THE WORKS OF
MR. GEORGE GILLESPIE
MINISTER OF EDINBURGH,
AND ONE OF THE COMMISSIONERS FROM SCOTLAND
TO THE WESTMINSTER ASSEMBLY, 1644
NOW FIRST COLLECTED.
WITH MEMOIR OF HIS LIFE AND WRITINGS,
BY M. W. HETHERINGTON, LL.D.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
ROBERT OGLE AND OLIVER AND BOYD.
M. OGLE & SON AND WILLIAM COLLINS, GLASGOW.
HAMILTON, ADAMS & CO, LONDON
ADVERTISEMENT. MEMOIR OF THE REV. GEORGE GILLESPIE. APPENDIX. EXTRACTS FROM WODROW'S ANALECTA (MAITLAND CLUB EDITION) DISPUTE AGAINST THE ENGLISH POPISH CEREMONIES OBTRUDED ON THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND. DEDICATION AUTHOR'S PREFACE PROLOGUE. ORDER. THE FIRST PART. AGAINST THE NECESSITY OF THE CEREMONIES. CHAPTER I. THAT OUR OPPOSITES DO URGE THE CEREMONIES AS THINGS NECESSARY. CHAPTER II. THE REASON TAKEN OUT OF ACTS XV. TO PROVE THE NECESSITY OF THE CEREMONIES, BECAUSE OF THE CHURCH'S APPOINTMENT, CONFUTED. CHAPTER III. THAT THE CEREMONIES THUS IMPOSED AND URGED AS THINGS NECESSARY, DO BEREAVE US OF OUR CHRISTIAN LIBERTY, FIRST, BECAUSE OUR PRACTICE IS ADSTRICTED. CHAPTER IV. THAT THE CEREMONIES TAKE AWAY OUR CHRISTIAN LIBERTY PROVED BY A SECOND REASON, NAMELY, BECAUSE CONSCIENCE ITSELF IS BOUND AND ADSTRICTED. CHAPTER V. THAT THE CEREMONIES TAKE AWAY CHRISTIAN LIBERTY, PROVED BY A THIRD REASON, VIZ., BECAUSE THEY ARE URGED UPON SUCH AS, IN THEIR CONSCIENCES, DO CONDEMN THEM. CHAPTER VI. THAT THE CEREMONIES TAKE AWAY CHRISTIAN LIBERTY PROVED BY A FOURTH REASON, VIZ., BECAUSE THEY ARE PRESSED UPON US BY NAKED WILL AND AUTHORITY, WITHOUT GIVING ANY REASON TO SATISFY OUR CONSCIENCES. CHAPTER VII. THAT FESTIVAL DAYS TAKE AWAY OUR LIBERTY, WHICH GOD HATH GIVEN US, PROVED; AND FIRST OUT OF THE LAW. CHAPTER VIII. THAT FESTIVAL DAYS TAKE AWAY OUR CHRISTIAN LIBERTY, PROVED OUT OF THE GOSPEL. CHAPTER IX. SHOWING THE WEAKNESS OF SOME PRETENCES WHICH OUR OPPOSITES USE FOR HOLIDAYS. THE SECOND PART. AGAINST THE EXPEDIENCY OF THE CEREMONIES. CHAPTER I. AGAINST SOME OF OUR OPPOSITES, WHO ACKNOWLEDGE THE INCONVENIENCY OF THE CEREMONIES, AND YET WOULD HAVE US YIELD TO THEM. CHAPTER II. AGAINST THOSE OF OUR OPPOSITES WHO PLEAD FOR THE CEREMONIES AS THINGS EXPEDIENT. CHAPTER III. THAT THE CEREMONIES ARE INEXPEDIENT, BECAUSE THEY ARE PREPARATIVES FOR GREATER EVILS. CHAPTER IV. THAT THE CEREMONIES ARE INEXPEDIENT, BECAUSE THEY HINDER EDIFICATION. CHAPTER V. THAT THE CEREMONIES ARE INEXPEDIENT, BECAUSE THEY ARE OCCASIONS OF INJURY AND CRUELTY. CHAPTER VI. THAT THE CEREMONIES ARE INEXPEDIENT, BECAUSE THEY HARDEN AND CONFIRM THE PAPISTS. CHAPTER VII. THAT THE CEREMONIES ARE INEXPEDIENT, BECAUSE THEY DISTURB THE PEACE OF THE CHURCH. CHAPTER VIII. THAT THE INEXPEDIENCY OF THE CEREMONIES, IN RESPECT OF THE SCANDAL OF THE WEAK, MAY BE PLAINLY PERCEIVED. TWELVE PROPOSITIONS TOUCHING SCANDAL ARE PREMITTED. CHAPTER IX. ALL THE DEFENCES OF THE CEREMONIES, USED TO JUSTIFY THEM AGAINST THE SCANDAL IMPUTED TO THEM, ARE CONFUTED. THE THIRD PART. AGAINST THE LAWFULNESS OF THE CEREMONIES. CHAPTER I. THAT THE CEREMONIES ARE UNLAWFUL, BECAUSE SUPERSTITIOUS, WHICH IS PARTICULARLY INSTANCED IN HOLIDAYS, AND MINISTERING THE SACRAMENTS IN PRIVATE PLACES. CHAPTER II. THAT THE CEREMONIES ARE UNLAWFUL BECAUSE THEY ARE MONUMENTS OF BY-PAST IDOLATRY, WHICH NOT BEING NECESSARY TO BE RETAINED, SHOULD BE UTTERLY ABOLISHED, BECAUSE OF THEIR IDOLATROUS ABUSES: ALL WHICH IS PARTICULARLY MADE GOOD OF KNEELING. CHAPTER III. THAT THE CEREMONIES ARE UNLAWFUL, BECAUSE THEY SORT US WITH IDOLATERS, BEING THE BADGES OF PRESENT IDOLATRY AMONG THE PAPISTS. CHAPTER IV. THAT THE CEREMONIES ARE IDOLS AMONG THE FORMALISTS THEMSELVES; AND THAT KNEELING IN THE LORD'S SUPPER BEFORE THE BREAD AND WINE, IN THE ACT OF RECEIVING THEM, IS FORMALLY IDOLATRY. CHAPTER V. THE FIFTH ARGUMENT AGAINST THE LAWFULNESS OF THE CEREMONIES TAKEN FROM THE MYSTICAL AND SIGNIFICANT NATURE OF THEM. CHAPTER VI. THAT THE LAWFULNESS OF THE CEREMONIES IS FALSELY GROUNDED UPON THE HOLY SCRIPTURE; WHERE SUCH PLACES AS ARE ALLEGED BY OUR OPPOSITES, EITHER FOR ALL THE CEREMONIES IN GENERAL, OR FOR ANY ONE OF THEM IN PARTICULAR, ARE VINDICATED FROM THEM. CHAPTER VII. THAT THE LAWFULNESS OF THE CEREMONIES CANNOT BE WARRANTED BY ANY ECCLESIASTICAL LAW, NOR BY ANY POWER WHICH THE CHURCH HATH TO PUT ORDER TO THINGS BELONGING TO DIVINE WORSHIP. CHAPTER VIII. THAT THE LAWFULNESS OF THE CEREMONIES CANNOT BE WARRANTED BY ANY ORDINANCE OF THE CIVIL MAGISTRATE; WHOSE POWER IN THINGS SPIRITUAL OR ECCLESIASTICAL IS EXPLAINED. DIGRESSION I. OF THE VOCATION OF MEN OF ECCLESIASTICAL ORDER. DIGRESSION II. OF THE CONVOCATION AND MODERATION OF SYNODS. DIGRESSION III. OF THE JUDGING OF CONTROVERSIES AND QUESTIONS OF FAITH. DIGRESSION IV. OF THE POWER OF THE KEYS, AND ECCLESIASTICAL CENSURES. CHAPTER IX. THAT THE LAWFULNESS OF THE CEREMONIES CANNOT BE WARRANTED BY THE LAW OF NATURE. THE FOURTH PART. AGAINST THE INDIFFERENCY OF THE CEREMONIES. CHAPTER I. OF OUR OPPOSITES' PLEADING FOR THE INDIFFERENCY OF THE CEREMONIES. CHAPTER II. OF THE NATURE OF THINGS INDIFFERENT. CHAPTER III. WHETHER THERE BE ANYTHING INDIFFERENT IN ACTU EXERCITO. CHAPTER IV. OF THE RULE BY WHICH WE ARE TO MEASURE AND TRY WHAT THINGS ARE INDIFFERENT. CHAPTER V. THE FIRST POSITION WHICH WE BUILD UPON THE GROUND CONFIRMED IN THE FORMER CHAPTER. CHAPTER VI. ANOTHER POSITION BUILT UPON THE SAME GROUND. CHAPTER VII. OTHER POSITIONS BUILT UPON THE FORMER GROUND. CHAPTER VIII. THAT THE CEREMONIES ARE NOT THINGS INDIFFERENT TO THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND; BECAUSE SHE DID ABJURE AND REPUDIATE THEM BY A MOST SOLEMN AND GENERAL OATH. CHAPTER IX. A RECAPITULATION OF SUNDRY OTHER REASONS AGAINST THE INDIFFERENCY OF THE CEREMONIES. A BROTHERLY EXAMINATION OF SOME PASSAGES OF MR COLEMAN'S LATE SERMON UPON JOB XI. 20. NOTICE. EXTRACT FROM COLEMAN'S SERMON. A BROTHERLY EXAMINATION, &c. NIHIL RESPONDES: OR A DISCOVERY OF THE EXTREME UNSATISFACTORINESS OF MR COLEMAN'S PIECE. THAT MR COLEMAN DOTH NOT ONLY PREVARICATE, BUT CONTRADICT HIMSELF, CONCERNING THE STATE OF THE QUESTION. THE PARTICULARS IN MY BRIEF EXAMINATION, WHICH MR COLEMAN EITHER GRANTETH EXPRESSLY, OR ELSE DOTH NOT REPLY UNTO. HIS ABUSING OF THE SCRIPTURES. HIS ERRORS IN DIVINITY. HIS ABUSING OF THE HONOURABLE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT. HIS ABUSING THE REVEREND ASSEMBLY OF DIVINES. HIS CALUMNIES. THE REPUGNANCY OF HIS DOCTRINE TO THE SOLEMN LEAGUE AND COVENANT. MALE AUDIS; OR, AN ANSWER TO MR COLEMAN'S MALE DICIS. PREFACE TO THE READER. CHAPTER I. THAT MR COLEMAN DOTH STILL CONTRADICT HIMSELF IN THE STATING OF THIS PRESENT CONTROVERSY ABOUT CHURCH GOVERNMENT. CHAPTER II. A CONFUTATION OF THAT WHICH MR COLEMAN HATH SAID AGAINST CHURCH GOVERNMENT; SHOWING ALSO THAT HIS LAST REPLY IS NOT MORE, BUT LESS SATISFACTORY THAN THE FORMER, AND FOR THE MOST PART IS BUT A TERGIVERSATION AND FLEEING FROM ARGUMENTS BROUGHT AGAINST HIM, AND FROM MAKING GOOD HIS OWN ASSERTIONS AND ARGUMENTS CONCERNING THE DISTINCTION OF CIVIL AND CHURCH GOVERNMENT. CHAPTER III. THAT MR COLEMAN'S AND MR HUSSEY'S OPPOSING OF CHURCH GOVERNMENT NEITHER IS NOR CAN BE RECONCILED WITH THE SOLEMN LEAGUE AND COVENANT. CHAPTER IV. MR COLEMAN AND MR HUSSEY'S ERRORS IN DIVINITY. CHAPTER V. THE PRELATICAL WAY AND TENETS OF MR COLEMAN AND MR HUSSEY, REPUGNANT ALSO, IN DIVERS PARTICULARS, TO THE VOTES AND ORDINANCES OF PARLIAMENT. CHAPTER VI. MR COLEMAN'S WRONGING OF THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND. CHAPTER VII. CALUMNIES CONFUTED, AND THAT QUESTION BRIEFLY CLEARED, WHETHER THE MAGISTRATE BE CHRIST'S VICEGERENT. CHAPTER VIII. THAT MR COLEMAN DOTH GREAT VIOLENCE, BOTH TO HIS OWN WORDS AND TO THE WORDS OF OTHERS WHOM HE CITETH. ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN PROPOSITIONS CONCERNING THE MINISTRY AND GOVERNMENT OF THE CHURCH. PROPOSITIONS. A SERMON PREACHED BEFORE THE HONOURABLE HOUSE OF COMMONS AT THEIR LATE SOLEMN FAST PREFACE TO THE READER. SERMON. A SERMON PREACHED BEFORE THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE HOUSE OF LORDS, IN THE ABBEY CHURCH AT WESTMINSTER. PREFACE TO THE READER. SERMON. Footnotes
