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of that majority in the church which approved of these political measures, was expressed by what were termed the public resolutions, and they were themselves called resolutioners. The other party solemnly protested against this course, as one of guilty defection from the principles of the covenant, and were called protesters ; and the whole church was split into these two parties, so that all its movements were paralyzed ; and while the one party strove incessantly to counteract the other, neither was able to rouse and unite the kingdom in such a manner as to secure its civil and religious liberties.
The political state of the country did not remain long undetermined. The skill and energy of Cromwell triumphed easily over Charles and his divided adherents, and Scotland sank beneath the power of the military usurper. Soon afterwards, the same ironhanded conqueror suppressed the meeting of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, allowing still its synods and presbyteries to meet, though with occasional interruptions from his soldiery.
In the mean time, the contests between the resolutioners and the protesters continued to rage with unabated violence. The resolutioners set the example of deposing the leading men among their antagonists ; who, on their part, refused to submit to the sentence, retained their positions, and occasionally retaliated by deposing some of their opponents. In point of numbers, the resolutioners formed the decided majority ; but this was at least counterbalanced by the talents, zeal, and energy of the protesters, and by the greater favour with which they were regarded by the most religious part of the community, and also by Cromwell, who paid particular attention to Patrick Gillespie, and for some time employed him almost as a commissioner for managing the affairs of the church. One direct consequence was, that by far the greater proportion of those who entered the ministry during that period were protesters; and as the protesters were men of more decidedly religious character than were the resolutioners in general, the youth and growth of the church was chiefly composed of eminently pious and spiritually minded men. This peculiarity it is of great importance to notice, viewing this period as one of transition, because it points out the direction of the under-current, and explains how it happened that when the time of persecution came, at the king's restoration, there were so many holy and fearless men ready to endure the loss of all things, and to brave every degree of peril and suffering rather than violate their allegiance to the divine Head and King of the church, by submitting to the usurpations of the civil magistrate.
Our space will not permit us to follow Mr Beattie through his account of this period of internal disunion and contention in the church. He has traced it throughout with great care and fidelity, giving copious extracts from the numerous pamphlets of the time, illustrative of the sentiments and views entertained by the contending partics. In this respect, the work before us is one of great importance, giving by far the most full and accurate accounts of the contest between the resolutioners and the protesters which is any where to be found. Yet interesting as the subject is to those who wish to obtain a more complete knowledge of that period than our ordinary histories contain, we fear it will not be very attractive to the ordinary reader. From the time when the General Assembly was suppressed by Colonel Cotterell till the restoration of Charles II., and the commencement of the persecution, the conflict between the two parties was incessant; but it was a war of skirmishes, unsignalized by any one event of sufficient importance to command attention. Controversial pamphlets, written with considerable skill and ingenuity, were frequent on both sides; and a series of intrigues, more or less private, were carried on by both parties with Cromwell, in which each strove to counterplot the other. The sagacious usurper contrived to keep both in terms with him, alternating his favourable regard, and managing so to cause them to counterpoise each other that neither could acquire an ascendancy so decided as either greatly to injure its opponents, or to become formidable to his own authority.
To have given sufficient details of the period to render it fully intelligible, and at the same time to have given to it such interest as to lead on the reader with untiring attention, would have been a triumph of historic skill and talent of no ordinary nature. We cannot say that Mr Beattie has so triumphed. The minute details, and the numerous extracts from controversial pamphlets, with which this part of his work abounds, however necessary for the right elucidation of the subject, will, we fear, be felt to be tedious and uninteresting. We are not surprised, however, that he has comparatively failed in the achievement of a task, where success was all but impossible. More of life and action, more of personal anecdote, and more of the internal state of religion in the country, would have greatly improved this portion of the work, and would have tended to keep the interest alive in the absence of great and spiritstirring events. The infusion, in short, of Mr M Crie's Sketches of Scottish Church History,' or of something similar, into this portion of Mr Beattie's work, would have imparted to it a warm and glowing reality which at present it does not possess, and the want of which will render it less attractive, and probably less generally read, than its real merit deserves.
The remarks which Mr Beattie frequently makes on the controversial writings and general conduct of the two parties, merit our almost unqualified approbation. Where we at any time feel disposed to disagree with him, is, he will be somewhat surprised to find, in his occasional disapprobation of the sentiments of the protesters, and in his sometimes appearing disposed to ascribe superiority of talent to the resolutioners. Both parties deserve censure on account of the keenness and acerbity of their mutual recriminations; but we have not the slightest hesitation in stating it as our opinion, that while the protesters were immeasurably superior to their opponents in rectitude of principle and integrity of conduct, they were at least equal in point of abilities, whether regarded as controversialists or as divines; and it cannot be denied that they possessed and displayed a far-foreseeing, an almost prophetic penetration into the real character of events and their inevitable consequences, immeasurably beyond the reach of their opponents, with all their sagacity, and prudence, and worldly-wise notions of expediency, as such men as David Dickson, Robert Douglas, and James Wood, were constrained on their death-beds with sorrow and remorse to acknowledge, when they unsheathed the red sword of persecution which their most unbappy measures had helped to furbish, and to put into the hands of an irreligious and despotic monarch and his ruthless sycophants and tools.
