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James Sharp


James Sharp SHARP, JAMES, archbishop of St Andrews, was the son of William Sharp, sheriff-clerk of the shire of Banff, by his wife, Isobel Lesly, daughter of Lesly of Kininvey, and was born in the castle of Banff, in the month of May, 1613. His parents seem to have been industrious and respectable in the class of society to which they belonged; his father following his calling with diligence, and his mother, though a gentlewoman by birth, assisting his means by setting up a respectable brewery at Dun, which she appears to have conducted creditably and profitably to the day of her death. The subject of this memoir, probably with a view to the church, where, through the patronage of the earl of Findlater, which the family had long enjoyed, a good benefice might be supposed attainable, was sent to the university of Aberdeen. But the disputes between Charles I. and his parliament having commenced, and the prelatic form of the church being totally overthrown in Scotland, he took a journey into England; in the course of which he visited both the universities, where he was introduced to several persons of distinction. He had, however, no offers of preferment; but, finding the church of England ready to follow that of Scotland, he addressed himself to the celebrated Mr Alexander Henderson, then in England as a commisssioner from the Scottish church, and enjoying a very high degree of popularity, from whom he obtained a recommendation for a regent’s place in the university of St Andrews, to which he was accordingly admitted. Mr James Guthrie was at this time also a regent in the college of St Andrews, but whether suspecting the sincerity, or undervaluing the talents of Mr Sharp, he gave his whole favour to Mr John Sinclair, an unsuccessful candidate for the regent’s place which Sharp had obtained, and to whom, when called to the ministry, he afterwards demitted his professional chair. It was with this circumstance, not improbably, that the opposition began which continued between Mr Guthrie and Sharp throughout the whole of their after lives. With Mr Sinclair, now his co-regent, Mr Sharp seems also for some time to have lived on very bad terms, and even to have gone the length of striking him at the college table on the evening of a Lord’s day in the presence of the principal and the other regents. For this outrage however, he appears to have made a most ample acknowledgment, and to have been sincerely repentant. Mr Sharp’s contrition attracted the notice and procured him the good graces of several of the most highly gifted and respected ministers of the Scottish church, particularly Mr Robert Blair. Mr Samuel Rutherford, an eminent Christian, and a person of the highest attainments in practical religion, was so much struck with what had been related by some of the brethren respecting Mr Sharp’s exercises of soul, that, on his coming in to see him on his return from a distant mission, he embraced him most affectionately, saying, "he saw that out of the most rough and knotty timber Christ could make a vessel of mercy." With the brethren in general Mr Sharp also stood on high ground and at the request of Mr James Bruce, minister of Kingsbarns, he was by the earl of Crawford, presented to the church and parish of Crail. On his appointment to this charge Mr Sharp began to take a decided part in the management of the external affairs of the church, in which he displayed singular ability. His rapidly increasing popularity in a short time procured him a call to be one of the ministers of Edinburgh, but his transportation was refused, both by the presbytery of St Andrews and the synod of Fife, it was at length ordered, however, by an act of the General Assembly; but the invasion of the English under Cromwell prevented its being any further insisted in. In the disputes that agitated the Scottish church after the unfortunate battle of Dunbar, the subject of this memoir, who was a stanch resolutioner, was the main instrument, according to Mr Robert Baillie, of carrying the question against the Protesters. His conduct on this occasion highly enhanced his talents and his piety, and was not improbably the foundation upon which his whole after fortune was built. In the troubles which so speedily followed this event, Sharp, along with several other ministers and some of the nobility, was surprised at Elliot in Fife by a party of the English, and sent up a prisoner to London. In 1657, he was deputed by the Resolutioners to proceed to London to plead their cause with Cromwell in opposition to the Protesters who had sent up Messrs James Guthrie, Patrick Gillespie, and others, to represent the distressed state of the Scottish church, and to request, that an Assembly might be indicted for determining the controversies in question, and composing the national disorders. From the state of parties both in Scotland and England, and from the conduct which Cromwell had now adopted, he could not comply with this request, but he seems to have set a high value upon the commissioners; to have appreciated their good sense and fervent piety, and to have done everything but grant their petition to evince his good-will towards them. They, on the other hand, seem not to have been insensible either to his personal merits, though inimical to his government, or to that of some of the eminent men that were about him. This was terrifying to the Resolutioners, who saw in it nothing less than a coincidence of views and a union of purposes on the part of the whole protesting body with the abhorred and dreaded sectaries. "Their (the leading protesters’) piety and zeal," says Baillie, "is very susceptible of schism and error. I am oft afraid of their apostasy;" and, after mentioning with a kind of instinctive horror their praying both in public and private with Owen and Caryl, he adds with exultation, "the great instrument of God to cross their evil designs has been that very worthy, pious, wise, and diligent young man, Mr James Sharp." It was part of the energetic policy of Cromwell, while he was not dependent on the party whom he favoured, not to offend the other, and the mission had little effect, except that of preparing the way for Sharp to assume one which he made more advantageous to himself.