(Transcriber's Note: This book is an 1846 reprint of George Gillespie's books, which were originally published separately. Each is reprinted here with its original title page and other front matter. The paper book had no page numbers; each book is transcribed here with its own page numbering, which may have no correspondence with the publisher's idea of the page numbers.)
In presenting to the public, for the first time, a Complete Edition of the Works of Mr GEORGE GILLESPIE, there are two or three points to which the Publisher begs to direct special attention.
Although the great value of Gillespie's various works was well known to many, yet there had been no recent reprints of them, and they had become so very scarce that it was with great difficulty any of them could be obtained. Recent controversies had brought forward the very subjects which had been so ably treated by Gillespie; and it was felt, that justice to the Church of which he was so great an ornament, and to the cause which he so strenuously supported, demanded the republication of his whole works, in a form, and at a price, which should render them generally accessible.
In prosecuting this task the idea was suggested, that it would be desirable to publish what remained of those Notes on the Proceedings of the Westminster Assembly of Divines, which Gillespie was known to have written, if the permission of the Advocates, in whose Library they were, could be obtained. That permission was most readily granted. The manuscript volumes, of what purported to be Gillespie's Notes, form part of the large collection entitled, the Wodrow MSS. They appear, however, not to be Gillespie's own Notes, but copies separately taken from the original. The fact that they are manifestly separate and independent transcriptions, furnishes good evidence of the genuineness and authenticity of the original manuscripts, though it is not now known where they are, if still in existence. In making a new copy for the press every facility was granted by the Librarians of the Advocates' Library, with their well-known courtesy and liberality; and much aid was rendered by David Laing, Esq., a gentleman thoroughly conversant with Scottish ecclesiastical literature, and generously ready to communicate to others the benefit of his own extensive and accurate knowledge.
Being desirous to render this Edition of Gillespie's works as full and complete as possible, several small and comparatively unimportant papers have been copied from the Wodrow Manuscript, some account of which will be found at the close of the Memoir. An appendix to the Memoir contains all that could be gleaned from Wodrow's Analecta, as printed by the Maitland Club.
The Memoir itself has been drawn up with considerable care, and is as extensive as the paucity of materials for its composition would admit. It might, indeed, have been enlarged by a more full account of the great events which occurred during the period in which Gillespie lived; but this would have been an unfair changing of biography into history, and would not have been suited to the object in view.
As the parts of the Collected Edition of Gillespie's Works were issued successively, they have been paged separately; and may be arranged in volumes according to the taste of their purchasers. It will, however, be found most expedient to adopt a chronological arrangement, such as is indicated in the closing pages of the Memoir.
MEMOIR OF THE REV. GEORGE GILLESPIE.
George Gillespie was one of the most remarkable men of the period in which he lived, singularly fertile as that period was in men of great abilities. He seems to have been almost unknown, till the publication of his first work, which dazzled and astonished his countrymen by the rare combination it displayed of learning and genius of the highest order. From that time forward, he held an undisputed position among the foremost of the distinguished men by whose talents and energy the Church of Scotland was delivered from prelatic despotism. Yet, although greatly admired by all his compeers during his brilliant career, so very little has been recorded respecting him, that we can but glean a scanty supply of materials, from a variety of sources, out of which to construct a brief memoir of his life
We have not met with any particular reference to the family from which George Gillespie was descended, except a very brief notice of his father, the Rev. John Gillespie, in Livingston's "Memorable Characteristics." From this we learn that he was minister at Kirkcaldy, and that he was, to use Livingston's language, "a thundering preacher." In that town George Gillespie was born; but, as the earlier volumes of the Session Register of Births and Baptisms have been lost, the precise year of his birth cannot be ascertained from that source. It could not, however, have been earlier than 1612, in which year his father was chosen to the second charge in Kirkcaldy, as appears from the town records, nor later than 1613, as the existing Register commences January, 1614, and, in the end of that year, the birth of a daughter of Mr John Gillespie is registered, and again in 1610, of a son, baptised Patrick. It may be assumed, therefore, with tolerable certainty, that George Gillespie was born early in the year 1613, a date which agrees with that engraven on his tombstone. Wodrow, indeed, states, on the authority of Mr Simpson, that Gillespie was born on the 21st of January, 1613.
Nothing has been recorded respecting the youthful period of Gillespie's life. The earliest notice of him which appears, is merely sufficient to intimate that his mind must have been carefully cultivated from his boyhood, as it relates to the time of his being sent to the University of St Andrews, to prosecute his studies, in 1629, when he was, of course, in his 16th year. It appears to have been the custom of the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, as of many others at that time, to support young men of merit at the University, as Presbytery Bursars, by means of the contributions of the parishes within its bounds. In the Session Record of Kirkcaldy the following statement occurs, dated November, 1629:—"The Session are content that Mr George Gillespie shall have as much money of our Session, for his interteynment, as Dysart gives, viz. 20 merks, being our Presbytery Bursar." In some of the brief biographical notices of him which have been given, we are informed that during the course of his attendance at the University, he gave ample evidence of both genius and industry, by the rapid growth and development of mental power, and the equally rapid acquirement of extensive learning, in both of which respects he surpassed his fellow-students. That this must have been the case, his future eminence, so early achieved, sufficiently proves; but nothing of a very definite nature, relating to that period, has been preserved.
When he had completed his academic career, and was ready to enter into the office of the ministry, his progress was obstructed by a difficulty which, for a time, proved insurmountable. Being conscientiously convinced that the prelatic system of church government is of human invention, and not of Divine institution, and having seen the bitter fruits it bore in Scotland, he would not submit to receive ordination from a bishop, and could not, at that juncture, obtain admission into the ministerial office without it. Though thus excluded from the object of his pursuit, he found congenial employment for his pious and active mind in the household of Lord Kenmure, where he resided as domestic chaplain, till the death of that nobleman in September, 1634. Soon afterwards we find him discharging a similar duty in the family of the Earl of Cassilis, and, at the same time, acting as tutor to Lord Kennedy, the Earl's eldest son. This latter employment furnished him with both leisure and inducement to prosecute his studies, and that, too, in the very direction to which his mind had been already predisposed. But, in order to obtain an intelligible view of the state of matters in Scotland at that period, we must take a brief survey of the events which had been moulding the aspect of both church and kingdom for some time before.
