Imatges de pàgina

time. After remaining for more than a century in manuscript, it has been edited, as has happened in some other cases, by a gentleman who, although a curious inquirer into the history of that calamitous period, and therefore interested in the facts recorded in the text, seems neither to feel nor to profess much value for the tenets, nor respect for the person, of his author. Various motives bave been suggested for Mr. Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe undertaking a task which at first sight seems inconsistent with his opinions. Some have supposed that it was meant as a requital of the ruse de guerre ef the artful Whig who constituted bimself editor of the Jacobite Memoirs of Scotland, written by the well-known Lockheart of Carnwath, and gave them to light in order to have an opportunity to stigmatize the author and his party. This was the more readily credited in Scotland, as Mr. Sharpe is allied to that family. Others, discovering another concatenation, have supposed that the editor sought some opportunity, if not to vindicate the memory of his celebrated namesake the Archbishop of St. Andrews, at least to throw out a few sarcasms against the enthusiasts by whom he was assassinated. On our side of the Tweed these would be deemed fanciful and whimsical motives for undertaking the very laborious and troublesome task of such a publication; but in Scotland, it would seem the ancient bond of kith, kin, and ally,' still possesses, or is supposed to possess, considerable influence.

Upon inquiry, however, we cannot learn that our ingenious editor claims any relationship to the slaughtered prelate; and we are reluctantly compelled to assign the labour which he has undertaken on the present occasion to the ordinary motives of an active and inquiring mind, which, after finding amusement in extensive and curious researches into the minute particulars relating to an obscure period of history, seeks a new source of pleasure in arranging and communicating the information it has acquired. Unlike the miser, the antiquary tinds the solitary enjoyment of gazing upon and counting over his treasures deficient in interest, and willingly displays them to the eyes of congenial admirers. Perhaps we might add to this motive the malicious pleasure of a wag, who delights to present the ludicrous side of a subject, which, like Bottom's drama, forms a lamentable tragedy full of very pleasant mirth. Accordingly, when bis author grows so serious as to be tedious, the notes,of the editor seldom fail to be particularly diverting, and rich in all those anecdotes which illustrate character and manners, anecdotes thinly scattered through a wearisome mass of dull and dusty books and manuscripts, which only the taste of an accomplished man, united with the industry of a patient antiquary, could have selected and brought together. We propose, before concluding this Article, to say something more of the tone and spirit in which these com



mentaries are framed, but it is first necessary to give some account of the work itself and of the author.

The pains bestowed by Mr. Sharpe have thrown some light on the obscure events of Mr. James Kirkton's life, of which the following is an outline. He was a presbyterian clergyman, and as be seems to bave subscribed the Solemn League and Covenant in 1648, he is conjectured to have been one of the antediluvian ministers' of bis persuasion, that is, such who had seen the glory of the former temple, and were ordained before the Restoration. In this capacity he was settled as minister in the parish of Mertoun, in Berwickshire, from which he was expelled as a recusant after the Restoration. In the year 1671, we find him engaged in a controversy with the quakers, who then had some proselytes of rank in the south of Scotland. Kirkton did not avail himself of the earlier indulgence which permitted some of the presbyterian clergy to exercise their ministerial functions, and accordingly fell under the lash of power for keeping conventicles. He was trepanned into a house by one Captain Carstairs, whose view seems to have been to extort money from him, or otherwise to deliver him up to government as a recusant preacher. In this emergency, Kirkton was delivered by the forcible interference of his brother-in-law, Mr. Baillie of Jerviswood, who was afterwards subjected both to tine and imprisonment for having drawn his sword upon the occasion, and who finally suffered death for his supposed share in what is called from bis name Jerviswood's conspiracy; being the Scottish branch of the Ryehouse plot. Kirkton, after his rencontre with Carstairs, was outlawed, and obliged to fly to Holland. In 1687 he again returned to Scotland, and coudescended to avail himself of the benefit of King James's toleration; a circumstance which probably, for a time, sullied the purity and corrupted the savour of his doctrine in the opinion of the ultra-presbyterians. After the year 1688, Kirkton, with the other ousted ministers, was restored to his church at Mertoun, which he speedily exchanged, to exercise his functions in the Tolbooth church of Edinburgh. Here he continued till his death, in September, 1699. A son survived him, who fell off from his path—and a daughter, of whom her father is reported, in a ludicrous and scandalous work, to have said from the pulpit, ' I have been