After the death of Oliver Cromwell, and while Monk was making his memorable march to England, the presbyterians sent to him David Dickson and Robert Douglas, accompanied by a letter, in which, expressing their confidence in whatever measures he should propose regarding Scotland, they suggested the propriety of his having some one near his person to remind him of such matters as were necessary for their interest, and requested a pass for Sharp, as a person qualified for the duty. Monk, who had in the mean time requested Sharp to come to him, wrote an answer, addressed to Messrs Dickson and Douglas from Ferry-bridge, to the following effect:—"I do assure you, the wellfare of your church shall be a great part of my care, and that you shall not be more ready to propound than I shall be to promote any reasonable thing that may be for the advantage thereof, and to that end I have herewith sent you according to your desire a pass for Mr Sharp, who the sooner he comes to me the more welcome he shall be, because he will give me an opportunity to show him how much I am a well-wisher to your church and to yourselves," &c. This was dated January 10th, 1660, and by the 6th of February, Sharp was despatched with the following instructions: "1st. You are to use your utmost endeavours that the kirk of Scotland may, without interruption or encroachment, enjoy the freedom and privilege of her established judicatories ratified by the laws of the land. 2nd. Whereas by the lax toleration that is established, a door is opened to a very many gross errors and loose practices in this church, you shall therefore use all lawful and prudent means to represent the sinfulness and offensiveness thereof, that it may be timeously remedied. 3rd. You are to represent the prejudice this church doth suffer by the interverting of the vaking stipends, which, by law were dedicated to pious uses, and seriously endeavour that hereafter vaking stipends may be intermitted with by presbyteries and such as shall be warranted by them, and no others, to be disposed of and applied to pious uses by presbyteries according to the twentieth act of the parliament 1644. 4th. You are to endeavour that ministers lawfully called and admitted by presbyteries to the ministry may have the benefit of the thirty-ninth act of the parliament, intituled act anent abolishing patronages for obtaining summarily upon the act of their admission, decreet, and letters conform, and other executorials to the effect they may get the right and possession of their stipends and other benefits without any other address or trouble. If you find that there will be any commission appointed in this nation for settling and augmenting stipends, then you are to use your utmost endeavours to have faithful men, well affected to the interests of Christ in this church employed therein." As the judicatures of the church were not at this time allowed to sit, these instructions were signed by David Dickson, Robert Douglas, James Wood, John Smith, George Hutchison, and Andrew Ker, all leading men and all Resolutioners. He was at the same time furnished with a letter of recommendation to Monk, another to colonel Witham, and a third to Messrs Ash and Calamy, to be shown to Messrs Manton and Cowper, and all others with whom they might think it proper to communicate, requesting them to afford him every assistance that might be in their power for procuring relief to the ‘enthralled and afflicted’ church of Scotland. Sharp arrived at London on the 13th of the month, and next day wrote his constituents a very favourable account of his reception by Monk, who had already introduced him to two parliament men, Mr Weaver, and the afterwards celebrated Anthony Ashley Cowper, earl of Shaftesbury. Monk himself also wrote the reverend gentlemen two days after, the 16th, in the most saintly style imaginable. Mr Sharp, he says, is dear to him as his good friend, but much more having their recommendation, and he cannot but receive him as a minister of Christ and a messenger of his church; and he assures them that he will improve his interest to the utmost for the preservation of the rights of the church of Scotland, and their afflicted country, which he professed to love as his own gospel ordinances, and the privileges of God’s people he assured them it should be his care to establish; and he implores their prayers for God’s blessing on their counsels and undertakings, entreating them to promote the peace and settlement of the nations, and do what in them lies to compose men’s spirits, that with patience the fruit of hopes and prayers may be reaped, &c. This language answered the purpose for which it was uttered, and Robert Douglas in a few days acquainted Sharp with the receipt of his own and the general’s letter, desiring him to encourage the general in his great work for the good of religion and peace of the three nations. "For yourself," he adds, "you know what have been my thoughts of this undertaking from the beginning, which I have signified to the general himself, though I was sparing to venture my opinion in ticklish matters, yet I looked upon him as called of God in a strait to put a check to those who would have run down all our interests." Not satisfied with expressing his feelings to Sharp, Mr Douglas wrote Monk, thanking him for his kind reception of Sharp, and encouraging him to go on with the great work he had in hand, adding, in the simplicity of his heart, "I have been very much satisfied from time to time to hear what good opinion your lordship entertained of presbyterial government, and I am confident you shall never have just cause to think otherwise of it,"—an expression suggested by the information of Sharp, who had represented Monk as favourable to a liberal presbyterian government.

