subjects, seeing they have had experience
of her goodness, that she neither has in times past, nor yet means
hereafter to press the conscience of any man, but that they may worship
God in such sort as they are persuaded to be best, that they also will
not press her to offend her own conscience.'--'Book of the Universall
Kirk,' p. 34.

[109] The Pope had already, since her husband's death, sent her the
Golden Rose, with the suggestion that in Scotland she must be a rose
_among thorns_.

[110] Labanoff's 'Lettres de Marie Stuart,' i. 177.

[111] Page 89.

[112] The dates are indicated generally in Hill Burton's 'History,' iv,

[113] Labanoffs 'Lettres de Marie Stuart,' i. 342.

[114] Page 28.

[115] Page 113.

[116] 'Works,' vi. 633.

[117] 'Works,' vi. 596.



It is time to part from the public life of the greatest public man whom
Scotland has known. That side of Knox's work, attractively presented to
the world at first in the memorable biography of Dr Thomas M'Crie, has
been admirably restated by Dr Hume Brown for a later age and from his
own judicial standpoint. But Knox's public life was not the whole of his
work: in bulk, it was a small part of it. When he became minister of
Edinburgh in 1560 there was only one church there; St Cuthberts and
Canongate were country parishes outside. It was some years before he got
a colleague; and, as sole minister of Edinburgh, he preached twice every
Sunday _and three times during the week_ to audiences which sometimes
were numbered by thousands. Once a week he attended a Kirk Session; once
a week he was a member of the assembly or meeting of the neighbouring
elders for their 'prophesying' or 'exercise on Scripture.' Often he was
sent away to different districts of the country on preaching visitations
under the orders of the Church. But when Knox was at home, his
preparations for the pulpit, which were regular and careful, and his
other pastoral work, challenged his whole time. And this work was
carried on in two places chiefly; in St Giles, which now became the High
Church of Edinburgh, and in his house or lodging, which was always in or
near the Netherbow, a few hundred yards farther down the High Street.
The picturesque old building 'in the throat of the Bow,' which attracts
innumerable visitors as the traditional house where Knox died, was not
that in which he spent most part of his Edinburgh life. From 1560 down
to about the time of his second marriage he lived in a 'great mansion'
on the west side of Turing's or Trunk Close; and thereafter for some
years in a house on the east side of the same close. Neither of them now
exists; but the entrance into the High Street from both was under the
windows of the third or Netherbow house, which is shewn in modern times,
and which was probably ready for Knox's reception, if not earlier, at
least when he came back from his latest visit to St Andrews. In these he
kept his books, which constituted much the larger part of his personal
property--('you will not always be at your book,' Queen Mary had said,
as she turned her back upon him in closing their second interview). And
with them, and with helps from the old logic and the new learning (for
while abroad he had added Hebrew to his previous instruments of Greek
and Latin) he studied hour by hour for the sermons which he
delivered--and their delivery also lasted hour after hour--in the great
church. In that church there was occasionally much to draw even the
vulgar eye. One day it was Huntly, the great Catholic Earl, the most
famous man in Knox's opinion among the nobility of Scotland for three
hundred years for 'both felicity and worldly wisdom,' whose huge bulk as
he had sat opposite to the preacher (the year before he died 'without
stroke of sword' on the field of Corrichie) was afterwards, thus vividly

    'Have ye not seen one greater than any of you sitting where
    presently ye sit, pick his nails, and pull down his bonnet over
    his eyes, when idolatry, witchcraft, murder, oppression, and
    such vices were rebuked? Was not his common talk, When the
    knaves have railed their fill, then will they hold their

Or, again, it was the French Ambassador, Le Croc, sitting in state on
the first Sunday after the news of St Bartholomew, who heard the
preacher denounce his master, King Charles, as a 'murderer,' from whom
and from whose posterity the vengeance of God would refuse to depart.
But these were incidents dramatic and political. And noble as a
political calling may be, there have always been some to believe that
drawing men and women up to a higher moral life, especially when that
life is fed from an immortal hope, is nobler still. But Knox, let us
remember, was throughout his early ministry the witness of a still more
fascinating and indeed unexampled spectacle--a whole generation suddenly
confronted with the moral call of primitive Christianity, and striving
to respond to it, no longer in dependence on Church tradition, but by
each man moulding himself directly upon Christian facts and Christian
promises in the very form in which these were originally delivered by
the apostolic age. He was witness of it; and more than witness, for
beyond any other man in Scotland Knox was its guide. And while the
guidance of the great theological leaders of that generation tended
naturally--and quite apart from their usurped statutory ascendency--to
press too heavily upon the recovered freedom of Scotland, that danger
was but little felt in those early days of enthusiasm in the High Church
of Edinburgh.

