Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Old Church Life in Scotland
Lecture II.—Public Worship in Olden Times

Readers—The Reader's Preliminary Service—Reading the Word—The Reader's Salary—Precentors—Music and Organs in Church—Amount of Psalm Singing —Mode of Singing—Doxologies—Hymns and Paraphrases—Preachers—Read Prayers and Extempore Prayers—The Bidding Prayers of the Ancient Church— Sermons on Sunday—Week-day Lectures and Sermons—Catechising on Sundays and Week-days—Form of Sermons—The Ordinary—Scottish and free Sermons—Silent Sundays—Disorder in Church—Hats on—Candles in Church —Hours of Divine Service.

A COURSE of lectures on church life would obviously be incomplete without an account of the ordinary service in church on Sundays. One lecture in this course must therefore be devoted to that subject, but I regret to say that it cannot be much illustrated by references to our own parish history as exhibited in either the Kirk Session or the Presbytery records. Many changes in the form of church service have been witnessed in the Church of Scotland since the Reformation. In the first Book of Discipline, compiled by Knox and others in 1560, it is stated that "to the churches where no ministers can be had presentlie must be appointed the most apt men that distinctly can read the common prayers and the Scriptures to exercise both themselves and the church till they grow to greater perfection." In accordance with this recommendation there were, in parishes where ministers could not be procured to preach and administer the sacraments, a class of men employed in the Church under the name of "readers," whose office was to read the Scriptures and a liturgy of printed prayers, such as is used in the public service of the Church of England. After the Church became more fully plenished with ministers, readers were still in many places continued. A common arrangement was for one minister to have the pastoral charge of two contiguous parishes with a reader in each to serve as his assistant. For instance, in the Book of Assigna-nations drawn up in 1574, we find the two parishes of Mauchline and Galston united under the pastorate of Mr. Peter Primrois. There was at the same time a reader named Rankyne Davidson stationed at Galston, and although the office of reader at Mauchline is declared to have been vacant that year, it was evidently intended that there should be a reader at Mauchline also, for the "haill vicarage" is mentioned as the stipend assigned to the reader.

In parishes supplied with both a reader and a minister, there were two distinct services in the church on Sundays. There was first of all a preliminary service conducted by the reader. This service consisted of reading the public prayers and portions of Scripture. It usually lasted an hour, and when it ended the minister entered the church and conducted his service of extempore prayer and preaching. The best and most graphic account we have of the primitive form of service in the Reformed Church of Scotland is to be found in a small book published by Cowper, the Bishop of Galloway [It forms part of one of the volumes of Cowper's collected works, and it is in that shape, not as a separate publication, that I have seen it,] (about 1611), and entitled "Seven Days Conference between a Catholic Christian and a Catholic Roman." The two Catholics, the Christian and the Roman, enter a parish church together, and the Roman asks what is this the people are going to do. The Christian says, "They bow themselves before the Lord to make humble confession of their sins and supplications for mercy, which you will hear openly read out by the public reader." After the prayers have been read, the Roman asks what are the people going to do now. "Every one," says the Christian, "is preparing, as you see, his Psalm book, that all of them with one heart and mouth may sing unto the Lord." After the Psalm has been sung, the Roman puts his question again, what comes next—"What doth the reader now—is he making another prayer ? No, says the Christian, yonder book which he now opens is the Bible. . . . These are the three exercises which are used in all our Congregations every Sabbath, one hour before the preacher comes in : first prayer, then Psalms, then reading of Holy Scripture, and by these the hearts of the people are prepared the more reverently to hear the word, and you see all is done with great quietness, devotion, and reverence." The third bell then rings and the preacher enters the Church. How shall I behave myself? asks the Roman. Do not trouble yourself about that, replies the Christian, but just do as you see others do, and here is the order of service: "First, he (the preacher) will conceive a prayer, at which the people humble themselves, thereafter he reads the text of holy scripture; this the people hear with reverence ; then he falls to preaching, which some hear with their heads covered, [A sentence pronounced in the General Assembly in 1570 would lead us to suppose that at that date respectable people sat in church with their hats or caps on during the sermon. This sentence runs as follows—"'The others that are not ex-communicat shall be place it in the publick place where they may be knawne from the rest of the people, bare headed the tyme of the sermones, the minister remembering them in his prayer in the tyme after preaching." Book of Universal Kirk. In 1610 Patrick Simpson of Stirling preached a sermon that was supposed to apply very unpleasantly to Lord Dunbar who was present, whereupon it is said that his lordship "pulled down his hatt in tyme of sermon," Select Biographies, Woodrow Society.] some otherwise (in that you may do as your health requires). The sermon being ended the preacher concludes all with a thanks giving, after which there is a psalm sung by the whole congregation, and then the minister blesseth the people in the name of the Lord and so dimits them."

This is Bishop Cowper's account of the Sunday service in a Scotch church about the beginning of the seventeenth century. The reader's service, as he describes it, is what, he says, will be seen "in all our congregations every Sabbath." There has at all times, however, been a little diversity amid the general uniformity of worship in the Church of Scotland, and we find in old records of Kirk Sessions special instructions given to readers to introduce this thing and the other thing into the service. In the year 1578 the Kirk Session of Aberdeen ordained that "howoft the prayers be read on the Sonday in time coming, the reader shall read a portion of the catechism and the bairnis shall answer him." In 1604 the same Kirk Session issued still more specific instructions in regard to both reading and catechising. During his service both on Sunday mornings and on week days, the reader was directed to " repeat at the ending of the prayers the ten commandments as well as the belieff (the creed), that be the oft repeating and hering of them the common people may learn the same perqueir." Then "every Sabbath afternoon between the second and third bell" (that is during the time of the reader's afternoon service), the Session ordained, that "twa scholars of the English school sail stand up before the pulpit, the ane demanding the uther answering with a loud voice in the audience of the people, the short catechism and form of examination of children."

In the year 1580 the General Assembly declared that "the office of a reader is not an ordinary office in the Kirk of God," and the following year it was expressly ordained that readers should not be appointed in any church. It is evident, however, that readers continued to be employed in the Church of Scotland long after that date, both during the episcopacy that subsisted from 1606 to 1637, and during the ascendancy of Presbytery from 1637 to 1645. Indeed the employment of readers is distinctly sanctioned in the acts of the ultra-Presbyterian Assembly of 1638, and in the records of the Presbytery of Ayr from 1642 to 1645, readers are so frequently referred to as to make us think that there was one in every or almost every parish in Ayrshire during that period. At a visitation of the parish of Ochiltree in 1642, "inquisition was made by the Presbytery concerning the reader and schoolmaster, and for his maintenance. The said Mr. John (John Blyth, the minister) declared that William Gilchrist wes thair reader and schoolmaster, and that there wes no exercise of prayer or reading on the week dayes because thair could not ane audience be had in the clauchan, but on the Sabbath day before preaching. And that his maintenance wes onlie thrie score punds money provydit by the laird of Caprington, Patron." [In 1627 the Kirk Session of Galston allowed a fourth part of all kirk penalties "to the use of the reidar and schuilmaster of this clachan," and in 1633 this allowance was augmented, it is to be hoped on account of the diminution of sin in the parish, from the fourth to the third part of the penalties. In 1639 the Session put an end to this arrangement, which had a look of scandal about it, and was really derogatory to the dignity of the reader's profession, and ordained that "the reidar in the kirk sail have no wages or fie for his service in the kirk with reading of evening and morning prayers, except that quhilk the marriages and baptisms presentlie peyis." The reader, however, felt aggrieved at this curtailment of his income and resigned his office. Shortly after that date there appears regularly in the note of the disbursements of the communion charities at Galston 2 or 2 t0 the reader.] At a visitation of Mauchline the same year it was stated that the "reader and schoolmaster had demitted his places," and that the Session had agreed on a proper person as a successor to him. And what sort of church service was given by or expected from readers at that date, may be gathered from the fact that the reader at St. Qui vox was exhorted by the Presbytery to " concoct prayers although the Brethren did not condemn read prayers in church." The Westminster Assembly [The introduction of the Westminster Directory as the rule of public worship within the Presbytery of Ayr is thus referred to in a minute of Presbytery, dated August 1645. The Directory in its principal parts is ordered to be read in all the churches on Sabbath eight-days, and "on the Lord's day thereafter to be uniform-lie practised by the whole brethren."] of Divines ignored the office of reader, and when the Westminster Directory for Public Worship was adopted by the Church of Scotland in 1645, it may be said that the service of the reader was ostensibly and almost practically brought to an end in Scotland.

The only offices in the Church that were recognised by the Westminster Assembly were the offices of Pastor, Doctor, Ruling Elder, [Instead of ruling elders the Westminster divines said "other church governors," which "reformed churches commonly call elders."] and Deacon, and the public reading of the Word was appointed to be done by the Pastors or Doctors. " The Assemblie," says Baillie, writing on the 1st January, 1644, "has past a vote before we (the Commissioners from Scotland) came, that it is part of the Pastor s office to read the Scriptures, what help he may have herein by these who are not Pastors is not yet agitat. . . . We are not against the minister's reading and exponing when he does not preach, but if all this work be laid on the minister before he preach we fear it put preaching in a more narrow and discreditable roume than we would wish." The same author says elsewhere in his letters, that the Scots Commissioners at Westminster "would gladly have been at the keeping still of readers," but that after all their study they could find no warrant in Scripture for such an office in the Church. It is worth noting, however, that the reader's service was at that time kept distinct from the minister's or preacher's, although both services were conducted by the same person. "Those of best note about London, says Baillie, are now in use in the desk (that is, the lectern or precentor's desk) to pray and read in the Sunday morning four chapters, and expone some of them, and cause sing two psalms, and then go to the pulpit to preach!" [In his Dissuasive from the errors of the times, Baillie states that the Independents in his day were in the practice of assigning different parts of the service of worship to different persons. "Sometimes," he says, "they make one to pray, and another to preach, a third to prophesie, and a fourth to dismisse." The order of their service is thus described by one of themselves—'"The pastor begins with solemn prayer, continuing about a quarter of an houre, the teacher then readeth and expoundeth a chapter, then a Psalm is sung, whichever one of the ruling Elders dictates, after that the Pastor preachelh a sermen and sometimes ex tempore exhorts, then the teacher concludes with prayer and a blessing." Diss., p. 117, 147.] When the General Assembly, in 1645, adopted the Westminster Directory for Public Worship, a very curious regulation was passed for bringing the reader's and the preacher's services into one. It was ordained that the minister and people repair to the kirk half an hour before the time at which the minister used to commence his service, and that the whole exercise of reading and expounding, together with the ordinary exercise of preaching, be perfected and ended at the time when the service of public worship formerly closed. In other words, instead of the reader giving one hour's reading of prayers and Scripture, with running commentary on the part of Scripture that was read, and then the minister giving his service of prayer and preaching, the minister was to conduct the whole service, or, as might be said, both services, and to complete them in half-an-hour's less time than used formerly to be occupied by both minister and reader together. Some writers say that when Episcopacy was re-introduced into Scotland, by Charles II., in 1662, "the reading of Scripture was brought in again." [Chambers' Dom. Annals, 1662.] This must mean that a separate service of reading the Scripture without note or comment was revived as in the days of the former Episcopacy, [In 1657 a petition was presented to the Synod of Aberdeen from the Elders of Kinbettock for a reader to read the Scriptures before sermon. The petition was refused, and orders were given that the Directory for public worship be observed in all points. In 1662, however, on the restoration of Episcopal government in the Church, the same Synod enjoined that there be readers in every congregation. It was directed also that the reader begin his service with a set form of prayer, especially the Lord's Prayer—that he then read some Psalms and some chapters from the Old Testament, and rehearse the creed—afterwards read chapters from the New Testament and rehearse the ten commandments. When there was no reader, the minister was to do this.] Bishop Sage tries to make out that one of the cardinal distinctions between the Episcopal and the Presbyterial form of public worship is, that while in the Episcopal form there is a place assigned to the reading of Scripture, in the Presbyterial there is not. "What a scandal," he says, "would it be to have the Scriptures read in the Presbyterian Churches....." "The Scriptures," he says again, "must not be touched but by the man of God, who can interpret them, and he must read no more than he is just then to interpret." That these remarks of the Bishop, however, could be applied only to cases where custom had come to supersede law will be evident at once on reference to the Westminster Directory. It is there expressly said that " when the minister who readeth shall judge it necessary to expound any part of what is read, let it not be done until the whole chapter or psalm be ended, and regard is always to be had unto the time, that neither preaching nor other ordinances be straitened or rendered tedious." It is, of course, possible, as Bishop Sage alleges was actually the case, that the minister who read the Scriptures in Church always judged it necessary to expound what was read, but he was by no means obliged to do so unless by public opinion or prevalent custom. [The fact nevertheless remains, that within twenty years or less than twenty years after the Assembly's adoption of the Westminster Directory, the custom referred to by Sage had been introduced. In an Act anent uniformity among ministers passed by the Synod of Galloway (then Episcopal) in 1664, it is said, "that there should be reading of the Scriptures instead of lecturing in the public congregations before ye sermon in ye forenoon." The most extraordinary account, however, of Presbyterian practice, is that of Curate Calder. "For reading the Scriptures in Churches they have abolished that with the rest, and in place thereof he that raises the Psalm reads the sermon that was preached the Sabbath before " !!!.] Indeed, what Sage in 1695 gave out as the doctrine and practice of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, Baillie in 1645 specified as one of the evil doctrines and practices of the Brownists. "They (the Brownists)," says Baillie, "reject all public reading of the word which is not backed with present exposition." And as his authority for that statement about the Brownists, he quotes the following words from the writings of one of their own apologists:—"Bare reading of the word and single-service saying is an English Popery, and far be it from the Lord's people to hear it, for if they would do so they would offer to the Lord a corrupt thing, and so incur that curse of Malachi. It is certainly very remarkable that a Scotch Episcopalian Bishop should charge the Presbyterian Church of Scotland with doctrines and practices which one of the most eminent expounders of the Church of Scotland's polity imputes, as a grave departure from approved opinion, to the Separatists who were the first to "divert from the high, open and straight way of the Reformed Churches." This is all the more remarkable too that in the Shorter Catechism the reading of the word is expressly mentioned as one of the ordinances. This reading is not private reading at home, but public reading in Church— part, in fact, of what is called the ordinance of the word—and although it is said to be not so important as the preaching of the word, it is nevertheless declared to be by the influence of God's Spirit an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort through faith unto salvation.