Sharp had, previously to all this, settled with Glencairn, and others of the Scottish nobility, who hated the severity of the presbyterian discipline, to overthrow that form of government, and to introduce episcopacy in its place; in other words, he was disposed to assist whatever religious party offered the greatest bribe to his ambition. It was natural that he should conceal his intentions from his employers. Accordingly, in a series of letters to Mr Douglas, and the others from whom he derived his commission, written in the months of February, March, and April, he occasionally regrets, in suitable terms, the peril of the suffering church at other times holds forth glimpses of hope; and at all times explains the utility and absolute necessity of his own interference in its behalf. During the course of this correspondence, he declines becoming minister of Edinburgh, (a situation to which there seem to have again been intentions of calling him,) having perhaps previously secured a charge of more dignity. On the twenty-seventh of the month, he again writes to Mr Douglas, wishing to be recalled; and informing him, that his sermon on the coronation of Charles II. at Scone, with the account of that ceremony, had been reprinted at London; and that it gave great offence to the episcopal party, which, he says, does not much matter; but the declaration at Dunfermline, bearing the king’s acknowledgment of the blood shed by his father’s house, is what he knows not how to excuse. He and Lauderdale, however, are represented as endeavouring to vindicate Scotland, for treating with the king upon the terms of the covenant, from the necessity which England now finds of treating with him upon terms before his return; and he says he is reported, both here and at Brussels, to be a rigid Scottish presbyterian, making it his work to have presbytery settled in England. He adds, with matchless effrontery, "they sent to desire me to move nothing in prejudice of the church of England; and they would do nothing in prejudice of our church. I bid tell them, it was not my employment to move to the prejudice of any party; and I thought, did they really mind the peace of those churches, they would not start such propositions: but all who pretend to be for civil settlement, would contribute their endeavours to restore it, and not meddle unseasonably with those remote causes. The fear of rigid presbytery is talked much of here by all parties; but, for my part, I apprehend no ground for it. I am afraid that something else is like to take place in the church, than rigid presbytery. This nation is not fitted to bear that yoke of Christ; and for religion, I suspect it is made a stalking horse still." In a letter, previous to this, Mr Douglas had informed him, that those in Scotland who loved religion and liberty, had their fears, that, if the king came not in upon the terms of the solemn league and covenant, his coming in would be disadvantageous to religion and the liberties of the three nations; and he exhorted Crawford, Lauderdale, and Sharp, to deal, with all earnestness, that the league and covenant be settled, as the only basis of the security and happiness of these nations. On the reception of the last we have quoted from Sharp, we find Douglas again addressing his treacherous messenger, and, in the purest simplicity, providing him with some of those arguments in defence of presbytery, which it is probable Sharp well knew. The deceiver answered, that he found it at that time utterly impossible to return, as the general would communicate on Scottish affairs with no one but himself; and the Scots had nothing to do but be quiet, and their affairs would be done to their hand; he and Lauderdale having agreed, with ten presbyterian ministers, on the necessity of bringing in the king upon covenant terms, and taking off the prejudices that lie upon some presbyterians against them. Two days afterwards, he says, "The Lord having opened a fair door of hope, we may look for a settlemesit upon the grounds of the covenant, and thereby a foundation laid for security against the prelatic and fanatic assaults: but I am dubious if this shall be the result of the agitations now on foot." "We intend," he adds, "to publish some letters from the French protestant ministers, vindicating the king from popery, and giving him a large character. The sectaries will not be able to do anything to prevent the king’s coming in. Our honest presbyterian brethren are cordial for him. I have been dealing with some of them, to send some testimony of their affection for him; and, yesternight, five of them promised, within a week, to make a shift to send a thousand pieces of gold to him. I continue in my opinion, that Scotland should make no applications till the king come in. I have received letters from Mr Bruce at the Hague, and the king is satisfied that Scotland keep quiet." "No notice," he writes in another letter, "is taken of Scotland in the treaty: we shall be left to the king, which is best for us. God save us from divisions and self-seeking. I have acquainted Mr Bruce how it is with you, and what you are doing; and advised him to guard against Middleton’s designs, and those who sent that Murray over to the king. If our noblemen, or others, fall upon factious ways, and grasp after places, they will cast reproach upon their country, and fall short of their ends. I fear the interest of the solemn league and covenant shall be neglected; and, for religion, I smell that