It may be assumed as a point which no person of competent knowledge and candid mind will deny or dispute, that the Reformed Church of Scotland was, from its very origin, Presbyterian; equally opposed to the prelatic superiority of one minister over others, and to the authority of the civil power in spiritual matters. This point, therefore, we need not occupy space in proving; but we may suggest, that there is a much closer and more important connexion between the two elements here specified, than is generally remarked. For, as a little reflection will show, without the pre-eminence of some small number of ministers over the rest, the civil power cannot obtain the means of directly exercising an authoritative control in spiritual matters. Even the indirect methods of corruption which may be employed can be but partially successful, and may at any time be defeated, whenever the general body shall be restored to purity and put forth its inherent power. A truly presbyterian church, therefore, never can be thoroughly depended on by civil rulers who wish to use it as a mere engine of state for political purposes; consequently, a truly presbyterian church has never found much favour in the estimation of the civil power,—and, it may be added, never will, till the civil power itself become truly Christian. Thus viewed, it was not strange that the civil power in Scotland, whether wielded by a regent such as Morton, or a king like James VI., should strenuously and perseveringly seek the subversion of the Presbyterian Church. In the earlier stage of the struggle, first Morton, and then James, attempted force, but found the attempt to be in vain. At length the King seemed inclined to leave off the hopeless and pernicious contest; and, in the year 1592, an Act of Parliament was passed, ratifying all the essential elements of the Presbyterian Church, in doctrine, government, discipline, and worship. But this proved to be merely a cessation of hostilities on the part of the King, preparatory to their resumption in a more insidious and dangerous manner, and by the dark instrumentality of his boasted "king-craft."
The first indication of the crafty monarch's designs was in the year 1597, when he, "of his great zeal and singular affection which he always has to the advancement of the true religion, presently professed within this realm," to use his own words, enacted that all who should be appointed to the prelatic dignity, should enjoy the privilege of sitting and voting in Parliament. The pretence was, that these persons would attend better to the interests of the Church than could be done by laymen; the intention was, to introduce the prelatic order and subvert the Presbyterian Church. And, that this might be done quietly and imperceptibly, the question respecting the influence which these parliamentary representatives of the Church should have in the government of the Church itself, was left to be determined by the King and the General Assembly. Many of the most judicious and clear-sighted of the ministers perceived the dangerous tendency of this measure, and gave it their decided and strenuous opposition; but others, wearied out by their conflict with the avaricious and tyrannical conduct of the nobility, which they hoped thus more effectually to resist, or gained over by the persuasions of the King and the court party, supported the proposal. The result was, that the measure was carried in the Assembly of 1598, by a majority of ten, and that majority formed chiefly by the votes of the elders, whom the King had induced to support his views. Scarcely had even this step been taken, when the Church became alarmed at the possible consequences; and, in order to avoid increasing that alarm, all further consideration of the measure, with reference to its subordinate details, was postponed till the meeting of the next Assembly. Nor was this enough. As the time for the next Assembly drew near, the King felt so uncertain of success, that he prorogued the appointed meeting, and betook himself to those private artifices by which his previous conquest had been gained.
When the Assembly of 1600 met, the most intense interest was felt by the whole kingdom in its proceedings, all men perceiving that upon its decision would depend the continuation or the overthrow of the presbyterian form of church government in Scotland. The King's first step was the arbitrary exclusion from the Assembly of the celebrated Andrew Melville. The discussion commenced respecting the propriety of ministers voting in Parliament. But when those who favoured the measure could not meet the argument of its opponents, the King again interposed, and authoritatively declared that the preceding General Assembly had already decided the general question in the affirmative; and that they had now only to determine subordinate arrangements. The measure was thus saved from defeat. The next question, whether the parliamentary ministers should hold their place for life, or be annually elected, was decided in favour of annual election. Yet James prevailed upon the cleric to frame an ambiguous statement in the minute of proceedings, virtually granting what the Assembly had rejected. Even then, though thus both overborne and tricked by the King, the Church framed a number of carefully expressed "caveats," or cautions, for protecting her liberties, and guarding against the introduction of Prelacy. It was not, however, the intention of the King to pay any regard to these "caveats," so soon as he might think it convenient to set them aside; and, accordingly, within a few months he appointed three bishops to the vacant sees of Ross, Aberdeen, and Caithness, directly in violation of all the "caveats" by which he had agreed that the appointment of ecclesiastical commissioners to Parliament should be regulated.
That mysterious event, the Gowry conspiracy, and the views taken of it by some of the best and most influential of the ministers, tended to alter the aspect of the struggle between the King and the Church; and though the King twice interposed to change the Assembly's time and place of meeting by his own authority, contrary to the provisions of the act, 1592, yet the church succeeded in maintaining a large measure of its primitive freedom and purity, against the encroachments of the crafty and perfidious monarch and his "creatures," to use their own phrase, the bishops.
The Assembly of 1602, however, was the last that retained anything like presbyterian liberty, and ventured to act on its own convictions of duty. But, the death of Queen Elizabeth, and the accession of James to the English throne, directed his main attention for a time to other matters, and gave occasion to a temporary pause in his violations of all the laws which he had repeatedly sworn to maintain. The pause was brief. The flattering servility of the English bishops inflated his vanity to an extravagant degree, and rendered him the more determined to subvert wholly the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and to erect Prelacy on its ruins. He had already presumed more than once to postpone meetings of the General Assembly, by his own arbitrary authority; he resumed this course, postponed the Assembly for one year, naming another,—then prorogued it again, without naming another day of meeting, which was nearly equivalent to an intimation, that it should entirely depend upon his pleasure whether it should ever meet again,—directly contrary to the act, 1592, in which it was expressly stipulated that the Assembly should meet at least once a year. The most zealous and faithful of the ministers were now fully aware of the imminent peril to which spiritual liberty was exposed. On the 2d of July, 1605, the day on which the General Assembly had been appointed to meet at Aberdeen, nineteen ministers met, constituted the Assembly in the usual form, and while engaged in reading a letter presented by the King's Commissioner, a messenger-at-arms entered, and in the King's name, charged them to dismiss, on pain of being held guilty of rebellion. The moderator appointed another day of meeting, and dissolved the Assembly in the usual manner. This bold and independent, though perfectly legal and constitutional conduct, roused the wrath of the King to fury. Six of the most eminent of the ministers, one of whom was John Welsh of Ayr, son-in-law of Knox, were confined in a miserable dungeon in the castle of Blackness, for a period of fourteen months, and then banished to France. Eight others were imprisoned for a time, and banished to the remotest parts of Scotland. The severity of Robert Bruce's treatment was increased; and six other ministers, who had not been directly involved in the resistance to the King's authority, by the suppressed Assembly of Aberdeen, were called to London, and engaged in captious disputations by the crafty monarch, and his sycophantic prelates, in order to find occasion against them also. The result was, the confinement in the Tower of Andrew Melville, and his subsequent banishment to France; and the prohibition of his nephew, James Melville, to return to Scotland.
Having thus succeeded, by fraud and force, in cutting off the leading ministers, James next summoned an Assembly to meet at Linlithgow, in December 1606, naming the persons who were to be sent by the presbyteries. In this packed Assembly he succeeded in his design of introducing more generally the prelatic element, by the appointment of constant moderators in each presbytery. Advancing now with greater rapidity, he instituted, in 1610, the Court of High Commission, which may be well termed the Scottish Inquisition; and in the same year, in an Assembly held at Glasgow, both nominated by the King, and corrupted by lavish bribery, the whole prelatic system of church government was introduced; the right of calling and dismissing Assemblies was declared to belong to the royal prerogative, the bishops were declared moderators of diocesan synods; and the power of excommunicating and absolving offenders was conferred on them.
The government of the Church was thus completely subverted in its external aspect. Its forms indeed remained. There were still presbyteries and synods, and there might be a General Assembly, if the King pleased; but the power of presbyteries or synods was vested in the Prelates, and the King could prevent any Assembly from being held, as long as he thought proper. But the Presbyterian Church, though overborne, was not destroyed, nor was its free spirit wholly subdued. When, in 1617, the King attempted to arrogate to himself and his prelatic council the power of enacting ecclesiastical laws, he was immediately met by a protestation against a measure so despotic. By an arbitrary stretch of power, he banished the historian Calderwood, the person who presented to him the protestation; but he felt it necessary to have recourse once more to his previously employed scheme, of a packed and bribed Assembly, in which to enact his innovations. This was accordingly done in the Assembly of 1618, held in Perth, in which, by the joint influence of bribery and intimidation, he succeeded in obtaining a majority of votes in favour of the five articles of Perth, as they are usually called. These five articles were,—kneeling at the communion,—the observance of holidays,—episcopal confirmation,—private baptism,—and the private dispensation of the Lord's Supper. It will at once be seen that these innovations were directly contrary to the presbyterian principle, which holds that human inventions ought not to be added to divine institutions.
This was the last attempt made by King James for the overthrow of the Presbyterian Church. It was but partially successful. Not less than forty-five, even of the ministers summoned to Perth by the King, voted against the five articles; and in defiance of the authority of the King, and the Prelates, and the terrors of the Court of High Commission, a large proportion of the ministers, and a much larger proportion of the people throughout the kingdom, never conformed to these articles. Various attempts were made by the prelatic faction to suppress the resistance of the faithful ministers and people. At one time a minister who would not yield was suspended from his ministry; at another, he was banished from his flock, and confined to some remote district of the country. But all was ineffectual, although much suffering and distress of mind was caused by these harrassing persecutions. Very gladly would the ministers and people have abandoned the prelatised church, and maintained the government and ritual of the Church of their fathers by their own unaided exertions, had they been permitted. But no such permission could be obtained. They were compelled either to abstain from preaching altogether, or to remain in connection with the Church. And even this alternative was not always left to their choice. They were frequently kept in a species of imprisonment in their own houses, not permitted to leave the Church, and yet forbidden to preach, or even to expound the word of God to the members of their own households. Such was the monstrous and intolerable tyranny exercised by Prelacy in Scotland, in its desperate attempts to destroy the Presbyterian Church.