The adoption of the Westminster Directory in 1645, I have said, virtually put an end to the office of reader in the Church of Scotland.

It has to be stated, however, that readers were nevertheless employed in some parishes long after their office had ceased to be recognised in the constitutions of the church. In the year 1695 the Kirk-Session of Rothesay appointed that "the pulpit be drest and ane readir's seat sett up." In the year 1766 a new church was built at Dalmellington, and the note of cost given in to the Presbytery comprised, among other items, an entry of 12 for the erection of "Minister's seat, Pulpit, Reader's seat, and Baptismal seat." Mr. Morer, in his account of Scotland in 1715, describes the Sunday service in Scottish Churches, as follows:—"First, the precentor about half-an-hour before the preacher comes, reads two or three chapters to the congregation of what part of Scripture he pleases, or as the minister gives him directions. As soon as the preacher gets into the pulpit, the precentor leaves reading, and sets a psalm-singing with the people, till the minister, by some sign, orders him to give over. The Psalm over, the preacher begins confessing sins and begging pardon. . . . Then he goes to sermon, delivered always by heart, and therefore sometimes spoiled by battologies, little impertinences and incoherence." Strange to say the only references to a reader in the Session Records of Mauchline which I have noticed are of comparatively modern date. In the year 1788 there is a minute recording the resolution of the Kirk Session to discontinue the payment of 18s. a year to the reader for reading the Scriptures and Confession of Faith before public worship begins. But the reading was still to be continued as before. The only change in the arrangement was that the Session Clerk was to do the work gratis. At what date the reader's service actually ceased in Mauchline church I am unable to say, and as little can I tell whether it continued without interruption from 1574, when the "haill vicarage" was declared to be the reader's stipend, until 1788, when his salary of 18s. a year was disallowed. It is plain however, that in 1788 the reader's service had been an established, probably a very long established, institution in the parish, and that latterly instead of its being a reading of prayers and Scripture, with the singing of a Psalm, it was a reading of Scripture and the Confession of Faith, with an "etc.," which may have meant Psalm singing. .

The reader was usually also precentor, and it will be a natural transition, therefore, to pass on now to an account of that part of the Sunday service which the precentor conducted. In the Reformed Church of Scotland a very limited space was originally allotted to the service of praise in public worship. "There is perhaps no country in Christendom," says Dr. Cunningham, "in which Psalmody has been so little cultivated as in Scotland. Wherever the Church of Rome reared her altars music grew up under her shadow, and gave a new charm to her sensuous services. But Presbytery gave little countenance to such a handmaid." The use of instruments in the service of praise was repudiated or almost abjured. Organs were not even allowed standing room in church. In 1574 the Kirk Session of Aberdeen gave orders "that the organis with all expedition be removit out of the kirk and made profeit of to the use and support of the puir." On his visit to Scotland in 1617 King James endeavoured to inaugurate a more aesthetic and cultured form of worship in Scotland after the manner of what he had seen in England. Among other innovations he set up an organ in the Chapel Royal at Holyrood. "Upon Satterday the 17th May," says Calderwood, "the English service was begun in the Chapel Royal with singing of quiristers, surplices and playing on organes." And in Calderwood's history there are repeated allusions to the use of the organ in the Chapel Royal. The popular feeling, however, that in 1637 was aroused against the service book was turned against the organ also, and among the outbreaks of 1638 Spalding records that "the glorious organes of the Chapell Royall were maisterfullie brokin doune nor no service [Considering that it is only within the last twenty years that instrumental music has been introduced into any country churches, it is curious to find Aiton in 1811, who declares himself to be "partial to the Presbyterian Church," lamenting the absence of instruments in the service of praise. ''Tasteless must they be," he says, "who have at their command an organ, a harp, and a pipe, and offer in worship the grating and incoherent sounds of people who cannot sing." The feeling of the Covenanters on this subject, or rather of those Presbyterian ministers that afterwards became Covenanters, is expressed by Rutherford in one of his letters to Mrs. Marion M'Naught. The letter is dated 2nd June, 1631, and it begins, "I have received a letter from Edinburgh certainly informing me that the English service, and the organs, and King James' Psalms are to be imposed on our Kirk, and that the bishops are dealing for a General Assembly." Mr. Hill Burton even goes the length of saying that the principles of worship in the various Presbyterian churches the first half of last century, and in the Primitive Reformed Church of Scotland were "the repudiation of liturgical forms, of kneeling at prayer, and of instrumental music."] usit thair bot the haill chaplains, choristis, and musicianes discharged and the costlie organes altogedder distroyit and unusefull." And in 1644 the General Assembly recorded as one of the " praiseworthy proceedings and blessed events that had caused them great joy, to hear from their Commissioners at Westminster that the great organs of Paul's and Peter's had been taken down" by the Covenanters in England. The old doctrine of the Church of Scotland in regard to Psalmody, is tersely expressed in the first Book of Discipline. "There be two sorts of Policie," it is said in that book: "The one of these sorts is utterlie necessarie as that the word be preached, the sacraments ministered, and common prayers publicly made. The other sort of Policy is profitable but not necessarie, as that Psalms should be sung and certain places of Scripture read when there is no sermon." And in accordance with this doctrine there is very little singing of psalms prescribed as part of public worship in either Knox's Liturgy or the Westminster Directory. In each of these manuals of worship there are only two psalms appointed or supposed to be sung during the minister's service —one before the sermon and another before the benediction. And in regard to the second of these psalms the directory only says, "let it be sung if with convenience it may be done." It is possible, however, that there was from an early period a third psalm sung in the church by the congregation, although that psalm was not included in the service. Just as in modern churches where instrumental music has been introduced, there is a voluntary played on the organ during the time that the congregation are assembling, so in very ancient times, long before the Reformation, it was customary over a large part of Christendom for the people to "entertain the time with singing of Psalms " till the congregation had gathered. An old Continental author, Durandus by name, who lived more than 600 years ago, states that in his day it was usual for people waiting for the morning services to hasten into the church as soon as they heard the psalm begun. And in this country within quite recent times the epithet of "the gathering psalm" was commonly applied to what we now call the first psalm. Both Knox's Liturgy and the Westminster Directory set down prayer as the first act of public worship; and Bishop Cowper, in his account of the service of the Scottish Church, mentions prayer as the first part, and the singing of psalms as the second part of the reader's service. The convenience, however, of "entertaining the time" till the congregation gathered must have early presented itself to ministers and Kirk Sessions, and thus a gathering psalm would come to be sung in many churches before the services proper began. [The order of worship followed in our Church before 1661, while the Directory had both civil and ecclesiastical sanction, was as follows :—After an introductory psalm, which was often sung before the minister came in, there were 1st, Prayer. 2nd, Reading the Scriptures. 3rd, Praise. 4th, Prayer. 5th, Sermon. 6th, Prayer. 7th, Praise. 8th, Benediction. Sprott, p. 13.]

Pardovan states that "it was the ancient practice of the Church of Scotland, as it is yet of some Reformed Churches abroad, for the minister or precentor to read over as much of the Psalm in metre as was intended to be sung at once, and then the harmony and melody followed without interruption, and people did either learn to read or got most of the Psalms by heart." What is here called the ancient practice of the Church of Scotland in the rendering of praise, is just the practice that is observed at the present day. But soon after 1645 a different practice arose and continued long in the Church of Scotland. Pardovan says that when the new paraphrase of the Psalms was appointed to be sung—that is, when the present metrical version of the Psalms was introduced —it was not at first so easy for the people to follow, and it became customary for each line to be read out by itself, and then sung." [Mr. A. G. Fuller, in describing the form of worship in his father's (Andrew Fuller's) church at Kettering, less than a hundred years ago, says, "The machinery of the Psalmody was something ludicrous. . . . There was invariably a clerk or precentor who would announce the hymn thus—119th Psalm, eighteenth part, long metre; read several verses, and then, with due regard for the natural obfuscation of the people's intellects, parcel it out two lines at a time." ] And it is worth noting, that this author, writing in 1709, thought that that new way should be abandoned and the old custom revived. The number of people that can read, he says, is now increased, and if the psalms to be sung each Sunday were intimated the Sunday previous, they might be got by heart by those that can not read. It is doubtful, however, if Pardovan is quite correct in his account of the origin of the practice of giving out the psalm line by line while it is being sung. The present metrical version of the psalms was not introduced into the Church of Scotland till 1650, but the Westminster Directory for public worship was adopted by the General Assembly in 1645, and the Directory recommends that "for the present, where many in the congregation cannot read, it is convenient that the minister, or some other fit person appointed by him and the other ruling officers, do read the psalm, line by line, before the singing thereof." It is more likely, therefore, that it was the recommendation in the Directory rather than the difficulty of following the new version that led first to the practice of giving out the Psalms line by line. It is alleged that the Scots Commissioners at Westminster were much opposed to the insertion of that recommendation in the Directory—it was contrary, they said, to the usage in the Scotch Church, and it was not required by the backward state of education in Scotland—but the English divines were in love with it, and would have it, and as the Scots were anxious for uniformity of worship over the two kingdoms, the General Assembly took no exception to the clause. The practice was accordingly introduced into the Church of Scotland soon after, of giving out the Psalms in instalments of one line at a time, and so popular did the practice become, and so essential a part of revered use and wont, that very great difficulty was found long afterwards in getting it discontinued. Some disorders and abuses doubtless arose out of the practice. It probably in some cases bordered too closely on the ridiculous to be edifying. Pardovan, we have seen, was anxious to have the practice abolished, and for that end he says, "it were to be wished that masters of families would path the way for the more easy introducing of our former practice by reviving and observing the same in their family worship." This suggestion was taken up by the General Assembly, and in 1746 the Assembly recommended to private families that in their religious exercises they should in singing the praises of God go on without the intermission of reading each line. Great resentment arose, however, when attempts were made to abolish the practice in public worship, and it was not till the year 1809 that it was abolished in this parish. In a small scroll minute book of the Kirk Session, stitched up with another scroll book of earlier date, the following entry occurs without any comment or notice of motion or record of discussion about it, "1809, Dec. 10. Began to sing Psalms in the church without reading line by line." [Dr. M'Kelvie, in his annals of the United Presbyterian Church, states that two of the reasons that led people last century to leave the Church of Scotland and join the Seceders were the introduction of the "run-line" and the paraphrases into the worship of the National Church.]