moderate episcopacy is the fairest accommodation which moderate men, who wish well to religion, expect. Let our noble friends know what you think of it." This first decided breathing of his intentions was answered by Douglas with moderation and good sense. He wishes Monk might grant permission for him to go over to the king, to give a true representation of the state of matters. "I fear," says he, "Mr Bruce hath not sufficient credit for us. If the solemn league and covenant be neglected, it seems to me that the judgment on these nations is not yet at an end. The greatest security for the king and these nations, were to come in upon that bottom." Before this could reach Sharp, however, it had been concerted, as he writes to Mr Douglas, between him and Monk, that he should go over to the king, "to deal with him, that he may write a letter to Mr Calamy, to be communicated to the presbyterian ministers, showing his resolution to own the godly sober party, and to stand for the true protestant religion, in the power of it: and, withal he (Monk) thinks it fit I were there, were it but to acquaint the king with the passages of his undertaking, known to Mr Douglas and to me, and to tell him of matters in Scotland. He spoke to me three several times this week;

And now I am determined to go; I hope I shall do some service to the honest party here, and, indeed, to ours at home. If you think fit to write to the king, the sooner the better." On the 4th of May he writes, that he could not go off to Breda till that day. "The presbyterian ministers of the city," he adds, "after several meetings, have resolved to send over next week some ministers from the city, Oxford and Cambridge, to congratulate the king; and I am desired to acquaint the king with their purpose, and dispose for their reception: or, if it be practicable that he would write to both houses, by way of prevention, that they would secure religion, in regard to some points. Some particulars of secresy the general (Monk) hath recommended to me, and given orders to transport me in a frigate. I have got a large letter to the king, and another to his prime minister. Providence hath ordered it well, that my going carries the face of some concernment in reference to England; but I shall have hereby the better access and opportunity, to speak what the Lord shall direct as to our matters, and give a true information of the carriage of business. I think I need not stay ten days. It will be best to address the king by a letter. Presbyterians here are few, and all are Englishmen; and these will not endure us to do anything that may carry a resemblance to pressing uniformity. For my part, I shall not be accessory to anything prejudicial to the presbyterian government; but to appear for it in any other way than is within my sphere, is inconvenient, and may do harm, and not good." Mr Douglas lost no time in preparing instructions for Sharp, and a letter to the king, which he forwarded on the 8th of the month, with the following letter:—"I perceive by all that you write, that no respect will be had to the covenant in this great transaction, which, if neglected altogether, it fears me that the Lord will be greatly provoked to wrath. It will be the presbyterians’ fault, if they get not as much settled, at least, as was agreed upon by the synod of divines, and ratified by parliament: for I perceive that the king will be most condescending to the desires offered by the parliament: but I leave that. However our desires may be for uniformity in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, if they will not press it themselves, we are free. Your great errand will be for this kirk. I am confident the king will not wrong our liberties, whereunto himself is engaged. He needs not declare any liberty to any tender consciences here, because the generality of the people, and whole ministry, have embraced the established religion by law, with his majesty’s consent. It is known that in all the times of the prevailing of the late party in England, none petitioned here for a toleration, except some inconsiderable, naughty men. Whatever indulgence the king intends to persons who have failed under the late revolutions, yet he would be careful to do it so, as they shall be in no capacity to trouble the peace of the land, as formerly they did. I doubt not but you will inform the king of the circumstances and condition of our kirk. It is left wholly upon you to do what you can, for the benefit of this poor distracted kirk, that the king’s coming may be refreshful to the honest party here, since no directions from us can well reach you before you come, back to London." This letter enclosed a set of instructions for Sharp, similar to those he had already received, equally formal, though extending to some things less particularly stated in the former; and was accompanied by a letter to the king, which, after the usual formalities of congratulation, continued in these terms:—"But now since it hath pleased God to open a door (which we have long desired) for our brother, Mr Sharp, to come and wait upon your majesty, we could not any longer forbear to present, by him, this our humble address, in testimony of our loyal affection to your majesty, and our humble acknowledgment of the Lord’s goodness to these your dominions in this comfortable revolution of affairs, making way for your majesty’s reinstalment. If it had been expedient in this juncture of affairs, your majesty might have expected an address