The Thundering Scot, John Knox
John Knox and The Scottish Covenanters
Since the Reformation in 1560, Scotland's national church had been
Presbyterian. John Knox and his associates had completed the work of
changing Scotland from Roman Catholicism to Protestantism. The Scots
felt that their pure religion of Biblical worship and doctrine along
with their liberty which had cost so much was worth fighting for. The
struggle for religious and civil liberties during the 1600's was not
with Romanism, but with the Episcopalians of England. The British
monarchy, which held both religious and civil authority tried to force
its prayer book and church government of archbishops, bishops, deans and
church laws upon the people of Scotland. When King Charles I and his
successors endeavored to force the Scots to conform, is when the
conflict became severe and even bloody. For over fifty years the Scots
fought a long and bitter fight until 1688 when they succeeded in
reestablishing Presbyterianism in Scotland.
THIS biography of the
great Scottish Reformer has been directly inspired by the quarter
centenary of his birth, which is to be celebrated this year. This is at
once its excuse and its justification. The book is intended to fill a
place midway between the larger and the smaller biographies of Knox
already in existence. It is meant to meet the wants of those whose
desire is to have a full sketch of the Reformer's career, but one which,
at the same time, is not overburdened with unnecessary details.
I have to express my
indebtedness to writers who have gone over the field before me: to the
historians of the period, and in particular to the two chief biographers
of Knox, Dr. McCrie and Dr. Hume Brown. Among the smaller biographies I
have found that of Mrs. Maccunn the most suggestive. Dr. David Laing's
well-known edition of Knox's works has, of course, been my chief source
of information. Two books recently published are also of special note;
these are the Baird Lecture of the late Professor Mitchell and the
Croall Lecture of the late Professor Hastie. Dr. Mitchell's work, edited
with great care by Dr. Hay Fleming, gives a very luminous sketch of the
polity of Knox, and Dr. Hastie's volume is invaluable for its exposition
of the Reformer's theology.
The question of the date
of Knox's birth, recently raised, is discussed in the Appendix. It is
not pretended that the matter has been finally settled, but no evidence
yet adduced seems to me strong enough to cause us to depart from the
date mentioned by Spottiswoode and Buchanan. Knox's spelling has been in
most instances modernised, but the original form has been preserved
where it appeared most effective.
Whatever value the book
possesses is, I feel, greatly enhanced by Principal Story's
Introduction, in which he gives an appreciation of the Reformer at once
distinctive and illuminative.
My best thanks are due to
Mr. William Wallace, LL.D., for valuable suggestions made while the work
was passing through the press, to the Rev. P. H. Aitken, B.D., and the
Rev. George Drummond, B.D., for kindly revising the proofs, and to the
Rev. R. S. V. Logie, M.A., for preparing the Index.
February 20, 1905.