In the concluding chapter of his work, Mr Beattie does, what if he had not done, almost every one of his readers would have done for him,-he draws a parallel between the controversy in the Church of Scotland in the time of the resolutioners and protesters, and that of the present day, exhibiting their points of difference as well as of resemblance, and stating frankly and ably his own views and opinions respecting these two controversies.' Had not our limits forbidden, we should have gladly transcribed nearly the whole of the concluding chapter, both because we attach much importance to the deliberately recorded sentiments of an intelligent spectator, who, not being personally engaged in the contest, may be expected to form a more cool and impartial judgment of the whole matter than perhaps either of the parties in actual collision can at present do; and also because we concur in almost all that he has said. We must, however, refrain from any lengthened extract, and a short one would not be sufficient for the purpose. Let our readers procure the work for themselves, and give it that careful perusal which its importance merits. In the hope that they will do so,--and assuring them that they will thereby obtain the only adequate means of linking together the histories of Stevenson and Wodrow, which are disjoined by a deplorable blank of ten very important years,—we shall offer a few remarks of our own, which a parallel course of investigation has led us to form, and lay before our readers.
The contest between the resolutioners and the protesters arose, as has been already shown, out of political considerations, although it speedily involved very serious questions of ecclesiastical government. The resolutioners thought it politically expedient to mitigate, and finally to remove ecclesiastical censures, for the avowed purpose of thereby strengthening the defensive armies of the kingdom, when involved in war with a formidable antagonist. Against this course of procedure the opposite party protested, (hence their name,) justly believing, that in a great religious struggle it was of far more importance to preserve the principles, in defence of which they were engaged, perfectly free from any vitiating intermixture, than it was to secure a present victory by such a compromise as might obscure these principles. It was absolutely impossible for the resolutioners to accomplish their scheme of combining all parties in the kingdom without such a virtual abandonment, by compromise of their principles, as would have rendered a victory so gained equivalent to the suppression of the very essence of their
Before they could admit malignants to places of trust, they must either avowedly abandon the covenant which they had all solemnly sworn, or receive, as a sufficient repentance and return to a better mind, what it is impossible to suppose they must not have known to be sheer hypocrisy. Could Argyle or Robert Douglas believe Charles or Middleton to be sincere in their subscription of the covenant ? We cannot believe it. Yet for the sake of what they regarded as politically expedient, they seemed willing to permit these and such men to violate the sanctity of the most solemn and awful oaths. No wonder that their better brethren, the protesters, condemned sincerely what they could not but view as sinful desecration.
On the other hand, the protesters committed a flagrant error in raising, not only a political party, but even a considerable army, as a counterbalance to the state influence of the resolutioners. This we regard as the very essence of their error, though sufficient attention has not, so far as we are aware, been hitherto directed to this specific point. They do not seem to have perceived, that the resolutioners were led to deviate from the path of Christian principle by their intimate connection with worldly politicians, which involved them in the whirling vortex of political and military expediencies, that shift, and blend, and change, with every passing hour and every varying circumstance. They fell, consequently, into the very same error, and, in one respect, into a worse form of it. They might assert, as indeed they loudly did, their undiminished loyalty ; but the very fact, that they had raised an army not by the authority of the king, and not under the orders of the commander-in-chief, gave to their whole procedure the aspect of
something very similar to rebellion, and exposed them to accusations not easy to repel, and extremely galling to endure. At the same time, these counterpoising political and military movements not only embittered the hostility with which they regarded each other, but even greatly changed the character of the controversy in which they were engaged, and rendered it in reality as much a political as a religious one, if not more so. This, of course, rendered a reconciliation between them incalculably more impracticable than if it had been solely religious. Not that we mean to deny the extreme asperity which generally prevails in religious controversy, but that we are persuaded, and think we could prove, that in any religious controversy, in which the contending parties are agreed in the most essential and vital points, they will ere long become reconciled, unless some worldly elements interpose to perpetuate the disunion. We have repeatedly been delighted to witness how antagonists, determinedly and even fiercely opposed to each other in some points, have laid aside all their heat and acerbity, and acted together like brothers, when equally engaged in some great Christian enterprise, and how salutary has been the effect upon them with regard to their subordinate religious controversy. But when the main element of the controversy has been of a worldly, especially of a political character, we have rarely seen or read of any thorough reconciliation being effected. The reason appears to be, that worldly and political matters rarely, if ever, transcend the regions of self-interest, and therefore contain nothing to control, but much to call forth the sinful passions of our fallen nature; whereas religious matters tend perpetually to bring us into connection with interests that pass the bounds of time and space, swallow up the paltry considerations of self, and hallow and solemnise the mind with thoughts and feelings that belong to eternity and heaven. We have not the slightest doubt, that if the protesters had not committed the fatal error of attempting to raise a political power such as might counterbalance that which their opponents enjoyed, they would have been immeasurably more likely both to gain their own cause, and to restore their brethren to better principles and higher aims. Both parties sinned in making earth and man their stay, to a considerable degree; both suffered, being pierced by the reed on which they leaned; but they will not have suffered in vain, if posterity can learn the lesson thereby taught, and avoid a similar error in times of similar trial, such as the present.
We cannot avoid tracing, nay, we are anxious to trace the parallel, so far as it is applicable, and to learn to apply the lesson. Yet while we term the controversy of the present time a parallel to that of the resolutioners and protesters, we use the word parallel