An old practice in the public worship of the Church of Scotland was to introduce a doxology into the Psalm that was sung. This doxology was just four lines of metre in which praise was ascribed to the three several persons of the Trinity. In the year 1642, however, a great clamour arose in the West of Scotland about this doxology. It was a piece of human ritual people said. It was a commandment of man's that ought not to be accepted as a divine ordinance. Over all Ayrshire there was as much strife about this doxology as there might have been about the most vital article of faith. Baillie, the famous journalist and controversialist, was then minister at Kilwinning, and so serious a matter did he consider the agitation that he made it the subject of a special address to his parishioners, some of whom had apparently been joining in the outcry. "The rejection of the conclusion," that is of the doxology, said Baillie, "is one of the first links in the chain of Brownism. From this beginning seducers have drawn on their followers to scunder at and reject our whole psalms in metre, and then to refuse our prayers. . . As for the putting of that matter— the doxology—in the end of a Psalm, the church which hath power to order the parts of God's worship hath good reason for it, for Christ in that pattern of all prayers and praises teaches us to conclude—for thine is the glory for ever." The General Assembly of 1643 had the question under discussion, and for the sake of peace passed an act, draughted by Henderson, in which all disputation on the subject was ordered to be dropped. At the Westminster Assembly there was no debate about the doxology. "Without scruple Independents and all sang it, so far as I know," said Baillie, "where it was printed at the end of two or three Psalms. But in the new translation of the Psalms resolving to keep punctually to the original text without any addition, we and they were content to omit that whereupon we saw both the Popish and Prelatical parties did so much dote as to put it to the end of the most of their lessons and all their Psalms." He adds further that in the letter from the Westminster Divines to the General Assembly there was a desire for the discontinuance of the doxology and of bowing in the pulpit, expressed "in a general courteous clause which we were instructed to make particular." This general courteous clause in the letter of the Divines was as follows, and it might fitly be quoted at the present day to many people for its sterling good sense: "Albeit we have not expressed in the Directory every minute particular which is or might be either laid aside or retained among us, as comely and useful in practice, yet we trust that none will be so tenacious of old customs not expressly forbidden, or so averse from good examples although new, in matters of lesser consequence, as to insist upon their liberty of retaining the one or refusing the other, because not specified in the Directory, but be studious to please others rather than themselves." In 1649 the question of the doxology came up for discussion again in the General Assembly, and it would seem, says Dr. Sprott, that an understanding was come to, that with the view of pleasing the divines of England, the use of the doxology in public worship should be discontinued. Against this concession one man spoke out stoutly. This was Calderwood, the historian, who said that he had always sung the doxology in public worship, that he would sing it to his dying day, and that after his death he would resume it louder than ever in the New Jerusalem. In 1662 when Prelacy was re-established it was enacted by one or more Synods that the use of the doxology should be revived. [In the Synod of Galloway's Act, 1664, anent uniformity among ministers, it is stated that "every minister should close his prayer by saying of the Lord's prayer, and should close ye psalm with ye doxologie." Register of the Synod of Galloway from Oct. 1664 to April 1671.] And although this enactment was made by the Bishops, it is to be observed that Wodrow, who had great aversion to the Bishops and their doings in general, does not condemn the enactment. The doxology, he says, was a song composed when Arians and other sects denied the deity of Christ, and in 1662 there were many sects who denied that doctrine. It would have been well, he adds, if the Bishops had enacted nothing worse than the singing of a doxology. But the doxology was the symbol of a party, and the mention of it one way or another, in approval or disapproval, excited party feelings. In 1642 the doxology was upheld and used by all the moderate Covenanters—like Henderson and Douglas, Baillie of Kilwinning, and George Young of Mauchline—it was decried and disused by the more vehement Puritans like Nevay of Newmilns, Mowat of Kilmarnock, Hutcheson of Colmonell, and Gabriel Maxwell of Dundonald. In 1649 its disuse was still demanded by the ultra-Puritans, and was conceded and submitted to by those that were zealous for uniformity with England, while it was protested against by the extreme constitutionalists like the historian Calderwood. In 1662 its re-introduction was welcomed or allowed by all of the Prelatical and court party, while its disuse was persevered in by those generally who refused to conform to the new order of things. The re-introduction of the doxology in i562, it may also be remarked, was in some cases accompanied with a recommendation in regard to postures in worship. In the Synod of Aberdeen it was recommended that in time of public prayers people should observe gestures of reverence by either standing or kneeling, and that in singing the doxology they should stand. [Bishop Sage speaks of the people in Presbyterian churches in Scotland sitting close at prayer.] We shall see in a subsequent lecture how a little disturbance was created and promptly suppressed in Mauchline church at the introduction of the doxology in 1685, but there is nothing said in the records of our Kirk Session about either changes of posture in worship or what postures were at any particular date in use.

The principle on which exception was taken to the singing of doxologies in church should naturally lead people to object to the singing of hymns, and of what in Scotland are commonly at the present day called paraphrases. And in point of fact there has been a great amount of eccentric opinion on the subject of praise propounded and professed in the Protestant Church in all periods of her history. Puritanism has gone to as much excess in the matter of worship as in the matter of Christian life. At the present day there are not a few persons even in the Church of Scotland, and far more among those that are not in the Church of Scotland, who maintain that the only proper subjects for divine praise in public worship are the metrical versions of the old Testament Psalms. But it may very well be contended that the principles on which these people frame their theory of worship should lead them much further than this. The metrical versions of the Psalms are not the Psalms themselves, but the Psalms paraphrased and distorted by human inventions to suit the exigences of rhyme and metre. They are not the verbatim words of inspiration that came from the lips of David and Asaph, or the prophets of the captivity and restoration. They are not even a literal English translation of these words. There have accordingly been strait laced people that have objected to the use in public worship of the metrical version of the Psalms quite as strongly and vehemently as the late Dr. Begg used to object to the use of human hymns. And their argument is just Dr. Begg's argument carried out to its logical conclusions. The first Protestant dissenters and the true fathers of Puritanism in England and Scotland were the Brownists, [So many references have been made in this lecture to the Brownists that some nformation about them and their connection with Scotland may possibly be wished by some readers. The following sentences from Calderwood will perhaps suffice: "Upon Thursday the 9th of Januar (1584) an Englishman called Robert Brown came to Edinburgh out of Flanders. He landed at Dundie, and having gottin support there he came to St, Andrewes, where he purchased a letter of commendatioun from Mr. Andrew Melvill to Mr. James Lowsone (minister at Edinburgh). There came in company with him foure or five Englishmen with their wives and families. They held opinioun of separatioun from all kirks where excommunication was not rigorouslie used against open offenders not repenting. They would not admitt witnesses (god-fathers) in baptisime and sindrie other opinions they had. This Brown was their preacher. . . He and his companie remained at the heid of the Can-nongate. . . Upon Tuesday the 21st, Robert Brown, the ringleader of the Brownists, in conference with some of the Presbyterie alledged that the whole discipline of Scotland was amisse. . . It was thought good that Mr. James Lowson and Mr. John Davidson sould gather out of his booke and their practice suche opinions as they suspected or perceaved them to erre in and gett them ready against Moonday nixt, to pose him and his followers therupon that therafter the king might be informed. . . Upon Tuisday the 28th, Robert Brown, with the rest of his complices, were called before the Presbyterie and continued till the morne. He acknowledged and avowed his books and other things. Mr. James Lowson and Mr. John Davidson were appointed to gather the erroneous articles to be presented to the King. But they were interteaned and fostered to molest the kirk,"—that is the king used the Brownists as a means of weakening the power of the church against his own royal prerogative,] and they rejected altogether metrical versions of the Psalms as an unauthorised union of divine and human, inspired and uninspired elements. One of their chief apostles says, "what I speak against is not that comfortable and heavenly harmony of singing Psalms, but it is the rhyming and paraphrasing of the Psalms as in your church." And in Scotland during the hot times of the persecution there were a few fanatics that took up these views. Among others there was a crazy man of the name of Gib, the owner and skipper of a coasting vessel in the Forth. He, so to speak, out-covenanted all the covenanters. He not only held that the Episcopal Church established in Scotland at that time was a corrupt and an Anti-christian Church, but that men like Richard Cameron and Donald Cargill came far short of the mark in their contentions for the truth. He founded a sect of his own, therefore, and went over the country preaching and proselytising. Like Messrs. Moody and Sankey at the present day, too, he utilised the softening and sanctifying influences of music in his outdoor services, and indeed so much that he and his followers were known by the name of the sweet singers. But along with sweet singing he cultivated a most intemperate style of language. He denounced dignities, sneered at statesmen, railed at churches and poured contempt on all ordained ministers. His impeachments of all existing institutions, civil and ecclesiastical, became at length so outrageous that the attention of the government was called to his doings; and for what Wodrow designates "scandals and blasphemies," but what the statesmen of the time would probably have termed seditious and incendiary speeches, he was apprehended and clapt into prison. A more fitting destination for him would have been a lunatic asylum, where laxative medicines, with bodily exercise, were prescribed in copious doses. However, he was lodged in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, and while lying there, in "the Ironhouse," as he termed it, he emitted a paper that he said was inspired by the Holy Ghost. In this curious document he denounced as sinful every custom that in its origin was either superstitious or heathen, such as the naming of days and months after Pagan deities or Popish saints, the observance of Yule, Hogmanay, and St. Valentine's eve, and what is not the least notable, as indicating a glimmering of sound sense and sober judgment in the midst of his ravings, the prevalent objection to marriage in the month of May. But in his prison-penned paper he said also, "Yesterday being the 26th day of the fifth month (1681), it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us to take out of our Bibles the Psalms in metre, for several causes mentioned afterwards, for the Book of the Revelation says if any man should add unto these things God shall add unto him the plagues which are written in this book, and we did burn them in our prison house and sweep away the ashes." In another part of his paper he accused the Church of "usurping supremacy" in saying, by authorityof the General Assembly, we allow these Psalms to be sung in churches. This supremacy, he said, I and those enchained with me renounce, and we maintain that nothing but the Scriptures themselves should be within the boards of the Bible. And extreme as these views of Gib were, they were not the most extreme that were put forth in the name of Puritanism. The Brownists allowed the singing of psalms in prose but only as a matter of instruction and comfort, whereby God is glorified, and not as an act of immediate praise. All praise as well as prayer, they contended, must be extempore, and not expressed in any set words, whether found in the Bible or not. The singing of hymns, they said, is an ordinance, and any member of the church exercising his gifts is free to bring a hymn of his own and sing it to the congregation, all the rest being silent and giving audience. [One of the Brownists wrote—"The reading out of a book is no part of spiritual worship, but the invention of the man of sin. Books and writings are in the nature of pictures or images, and therefore in the nature of ceremonies, and so by consequent the reading of a book is ceremonial. The Holy Scriptures are not to be retained before the eyes in time of spiritual worship. It is unlawful to have the boo before the eyes in singing of Psalms."—Baillie's Dissuasive, 18, 19.] And it was not the Brownists only that held these opinions, but some of the Independents also, about two hundred years ago, were imbued with the same fantastic notions.

It is proper to observe, however, that neither the extreme views of the Gibbites and Brownists, nor the more moderate views expressed by some people at the present day that the psalms in metre should alone be used in the service of public praise, were ever set forth or sanctioned by the Church of Scotland. From the date of the Reformation down to the sitting of the Westminster Assembly, not only were metrical versions of the Psalms, but hymns and doxologies also, generally sung in the public worship of the Church. In all the old Psalters printed and used during that period, there are hymns inserted. The year 1650, however, witnessed a change in that respect. The present version of the Psalms was that year printed for use in public worship,

[Considered musically, the introduction of the present metrical version of the Psalms, commonly called Rous' version, was a retrograde movement, as the following curious passage in the diary of Lamont of Newton will shew. "A new translation of the Psalms of David in metre, first corrected by the Assemblie of Divines in England, bot afterworde revised by the General Assemblie of this kingdom and their Commissioners, was appointed to be practised in all the kirks of the kingdom, the former discharged. This translation is more neare the original Hebrew than the former, as also the whole Psalms are translated to common tunes, whereas in the former there were many proper tunes (that is, peculiar measures requiring special tunes to suit them). Ther be proper tunes also in this translation, bot with all ther is adjoyned common tunes with them."