But the Presbyterian Church has always proved to be not easily destroyed. At the very time when Prelacy and king-craft were uniting for its destruction, its Divine Head was graciously supporting it under its trials, giving it life to endure them, and preparing for its deliverance. The sufferings endured by the faithful ministers in many parts of the country, tended to make them objects of admiration, love, and respect to the people, who could not but draw a very striking contrast between their conduct, and that of the haughty and irreligious prelates. But mighty as was this influence in the hearts of the people, one infinitely more mighty began to be felt in many districts of the kingdom. God was pleased to grant a time of religious revival. The power of vital godliness aroused the land, shining in its strength, like living fire. At Stewarton, at Shotts, and in many others quarters, great numbers were converted, and the faith of still greater numbers was increased. A time of refreshing from the presence of God had evidently come; and it soon became equally evident, that the enemies of spiritual freedom were under the blinding influence of infatuation.
The younger bishops, inflated with vanity, acted towards the Scottish nobility in a manner so insolent, as to rouse the pride of these stern and haughty barons. But the prelates had learned from Laud, what measures would be agreeable to Charles I., who, to all his father's despotic ideas of royal prerogative, and love of Prelacy, and to at least equal dissimulation, added the formidable elements of a temper dark and relentless, and a proud and inflexible will. The consequences soon appeared. Charles resolved, that the Church of Scotland should not only be episcopalian in its form of government, but also in all its discipline, and in its form of worship. In order to accomplish this long wished for purpose, it was resolved that a Book of Canons, and a Liturgy, should be prepared by the Scottish bishops, and transmitted to those of England, for their revision and approval. The book of Canons appeared in 1635, and was regarded by the nation with the utmost abhorrence, both on its own account, and as intended to introduce innovations still more detested. What was dreaded soon took place. The Liturgy was prepared, sent to England, and revised, several of the corrections being written by Laud himself, all tending to give it a decidedly popish character. Some copies of this production appeared early in the year 1637, and were immediately subjected to the examination of acute and powerful minds, well able to detect and expose their errors, and to resist this tyrannical attempt to do violence to the conscience of a free and religious people.
The crisis came. A letter from his Majesty was procured, requiring the Liturgy to be used in all the churches of Edinburgh, and an act of the Privy Council was passed, to enforce obedience to the royal mandate. Archbishop Spotswood summoned the ministers together, announced to them the King's pleasure, and commanded them to give intimation from their pulpits, that on the following Sabbath the public use of the Liturgy was to be commenced. The 23d day of July, 1637, was that on which the perilous attempt was to be made. In the cathedral church of St. Giles, the Dean of Edinburgh, attired in his surplice, began to read the service of the day. At that moment, an old woman, named Jenny Geddes, unable longer to restrain her indignation, exclaimed, "Villain, dost thou say mass at my lug!" and seizing the stool on which she had been sitting, threw it at the Dean's head. Instantly all was uproar and confusion. Threatened or assailed on all sides, the Dean, terrified by this sudden outburst of popular fury, tore himself out of their hands and fled, glad to escape, though with the loss of his priestly vestments. In vain did the magistracy interfere. It was impossible to restore sufficient quiet to allow the service to be resumed; and the defeated prelatic party were compelled to abandon the Liturgy, thus dashed out of their trembling grasp by a woman's hand.
Such was the state of affairs in both church and kingdom, when George Gillespie first appeared in public life. He had already refused to receive ordination at the hands of a bishop; he had marked well the pernicious effects of their conduct on the most sacred interests of the community; and his strong and active intellect was directed to the prosecution of such studies as might the better enable him to assail the wrong and defend the right. His residence in the household of the Earl of Cassilis, while it furnished the means of continuing his learned researches, was not likely to change their direction; for the Earl was one of those high-hearted and independent noblemen, who could not brook prelatic insolence, even when supported by the Sovereign's favour. The first production from the pen of Gillespie, the fruit, doubtless, of his previous studies, was a work entitled "A Dispute against the English Popish Ceremonies obtruded upon the Church of Scotland." Its publication was remarkably well timed, being in the summer of 1637, at the very time when the whole kingdom was in a state of intense excitement, in the immediate expectation that the Liturgy would be forced upon the Church. Nothing could have been more suited to the emergency. It encountered every kind of argument employed by the prelatic party; and, as the defenders of the ceremonies argued that they were either necessary, or expedient, or lawful, or indifferent, so Gillespie divided his work into four parts, arguing against their necessity, their expediency, their lawfulness, and their indifferency, with such extensiveness of learning and acuteness and power of reasoning, as completely to demolish all the arguments of all his prelatical antagonists. The effect produced by this singularly able work may be conjectured from the fact, that within a few months after its publication, a proclamation was issued by the Privy Council, at the instigation of the bishops, commanding all the copies of it that could be found to be called in and burned. Such was the only answer that all the learned Scottish prelates could give to a treatise, written by a youth who was only in his twenty-fifth year when it appeared. The language of Baillie shows the estimation in which that learned, but timid and cautious man, held Gillespie's youthful work. "This same youth is now given out also, by those that should know, for the author of the 'English Popish Ceremonies,' whereof we all do marvel; for, though he had gotten the papers, and help of the chief of that side, yet the very composition would seem to be far above such an age. But, if that book be truly of his making, I admire the man, though I mislike much of his matter; yea, I think he may prove amongst the best wits of this isle."
So far as argument was concerned, the controversy was ended by Gillespie's work, as no answer was ever attempted by the prelates. But the contest, which began as one of power against principle, ere long became one of power against power. In vain did the King attempt to overawe the firm minds of the Presbyterians. In vain did the bishops issue their commands to the ministers to use the Liturgy. These commands were universally disobeyed; for the spirit of Scotland was now fairly roused—a spirit which has often learned to conquer, but never to yield. It was to be expected that Gillespie would not be allowed to remain much longer in comparative obscurity, after his remarkable abilities had become known. The church and parish of Wemyss being at that time vacant, the congregation, to whom he had been known from his infancy, "made supplication" that he might be their minister. This request was granted, "maugre St Andrew's beard," as Baillie says; that is, in spite of the opposition made by Spotswood, Archbishop of St Andrews, who knew enough of the young man to regard him with equal fear and hatred. He was ordained by the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy on the 26th of April, 1638, the celebrated Robert Douglas, at that time minister of Kirkcaldy, presiding at the ordination; and was the first who was admitted by a presbytery, at that period, without regard to the authority of the bishops. This, indeed, soon ceased to be a singularity; but, it must be remembered, that though the attempt to impose the Liturgy upon the Church had been successfully resisted, the ostensible government of the Church was still held by the prelates, and continued to be held by them, till they were all deposed by the famous General Assembly which met in Glasgow on the 21st day of November, 1638. But their power had received a fatal blow, and it could not fail to be highly gratifying to George Gillespie, that the first free act of the Presbyterian Church, to the recovery of whose liberty he had so signally contributed, should be his own ordination to the ministerial office.
From that time forward, the life of George Gillespie was devoted to the public service of the Church; and he was incessantly engaged in all the great measures of that momentous period. He, however, was not the man of the age. That man was Alexander Henderson, the acknowledged leader of the Church of Scotland's Second Reformation. And, as it is not our purpose to write a history of that period, we must confine ourselves chiefly to those events in which Gillespie acted a prominent part.
The next intimation that we receive of Gillespie is in Baillie's account of the Glasgow Assembly. "After a sermon of Mr Gillespie," says Baillie, "wherein the youth very learnedly and judiciously, as they say, handled the words, 'The King's heart is in the hand of the Lord,' yet did too much encroach on the King's actions: he (Argyle) gave us a grave admonition, to let authority alone, which the Moderator seconded, and we all religiously observed, so long as the Assembly lasted." This proves, at least, that Gillespie was highly esteemed by his brethren, who had selected him as one to preach before that important Assembly, notwithstanding his youth. It should be added, that on consulting the records of that Assembly's proceedings, we do indeed find Argyle's grave admonition not to interfere with the authority due to the King in his own province, and the Moderator's answer; but nothing to lead us to think that it had any reference to Gillespie's sermon. Baillie had not, at that time, learned to know and appreciate Gillespie, as he did afterwards and, as he had been somewhat startled by the point and power of the "English Popish Ceremonies," he might not unnaturally conclude, that Argyle's caution against what might be, had been caused by what had already been beginning to appear in the language of the youthful preacher.
The course of public affairs swept rapidly onward, though certainly not in such a channel as to gratify the lovers of arbitrary power and superstition. The King, enraged to find his beloved Prelacy overthrown at once and entirely, prepared to force it upon the Scottish Covenanted Church and people by force of arms. The Covenanters stood on the defensive, and met the invading host on the Border, prepared to die rather than submit to the loss of religious liberty. But the English army was little inclined to fight in such a cause. They had felt the king's tyranny and the oppression of their own prelates, and were not disposed to destroy that liberty, so nobly won by Scotland, for which they were themselves most earnestly longing. A peace ensued. The King granted that spiritual liberty which he was unable to withhold; and the ministers who had accompanied the Scottish army, returned to the discharge of their more peaceful duties. But this peace proved of short duration. The King levied a new and more powerful army, and again declared war against his Scottish subjects. Again the Covenanters resumed their weapons of defence, and marched towards the Border, a number of the most eminent ministers, among whom was Gillespie, being required to accompany the army, and empowered to act as a presbytery. It was, however, judged necessary to anticipate the approach of the English by entering England. This bold movement changed the nature of the contest for the time, because the English parliament felt the utmost jealousy of the King's despotic designs, and would not grant him the necessary support. Negotiations for peace were begun at Ripon, and transferred to London. This rendered it necessary for the Scottish Commissioners for the peace to reside at London. Henderson, Blair, Baillie and Gillespie accompanied the Commissioners to London, resided with them there in the capacity of chaplains, and availed themselves of the opportunity thus afforded, for proving to the people of England that presbyterian ministers were not such rude and ignorant men as their prelatic calumniators had asserted. The effect of their preaching was astonishing, as even Clarendon, their prejudiced and bitter reviler, admits. Wherever they preached, the people flocked in crowds to hear them, and even clustered round the doors and windows of the churches in which they were proclaiming the unsearchable riches of Christ. It soon became apparent that both the cause, and the men by whom it was defended, were too mighty to be despised. Courtly parasites might scoff, but the heart of England was compelled to know that living faith and true eloquence are equally powerful to move and guide the minds of men, whether on the bleak waste of a Scottish moor, or in the midst of a mighty city.