from the generality of the ministers of this church, who, we assure your nsajesty, have continued, and will continue in their loyalty to authority, and the maintenance of your just rights, in their stations, according to those principles by which your majesty left them, walking in opposition both to enemies from without and disturbers from within; but doubting that such an application is not yet seasonable, we have desired Mr Sharp to inform your majesty more fully of the true state of this church, whereby we trust your majesty will perceive our painfulness and fidelity in these trying times; and that the principles of the church of Scotland are such, and so fixed for the preservation and maintenance of lawful authority, as your majesty needs never repent that you have entered into a covenant for maintaining thereof. So that we nothing doubt of your majesty’s constant resolution to protect this church in her established privileges; and are no less confident, (though we presume not to meddle without our sphere,) that your majesty will not only hearken to the humble advices of those who are concerned, but will also, of your own royal inclination, appear to settle the house of God, according to his word, in all your dominions. Now, the Lord himself bless your majesty; let his right hand settle and establish you upon the throne of your dominions, and replenish your royal heart with all those graces and endowments necessary for repairing the breaches of these so long distracted kingdoms, that religion and righteousness may flourish in your reign, the present generation may bless God for the mercies received by you, and the generations to come may reap the fruits of your royal pains. So pray, &c., Robert Douglas, David Dickson, James Hamilton, John Smith, and George Hutcheson." This letter was dated May the 8th, the same day with Sharp’s instructions, and a double of it was enclosed for himself; but he kept this, and a similar one sent him by the earl of Rothes, on the 10th, till after the king’s arrival in England, when everything was settled, and Sharp assured of being archbishop of St Andrews. This indeed was the sole object of his journey to Breda, where he was recommended to the king by a letter from Monk, as a fit person for establishing episcopal government in Scotland; and by a letter from lord Glencairn, he was recommended in a similar manner to Hyde, afterwards earl of Clarendon.

It is almost unnecessary to mention that, in the whole transaction, it does not fall to our lot to record any occasion in which Sharp performed the instructions of his mission, or the duty for which he was paid by those whose simple zeal exceeded either their means or their discernment. On the 2nd of June, Sharp writes Mr Douglas, that he had presented their letter; that the king, having read some part of it, and looked at the subscriptions, told him he was glad to see a letter under their hands; and that he would consider it, and return an answer at an after period. In this letter, which is long and desultory, he seems frequently to think, without absolutely deciding, that it is time to terminate his connexion with his employers, by extinguishing their hopes. "I shall never," he tells them, "espouse the interest of any person or party; ‘tis our common interest to keep an equal way with all who mind the good of kirk and country. Cementing and prising will be our mercy, and dividing more our reproach than we are aware of. The king hath allowed the noblemen who are here, to meet and consult what is proper to be offered for the good of the nation. Theymeet on Monday. It is in his heart to restore to us our liberties and privleges, if our folly do not mar it." "The influencing men of the presbyterian judgment," he adds, "are content with episcopacy of bishop and a liturgy somewhat corrected. A knowing minister told me this day, if a synod should be called, by a plurality of incumbents, they would infallibly carry episcopacy. There are many nominal, few real presbyterians. The cassock men do swarm here; and such who seemed before to by for the presbytery, would be content of a moderate episcopacy. We must leave this in the Lord’s hand, who may be pleased to preserve to us, what he hath wrought for us. I see not what use I can be any longer here. I wish my neck were out of the collar. Some of our countrymen go to the common prayer. All matters are devolved into the hands of the king, in whose power it is to do absolutely what he pleases in church and state. His heart is in his hand, upon whom are our eyes." The very same day he writes a letter to Mr Douglas, upon whom there was a design at court, to draw over by the bribe of a bishopric, that it were well if he would come up to London, where his presence might be of great utility; at the same time he forbids any other; and assures them, that if they come, they will be discountenanced, and give suspicion of driving a disobliging design. "I find our presbyterian friends quite taken off their feet; and what they talk of us, and our help, is merely for their own ends. They stick not to say that, had it not been for the vehemency of the Scots, Messrs Henderson, Gillespie, &c., set forms had been continued; and they were never against them. The king and grandees are wholly for episcopacy. The episcopal men are very high. I beseech you, Sir, decline not to come up. It will be necessary for you to come and speak with his majesty, for preventing of ill, and keeping our noblemen here right."