this whole year of God preaching against the vanity of women, yet I see my own daughter in the kirk even now with as high a cockup as any of you all.'* These cockups were a sort of hat or cap turned up before; and, whatever truth there may be in the anecdote, so far as Kirkton is concerned, were certainly subjects of great scandal to the godly of that period, as the following passage witnesseth.

• Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence.

. I remember

" I remember about thirty years ago, when cockups were in fashion, some of them half-yard high, set with wires, a solid serious Christian gentlewoman told me she was going to a friend's wedding; her comrades constrained her to put herself in dress; she was uneasy in her mind, and thought she was not herself through the day: when she came home, before she changed herself, she went to her closet to bethink herself how she had spent the loose time, as weddings and fairs are for the most part, and few that keep a bridle-band to their spirits at such times; after some thoughts, she went to prayer; her conscience challenged her so sharply, that she rose hastily, plucked it off, and threw it from her, saying-Thou, nor no such thing, shall ever come on my head or body, ihat I dare not pray with. O that all gracious praying souls, who have a mind for heaven, would take good heed what their Bible says, and notice this and such like instances, and lothe, hate, and abhor the sinful, vain, fool fashions of the day, that the perishing world are ambitious of!'Life and Death of Alexander Peden, published by Pan trick Walker, 1727.-p. 145.

The same author informs us, in a passage that shews to what extent the vice of profane swearing had attained in Scotland, that Mr. Kirkton used to preach against it with a zeal certainly more laudable than that which he displayed against cockups. _The note of bis sermon appears to have escaped Mr. Sharpe. The whole passage illustrates the truth of the French proverb, Jurer comme un Ecossois.

• 4thly.--Their dreadful unheard of ways of swearing,—the devil's free volunteers, --crying to damn their souls for Christ's sake, and others for bis glory's sake, which are to be heard in our streets; others wagering their bottles of wine, who to outstrip in greatest oaths; others, when their comrades are going for England, request them, as their best service and news, that if there be any new-coined oaths, to write and send them down, for the old ones in Scotland are become stale. Many have changed the holy and blessed name of God to Gad, one of his sinful mortal creatures; yea, some called presbyterian ministers, who affect the English cant, follow their hellish example even in their pulpits, wbich struck me with consternation and filled me with indignation, to hear the holy name of God so irreverently mentioned, or rather blasphemed, and many tender souls complaining of it to me, declared that it made their hearts to quake. The reverend, sententious old Mr. James Kirkton said in his pulpit in Edinburgh, that swearing was not a saint's sin, for it was not possible that a saint of God could be guilty of it habitually!' - Ibidem, p. 140.

The same biographer, (the zealous Patrick Walker,) who puts so severe a construction upon the affectation of correct English pronunciation, gives us another specimen of Mr. Kirkton's preaching, which, if correct, will confirm the charge his editor has brought against him of prejudice and credulity :

• It was one of the sententious sayings of the Rev. Mr. James Kirkton, in his pulpit in Edinburgh, jnsisting upon Scotland's singular pri



vileges above all other churches for a long time, “ that there had been ministers in Scotland that had the gift of working miracles and prophesying, which he could instruct: and that he had heard French, Dutch, English, Irish, and other ministers preach, and yet there have been and are ministers in Scotland that preach much more from the heart and to the heart than any he had ever heard.'”Life of Daniel Cargell, p. 34.

