Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 31.djvu/324

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Knox
Knox
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ministers,’ a phrase and idea of Knox's. Knox himself was appointed to Edinburgh, and in all the proceedings which quickly followed for the ecclesiastical settlement he took the foremost part. During the sittings of parliament in August 1560 he preached from Haggai, with special application to the times, and to the duty of providing for the temporal wants of the church. A commission was at once given to Knox and others to draw up in several heads the sum of the reformed doctrine. In four days the confession of faith, which Knox had already at his fingers' ends, was completed. It was adopted on 17 Aug. without alteration of a sentence.

Three short acts abolished the authority of the bishop of Rome, idolatry, and the mass. Death was enacted as the penalty for a third offence in celebrating the mass. Letters were directed to Francis and Mary requiring them to ratify these acts according to the terms agreed to in the treaty of peace, but there can have been little expectation that such ratification would be obtained. Knox boldly declares in his ‘History’ that the want of ratification mattered nothing. ‘The sword and sceptre is rather a glorious vain ceremony than a substantial point of necessity required to a lawful parliament.’ The thin veil of a monarchy, whose representative was absent, was easily rent, and the democratic Reformation stood revealed.

Parliament rose on 25 Aug., and after its dissolution a consultation was held, which led to a commission to Knox and other ministers to draw up in a volume ‘the policy and discipline of the kirk as well as they had done the doctrine.’ The result was the compilation of the ‘First Book of Discipline,’ as it was called to distinguish it from the second, of which Andrew Melville was chief author. The first embodied the opinions which Knox had thought out for himself or embraced at Geneva. A more rigid discipline, rather than the absence of set forms of worship, was his standard of a true church. Although little of the correspondence between Calvin and Knox is preserved, Knox evidently kept the Swiss leader informed of the fortunes of the Reformation in Scotland, and received from him counsels of moderation, which Knox did not always approve. At a critical moment in the conflict with the regent Knox consulted Calvin whether the children of idolaters and excommunicated persons should be baptised until their parents testified their repentance. Calvin answered in the affirmative, but Knox inclined to the negative. In regard to ceremonies, Calvin wrote subsequently: ‘I think that your strictness, although it may displease many, will be regulated by discretion. … Certain things not positively opposed must be tolerated.’ Knox's ‘Book of Discipline’ showed little toleration; it treated (1) of office-bearers, organising the kirk on the Calvinistic model of presbyterian synods and general assemblies; (2) of worship; (3) of discipline, or the penal law of the kirk, and (4) of the patrimony of the kirk. Although many of the laity disliked the third point, which placed, despite the institution of lay elders, too much power in the hands of the ministers, it was chiefly on the last that Knox and the ministers differed from the nobles and gentry. The proposal made in the book was that the whole revenues of the old church should be devoted to the maintenance of education in the parish and burgh schools, the expenses of the ministers, and the relief of the aged and infirm poor, for able-bodied poor were to be compelled to work. The nobles had already whetted their appetites with the benefices transferred to lay impropriators, and the lairds had ceased to pay tithes. After perusing the book many days, the opposition was found so formidable that its adoption was delayed. Lethington called it a ‘devout imagination.’ Lord Erskine, the future regent Mar, led the opposition. No wonder, remarked Knox, ‘if the poor, the schools, and the ministers had their own, his kitchen would lack two parts and more of that he unjustly possesses.’ On 20 Dec. 1560 the first general assembly, of which Knox was of course a member, met, and after passing acts, chiefly relating to procedure, adjourned till 15 Jan. 1561. A certain number of the nobility, and among them the leaders of the reformed party, however, signed their approval of the ‘Book of Discipline’ on 27 Jan. 1561, but the dissent of others and their own lukewarmness caused it to remain a dead letter.

Knox soon afterwards compiled the form and order of the election of superintendents and the order of election of elders and deacons, published 9 March 1561. The Book of Common Order, which took the place of the English Book of Common Prayer until the time of Charles I and Laud, with the Psalms in metre and a translation of Calvin's catechism, were issued on 26 Dec. 1564, and were chiefly prepared by him.

Meanwhile, the only one of his works on which a claim can be made for him to be called a theologian, his ‘Treatise on Predestination,’ written in 1559, was first published at Geneva in 1560. Its title ran, ‘An Answer to a great number of Blasphemous Cavillations written by an Anabaptist and Adversarie to God's Eternal Predestination, and confuted by John Knox, minister of God's Word in Scotland.’ With an intense belief in the