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- The Life of John Milton Vol. 3 1643-1649 - 4/128 -

137, 138.]

And what was this _Solemn League and Covenant_, the device of Henderson and the Scots for linking the Scottish and English nations in a permanent civil and religious alliance? The document is not nearly Henderson at his best, and it has not the deep ring, the fervour and fierceness, of the old Scottish Covenant. For its purpose, however, it was efficient enough, and not so very illiberal either, the necessity of such a league being allowed, and the time and other things considered. Here are the essential parts:--

We, Noblemen, Barons, Knights, Gentlemen, Citizens, Burgesses, Ministers of the Gospel, arid Commons of all sorts, in the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland ... with our hands lifted up to the most high God, do swear:--

I. That we shall sincerely, really, and constantly, through the grace of God, endeavour, in our several places and callings, the preservation of the Reformed Religion in the Church of Scotland, in Doctrine, Worship, Discipline and Government, against our common enemies; [also] the Information of Religion in the Kingdoms of England and Ireland, in Doctrine, Worship, Discipline and Government, according to the Word of God and the example of the best Reformed Churches: and we shall endeavour to bring the Churches of God in the three Kingdoms to the nearest conjunction and uniformity in Religion, Confession of Faith, Form of Church-Government, Directory for Worship and Catechising, that we and our posterity after us may, as brethren, live in faith and love, and the Lord may delight to dwell in the midst of us.

II. That we shall in like manner, without respect of persons, endeavour the extirpation of Popery, Prelacy (_i.e._ Church-government by Archbishops, Bishops, their Chancellors and Commissaries, Deans, Deans and Chapters, Archdeacons, and all other ecclesiastical Officers depending on that Hierarchy), Superstition, Heresy, Schism, Profaneness, and whatsoever shall be found to be contrary to sound doctrine and the power of godliness; lest we partake in other men's sins, and thereby be in danger to receive of their plagues, and that the Lord may be one and his Name one in the three Kingdoms.

III. We shall with the same sincerity, reality, and constancy, in our several vocations, endeavour with our estates and lives mutually to preserve the rights and privileges of the Parliaments, and the liberties of the Kingdoms, and to preserve and defend the King's Majesty's person and authority, in the preservation and defence of the true Religion and Liberties of the Kingdoms; that the world may bear witness with our consciences of our loyalty, and that we have no thoughts or intentions to diminish his Majesty's just power and greatness.

IV. We shall also with all faithfulness endeavour the discovery of all such as have been or shall be Incendiaries, Malignants, or evil Instruments, by hindering the Information of Religion, dividing the King from his People, or one of the Kingdoms from another, or making any faction or parties among the People contrary to the League and Covenant; that they may be brought to public trial, and receive condign punishment as the degree of their offences shall require or deserve, or the supreme judicatories of both Kingdoms respectively, or others having power from them for that effect, shall judge convenient.

V. And, whereas the happiness of a blessed Peace between these Kingdoms, denied in former times to our progenitors, is by the good Providence of God granted unto us, and hath been lately concluded and settled by both Parliaments, we shall, each one of us, according to our places and interest, endeavour that they may remain conjoined in a firm Peace and Union to all posterity, and that justice may be done upon the wilful opposers thereof in manner expressed in the precedent Article.

VI. We shall also, according to our places and callings, in this common cause of Religion, Liberty, and Peace of the Kingdoms, assist and defend all those that enter into this League and Covenant in the maintaining and pursuing thereof, and shall not suffer ourselves, directly or indirectly, by whatsoever combination, persuasion, or terror, to be divided and withdrawn from this blessed union and conjunction, whether to make defection to the contrary part, or give ourselves to a detestable indifferency and neutrality in this cause, which so much concerneth the glory of God, the good of the Kingdoms, and the honour of the King; but shall all the days of our lives zealously and constantly continue therein against all opposition, and promote the same according to our power against all lets and impediments whatsoever; and what we are not able ourselves to suppress or overcome we shall reveal and make known, that it may be timely prevented or removed: all which we shall do as in the sight of God... [Footnote: Rushworth, V. 478-9, and Lords Journals, Sept. 18, 1643.--"Not so very illiberal either," I have said of the League and Covenant in the text; and reader of the Second Article, pledging to "endeavour the extirpation of Popery, Prelacy, Superstition, Heresy, Schism, Profaneness," will naturally demur. This Article, however, was but a repetition of what all, of both nations, who might sign the Covenant, including the English Parliament, were, by past actions and resolutions, already pledged to, neck-deep or more. The illiberality is to be charged not upon this particular League and Covenant, but upon the entire British mind of the time, with individual theorists excepted. It belonged to the Royalists equally with the Parliamentarians; the only difference being that the objects for "extirpation" in _their_ policy were and had been the Calvinisms and Presbyterianisms that were now exulting in the power of counter-extirpation.--The most important Article of the six is the First, pledging to a recognition and defence of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and to an endeavour after a Reformation of Religion in England and Ireland "according to the Word of God," with a view to uniformity in the three Kingdoms. The insertion of the caution "according to the word of God" is said to have been owing to Vane, who did not want to pre-commit the English too much to exact Scottish Presbytery. The few other changes made by the English Parliament and Westminster Assembly in Henderson's original Edinburgh draft of the Covenant may be traced by a diligent reader in the proceedings of the Lords and Commons on this subject as recorded in their Journals between Aug. 31 and Sept. 15. The parenthetical definition of Prelacy in Art. II. was a suggestion of the Assembly's; the bringing in of Ireland into the Covenant seems to have been a notion of the Commons.]