The consequence of his communication, which must have been alarming, was a more distinct direction as to his duties, which did not reach him at a time when he was much disposed to attend to such suggestions. In his answer he reproves his employers for their violence, and, still unwilling entirely to reveal himself, continues, "I apprehend it will come to nothing. However, the high carriage of the episcopal men gives great dissatisfaction, the Lord may permit them thus to lift up themselves that thereby they may meet with a more effectual check. I hear Leighton is here in town in private." The answer of Douglas was in more distinct terms of suspicion, mentioning those circumstances of danger gathering round the church, the existence of which he to whom he wrote knew too well. Sharp still equivocated, and looked to episcopacy as a thing to be dreaded, but which he feared could not be avoided. In his return in August, he brought the king’s celebrated letter to Douglas and the presbytery of Edinburgh, which in conformity with the policy pursued by Sharp and his friends, bore, "We do also resolve to protect and preserve the government of the church of Scotland, as it is settled by law, without violation, and to countenance in the due exercise of their functions all such ministers who shall behave themselves dutifully and peaceably as becomes men of their calling. We will also take care that the authority and acts of the General Assembly at St Andrews and Dundee, 1651, be owned and stand in force until we shall call another General Assembly (which we purpose to do as soon as our affairs will permit), and we do intend to send for Mr Robert Douglas, and some other ministers, that we may speak with them in what may further concern the affairs of that church. And as we are very well satisfied with your resolution not to meddle without your sphere, so we do expect that church judicatories in Scotland and ministers there will keep within the compass of their station, meddling only with matters ecclesiastic, and promoting our authority and interest with our subjects against all opposers, and that they will take special notice of such who by preachings or private conventicles, or any other way transgress the limits of their calling by endeavouring to corrupt the people or sow seeds of disaffection to us or our government." The simple enthusiasm with which this document was received, by those who were accustomed to give plain meanings to ordinary words, is well known. In the synod of Fife, which met at Kirkaldy, Mr John Macgill, Mr Alexander Wedderburn, and some others, contended for introducing the covenant into their letter of thanks, "as the bond which, while it bound both king and subjects to God, did also tie them to one another." This drew from Sharp a long speech, in which he had many oblique reflections upon the covenant, which he with some truth alleged could not be mentioned to his majesty without exciting his displeasure. He further in justification of his majesty affirmed that "there was not a man in England would own that covenant save Mr Ash, an old man, whose one foot was already in the grave," and so great was his influence that he carried a plurality of the synod along with him, and the covenant of duty was set aside for the conventional one of good manners. A vote of thanks to Mr Sharp was also carried in this synod for his faithfulness and painstaking in the affairs of the church. At the dismissal of the synod, Mr William Row coming in contact with Sharp at the door, laid hold of his cloak, and inquired how he could affirm in the face of the synod that no man in England owned the covenant but Mr Ash; when Mr Crofton had just come forth in print in behalf of its perpetual obligation, to which Sharp made no other reply than that he knew Mr Crofton a little knuckity body, just like Mr Henry Williams. Though eminently successful in his endeavours, Sharp still kept the mantle of hypocrisy closely drawn around him, and was elected professor of theology in the college of St Andrews, where he had formerly been professor of philosophy. He was keenly opposed by the principal, Mr Samuel Rutherford, who had made an early discovery of his true character, and could never be brought to countenance him. Mr Rutherford, however, was a Protester, his Lex Rex had been condemned to the flames by the committee of estates, and he was confined to his own house by sickness, and Sharp had the satisfaction of assisting at the burning of his book at the gate of his college. He died soon after or he might have shared the fate of his book.

