GLIMPSES OF THE RELIGIOUS LIFE OF SCOTLAND IN THE
OLDEN TIME. BY REV. ALEX. MACMILLAN, TORONTO.
THE ancient city of S.
Andrewshas many charms. Indeed,few places even in Scotland can yield more to the imagination and
the mind. If you are in search of the picturesque you will find it here.
You will find it in the rugged sea-beaten coast, crested by spires and
towers and buildings great and small, beaten upon by the waves of the cold
and stern North Sea. You will find it too within the city, in the quaint
irregular streets of the older portion, the dwellings of the people broken
again and again unexpectedly by fragments of the rare old architecture of
the past in college, and monastery, and church. If you are in quest of
knowledge the gates of the earliest of the Scottish universities are open
to you, and the very atmosphere of history will be about you in the halls,
and class-rooms, and college walks. Or you may be simply in search of a
place of summer recreation. You can recreate your powers here in' truth,
for are not the links of S. Andrews world. famed as the home of the
ancient and royal game of golf, and do not the winds austere and pure from
the North Sea brace you up as you tramp over the ground? And if there is
anything in environment, in recreation, and there surely is, the very
sight of the ancient little city famous in story ought to help you to
drive the ball with a will.
But if you are a student of history, especially if
you are of Scottish blood with an instinct for history, you will find S.
Andrews a veritable treasure trove. You may take your stand on one of a
number of spots, on the' old fisher quay, on the rocks that jut out to
sea, or on the face of the cliffs above the rocks and the quay, and
without changing your position you may read in the stone fragments about
you the past religious history of Scotland.
There, half way up the cliff is a black hole, all
that remains of a very ancient cave; above, a high square tower, built
about by the walls of an ancient church; just beside it, occupying a great
portion of the open ground, are broken pillars, broken walls, ragged
masonry reared skyward, and with here and there windows telling of the
presence of a once great cathedral; and, breasting the sea, as if growing
out of the solid foundation rock, the rugged walls of a storm beaten
castle. In these four memorials you may read the religious history of
Scotland from the earliest Christian period to the time of the
Reformation. I would carry you in thought to this ancient ecclesiastical
capital, leaving out of view for the present the quest of the picturesque
or any other purpose, and trying to read in these memorials the story of
The cave on the face of the cliff
first engages the attention. There is little within it to interest or
attract, only the black rock around and above and the cold sea breeze
blowing in, yet it is a place of greater importance than many a
pretentious building, for here can be read on the rock walls one of the
first pages in Scottish church history. The constant tradition testifies
that here a man of God, Regulus or Rule by name, held communion with God,
and from this humble place went out to teach the Gospel to the pagan
When we make enquiry as to who he was,
whence he came, and how he was led to this place, we are met by
uncertainty. It is improbable that there is historic basis for the legend
which tells of the coming of a monk of Constantinople of the fourth
century who, bearing as a precious relic certain bones of the Apostle
Andrew, was cast up on this stern coast.
More probable is the tradition which
speaks of the Christian missionary as one from the Column- ban band of
Iona; whether he belonged to the earlier period of missionary activity in
Scotland, or to the later Columban brotherhood, the picture is fascinating
and highly instructive. As we think of him in his solitary communion with
God and in his active service for God, we are at one of the sources of the
religious life of Scotland. As we trace the course of that influence from
this and other fountains through the centuries we feel that the Cave of
Regulus, weird and silent, is a great teacher.
But up there above the cliffs, like a
sentinel on guard over the sea, is a high square tower. About this tower
is built a simple little chapel, oblong, and with no architectural feature
whatever. The sight of it at night when it rises black against a moonlit
sky and moonlit sea, like the spirit of the past, is impressive. On these
walls may be read the second page of the religious history of Scotland. It
was named in honour of that Regulus of the earlier time. It is probably a
"Culdee" church dating back even to the year 1000 A.D. The difficult
question as to the relation of the Columban and Culdee activity in
religious work in Scotland would carry us far beyond the limits of this
sketch. This church, in brief, represented the Christianity which combined
the activities of Columba and his disciples with other and previously
independent labours. They were not "Roman Catholics." They did not
acknowledge the authority of the Bishop of Rome. The form of government
and order of divine service appears to have been in part Episcopal and in
part akin to our Presbyterian order. Although corruptions crept into even
this simple community, the chapel of S. Regulus was a light shining in a
dark place, and within its walls many a rude native has listened to the
Gospel message. Here we are at the heart of things, for S. Andrews is even
now gradually taking its place as the ecclesiastical capital of the land.
But close to the tower of S. Regulus the
ruins of a once great cathedral command attention. Here and there masses
of masonry rise; here and there are bases and portions of massive pillars;
here and there are portions of doorways and windows of the period of
transition from the rounded Norman to the pointed Gothic. Nature, in
kindness, spreads many a green leaf and much grass over the shattered
wreck, for this is all that remains of the Metropolitan Church of
Scotland. How came it to be here so close to the little chapel of S.
Regulus, almost obliterating it by its magnificence? Two tides here
met,the "Roman," powerful through the influence of the good Queen
Margaret, the Saxon Princess of the eleventh century, who brought to the
home of Malcolm Canmore the power the Rome, and the earlier Scottish known
as the "Culdee." At first these two forces occupied the land independent
of each other, but at last the earlier gradually passed out of sight and
"Roman" Catholicism prevailed. On the walls of this cathedral, built in
the fourteenth century, many a page in Scottish church history may be
read. Amid the growing power and corruption of the priesthood the reformed
teaching was beginning to be felt. About the year 1400 John or James Resby,
an Englishman, under the spell perhaps of the work of John Wyclif, told
the Gospel. In the year 1433 Paul Crawer (or Craw), a Bohemian physician,
suffered martyrdom before the college gates because he would loyally
proclaim the evangel. As the pride and corruption increased the power of
the Reformation became more profoundly felt, and men listened to the dying
testimony of the learned and nobly born Patrick Hamilton, as in 1527 he
sealed his fidelity with his life. He died, but not in vain. "The reik of
Patrick Hamilton (as one of the enemies of the Reformation said), infected
as many as it blew upon."
At this point we turn from the cathedral
and associate it with the storm-beaten castle. It may be that little of
the actual building of the period immediately before the Reformation
survives. But here the proud Cardinal Beaton dwelt, and here in 1546,
looking from a window, he watched the burning of the saintly George
Wishart. But this is not all. Amongst the refugees who occupied this
castle after the tragic death of the Cardinal, one John Knox was found. He
was urged to become their minister and leader. In this castle his decision
was reached, and from this place he went forth and Scotland was free.
The children of the Scottish race at
home and abroad cannot afford to forget these things. They may be made
memorable by a visit to this grey city breasting the North Sea. The cave
and the chapel, the cathedral and castle yield their stores to those who
have sympathy and imagination and knowledge, and tell of the great things
of the past and of the treasure handed down.
DAFT Will Law was the descendant of an ancient
family, and was often taken notice of by gentlemen. Posting through
Kirkcaldy, he was met by Mr. Oswald, of Dunnikier. He asked him where he
was going in such a hurry. "Going," says Will, with apparent surprise,
"I'mgaun to my cousin, Lord Elgin's burial."
"Your cousin Lord Elgin's burial, you fool. Lord Elgin's not dead,"
replied Mr. Oswald. "Deil ma care," said Will, "there's sax doctors oot o'
Embro' at him, an' they'll hae him deid afore I win forrit."
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