Ono effect of the Solemn League and Covenant was to clear away from the Westminster Assembly the few Anglicans who had till then tried to hang on to it. Dr. Featley alone, of this party, persisted in keeping his place for some time longer; but, on the discovery that he was acting as a spy in the King's interest and corresponding with Usher, he was expelled by the Parliament, sequestrated from his livings, and committed to prison (Sept. 30). On the other hand, the Assembly had now an accession of strength in the Commissioners deputed to it from the Kirk of Scotland. Two of these, Mr. Douglas and the Earl of Cassilis, never made their appearance; but the other six duly took their places, though not all at once. They were admitted by warrant of the Parliament, entitling them "to be present and to debate upon occasion"; but, as Commissioners from the Church of another nation, they declined being considered "members" in the ordinary sense. Practically, however, this was a mere formality; and the reader has now therefore to add to the list of the Assembly the following Scotchmen:--


ALEXANDER HENDERSON: since 1639 one of the ministers of Edinburgh, and since 1640 Rector of the University of Edinburgh (annually re-elected). _ętat._ 60.--As Henderson has appeared again and again in this History, I have only to add here that my researches have more and more convinced me that he was, all in all, one of the ablest and best men of his age in Britain, and the greatest, the wisest, and most liberal, of the Scottish Presbyterians. They had all to consult him; in every strait and conflict he had to be appealed to, and came in at the last as the man of supereminent composure, comprehensiveness, and breadth of brow. Although the Scottish Presbyterian rule was that no churchman should have authority in State affair's, it had to be practically waived in his case: he was a Cabinet Minister without office. The tradition in Scotland is perfectly just which recollects him as the second founder of the Reformed Church in that part of the island, its greatest man after Knox. Such is the tradition; and yet you may look in Encyclopędias and such-like works of reference published of late years in Scotland, and not find Henderson's name. The less wonder that he has never received justice in general British History! I undertake, however, that any free-minded English historian, investigating the course of even specially English History from 1638 to 1646, will dig up the Scottish Henderson for himself and see reason to admire him.--Henderson, it will be remembered, had been in London, on the Anglo-Scottish business, before. But his stay then had been for but seven months (Nov. 1640-June 1641). Now, as Scottish Commissioner to the Westminster Assembly, he was to remain in England for the best part of three years (Aug. 1643--Aug. 1646). It was the easier for him to give this service to English Parliamentarianism because he was an unmarried man. His Edinburgh congregation and Edinburgh University had to endure his absence as well as they could. Letters between Edinburgh and London could go and come by sea in ten or twelve days.

GEORGE GILLESPIE: one of the ministers of Edinburgh (formerly minister of the parish of Wemyss in Fifeshire): _ętat._ 3l.--He had flashed into notice in Scotland in 1637, when he was only four-and-twenty years of ago. He was then but tutor in the household of the Earl of Cassilis; but he had written "_A Dispute against the English--Popish Ceremonies obtruded upon the Church of Scotland_;" and the publication of this treatise, happening opportunely in the crisis of the Scottish revolt against Laud's novelties, attracted immediate attention to him, and caused him to be regarded as one of the young hopes of Scottish Presbyterianism. Hence his appointment to the parish of Wemyss (1638); and hence his previous mission to London, in company with Henderson, Baillie, and Blair (1640-41). Returning from that mission, he had been translated from Wemyss to Edinburgh; but hardly had he settled in Edinburgh when he was again sent off to London on this new business. His wife and family joined him in London. He took a very active part in the business of the Assembly. He died in 1648, soon after his return to Scotland, aged only 35, leaving various writings besides his first one. Among these were Notes of the Proceedings of the Assembly, chiefly during 1644. They were first published from the MSS. in 1846.

ROBERT BAILLIE: Professor of Divinity in the University of Glasgow (formerly minister of Kilwinning in Ayrshire): _ętat._ 4l.--Baillie also had been on the former Scottish Commission to London; and it way sorely against his will that he was appointed on this second one. He followed Henderson and Gillespie in November 1643, leaving his wife and family in Glasgow. He also remained fully three years in London, attending the Assembly punctually, but not speaking much. Fortunately, however, he kept up his habit of jotting down in his note-books and his correspondence all he saw and heard, Baillie's _Letters and Journals_ (first properly edited by Mr. David Laing in 1842) are among the most graphic books of contemporary memoir to be found in any language. His faculty of narration in his pithy native Scotch is nothing short of genius. Whenever we have an account from Baillie of anything he saw or was present at, it is worth all other accounts put together for accuracy and vividness. So in his account of Stratford's trial; and so in his account of his first impressions of the Westminster Assembly.

SAMUEL RUTHERFORD: one of the ministers of St. Andrews, and also Professor of Divinity in the University there (formerly minister of Anwoth, Kirkcudbright): _ętat_. 43.--Of him, as of the others, we have had to take note before. Much of his celebrity in Scottish ecclesiastical history and in the history of Scottish theology had yet to

The Life of John Milton Vol. 3 1643-1649 - 4/128

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