The committee of estates which sat down in August, 1660, and the parliament which followed, commenced the wild work of tyranny, which so darkly characterizes the period. When prelacy was established by royal proclamation in the month of August, 1661, Mr Sharp, who had been the principal agent in this melancholy overturning, was now rewarded with the primacy of Scotland, and was called up to London, along with Fairfoul, appointed to the see of Glasgow, Hamilton to that of Galloway, and Leighton to that of Dunblane, to receive episcopal ordination. Sharp made some objections against being re-ordained, but yielded when he found it was to be insisted on, a circumstance which made Sheldon, bishop of London, say, he followed the Scots’ fashion, which was to scruple at everything, and to swallow anything. The other three yielded at once, and they were all four on the 16th day of December, 1661, before a great concourse of Scottish and English nobility in the chapel of Westminster, ordained preaching deacons, then presbyters, and lastly consecrated bishops. In the month of April they returned in great state to Scotland, where in the following month they proceeded to consecrate their ten brethren, the parliament having delayed to sit till they should be ready to take their seats. We might have remarked, that on the parliament passing the act recissory, Sharp affected concern sufficient to qualify him for a new mission, which afforded him an opportunity of perfecting what he had already so far advanced, and ended in his now exalted situation of primate of all Scotland. Well might Burnet say of the Scottish ministers, "poor men, they were so struck with the ill state of their affairs that they had neither sense nor courage left them." Sharp, when made archbishop of St Andrews, affirmed that he had only accepted of it, seeing the king would establish episcopacy, to keep it out of more violent hands, and that he might be able so to moderate matters that good men might be saved from a storm that otherwise could not have failed to break upon them. No sooner had he the reins of ecclesiastic government in his hands than a proclamation was issued, forbidding any clergymen to meet in a presbyterial capacity till such time as the bishops had settled the order of procedure in them, and he was so very moderate in his measures, that of his co-presbyters of St Andrews, he spared only three old men who were nonconformists, and these were spared not without great difficulty. Nor did his elevation, which he had attained with so much infamy, content him; besides the dignity of the church, he loved that of the state, and in the differences that fell out between Lauderdale and Middleton he narrowly escaped a fall with the latter. He had been prevailed on to write to the king that the standing or falling of Middleton would be the standing or falling of the church, and he went up to London to support him personally. When he came to London, however, and saw how much Middleton had fallen in the estimation of the king, he resolved to make great concessions to Lauderdale, and when the latter reproached him with his engagements with Middleton, he boldly averred that he had never gone farther with him than what was decent, considering his post. That he had ever written to the king in his behalf, he totally denied. But Charles had given Lauderdale the prelate’s letter. When it was shown to the writer he fell a-weeping, and begged pardon in the most abject manner, saying "what could a company of poor men refuse to the earl of Middleton, who had done so much for them, and had them so entirely in his power." Lauderdale, upon this, said he would forgive them all that was past; and would serve them and the church at another rate than Middleton was capable of doing; and Sharp became wholly Lauderdale’s. In 1663, he went up to court to complain of the chancellor Glencairn and the privy council, when he said there was so much remissness and popularity on all occasions that, unless some more spirit was put into it, the church could not be preserved. On this occasion he obtained an order for establishing a kind of high commission court, a useful instrument of oppression, and procured a letter to the council directing that in future the primate should take the place of the chancellor, which so mortified Glencairn that he is said to have in consequence caught the fever of which he died. Sharp, who now longed for the chancellorship, wrote immediately to Sheldon, bishop of London, that upon the disposal of this place the very being of the church depended, and begging that he would press the king to allow him to come up before he gave away the place. The king, who by this time had conceived a great dislike for Sharp, bade Sheldon assure him that he would take care the place should be properly filled, but that there was no occasion for his coming up. Sharp, however, could not restrain himself, but ventured up. The king received him coldly, and asked if he had not had the bishop’s letter. He admitted that he had, but he chose rather to venture on his majesty’s displeasure than see the church ruined through his caution or negligence. "In Scotland they had but few and cold friends, and many violent enemies. His majesty’s protection and the execution of the law were all they had to depend on, and these depended so much upon the chancellor, that he could not answer to God and the church, if he did not bestir himself in that matter. He knew many thought of him for that post, but he was so far from that thought, that if his majesty had any such intention he would rather choose to be sent to a plantation. He desired that he should be a churchman in heart but not in habit, that should be called to that trust." From the king he went straight to Sheldon, and begged him to move the king to bestow it upon himself, furnishing him with many arguments in support of the proposal, one of which was that the late king had raised his predecessor, Spottiswood, to that dignity. Sheldon moved the king accordingly with more than ordinary fervour; and the king, suspecting Sharp had set him on, charged him to tell the truth, which he did, though not without a great deal of hesitation. The king told him, in return, the whole affair. Sheldon prayed him to remember the archbishop and the church, whatever he might think of the man, which the king graciously assured him he would do. Sheldon told Sharp he saw the motion for himself would be ineffectual, and he must think of some one else. Sharp then nominated Rothes, who was appointed accordingly; and with a commission to prepare matters for a national synod, to settle a book of common prayer and a book of canons, Sharp returned to Scotland, having assured the king that now, if all went not well, either Rothes or Lauderdale must bear the blame.