In 1631 King James produced a metrical version of the Psalms under his own name, although it is said to have been the work of a well-known poet of that age, Sir Wm. Alexander of Menstrie, and His Majesty would fain have foisted this royal paraphrase on the Church. In alarm at this threatened innovation, reasons against the public use of the king's version were drawn up by some of the clergy, notably Calderwood. One reason was, that people could sing all or most part of the Psalms in the old metaphrase without book; another was, that a change of version would make the Kirk appear light-headed and unsettled; and a third was, that the new version contained fantastical words, such as "opposites—exorbitant—gratefully— usher—portend, etc." The real reason of dislike, however, was that the version was "undertaken without direction of the Kirk, or offer made to the Kirk before." —M 'Meekan's History of the Scottish Metrical Psalms. Strange to say, although the king's version was much despised by the Church of Scotland, it was largely borrowed from by Rous in the version adopted by the Church of Scotland.—Cunningham's History, ii. 155.]

and no hymns nor paraphrases were appended. But this omission of hymns from the Psalter in 1650 did not indicate that the Church had come to object to the use of hymns in public worship. It may be considered rather, like the discontinuance of the doxology, as a truce with the English Puritans for the sake of uniformity and peace. In the year 1647, when a committee was appointed by the General Assembly to examine and revise Rous' version (or paraphrase, as it was termed) of the Psalms, which is now, and has for more than 230 years been, the version used in the Church of Scotland, Mr. Zachary Boyd was requested to "be at the paines to translate the other Scriptural songs in meeter, and to report his travels also to the Commission of Assembly." Possibly Mr. Boyd's labours were not found very satisfactory, for his Scripture rhymes have not the melody of Milton's muse; but whether his labours were satisfactory or not, the deference thought due to the English Presbyterians in 1650, and the rise soon after of engrossing troubles in the kingdom, were sufficient to account for the temporary abandonment of the projected compilation. After the great bubble of uniformity with England in doctrine, worship, and Church government, had burst, and the Church of Scotland was at the Revolution established anew on her old separate national Presbyterian basis, the attention of the General Assembly was again directed to the subject of Scriptural songs, as a supplement to the metrical version of the Psalms. In 1706 a collection of such songs, put into verse by Mr. Patrick Simpson, minister at Renfrew, was recommended to be used in private families, with the view, it may be presumed, of preparing the way for their introduction into public worship; and in 1708 it was remitted by the General Assembly to its Commission, "maturely to consider the printed version of (these) Scriptural songs, with the remarks of Presbyteries thereupon, and after an examination thereof ... to conclude and establish that version, and to publish and emit it for the public use of the Church," as was done with the present version of the Psalms in 1649. Mr. Simpson's Scripture songs, however, never established a footing in the public service of the Church.

But in 1742 the attention of the General Assembly was again called to the defective state of the Church Psalter, and a committee was appointed to prepare some Paraphrases of sacred writ, "to be joined with the Psalms of David so as to enlarge the Psalmody." Three years afterwards this committee laid before the Assembly "some pieces of sacred poesy . . composed by private persons," and these pieces of sacred poetry were, with sundry alterations, recommended by the Assembly in 1751, to be published and used in family exercise. [There is an interesting reference to this collection of sacred poems in the Records of the Presbytery of Ayr. The minute is as follows:—"The Presbytery having considered the Scripture Paraphrase transmitted by the late General Assembly to the several Presbyteries of this Church give it as their opinion that the enlarging of our Psalmody is highly necessary, and wish the Assembly would not suffer the design to be dropt. But as Presbyteries have not had leisure in the present confusion (that is, the confusions arising out of Prince Charles' rebellion) to consider them so maturely as they deserve, the Presbytery are of opinion that they should be yet again transmitted, that they should be ranged more methodically, and that several others should be added upon other subjects." The injection of hymns into the Church is more summarily effected now-a-days. The criticism of Presbyteries is avoided, notwithstanding what the Barrier Act says, and what the former practice of the Church has been. Mr. Hill Burton says he "had great difficulty in obtaining a copy of the original (1751) paraphrases." It may not be out of place therefore to state that this (1751) collection may be seen appended to a large family Bible in a workman's house in Mauchline village. The collection comprises 45 "pieces of poesy" which are termed songs, and are headed Song 1, Sung 2, Song 3, &c. In some cases the amendments of 1781 are doubtful improvements on the earlier version. For instance the apparent inconsistency between the 2nd and 3rd verse in the 25th Paraphrase does not appear in the original song.] For the next twenty-four years nothing further was done in the matter. But in 1775 the Assembly was overtured by the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr to take such steps as should be judged necessary for introducing the Paraphrases into the Psalter of the Church. In consequence of this overture a committee was appointed to examine and revise the 1751 collection, and to "receive and consider any corrections or additional materials that might be laid before them." The result was that, in 1781, the committee gave in to the Assembly " such a collection of sacred poems as they thought might be submitted to the judgment of the Church," and the Assembly ordered copies of the same to be transmitted "to Presbyteries for their perusal." And while these copies were being examined and criticised in Presbyteries, the Assembly also "in the meantime allowed this collection of sacred poems to be used in public worship in congregations where the minister finds it for edification." This permission, however, was merely a prudential way of making a virtue of necessity. It was giving a show of authority to what it was known would be done by some people without authority, for in the "advertisement" prefixed to old copies of the 1781 collection, it is stated that the earlier collection of 1751 had been previously "used in several churches." It is this 1781 collection of paraphrases that is still, after the lapse of more than a hundred years, bound in our Scottish Bibles along with the metrical version of the Psalms of David. This collection, too, is merely a revised and an enlarged edition of the one printed in 1751. The old "advertisement" just spoken of says that "all the translations and paraphrases which had appeared in the former (1751) publication are in substance retained. But they have been revised with care. Many alterations, and, it is hoped, improvements, are made upon them. A considerable number of new paraphrases are added. They are all now arranged according to the order in which the several passages of Scripture lie in the Bible, and a few hymns are subjoined." Strange to say, although these paraphrases have continued to be used in churches ever since their publication in 1781, the interim Act of Assembly that allowed their use "in the meantime" has never been converted into a permanent Act. It is said that the requisite approval of Presbyteries for this purpose was never obtained. But the permission granted in 1781 was never recalled, and it may be held that use and wont have now given as valid an authority for the singing of the Paraphrases in church as a special Act of Assembly could do. The Paraphrases have, on the strength of their own merits, established a secure place in the psalmody of all the Presbyterian Churches in Scotland. But it was not without contention and controversy, strife and bitterness, that the Paraphrases made their way into use in our public services. People still living remember the hostility with which the use of the Paraphrases was regarded. In the days of Mr. Auld's ministry there were no Paraphrases used in Mauchline church, nor were there any in the days of his amiable and cultured successor Mr. Reid. Nothing but the pure songs of Zion were ever heard then. It was reserved for Mr. Tod to introduce the Paraphrases, and this he did in 1806, two years after his settlement in the parish. There is no notice of this important step in any extant minute of Kirk Session, but allusion is made to it in a small memorandum book of the Session Clerk, in which collections and notes of cases of discipline are entered for transference into the proper journals. The whole entry regarding the Paraphrases in this memorandum book is, "1806, Feb. 9, began to sing the Paraphrases," and what was the first Paraphrase given out to be sung in Mauchline Church may be conjectured from the fact that the text on that memorable day was "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord and bow myself before the most high God."

From .1806 to 1882 no changes in either the materials of praise or the mode of rendering praise occurred in Mauchline church, but the year 1882 will always be memorable in our parish annals as the year in which the organ and the hymnal were introduced. These events are too recent either to call for or to justify further notice at present, but it may be stated that in order to satisfy the curiosity of subsequent generations a narrative of the movement for purchasing the organ and preparing a place for its reception in the church has been inserted in the Session Records.

Having described the reader's and precentor's service I have now to speak of the service that specially devolved on the minister. It will not be necessary to say much about public prayers, because during the period covered by our extant parish records the service of prayer in the church has undergone no change of form. It is well known that a liturgy was at one time, and for a long time, used in the Church of Scotland. In the year 1564 the General Assembly ordained that every minister, exhorter, and reader should have one of the Psalm books lately printed in Edinburgh, and use the order therein contained in prayers, marriages, and ministration of the sacraments. The order here referred to is what is set down in the book commonly known as Knox's Liturgy ; and this Liturgy continued to be used by some ministers and readers down to the year 1637 at least, if not to 1645. Its use was by no means universal, however, during that period. There were both ministers and readers before 1637 that rebelled against set forms of prayer, and laid the prayer book aside. Rutherford, in one of his letters says, "Anent read prayers I could never see precept, promise, or practice for them in God's Word. Our Church never allowed them, but men took them up at their own choice. The Word of God maketh reading and praying two different worships. In reading God speaketh to us, and in praying we speak to God. I had never faith to think well of them. In my weak judgment I think it were well if they were out of the service of God. The saints never used them, and God never commanded them, and a promise to hear any prayers except the pouring out of the soul to God we can never read." And not only were extempore prayers always popular with the general public, but when they were given by a minister of some culture and intellectual power they were not taken amiss even by the professed connoisseurs of devotion. When young and raw readers, however, sparsely gifted and not more than half educated, took on themselves, as they often did, to treat congregations to extempore prayers the guardians of public manners were horrified. It was a shame to all religion, said King Charles, to have the majesty of God so barbarously spoken to, and as a remedy for this deformity, as he termed it, in the public worship of the Church of Scotland, Charles issued a new service book to be used as a liturgy by all preachers and readers. [In the preface to Charles' (or Laud's) service book, the following interesting paragraph occurs, "Our first Reformers were of the same minde with us, as appeareth by the ordinance they made that in all the parishes of this reilin the common-prayer should be read weekly on Sundaies and other festival dayes with the lessons of the Old and New Testament, conform to the order of the book of common prayer, meaning that of England, for it is known that divers years after we had no other order for common prayer. This is recorded to have been the first head concluded in a frequent council of the Lords and Barons professing Christ Jesus. We keep the words of the history, 'Religion was not then plated in rites and gestures nor men taken with the fancie of extemporary prayers.' Sure the public worship of God in his church being the most solemn action of us his poor creatures here below, ought to be performed by a liturgie advisedly set and framed, and not according to the sudden and various fancies of men."] But neither minister nor people would take the king's liturgy, and extempore prayers became more established in use and favour than ever. The real objection, however, to the king's service book by those that best represented the Church of Scotland in 1637 was not because it prescribed set prayers to be read in public worship. That could have been borne with, and indeed was patiently borne with every Sabbath. But the book was introduced in an offensive manner, and it contained offensive rubrics. It was compiled and introduced into the Church by a royal mandate, and without the Church's examination, revision, or approval. That was an invasion of the Church's rights and liberties, and therefore it was resented by the Church. The book, besides, contained expressions and prescribed ceremonies that were considered to go too far in the direction of Popish doctrine and Popish ritual. It was more High Church than the English prayer book itself. It gave permission to the Presbyter to chant or intone certain portions of the service. Directions were given in it also that at particular parts of the service all the people should stand up and say aloud, "Glory be to Thee, Oh Lord." In the communion service there was a prayer set down that seemed to sanction the doctrine of tran-substantiation. Although the Presbyterians in 1637, therefore, could have forborne the use of read prayers in public worship, they would neither submit to have a liturgy thrust upon them nolentes vjentes, nor would they accept the ritual offered them in the service book. But it must also be said that although extempore prayers were generally cried up in 1637 there were some places where their introduction was not welcomed. "New incum customs," was what Spalding said of them, with a satirical mark of admiration. And even after they had become rooted and grounded in public favour people would still listen respectfully to a liturgy if it was accompanied with ministrations that were otherwise good. It is said of Dr. Gilbert Burnet that during his ministry in Salton from 1665 to 1669 he succeeded by his pastoral care and tenderness, zeal and ability, in completely gaining the affections of all his parishioners, "not excepting the Presbyterians, although he was the only man in Scotland that made use of the prayers in the English Church liturgy."

