Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 31.djvu/331

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Knox
Knox
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tantly persuaded that it was prudent for him to quit Edinburgh and go to St. Andrews. He left on 5 May 1571, and remained at St. Andrews till 17 Aug. 1572. While there he resided in lodgings near the abbey, and, infirm though he was, his sickbed became the seat of presbyterian ecclesiastical government. He wrote to the brethren in Edinburgh, exhorting them to stand by the good cause and avoid jealousies. ‘Be faithful and loving to one another,’ he writes with unwonted calmness, ‘let bitterness and suspicions be far out of your hearts, and let every one watch for the preservation of another without grudging or murmuring.’

The general assembly met in Stirling in August, and he addressed it in similar terms. To Douglas of Drumlanrig he wrote denouncing the traffic held with ‘that Babylon the Castle of Edinburgh.’ To Wishart of Pittarrow he condemned in even stronger language ‘the murtherers assembled in the Castell of Edinburgh,’ and denounced the self-seeking of the nobles. He added, ‘out of my bed and from my book I come not but once in the week.’

Of one of his weekly sermons, which, in spite of infirmities, he still delivered with his old vigour, James Melville [q. v.], then a young student of St. Andrews, has given the often quoted account: ‘I saw him every day of his doctrine [preaching] go hulie and fairly [slowly and carefully], with a furring of martricks about his neck, a staff in the ane hand, and guid godlie Ricard Bannatyne holding up the other oxtar [armpit], from the abbey to the paroch kirk, and by the said Richard and another servant lifted up to the pulpit, whar he behovit to lean at his first entry; bot or he had been done with his sermon, he was so active and vigorous that he was lyk to ding that pulpit in blads and flee out of it. … The threatenings of his sermons were very sore, and so particular that such as liked them not took occasion to reproach him as a rash ranter without warrant. … And Mr. Robert Hamilton asking his warrant of that particular threatening against the Castell of Edinburgh—that it should run like a sand-glass; it should spew out the captain with shame; he should not come out at the gate, but down over walls and sich lyk—Mr. Knox answered, God is my warrant, and ye sall see it.’ But Knox had gentler moments, and would ‘come and repose himself in our college ground [i.e. St. Leonard's], and call us scholars unto him, and bless us and exhort us to know God and his work in our creation, and stand by the guid cause.’ He even took part in amusements, and was present at the marriage of Mr. Colvin, when a play was acted representing the taking of the castle and the captain according to ‘Mr. Knox's doctrine.’

In St. Andrews, though the college of St. Leonard's was on his side, and he was supported by many, he had fierce opponents—including Robert Hamilton, the minister of the town, John Rutherford, the provost of St. Salvator, and Homer Blair, a young student of that college, who attacked him in a public oration. One Archibald Hamilton retaliated on him for stating that all ‘Hamiltons were murderers’ by saying that ‘John Knox was a greater murderer than any, for his hand would be found to the bond for Darnley's death.’ Knox indignantly denied the calumny, and his faithful servant Bannatyne tried, but in vain, to extract an apology. Another slander was that he would take no part in the inauguration of Robert Douglas, the first tulchan bishop, although desired to do so by Morton, because he sought a bishopric himself; to which he was able to retort with effect that if he had wished this he could have had a greater bishopric from a greater man, referring to Cecil's offer of the see of Rochester.

When the general assembly met at Perth in August 1572, he sent it a farewell letter, in which he exhorted them ‘above all things to preserve the kirk from the bondage of the universities. Persuade them to rule themselves peaceably and order their schools in Christ, but subject never the pulpit to their judgment, neither yet except them from your jurisdiction.’ The accompanying articles have been erroneously interpreted as a proof that Knox accepted the modified episcopacy sanctioned by the convention of ministers at Leith through the influence of Morton. Their aim really was, assuming a modified episcopacy to be re-established, to curb its power and apply its revenues to the general benefit of the church. The assembly informed Knox that his articles seemed reasonable and would be adopted as far as possible. The same assembly granted the request of commissioners from Edinburgh to choose a new minister in the place of Craig, who had fallen out with his congregation, on account of suspected leanings to the party in the castle. The commissioners had already selected Knox, and after the assembly closed they went to St. Andrews to announce their choice. He was to have as colleague James Lawson, sub-principal of the college of Aberdeen. Knox consented to return, on condition that he should not be expected in any way to bridle his tongue or cease to speak against the treasonable doings of the castle of Edinburgh. On 17 Aug. 1572 he left St. Andrews and