       *       *       *       *       *

What like was the man who was seen, almost every day during all those
years, pacing up and down between the Netherbow and St Giles?

Knox, as we are told by a surviving contemporary (who enclosed a
portrait of him along with the description), was a man of slightly less
than middle height, but with broadish shoulders, limbs well put
together, and long fingers. He had a rather swarthy face, with black
hair, and a beard a span and a half long, also black, but latterly
turning grey. The face was somewhat long, the nose decidedly so, the
mouth large, and the lips full, so that the upper lip in particular
seemed to be swollen. The chief peculiarity of his face was that his
eyes--sunk between a rather narrow forehead, with a strong ridge of
eyebrow, above, and ruddy and swelling cheeks, below--looked hollow and
retreating. But those eyes were of a darkish blue colour, their glance
was keen and vivid, and the whole face was 'not unpleasing.' We can
easily believe that 'in his settled and severe countenance there dwelt a
natural dignity and majesty, which was by no means ungracious, but in
anger authority sat upon his brow.'[119]

This seems to be a true portraiture of Knox in the days of his vigour;
if we are to speak of vigour in the case of a man with a small and frail
body (one of his early biographers speaks of him as a mere _corpuscle_),
and a man throughout his whole public life struggling with disease. In
the last year of his prematurely 'decrepit age,' we have another
description of him; and this time it is taken in St Andrews. Edinburgh
and Leith were now again at war, and the quarter of Knox's house was the
most unsafe in the city. The 'King's Men' outside were always attempting
to force the Netherbow Port; and their guns, planted close by on the Dow
Craig,[120] and a little farther off on Salisbury Crags, smote from
either side. They were crossed and answered, not only by the great guns
of the castle, held by the Queen's Men under Kirkaldy, but by a nearer
battery on the Blackfriars' Yard, and by guns planted on the roof of St
Giles (the biggest of which the soldiers of course christened 'John
Knox'). In these circumstances Knox was safer away; and from May 1571 to
August 1572 his residence was St Andrews. There the mild James Melville,
a student at St Leonards, watched the old man with the wistful reverence
of youth.

    'I saw him every day of his doctrine go _hulie and fear_,[121]
    with a furring of martricks about his neck, a staff in the one
    hand, and good godly Richard Ballanden, his servant, holding up
    the other oxter,[122] from the Abbey to the parish kirk; and by
    the said Richard and another servant, lifted up to the pulpit,
    where he behoved to lean at his first entry; but before he had
    done with his sermon, he was so active and vigorous that he was
    like to _ding that pulpit in blads_,[123] and fly out of
    it!'[124] And the impact on the mind of the youthful Melville
    was scarcely less than that on the pulpit. He had his 'pen and
    little book,' and for the first half hour of Knox's sermon, took
    down 'such things as I could comprehend'; but when the preacher
    'entered to the application of his text he made me so to
    _grue_[125] and tremble that I could not hold a pen to

But his day was rapidly moving to its close; and Knox, without waiting
for his return to Edinburgh, now wrote his Will. In it, after an
unexpectedly mild address to the Papists, and a prophecy (which was not
fulfilled) that his death would turn out a worse thing for them than his
life, he turns to the other side, and in one striking paragraph sums up
the work that was now to close.

    'To the faithful I protest, that God, by my mouth, be I never so
    abject, has shewn to you His truth in all simplicity. None I
    have corrupted; none I have defrauded; merchandise have I not
    made (to God's glory I write) of the glorious Evangel of Jesus
    Christ. But according to the measure of the grace granted unto
    me, I have divided the sermon [word] of truth into just parts:
    beating down the pride of the proud in all that did declare
    their rebellion against God, according as God in His law gives
    to me yet testimony; and raising up the consciences troubled
    with the knowledge of their own sins, by the declaring of Jesus
    Christ, the strength of His death, and the mighty operation of
    His resurrection in the hearts of the faithful.'

