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We are told that he apprehended the interest of religion would be exposed to the utmost danger by the earl of Murray, or regent's fall; and, on that account, expressed himself with great concern both in public and private.
In the year 1571, the Hamiltons and others, who had entered into a combination against the earl of Lennox, then regent, began to fortify the town of Edinburgh. While they were thus employed, a council was held by them in the castle on the fourth of May, where the laird of Grainge, captain of the castle, proposed that they might give security for the person of Mr Knox, which was also much desired by the town’s-people. The Hamiltons answered, that they could not promise him security upon their honour, because there were many in the town who loved him not, besides other disorderly people, that might do him harm without their knowledge. Upon this answer, which plainly shewed no good intention to Mr Knox, his friends in the town, with Mr Craig his colleague at their head, intreated him to leave the place, by reason of the impending danger to him, and to them too upon his account, in defending him from the attempts of the contrary party ; which, being also the strongest, would most probably be able to execute their designs against him. Accordingly, leaving Edinburgh on the fifth of May, he went first to Abbotshall in Fife, and thence to St Andrews, where he remained till the twenty-third of August, in the
That year there was a convention of the ministers at Leith, where it was agreed, that a certain kind of episcopacy should be introduced into the church, which was zealously opposed by our Reformer. The matter stood thus : The courtiers had got the far greater part of the revenues of the bishoprics, but they could not get a colourable title to these rents, as the law then stood, except they had a conveyance from those who had the title of bishops ; for this reason it was thought a good expedient by the great ones, who had a longing mind to enjoy the profits of the bishoprics, that this sort of bishops should be brought into the church, and indeed all of them, by certain pactions, conveyed the far greater part of the revenues to their patrons, reserving a very small part to themselves. Among the rest, the archbishopric of St Andrews coming to the share of the earl of Morton, that nobleman designed Mr John Douglass, rector of the university there, in whom his lordship had an entire confidence to be elected to that see: For this purpose the
electors were convened February 8th, 1572, where, after some opposition, he was elected archbishop Mr Knox being then in St Andrews, was much displeased with this election; and the next Lord's-day, being to preach in the forenoon where the earl of Morton was present, he not only peremptorily refused to inaugurate and receive the new-elected bishop, but publicly denounced an anathema both to the giver and receiver of this bishopric, Notwithstanding this opposition, Mr Douglass was admitted archbishop according to the order for admitting superintendants and ministers; for they had not as yet framed any particular form for admitting bishops. Mr J. Rutherford, provost of the Old College of St Andrew's, and messieurs Arch, and John Hamilton, professors in the New College, spread a report next week, that Mr Knox's opposition to the bishops proceeded from a pique that he was not elected himself. This coming to his ears, he vindicated himself from the pulpit next Lord's-day, in words to the following purpose : “ I have refused a far s greater bishopric than ever it was, which I might have
had with the favour of greater men than ever he had « his ; I did and do repine, not froin malecontent, but « for the discharge of my conscience, that the kirk of ^ Scotland be not subject to that order." This seems to refer to the offer that we have observed was made him of a bishopric in England in Edward VIth's time.
The troubles of the country being much abated, and the people of Edinburgh, who had been obliged to leave it, being returned, they sent two of their number, viz, Nicol. Edward and John Johnston, scribe, to St Andrews, to invite Mr Knox to return to them, and to ask his ad. vice about the choice of another minister to assist him during the time of the troubles : For they were exceedingly displeased with the conduct of Mr Craig during the times of the troubles, he having made too great compliance, as they thought, with those who appeared against the authority of the young king and his regents, and were unwilling any longer to submit to his ministers. With their commissioners they seit a letter, inviting him to return,
The superintendant of Lothian was with them, when they presented the letter; which, when Mr Knox had perused, he consented to return upon this condition, that he should not be desired in any sort to cease speaking against the treasonable dealings of those who held out the eastle of Edinburgh ; and this he desired thein to signify
to the whole of the brethren, lest they should repent afterwards of his austerity against those in the castle, or fear ta be treated the worse on his account; and after his return, he repeated these words more than once to his friends there, before he entered the pulpit; they answered, that they never meant to put a bridle on his tongue, but desired him to speak according to his conscience, as in former times. They also requested his advice in the choice of a minister; and, after some debates, they agreed upon Mr James Lawson, sub-principal of the King's College at Aberdeen. Mr Knox left St Andrews, August 17th, and came to Leith on the twenty-third. Upon the last day of that month, he preached in the great kirk; but his voice was become very weak, and therefore he desired another place to teach in, where his voice might be heard, if it were but to a hundred persons; which was granted. Immediately after this agreement commissioners were sent, by whom Mr Knox sent the following letter.
« DEAR BROTHER, - SEEING GOD of his mercy, far above my ex“ pectation, hath called me once again to Edinburgh, and
yet I feel nature so decayed, and daily to decay, that I “ look not for a long continuance of my battle, I would “ gladly once discharge my conscience, unto your bosom, " and unto the bosom of others, in whom I think the « fear of GOD remaineth. If I had the ability of body, “ I should not have put you to the pains to which I re" quire you now, that is, once to visit me, that we may “ confer together of heavenly things; for in earth there is « no stability except the kirk of Jesus Christ, ever fight“ ing under the cross, to whose protection I heartily com,
" mit you.