Although it is, strictly speaking, foreign to the subject of this lecture, which has to do only with the Sabbath service in the Church of Scotland and particularly at Mauchline, at different dates and during different periods, I cannot resist the temptation of giving here a brief account of a very grand old practice that prevailed in England at least, if not in Scotland, in Catholic times. And in doing this I shall just quote from a book called the "Alliance of Divine Offices," which exhibits "all the liturgies of the Church of England since the Reformation, as also the late Scotch Service Book, with all their respective variations, with annotations . . giving a fair prospect into the usages of the ancient Church."The name of the author is Hamon L'Estrange, and the book was printed in 1659, "for Henry Broom at the signe of the Gun in Ivie Lane." "The agenda of religion in our Church before the Reformation were," says the author of this book, "performed, it is well known, in Latin, a language very unedifying to a non-intelligent people. That so many so much interested and concerned in those sacred offices should not be totally excluded as idle spectators, or fit for nothing but now and then to return an Amen to they knew not what, this expedient was devised. The people were exhorted to join in prayers according to certain heads, dictated to them by the minister in the English tongue, observing the method and materials of the then prayers for all states, so that of all the service then used this only could properly be called common prayer, as being the only form wherein the whole congregation did joyn in consort, and therefore the title of it in the Injunctions of Edward 6, Anno 1547 is, 'The form of bidding the common prayers.' Now because it was made by Allocution or speaking to the people, agreeing with what the primitive church called -------it was called, bidding of prayers." Nothing could be more proper or more solemn, more impressive or more edifying in public worship than a brief service of this kind reverently conducted.

It is well known that in Protestant churches generally, and in the Church of Scotland in particular, the preaching of the word has always been reckoned the chief part of the service of the sanctuary. The quantity of preaching that ministers had to give and people had to take in olden times was enormous. There were commonly two diets of worship on the Sabbath, and very often what was termed a week day sermon besides. In 1648 an act was passed by the General Assembly reviving former acts which appointed ministers to preach both before and after noon. Pardovan complains that in his day, which was in the beginning of last century, this act had fallen too much into disuetude, and that in many parishes there was only one diet of worship on Sunday. [In the records of Galslon Kirk Session for 1639 the following minute, which will approve itself to many people for its good sense, will be found, "August 18th. In respect the day is wearing shorter there shall be but forenoon's preaching, with prayers and reading, the time being two afternoon, and this act to be put to continue till March." And so in March 1640 we read of a man's being brought before the Session for profaning the Sabbath "in time of afternoon reading."] Till within a comparatively recent date there were in Mauchline two diets of worship on Sabbath, the greater part of the year if not all the year round. In some of the old records there is a note of the service entered, and from these notes we see what the extent of service had been. Opening a volume of records at random I find the following entry under date 28th May, 1732, "Mr. Ferguson, probationer, lectured on Psalm 39 and preached on Psalm 30 and 7. The minister preached afternoon on Psalm 116 and 12." On this occasion the minister had got help in the forenoon, but that was not a common occurrence, and his usual Sabbath-day's work in the pulpit was a lecture and a sermon in the forenoon, and a sermon in the afternoon. In 1736 there is a touching and kindly entry under date 28th March, that "the minister came home this day, and being weary of his journey only preached."

Besides two sermons every Sabbath the minister had frequently in olden times to give a third sermon during the week. Pardovan says there was no Act of Assembly enjoining these week day sermons, and he evidently was of opinion that for all the good they did they might have been dispensed with. There was a semi-statutory authority, however, for these sermons. An Act of Assembly passed in 1648 on particular remedies for present corruptions and enormities says that "ministers (should) catechise one day every week wherein also they may baptize and lecture or preach." These catechetical and lecture meetings were a substitute for an older and simpler institution. During the period of Episcopacy prior to 1638 it had been customary to have meetings in churches on the afternoons or evenings of week days, and at these meetings portions of scripture and prayers from the liturgy were read by the minister or reader. The rebellion against set forms and ceremonies which began in 1637 led to these meetings for prayer being changed into meetings for lectures. A somewhat dubious reason for the change is given in the diary of John Nicol, [An equally dubious reason for the change is given by Spalding, "This forme wes brocht in for to mak thair stipend better!!"] "In steid of evening and morning prayeris, the ministeris taking to thair consideration that the not reiding and exponing of the Scriptures at the old accustomed tyme of prayer was the occasion of much drinking at that seasoun quhen these prayeris and chaptures wer usuallie red, thairfoir, and to prevent that sin it wes concludit in the beginning of March, 1650, that all the days of the week a lectorie sould be red and exponit in Edinburgh be everie minister thair per vices, quhilk accordinglie wes put in practize and so began this holie and hevinlie exercise." That heavenly exercise, however, had been instituted in some places in Scotland before 1650, and although as a rule it was a popular movement it was not universally so. "Upon the 4th May, 1642, Doctor Goold, principal of the College in Aberdeen, began a noveltie," says Spalding, "and to preich upon this weik day within the College kirk. . . His auditors war few, who had little feist of his doctrein, and at last himself wyreit and shortlie gave over this weiklie sermon moir foolishlie nor it began." The lectures were nevertheless continued by men of more resolute character than Dr. Goold, even although they were denounced as thraldom by the Laodiceans of the northern capital. Three days a week they were held in Aberdeen in 1642 by Andrew Cant and his colleagues, and "the people were compelled to attend these lectures or were cryd out against." During the time of preaching on week days "no merchand nor craftisman's booth durris durst be opnit, that the kirk micht be the better keipit be the masteris and seru-andis." And it was neither so far back as 1642, nor so far north as Aberdeen that this rigour was to be seen. In 1661 the minister and Kirk Session of Dumbarton complained to the Town Council that "upon the weiklie days sermon thair ar several merchants and traidsmen within burgh who in time of sermon mak thair merchandise, and wark their wark to the great dishonour of God, contempt of the gospel, and hindrance of thair awin edification," and the Town Council, for preventing of the like in time coming, ordain.d that every person so transgressing should pay an unlaw of 40s. Even before Goold and Cant introduced the lecture lessons, as they were termed in Aberdeen, there were week day sermons in some places in Ayrshire. The ministry of David Dick or Dickson at Irvine terminated in 1641 by his translation to the chair of Divinity in the University of Glasgow; and Mr. Dickson while at Irvine had week day sermons on Mondays, which were then the market days in that town. "Upon the Sabbath evenings many persons under soul distress used to resort to his house after sermon, when usually he spent an hour or two in answering their cases and directing and comforting those who were cast down, in all which he had an extraordinary talent. In a laree hall he had in his house at Irvine there would have been, as I am informed by old Christians, several scores of serious Christians waiting for him when he came from the church. Those with the people round the town who came into the market at Irvine, made the church as throng, if not thronger, on the Mondays as on the Lord's day, by these week day sermons." [Preface by Wodrow to an old book once popular, now little heard of, called Truth's Victory over Error. This book was a translation in English of notes taken n Dickson's Class of Divinity. Its publication had a curious history.] In the year 1642 both the old and the new customs were observed at Mauchline. In other words, there were both prayer meetings and lecture meetings. At a presbyterial visitation of the parish that year, Mr. Young said that "he preached twyse on the Sabbath, and every Twysday once, sumtyme by preaching and sumtyme by catechising, and declared the frequent meeting of the people to that effect. And further, he declared that publict prayers wer used and reading of the Scriptures morning and evening, and that familie exercise wes also observed." In 1643 the minister of Coylton was exhorted by the Presbytery of Ayr to preach twice every Sabbath, preach catechetical doctrine once a week, and see if family exercise be constantly practised in the parish. As recently as 1743, Mr. Auld was strictly enjoined by the Presbytery to have week day sermons at Mauchline, as was formerly done on the "mercat days." It was apparently the market day, therefore, that was generally utilised by ministers for their week day sermons, and it is easy to understand, therefore, how Mr. Maitland should have complained, as he did, of the number of "mercat days" in Mauchlinc, making his charge "very gravaminous."  [In 1714 the minister of Coylton reported to the Presbytery at their visitation of his parish that he was in the way of intimating weekly lectures, "but sometimes did not preach because of the paucity of the people that meet,"]

In the oldest extant records of this parish, those, namely, that refer to the period of Mr. Vcitch's ministry, there is little, if any, express mention made of week day sermons, but there are frequent entries of collections on week days, which imply that on such days there were congregational gatherings as in the time of Mr. Young, for either sermon or catechetical examinations. About 1680, during Mr. Veitch's ministry, these week day meetings in church seem to have been held every second Tuesday, that is half as often as they were in Mr. Young's day. Both in Mr. Maitland's and Mr. Auld's days the week day sermon was continued, but not so regularly nor frequently as in earlier times.

While treating of the Reader's duties, we saw that it was customary to have diets of catechising in church on the Sundays, but we see now that there were also diets of catechising held on week days. The Sunday's catechising seems always to have been a catechising of children, the week days catechising was a catechising of all and sundry—young and old, high and low, rich and poor. The catechising of children in church on Sundays was a very ancient custom. In the English Prayer Book there is a rubric appended to the Catechism which states that the curate of every parish shall diligently, upon Sundays and holy days, after the second lesson at evening prayer, openly in the church instruct and examine so many children of his parish sent unto him as he shall think convenient, in some part of the Catechism. "The same rule," says L'Estrange, "is observed by the Belgick Church, and so did the Palatine divines advise at the Synod of Dort that it should be an afternoon exercise. And I wish," continues that author, "that they of the Presbyterian inclination would more, listen to these their friends, and if not for conformity's, yet for Christianity's sake, not suffer preaching so totally to usurp and justle out this most necessary office. The afternoon sermon hath not that countenance of authority in our Church which catechising hath, this being settled by express rule, that only tolerated or entering in by remote implication, and though late custom hath invested it with an honour commensurate with and equal to that of the morning sermon, sure I am, it was of minor reputation in the apostolical and next succeeding ages." Whatever may be said of the Presbyterian Church in England at one period, the Presbyterian Church in Scotland has been more alive to the duty of catechising children on Sunday than Mr. L'Estrange may have been aware of. So recently as the year 1747 the Presbytery of Ayr recommended " that the ancient good custom of repeating the Catechism in church on the Lord's day, before sermon in the forenoon (that is, at the reader's or schoolmaster's service), and betwixt sermons (should be resumed), and that a portion of holy Scripture be read after repeating the Catechism." [The following account of a Scottish Sunday at Kirkcudbright in 1722 (quoted in Harper's Rambles in Galloway), will be interesting to all to whom it is new. It is by an English traveller who published notes of a journey through Scotland:—"I arrived here on Saturday night. . . . Next day I expected, as in England, a piece of good beef and a pudding to dinner, but my landlord told me that they never dress dinner on a Sunday, so that I must either take up with bread and butter and a fresh egg, or fast till after the evening sermon, when they never fail of a hot supper. Certainly no nation on earth observes the Sabbath with that strictness of devotion and resignation to the will of God. They all pray in their families before they go to church, and between sermons they fast. After sermon every body retires to his own home, and reads some book of devotion till supper, which is generally very good on Sundays, after which they sing psalms till they go to bed." Few people will say that that is not a beautiful picture of grand and quiet Sabbath life.]

The week day catechising that at one period formed so important a part of pastoral work in the Church of Scotland, were not restricted to children. [In 1570 the General Assembly ordained that "ministers and elders of kirks shall universally within this realm take trial and examine all young children within their Parochines that are come to nine years, and that for the first time, thereafter when they are come to twelve years for the second time, the third time to be examined when they are of fourteen years, wherethrough it may be known what they have profited in the school of Christ from time to time."] What the object of these catechisings was may be inferred from the tenor of an act of Assembly passed in 1639, which ordained that every minister, besides his pains on the Lord's day, should have weekly catechising of some part of the parish, [The Kirk Session of Galston lost no time in putting that Act into execution. In 1639 they "concludit that there be examination throw the Paroche ane day in ye weik quhilk is to be keipit on Fryday."] and not altogether put off the examination of the people till a little before the communion. Ten years later this act was specially renewed, and a clause was added to it directing "every minister so to order his catechetic questions as thereby the people who do not convene all at one time but by turns unto that exercise, may at every diet have the chief heads of saving knowledge in a short view presented unto them." ["The chief heads of saving knowledge." Along with the Confession of Faith, Catechisms. &c, there is generally bound up a small treatise called "the sum of saving knowledge." How that treatise should have found its way into what may be termed a collection of the Church's standards in doctrine, worship, and government, is a mystery. The extraordinary estimation in which it was long held is probably the only explanation. It was the joint production of Mr. David Dickson and Mr. James Durham, and, says Wodrow, it was by them " dictated to a reverend minister (who informed me) about the year 1650. It was the deed of these two great men, and though never judicially approved by this Church, deserves to be much more read and considered than I fear it is." Preface to Truth's Victory, signed Eastwood, Tanuary 5, 1726. R. W.] The carrying out of the Act of 1639 was in some places thought at first rather grievous. At a Presbyterial visitation of the old town kirk of Aberdeen in 1642, it was ordained in terms of the Act of Assembly, says Spalding, "that ilk maister and mistres of famelie in toun and cuntrie within this parochin, suld come with there barnes and seruandis to the ministeris catechising. Noysum to the cuntrie people to cum all, cloiss up there durris, and leave none at home to keip thair houssis, thair cornes, cattell, and uther goodis." To meet the convenience of congregations it was customary to have diets of catechising once a year in different parts of the parish, and to gather all the people in each district to some central and suitable place of meeting. In 1658 the Kirk Session of Rothesay ordained that the " landward part of the parish be divided into four quarters for examination, those in each quarter to meet at a special place in the same." Probably there was some such arrangement as this in Mauch-line in 16S7, and possibly also at such rural diets of catechising there may occasionally have been a sermon and a baptism, for in our Session Records there is an entry dated 22nd December of that year, stating that that day there was collected at Drum-fork the sum of 9s. During Mr. Auld's ministry there were frequent diets of catechising held in church, but whether these were for the townspeople only, or for the parishioners generally I have not noticed in the records any statement to shew. In 1750 Mr. Auld complained to the Session "that he and the people that attended catechising in the church were much disturbed by the school being so near, and the schoolmaster being called, promised that for the future he would take care that the school should give no disturbance by noise in time of catechising, and that there should be no ringing of the bell during that time." [Within the last twenty years an old and respected U.P. minister in Ayrshire was in the habit of convening the people in the different quarters of his diocese to meetings for catechising in the church. The roll of the quarter was at these meetings formally called over, and absentees, of whom there were many, were marked.]