When (still before leaving St Andrews) he publishes his last book, he
dedicates it to the faithful 'that God of His mercy shall appoint to
fight after me;' and he adds, 'I heartily salute and take my good-night
of all the faithful of both realms ... for as the world is weary of me,
so am I of it.' In those darkening days, even when he is merely to write
his subscription, it is 'John Knox, with my dead hand but glad heart.'
For in this inevitable anti-climax of failing life, Knox found his
compensations not in the world, nor even in the Church. When he returned
to Edinburgh, he had become unable for pastoral work. 'All worldly
strength, yea, even in things spiritual,' he writes to his expected
colleague, 'decays, and yet never shall the work of God decay.... Visit
me, that we may confer together on heavenly things: for, in earth, there
is no stability, except in the Kirk of Jesus Christ, ever fighting under
the cross. Haste, ere you come too late.' His colleague hurried from
Aberdeen to Edinburgh, and at his induction Knox appeared and spoke once
more in public. But it was the last time, and at the close of the
service the whole congregation accompanied the failing steps of their
minister down to the Netherbow. And from that 9th November 1572 he never
left his house.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have at least two accounts of his death--one in Latin from a
colleague, one in Scots by his old servitor and secretary; and the
latter seems to have the merit of admiring and indiscriminating
faithfulness. It is often said that such death-bed narratives are
worthless, unless judged by the light thrown upon them from the
previous life. It is true. Yet Death, too, is a great critic; and, at
least when that previous life has included a problem, (as we have
thought to be the case here), it may be well before we volunteer a
verdict to listen to _his_ summing up. It may finally divide, or it may
reunite, the inward and outward elements which have co-existed in the
life. And it may at least reveal which of them was the ruling and
radical characteristic. For while Knox had long been a beacon-light to
Scotland, we have had reason to think that the flame was first kindled
in this man's own soul. But now that the fuel which fed it is withdrawn,
will that flame sink into the socket? Will it flicker out, now that the
airs which fanned it have become still? How will it behave in the chill
that falls from those winnowing wings?

The day after Knox sickened he gave one of his servants twenty shillings
above his fee, with the words, 'Thou wilt never get no more from me in
this life.' Two days after, his mind wandered; and he wished to go to
church 'to preach on the resurrection of Christ.' Next day he was
better; and when two friends called he ordered a hogshead of wine to be
pierced, and urged them to partake, for their host 'would not tarry
until it was all drunk.' On Monday, the 17th, he asked the elders and
deacons of his church, with the ministers of Edinburgh and Leith, to
meet with him; and in solemn and affectionate words, nearly the same
with those above quoted from his will, reviewed his ministry and took
leave of them all. But here too trouble from his past awaited him. He
had not long before accused from the pulpit Maitland of Lethington, now
in the Castle, of having said that 'Heaven and hell are things I devised
to fray bairns;' and Maitland's demand for evidence or apology was
brought to him. Knox had never been able to bear contradiction,
especially when he was somewhat in the wrong; and those who wish to
acquire new virtues must not postpone them to their last hours. His
defence was roundabout and ineffectual; and all were glad when he parted
from these details of his long life-struggle, so that his friends, with
tears, might take their last look of his worn and wearied face. The
effort had been too much for him, and henceforth he never spoke but with
great pain. Yet during the rest of the week he had many visitors. One
after another the nobles in Edinburgh, Lords Boyd, Drumlanrig, Lindsay,
Ruthven, Glencairn, and Morton (then about to be elected Regent) had
interviews with him. Of Morton he demanded whether he had been privy to
the murder of Darnley, and receiving an evasive assurance that he had
not, he charged him to use his wealth and high place 'better in time to
come than you have done in time past. If so ye do, God shall bless and
honour you; but if ye do it not, God shall spoil you of these benefits,
and your end shall be ignominy and shame.' When so many men pressed in,
women, devout and honourable, were of course also present. One lady
commenced to praise his works for God's cause: 'Tongue! tongue! lady,'
he broke in; 'flesh of itself is overproud, and needs no means to esteem
itself.' Gradually they all left, except his true friend Fairley of
Braid. Knox turned to him: 'Every one bids me good-night; but when will
you do it? I shall never be able to recompense you; but I commit you to
One that is able to do it--to the Eternal God.' During the days that
followed, his weakness reduced him to ejaculatory sentences of prayer.
'Come, Lord Jesus. Sweet Jesus, into Thy hands I commend my spirit' But
Scotland was still on his heart; and as Napoleon in his last hours was
heard to mutter _tête d'armée_, so Knox's attendants caught the words,
'Be merciful, O Lord, to Thy Church, which Thou hast redeemed. Give
peace to this afflicted commonwealth. Raise up faithful pastors who will
take charge of Thy Church. Grant us, Lord, the perfect hatred of sin,
both by the evidences of Thy wrath and mercy.' Sometimes he was
conscious of those around, and seemed to address them. 'O serve the Lord
in fear, and death shall not be terrible to you. Nay, blessed shall
death be to those who have felt the power of the death of the only
begotten Son of God.'