Soon after the return of the Scottish Commissioners and ministers, in the Assembly of 1641, the town of Aberdeen gave a call to George Gillespie to be one of their pastors. This call, however, he strenuously and successfully resisted, and was permitted to remain at Wemyss. But next year, the town of Edinburgh applied to the General Assembly, to have him translated to one of the charges there, and this application was successful, so that he became one of the ministers of Edinburgh in the year 1642, and continued so during the remainder of his life.
But although Edinburgh had succeeded in obtaining Gillespie, the citizens were not long permitted to enjoy the benefit of his ministry. Another class of duties awaited him, in a still more public and important sphere of action. It is impossible here to do more than refer to the great events which at that time agitated not only Scotland, but also England. The superstition, bigotry and intolerance of Archbishop Laud and his followers, combining with and urging on the despotism of the King, had at length completely exhausted the patience of the English people and parliament. Every pacific effort had proved fruitless; and it had become undeniably evident, to every English patriot, that Prelacy must be abolished and the royal prerogative limited, unless they were prepared to yield up every vestige of civil and religious liberty. They made the nobler choice, passed an act abolishing Prelacy, and summoned an Assembly of Divines to deliberate respecting the formation of such a Confession of Faith, Catechism, and Directory, as might lead to uniformity between the Churches of the two kingdoms, and thereby tend to secure the religious liberty of both. The Assembly of Divines met at Westminster, on the 1st day of July, 1643. Soon afterwards Commissioners from the English Parliament, and from the Westminster Assembly, were appointed to proceed to Edinburgh, to be present at the meeting of the General Assembly in August, and to seek a conference, respecting the best method of forming the basis of a religious and civil confederacy between the two kingdoms, in their time of mutual danger. These Commissioners, accordingly, attended the meeting of the Assembly in Edinburgh, and the result of their conferences was the framing of that well-known bond of union between the two countries, THE SOLEMN LEAGUE AND COVENANT—"a document which we may be pardoned for terming the noblest, in its essential nature and principles, of all that are recorded among the international transactions of the world."
As the main object for which the Solemn League and Covenant was framed, was to secure the utmost practicable degree of uniformity in the religious worship of both countries; and, as the English Divines had already met at Westminster to take the whole subject into consideration, and had requested the assistance of Commissioners from the Church of Scotland, the General Assembly named some of the most eminent of their ministers and elders as Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly. These were, Alexander Henderson, Robert Douglas, Robert Baillie, Samuel Rutherford, and George Gillespie, ministers; and the Earl of Cassilis, Lord Maitland, and Sir Archibald Johnston of Warriston, elders; but neither the Earl of Cassilis nor Robert Douglas went. Three of these, Lord Maitland, Henderson, and Gillespie, set off for London, along with the English Commissioners, immediately after the rising of the General Assembly; the other three, Warriston, Rutherford, and Baillie, followed about a month afterwards. On the 15th of September the Scottish Commissioners were received into the Westminster Assembly with great kindness and courtesy; and, on the 25th of the same month, the Solemn League and Covenant was publicly sworn and subscribed by both Parliament and Assembly, after addresses by Nyo and Henderson. It was not, however, till the 12th of October, that the Westminster Assembly commenced its serious deliberations concerning Church Government, Discipline, and a Directory of Worship, in the hope of arriving at such conclusions as might produce religious uniformity in the Churches of England, Scotland, and Ireland, if not also with the Reformed Churches of the Continent.
Scarcely had the Westminster Assembly begun its deliberations, when it became abundantly apparent, that, however sincere its members might all be in the desire to promote the religious welfare of the community, they were, nevertheless, divided in their views as to how that could be best accomplished. There were three parties in the Assembly, the Presbyterians, the Independents, and the Erastians. Of these the Presbyterians(1) formed by far the most numerous, comprising at least nine-tenths of the entire body. There were at first only five Independent divines, commonly termed "the Five Dissenting Brethren;" but their number finally amounted to ten or eleven. Only two ministers were decided Erastians, but a considerable number of the parliamentary members, chiefly those who were professionally lawyers, advocated that secular policy. The Scottish Commissioners refused to exercise the right of voting, but were continually present in the Assembly, and took a very prominent part in all its deliberations and debates, supporting, as might be expected, the views of the Presbyterians. The chief strength of the Independents consisted in the tenacity with which they adhered to their own opinions, disputing every proposition brought forward by others, but cautiously abstaining from giving any definite statement of their own; and in the close intercourse which they contrived to keep with Cromwell and the military Independents. And the Erastian party, though few in numbers within the Assembly itself, possessed, nevertheless, considerable influence, arising out of their reputation for learning, having as their ornament and support, that distinguished man, emphatically called "the learned Selden." But the true source of their power was the Parliament, which, having deprived the King of that ecclesiastical supremacy which he had so grievously abused, wished to retain it in its own possession, and therefore, supported the Erastian party in the Assembly.
Numerous and protracted were the debates which arose in the Westminster Assembly, during the discussion of the various topics on which these three parties differed in opinion; and in all those debates no person took a more active part, or gained more distinction than George Gillespie. His previous course of studies had rendered him perfectly familiar with all that had been written on the subjects under discussion; his originally acute and powerful intellect had been thoroughly trained and exercised to its highest degree of clearness and vigour; and to a natural, perspicuous, and flowing readiness of language, the warmth and earnestness of his heart added the energy and elevation which form the very essence of true eloquence. We have already referred to the high expectations which Baillie entertained of his future career. But high as these had been, they were far surpassed by the reality, as he himself declares. "None in all the company did reason more, and more pertinently than Mr Gillespie. That is an excellent youth; my heart blesses God in his behalf!"—"Very learned and acute Mr Gillespie, a singular ornament of our church, than whom not one in the whole Assembly speaks to better purpose, and with better acceptance by all the hearers."—"Mr George Gillespie, however I had a good opinion of his gifts, yet I profess he has much deceived me: Of a truth there is no man whose parts in a public dispute I do so admire. He has studied so accurately all the points that ever yet came to our Assembly, he has got so ready, so assured, so solid a way of public debating, that however there be in the Assembly divers very excellent men, yet, in my poor judgment, there is not one who speaks more rationally, and to the point, than that brave youth has done ever."
We cannot here follow the course of the prolonged deliberations in which Gillespie so greatly distinguished himself; but there is one instance of his eminence which has so often been related, and not always very accurately, that it would be unpardonable not to give it here,—especially as some pains have been taken to obtain as full and correct a version of it as is now practicable. After the Westminster Divines had agreed respecting the office-bearers whose permanent continuation in the church can be proved from scriptural authority; they proceeded to inquire concerning the subject of Church Discipline. In this the Presbyterians were constrained to encounter both the Independents and the Erastians; for the Independents, on the one hand, denied any authoritative excommunication or suspension, and the Erastians, on the other, admitted such a power, but placed it in the hands of the civil magistracy. For a considerable time the discussion was between the Presbyterians and the Independents; but when the arguments of the latter party had been conclusively met and answered by their antagonists, the Erastians hastened to the rescue, and their champion, "the learned Selden," came to the Assembly, when the discussion drew near its close, prepared to pour forth all his learning for the discomfiture of the hitherto triumphant Presbyterians. His intention had been made known extensively, and even before the debate began, the house was crowded by all who could claim or obtain admission. Gillespie, who had been probably engaged in some Committee business as usual, was rather late in coming, and upon his arrival, not being recognised as a member by those who were standing about the door and in the passages, was told that it was impossible for him to get in, the throng was so dense. "Can ye not admit a pinning?" said he, using a word employed by masons, to indicate the thin slips of stone with which they pin, or fill up the chinks and inequalities that occur in the building of a plain wall. He did, however, work his way to the seat allotted to the Scottish Commissioners, and took his place beside his brethren. The subject under discussion was the text, Matt. xviii. 15-17, as bearing upon the question respecting excommunication. Selden arose, and in a long and elaborate speech, and with a great display of minute rabbinical lore, strove to demonstrate that the passage contained no warrant for ecclesiastical jurisdiction, but that it related to the ordinary practice of the Jews in their common civil courts, by whom, as he asserted, one sentence was excommunication, pronounced by their own authority. Somewhat confused, if not appalled, by the vast erudition displayed, even the most learned and able of the divines seemed in no haste to encounter their formidable opponent. At length both Herle and Marshall, two very distinguished men, attempted answers, but failed to counteract the effect of Selden's speech. Gillespie had been observed by his Scottish brethren writing occasionally in his note-book, as if marking the heads of Selden's argument; and one of them, some accounts say Rutherford, turning to him in this emergency, said, "Rise, George, rise up, man, and defend the right of the Lord Jesus Christ to govern, by his own laws, the church which he hath purchased with his blood." Thus urged, Gillespie arose, gave first a summary of Selden's argument, divesting it of all the confusion of that cumbrous learning in which it had been wrapped, and reducing it to its simple elements; then in a speech of singular acuteness and power, completely refuted it, proving that the passage could not be interpreted or explained away to mean a mere reference to a civil court. By seven distinct arguments he proved, that the whole subject was of a spiritual nature, not within the cognisance of civil courts; and he proved also, that the church of the Jews both possessed and exercised the power of spiritual censures. The effect of Gillespie's speech was so great, as not only to convince the Assembly, but also to astonish and confound Seldon himself, who is reported to have exclaimed in a tone of bitter mortification, "That young man, by this single speech, has swept away the learning and labour of ten years of my life!" Those who were clustered together in the passage near the door, remembering Gillespie's expression when he was attempting to enter, said one to another, "It was well that we admitted the pinning, otherwise the building would have fallen." Even his Scottish brethren, although well acquainted with his great abilities, were surprised with his masterly analysis of Selden's argument, and looked into his note-book, expecting there to find the outline of the summary which he had given. Their surprise was certainly not diminished when they found that he had written nothing but, Da lucem, Domine, Lord give light,—and similar brief petitions for the direction of that divine Head and King of the church, whose crown-rights he was about to defend.
