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- The Life of John Milton Vol. 3 1643-1649 - 5/128 -


be acquired; but for sixteen years he had been known as one of the most fervid spirits and most popular preachers in all Scotland. In what mood he accepted his commission to the Westminster Assembly may be judged from a private letter of his from St. Andrews, Oct. 20, 1643. "My heart beareth me witness," he there says, "and the Lord who is greater knoweth, my faith was never prouder than to be a common rough barrowman in Anwoth, and that I could not look at the honour of being ane mason to lay the foundations for many generations, and to build the waste places of Sion in another kingdom, or to have ane hand in the carved work in the cedar and almug trees in that new Temple." He went to London along with Baillie in November 1643, his wife and family either accompanying him or following him. He also remained in London three years or more, burying two of his children there. He was a much more frequent speaker in the Assembly than Baillie.

LAY COMMISSIONERS.

JOHN, LORD MAITLAND (eldest son of the Earl of Lauderdale), _Štat_. 27.--This young nobleman, who had a long and strange career before him, was now one of the most zealous of the Scottish Covenanters, and was selected by the Scottish Kirk, as one of the lay-elders to be sent to the Westminster Assembly, on account of his great ability and learning. He accompanied Henderson and Gillespie, and took his place in the Assembly in August 1645; and, from his first arrival in London, he was much courted by the Parliamentary leaders. Baillie and the rest were proud of their young noble. This was hardly, however, on account of his personal appearance; for he was a large-bodied young fellow, red-haired, of boisterous demeanour, and with a tongue too big for his mouth, so that he spluttered and frothed when he spoke. Ah! could the Scots but have foreseen, could the young fellow himself but have foreseen, what years would bring about!

SIR ARCHIBALD JOHNSTONE OF WARRISTON, Knt.: one of the Judges of the Scottish Court of Session (hence by courtesy "Lord Warriston"'): _Štat. circ_. 35.--He had been, as we know, a leader among the Scottish Covenanters since 1637, and his knighthood and judgeship, conferred on him by the King in Edinburgh in 1641, had been the reluctant recognition of his activity during the four preceding years.--Beside Henderson and Argyle there is no man of the Scottish Presbyterians of that time more worthy of mark than Warriston. He had prodigious powers of work, requiring but three hours of sleep out of the twenty-four: and he was mutually crafty and long-headed, always ready with lawyer-like expedients. Bishop Burnet, who was his nephew, adds, "He went into very high notions of lengthened devotions, in which he continued many hours a day: he would often pray in his family two hours at a time, and had an unexhausted copiousness that way. What thought soever struck his fancy during these effusions, he looked on it as an answer of prayer, and was wholly determined by it." Such descriptions, and even parts of his own correspondence, might picture him as a kind of fanatical Machiavelli; but he seems to have been much liked and trusted by all who knew him. Baillie, for instance, addresses him familiarly and heartily as "Archibald" in his more private letters. He had much of his career still before him.--His judgeship and other business in Edinburgh prevented him from going to London along with the other Commissioners; but he took his place in the Westminster Assembly Feb. 1, 1643-4, and was for some time afterwards in England.

[Besides Lord Maitland and Lord Warriston, there were admitted into the Westminster Assembly from time to time other Scottish lay-commissioners, either to make up for the absence of the Earl of Cassilis originally appointed, or for other reasons. Thus in September 1643, when Henderson, Gillespie, and Lord Maitland took their places, ROBERT MALDRUM, a confidential agent of the Scots in London, was admitted along with them; and the EARL OF LOUDOUN, LORD BALMERINO and even ARGYLE himself, sat in the Assembly at various times subsequently.]

Every respect was paid to the Scottish Commissioners in London. They had Worcester House in the City assigned, or rather re-assigned, them for a residence, with St. Antholin's church again made over to them for their preachings; [Footnote: Memoir of Baillie, by David Laing, in Baillie's Letters and Journals, p. li. In Cunningham's "London," and else where, Worcester House in the Strand, on the site of the present Beaufort Buildings, afterwards Lord Clarendon's house is mad the residence of the Scottish Commissioners; but Mr. Laing points out that it was Worcester House or Worcester Place in the City, which had been the mansion of John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester.] and they had a special bench of honour in the Assembly. And from that bench, day after day, week after week, month after month, they laboured to direct the Assembly, and, to a great extent, did direct it. For, as the mainly Presbyterian character and composition of the Assembly at its first meeting had been the result of the influence of Scottish example and of continued Scottish action in England for a year or two, so it was to Henderson's Covenant, and to the presence of the Scottish Commissioners in London, that the Assembly, while yet in its infancy, was indebted (if it was a debt) for a new impulse or twist in the strict Presbyterian direction. English Presbyterianism might be willing, but it was vague and uninformed; whereas here, in the Scottish Commissioners, were men who knew all about Presbyterianism, had every detail of it at their fingers' ends, had studied it nearly all their lives, and had worked it practically for five years. What a boon to England to be able to borrow for a year or two such a group of Scottish instructors! It was as if a crowd of Volunteers, right-minded and willing to learn, had secured a few highly-recommended regulars to be their drill-sergeants.

DEBATES IN THE ASSEMBLY: PRESBYTERIANISM AND INDEPENDENCY: THE _APOLOGETIC NARRATION_ OF THE INDEPENDENTS.