On his last Sabbath a more remarkable scene occurred. He had been lying
quiet during the afternoon, and suddenly exclaimed, 'If any be present
let them come and see the work of God.' His friend, Johnston of
Elphinstone, was summoned from the adjacent church, and on his arrival
Knox burst out, 'I have been these two last nights in meditation on the
troubled Church of God, the spouse of Jesus Christ, despised of the
world, but precious in His sight. I have called to God for her, and have
committed her to her head, Jesus Christ. I have been fighting against
Satan, who is ever ready to assault. Yea, I have fought against
spiritual wickedness in heavenly things, and have prevailed. I have been
in heaven and have possession. I have tasted of the heavenly joys where
presently I am.' Gradually this rapture of retrospection and assurance
wore itself down, with the help of recitation by the dying man of the
Creed and the Lord's Prayer--Knox pausing over the clause 'Our Father,'
to ejaculate, 'Who can pronounce so holy words?'

Next day, Monday, 24 November, 1572, was his last on earth. His three
most intimate friends sat by his bedside. Campbell of Kinyeancleugh
asked him if he had any pain. 'It is no painful pain,' he said; 'but
such a pain as shall soon, I trust, put an end to the battle.' To this
friend he left in charge his wife, whom later of the day he asked to
read him the fifteenth chapter to the Corinthians. When it was finished,
'Now for the last [time],' he said, 'I commend my soul, spirit, and
body' (and as he spoke he touched three of his fingers) 'into Thy hands,
O Lord.' Later of the day he called to his wife again, 'Go read where I
cast my first anchor!' She turned to the seventeenth chapter of John,
and followed it up with part of a sermon of Calvin on the Epistle to the
Ephesians. It seems to have been after this that he fell into a moaning
slumber. All watched around him. Suddenly he woke, and being asked why
he sighed, said that he had been sustaining a last 'assault of Satan.'
Often before had he tempted him with allurements, and urged him to
despair. Now he had sought to make him feel as if he had merited heaven
by his faithful ministry. 'But what have I that I have not received?
Wherefore,[127] I give thanks to my God, through Jesus Christ, who hath
been pleased to give me the victory; and I am persuaded that the tempter
shall not again attack me, but that within a short time I shall, without
any great pain of body or anguish of mind, exchange this mortal and
miserable life for a blessed immortality through Jesus Christ.' During
the hours which followed he lay quite still, and they delayed reading
the evening prayer till past ten o'clock, thinking he was asleep. When
it was finished, his physician asked him if he had heard the prayers.
'Would to God,' he answered, 'that you and all men had heard them as I
have heard them; I praise God for that heavenly sound.' As eleven
o'clock drew on he gave a deep sigh, and they heard the words, 'Now it
is come.' His servant, Richard Bannatyne, drew near, and called upon him
to think upon the comfortable promises of Christ which he had so often
declared to others. Knox was already speechless, but his servant pleaded
for one sign that he heard the words of peace. As if collecting his
whole strength, he lifted up his right hand heavenwards, and sighing
twice, peacefully expired.

       *       *       *       *       *

Such a life had such a close.

[118] 'Works,' ii. 362.

[119] Sir Peter Young's letter to Beza, 13th Nov. 1579.--'Life of Knox,'
by Hume Brown, ii. 323.