Various other anecdotes have been recorded respecting Gillespie's singular skill and ability in debate; but the preceding is at once the most striking and the best authenticated, and may suffice to prove his eminence, both in learning and in power of argument, among the Westminster Divines.(2)
The first part of the task in which the Westminster Assembly was engaged, was the framing of a Directory for Public Worship. This having been completed about the close of the year 1644, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland met on the 23d of January, 1645, to take this Directory into consideration, and to give it their sanction, should it be found satisfactory. Baillie and Gillespie were sent to Scotland, to be present at the Assembly, that they might introduce the subject, and give any explanation that might appear necessary, and to do everything in their power to procure for it the desired approbation. In this they were completely successful, and the Assembly passed an act sanctioning the Directory,—that act having been written, as Baillie informs us, by Gillespie. Having accomplished the object of their mission, they returned to London, where Gillespie was speedily engaged in the Erastian Controversy, during which he produced his greatest work.
We have already referred to the distinguished ability with which Gillespie encountered and defeated Selden, in the discussion which arose within the Westminster Assembly itself. But the principles of Erastianism were entertained by many who were not members of that Assembly, and were advocated in other quarters, so as to lead to a literary controversy. The Rev. Thomas Coleman, one of the Erastians divines, the other being Lightfoot, preached a sermon before the House of Commons, on the 30th of July, 1645, in which there was a peculiar display of Erastianism of the very strongest kind. This sermon was printed, as were all sermons preached before either House, and excited at once the disapprobation of all the friends of religious liberty. It did not remain long unanswered. On the 27th of August, the same year, Gillespie preached before the House of Lords; and when his sermon was also published, he added to it an appendix entitled, "A Brotherly Examination of some passages of Mr Coleman's late printed sermon." In this appendix Gillespie not only answered and refuted Coleman, but turned his arguments completely against himself. Coleman soon afterwards published a pamphlet entitled, "A Brotherly Examination Re-examined." To this Gillespie replied in another bearing the title, "Nihil Respondes," in which he somewhat sharply exposed the weak and inconclusive character of his opponent's argument. Irritated by the castigation he had received, Coleman published a bitter reply, to which he gave the somewhat unintelligible title of "Male Dicis Maledicis,"—intending, probably, to insinuate that Gillespie's answer was of a railing character. This roused Gillespie, and induced him to put forth his controversial power in a singularly vigorous pamphlet, entitled, "Male Audis," in which he took a rapid survey of the whole Erastian controversy, so far as Coleman and some of his friends had brought it forward, convicted him and them of numerous self-contradictions, of unsoundness in theology, of violating the covenant which they had sworn, and of inculcating opinions fatal to both civil and religious liberty. To this powerful production Coleman attempted no reply; nor have its arguments ever been answered by any subsequent advocate of Erastianism.
But however able and well-timed these controversial pamphlets were, they were not enough to occupy even the few spare hours that Gillespie was able to snatch from his attendance on the business of the Assembly. He had planned, and was all the while prosecuting, a much larger work. That work appeared about the close of the year 1646, under the title of "Aaron's Rod Blossoming: or, the Divine Ordinance of Church Government Vindicated." In this remarkably able and elaborate production, Gillespie took up the Erastian controversy as stated and defended by its ablest advocates, fairly encountering their strongest arguments, and assailing their most formidable positions, in the frank and fearless manner of a man thoroughly sincere, and thoroughly convinced of the truth and goodness of his cause. As it may be presumed that the readers of this memoir are also in possession of "Aaron's Rod," we need not occupy space in giving even a brief outline of that admirable work; but as we are convinced that the Erastian conflict, which has been recently resumed, must still be fought, and will be ultimately won, we strenuously recommend the studious perusal of Gillespie's masterly production to all who wish fully to comprehend the subject.(3) One or two points of general information, however, it may be expedient to give. In the "Aaron's Rod," while Gillespie intentionally traversed the whole ground of the Erastian controversy, he directed also special attention to the productions of the day. This he could not avoid; but this has tended unfortunately, to give to his work the appearance of being to some extent an ephemeral production, suited to the period when it appeared, but not so well suited to the present times. It addresses itself to answer the arguments of Selden, and Coleman, and Hussey, and Prynne; and as the writings of these men have sunk into oblivion, we are liable to regard the work which answered them as one which has done its deed, and may also be allowed to disappear. Let it be observed, that Erastianism never had abler advocates than the above-named men. Selden was so pre-eminent for learning that his distinguishing designation was "the learned Selden." Coleman was so thoroughly conversant with Hebrew literature, that he was commonly termed "Rabbi Coleman." Hussey, minister at Chessilhurst in Kent, was a man of great eloquence, both as a speaker and a writer, and possessed no small influence among the strong-minded men of that period. And Prynne had a double claim on public attention both then and still; for he had been so formidable an antagonist of the Laudean Prelacy, as to have been marked out by Laud as a special victim,—had been condemned to the pillory, and suffered the loss of both his ears by the sentence of that cruel prelate,—and had been rescued from his sufferings, and restored to political life and influence, by the Long Parliament. He was, moreover, both a learned man, an acute lawyer, and an able and subtle controversialist, and his writings exercised at the time no mean influence. When such men undertook the advocacy of the Erastian argument, encouraged as they were by the English Parliament, it may well be conceived that they would present it both in its ablest, and in its most plausible form. And it is doing no discredit to Erastians of the present day, to say that they are not likely to produce anything either more profound in learning, or more able and acute in reasoning than was done by their predecessors of the Long Parliament, and the Westminster Assembly. If, therefore, Gillespie's Aaron's Rod completely defeated the acute and able men of that day, we may well recommend it to the perusal of those whose duty it may be to engage in a similar controversy in the present age.
But while such were Gillespie's labours in the field of controversy, the value of which could not be easily over-estimated, his memory would be grievously wronged were we to regard him only as a controversialist. For although the topics which first engaged the attention of the Westminster Assembly were those on which the greatest difference of opinion existed, and to which, almost of necessity, the public mind, both then and ever since, has been most strongly directed, there was a very large portion of their duty, and that, too, of the highest importance, and demanding the utmost care, in which a much greater degree of unanimity prevailed. For a considerable time after the Assembly commenced its deliberations, its attention was almost exclusively occupied with the framing of Directories for public worship and ordination, and with discussions respecting the form of Church government, including the power of Church censure. These topics involved both the Independent and the Erastian controversies; and till some satisfactory conclusions had been reached on these points, the Assembly abstained from entering upon the less agitating, but not less important work of framing a Confession of Faith. But having completed their task, so far as depended upon themselves, they then turned their attention to their doctrinal labours.
The manner in which the Assembly entered upon this solemn duty deserves the utmost attention, as intimating the earnest and prudent spirit by which their whole deliberations were pervaded. They appointed a committee to prepare and arrange the main propositions which were to be examined and digested into a system by the Assembly. The members of this committee were, Dr Hoyle, Dr Gouge, Messrs Herle, Gataker, Tuckney, Reynolds, and Vines, with the Scottish Commissioners Henderson, Baillie, Rutherford, and Gillespie. Those learned and able divines began their labours by arranging, in the most systematic order, the various great and sacred truths which God has revealed to man; and then reduced these to thirty-two distinct heads or chapters, each having a title expressive of its subject. These were again subdivided into sections; and the committee formed themselves into several subcommittees, each of which took a specific topic for the sake of exact and concentrated deliberation. When these sub-committees had completed their respective tasks, the whole results were laid before the entire committee, and any alterations suggested and debated till all were of one mind. And when any title, or chapter, had been thus fully prepared by the committee, it was reported to the Assembly, and again subjected to the most minute and careful investigation, in every paragraph, sentence, and even word. All that learning the most profound, intellect the most searching, and piety the most sincere could accomplish, was thus concentrated in the Westminster Assembly's Confession of Faith, which may be safely termed the most perfect statement of systematic Theology ever framed by the Christian Church.