In another visit to court, along with Rothes, he endeavoured to undermine the influence of Lauderdale; but that bold and unhesitating man did not flinch from his averments, whether true or false, and compelled him publicly to retract them. Nor was he more successful in an overture to join with Middleton, in supplanting his rival. His terrors on the rising at Pentland, rendering him anxious for an increase of troops, he recommended the fines to be applied that way, by which many of the cavaliers, who looked to that fund, were disappointed in their expectations, and became his mortal enemies. Lauderdale, too, to complete his disgrace, procured a number of letters, written to the presbyterians after he had negotiated for the introduction of episcopacy, and gave them to the king, who looked on him ever after as the worst of men. During the rising at Pentland, Sharp was the principal administrator of the government; in which situation, the cruelty of nature, and insatiability in vengeance, which he displayed, are well known. After this period, he was so much disliked at court, (while he was a necessary instrument,) that, in 1667, he was ordered to confine himself to his own diocese, and come no more to Edinburgh. With the indulgences, the comprehension, &c., Sharp had little connexion, except in narrowing their effect. In the month of July, 1668, as he was going into his coach in daylight, he was fired at with a pistol loaded with a brace of bullets: but his life was saved by Honeyman, bishop of Orkney, who, lifting up his hand to step into the coach after him at the time, received the shot in his wrist, which caused his death a few years afterwards, the wound never having healed. So universally was Sharp hated, that when the cry was made that a man had been shot in the street, the reply was instantly made, that it was only a bishop, and not a single individual offered to lay hold on the perpetrator of the deed. The court, however, took some compassion on him in this extremity, and he was repaid for his fears by a little gleam of favour. The person who committed the daring act, Mr James Mitchel, was afterwards seized, and, upon a promise of life, confessed, what it was impossible for his enemies to prove, he having no associates in the affair. That promise, however, was violated, [On this subject, vide the Mem. of Sir George Lockhart, Mitchel’s counsel.] and Mitchel suffered.

We now approach the violent end of this man, whose life was spent in violence. It was characteristic of the excess of the iniquity of the period; for, in the whole course of national discord which preceded, an action of political assassination, without the colour of any human law, does not stand on record. A few of the more zealous and uncompromising presbyterians, wandering on Magus Moor, near St Andrews, on the 3rd of May, 1679, in search of the sheriff of Fife, whose activity as a servant to the archbishop, had roused them to violent intentions, fell in with the master, instead of the servant; and their passions dictating to them that they had what was termed a call from God to put him to death, they followed the suggestion with circumstances of considerable barbarity. Having cut the traces of his carriage, they, in the most cool and deliberate manner, commanded him to come out of his coach, or they would do harm to his daughter, who was along with him; and that his days were now numbered, as they were to take vengeance upon him for a betrayed church, and for so many of their murdered brethren, particularly for the life of Mr James Mitchel, to whom he had sworn so perfidiously, and for keeping up the king’s pardon after Pentland. After repeatedly assuring him of their purpose, and exhorting him to repentance and prayer, in which he could not be persuaded to engage, they fired upon him, and afterwards slashed his head with their swords, leaving him a lifeless corpse on the king’s highway. A particular account of this affair, exaggerated probably in its details, was speedily published, and large rewards offered for the perpetrators; not one of whom was ever brought to trial, Hackston, of Raithelet, excepted, who was one of the party, but who had refused to have any hand in the work of death, from the circumstance of his having had some personal quarrel with the bishop. Sharp was buried with great pomp, and a splendid monument erected over him, at St Andrews, which, though it attracts little respect, is still to be seen as one of the curiosities of that city.


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