[120] That is, the Craig Dhu or Black Rock. So the Calton Crags were
called, which now look green amid surrounding buildings, but which then
were a dark and frowning patch in a semicircle of green hill that
stretched from St Cuthberts to Holyrood.

[121] Slowly and warily.

[122] Armpit.

[123] Smite it into shivers.

[124] 'Autobiography and Diary,' p. 33.

[125] To grue = to thrill and shudder.

[126] 'Autobiography and Diary,' p. 26.

[127] It will be recognised that this sentence is translated from the


Acts of Parliament, 24, 80, 99, 100, 114.

Affliction, Treatise on, 59.

Alnwick, Cupboard at, 55.

Alva, 137.

Anabaptists, 72, 102.

Anchor, Knox's first, 30, 37, 39, 47, 153.

Apostolic Order of Worship, 72.

Appellation, 77.

Appropriations, 21, 22.

Archbishop of St Andrews, 140, 141.

Argyll, Earl of, 130.

Aristocracy, Scottish, 20-22, 73, 77, 115.

Armenians, 68.

Arran, Earl of, 119.

Assembly, General, 107, 115, 140.

Assurance, 28, 29, 30.

Auditors bound to support, 112, 113.

Autobiography, 9, 12, 13, 28, 31, 53.

Balnaves, 36.

Band, 73, 74, 90, 139.

Bannatyne, Richard, 153.

Bartholomew, St, 146.

Beaton, David (Cardinal), 18, 24, 26, 38.

Beaton, James (Archbishop), 17.

Beggars' Warning, 82, 108.

Benefices, 107, 112.

Berwick, 49, 66.

Beza, 10.

Bible, 24, 30, 33, 72, 125.

Bishopric offered Knox, 49.

Bishops, The R.C., 93.

'Bishops and Kings,' 71.

Blast (against Women's Regimen), 120.

Books in Knox's Library, 145.

Borgia, 12.

Bothwell, 139, 140, 141.


Bowes, Mrs, 53-61.

Bowes, Marjory, (Mrs Knox,) 49-51.

Bowes, Sir R., 50.

Brown, Dr Hume, 10, 21, 39, 68, 110, 144.

Browning, 57.

Buchanan, George, 19, 24.

Bullinger, 68.

Bunyan in Bedford, 55.

Burghs, 75.

Burton, J. Hill, 45.

Calvin, 30, 43, 51, 67, 68.

Campbell of Kinyeancleugh, 152.

Cannon-ball, 63.

Carlyle, 37, 38, 39, 46, 94.

Catechism Palatinate, 30.

Catholic system, 14-24, 23.

Call, Knox's, 28, 31, 32, Chap. II. (25-47).

Cecil, 87, 92, 143.

Ceremonies, 36.

Charities, 104.

Chatelherault, Duke of, 51.

Comfort, Knox's lack of, 53.

Commonalty, Letter to, 77, 78.

'Common Man, The,' 43, 48, 78, 94.

Compensations, 149.

'Conditions,' Knox's, 63.

Confession of 1560, 92-97, 117, 123.

Confession of Wishart (First Helvetic), 30, 36, 38, 97, 102, 103, 109.

Confession, Knox's personal, 28, 140.

Confessions, Change in, 97.

Confessions of Protestantism, 95, 101.

'Congregation, The,' 74.

Conscience, 86, 90, 124, 126, 135.

Constantine, 14.

Constitutionalism, 19, 137.

Consuetude, 55.

Conversion, Knox's, 9, 27, Chap. II. (25-47).

Convocation of Lieges, 135.

Coronation Oath, 100.

Coronation Sermon, 142.

Corpuscle, 147.

Council, General Church, 15-17, 18.

Council, Provincial Church, 84.

'Country, What I have been to my,' 143.

Creed (_see_ Confession).

Crisis in life, Chap. II.

Crock, Le, 146.

Darnley, 41, 136, 138-141.

Death of Knox, 149-154.

'Deliberate Mind,' 27-31, 140.

Desertion, 59.

Dialogues with Queen Mary, 123-134.

Discipline, Book of, 106, 108, 109-115.

Dispensation for Bothwell's Marriage, 141.

Donations, 104.

Dow Craig, 147.

Dundee, 75.

Dyspepsia, 63.

Edinburgh, 61, 69, 86, 88, Chapter VII. (144-154).