In the preliminary deliberations of the Committee the Scottish divines took a leading part, and none more than Gillespie. But no report of these deliberations either was or could be made public. The results alone appeared when the Committee, from time to time, laid its matured propositions before the Assembly. And it is gratifying to be able to add, that throughout the deliberations of the Assembly itself, when composing, or rather, formally sanctioning the Confession of Faith, there prevailed almost an entire and perfect harmony. There appears, indeed, to have been only two subjects on which any difference of opinion existed among them. The one of these was the doctrine of Election, concerning which Baillie informs us they had "long and tough debates;" the other was concerning that which heads the chapter entitled "Of Church Censures," as its fundamental proposition, viz. "The Lord Jesus Christ, as King and Head of his Church, has therein appointed a government in the hand of church-officers distinct from the civil magistrate." This proposition the Assembly manifestly intended and understood to contain a principle directly and necessarily opposed to the very essence of Erastianism, and it was regarded in the same light by the Erastians themselves, hence it had to encounter their most strenuous opposition. It was, however, somewhat beyond the grasp of the lay-members of the Assembly, especially since their champion Selden had in a great measure withdrawn from the debates after his signal discomfiture by Gillespie, and consequently it was triumphantly carried, the single dissentient voice being that of Lightfoot, the other Erastian divine, Coleman, having died before the conclusion of the debate. The framing of the Confession occupied the Assembly nearly a year. After having been carefully transcribed, it was presented to the parliament on the 3d of December, 1646.
A plan similar to that already described was also employed in preparing that admirable digest of Christian doctrine, the Shorter Catechism, and so far as can be ascertained, by the same Committee. For a time, indeed, they attempted to prosecute the framing of both Confession and Catechism at once; but after some progress had been made with both, the Assembly resolved to finish the Confession first, and then to construct the Catechism upon its model, so far at least as to have no proposition in the one which was not in the other. By this arrangement they wisely avoided the danger of subsequent debate and delay. Various obstacles, however, interposed, and so greatly impeded the progress of the Assembly, that the Catechism was not so speedily completed as had been expected. It was, however, presented to the House of Commons on the 5th of November 1647, and the Larger, in the spring of the following year.
There is one anecdote connected with the formation of the Shorter Catechism both full of interest and so very beautiful, that it must not be omitted. In one of the earliest meetings of the Committee, the subject of deliberation was to frame an answer to the question "What is God?" Each man felt the unapproachable sublimity of the divine idea suggested by these words; but who could venture to give it expression in human language! All shrunk from the too sacred task in awe-struck reverential fear. At length it was resolved, as an expression of the Committee's deep humility, that the youngest member should first make the attempt. He consented; but begged that the brethren would first unite with him in prayer for divine enlightenment. Then in slow and solemn accents he thus began his prayer:—"O God, Thou art a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in Thy being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth."—When he ceased, the first sentence of his prayer was immediately written down and adopted, as the most perfect answer that could be conceived, as, indeed, in a very sacred sense, God's own answer, descriptive of Himself.(4) Who, then, was the youngest member of the Committee? When we compare the birth-dates of the respective members of the Committee, we find that George Gillespie was the youngest by more than a dozen years. We may, therefore, safely conclude, that George Gillespie was the man who was thus guided to frame this marvellous answer.
Without further enlarging on these points, we may, without hazard, affirm, that however eminent Gillespie was in the department of controversy, he was scarcely, if at all, less so in that of systematic theology, while his personal piety was of the most elevated and spiritual character. Rarely, indeed, have such qualities met in any one man, as were united in him; but when God requires such a man, he creates, endows and trains him, so as to meet the necessity.
When the public labours of the Westminster Assembly drew near a close, the Scottish commissioners returned to their native country. Henderson had previously found the repose of the grave, Rutherford remained a short time behind. Baillie and Gillespie appeared at the General Assembly which met in August, 1647, and laid before that supreme ecclesiastical court the result of their protracted labours. The Confession of Faith was ratified by that Assembly. The same Assembly caused to be printed a series of propositions, or "Theses against Erastianism," as Baillie terms them, amounting to one hundred and eleven, drawn up by George Gillespie, embodying eight of them in the act which authorised their publication. The perusal of these propositions would enable any person of unprejudiced and intelligent mind to master and refute the whole Erastian theory; and could not fail, at the same time, to draw forth sentiments of admiration towards the clear and strong mind by which they were framed.
But the incessant toils in which Gillespie's life had been spent had shattered his constitution beyond the power of recovery; and the state in which he found Scotland on his return was such as to permit no relaxation of these toils. The danger in which the obstinacy and duplicity of Charles I. had placed that unhappy monarch's life, drew forth towards him the strong compassion of all who cherished sentiments of loyalty to the sovereign and pity for the man. But in many instances these generous feelings were allowed to bias the dictates of religious principle and sound judgment; and a party began to be formed for the purpose of attempting to save the King even at the hazard of entering into a war with England. This was, of course, eagerly encouraged by all who had previously adhered to the King's party in the contest between him and the Covenanters; and a series of intrigues began and were carried on, breaking the harmony which had previously existed, and preparing for the disastrous consequences which soon afterwards ensued. Gillespie exerted himself to the utmost of his power to avert the coming calamities which he anticipated, by striving to prevent the commission of crimes which provoke judgment. His influence was sufficient to restrain the Church from consenting to countenance the weak and wicked movements of politicians. But his health continued to sink under these incessant toils and anxieties. He was chosen moderator of the General Assembly of 1648, though, as Baillie states, "he did much deprecate the burden, as he had great reason, both for his health's sake, and other great causes."
This Assembly met on the 12th of July, 1648, and so arduous and difficult were the duties which it had to discharge, that it did not end its labours till the 12th of August. Although Gillespie was then rapidly sinking under the disease of which he died, which, from its symptoms, must have been consumption, he continued to take an active part in all its deliberations, and drew up the last public paper which it directed to be framed, in answer to a document, issued by the State, respecting the engagement that had been formed for the support of the King. The arduous labours of the Assembly being thus ended, Gillespie left Edinburgh and retired to Kirkcaldy, with the view of seeking, by change of scene and air, some renovation to his health. But the disease had taken too firm a hold of his enfeebled constitution, and he continued to suffer from increasing weakness. Still the cares of the distracted Church and country pressed heavily on his mind. He was now unable to attend the public meetings of Church courts; but on the 8th of September he addressed a letter to the Commission of Assembly, in which he stated clearly and strongly his opinion concerning the duties and the dangers of the time. Continuing to sink, and feeling death at hand, he partly wrote and partly dictated what may be termed his dying "Testimony against association with malignant enemies of the truth and godliness."(5) At length, on the 17th day of December, 1648, his toils and sorrows ceased, and he fell asleep in Jesus.
So passed away from this world one of those bright and powerful spirits which are sent in troublous times to carry forward God's work among mankind. Incessant toil is the destiny of such highly-gifted men while here below; and not unfrequently is their memory assailed by those mean and little minds who shrunk with instinctive fear and hatred before the energetic movements which they could neither comprehend nor encounter. But their recompense is in heaven, when their work is done; and future generations delight to rescue their reputation from the feeble obloquy with which malevolence and folly had endeavoured to hide or defame it. Thus has it been with George Gillespie to a considerable extent already; and we entertain not the slightest shadow of doubt that his transcendent merit is but beginning to be known and appreciated as it deserves, and that ere very long his well-earned fame will shine too clearly and too strong to be approached by detractors.
* * * * *
We have but little more to relate respecting George Gillespie. His death was deeply lamented by all who loved their church and country at the time; and such was the feeling generally entertained of his great merit, that the Committee of Estates, or government of the kingdom, by an Act dated 20th December, 1648, did, "as an acknowledgment for his faithfulness in all the public employments entrusted to him by this Church, both at home and abroad, his faithful labours, and indefatigable diligence in all the exercises of his ministerial calling, for his Master's service, and his learned writings, published to the world, in which rare and profitable employments, both for Church and State, he truly spent himself and closed his days, ordain, That the sum of one thousand pounds sterling be given to his widow and children." And though the Parliament did, by their Act, dated June 8th, 1650, unanimously ratify the preceding Act, and recommended to their Committee to make the same effectual, yet in consequence of Cromwell's invasion, and the confusion into which the whole kingdom was thereby thrown, this benevolent design was frustrated, as his grandson, the Rev. George Gillespie, minister at Strathmiglo, afterwards declared.(6) So much for the trust to be placed in national gratitude and the promises of statesmen.
George Gillespie was buried at Kirkcaldy, his birth-place, and the place also where he died. A tomb-stone, erected to his memory by his relatives and friends, bore an inscription in Latin, recording the chief actions of his life, and stating the leading elements of his character. But when Prelacy was re-imposed on Scotland, after the restoration of Charles II., the mean malice of the Prelatists gratified itself by breaking the tomb-stone. This petty and spiteful act is thus recorded in the "Mercurius Caledonius," one of the small quarto newspapers or periodicals of the time, of date January 16th to 25th, 1661. "The late Committee of Estates ordered the tomb-stone of Mr George Gillespie, whereon was engraven a scandalous inscription, should be fetched from the burial place, and upon a market-day, at the cross of Kirkcaldy, where he had formerly been minister, and there solemnly broken by the hands of the hangman; which was accordingly done,—a just indignity upon the memory of so dangerous a person."
The Committee of Estates by which this paltry deed was done was that of Middleton's parliament, frequently called the "drunken parliament," from the excesses of its leading men, and which on the following year signalised itself by the Glasgow act,—that act which emptied nearly four hundred pulpits in one day. The inaccuracy of the statement made by the prelatic newspaper, asserting that he had formerly been minister at Kirkcaldy, will not surprise any person who is acquainted with the writings of the Prelatists of that period, who seem not to have been able to write the truth when relating the most common and well-known facts. But one is somewhat surprised to find statements equally inaccurate made respecting George Gillespie, by reverend and learned historians. In Dr Cook's History of the Church of Scotland, we find in one passage George Gillespie's character and conduct completely misunderstood and misrepresented, (vol. iii. pages 160-162), and in a subsequent passage an assertion that the proceedings of that party in the church called the Protestors were, in the year 1650, "directed by Gillespie, a factious minister, whose name has been frequently mentioned," (page 196). George Gillespie was the only person of whom mention was made, or could be made, in the previous portion of the history, as his brother had not then began to take any active part in public affairs; but he was dead nearly two years before the date to which the latter passage refers. It is plain that Dr Cook confounded George Gillespie with his brother Patrick, and ascribed to the former the actions of the latter, regarding them both as but one and the same person. He further asserts, that Gillespie was "suspected of corresponding with the Sectaries." That Patrick Gillespie corresponded with the Sectaries, and was much trusted and countenanced by Cromwell, is perfectly true; but before that time George Gillespie had joined the One Church and family in heaven. In every period of his life, and in every transaction in which he was engaged, George Gillespie was far above all private or discreditable intriguing, which is the vice of weak, cunning, and selfish minds. And while we do not think it necessary further to prosecute this vindication of his memory, we yet think it our duty, when writing a memoir of him, thus briefly to set aside the groundless accusation, whether it be adduced by prelatic or Erastian writers,—his baffled antagonists when living, his impotent calumniators when dead.