« From Edinburgh, seventh of September, 1572. “ Accelere, mi frater, alioqui serò venies."
Mr Lawson came to Edinburgh September 15th, and preached on the Friday after, to the great satisfaction of the people, and continued preaching, till he was admitted to the charge of the ministry at Edinburgh. Mr Knox preached in the Tolbooth as long as he had strength of body; but his health was greatly impaired by the news of the massacre of the Protestants at Paris about this time. It was brought to Edinburgh about the twelfth of September, by Mr Killigrew, ambassador from Q. Elizabeth. However, he introduced it into his next sermon, with his usual denunciation of GOD's vengeance thereon, which
he desired the French ambassador, monsieur La Croque, might be acquainted with. The denunciation was to this purport, “Sentence is pronounced in Scotland against that os murderer the king of France, and GOD's vengeance « shall never depart from him nor his house, but his name « shall remain an execration to posterity; and none, that “ shall come of his loins, shall enjoy the kingdom in " peace and quietness, unless repentance prevent GOD's “ judgment." The ambassador being told it, applied to the regent and council, and complained that his master was called a traitor and murderer of his subjects, under a promise and trust; and desired that an edict might be published, prohibiting the subjects of Scotland to speak any thing to the dishonour of his master, especially the ministers in their sermons. This was waved by the council, and the ambassador was told, that they could not hinder the ministers from speaking even against themselves.
On Sunday, November the ninth, in the year 1572, he admitted Mr Lawson, a minister of Edinburgh. But his voice was so weak, that very few could hear him ; he declared the mutual duty between a minister and his flock; he praised GOD, who had given them one in his room, who was now unable to teach, and desired that GOD might augment his graces to him a thousand fold above that which he had, if it were his pleasure, and ended with pronouncing the blessing. From this day he hastened to his end. Upon the eleventh, he was seized with a violent cough and great pains of the body; breathing, continually, with more and more dilliculty, till he breathed his last. When his friends advised him to send for some physicians, he smilingly consented ; saying, “I would not “ either despise, or neglect, ordinary means; but of this “ I am certain, that GOD will shortly put an end to my of warfare below."
The day after, he ordered his servants to be paid their wages ; whom, at the same time, he earnestly exhorted " to walk in the fear of the Lord; and to live so, as be
came Christians educated in that family." His disorder growing worse and worse, he was forced to prætermit his ordinary method of reading ; which used to be, every day, some chapters of the New Testament, and in the Old, particularly the Psalms; and some useful portion of ecclesiastical history. In the meanwhile, he requested his wife (Margaret Stewart, a devout woman, and a most affectionate partner of his faith and cares,) and Richard
Ballantine, his servant, who was always very dear to him for his remarkable piety, that they would take care to read to him, every day while he lived, the seventeenth chapter of St John's gospel, one or other of the chapters of the
epistle to the Ephesians, and the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah : Which injunction they never once omitted.
He was always peculiarly fond of the book of Psalms, GOD having greatly blessed them to his soul. With some select portions of those admirable compositions, he was much comforted in life, and strengthened in death.
The day following, he rose from his bed by seven o'clock : And being asked, "Why, when he was so weak
and sick, he would not rather chuse to rest himself ?' he answered, “ I have been this whole night taken up with o the meditation of the resurrection of Jesus Christ my “ Lord ; and would with joy get into the pulpit, that I “ might communicate to others the comfort I have inward“ ly enjoyed from reflecting on that blessed subject.” So intent was he' on the work of the Lord, even to his last breath ; and when, for want of strength, he could scarce be lifted out of bed by the assistance of two servants !
A few days after, he sent for all the ministers of the several churches in Edinburgh, to whom, being assembled round his bed, he thus addressed himself: “ That day is “ now at hand, which I have so often and intensely « longed for; in which, having finished my labours, and “ gone through my various sorrows, I shall be dissolved, “ and be with Christ. And I appeal to GOD, whom I “ have served in the Spirit in the gospel of his Son, that “ I have taught nothing but the true and solid doctrines « of his word : Having made this my main view, through “ the whole course of my ministry, to instruct the igno“ rant; to edify and comfort believers ; lift up and con“ firm, with the promises of grace, those who were weak, “ fearful, and doubting, through the fear of wrath and “ and consciousness of sin; and to beat down haughty-re“ bellious sinners, with the threatenings and terrors of the “ Lord. And although many have frequently complained « of my harshness in preaching, yet, GOD knows, that “ I did not thus deal out thunders and severity, from “ hatred to the persons of any : Though this I will ac“ knowledge, that the sins, in which they indulged them“ selves, were the objects of my keenest hatred and resent“ ment; and, in my whole ministry, this was my single “ aim, if I might by any means gain over their souls to ' “ the Lord. My motive, for speaking freely and plainly,