Edinburgh, Treaty of, 91.

Ejectment, Summons of, 83, 84.

Eleazar Knox, 51.

Elizabeth, Queen, 82, 92, 119, 120, 131, 138.

Endowments, 20-22, 83, 104, 105, 111, 114.

England, 20, 21, 22, 24, 38, 41, 66, 67, 86, 141.

Establishment, 14, 23, 100.

Evangel, 28-31, 34, 39, 43, 44, 46, 69, 94, 148.

Excommunication, 100.

Face, Knox's, 146.

Fairley of Braid, 151.

'Familiarity,' never broken, 63.

'Fearfulness' of Knox, 33.

Fergus the First, 19.

France, 82, 117, 118, 143.

Francis II., 118.

Frankfort, 67.

Friars, The, 80, 83.

Galleys, 32, 65, 66.

Gallicanism, 15, 16, 17.

Geneva, 68.

Genius, Knox's, 45.

Gentlewoman's face, 127.

Gerson, Chancellor, 16.

Golden Rose, 128.

Granvelle, Cardinal, 128, 137.

Gravel, 63.

Haddington, 10, 12, 14, 19, 25.

Hamilton, Patrick, 18, 24, 29.

Hebrew, 145.

Helvetic (First) Confession, 30, 36, 38, 97, 102, 103, 109.

'History of Reformation,' 45, 140.

Hospitals, 83.

House, Knox's, 144, 145.

Humanism, 16, 20, 23.

Huntly, Earl of, 139, 145.

Idolatry, 40, 67, 77, 102, 103, 122.

Independence of Church, 94, 96, 98, 115.

'Indifferency,' 70, 71, 81, 86.

Individualism, 43, 56.

Induration, 126.

Infidelity, 56, 60, 95, 133.

Inner Life, Knox's, Chapters II. and III.

Intolerance, 14, 23, 24, 26, 32, 99-103.

Irrevocableness of Call, 33.

James V., 24.

Jesuit (Tyrie), 96.

Johnston of Elphinstone, 152.

Jurisdiction, 99, 100, 114.

Kirk of Field, 141.

Kirkaldy of Grange, 42, 142.

Laing, David, 26.

Lawson, James, 10, 11.

Leadership, Weight of, 34.

Legislation, 14, 24, Chap. V. (95-116).

Leith, 88, 147.

Lethington, 42, 89, 131, 135, 142, 150.

Letters of Knox (private), Chap, III.

Lindsay, Sir David, 31.

Lindsay, Lord, 93.

Locke, Mrs, 61-63.

Loire, 39, 65.

Longniddry, 26, 31.

Luther, 17, 18, 20, 36, 43.

M'Crie, Dr Thomas, 144.

M'Cunn, Mrs, 39.

Macphail, Dr Jas. C, 113.

'Magistrate, The,' 35, 36, 67, 68, 73, 77, 97, 103, 117, 120, 124.

Mair (_see_ Major).

Maitland (_see_ Lethington).

Major, John, 10, 15-19, 22.

Maries, The Four, 52, 63.

Marischal, The Earl, 93.

Marmion, 49.

'Marriage, My,' 133.

Marvels, 40-44.

Mary of Lorraine, Queen Regent, 69-71, 76, 79, 80, 81, 82, 84, 90, 91,

Mary, Queen of Scots, 42, 52, 80, 82, Chap. VI. (117-143).

Mary, Queen of England, 82.

Mass, The, 67, 69, 99, 122, 127, 129.

'Meditation or Prayer,' 27-31.

Melancholy, Knox's, 63.

Melville, James, 148.

Mitchell, Dr A.F., 109.

Moray, Earl of, 51, 122, 131, 132, 137, 142.

Morton, Earl of, 33, 139, 151.

Movements, Leadership of, 34.

Nathaniel Knox, 51.

National Churches, 15-18.

'Need of all,' of Knox, 63.

Netherbow, 145, 147, 149.

Norham Castle, 48, 49.

Notary, 11.

Ochiltree, Lord, 52.

Organisation of Church, 35, 110, 115, 116.

Palatinate Catechism, 30.

Parentage of Knox, 10.

Paris, University of, 15-18.

Parishes, 20-22.

Parliament, 92, 94, 98, 138.