It may be supposed that when there was such a quantity of preaching to be delivered week after week there could not have been much work expended on the preparation of sermons. And neither there was. Baillie, in one of his letters written in 1656, laments that the popular election of ministers, which was then in vogue, was spoiling preaching by tempting young men to study ad captandum arts of loose extempore oratory, instead of carefully thinking out the subjects on which they wrote and prelected. " Our divinity students (last year) were," he says, "but few, and however they had lessons enough from Mr. John Young and me, yet they minded study bot little, for when they see their weak companions the second or third year after their laurcation put in the best place with exceeding poor sufficiencie, it makes the rest the more to neglect all studie, but only to preach in their popular kind of way, which requires little learning." [Apropos of these remarks of Baillie's, it maybe mentioned that in the year 15S1 the King (James VI.) submitted, among other proposals, to the General Assembly the following suggestions, in favour of which a good deal might be said:—That there be four degrees of stipends for ministers, and that young men new come from schools shall only be promoted to the benefices and stipends in the lowest degree. That the eldest ministers of the greatest learning and judgment be promoted to the highest rank, and for the better eschewing of ambition and avarice so to ascend from one rank to another gradation as they shall be judged and tried worthiest from three years to three years (Caklerwood, iii. 521). And not only did he submit that the chief stipends should be reserved for men of the greatest learning in the Church, but in his later years he ordered that the treatment of certain subjects in the pulpit should be allowed to preachers only of a certain standing or rank. No preacher of what title soever under the degree of a Bishop, or Dean at the least, shall presume, he said, to preach in any popular auditory the deep points of Predestination, Election, Reprobation, or of the universality, efficacy, reusability, or irresistibility of God's grace, but rather leave these themes to be handled by learned men, and that modestly and moderately by use and application, rather than by way of positive doctrine, as being fitter for schools and universities than for simple auditories (Alliance of Divine Offices). To some extent the King's ideas of degrees in the ministry were at one time carried out by the General Assembly. In 1589 the Assembly ordered trial to be made of all ministers in the Church in respect of their gifts and attainments, and sentences pronounced after this trial were to the effect that one minister was "meit to be continued in a better degree," and others were meet to be continued in a good degree, or some reasonable degree, or a low measure, or the lowest measure. A few were absolutely deposed from "the function of the ministry for the present" (M'Crie's Melville, i478)]

It was customary for ministers to take up a subject or a text, and on that subject or text to preach six or eight Sabbaths consecutively. This was called their ordinary. It is minuted in our records that on the 27th May, 1733, the minister preached on a certain text and finished his discourses on that text. How many discourses he had preached on the said text I have not been able very clearly to make out, but in the course of that same year, 1733,1 find that that for nine successive Sabbaths he preached on Isaiah xxix. 9th, "With my soul have I desired thee in the night, yea with my spirit within me will I seek thee early, for when thy judgments are in the earth the inhabitants of the world shall learn righteousness/' During the nine weeks that these sermons were being delivered on the Sundays, the week day sermons on three successive Thursdays were on the text, Isaiah lv. 3, "Incline your ear and come to me, hear, and your soul shall live."

I happen to have in my possession several old books of manuscript sermons, utterly worthless as aids for the pulpit, but very valuable from an antiquarian point of view, in showing how sermons were got up and subjects were handled by ministers long ago. One of these volumes is in the handwriting of a man that was famous in his day and district, viz., Mr. Peter Rae, minister first in a parish called Kirkbride, and latterly in Kirkconnel. He is described by Dr. Hew Scott in the Fasti Ecclesiae as having been not only an able preacher and theologian, but a mechanic, mathematician, astronomer and historian. He is best known as the author of a history of the rebellion in 1715. The volume in my possession is written in a hand of remarkable neatness and elegance. There is not a blot and scarcely an erasure in the whole book. Taking one of the sermons in this book at random as a fair specimen of the sermons in general, I find that it is fully twenty-nine pages in length, that each page consists of six and forty lines, and that each line comprises about sixteen words. The whole sermon is equal in length to six modern discourses that would take each half an hour in delivery. The sermon, however, is made to do for nine discourses, and a marginal date indicates when each part of the sermon was preached. There is no separate beginning and end to each part as if to mark the bounds of a discourse complete in itself, but one part follows another as if the thread of the argument had never been broken, and the preacher had been obliged to stop because time was up. It may be presumed that each discourse would contain a preface recapitulating what had been said the Sunday before, and bringing up the hearers fresh to the new point of departure, and possibly what was written would be altered and amplified, or abbreviated when preached. It will be seen, therefore, that it was not an unusual thing for ministers to make one text serve for nine sermons, as good Mr. Maitland did in Mauchline in 1733.

Another volume of manuscript discourses that I happen to have is a volume written by old Mr. Mungo Lindsay, the minister of Sorn. [Historically the most interesting sermon in Mr. Lindsay's book is one preached at Dalgain (Sorn) on the 13th Nov., 1706, ''On a fast day relating to a Irea ie of union betwixt Scotland and England, laid and lying before the Parliament of Scotland." The text is Daniel xii. 10, "many shall be purified and made white and tried, but the wicked shall do wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand." Mr. Lindsay speaks of the occasion as a "juncture of dark and critical providences, a darker has scarce been in Scotland since the first Reformation of this land." He argues, however, that all will be over-ruled for good to the godly, and he closes the sermon by an apt quotation of two verses, one of them immediately preceding the text, and the other at the end of the chapter.] It is not written with anything like the neatness and elegance of Mr. Rae's book, and there are no marginal references to show when the different parts of each sermon were delivered. But there is no doubt that Mr. Lindsay's sermons were given in instalments like Mr. Rae's, and that like Mr. Rae's and Mr. Maitland's, they sometimes extended over eight or nine Sabbaths. I find for instance that on the 30th April, 1704, Mr. Lindsay commenced a series of sermons on the second part of the 19th Psalm. The passage discoursed on begins at the 7th verse, "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul," and it comprises only eight verses altogether. The discourses, however, on these eight verses occupied a year and seven months, except a few Sundays before and after the communion. One verse alone kept the minister going for two months. The total amount of written matter for this year and a half's stock of instruction is just about equal to the length of ten sermons such as you are in the way of hearing, shewing that what was written long ago was a good deal amplified in delivery, and that perhaps a considerable part of each sermon was occupied with a resume of what was preached the previous Sabbath. We can understand the point, therefore, of one of the questions that Pardovan says might be put to the elders at Presbyterial visitations of churches, "Does your minister spend too much time in his sermon in repetition of what he said before." This did not mean does the minister

"Oh my Lord what shall be the end of these things. And he said, Go thy way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. . . But go thou thy way I ill the end be, for thou shall rest and stand in thy lot at the end of the days." There was much m^re wisdom in this sermon than in the action taken by some Town Councils at the time, such as that of Dumbarton, who declared the proposed union lo be "in their judgment of the most dangerous consequence to all the interests, civil and sacred, of the nation," and instructed their Commissioner, at the Convention of Burghs, to "declare their dislike of and dissent from the said union," as "plainly evacuating all the public oaths this nation lyes under." dwell too much on any one subject or too frequently revert to particular topics, but it means does the minister each Sabbath before entering into his subject for the day spend too much time in going over what was said the previous Sunday.

This method of adhering to one subject for weeks or months together, was, whatever it might be thought of now, far from being unpopular at one time. One of the questions regularly put at Presbyterial visitations of parishes was, "if the portion of Scripture preached on (that day by the minister) was his ordinary text any time before," and the expected and approved answer to this question was "Yes." [This style of preaching is expressly recommended in the first book of discipline, chap. xi. 6, " Skipping and divagation from place to place of Scripture, be il in reading or be it in preaching we judge not so profitable to edifie the kirk as the conlinual following of one text."] In the year 1707 the parishioners of Craigie furnished the Presbytery of Ayr with a criticism of their minister's pulpit services, which is well worthy of preservation as a sample of the st:.te of rural opinion in the West of Scotland at the beginning of last century, "His words in prayer," said the parishioners, "are not connected, and he hath too frequent repetition of God's name in prayer, and he doth often change his text, and doth not raise many heads, and doth not prosecute such as he names but scruffs them." Long ago it was customary for meetings of Presbytery to be opened, as meetings of Synod still are, by a sermon. The subject of sermon, too, was not left to the choice of the minister appointed to preach, but was prescribed to him, and these sermons, like old Mr. Mungo Lindsay's of Sorn, were meant to constitute a consecutive and an exhaustive treatment of large subjects. One minister followed up at one Presbytery what another minister had said at the previous Presbytery. For instance, on the 28th October, 1766, the text appointed by the Presbytery of Ayr for the opening sermon at their next meeting was the first verse of the first chapter of the General Epistle of James. Verse after verse of this epistle was then in regular order appointed as the text for the next Presbyterial sermon till the whole epistle had been gone through. The last of this series of discourses was given in the beginning of 1792, more than twenty-five years after the first of the series had been preached ! Such a treatise on St. James' Epistle as the legion of sermons preached before the Presbytery of Ayr between 1766 and 1792 was perhaps never given to the world, and along with the lamentation expressed by scholars at the loss of part of Livy's history, the divines of Scotland may fittingly join — disappointment and sorrow that this great Presbyterial commentary, on which the labours of more than a hundred ministers were for twenty-five years expended, has disappeared. In 1792 the Presbytery entered on a similar exposition, verse by verse, of the first Epistle of Peter, but as the most recent volume of Presbytery Records that I have had the privilege of examining comes down only to the year 1796, I am not prepared to say whether or not this exposition of St. Peter's first epistle was ever brought to a close !

It is alleged that some ministers in the Church of Scotland have recently introduced a practice of preaching at large without taking any text from Scripture as the subject of discourse. This practice, too, is regarded by some people as a very startling innovation. Whether a good practice or not, however, it is not a new one in the Christian Church. Baillie says that the Independents in England, during the sitting of the Westminster Assembly, were in the habit of dispensing with Scripture texts when they preached, and ran out on whatever matter they thought most fit and expedient for their hearers. The same thing was done by the monks of the Catholic Church before the Reformation, and indeed it was also done by St. Paul and our Saviour himself, the great Master and great example, in the first days of Christianity. It may interest some people to be told that in the year 1714 the parishioners of Coylton complained to the Presbytery of Ayr that their minister " read and preached upon an article of the Confession of Faith on the Sabbath afternoon, without reading any text of Scripture before it." The minister did not deny the fact alleged, but explained that he gave an exposition of an article in the Confession of Faith with the Scriptures relative thereto. And the Presbytery apparently did not think that the minister's conduct called for censure, nor even for prohibition in the future, but "considering that this way of preaching is different from what is usual, recommended to the minister to read the Scriptures that relate to the subject he is to be upon, and then the article." Prudent advice, it may be said, to put the horse before the cart.

