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John Knox, A Biography
Chapter XIV - Reconstruction of Church

NO time was lost in putting the main clauses of the Treaty into force. On the15th of July the French sailed from Leith, and almost immediately thereafter the English left for their own country. The occasion was one not only of national but of deep religious importance, and Knox seized it in order to commemorate in a worthy fashion the great deliverance that had been vouchsafed to his country. Four days after the departure of their allies the "whole nobility," he tells us, "and the greatest part of the Congregation, assembled in St. Giles' Church in Edinburgh, where after the sermon made for that purpose public thanks were given unto God for His merciful deliverance." Knox does not say who the preacher was, but there is every likelihood that it was himself. No report is given of the sermon, but the prayer is found in his History. In the petitions which he offered up, Old Testament incidents are freely referred to in illustration of the position of the Protestant Church in Scotland at that time.

Ordering of the Church. The first thing to be done was to distribute such ministers as there were over the country. The chief cities and towns were of course first supplied. Knox himself was appointed to Edinburgh; and St. Andrews, Aberdeen, Perth, Jedburgh, Dundee, Dunfermline, and Leith had preachers assigned to them. Five superintendents were also nominated. The Parliament which met on the 10th of July, and which was again prorogued to the 1st of August, was soon to reassemble, and for the purpose of leading up to the important work which it had to do Knox preached a series of discourses in St. Giles' on the prophecy of Haggai. "The doctrine," he says, "was proper for the time." That may have been so, but the effect of it was to give the first indication of the blow that was to dash one of his dearest hopes. "In application whereof," he continues, "he was so special and so vehement that some having greater respect to the world than to God's glory, feeling themselves pricked, said in mocking, 'We must now forget ourselves and bear the barrow to build the house of God.' God be merciful to the speaker," who, we are told, was Lethington.

A petition at the same time was drawn up, to be presented to Parliament by the barons, gentlemen, burgesses and others, calling upon the legislature to abolish the old religion and to establish the new. Of the many exposures which, up to this date, had been made of the corruptions and abuses of the Romish Church, this assuredly is the strongest. It attacks the lives of the clergy, their doctrinal errors, the idolatry of the Mass, and the supremacy of the Pope, whom it roundly declares to be "that Man of Sin." The reading of this petition produced divers opinions. The nobility had no objections to the Reformed doctrine, but from worldly reasons, as Knox mentions, they abhored "a perfect Reformation, for how many within Scotland that have the name of nobility are not unjust possessors of the patrimony of the Church." They had no desire to disgorge the Church lands which they had already, under various pretexts, seized, and having an eye on what still remained they were determined to put off as long as possible a settlement of that part of the Church question. Instructions, however, were given to the ministers to draw up "in plain and several heads the sum of that doctrine which they would maintain," and which they desired the present Parliament to establish. This task was willingly undertaken, and within four days they presented a Confession of Faith which was accepted "without alteration of any one sentence."

The Parliament to which this Confession was presented was by far the largest and most important that had assembled for years. Many who had a right to vote were present for the first time. They were the smaller barons and lairds and representatives of the burghs. Some objection was taken to their presence, but it was brushed aside. They were there because of their single-minded interests in the Reformation. The great nobles were there because of their interest in the patrimony of the Church. The composition of the House shows the progress which the new religion had made in the country, and how it was quickening the life of the commons and people of Scotland. Men of small degree, but with the right to vote, were there for the first time within seventy years, and their presence was an indication of the larger representation of the Scottish people that would, in the coming years, through the new birth in which they had participated by the revival of religion, be found in the national Parliament.

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