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On the 26th of January 1552, the Primate assembled a Council at Edinburgh, at which sixteen new statutes were enacted. It was confessed that the canons formerly made had not yet taken effect, and provisions followed for the immediate enforcement of the most important. Other canons provided for the more effectual prohibition of clandestine marriages, for the more effectual trial of questions of divorce, for giving greater efficacy to sentences of excommunication, for preventing the alienation of manses and glebe lands. One canon sets forth that, even in the most populous parishes, very few of the parishioners come to mass or to sermon ; that in time of service jesting and irreverence go on within the church, sports and secular business in the porch and the churchyard. It therefore enacts that the name of every person wilfully absenting himself from his parish church shall be taken down by the curate and reported to the rural dean ; and that all traffic in church porches, churchyards, or in their immediate neighbourhood, shall be forbidden on Sundays and other holidays during divine worship. Registers of weddings and christenings were ordered to be established in every parish. The registration of deaths and burials had been provided for as early as the fourteenth century. The Council boasts that the heresies which had recently invested divers parts of the realm seemed now at length to be curbed and all but subdued. Provision was made for the publication of a catechism —' That is to say, ane commone and Catholick instructioun of the Christian people in materis of our catholick faith and religion, quhilk na gud Christian man or woman suld misknaw.' This work, known as Archbishop Hamilton's Catechism, was to be read to the people in church before high mass when there was no sermon, as much as would occupy half an hour being read from the pulpit every Sunday and holiday, with a loud voice, clearly, distinctly, impressively, solemnly, by the rector, vicar, or curate, in his surplice and stole. The clergy were enjoined to exercise themselves daily in reading it, lest their stammering or breaking down might move the jeers of the people ; and heavy penalties, fines, and imprisonment were imposed on all who should fail to observe any part of the canons regarding it. A Provincial Council was held at Linlithgow, probably in the autumn of 1552, at which the decrees of the Council of Trent were accepted.
A Council appears to have met at Edinburgh in 1555. It would seem only to have ratified the acts of the two recent Councils. In March 1559, a General Provincial Council met in Edinburgh with the primary view of taking into consideration certain Articles of Reformation, which had been submitted to the Queen-Regent by a number of laymen, and were by her submitted to the Council. They were mainly an entreaty for the amendment of the live» of the clergy, and petitions for more frequent preaching ; that expositions of the sacraments of the body and blood of Christ, of baptism, and of marriage, should be published for the instruction of the people ; that the vulgar tongue should be used in the common prayers and litanies ; no change, it would appear, being proposed in the language of the mass itself. The petitioners, who evidently desired the Church's reformation, not its extinction, urged that no one should be allowed to dishonour the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, or the divine service of the Mass ; that no one should be permitted to destroy or injure churches or religious houses. To these remarkable Articles the Council gave, on the whole, most satisfactory answers, only the prelates are said to have remarked that it was beyond their power to change the order of public prayer, but that any man in his private devotions might use what language he pleased. Every statute which could enforce purity of life among the priests of God was then reiterated, and every provision was made
for the instruction of the laity. The canons enacted by the Scottish prelates in 1559, as in 1549, were the work of men in earnest, but it was work done when too late. The last act of the Provincial Council was to appoint a Council to meet on Septuagesima Sunday 1560; but the Provincial Council of the Scottish Church never met again.
If there were many in the last assembly of the priests of the ancient Church who, with anxious hearts, perceived that the storm was gathering steadily, there were none who could have foreseen the tremendous precipitation, unparalleled probably in the history of nations, wherewith event was to rush upon event, and was in the course of a few months to culminate in bringing to pass as at one blow the fall of the old hierarchy. In March 1559, the 'great and magnificent structure of mediaevalism,' with its heavy accumulation of good and evil, was untouched ; on the afternoon of the 24th of August 1560, not only had it fallen to pieces, but the Sacraments of the New Law were forbidden to be pleaded, the Papal authority was renounced and abolished, and the fairest churches and religious houses were in desolate ruins throughout the length and breadth of the land.
THE FALL OF THE OLD HIERARCHY.
'. . . The ruffian band Come to reform, where ne'er they came to pray.'
AMONG the clergy of the Scottish Church there stands out at this time one man who, while alive to the imperative necessity for immediate reform, resisted the wild measures of the Protestants with the spiritual weapons of Catholic warfare. This was Quintin Kennedy, Abbot of Crossraguel, a younger son of Gilbert, Earl of Cassilis. In 1558 he published ' A Compendious Tractive, conform to the Scriptures of Almighty God, reason, and authority, declaring the nearest and only way to establish the conscience of a Christian man in all matters which are in debate concerning faith and religion.' In this calm and scholarly treatise the Abbot states that while the Holy Bible is the faithful witness to the truth, the Church of God is the faithful judge He proceeds to assert that in his opinion lay persons may most profitably read the Bible for the reformation of their lives, but not with the view of prying curiously into the profound mysteries of the Sacraments, predestination, free will, etc. It would have been well if this tractive had gone home to those people, who were addicted to quoting the Word of God in a grossly irreverent manner, and of establishing their own frail and self-deceiving hearts as the infallible judges of its divine meaning. Some years after there was an attempt made to answer it by John Davidson, Principal of the College of Glasgow. In 1557 the Abbot of Crossraguel was on the point of holding a disputation on the Sacrament of the Altar with John Willock, the Protestant preacher. Finding, however, that they would never agree about the interpretation of Scripture, the controversy was abandoned. In May 1559, John Knox was joyfully received home again by the Congregation. During his absence on the Continent Knox had not been idle. The year before his return he had published the ' First Blast of the Trumpet against the monstrous Regiment of Women,' thereby bringing on himself the odium of both the queens in the British islands. A few days after his arrival at Leith he went to Perth, and there, on the 11th of May, preached a 'thundering sermon against idolatry,' in the Parish Church of St. John the Baptist. After the sermon the 'better sort' went to dinner, but the greater part of the congregation remained, and several priests knelt before the altar. It was a gloomy moment; earnest hearts were torn by the rude profanity of the preacher, and seared consciences were disturbed by many a vigorous home-thrust. The candles were lighted, and a sad chant began. Then a priest went up to the altar, and prepared to celebrate mass. But mass was never to be celebrated in that church again. He had scarcely opened a gorgeous tabernacle, when an impudent youth cried out, ' This is intolerable, that when .God by His Word hath plainly damned idolatry we shall stand and see it used in despite.' The exasperated priest struck the youth, who, taking up a stone, threw it at him, hitting the tabernacle, and smashing an image. This act was the signal for the multitude to rise like one man, and, armed with stones, every individual devoted himself to the ruin of some portion of the beautiful interior of the Church.