[All sermons in Scotland long ago were given without paper. This is popularly supposed to have added to the preacher's work in preparation. Such was not necessarily the case. Sermons that are read are usually more carefully prepared than those that are mandated. Still read sermons were thought unsavoury. In the famous Representation and Petiiion presented to the General Assembly in 1732, which may almost be called the foundation stone of the Secession Church, and in which there is a correct list of all the corruptions and enormities in the Church of Scotland at that dale the following sentence occurs, "Yea, a young minister appointed to preach before his -Majesty's Commissioner to the last General Assembly, had the assurance even on that solemn occasion to add to former innovations, that ol reading his sermon openly, though he could not but know it would give great offence both to ministers and people of this church." Some of the old ministers wrote out their sermons in full, but most had notes only. John Livingstone stales that at first he wrote out beforehand all he preached, "word for word." Afterwards he preached from notes, and recommended others to do likewise,]

The sermons of the old Scotch preachers were neither laboured nor polished compositions. They were vigorous offhand addresses that went right to the hearts of hearers. Baillie, in tli2 year 1644, when he was sitting in the Westminster Assembly of Divines, spoke of Scotch sermons as a very well understood species of oration. "We had," he says, "from two English preachers, Palmer and Hill, two of the most Scottish and free sermons I ever heard anywhere. They laid well about them, and charged public and parliamentary sins strictly on the backs of the guilty." This was a kind of preaching that was very unpalatable to people in authority, but was immensely agreeable to the public generally. In 1597 an Act of Assembly was passed, at the instigation of the King and his courtiers, forbidding that any man's name should be expressed to his rebuke in public, unless his fault were notorious. But despite this Act of Assembly, Scotch preaching continued long after to be very free and bold. As late as 1650 the Countess of Derby wrote from Kirkcudbright, where she had been staying for a fortnight:—"The sermons which I have heard in this place are horrible, having nothing of devotion in them, nor explaining any point of religion, but being full of sedition, warning people by their names, and treating of everything with such ignorance and without the least respect or reverence, that I am so scandalised I do not think I could live with a quiet conscience among these atheists." That style of preaching, however, as I have said, was popular, and ministers were occasionally requested by their Kirk Sessions to give a genuine Scotch sermon for the special benefit of some particular members of the Congregation. In 1586 the Kirk Session of Perth, lamenting the ruinous state of their church, did with one consent ordain the minister to leave his ordinary text whereof he had been preaching before, and choose for his discourse some portion of Scripture, most able and meet to move the hearts of the people, and especially of the bailies and magistrates, to provide that the church be with all diligence repaired and mended in all honest and decent form." There is no trace in our records of any such application having ever been made to the minister of Mauchline, and if entertainment ever was given to the congregation in Mauchline church by-personal allusions of a spicy character the remembrance of it has perished. It might be supposed, from the well known austerity of Mr. Auld, that he would be one of those that laid well about them in preaching. In such of his sermons, however, and I might add such of his rebukes and admonitions as I have seen, there is no trace of any such onslaughts. Mr. Auld was a plain, solid, evangelical preacher, who confined himself to his text and made no remarks that conveyed ridicule or irony. Mr. Vcitch was more free in his speech, and more apt to let fly at people that crossed him, and it is not unlikely, indeed it may be considered certain, that his hearers were at times regaled with things that amused and chafed as well as edified them. [Baillie, in describing the preaching of one of the Protesters in 1654 says that he had "a strange kind of sighing, the like whereof I had never heard as a pythonising out of the bellie of a second person." That strange kind of sighing, however, had been practised as an oratorical device long before 1654, and was objected to by some Protesters as well as by Baillie. John Livingstone, in his advice to preachers, bids them neither use long drawn words nor speak in a singing tone, nor affect a weeping like voice, nor interrupt their discourse with oft sighing.]

It is commonly supposed that the sermons preached long ago were very lengthy. And no doubt they sometimes were, but I doubt if they were generally so lengthy as is commonly thought. "When Latimer was appointed to preach a course of sermons before King Edward the 6th of England, Cranmer wrote to him, " I would ye should so study to comprehend your matters that in any condition you stand no longer in the pulpit than an hour, or an hour and a half at the most, for by long expense of time the King and the Queen shall peradven-ture wax so weary at the beginning (of your course) that they shall have small delight to continue throughout with you to the end." That was what an English prelate wrote more than three hundred years ago. Baillie in his letters gives an account of a Fast-day service that was held in London nearly a hundred years later, during the sitting of the Westminster Assembly. On that occasion extempore prayers of two hours each were succeeded by sermons of one hour each, and the whole service lasted seven or eight hours. In Baillie's days it seems to have been not uncommon for preachers to take an hour to their sermon. Your ministers, said the Brownists, dispute to the hour glass, and they must preach sermons an hour long each. The advice that John Livingstone gave to preachers was, that in their sermons they should not "ordinarily" go beyond the hour, but he evidently meant to say that occasions might arise when that limit might with advantage be overstepped. In his account of the famous sermon he himself preached at Shotts on the Monday after the communion in 1630, he says, "I had about one hour and a half upon the points I had meditated on Ezekiel, xxxvi. v. 15-16, and in the end offering to close with some words of exhortation, I was led on about ane hour's time in ane strain of exhortation and warning with such liberty and melting of hearts as I never had the like in public all my life." Spalding makes an extraordinary statement about the length of sermons in Aberdeenshire on Fast Days—not sacramental Fasts, for there were no such things at the time when Spalding wrote, but fasts on account of public sins or public calamities. The statement looks very like either a cram or a slip, but it is curious and worthy of quotation. " The people," says Spalding, writing in 1642, "for the trespasses of the pastors and estates is thrawin and drawin fra their virtue in hicht of harvest to thir feinzeit fastingis, with four hours doctrin to ilk sermon, quhair-by they was sore wyreit and vext, and the gryte God luiking doun upone their hypocriticall humiliations be all appeirans not weill pleisit nor dculie worschippit."' The Westminster Directory does not tie down ministers to any particular time in preaching. It says that ministers should take heed that their preaching be neither straitened nor tedious. And to keep preachers right in this matter it was customary to set up a sand-glass in the church. But it was not an hourglass, as the Brownists said. It was a half-hour-glass, or at least it was commonly so ; and in being of that measure it enabled preachers to gauge their discourses for all occasions. They could give one turn of the glass on a week day, and two or more turns on the Sabbath. John Livingstone tells us that when he went to Stranraer some of the townsfolks wished to come to his house to hear and take part in the family exercise. Instead of taking them into his house he invited them to meet in the church every morning at nine, and he gave them a service there. At this service a few verses of a Psalm were sung, then a short prayer was offered, then a portion of Scripture was read, and on this portion of Scripture he spoke "only as long as ane half hour glass ran, and then closed with prayer." It is easy to understand that on week days it would be considered quite as great a fault for a minister to exceed his glass as not to empty it, and it was probably in reference to week day services that the Presbytery of Aberdeen, in 1603, ordained "that burials stay nocht the minister to continue his preaching sa that gif he exceid his glasse he sail be censurit in penaltieof gear." There was a limitation, however, of the length of sermons on Sunday also, for one of the faults that the fanatic Gib imputed to the Church was that she limited the Lord's mind by glasses, and instead of allowing her ministers to protract their preaching till they ran their own mental cisterns dry, she made them stop their discourse when the glass was dry. There were not many people that shared Mr. Gib's objections to this limitation of preaching. On the contrary, hearers sometimes wished that the sand would wear out for itself a wider orifice to hasten its progress, and tricks were occasionally resorted to by impatient listeners to make the preacher close his sermon prematurely. At the visitation of Cant's Church in 1642, there was by bad luck a minister in the pulpit who was not very zealous in the cause of the Covenant, and being for the time master of the situation he improved his opportunity by making a merciless onslaught on the new practices which the Covenanters had introduced. Cant was sitting beside the reader who was time-keeper, and did not relish the flavour of the preacher's remarks. With the view of bringing the discourse to a hasty end he "quickly closed the reader's book and laid down the glass before it was run." But the preacher was a quick eyed as well as a quick witted man, and he saw the deception. He accordingly felt himself no longer limited by the glass, but like Mr. Gib free to speak as long as thoughts would breathe and words would burn. And the result was that to Mr. Cant's chagrin he took an extra half hour's grace. There is no record of any such pranks having been played with the sand glass at Mauchline, although from the frequency with which old glasses were replaced by new ones it might be surmised that the church chronometer sometimes met with intentional damage. In 1672 there was a half hour glass bought for 10s., in 1677 another was bought for 11s., and in 1688 a third was purchased for 12s. In the last mentioned year the precaution was adopted of procuring for the glass an iron case at a cost of 2 scots.

While preaching long ago was administered in such large and frequent doses there were occasional intervals of relief, unknown to either ministers or people now-a-days, and which would be very much exclaimed against if they did occur. There were now and again what were euphemistically styled silent Sundays—that is Sundays on which there was no preaching in the parish church.

The grandest array of silent Sundays ever witnessed in Mauchline was in 1732. On the 12th March that year the record states, "No sermon, the minister being gone to London on necessary business." For eleven Sundays the minister remained away, and on seven of these Sundays there was no preaching, and what made matters worse, three of these silent Sundays were successive Sabbaths, The same year on the 3rd Dec. the register states, "No sermon, the minister being gone to Edinburgh." His stay at Edinburgh extended over thirteen weeks, and during seven of these there was no sermon. The following summer in the month of July the minister paid another visit to Edinburgh, which lasted six weeks, and the people again were favoured with three silent Sundays. Besides these seventeen silent Sundays there were during the two years 1732 and 1733 at least other five Sabbaths on which there was no sermon at Mauchline, the minister having been either filling by appointment of Presbytery a vacant pulpit, or assisting at a neighbouring sacrament, or attending a meeting of Synod in Glasgow. But we must not draw too harsh an inference from those facts. In 1723 there had been a good many silent Sundays in Mauchline, and the parishioners complaine to the Presbytery. But the reply of the minister was that he had been of late under much indisposition of body, and that he had fallen under sundrie difficulties in his affairs, which obliged him to be often abroad contrary to his inclination. It is plain, also, that in 1732 and 1733 he had obtained leave of absence from his parish, [The following entries anent Mr. Maitland occur in the records of the Presbytery of Ayr in 1723, besides the report of a visitation of Mauchline parish held the same year, and quoted in appendix D: "The moderator is to write to Mr. Maitland to be present with the Presbytery at the ensuing Synod, that they may enquire into the reason of his long absence of late from his charge, and why he did not provide them with preaching from time to time in that absence, being, they were told, many Sabbaths desolate." The reasons of absence given in by Mr. Maitland were "his civil affairs, and his wyff falling sick at Edinburgh, whom he was obliged to attend." He was then told that when called abroad again he must "take care to have his paroch provided with preaching."] for his place in the pulpit was filled up, except in one instance, every alternate Sabbath by a member of Presbytery. And although it is the case that silent Sundays were of frequent occurrence long ago, they were neither winked at by Presbyteries, nor uncomplained of by parishioners, unless there were known to be good and honest reasons for the silence. In the records of the Presbytery of Ayr there are complaints entered by parishioners against their minister for having no preaching on two successive Sabbaths, or even on one Sabbath, when it was thought preaching could have been provided. During what were considered the more Laodicean times of Episcopacy, too, there were stringent rules laid down and enforced by the Church Courts in reference to the regular supply of ordinances on the Sabbath. In the year 1664 the Synod of Galloway ordained that no minister shall be absent from his charge two Lord's Days together, without leave of the Presbytery. The same Synod, the same year, having been informed that the minister of Kells "is constantly and frequently absent from his charge, sometimes four Sundays and sometimes six together, appointed his Presbyter)' to take him on trial, and if they found not his excuses weighty and relevant, to suspend him from the exercise of his ministry for a competent time, or inflict what other censure his offences should be thought fit to " demerit." Still, as L have said, there were a good many silent Sundays in every parish long ago. With the view of ascertaining what was the usual average of silent Sundays per annum in Mauchlinc church about the beginning of the present century, I examined the session-clerk's memorandum book for the years 1810, 1811, and iii4, and I found that in each of these years there were five silent Sundays, that is, five Sundays on which the minister required to be absent, or was absent, at neighbouring communions, or for other reasons, and had no substitute in his place.