From all we know of the author, he seems to have been a serious and well-meaning man, not superior certainly to the prejudices of his time and sect, and credulous therefore in what flattered them, but incapable of perverting the truth so far as it was known to him, and having opportunities as a clergyman of eminence in his party, and from his connexion with a man of talents and fortune like Jerviswood, to collect much accurate information.

The Secret History of the Church of Scotland' unfortunately only embraces the period betwixt the Restoration and the year 1678, when, as we have seen, the reverend author was compelled to fly to Holland. Mr. Sharpe has added something to the narrative by printing the account of the murder of Archbishop Sharp, by James Russell, one of the actors.

In reviewing the history of the church of Scotland, it will not be expected that we should draw a parallel between its discipline and that of England. We believe that the doctrines of boib in spiritual matters, unless perhaps upou some very dark and abstruse points of divinity, coincide with much exactness. However great therefore the external difference in respect to government, it will be now readily granted by Christians of both persuasions, that each church contains and teaches that which is essential to salvation. And tonching the points of external discipline in which they differ, we shall not perhaps greatly err in supposing that different kinds of church-government may suit a wealthy and a poor country, one where the reformed doctrines were introduced peaceably and under the authority of the civil ruler, and another in which those by whom the Reformatiou was received were necessarily obliged to plead their cause in arms and assert their liberty of conscience in opposition to Roman caiholic rulers. The great Shepherd of our souls, who, through all bis works, has led us to seek our spiritual good by the means best adapted to our relative situations, has been pleased, from the very commencement of the Restoration, in both kingdoms, to make so wide a distinction betwixt England and Scotland that as the attempt to introduce the Presbyterian form of church government into the former would have been like insanity; so in Scotland, such was the aversion and so absolute the overthrow not only of the Roman Catholic doctrines, but of all rights, privileges, and property belonging to the national church, that it beeame a matter of absolute necessity to establish a more popular and less expensive form of church government.


In England, the rule adopted by Queen Elizabeth was to preserve all that could be saved of the old fabric, transferring the supremacy of the church from a foreign priest to the domestic and natural sovereign, and renouncing those vain superstitions and human devices with which a long tract of usurpation and priestcraft had darkened the lustre of the true religion. Not only the graduated ranks of the clergy and their former means of support were carefully assured to them, but many circumstances of dress and ceremonial were retained, some as laudable and decorous, some as indifferent, yet proper to be kept up, lest an alteration, in itself very extensive, should be rendered violent by being urged farther than was absoJutely necessary. Even in assuming the supremacy of the church, Elizabeth was anxious to guard against the misconstruction of such perverse persons as contended that she challenged the authority and power of ministry of divine service, protesting that she challenged nothing more than the sovereignty and rule, under God, of all her native subjects, ecclesiastical or temporal, of whatsoever class or religious belief.

Nothing could be a stronger coptrast to these cautious and deliberate measures than the progress of the Reformation in Scotland, which was literally brought in with a strong hand and an out--stretched arm.

All was there prepared, not for a partial but for a total change, and the hierarchy, long previously undermined, subsisted only by the countenance of the sovereign. The Scottish prelacy, long before their final downfall, bad become objects of envy and jealousy to the powerful and proud nobles. They saw with deep sentiments of hatred Beatoun and other churcbmen of mean birih raise themselves by talents and learning to places of honour and dignity which they considered as their own birthright, and held those by whom such offices were, as they conceived, usurped, in high contempt and hatred. On the other hand, the dissolute lives and profound ignorance of the lower orders of the Roman clergy rendered them the scorn of the middling and lower classes in Scotland. The exactions of the church were resented by the inferior ranks; their lands were coveted by the nobles and gentry. Add to all this, the natural turn of the Scottish nation for metaphysical discussion, induced them to receive the doctrines of the Reformation with general interest and favour. Aud when it is recollected, that doctrines excellent in themselves and recommended by so many various passions and second causes were withstood by a feeble regency with the obnoxious assistance of a foreign power, it will not seem surprizing that the work of reformation in Scotland was carried through with an overbearing force, which left but few


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