Pasquil, 70.

Patrimony of the Church, 106, 114, 115.

Patrimony of the Poor, 83, 107.

Persecution, 14, 23, 24, 26, 32, 35, 43, 57, 74, 76, 99-103.

Perth, 85.

Poor, The, 83, 106-108, 111, 115.

Pope, The, 11, 12, 15, 18, 22, 23, 99, 128.

Portraits, 10, 11.

Prayer-Book, English, 67.

Prayer, Treatise on, 66.

Preaching, 20, 41, 75, 86, 89, 94, 110, 132, 138, 142, 144, 145, 146,

Predictions, 40-44.

Priest, Knox as, 11, 12, 13.

Principles, Fundamental, of Knox, 35, 36, 146.

Private Life, Chap. III.

'Prophesyings,' 110, 144.

Prophet, Knox as, 39-44.

'Proud Mind,' 126.

Puritanism of Knox, 26, 35, 36, 67, 68, 96.

Radicalism, 19, 103, 105, 110, 115, 124, 133, 135, 137.

Randolph (English Ambassador), 90, 92, 93, 103, 127, 128.

Ratification of Creed, 117.

'Reconciliation, Articles of,' 75.

Regimen of Women, 63, 120.

Regular Priests, 21, 22.

Renaissance, 20, 23.

Repentance, 58.

Reticence of Knox, 11, 12, 13.

Risks of the Reformation, 34, 35.

Rizzio, 136, 137, 139.

Rouen, 65.

Rough, John, 31, 32.

Ruthven, Lord, 130, 139.

Sacerdotalism, 14.

Sandilands, Sir James, 117.

Scholasticism, 14, 16, 18.

Schools in Scotland, 110, 111.

Scriptures, The, 24, 30, 35, 72, 125.

Secrets of God's Counsel, 42.

Self-torture, 58.

Shakespeare, Priests in, 11.

Simony, 22.

Sir John Knox, 11 (_Note_).

Spain, 129, 131, 132, 134, 136, 137.

St Andrews, 10, 26, 31, 65, 85, 142, 148.

St Giles, 144.

Statesman, Knox as, 45, 46, 110, 111, 114, 115.

Statutes, 24, 80, 99, 100, 114.

Stewart, Lord James (_see_ Moray).

Stewart, Margaret (Mrs Knox), 52.

Stirling, 89, 142.

Sustentation, 112, 113.

Sword, The Civil, 124, 129.

Syllogism, 67, 103.

Sympathy of Knox, 13, 26, 53-64.

Testamentary Charities, 104.

Thomassin, 107.

Teinds, 21, 22, 105-108, 112-115.

Tithes (_see_ Teinds).

Toleration, 14, 18, 23, 24, 35, 74, 76, 79, 80, 81, 86, 90, 91, 98-103,
  112, 113, 114, 121, 126, 129.

Trent, Council of, 131.

Turing, or Trunk Close, 145.

'Use themselves Godly,' 75, 81, 129.

Vocation, Knox's, 28, 31, 32, Chap. II.

Wallace, Sir William, 19.

'Wholesome Counsel,' Letter of, 71, 72.

Will, Knox's, 42, 51, 148.

Willock, 91.

Window, 29, 47.

Wishart, George, 25, 26, 30, 36, 38, 97, 102, 109.

Women Friends, Chap. III.

Young, Sir Peter, 10, 146.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's notes:

   Obvious typographical and other printer errors and misspellings
   have been corrected. Archaic spellings have been retained.

   Footnotes are placed at the end of the chapter in which they

   In the Index, page 1 as a reference for "Reticence of Knox" has
   been changed to page 11 since there is no page 1, but page 11
   does refer to the subject of Knox's reticence.

   Page 141, omitted in the Index as a reference for "Kirk of
   Field", has been added.

   Omission in the Index of a page reference for "Bothwellhaugh"
   has been retained as there is no mention of "Bothwellhaugh" in
   the text.

   The date 1563 on page 47 is a best guess since the final number
   of the date is completely unreadable due to an ink blot.

   The names Campbell of Kinzencleuch and Kirkcaldy of Grange have
   been changed to Campbell of Kinyeancleugh and Kirkaldy of
   Grange in the Index to agree with spelling in the text.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "John Knox" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.