It was not till October 12, 1643, that the real debating in the Assembly began. Till then they had been occupied with matters in which they could be pretty nearly of one mind, including their revision of the Thirty-nine Articles. In that business, where we left them at the Tenth Article (_antŔ_, p. 6), they had crawled on through five Articles more: viz.- "_XI. Of Justification by Faith_"; "_XII. Of Good Works_"; "_XIII. Of Works before Justification_"; "_XIV. Of Works of Supererogation_"; "_XV. Of Christ alone without Sin_"; and on the 12th of October they were busy over Article XVI. "_Of Sin after Baptism._" But on that day they received an order from the two Houses (and Scottish influence is here visible) to leave for the present their revision of the Thirty-nine Articles, and proceed at once to the stiffer questions of the new form of Church- government and the new Directory of Worship for England. [Footnote: Lightfoot's Notes, p. 17.] Of these questions the Assembly chose the first to begin with. On what a sea of troubles they were then launched!

(1) CHURCH OFFICERS AND OFFICES.--Under this heading alone they had debates extending over nearly three months (Oct. 1643--Jan. 1643-4), and labouring successively through such topics as these--Christ's Priesthood, Prophetship, and Kingship, with the nature of his Headship over the Church; the Church officers under Christ mentioned in Scripture (Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Doctors or Teachers, Bishops or Overseers, Presbyters or Elders, Deacons, and Widows), with the nature of their functions respectively, and the proper discrimination between those of them that were extraordinary and temporary and those that were to be ordinary and permanent in the Church; the settling therefrom of the officers properly belonging to each modern Christian congregation, and especially whether there should be ruling lay-elders along with the pastor or minister, and, if so, what should be their exact duties. Gradually, in the course of this long discussion, carried on day after day in the slowest syllogistic way, the differences of the Independents and the Erastians from the Presbyterian majority of the Assembly came out. On the question of lay-eldership, indeed, there was a more extensive contest. Such English Presbyterians as Mr. Vines, Mr. Palmer, and Mr. Gataker, joined with the Erastian Divines, Lightfoot and Coleman, and with the Independents, in wholly or partially opposing lay-eldership, against the advocacy of their brethren, Marshall, Calamy, Newcomen, Young (four of the Smectymnuans), Seaman, Herle, Walker, Whitaker and others, hacked by the Scottish Commissioners. On the whole, however, the votes were decidedly in favour of the Scottish Presbyterian arrangement of church offices. Henderson occasionally waived a point for the sake of accommodation.

(2) ORDINATION:--This subject and its adjuncts occupied the Assembly during some fourteen sittings in January 1643-4. Ordination having been defined to be "the solemn setting apart of a person to some public church office," it was voted, not without opposition, that such ordination is always to be continued in the church, and consequently that there should not be promiscuous preaching by all and sundry, but only preaching by authorized persons. But then who were to ordain? What were to be the qualifications for being ordained to the pastoral office? How far were the congregations or parishioners to have a voice in the election of their pastors? What was to be the ceremonial of ordination? On these points, or on some of them, the Independents fought stoutly, being carefully on their guard against anything that might endanger their main principle of the completeness of every congregation of believers within itself. Selden also interposed with perturbing Erastian arguments. On the whole, however, in this matter also the drift of the Assembly was as the Presbyterians wished. While it was agreed that "in extraordinary cases something extraordinary may be done until a settled order can be had," it was voted that even in such cases there should be a "keeping as near as possibly may be to the rule;" which rule was indicated, so far at least, by the resolution that "preaching Presbyters may ordain," or that Bishops are not required for the act. But, before this subject of Ordination could be carried farther, it melted into a larger one.

(3) PRESBYTERIAL GOVERNMENT OR CONGREGATIONALISM:--This controversy, which had been underlying the whole course of the previous debating, emerged in express terms before the end of January 1643-4. Then began the real tug of the verbal war. It is unnecessary to enumerate all the items of the controversy. The battle was essentially between two principles of church-organization. Was every individual assembly, or association of Christians (it might be of hundreds of persons, or it might be of as few as seven persons, voluntarily drawn together), to be an independent ecclesiastical organism, entitled to elect its own pastor and other officers, and to exercise the powers of admonition and excommunication within itself--any action of surrounding congregations upon it being an action of mere observation and criticism, and not of power or jurisdiction; and no authority to belong to meetings of the office- bearers of congregations of the same city or neighbourhood, or to general synods of office-bearers, however useful for various purposes such occasional meetings and synods might be? This was what the Independents maintained; and to this the Presbyterians vehemently said Nay. It was not desirable, they said in the first place, that congregations themselves should be mere gatherings of Christians drawn together by chance affinities. That would be to put an end to the parochial system, with all the advantages of orderliness and effective administration that belonged to it. Let every congregation consist, as heretofore, mainly of the inhabitants of one parish or definitely marked ecclesiastical territory. Then let there be a strict inter-connectedness of all these parochial congregations over the whole land by means of an ascending series of church-judicatories. Let the congregations of the same town or district be connected by a Presbyterial Court, consisting of the assembled ministers and the ruling lay-elders of all the congregations, periodically reviewing the proceedings of the said congregations individually, or hearing appeals from them; and let these Presbyteries or Presbyterial Courts be in like manner under the authority and review of Synods, embracing many Presbyteries within their bounds, and, finally, of National Assemblies of the whole Church. Fierce and hot waxed the war between the two systems. Much turned on the practice of the apostolic churches or primitive Christian communities of Jerusalem Ephesus,


The Life of John Milton Vol. 3 1643-1649 - 5/128

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