The tomb-stone, as has been related, was broken in 1661, but the inscription was preserved. A plain tablet was erected in 1745, by his grandson, the Rev. George Gillespie, minister of Strathmiglo, on which the inscription was re-produced, with a slight addition, mentioning both events. It is still to be seen in the south-east porch of the present church. The inscription is as follows:—
MAGISTER GEORGIUS GILLESPIE, PASTOR EDINBURGENSIS, JUVENILIBUS ANNIS RITUUM ANGLORUM PONTIFICIORUM TURMAM PROSTRAVIT: GLISCENTE AETATE, DELEGATUS CUM MANDATIS IN SYNODO ANGLICANA, PRAESULEM E ANGLIA ERADICANDUM, SINCERUM DEI CULTUM UNIFORMEM PROMOVENDUM, CURAVIT; ERASTUM AARONIS GERMINANTE VIRGA CASTIGAVIT. IN PATRIAM REVERSUS FOEDIFRAGOS ANGLIAM BELLO LACESSENTES LABEFACTAVIT: SYNODI NATIONALIS ANNO 1648, EDINBURGI HABITAE PRAESES ELECTUS, EXTREMAM PATIRAE SUAE OPERAM CUM LAUDE NAVAVIT: CUMQUE OCULATIS TESTIS VIDISSET MALIGNANTIUM QUAM PRAEDIXERAT RUINAM, EODEM QUO FOEDUS TRIUM GENTIUM SOLENNE RENOVATUM TUIT DIE DECEDENS IN PACE, ANNO AETATIS 36, IN GAUDIUM DOMINI INTRAVIT: INGENIO PROFUNDUS, GENIO MITIS, DISPUTATIONE ACUTUS, ELOQUIO FACUNDUS, ANIMO INVICTUS, BONOS IN AMOREM, MALOS IN INVIDIAM, OMNES IN SUI ADMIRATIONEM, RAPUIT: PATLAE SUAE ORNAMENTUM; TANTO PATRE DIGNA SOBOLES.
THIS TOMB BEING PULLED DOWN BY THE MALIGNANT INFLUENCE OF ARCHBISHOP SHARP, AFTER THE INTRODUCTION OF PRELACY, MR GEORGE GILLESPIE, MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL AT STRATHMIGLO, CAUSED IT TO BE RE-ERECTED, IN HONOUR OF HIS SAID WORTHY GRANDFATHER, AND AS A STANDING MONUMENT OF DUTIFUL REGARD TO HIS BLESSED MEMORY; ANNO DOMINI, 1746.
It may be expedient to give a translation:—
"Master George Gillespie, minister at Edinburgh, in his youthful years overthrew a host of 'English popish ceremonies;' as he approached full manhood, having been sent as commissioner to the Westminster Assembly, his attention was directed to the task of extirpating Prelacy from England, and promoting purity and uniformity in the worship of God. He chastised Erastianism in his 'Aaron's Rod Blossoming.' Having returned to his native country he weakened the violators of the covenant, who were bent on provoking a war with England.(7) Having been chosen moderator of the General Assembly which met at Edinburgh in the year 1648, he devoted his last exertions to the service of his country so as to draw forth public approbation: and having, as an eye-witness, seen that ruin of the malignants which he had foretold, departing in peace on the same day on which the League of the three kingdoms was solemnly renewed, in the 36th year of his age, he entered into the joy of the Lord. He was a man profound in genius, mild in disposition, acute in argument, flowing in eloquence, unconquered in mind. He drew to himself the love of the good, the envy of the bad, and the admiration of all. He was an ornament of his country,—a son worthy of such a father."
Such was the "scandalous inscription" which the peevish spleen, yet bitter malice of Scottish Prelacy, found gratification in attempting to destroy. But there is a righteous retribution even in this world. Men rear their own monuments, and write inscriptions on them which time cannot obliterate. Gillespie's enduring monument is in his actions and his writings, which latest ages will admire. The monuments of Scottish Prelacy are equally imperishable, whether in the wantonly defaced tomb-stones of piety and patriotism, or in the moss-grown martyr-stones that stud the moors and glens of our native land; and the inscriptions thereupon are fearfully legible with records of indelible infamy.
It remains but to offer a few remarks respecting Gillespie's various works. The first production of his pen was his remarkable "Dispute against the English Popish Ceremonies." It was published in 1637, when its author was only in the 25th year of his age; and it must have been completed some time previous to its publication, as it appears to have been printed abroad, most probably in Holland. This gives countenance to one statement which affirms it to have been written when Gillespie had scarcely passed his 22d year.
His next work was published in London, in the year 1641, where he was during the progress of the treaty with the King. It is referred to by Baillie in the following terms:—"Think not we live any of us here to be idle; Mr Henderson has ready now a short treatise, much called for, of our church discipline; Mr Gillespie has the grounds of Presbyterial Government well Asserted; Mr Blair, a pertinent answer to Hall's Remonstrance: all these are ready for the press." The valuable treatise here referred to has not been so much noticed as several other of Gillespie's writings, but is included in this collective edition.
His Sermons and Controversial Pamphlets were produced in the years 1641-5-6, during the sittings of the Westminster Assembly.
Aaron's Rod Blossoming was published at London also, about the close of the year 1646. This is his greatest work.
The celebrated Hundred and Eleven Propositions were prepared before he left London, and laid before the General Assembly on his return to Scotland in the summer of 1647. Perhaps it is not possible to obtain a clear conception of Erastianism better than by the study of these propositions. They have been reprinted several times, yet were rarely to be obtained.
The short, yet very able and high-principled papers which he prepared for the Assembly and its Commission in 1648, were his latest writings.
A short time after his death, and during the year 1649, his brother Patrick published in one volume, entitled a "Treatise of Miscellany Questions," a series of papers, twenty-two in number, on a variety of important topics, which appeared to be in a condition fit for the press. Though this is a posthumous production, and consequently without its author's finishing corrections, it displays the same clearness, precision, and logical power, which characterise his other works. We are inclined to conjecture that these Essays, as we would now term them, were written at different times during the course of several years, and while he was studying the various topics to which they relate. Several of them are on subjects which were debated in the Westminster Assembly; and it is very probable that Gillespie wrote them while maturing his views on these points preparatory for those discussions in which he so greatly distinguished himself. This conjecture is strengthened by the curious and interesting fact, that a paper, which will be found beginning at page 109 of the part now printed for the first time from the MS., is almost identical, both in argument and language, though somewhat different in arrangement, with chapter viii. pages 115 to 120, of Aaron's Rod. The arrangement in the Aaron's Rod is more succinct than in the paper referred to, but its principles, and very much of the language, are altogether the same. May not this indicate Gillespie's mode of study and composition? May he not have been in the habit of concentrating his mind on the leading topics of the subjects which he was studying, writing out pretty fully and carefully his thoughts on these topics, and afterwards connecting and arranging them so as to form one complete work? If so, then we may conclude that the Miscellany Questions contain such of these masses of separate thinking as Gillespie found no opportunity of using in any other manner, and, therefore, consented to their publication in their present form.
In Wodrow's Analecta it is stated that Gillespie had a manuscript volume of sermons prepared for the press, which were bought from the printer by the Sectaries, and probably destroyed. It is also stated, that there were six octavo volumes of notes written by Gillespie at the Westminster Assembly then extant, containing an abstract of its deliberations. Of these manuscript volumes there are two copies in the Wodrow MSS., Advocates' Library, but neither of them appears to be Gillespie's own hand-writing; the quarto certainly is not, and the octavo seems to be an accurate copy of two of the original volumes. These have been collated and transcribed by Mr Meek, with his well-known care and fidelity, and the result is now, for the first time, given to the public. What has become of the missing volumes is not known, and it is to be feared the loss is irrecoverable. There is one consideration, however, which mitigates our regret for the loss of these volumes. The one which has been preserved begins February 2d, 1644, and ends January 3d, 1645.(8) Lightfoot's Journal continues till the end of 1644, and then terminates abruptly, as if he had not felt it necessary any longer to continue noting down the outline of the debates. Yet Lightfoot continued to attend the Assembly throughout the whole of its protracted deliberations. From other sources also, we learn that the whole of the points on which there existed any considerable difference of opinion in the Assembly, had been largely debated during the year 1644, so that little remained to be said on either side. The differences, indeed, continued; but they assumed the form of written controversy, the essence of which we have in the volume entitled, "The Grand Debate." It is probable, therefore, that the lost volumes of Gillespie's manuscript contained chiefly his own remarks on the writings of the Independents, and, not unlikely, the outlines of the answers returned by the Assembly. Supposing this to be the case, it would doubtless have been very interesting to have had Gillespie's remarks and arguments, but they could not have given much information which we do not at present possess.
A few brief notices respecting the papers now first published may both be interesting, and may conduce to rendering them intelligible to the general reader.