It is doubtful if in olden times there was as much good order observed in church during divine service as there is now. Certainly there were more cases of flagrant disorder. Civilization, thanks to ministers, schoolmasters, and policemen, has made some progress during the last two hundred years, and the present system of having churches seated all over with rows of fixed pews, gives less occasion for disorder than the old arrangement of an open area inside the church, dotted here and there with a solitary desk. [The Kirk Session of Aberdeen in 1616 directed that " young bairns not of sic age and disposition that they can take themselves to a seat when they come to the kirk, but vaig through the kirk here and there in time of sermon, should be kept at home."] In some of the old ecclesiastical records we find curious regulations for the preservation of order in church. In the Kirk Session records of Perth we find an instruction minuted that the kirk-officer "have his red staff in the kirk on the Sabbath days, wherewith to waken sleepers and remove greeting bairns." This was after pews with flat book-boards had been introduced for soporific people to lay their weary heads on; but in 1593 complaint was made at Perth of boys in time of preaching running through the church clattering and fighting, and to prevent this disorder application was made to the magistrates that "a seat might be built for the scholars in some commodious part of the kirk where they might hear and learn without troubling either the minister or the auditory." And as another instance of turbulent conduct in the same church, we find it stated in 1621 that one of the merchants was abused by a set of "young professed knaves" casting their bonnets at him. The Kirk Session were alive to their duty on that occasion, however, and made short work with the young delinquents, by having them apprehended and sent to the grammar school to be "scourged with St. Bartholomew's Taws." [An Act of Parliament in 1551 directed that "bairns who perturb the kirk be leished."] The writer of an article in the Edinburgh Antiquarian Magazine, 1849, states that in 1813 he witnessed a scene in the parish church of Inverkeillor that for scandalousness might compare with any of the Sunday barbarities of the seventeenth century. Two farm servants, hi says, had quarrelled over a knife. In the course of the sermon they suddenly started to their feet, and after swearing at each other exchanged blows, in face of the congregation. A sense of shame came over them at last, and sinking down on •their seats they shewed some modesty and sense by burying their heads in their hands.

In the Records of Mauchline Kirk Session there is nothing to be found so lively as the account of these doings in Perthshire and Forfarshire. But there were scenes more lively than lovely in Mauchline church notwithstanding. There were several squabbles about scats we have seen, and in 1693 there was a man faulted for "speaking out in the time of divine worship, and disturbing the minister in the examination of Kate Mont-gomcrie," whoever or whatever she was. And apparently there had been far more tittle-tattling in church by the better sort of people long ago than was seemly. In 1709 the General Assembly thought it necessary in a special act to "recommend to persons of all ranks that they would forbear bowing and other expressions of civil respect, and entertaining one another with discourses while divine worship is performing and holy ordinances are dispensing." And it may be held as a sign of the times that the Presbytery of Ayr caused this Act to be read from every pulpit within their bounds. Four years previous a general intimation was made from the pulpit of Mauchline that boys and vagabonds would not be allowed to make a disturbance in time of divine service, which implied that disturbances had occurred and had caused annoyance.

It was stated that in Bishop Cowper's days, that is in the first quarter of the seventeenth century, some people sat in church with their hats on, and others had the politeness to take their hats off. There was no ecclesiastical law on the subject, and people were allowed even by the bishops and Episcopal clergy, who had always more regard for forms and ceremonies than their Presbyterian brethren had, to do in that matter as they pleased. This is the more important to be noted, as Bishop Sage makes a statement to the contrary. A very decent and commendable custom, which, he says, obtained in Scotland generally till the latter times of Presbytery, was for people on entering the church to uncover their heads as entering the house of God. But now-a-days, he adds, "tis plain superstition to a Presbyterian not to enter the church with his head covered. [Curate Calder evidently wishes it to be understood that it was common in Presbyterian churches in Scotland for men to have their caps on during the sermon. He represents a minister saying to a man that was laughing at his preaching, "do not thou think to gull one of God's ministers that way, lift up your bonnet off your face, think no shame of your shape." In Dr. Scott's Fasti there is an anecdote told of Nathan M'Kie, the minister of Crossmichael from 1739 to 1781, which, if true in all particulars, and that may be doubted, would indicate that in the middle of last century people never sat covered in church except when they suffered from cold. In reading a chapter one day Mr. M'Kie called out, "I see a man aneath that laft wi' his hat on. I'm sure ye"re clear o' the soogh o' the door. Keep aff yer bannat, Tammas, and if yer bare pow be cauld ye maun jist get a grey worsit wig like mysel." Long ago in Scotland it was reckoned a breach of manners for commoners to stand covered in presence of their social superiors. Brodie in his diary expresses desire " to be humbled under the proud reproof which he gave to John Hasbin for holding on his bonnet irreverently and disrespectfully before his (Brodie's) mother. For what ill did it to her?"]

"Mass John himself doth it as mannerly as the coarsest cobbler in the parish. In he steps, uncovers not till in the pulpit, claps straight on his breach, and within a little falls to work as the spirit moves him. All the congregation must sit close in the time of prayer, and clap on their bonnets in the time of sermon." About the time of the sitting of the Westminster Assembly the question of hats off or hats on in church was made by some people a question of far more importance than that of postures in prayer and praise has been made in churches within the last ten years. Doctrines were supposed to be symbolically expressed by the putting off and putting on of the hat. There was no controversy on the subject in the Church of Scotland, and I imagine that our forefathers in the times of the covenant and after were left free to do as innate breeding prompted them. But the Brownists and the Independents made great ado about their hats. The Brownists in Amsterdam sat during the reading and the preaching of the word with their hats on. Some of the Independents maintained that the right thing was "for the minister in preaching to have his head covered, and the people in time of preaching to sit uncovered." Whatever may have been the date at which men in Scotland began generally to uncover their heads during divine worship, it is certain that at a very early period women were forbidden, somewhat contrary, one would think, to the doctrine of St. Paul, to conceal their heads in church. In 1640 the Town Council of Dumbarton took notice in their records of the fact "that the women within this burgh contrair to civilitie cum to the kirk, and in tyme of preiching and prayers keip their playdis about their heids albeit mony tymes dis-chargit publickly be the minister out of the pulpit." And to put an end to this uncivilized practice, the Town Council ordained that the offence should be punished with fine, and in case of obstinacy with imprisonment. The Kirk Session of Monifieth in 1643 adopted a course that looks more savage, but probably was intended to look so savage as to ensure the certainty of its never having to be carried out. They gave the " bedall 5s. to buy ane pynt of tar to put upon the women that held the plaid above their head in the church." And doubtless it was publicly intimated through the parish that instead of a "red staffe" for sleepers the beadle was henceforth to carry a tarred stick for covered heads! [A reason was given by the Kirk Session of Dundonald in 1642 why "no woman be suffered to sit in the time of sommer with plyds upon their heids." The reason was, "it is a cleuck to their sleiping in tyme of sermon."]

Now that we have got gas introduced into the Church at Mauchline to enable us to have occasional evening services in winter, it may interest some of the congregation to hear that in very old times the Kirk Session had a small account to pay every year for candles. In 1670 the following entries occur in the Session book, under date 29th November, "Gevin for a bonet to ye kirk officer 16s., item for ane pound of candles 4s., and for a pair of schoes 24s." [Shoes, and I presume a bonnet also, were commonly part of a beadle's allowance. The Session of Galston in 1676 ordained that their officer should "get 2 merks to buy him a pair of shoes according to former use and wont."] From the way in which these entries are made, one might think that they contain an account of the beadle's outrig, and if so, he must have presented rather a Fijian appearance as he stalked up the church with the Bible under his arm, a candle in his hand, and nothing on his person but a bonnet and a pair of shoes ! That interpretation, however, raises historical difficulties, and must be discarded ! The expense for candles was probably incurred in connection with some morning or evening service in the church, either on Sundays or week days. Not only is it certain that in old times there were such services in towns, but we have seen that during the ministry of Mr. George Young there were public prayers every morning and evening in Mauchline. It is certain, also, that Kirk Sessions were at expense for candles at these and other services. In 1593 the minister and elders of Perth ordained the Dean of Guild and the deacons of crafts "to cause put ane two penny candle in their pews every Sunday morning in time of the morning exercise, and also the Thesaurer cause furnish ane twelve penny candle to the reader to be lighted immediately after the first bell that all may see to praise God in singing Psalms, which stays for lack of light." In the Burgh Records of Glasgow from 1600 to 1660 there are frequent entries of payments ranging from 4. to 20 for candles to one of the city churches. In one instance the payment is stated to have been made for furnishing candles to the "catechetick doctrine," and in another instance for furnishing candles to what is the same thing under a different name, the "lectour." The allowance to the Mauchline beadle for candle is so small that it may be said it never could have been sufficient to provide light for the church for a whole winter. The common custom, however, at morning and evening services in church, even down to the present century, was for each worshipper to bring his own candle. [On the pulpit of the Fenwick meeting-house there were in 1830 two brass brackets, each holding three candles. The old beadle "every now and then during evening service docked the candles with snuffers." The members of the congregation brought their own candles with them (Account of Jubilee of Rev. Mr. Orr). In the ancient church, candle-light prayers and candle-light hymns were common expressions. And one of the bidding prayers of the Catholic Church was, "Also ye shall pray for all those that have honoured the church with light-lamp, vestment or bell, or with any other ornaments by which the service of Almighty God is the better maintained and kept " (Alliance of Divine Offices, p. 98, 181). For a curious case of endowment of candle, sec Dumbarton Burgh Records, 1627.] The allowance for candle to the beadle would therefore be for his own personal use, or possibly for the reader's desk.

The hours of church service on Sundays, it need scarcely be said, were much earlier long ago than they are now. In 1615 the Kirk Session of Lasswade appointed nine o'clock as the hour on which sermon should begin in the summer months, and half-past nine as the hour of sermon in winter. [The reader's service commenced an hour earlier, namely, at 8 o'clock. In 1603 the Presbytery of Aberdeen ordered that every Sunday at seven in the morning there be teaching of the Catechism in church by the minister to servants and others.] These appear to have been the hours at which the church service usually began in Scotland about that date. Speaking of the observance of Good Friday in 1621 Calderwood says that the ministers in Edinburgh "began their sermons about halfe ten, as if it had been a Sabboth day." The following year "the ministers of Edinburgh," he says again, "began their Good Friday sermon at nyne hours as if it had been a Sabboth day." Five and twenty years later, that is in 1646, the common hour of service in church on Sunday I imagine was ten. In the Kirk Session Records of Fenwick for that year there is a minute appointing a delinquent to "stand in the joges from eight till ten, thence to go to ye place of repentance within ye kirk." In 1724 Mr. Maitland was enjoined to convene his congregation at Mauch-line by eleven at farthest, which shows that an earlier hour than eleven for public worship was not uncommon at the beginning of last century.

Sometimes lamentation is heard at the present day about the extent to which public ordinances are neglected. There are many people, it is alleged, that seldom or never enter the house of God on the Sabbath, and when there are two diets of worship there are very few even of regular church goers that attend both diets. [In 1603 there were complaints given in to the Presbytery of Aberdeen that many people were in the habit of leaving the church in the middle of sermon, or during the prayer after sermon. The Presbytery, in consideration of this scandal, ordained that officers should be appointed to stand at the church door, "quha sail hald in and bring back sic as removis befoir blessing be endit, except they be seik and may not indure sa lang." In the town of Aberdeen absentees from church were ordered both in 157S and 1603 to be fined 3s. 4d. each. As late as 1646 people were made to confess a fault in Galston Session, when they were delated and found to have been absent from a diet of worship. In 1634 the Galston people for either absence from the examination or not keeping the kirk had both to "mak their repentance and pay 10s."] Many devices are said to have been tried to remedy or abate these evils. Those resorted to by the Covenanters in Aberdeen in 1642 were perhaps as ingenious as any that have ever been adopted. "Our minister," says Spalding, "teaches powerfullie and plainlie the word to the gryte comfort of his auditores. He takes strait count of those who cumis not to the communion nor keipis not the kirk, callis out the absentis out of pulpit, quhilk drew in sic a fair auditorie that the seatis of the kirk was not abill to hald thame, for remeid quhairof he causit big up ane loft athwart the body of the kirk and enterit the wrichtis thairto in November." That was what Mr. Strathauchin did. Mr. Cant did not go quite so far, but being annoyed that his afternoon diets, especially on Fast days, were sparsely attended, he naively dismissed his forenoon audience without a benediction, and reserved his blessing for those that returned to the second sermon. Perhaps he was right.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus