MINISTER OP EDINBURGH, AND ONE OF THE COMMISSIONERS
FROM THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND TO THE ASSEMBLY OF DIVINES AT WESTMINSTER
THE memory of eminent men, who have performed services of
great importance to their country, and who have filled conspicuous places with
much reputation, ought to be greatly respected. In such respect is the memory
of that illustrious statesman, the strenuous, yet temperate, Assertor of the
liberties of his country, John Hampden, still held by his grateful countrymen,
that, it is said, some years ago, one of his descendants being deficient in an
account of public money, he was exonerated from the debt due to Government by
an Act of Parliament, particularly expressing that it was for the services his
illustrious relation had done to his country that this mark of favour was shown
to him. Certainly less honour ought not to be paid to the memory of this
eminent Reformer, who is the subject of the following Memoir, and who
cheerfully performed many remarkable services of very great importance to his
country, and to the church of Christ. And, both his character, and the
particulars of his life, are highly interesting to us, who make a orofession of
adherence to Reformed principles.
Alexander Hendcrson probably was born about the year 1583. But of his parents, of the place of his birth, or of the circumstances of the early part of his life, I have not been able to obtain any authentic information. Being intended for the service of the church, he was sent to the University of St. Andrew's, to complete his education, about the commencement of the 17th century. Here he wais eminently distinguished by his rare abilities, and close application to his studies. And he soon became very conspicuous for his great proficiency in different branches of learning, which justly entitled him to respectful notice. And, after having finished the usual course of studies, and passed his degrees with applause, he was chosen teacher of a class of philosophy and rhetoric in the above-mentioned University. He was one of the professors of St. Andrew's in the year 1611; for his name is affixed to a letter of thanks to the king, on occasion of his having founded a library in the College, by the Rector, Deans of Faculty, and other masters of the University of St. Andrew's, dated 4th May 1611
The Church of Scotland was in a very deplorable condition, about this time. The liberty of her Assemblies was greatly infringed; for the king claimed an absolute power over them, and arbitrarily changed both the time and place of meeting by his proclamations. Ministers in the Church were commonly introduced to vote as bishops in the Parliament. And some of them were craftily nominated to the titles of bishoprics on the occasion. The king reckoned, that equality among ministers could not agree with a monarchy; and that without bishops the three Estates in Parliament could net be firmly established; and therefore he very warmly and artfully urged the creation of bishops. And these creatures of his basely flattered him, in his crafty designs; and he conferred upon them preferment and worldly grandeur.
And thus Episcopacy, closely attended with its numerous train of evils, was keenly obtruded upon the Church of Christ in Scotland, after she had deliberately, religiously, and very solemnly, cast off this heavy and insufferable yoke. And, that the way might be the more speedily prepared, and the gates the more easily and widely opened, for the entrance of Episcopacy, with its large train of ceremonies, and external splendour, into the city of the Lord, her most able ministers, and eminently faithful watchmen, were most shamefully and unjustly silenced, imprisoned, and either banished from the king's dominions, under the pain of death, as the six imprisoned in Blackness were, or forcibly driven into obscure and remote corners of the land, where only a small number could be profited by their ministry, and where they had no opportunity of effectually opposing the corrupt measures of the king and court. That renowned servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, most powerful preacher, and zealous and courageous opponent of Episcopacy, Mr Robert Bruce, was very unfairly excluded from his ministry in Edinburgh, and left in this condition, even at the time of the king's exaltation, and removal from Edinburgh to London. And, after Mr Bruce had been much harassed, and inhibited to preach, he was shut up in Inverness, a town in the north of Scotland, on the 27th Aug. 1605, where he remained four years, teached every Sabbath before noon, and every Wednesday. And, these earnest Contenders for the faith which teas once delivered unto the saints, Mr Andrew Mellville, and Mr John Davidson, were detained in confinement, at the king's removal to London, though the prison-doors were readily opened, on the way, as he proceeded in his journey, for the liberty of persons of a very different description.
And strong attempts were made to corrupt the seminaries of learning, by casting out sound teachers, and placing in their room, corrupt and time-serving men, who greatly encouraged the Court's measures. And, youth being put under the tuition of such teachers, the poison, which they industriously cast into the fountains, was very speedily disseminated through the whole land. In this very dismal state of affairs, Mr Henderson, being then a young man of great abilities, eagerly desired preferment; and is said to have become a warm advocate for the new measures. Bishop Guthrie says, This Mr Henderson had been in his youth very Episcopal, in token whereof, being a professor of philosophy in St. Andrew's, he did, at the laureation of his class, choose Archbishop Gladstanes for his patron, with a very flattering dedication, for the which he had the kirk of Leuchars given him shortly after. Though the authority, it must be allowed, is not the very best, especially when Mr Henderson is brought to our view, yet there is reason to think that what the Bishop here says of him is not without foundation.
Mr Henderson is said to have been very much inclined to Episcopacy in the early part of his life; and obtaining the parish of Leuchars through the patronage of Archbishop Gladstanes, his settlement there wes very unpopular. On the day of his ordination, such was the opposition of the people, that they firmly secured the church doors, and the ministers who attended, together with the Presentee, were obliged to break in by the window. Mr Henderson not only was known to be a defender of those corruptions to which many of the people in Scotland were exceedingly averse; but it also appears that at the entrance into his ministry, he discovered little or no regard to the spiritual interests of the flock upon whom he had been obtruded.
But he had not been long minister of Leuchars, when a most happy and important change was produced on the state of his mind. This remarkable change had a great influence upon the whole of his future conduct. About that time, the celebrated Mr Robert Bruce, who had been banished from Edinburgh, had obtained liberty to return from Inverness, the place of his confinement. He improved his freedom in preaching the glorious Gospel of the Grace of God, as he had opportunity. Multitudes attended his ministry, particularly on fast-days and at communions. Mr Henderson, hearing of a communion in the neighbourhood, at which Mr Bruce was expected to assist, went secretly to the place, and took his seat in a dark corner of the church, where he would be most concealed. Mr Bruce entered the pulpit, and after a solemn pause, in his usual manner, which fixed Mr Henderson's attention upon him, he read, in due time, with his accustomed emphasis and deliberation, these words as his text, Verily., verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but clirnbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. John x. i. Words most peculiarly descriptive of the character of an intruder, and so literally applicable to the manner in which Mr Henderson entered upon his ministry at Leuchars, went like drawn swords to his heart. He who carefully endeavoured to hide himself from the view of his fellow.creatures, soon found that he was under the eye of his Creator and Redeemer. He felt the powerful. effects of the word of God, when the ministry of it is accompanied with the agency of the Holy Spirit. His conscience was deeply convicted, and he readily yielded to the irresistible force of divine truth. What he heard on this occasion, from that eminent servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, was by the divine blessing, the means of his conversion. And we are told, that ever after he retained a very great affection for his spiritual father, Mr Bruce, and often mentioned him with marks of the highest respect.
Mr Henderson's change of mind was soon seen in his whole deportment. He now became a diligent and faithful labourer in the Lord's vineyard. He was peculiarly zealous and active in promoting the spiritual welfare of the people of his pastoral charge. He used his utmost endeavours to remove the offence which he had given, by the manner of his first entrance among them.
It may not be amiss to hear his own address to his brethren, in the famous Assembly at Glasgow, upon this interesting subject, a considerable time after this period. There are divers among us who have had no such warrant for our entry to the ministry, as were to be wished. Alas! how many of us have rather sought the kirk, than the kirk sought us! How many have rather gotten the kirk given to them, than they have been given to the kirk for the good thereof! And yet there must be a great difference put between those who have lived many years in an unlawful office without warrant of God, and therefore must be abominable in the sight of God. and those who in some respects have entered unlawfully, and with an ill conscience, and afterward have come to see the evil of this, and to do what in them lies to repair the injury. The one is like a marriage altogether unlawful, and null in itself: the other is like a marriage in some respects unlawful and inexpedient. but that may be mended by the diligence and fidelity of the parties in doing their duty afterwards: so should it be with us who entered lately into the calling of the ministry. If there were any faults or wrong steps in our entry, (as who of us are free?) acknowledge the Lord's calling of us, if we have since got a seal from Heaven of our ministry, and let us labour with diligence and faithfulness in our office".
Mr Henderson now became a decided Presbyterian. He viewed the courses of the prevailing party in the Church of Scotland very differently from what he had formerly done, when he was guided by a worldly spirit, and by ambitious views. He very prudently, first fully satisfied himself by deliberate and minute inquiry, that Presbytery was more conformable to the Holy Scriptures, more favourable to the interests of practical religion, and more consistent with the liberties of the people, than that ecclesiastical system which had been lately introduced. Upon a candid and patient investigation of the existing controversy, he was firmly persuaded that Episcopacy was equally unauthorised by the word of God, and inconsistent with the reformed constitution of the Church of Scotland.
From that period, he was very active in opposing prelatical government, and in resisting those most imprudent and despotic measures by which the Court made a bold attempt to procure a general submission to itself. And throughout the whole of the arduous conflict which he maintained, he was eminently distinguished by his ardent zeal, undaunted courage, dexterity in argutnent and debate, and peculiar skill in the management of the most difficult affairs. He was earnestly solicited to take an active and leading part, in the most important transactions of his time. And he always secured the confidence of his own party, and commanded the respect of his opponents. "His conduct uniformly gave high satisfaction to the numerous and respectable body whose views he promoted, and they constantly turned their eye to him in cases of peculiar delicacy and moment.
From the time that Episcopal government had first been obtruded upon the Church of Scotland, a scheme was contrived to render her worship also conformable to the English model. After different preparatory steps, an Assembly was suddenly convened at Perth, in the year 1618. To that Assembly the King invited by his letters, above thirty noblemen and gentlemen, who were sensible that it was his Majesty's earnest desire to have the form of worship in the Church of Scotland changed, and the many and various rites of the English Church introduced among the Scotch people, that the union of the two kingdoms might be the stronger. In this ecclesiastical assembly, by the most unbecoming influence, several superstitious innovations were authorised, and the five following articles admitted, which are commonly styled the Five Articles of Perth. These were, 'kneeling at the sacrament of the Lord's supper; the celebration of five holy days, the nativity, passion. resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the descent of the Holy Spirit; private baptism; the private administration of the Lord's supper; and episcopal confirmation.'
Among the faithful ministers of the Gospel, who had the courage to appear in opposition to these innovations, and to argue against them with great force of truth, we find the respectable name of Mr Alexander Henderson of Leuchars. It is very remarkable, that a proposal was made in that Assembly for the translation of Mr Henderson, and of his friend, Mr William Scot of Coupar, to Edinburgh. This proposal was seemingly made with the view of soothing the inhabitants of that city, and of procuring a more ready submission to the other acts of that Assembly. It is very probable that they had not any real design of settling those able advocates for the cause of truth and of nonconformity in that eminent station. Calderwood expressly says, that the bishops meant no such thing in earnest. But the proposal clearly shows, that Mr Henderson was very highly esteemed, even at that early period, by the faithful part of the Church of Scotland, with whom he was then intimately connected.
In the month of Aug. 1619, Mr Henderson and two other ministers were called before the Court of High Commission in St. Andrew's, charged with composing and publishing a book, entitled Perth Assembly, proving the nullity of that Assembly, and with raising a contribution to defray the expence of printing the work. They appeared, -and are said to have answered for themselves with such wisdom, that the bishops could gain no advantage against them, and were obliged to dismiss them with threatenings.
When Mr Henderson enjoyed his beloved retirement, he spent a considerable part of his time in reading, and in those studies which were afterward highly useful to him in the public services of the church and of his Country. And beside diligently discharging the pastoral duties in his own congregation, he met occasionally with his brethren at fasts and communions, when, by their sermons and conferences, they mutually encouraged each other in firmly adhering to the good old principles of the Church of Scotland; and joined in fervent prayer to Almighty God for deliverance from those evils under which they groaned. Mr Livingston mentions Mr Henderson as one of those eminently pious and able ministers with whom he became acquainted in attending such solemn occasions, between the years 1626 and 1630, the memory of whom, he says is very precious and refreshing. Mr Henderson was always indefatigable in his labours. And he was inflexible in his attachment to truth and rectitude of conduct. But in spite of the superiority of his talents, and of the purity ot his intentions, he was very often harassed by calumnies and misrepresentation. Bishop Guthrie represents the tumult which was produced by the first reading of the Liturgy in Edinburgh, on the 23rd of July, 1637, as the result of a previous consultation in the month of April, when he says Mr Alexander Henderson came from the brethren in Fife, and Mr David Dickson from those in the west, and, in concert with Lord Balmerino and Sir Thomas Hope, engaged certain matrons to put the first affront upon the Service.book. But this story is at variance with the Official accounts, not only of the Town. council of Edinburgh, and of the Privy council, but also of his Majesty, which expressly declare, that, upon the strictest inquiry, it appeared that the tumult was raised by the meaner people, without any influence, concert, or interference, of the better classes. Mr Henderson had no hand in any such affairs, but publicly exposed their dangerous tendency.- On March 9th, 1637, we find the eminently pious Mr Rutherford writing to him as follows: As for your case, my reverend and dearest brother, ye are the talking of the north and south; and looked to so as if ye were all chrystal glass. Your motes and dust should soon be proclaimed, and trumpets blown at your slips; but I know that ye have laid help upon One who is mighty. Intrust not yuur comforts to men's airy and frothy applause, neither lay your down castings on the tongues of such mockers and reproachers of godliness. God has called you to Christ's side, and the wind is now in Christ's face in this land; and seeing ye are with Him, ye cannot expect the lee side or the sunny side of the brae: but I know that ye have resolved to take Christ upon any terms whatsoever.
The Archbishop of St .Andrew's, with a view to deter other persuns, gave a charge to Mr Henderson, and to other two ministers, to purchase each ot them two copies of the Liturgy, for the use of their parishes, within fifteen days, under the pain of rebellion. Mr Henderson went to Edinburgh, and, in the month of Aug. 1637, presented a petition to the Privy-council for himself and his brethren, stating their objections, and desiring a suspension of the charge. Upon this petition and others of a similar nature, being very providentially presented about the same time, a favourable answer was obtained from the Council. And an account was transmitted to London respecting the people's great aversion to conformity. This step was of very great utility and importance, as it directed those persons in general, who were aggrieved to a regular mode of obtaining redress. And we are informed, that the Privy-council having then testified their aversion to enforce the novations, did afterward, on different interesting occasions, befriend and promote the cause of the petitioners. From that time, Mr Henderson was eminently distinguished by his great activity in all the measures of the petitioners ; and his prudence and diligence contributed very much to bring those measures to a comfortable conclusion.
His worth was soon discovered, and he was frequently employed in the most important and delicate transactions of the times. When the National Covenant was agreed upon and sworn, in the year 1638, our illustrious Reformer was called forth to act a very conspicuous part. On the first of March, that year, the covenant was sworn with uplifted hands, and subscribed in the Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh, by thousands of the nobility, gentry, burgesses, ministers of the Gospel, and commons, assembled from almost all parts of Scotland; and copies of it being circulated throughout the kingdom, it was generally sworn with great alacrity.
This memorable deed, of which it would be highly improper to forget the respectable authors, was prepared by Mr Henderson, and Archibald Johnston, afterward of Warriston, an advocate, in whom the supplicants chiefly confided; and revised by Balmerino, Loudon, and Rothes. Mr Henderson, with those noblemen who have been mentioned, subscribed the covenant on that solemn occasion. The inhabitants of the kingdom were now divided into Covenanters and Non-covenanters. And some of the Covenanters had submitted to the Bishops, and conformed to the Articles of Perth, who were yet accounted orthodox preachers, and zealous opposers of Popery and Arminianism, as Messrs Robert Baillie, Henry Rollock, John Bell, Andrew and Robert Ramsay, who, upon the first appearance of the Service book joined with their brethren against the innovations.
Others of the Covenanters would not conform to the Articles of Perth, among whom were messrs Henderson, Dickson, Rutherford, Blair. Cant, and the two Livingstons. When the Marquis of Hamilton was sent by the King, to act as his high commissioner, with a view to suppress the Covenanters, who had several conferences with him without success, he at last told them that the Books of canons and liturgy should be discharged, on condition that the Covenanters would give up their covenant. This proposal exceedingly displeased all the Covenanters, and had a strong tendency to excite them unto greater vigilance and activity, in supporting and vindicating that most solemn deed. Upon this the celebrated Mr Henderson was agdin set to work, and the public were soon favoured with sufficient reasons why the Covenanters could not upon any terms give up their covenant, nor even pass from any part of it The Kitg's commissioner afterward heard Mr Henderson preach, and conferred with him in private respecting the state of affairs, which had the desired effect of soothing the Covenanters into a belief of his affection to them,' It seems to have been about that time, that the city of Edinburgh fixed their eyes upon Mr Henderson, for one of their ministers. Among other articles of information sent up to the Scottish Bishops, who were then at London, by their friends in Scotland, was the following: That the Council of Edinburgh have made choice of Mr Alexander Henderson to be helper to Mr Andrew Ramsay, and intend to admit him without advice or consent of the Bishops.
In the month of July, 1638, the Tables at Edinburgh sent the Earls of Montrose and Kinghorn, and Lord Coupar, with Messrs Henderson, Dickson, and Cant, to the north country, with a view to use their influence in persuading the inhabitants to take the covenant, particularly those of Aberdeen, who, by means of their Doctors of divinity, of the university, and of the Marquis of Huntley, had hitherto declined to join with their brethren in other parts of the kingdom. Upon their arrival at Aberdeen. they were but coldly received. The Doctors presented unto them fourteen captious and ensnaring demands respecting the covenant, which they had drawn up with great care and art. Different papers passed between the Doctors and the deputed ministers of the Covenanters on this subject, which were published. Those papers of the latter are said to have been written by Mr Henderson. The deputies, being otherwise engaged, and seeing no prospect at removing the prejudices ot their opponents, desisted from the controversy. Annd after preaching in different places, and producing solid arguments for.suhscribing the covenant, and taking part in the work of reformation, and procurirg the subscriptions at some hundreds in Aberdeen, and in other parts, they returned to their constituents.
Mr Henderson was called to make a very public appearance in the much and justly celebrated assembly which met at Glasgow. on the 21st Novemb 1698. The petitioners continuing indefatigably diligent and being most firmly united, and very much animated in the defenceof truth, the Court was obliged to grant their reasonable demands, by calling a General Assembly and a parliament, that the national grievances might be duly considered and fairly redressed.
This very respecable Assembly convened in the High church of Glasgow : and, beside a very great concourse of the people, all the nobility and gentry of any family or interest were present, either as members, assessors, or spectators. And, the multitudes assembled on this solemn occasion were so very great, that the members could scarcely obtain entrance, even by the assistance of the magistrates, with their town guard, the noblemen, and gentlemen, and the High-commissioner himself in person, who, at first, sometimes made way for the members. After solemn fasting, and a very good and pertinent sermon preached from Revelation i. 12, 15. - "I saw seven golden candksticks And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle", by Mr John Bell, who did also constitute the Assembly in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the alone King and Head of his church, and moderate until another was chosen, the Assembly engaged in the choice of a Moderator. But. at the same time, a declinature was presented from the Bishops, that is a protested against the legality of the Assembly. And the Marquis of Hamilton. the King's Commissioner, warmly insisted that this should first be read. It was objected, that there was no Assembly without a Moderator, and therefore they ought necessarily to begin with his election. The High commissioner seeing that he could not prevail, protested against the refusal to read the declinature before the choice of a Moderator, and ordered his protestation to be entered. Before the choice, the Royal commissioner entered another protest, that this choice should neither prejudice the King's prerogative, nor any law of the kingdom, nor bar the King from taking legal exceptions, either against the person elected, or the election itself At length, all objections against chusing a Moderator being overcome, Mr Alexander Henderson, as a minister eminently qualified to fill that exalted station in a proper manner, by his possessing great authority, much resolution, and uncommon prudence, was unanimously chosen Moderator of the Assembly, and most cheerfully called to the chair. His distinguished conduct, in former times, clearly proved, that he could readily act in a very difficult situation. And, in the very critical state of affairs, when discussions of the greatest importance were expected, and a very great concourse of people assembkd to witness these, he certainly was a very proper person to fill the Moderator's chair. Under the special care of Divine Providence, there are, at all times, such innumerable gradations of ability, and endless varieties of study and inclination, that no employment can be vacant for want of a man qualified to discharge it. This is particularly true, with reference unto the church of Christ, for which ample provision is always made. Mr Henderson, having solemnly constituted the Assembly, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, afterward addressed the members in a very beautiful and appropriate speech. He soon gained the good opinion and confidence of the members, especially of such of them who were not formerly much acquainted with him; and was honoured with marks of distinguished esteem. He behaved very respectfully unto all, and at the same time with that particular firmness and independence which became the President of a free Assembly. Mr Robert Baillie, who was a member of this venerable Assembly, and who wrote an history of it, says, speaking concerning the Moderator's prayers: "Among that man's other good parts, that was one, a faculty of grave, good, and zealous prayer, according to the matter in hand; which he exercised, without tagging, (fainting) to the last day of our meeting.
The rare abilities, which strongly marked Mr Henderson's character, were particularly brought to the touchstone, by the Royal commissioner's premature dissolution of this great Assembly, and the excommunication of the Bishops. And, bringing his rare abilities to the touch-stone, on these remarkable occasions, was like friction to the diamond: for their excellence was then sufficiently attested; they shined with additional lustre, and they excited new admiration. Although the King had called this Assembly, he seemingly had no design to allow them fairly to proceed in the discussion of their business. A firm determination had been entered into, of utterly abolishing episcopacy ; which the nation now groaned under. and which many ardently wished deliverance from. But the King was evidently against the aboltion of episcopacy; and so would not allow this Assembly to consider and redress grievances, but only to cause to be registered such concessions, flowing from himself, as he necessarily granted in present circumstances. And, it was very observable, that the King's commissioner did not formally consent to any part of the Assembly's procedure. It was his custom to give his voice rather by way of permission, than to say any thing that might imply his direct assent; for he seemingly resolved, to keep himsef in all his words and deeds so free, that he might, when he would disavow all that was done, or to be done, in that Assembly.'
But the members considered themselves as a free Assembly, and were firmly resolved both to claim, and to exercise, that glorious liberty, and great authority, which the Lord Jesus Christ, as the King and Head of his church, had conferred upon them, The King's commissioner had formerly urged, that prior to the trial of commissions, the declinature of the Bishops should be read But he was told, that the Assembly was not formed or fully constituted until the commissions of elections were examined, and the commissioners who were present, known to be duly authorised. This was an affair of great importance; for as the declinature contained reasons to shew that the election of the greatest part of the commissioners was null, it was easily seen, that these reasons would come too late, after the power of the commissioners should be allowed, and they admitted as members of the Assembly. When the Royal commissioner could not obtain his desire, he entered his protest. The declinature of the Bishops was at last read, at the repeated request of the Commissioner, wherein they pretended to prove the illegality of this Assembly; and also was answered very learnedly and solidly by the Assemby. The Assembly proceeding in course to vote themselves competent judges of the libels raised against them; when the Moderator stated the question, Whether this Asseinbly found themselves the judges of the Bishops, notwithstanding their declinature? The Royal commissioner interposed, and declared that if they pretended to assume a right to judge the Bishops, he could not give his consent, nor continue any longer with them. Upon this, he made a speech, the substance of which may be seen in Stevenson's History, and delivered the King's concessions to the clerk to be read and registered.' After the clerk had publicly read these concessions, the Moderator addressed the Royal commissiorn in a very grave and well digested speech, which follows:
"It well becometh us his Majesty's subjects convened in this honourable and reverend Assembly. with all thankfulnes; to receive so fu!l a testimony of his Majesty's goodness, and not to undervalue the smallest crumbs of comfort that fall to us of his Majesty's liberality. With our hearts we do acknowledge before God, and with our mouths do we desire to testify to the world, how far we think ourselves obliged to our dread sovereign, wishing that the secret thoughts of our hearts, and the way when in we have walked in time past were made manifest to him. It hath been the glory of the Reformed Churches and we account it our glory in a special manner, to give unto kings and magistrates what belongs to their places: and, as we know the fifth command of the law to be a precept of the second table, so do we acknowledge it to be the first of that kind and that, next unto piety toward God, we are obliged to loyalty and obedience to our king. there is nothing due to kings and princes in matters ecclesiastical, which, I trust shall be denied by this assembly to our King; for, beside authority and power in matters civil. to a Christian king belongth
I Inspection over the affairs of the church. And he ought not only diligently to watch over ecclesiastical matters.
2. The vindication of religion doth also belong to the King, for whom it is most proper, by his authority, to vindicate religion from contempt and all abuse, he being keeper also of the first table of the law
3. The sanctions also are in his Majesty's hand, to confirm, by his royal authority, the constitutions of the kirk, and give them the strength of a law.
4, His Majesty also hath the power of correction: he both may and ought to compel kirk.men in the performance of the duties which God requires of them.
5. The Coercive power also belongs to the prince, who hath power from God to restrain by his terror and authority from what becometh not their places and callings.
6. The Christian magistrate hath power to convocate assemblys, when he finds the pressing affairs of the church calling for them; and in assemblies when they are convened, his power is great.
7. As he is a Christian. having the judgment at discretion in all matters debateable and controverted.
8. As h is king or magistrate, he must have the judgment of his eminent place and high vocation, to discern what concerns the spiritual welfare and salvation of his subjects. And, as a magistrate singularly gifted with more than ordinary gifts of knowledge and authority. And we heartily acknowledge that your Grace, as his Majesty's High-commissioner. and representing his Royal person, hath an eminent place in this reverend and honourable Assembly, first, we hope as a good Christian,second, as his Majesty's High.commnissioner; and thirdly, as one endued with singular gifts, and fitted in a special manner for this employment. Far be it from us to deny any thing that is due, either to those who are in supreme authority, or to such as are deisgated by and subordinated to them. When Alexander the Great came to Jerusalem, he desired that his image might be set up in the temple. This the Jews did modestly refuse as inconsistent with the law, which was the Law of God, but liberally offered what was in their power, and more honourable for the king, viz that they would begin in the reckoning of time from his coming to Jerusalem. and would call all their first born sons by his name. What is ours, let it be given to Caesar, but let God, by whom kings reign, have his own place. Let Christ Jesus, the King of kings, have his own prerogative, by whose grace our king reigneth, and we pray that he may reign long and prosperously over us.
This pathetic and judicious speech does honour both to the literary abilities, and to the good sense, of the author. It accurately discriminates between the power of the church.officer, and of the civil magistrate, respecting ecclesiastical affairs; and contains an explicit declaration that the Assembly were sincerely disposed to give unto their King and his Commissioner, all that honour and obedience which corresponded with the duty which they owed to Him who was King of kings and Lord of lords. It appears to me clearly expressive of kings being nursing fathers of the church, Isa. xlix. 23. Kings shall not only join themselves to the church of Christ; but they shall also use their power and authority for the increase and defence of it The speech is worthy of transmission to posterity ; and may be of solid and lasting benefit to them. The Royal commissioner received it with signs of pleasure, and of satisfaction; as appears by his following address to the Moderator, in way of reply : Sir, You have spoken as becometh a good Christian, and a dutiful subject, and I am hopeful that you will conduct yourself with that deference which you owe to our Royal sovereign, all of whose commands will (I trust) be found agreeable to the commandments of God. The Moderator replied, that the Assembly being indicted by his Majesty, and consisting of such members, regularly authorised, as by the acts and practice in former times, had a right to represent the church, they considered themselves as a free .Assernbly; and he trusted that all things in it would be. conducted conformable to the law of God and reason; that they would not advance one step but as clear light should chalk out the way before them, and that they would make it evidently appear to all men, that they were afraid to walk in another way; and that they were hopeful that their King, being such a lover of righteousness, needed only to have truth clearly pointed out before him, and, when this was done, that his Majesty would fall in love with it.
Upon this, the Moderator again asked the members, If he should put the question. Whether or not the Assembly found themselves competent judges of the Bishops? But the Commissioner urged that this question should be deferred. The Moderator said, Nay, with your Grace's permission, that cannot be; for it is fit to be put only after the declinature hath been under consideration. The Commissioner repeated, that, in this case, he behoved to withdraw. Mr Henderson replied, I wish the contrary from the bottom of my heart, and that your Grace would continue to savour us with your presence, without obstructing the work and freedom of the Assembly. - But the Commissioner plainly declared, after some other observations had been made, that he could not continue any longer, and urging the Moderator to conclude with prayer, without effect, he did, in his Majesty's name, dissolve the Assembly, prohibiting their further procedure. He is said to have given these four principal reasons.
1. Lay elders were introduced into the Assembly to vote there.
2. The ministers chosen commissioners, were elected by lay elders, contrary to custom and practice.
3. The few commissioners chosen contrary to the instructions of the Tables, had been thrown out by mere cavils.
4. The cited Bishops were to be tried by persons who had already declared against them.
Seemingly, the Commissioner had the King's positive orders to dissolve the Assembly, if they should attempt to try the Bishops. Mr Hume says, this measure was foreseen, and little regarded. The Court still continued to sit. and to finish their business.
Upon the Commissioner's departure, the Moderator delivered the following animating speech to the Assembly. "All who are present know how this Assembly was indicted, and what power we allow to our Sovereign in matters ecclesiastic: But though we have acknowledged the power of Christian kings for convening Assemblies, and their power in them, yet that must not derogate from Christ's right, for he bath given warrant to convocate Assemblies, whether magistrates consent or not. Therefore, seeing we perceive his Grace, my lord Commissioner, to be zealous of his Royal master's commands, have not we as good reason to be zealous toward our Lord, and to maintain the liberties and privileges of his kingdom? You all know that the work in hand hath had many difficulties, and yet hitherto the Lord hath helped and borne us through them all; therefore it becometh us not to be discouraged at our being deprived of human authority, but rather that ought to be a powerful motive to us to double our courage in answering the end for which we are convened.
Mr Henderson had the happy talent of suiting his expressions in his speeches to present circumstances; and thereby greatly encouraging the Assembly amid the difficulties which they had to encounter. Having delivered this speech, he desired that if any other of the reverend or honourable members pleased, they might speak a word for the encouragement of their brethren, as God should put it in their hearts. Upon this, Messrs. David Dickson, Henry Roilock, Andrew Cant, and Andrew Ramsay, of the clergy, Loudon of the nobility, Keir of the gentry. and Mr Robert Cunningham of the boroughs, delivered beautiful and pathetic speeches to the same purpose. By these, both the other members, and many spectators, were greatly animated with a lively sense of present duty, and of the beauty of the Truth, as it is in Jesus. They were inspired with fresh courage. And the Moderator now put the question, Whether they would adhere to the protestation against the Royal commissioner's departure, and continue constituted until they finished their business? All, except about five, did, first with up-lifted hands, and afterward by a formal vote, declare their resolution to remain together until they finished the weighty business, which urgently demanded their consideration. And, under the enlivening smiles and gracious influences of approving Heaven, this renowned Assembly proceeded in their most arduous work, with much success. They clearly displayed, on every occasion, great faithfulness. constancy, and consistency. Their measures amply proved, that they were certainly directed by unerring wisdom and goodness. And their difficulties only excited them unto the performance of their duty, and awakened their holy ardour. And the effects of perseverance, courage, and zeal, were clearly seen in their conduct.
The last question of importance during that day was, Whether the Assembly do find themselves lawful and competent judges of the pretended Archbishops and Bishops of this kingdom, and of the complaint given in against them amid their adherents, notwithstanding their declinature and protestation ? Mr Stevenson says, that according to Mr Baillie, all voted affirmatively, but, according to the Journal, three or four voted in the negative. A proclamation was issued against the Assembly, and published with great solemnity, at the market.cross of Glasgow. But opposition in the course of duty, rather animated, than discouraged, the members of this venerable body. Thus may all the opposition that we meet with in the course of our duty, animate, rather than overbear, our resolution in performing it"
At the opening of the next session, Mr Henderson again addressed the Assembly. and recommended gravity, quietness, and order as in the sight of God; because they ought to have their judgments exercised concerning the matter in hand, and their minds elevated to God for light and direction. He added the following modest and beautiful remark: Not that he assumed any thing to himself, but he was bold to direct them in that wherein he had the consent of their own minds" This very seasonable recommendation was punctually observed, during the whole time of the sitting of this famous Assembly. The Earl of Argyle returned to the Assembly this session, whose presence greatly encouraged them. And the Moderator earnestly entreated him, that, though he was not a member of the Assembly, yet for the common interest which he had in the church, he would be pleased to countenance their meetings and bear testimony to the rectitude of their proceedings; which he readily promised, and faithfully performed When Argyle desired an explanation ot the Confession of Faith or Covenant, the Moderator said, Although we do not compare the Confession of any reformed Church with the word of God. and are far from reckoning our Confession a rule ot faith but only a form of Confession, yet we have great reason to account honourably of it. Other churches give a large testimony thereto, and it were a shame for us not to have the same good opinion of it; and. that we may have this it is necessary that we clearly understand the particular articles contained in the same, especially such as have been controverted. Ye all know what a great ado hath been made about this matter, some subscribing with an interpretation exclusive of the Service book and canons, and others subscribing the short Confession of Faith, with the general bond lately urged by his Majesty, without the application made by the council to the sense in which it was originally sworn" therefore he hoped that what should be now offered would administer light that should shine to others; but, because it would require a long time to hear and peruse all the acts and books necessary for clearitig the Confession, he proposed that a committee might be named for that purposes to which the Assembly readily agreed.
When there was a near prospect of pronouncing sentence against some ministers who had been tried before their respective presbyteries, found guilty, and suspended, but remitted for an higher censure to the judgment of the Assembly, the Moderator delivered a grave and judicious discourse on the power of the church. And, at the reading of the processes against the persons, he justly observed, That they ought to be heard with a feeling sense of compassion toward the guilty persons, and also with joy that the Lord was putting forth his hand for the purging of his own house. When this respectable Assembly justly condemned six preceding corrupt Assemblies, the Moderator's observation was: This Assembly have unanimously condemned these Assemblies, and I hope they shall he looked on as so many beacons, that we strike not again on such rocks. And he exhorted that the several judicatures should now faithfully use that power which the Lord had freely committed to them. Before sentence was given against the Bshop of Galloway, the Moderator delivered a speech to the Assembly, to coticiliate their minds to the step intended. In this he said; The preaching of false doctrine and venomous poison of that kind, to seduce the people from their profession to popery and idolatry, must have a great censure. And this man's breach of the caveats, bringing in of the service book, which you have already condemned for the great guilt involved in it, and declining this lawful Assembly, abstracting from his personal faults, deserveth no less than excommunication - It is known to you that the Church of Scotland have been in use to excommunicate papists and persons disobedient to the discipline of the church, from partaking of the holy communion; and seeing the Bishops are guilty in both these respects, why should not that high censure be inflicted on them? What a reverend father, Mr Andrew Melville, said of Archbishop Adamson, That the old serpent had so stung him with avarice, and he swelled so exhorbitantly with pride, as threatened the destruction of the whole bodyif he were not cut off doth evidently hold of the present pretended Bishops: and therefore, it seems necessary that the last mean be essayed, And let us solicit God to make his ordinance effectual for the destruction of the flesh that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.'
The Assembly, having finished the processes of the Bishops, agreed, at the close of their 19th Session, that the sentences which were passed against them should be publicly pronounced next day by the Moderator, in the presence of the Assembly, after a sermon preached by him suitable to the solemn occasion. He shewed great aversion to this arduous work; but all agreed that he should perform it. In vain he pleaded his fatigue, the multiplicity of affairs by which his attention was greatly perplexed, and the shortness of time for preparation; no excuse was admitted. Accordingly, at the time appointed, Mr Henderson preached before a very large auditory, from Psalm cx. The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footsool.
Mr Baillie, who heard it, gives it the character of a good and learned sermon.' After delivering the sermon, he mentioned the Assembly's appointment, named the eight Bishops to he excommunicated, and afterward caused an abstract of the evidence against the Bishops to be publicly read by the clerk of the Assembly, for the satisfaction of the people, upon which he made some observations, shewing that they justly deserved the fearful sentence of excommunication. Upon this the Assembly's sentence against the Bishops was presented and heard; after which the Moderator desired the concurrence of the congregation of God's people in this solemn action, fully and accurately shewing their warrant for it, and the necessity of it, from the word of God, particularly, from Mat xviii 17, 18 I Cor. v l, I Tim. i 20 He said, Truly if the Lord had directed to another remedy for these men, the kirk of Scotland would have been glad to use it; but there is no other known mean to keep them from the condemnation of the devil, for the mortifying of their flesh, and saving of their souls, than this. After this, he most fervently and gravely called upon God by prayer: Prayer being ended, the Moderator pronounced the sentence of excommunication in these words: Since the eight persons before-mentioned here declared themselves strangers to the communion of saints, to be without hope of life eternal, and to be slaves of Sin: Therefore we the people of God assembled together for this cause, and I as their mouth, In The Name of The Eternal God, and of his Son the Lord Jesus Christ, according to the direction of this Assembly, Do Excmmunicate the said eight persons from the participation of the sacraments, from the communion of the visible church and from the prayers ot the church, and so long as they continue obstinate, discharges you all, as ye would not be partakers of their vengeance, from keeping any religious fellowship with them; and thus give them over into the hands of the devil, assuring you in the name of the Lord Jesus, that except their repentance be evident, the tearful wrath and vengeance of the God of heaven shall overtake them even in this life, and after this world everlasting vengeance.
He added, Beloved, let us not think that this fearful sentence is merely the wind of man's voice; surely these unhappy men shall find the truth of it. It is true, a farther blindnes of mind, and hardness of heart, is one part of the execution of this sentence; but it may be that the Lord of heaven shall kythe some sensible judgement upon some of them, whereby they may be made spectacles of his wrath, except they repent. At the same time, the Moderator intimated the Assembly's sentence of deposition, with reference to others. The whole work was very awful and solemn. Mr Baillie, who was present, says, that the Moderator pronounced the sentences in a very dreadful and grave manner.
And the whole Assembly must certainly be considered as deeply affected, and filled with the mingling emotions of admiration, pity, and awe. And, Mr Henderson gave such a sample of his abilities, in this arduous work,Life of that we may safely venture to consider him as fully equal to the task, that was imposed upon him. Whatever some may think with reference to these awful sentences ot deposition and excommunication, persons of candour will undoubtedly find among the deposed and excommunicated, both characters and actions which deserved the severest censure. On the following day a petition from St Andrew's was presented to the Assembly, supplicating that Alexander Henderson of Leuchars should be removed to that city This was keenly opposed by the Commissioners from Edinburgh, who earnestly pleaded that he was already their elected minister, They also warmly urged their priviledge of transporting from any part of the kingdom. Mr Henderson himseif was extremely averse to remove from his present charge, to any other place; and forcibly opposed his removal in the Assembly. He pleaded that he was too old a plant to take root in another soil. It is said, He was at that time fifty three years of age. He also urged, that he might be more useful where he was, than in a more public station And, if he was to be removed, his great love of retirement, which has, in all ages, closely adhered to intelligent and elevated minds, greatly inclined him to St Andrew's, rather than to Edinburgh. After a very warm contest between these two places, which continued some days, Mr Baillie says two or three, it carried by votes, much against Mr. Henderson's inclination, that he should be translated to Edinburgh Upon the Assemblys decision, he submitted, having obtained a promise that he should be allowed to remove unto a country charge, if his health should require it, or when the infirmities of old age should overtake him.
When the Assembly had finished their business, Mr Henderson addressed himself to them in a very judicious and appropriate speech of considerable length. A speech delivered on so remarkable an occasion was likely in substance to be preserved; and may be seen in Stevenson's History. In this able speech, he modestly apologised for his own infirmities in discharging the duties of his station; candidly acknowledged the admirable diligence, faithfulness, and zeal, of all ranks; reminded them "gratefully to remember the wonderful goodness of Almighty God to Scotland, when the time of the promise drew near, that the isles should wait for his law, and in later times, when their adversaries were accounted the head, and they only the tail and especially during the sitting of this famous Assembly. He reminded them of their wonderful and most glorious deliverance from the galling yoke which neither they nor their fathers were able to bear. Now, said he, we are freed of the service.book, which was a book of slavery indeed; of the book of canons which tied us in spiritual bondage; of the book of ordination, which was a yoke put on the neck of faithful ministers; of the high-commission, which was a guard to keep us all under that slavery; and of the civil places of church-men, which was the splendour of all these evils; and the Lord has led captivity captive, and made lords slaves. Seeing then that the Lord has granted us liberty, what should we do less than labour to be sensible of our liberty? We are like a man that has lain long in irons, who, after they are off, and he redeemed, feels not his liberty for a time, but the smart of them makes him apprehend that they are on him still: so it is with us; we do not yet feel our liberty, therefore, it were good for us to keep the bounds of our liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and not to be entangled again with the yoke of bondage. - A courtier once degraded, doth scarcely ever regain his credit; and it doth especially hold true in spiritual things. I grant the Lord can miraculously give eyes to the blind, and raise the dead, as we are witnesses this day, having ourselves been brought back to him, after we had run far on in a course of defection: but take heed of a second defection; and rather endure the greatest extremity than be entangled again with the yoke of bondage. I grant the cross is hard to look upon; but if we get strength from our Lord, it shall be an easy yoke. Remember the plague of Laodicea for lukewarmness, and beware of her sin; for ye know that the Lord threatens to spue them out of his mouth. Concerning the nobles, barons, and burgesses, who have attended here, I must say, and may say it confidently from the Lord's word, they who honour God, he will honour them. And, I dare not dissemble, that in a special manner my heart is toward these nobles, whose hearts the Lord hath moved to be chief instruments in this work. Ye know they, like the tops of the mountains, were first discovered in this deluge, which made the little valleys hope to be delivered from it also; and so it is come to pass. I remember to have read, that in the eastern countries, where they worship the sun, a multitude being assembled in the morning for that end, and striving who should first see their mistaken deity, a servant turned his face to the west, which all the rest accounted foolish, yet he obtained the first sight of the sun shining on the top of the western mountains. So truly he would have been thought a foolish man, who, a few years ago, would have looked for such things of our nobles as we now see; yet our Lord Jesus hath nobilitated them; so that contrary to their station, which is subject to manifold temptations, and the age of severals of them, which uses not to see much beauty or contentment in such affairs, they have taken part in our trials, and had a chief hand in all the conclusions which we have brought to pass, and their liberality hath abounded to many on this occasion. The Sun of Righteousness has been pleased to shine forth on these mountains, and long, long, may he shine on them, for the comfort of the hills, and refreshing of the vaUies, may the blessing of God be on them and their families, and we trust it shall be seen to be so to the generations following.
In this remarkable speech, Mr Henderson did not overlook the King; and warmly recommended a favourable construction of his opposition to them. He warmly expressed his high sense of the distinguished harmony which had conspicuously appeared among the ministers, while they had been assiduously employed in correcting the many errors and gross abuses which prevailed; and in earnestly contending for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. He concluded this elaborate and well-digested speech, with gratefully acknowleging the very hospitable treatment which the members of this respectable Assembly had kindly received from the inhabitants of the city of Glasgow; and the particular countenance and aid afforded them by their chief magistrate. He justly subjoined, The best recompence we can make them, is to pray for the blessing of God to them, and to give them a taste of our labours, by visiting their University, and any other thing that is in our power, without prejudice to the church of God; that so the kingdom of our Lord Jesus may be established among them, that the name of this city may from henceforth be, Jehovah Sharnmah, The Lord is there.
When Mr Henderson had ended his speech, he desired Mr David Dickson, Mr Andrew Ramsay, and some of the nobles, to supply what he had omitted. The two above named had discourses to the same purpose with the Moderator's speech. The Moderator judged, that the countenance given to this Assembly by the Earl of Argyle deserved respectful notice: he, therefore, mentioned him with approbation; and earnestly wished that his Lordship had sooner joined them; but he hoped God had reserved him for the best time, and that he would honour him here and hereafter. Upon this, Argyle delivered an extemporary speech. When Argyle had ended, the Moderator thanked him for his speech, supported it in a short discourse, and afterward concluded that very long and solemn Assembly with prayer, singing the cxxxiii Psalm, and pronouncing the apostolical blessing. Upon this, the Assembly rose in triumph. And Mr Henderson said, We have now cast down the walls of Jericho, let him who rebuildeth them beware of the curse of Hiel the Bethelite.'
And thus Episcopacy, the High Commission Court, the Articles of Perth, the Canons and the Liturgy, were abolished and declared unlawful: and the whole fabric, which James and Charles, in a long course of years, had been rearing with much care and policy, fell at once to the ground.' The church of Christ now gained a glorious victory; much resembling Caesar's victory over Pharnaces, son of Mithradates, king of Pontus, whom Caesar, in his war with Pompey, very quickly discomfited. The trophies of Caesar's victory over Pharnaces were distinguished by labels, containing the famous words, I came, I saw, I vanquished." When the members of this celebrated Assembly came to Glasgow, they saw a very formidable army of lordly Bishops, and their adherents, against them with the Marquis of Hamilton, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the King himself, at their head, But by the special aid of the Lord their God, they obtained a complete victory over them all. They came, They saw, They vanquished!
Mr Henderson's elevated station, and his great activity, in this Assembly, fully exposed him to the violent resentment both of the Court and of the Bishops. And, from this, neither the strict propriety, nor the singular moderation, of his conduct, could protect him. It is said, that Dr Balcanqual, who had attended the Assembly, and agented the cause of the Bishops, seemed studiously to oppose himself to the Moderator; and on one occasion, during a debate, illiberally reminded him, that he, with others of his brethren, had once patronised those measures which he now so much reprobated. Mr Henderson prudently treated this reflection with dignified silence; and none of the members seemingly judged a reply necessary. In the Large Declaration, drawn up by Dr Balcanqual. and published in the King's name, Mr Henderson is called The prime and most rigid Covenanter in the kingdom. Archbishop Laud, in a letter to the Marquis of Hamilton, says, that the only thing, in the full account sent him of the proceedings of this Assembly, which required an answer, was, That Mr Alexander Henderson, who went all this while for a quiet and calm.spirited man, hath shewn himself a most violent and passionate man, and a Moderator without moderation. Nor was the Primate at any loss to account for this transformation of the lamb into the lion; for he adds, Truly, my Lord, never did I see any man of that humour, (the Presbyterian) but he was deep. dyed in some violence or other; and it would have been a wonder to me, if Henderson had held free. But one very justly observes here, The censures of men disappointed in the mad project of subjugating a whole nation under tyranny and superstition, will be regarded as praises by all good Christians and patriots.
When the members of the above.mentioned General Assembly returned home, they carefully intimated their conclusions; and thereby the knowledge of what was done was both speedily and widely circulated. And as soon as it was known at Court that the Assembly continued to sit after they were dissolved by the Royal Commissioner, and that the people greatly approved their conduct and conclusions, the King meditated revenge, and inconsiderately resolved to raise an army to reduce them unto obedience, thinking that their actions might justify his recourse to arms. While the inhabitants of Scotland were making preparations during the winter in 1689, for defending themselves against the hostile invasion from England, Mr Henderson's able pen was much employed in several publications, in vindication of their proceedings. By order of the Deputies, he drew up a paper, entitled, The Remonstrance of the Nobility, Barons, Burgesses, Ministers, and Commons, within the Kingdom of Scotland, vindicating them and their proceedings, from the crimes wherewith they are charged by the late proclamation in England, Feb. 27th 1639. This paper, after being revised and approved by the Deputies, was published and industriously circulated by their friends in England, and was very advantageous to their cause in that country. He also drew up Instructions for defensive arms. The intention of this was, to give information and satisfaction to all among themselves, with reference unto the just and necessary defensive war into which they were forced. He did this, according to our information, somewhat against his inclination: and being hastily composed, and the subject delicate, he declined making it public by printing. But, though he would not allow it to go to the press, it was read from many pulpits, as the production of their best penman. And one Corbet, a deposed minister, who fled to Ireland, carried a copy with him, and published it with an answer, which contained little matter, but much spiteful venom, according to Mr Baillie, who flourished at that time,'
When the magnanimous appearance of the Scots, and the indifference which the English discovered in the cause, induced the King to listen unto overtures of peace, Mr Henderson was appointed one of the Commissioners from the Scottish army, to carry on the treaty of pacification, in the month of June, 1689 This appointment clearly shows, that Mr Henderson was held in the highest veneration and esteem by his countrymen. He and Mr Archibald Johnstone declined going to the English camp with the rest of the Commissioners on the first day of the treaty; but, upon receiving information, that the King noticed their absence, they attended the next meeting on a following day. The King was much delighted with Mr Henderson's discourse. And during the whole treaty Mr Henderson eminently displayed his rare abilities, as on other remarkable occasions.
Bishop Burnet has observed, that it was strange to see Mr Henderson, who had most vigorously opposed the Bishops for meddling in civil affairs, made a Commissioner for this treaty, and employed in signing a paper so purely civil as that of the pacification was.' But an attentive consideration, and close comparison of the two cases, will very clearly shew, that this reflection is groundless. The present was evidently a very critical and an extraordinary conjuncture; and in extraordinary cases, extraordinary things may be done. All that was dear to the people was at stake; and certainly all their talents should then have been called forth and employed. Beside, religion was undoubtedly the chief ground of the quarrel, and, therefore, it's interests must have been deeply concerned in the termination thereof. And the articles of the pacification proceeded upon the King's declaration, engaging that all ecclesiastical affairs should be determined by the assemblies of the church; that General Assemblies should be called once a year; that, as the King would not own their Assembly at Glasgow, so neither should they be urged to disown it; and that a full and free Assembly should be convened at Edinburgh on the 12th of August for the settlement of matters. When these things are candidly considered, the presence of a Minister of the Gospel, who could explain difficult things, and watch over the church's rights, may be easily vindicated. And this reason is expressly assigned in the Act of the Committee of Parliament, empowering the Commissioners for a treaty of peace, in the year 1640. And because many things may occur concerning the Church and her Assemblies, therefore, beside those of the Estates, we nominate and appoint, Mr Alexander Henderson and Mr Archibald Johnstone, whom we adjoin for that effect. But this is entirely different from Bishops sitting as lords of Parliament, or filling the highest offices of State, which, beside other evils, render it impossible for them to attend to the important duties of their ecclesiastical function.'
Mr Henderson was one of the fourteen chief persons among the Covenanters, who were required by an order from the King to go to his Court at Berwick, and meet him there, after the Scottish army was disbanded. Bishop Guthrie says, that the King's design in requiring the attendance of these fourteen Scottish Covenanters was, that he might consult with them concerning the way of his incoming, to hold the Assembly and Parliament in person. Bishop Burnet says, The true reason of that message was, to try what fair treatment might do with the Scots. But Sir James Balfour, expressly says, that this was a trap laid for the chief of the Covenanters, by the advice of some corrupt counsellors; and that it was owing to a kind advertisement from some of their friends at Court, that they escaped the snare. An alarm having speedily spread of a design against these persons, they were stopped, by the populace, when they were setting out on their journey to Berwick, at the Water-gate of Edinburgh. Their horses were taken from them, and they were obliged to return, and ordered to stay at home: nor was it judged prudent that they should afterward proceed on their journey. This measure greatly offended the King, who, without waiting the Assembly or Parliament, set out on his return to London, the 29th of July.
At the opening of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, which met at Edinburgh upon Monday the 12th of August, 1639, Mr Henderson, the former Moderator, preached from Acts v. 33. - Toward the conclusion of his discourse, he addressed himself in very suitable exhortations both to the Earl of Traquaire, the Royal Commissioner, and to the members of the Assembly. To the Royal Commissioner he said, We beseech your Grace to see that Caesar have his own, but let him not have what is due to God, by whom kings reign. God hath exalted your Grace to many high places within these few years, and is doing so more especially now: be thankful, and labour to exalt Christ's throne. Some are exalted like Haman, some like Mardecai; and I pray God that these eminent parts wherewith he hath endowed you may be used aright. When the Israelites came out of Egypt, they gave all the silver and gold they had carried thence for the building of the tabernacle. In like manner, your Grace must employ all your parts and endowments for building up the church of God in this land.
He addressed the members of the Assembly in the following manner: Right Honourable, Worshipful, and Reverend, constantly go on in your zeal. True zeal does not cool, but the longer it burns the more fervent will it grow. If it shall please God, that by your means the light of the Gospel shall be continued, and that you have the honour of being instruments of a blessed Reformation, it shall be useful and comfortable to yourselves and to your posterity. But let your zeal be always tempered with an holy moderation; for zeal is a good servant, but a bad master: like a ship that hath a full sail and no rudder. We have much need of Christian prudence, for ye know what advantages some have attempted to take of us this way. For this reason, let it be seen to the world, that Presbytery, the government we contend for in the church, can consist very well with monarchy in the state, and thereby we shall gain the favour of our King, and God shall get the glory. Mr Henderson's speeches and particular addresses, on such occasions, were of very great utility and importance unto the church. The Royal commissioner earnestly requested, at this time, that Mr Henderson, the former Moderator, should be continued in that station, out of respect to Mr Henderson's rare abilities, as he solemnly protested, but rather, as was suspected, to support the King's pretensions to the right of nominating their Moderator, and continuing him at pleasure. But the Assembly vigorously opposed this motion of the Commissioner, as too much favouring the practice of the constant moderator, which formerly had been employed for the introduction of Episcopacy: and no man discovered greater aversion to the motion than Mr Henderson himself.' Mr David Dickson, minister at Irvine, was, by a great majority, chosen Moderator. He is represented by Bishop Guthrie, as greatly inferior to Mr Henderson, in that station. And the Bishop says, that it had been worse with Mr Dickson, were it not that Mr Henderson sat at his elbow as his coadjutor. Whether this representation of Mr Dickson is just or not, it serves to show that Mr Henderson was very highly esteemed, even by the Episcopal party. Mr Dickson gave thanks, in the Assembly's name, to their last Moderaor, for the quick understanding, solid judgment, and great diligence, which he had displayed in that office, to the conviction even of his enemies. And, when this Assembly condemned Episcopacy as unlawful, and contrary to the word of God ; and the Royal commissioner desired reasons of this condemnation, Mr Henderson, with the Moderator, and Mr Andrew Ramsay, shewed that Episcopacy is only an human institution, that it hath been destructive to the discipline of the church, and introductory to popery, superstition and idolatry.
A motion was made by Mr Henderson, concerning the expedience of drawing up a Confession, positively condemning the errors and immoralities charged on, and defended, or practised, by any ministers, and clearing the doctrine of the Church of Scotland, in opposition to them, that none might afterward pretend ignorance. The Synod of Dort adopted this method with the so-called Arminians. Mr Henderson's notion, in imitation of that Synod, was unanimously approved, and a committee named for the purpose. But if they brought the matters referred to them, unto a conclusion, their report has not reached us.' Mr Henderson preached an excellent sermon, at the opening of the Parliament. at Edinburgh, concerning the utility and importance of magistracy, from I Tim. ii. 1, 2, 3, on the 31st of August, 1639
The Town.council of Edinburgh, who were the patrons and governors of the University of that city, having annually visited the College since the year 1614, the Rector was the more remiss in his office. The Council now resolved, that, instead of these periodical visitations of the College, they should annually chuse a Rector, whom they should direct, and ascertain the powers of his office, by articles framed for that end. Agreeably to this resolution, they chose Mr Alexander Henderson, one of the ministers of Edinburgh, Rector of the University, in the year 1640, ordaining a silver mace to be borne before him on all solemnities, and appointing certain members of the Town.council, ministers of Edinburgh, and professors in the College, his assessors. They drew up instructions, authorising him to superintend all matters respecting the College, whether connected with it's revenues, fabric, the education of youth, or the conduct of the principal, professors, and other members of the University, and their conformity to the regulations; with power to the Rector to admonish offenders, and in case of their obstinacy, to make report to the Council, and to judge and determine upon trifling disputes between the members among themselves'. The custody of the matriculation-roll was also given to the Rector, and the students ordained to be matriculated in his presence, and that of the Principal, and of the Professors of the class, to which the students respectively belonged He was also to be furnished with an inventory of the College-revenues, and donations in it's favour. The Rector continued to exercise his office, some years. But the troubles which distracted the nation, and the want of regular records of this University, at that time, ren der it impracticable for us to ascertain when that office was discontinued, or how the College was governed for a considerable period of time.'
When the war was renewed with the Scots, and they were declared rebels, Mr Henderson was again called from his peaceful habitation. Each regiment was attended with a chaplain, one of the most eminent ministers in the bounds where they were raised, as Messrs Alexander Henderson, Robert Blair, John Livingston, Robert Baillie, Andrew Cant, George Gillespie, and others who were vested with Presbyterial authority, and were to perform every part of the ministerial function to them, proper in such circumstances. In the beginning of August in 1640, the several regiments arrived at Dunse, where they were reviewed by their General: and the army marched into England on the 20th of August that year, with great courage and success. Notwithstanding these warlike measures, the Covenanters still preserved the most pathetic and the most submissive language. They declared that they entered England, with no other view, than to obtain access to the King's presence, and to lay their grievances and their humble petition at his royal feet. At Newburn upon Tyne, some miles above Newcastle, they were opposed by a detachment of 4,500 men under Conway, who seemed resolute to dispute with them the passage of the river. The Scots first entreated them, with great civility, not to stop them in their march to their gracious Sovereign; but the English would not listen to them. Upon this the Scottish army attacked the English with great bravery, killed several, and chased the rest from their ground, obtaining a signal victory over them, upon the 28th of August, in the year 1640. And such a panic seized the whole English army, that the forces at Newcastle fled immediately to Durham; and not yet thinking themselves safe, they deserted that town, arid retreated into Yorkshire. Their consternation on this occasion is said to have been inexpressible. And, in their flight, both officers and soldiers declared, that they would not fight to maintain the pride and power of the Bishops.
When doating Monarchs urge
Unsound resolves, their Subjects feel the scourge.' FRANCIS.
The Scots took possession of Newcastle; and though sufficiently elated with their victory, they preserved exact discipline, and persevered in their resolution of paying every thing, in order still to maintain the appearance of an amicable correspondence with England. Mr Henderson, the eminent subject of these pages, preached in the Great Church of Newcastle, on the Sabbath day, to a large auditory. This benevolent and enlightened Reformer had an enlarged capacity of action, and of usefulness: and his labours contributed essentially to the good of the Public, on many occasions. Public usefulness to others, when the Lord requires it, ought to be preferred to retirement, and to our own special pleasures; for it is more blessed to give, than to receive. The nation was now universally and highly discontented. And, the great success of the Scottish army, and the very distressed condition in which the King was, obliged him to accede to proposals of peace a second time: and a treaty relative to this was agreed to, and commenced at Rippon in Yorkshire, which afterward was transferred to London.' Mr Henderson was appointed one of the Commissioners for this treaty! The state of society both civil and religious requires, that some persons of distinguished abilities should be employed to consult what may be most advantaegous to the body. It is not one of the least advantages derived from the division of labour which takes place in a refined state of society, that there is one class of men, whose occupation is to think for the benefit of the rest; and who, by the constant application of vigorous talents to the great object of public good, may produce effects which could never be expected from casual exertions." On this remarkable occasion, the foundation was laid of that happy conjunction between Scotland and England, both in civil and religious affairs, which was afterward most solemnly ratified by oath. The Scottish Commissioners, agreeably to instructions received from their constituents, warmly urged unity in religion, and uniformity in church-government, as a special means for the preservation of peace between the two kingdoms. At the same time, they delivered to the English Commissioners, a paper, which is said to have been drawn up by Mr Henderson, stating very forcibly the grounds and reasons of what they urged, and condescending upon measures for carrying it into effect, which paper was transmitted to the English Parliament. This paper was of great importance, and is still preserved in MS. And an abstract of it is given by Stevenson, vol. iii. p. 963. A favourable answer was given by the King and Parliament, to the above demand, intimating in general, their approbation of the affection which the Scottish subjects had expressed in their desire of having uniformity of church government in both nations; and that, as the Parliament had already taken into consideration the reformation of church-government, so they will proceed therein in due time, as shall best conduce to the glory of God, the peace of the church, and of both kingdoms. This answer was ratified as one of the articles of the treaty. Mr Henderson was very laborious, while he was in London, attending the above-mentioned treaty, which was continued about nine months. The Scottish Commissioners found every advantage in conducting their treaty; yet it was not hastily concluded. They were lodged in the city, and had an intimate correspondence with the citizens, with the magistrates, and with the popular leaders in both Houses of Parliament. They warmly recommended the Religion of Jesus, and the Reformation for which they earnestly contended ; and were the happy instruments of doing much good in that great metropolis. Antholine's church was assigned them for their public worship ; and here their chaplains openly worshipped God in the Presbyterian form. Multitudes of all ranks attended this church : and there was a great revival of religion in London, at this time.a Mr Henderson now eminently distinguished himself, by employing all his influence and abilities, in promoting whatever was favourable to the amelioration of mankind, Beside taking his turn with the other eminent divines, who attended the Scottish Commissioners as chaplain, in Antholine's church, he and they were often employed in preaching for the London ministers, both on the Sabbath and on other days. He prepared several useful tracts for the press. At the desire of the English ministers he wrote some very good reasons for the removal of Bishops out of the church, which were printed, in 1641. And Mr Baillie, in a letter to the Presbytery of Irvine, dated, London, Feb. 28th, 1641, says Think not that any of us live here to be idle. Mr Henderson has ready now a short treatise much called for, of our Church-discipline. Mr Gillespie has the Grounds of Presbyterian Government Well Asserted. Mr Blair, a Pertinent Answer to Bishop Hall's Remonstrance. All these are ready for the press.The polishing of many important papers was committed to Mr Henderson and he generally composed those respecting the Church.
While Mr Henderson was in London, he had a private conference with the King. The particular object of this conference was, to procure some assistance for the Scottish Universities, from the rents formerly appropriated to the Bishops. He was well received, and had ground to expect that his request would be obtained.
Mr Henderson returned to Edinburgh toward the end of July in 1641. The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland had met at St Andrew's, on the 20th of July, according to the appointment of the former Assembly. But the Parliament, who were sitting in Edinburgh, sent Lord Cassils, with others, to the Assembly at St Andrew's, most earnestly entreating them to translate themselves to Edinburgh, for the convenience of those who were chosen members of both, before chusing a Moderator, or entering on any business of importance. Many most ardently desired, that Mr Henderson, who was not then returned from London, should act as Moderator of this meeting, and the members agreed that they should meet at Edinburgh on the 27th of July, and that the former Moderator should preside until that time. Mr Henderson had been elected a member of this Assembly; but, as it was uncertain that he could be present, his Constituents had chosen Mr Andrew Fairful to supply his place, in case of his absence, and Mr Fairful had taken his seat at St. Andrew's. Mr Fairful proposed to give his seat to Mr Henderson, upon his arrival. This was most keenly opposed by Mr Calderwood, though he was not a member, but only allowed by favour to sit in the Assembly. He warmly urged that Mr Henderson's commission could not now be received; and, in this, he was seconded by Mr Henderson himself. But, upon voting, Mr Henderson's commission was unanimously received, and sustained by the Assembly: and he was chosen to be their Moderator, under declaration, that neither that translation, without first chusing a new Moderator, nor election of one, whose place as a member was supplied before he came, should be drawn into a precedent. Mr Henderson earnestly deprecated the burden of moderating, at this time, but it was laid upon him, by a plurality of votes. Mr Calderwood still insisted upon the great irregularity of translating the Assembly without a permanent Moderator, and of choosing one to be Moderator who had no Commission. But though he spake both peevishly and unreasonably on this subject, Mr Henderson treated him most respectfully, on this occasion, bearing all with much patience. And prior to the dissolution of this meeting, Mr Henderson publicly said, he regretted, that Mr Calderwood, who had deserved well of this Church, had been so long neglected, and readily procured a recommendation of him by the Assembly, in consequence of which he was soon afterward admitted to the church of Pencaitland.
Mr Henderson desired that some letters should be read, which he had brought from England, addressed to the Assembly. One of these was from several Ministers in London and it's vicinity, expressing their approbation of the proceedings in Scotland, in the work of Reformation, and their expectation that the Scottish discipline would soon be established in England. And they desired advice from the Assembly with reference to the opinions of some of their brethren, who were inclined to independency, and popular government in the church. The Assembly appointed Mr Henderson to write an answer to the brethren in England; which he did with accuracy. Both letters may be seen in the printed Acts of this Assembly.
From the particular observations which Mr Henderson had made, during his late residence in London, and from the friendly intercourse which he enjoyed there, both with ministers and people, he clearly perceived that there would soon be a change in the English Church; and that there was a considerable prospect of their approaching to greater conformity with the Church of Scotland. This beautiful conformity was certainly an object of great utility and importance; and Mr Henderson most heartily concurred with his brethren in promoting it. As one of the late Commissioners for the above-mentioned treaty, he eminently distinguished himself by endeavouring to advance this conformity. Agreeably to this be prudently and seasonably moved, that the Assembly should take steps for drawing up a Confesson ot Faith, a Catechism, a Directory for all the parts of the public worship, and. a Platform of government, in which the English and the Scots probably might afterward agree. This notable motion was unanimously approved; and the burden of that labour was laid on the mover; liberty being given him, at the same time, to abstain from preaching when he should find it necessary in attending to this very interesting business, and also of calling in the aid of such of his brethren as he pleased. He declined this very arduous task, but it was left upon him. And, probably, this early appointment greatly contributed to prepare him for giving assistance in that useful and important work, when it was afterward undertaken by the famous Assembly at Westminster.
While this Assembly were sitting, Mr Henderson petitioned for liberty to be translated from Edinburgh. He particularly urged that his voice was not sufficient for any church in the town; that he was always unhealthy there, and not so in any other place; that to keep him there was to kill him; and that, in the act for his transportation from Leuchars, there was an express clause, which allowed him the liberty that he now craved, when the public commotions were settled, if he found that he was unheahhful in that town. The Assembly were greatly perplexed by his insisting upon this petition. The inhabitants of Edinburgh were extremely averse to his removal. Beside the loss of that eminent man, they considered the transportation of any of their ministers by Assemblies, as a very dangerous precedent. And they offered to purchase an house and gardens for Mr Henderson, in an airy situation ; and farther intimated for his encouragement, that he might cease from preaching when he judged this necessary ; and use his freedom in going to the country, at any time, when the state of his health required. They were the more averse to his removal, as a petition had been presented to the Assembly for his transportation to St Andrew's, to be Principal of the University there.
He continued to insist for his liberty. Some reckoned that his great earnestness for a removal from Edinburgh arose from his displeasure at the keen speeches of some of the inhabitants against him, on account of his opposition to their humour for innovations; but he affirmed that his health was the sole ground of his petition; that if his health did not fail, he would continue at Edinburgh, even though liberty was now given him to remove; and that, if he did remove, he would not go to St Andrew's, but to some quiet country-charge. His earnest petition was at last granted, which much grieved many of the inhabitants of Edinburgh: but he either did not find his removal afterward necessary, or he was prevailed upon not to use that liberty which with much difficulty he now obtained.
The King revisited Scotland, that he might be present in person at the Parliament, in his native kingdom, leaving both Houses of the English Parliament sitting at Westminster, in the month of August, 1641 He was obliged now to cultivate the attachment of the Scottish nation for the support of his throne. He attended public worship, on the Sabbath-day, after his arrival at Edinburgh, and heard Mr Henderson preach, the forenoon, in the Abbey-Church, from Romans xi. 56 It is said, that he did not attend in the afternoon; but Mr Henderson having conversed with him relative to this, he afterward punctually attended the public worship. Mr Henderson waited on the King as his chaplain, and was appointed to provide preachers for his Majesty during the time that he was in Scotland, he having declared, that he would conform to their mode of worship while he was among them. And he attended regularly family worship in the palace, morning and evening, as perrurmed by his chaplain, in the Scottish form. And he exhibited no symptom of dissatisfaction with the want of a liturgy and the ceremonies. His whole deportment at this time, afforded same hope to his Scottish subjects, who were not thoroughly acquainted with his character, that he would not oppose. but encourage the work of Reformation On the last day of the meeting of this Parliament, when great solemnity was observed, the King seated on his throne, and the Estates in their places, Mr Henderson began with prayer; and when the business was finished, he closed the meeting with a sermon. The revenues of the Bishoprics were divided at this time: and Mr Henderson now eminently exerted himself in favour of the Scottish Universities. And what belonged to the Bishopric of Edinburgh, and Priory, was, by his influence, though not without difficulty, procured for the University of that city. The emoluments of the Chapel royal. amounting to about 4000 merks yearly, were conferred upon Mr Henderson. as a recompense for his laborious and expensive services in the cause of the public The King was, in general, very accommodating and favourable to the Scottish nation, in this visit, wishing ro obtain their concurrence against the English Parliament. Argyle was created a Marquis; and the Lords Loudon and Lindsay were raised to the dignity of Earls. And all parties were so well pleased, that when the King returned to England, it was said, That he departed a contented King from a contented People. But duplicity strongly marked the King's character, and the Scots were afraid to depend upon him, and, therefore, were obliged to join the English Parliament, and assist them in recovering their liberties and religion.
Mr Henderson was much employed in managing the correspondence with England respecting reformation, and religious uniformity during the year 1642. The English Parliament having agreed to abolish Episcopacy, requested that some ministers should be sent from the Church of Scotland to assist in the Synod which they had resolved to convene. The Commission of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, being fully authorised by them, met, and nominated Commissioners, who were appointed that they might be ready to go to England as soon as it should be necessary. Mr Henderson was one of those, who came under this appointment, by the Committee. He was very averse to the appointment, protesting that in his former journey, he thought that he should have died before he arrived at London. But he could not be excused, and at last acquiesced, complaining. that several persons were very forward in imposing heavy burdens upon him, and afterward employed themselves in inventing or receiving calumnies, or reports, which were injurious to his character. This journey was hindered for some time, by the confusions which attended the civil war. Mr Henderson earnestly wished a reconciliation of the parties, upon honourable terms. Bishop Burnet says, That he joined with a number of leading men in an invitation to the Queen to come to Scotland, upon terms consistent with her safety and honour, with a view of promoting a mediation; but the King rejected this proposition. Mr Henderson afterward went in person to the King at Oxford, with the Commissioners from the State, who were sent to offer the mediation of the Scottish nation. But their aid was more desired than their intercession. Accordingly, their mission was unwelcome, and their reception unfavourable. Their powers were questioned, to interpose in the internal dissensions of England, as conservators of peace between the two kingdoms: and their importunate demand of religious uniformity did not relish. They were reviled and threatened by the royalists and recalled in disgust. At the first interview, the King endeavoured to convince Mr Henderson of the justice and necessity of his arms; but when he found that Mr Henderson was not so credulous as he expected, his behaviour toward him was entirely different, and frowns appeared in his countenance. Mr Henderson presented to the King, an humble Petition from the Commissioners of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, dated Jan. 4th 1643. And it is said, that Mr Henderson was the author of the Petition, which is very probable.' It contains a complaint of the insolence of Papists, and of others disaffected to the Reformation of Rehgion, supplicating the King to apply his royal authority, for disbanding their forces, and preventing their bloody projects ;-for religious uniformity, an Assembly of Divines, the removal of the great mountain of Prelacy, and for promoting the glorious work of Reformation. The Petition may be seen in its original state, as given in by Mr Henderson, in Clarendon's History : and also the King's answer to it, which was not favourable.
While Mr Henderson remained at Oxford, some of the Doctors wished to engage him in controversy, respecting Church.government, but, judging that it was unbecoming his character, as a Representative of the Church of Scotland, to dispute with private individuals, and viewing them as disposed to cavil rather than to give or to receive information, he signified that his business was with the King. It is said, that a Popish Dr Taylor challenged Mr Henderson to a public dispute at Oxford; so insolent were Papists become through the Royal favour. Clarendon is greatly offended at the distance, or, as he calls it, the great insolence, which Mr Henderson discovered at this time. But upon his return to Edinburgh, he gave a full account of his proceedings with the King to the Commissioners of the Church, who expressed their entire satisfaction with his whole conduct, and their judgement was fully approved by the next Assembly, who readily pronounced his carriage to have been faithful and wise.
The Scots were greatly dissatisfied with the uncivil treatment which their Commissioners had received at Oxford, and being now fully convinced that the measures of the Royal party were highly dangerous to both countries, they soon afterward entered into a very close alliance with the English Parliament. Upon this, Mr Henderson was sent to London, where he spent the greater part of his remaining days on the earth.
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, which convened at Edinburgh, on the 2nd of Aug. in the year 1643, was particularly distinguished by the presence of Commissioners from the English Parliament, and the formation of the famous Solemn League and Covenant. Keeping in view the deeply interesting business of that Assembly, their attention was again turned to Mr Henderson as Moderator, and he was the third time unanimously called to the chair. Mr Baillie says, Our greatest consultation was for the Moderator. We foresaw great business was to be in hand ; strangers were to be present; and the minds of many brethren were exasperated. Mr Henderson was the only man meet for the time. Every thing was decently and properly conducted, in the presence of the English Commissioners; Sir William Armyn, Sir Henry Vane, younger, Mr Hatcher, and Mr Darley, with two Ministers of the Gospel, Mr Stephen Marshall, and Mr Philip Nye. After an appropriate introduction, said to have been drawn by Mr Marshall, and Sir Henry Vane, these delegates presented their commission from both Houses of the English Parliament, giving very ample power to the Earl of Rutland, Lord Grey, and these four above mentioned, to treat with the Scottish Covenanters, and to the two Ministers, to assist in ecclesiastical affairs, according to their instructions given or to be given, or to any four of them. They also presented a declaration of both Houses to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, shewing their care of reforming religion, and their desire that some of the Scottish Divines should join with their Assembly of Divines for that end' The Royalists were a furious and vindictive party, and very hostile to the liberties and religion of the nation. And when the royal arms were triumphant, the English Parliament implored the fraternal aid of the Scots, earnestly soliciting their immediate help. And with a view to unite the nations in a very close alliance in mutual reformation and defence, a Covenant was proposed. The English at first were for a civil League, and the Scots for a religious Covenant. Mr Henderson gave them a draught of a Covenant which he had composed. This at length obtained the assent of the three Committees, of the English Parliament, of the Convention of Estates, and of the General Assembly. Being adopted by them, it was immediately transmitted to the General Assembly and Convention. And being introduced into the Assembly by a very grave and appropriate speech from the Moderator, it was received with the highest applause, and adopted with tears of much joy. It was read distinctly the second time, by the Moderator. And, upon both ministers and ruling elders, in general, being asked, and having freely delivered their sentiments respecting it, the catalogue was read, and all readily and unanimously assented. On the afternoon, it passed the Convention of Estates, with the same cordial approbation, and it was appointed to be transmitted to the English Parliament for their approbation. The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland renewed the appointment of their Commission respecting the members who were to be sent from them to assist the Assembly of Divines sitting at Westminster: and Mr Henderson was appointed to set out immediately for London, with a view to obtain the ratification of the Solemn League and Covenant.
On the 30th of August, Mr Henderson sailed from Leith for London, in company with other Commissioners. The Covenant having been approved by both Houses of the English Parliament, and by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, the members of the latter, with those of the House of Commons convened in Margaret's Church, Westminster, upon the 25th of September; and having first solemnly sworn, afterward subscribed it. Immediately before they proceeded in that most important work, Mr Henderson delivered a very appropriate and encouraging speech to them, in which he very judiciously and warmly recommended the duty, as acceptable to God, and well pleasing in his sight - exemplified by the people of God, and by other reformed churches and kingdoms, both in former and later times, - as very necessary - and crowned with the most surprising success. The reader will find the speech at the conclusion of this work.
Mr Henderson acted a very conspicuous part in assisting the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, as a Commissioner from the Church of Scotland. His deportment was very grave, and highly becoming the dignity of his station; and great deference was paid to his opinions. He always discovered uprightness in his designs, and was indefatigable in the application of his talents. He honourably maintained a sway over men, who, in point of acuteness and erudition, have seldom been equalled. And when it became necessary to vindicate the principles of the Church of Scotland, and of the other Reformed Churches, from slanderous charges, he spoke with great facility, and most judiciously. His wisdom was seen in speaking with great propriety on the various subjects which were discussed. And his rare abilities were peculiarly displayed in reconciling contending interests, and in preserving harmony among the members of the Assembly, in the prosecution of that cause, which they had all solemnly sworn to promote. Several very striking instances of this kind occur in the History of the proceedings of that truly Venerable Assembly.' But he always most strenuously resisted every attempt which was made, with a view to introduce any principles which were opposite to those of the Church of Scotland, and of other Reformed and Presbyterian Churches. Accordingly, he stated himself equally in opposition to the schemes of the Independents, and of a strong party in the House of Commons, who had imbibed Erastian principles, denying the Divine right of Church government, and wishing to subject the proceedings of Church judicatories to the control and review of the Parliament.'
In the debates of the Assembly, there was often much heat. This was partly owing to their divesting their Prolocutor, or Moderator, of all power, as the House of Commons did their Speaker, and converting him into a mere chair, using the language of one who was a witness of their proceedings. Mr Henderson greatly lamented this evil, and on a fast.day, after the religious exercises were ended, he embraced the opportunity of bringing the members to a free and brotherly conference on the subject, in which having seen their fault, they resolved to guard against such excesses in time to come. In the beginning of the year 1645, Mr Henderson was appointed to assist the Commissioners of the two Parliaments, in the treaty between them and the King, at Uxbridge. The Parliamentary Commissioners were instructed to demand the abolition of Episcopacy, and the ratification of the Presbyterian government. The King's Commissioners objected to the abolition of Episcopacy, upon which it was agreed to hear the Divines on both sides. Mr Henderson, in an elaborate speech, which Clarendon allows was not without eloquence, opened the cause, and took up that ground which offered fairest for bringing the controversy to a speedy conclusion. Waving the dispute respecting the lawfulness of Episcopacy, he said, That the question was not, Whether the government of the Church by Bishops was lawful, but whether it was so necessary that Christianity could not subsist without it? He argued that it was not; and that the question could not be answered in the affirmative, without condemning all other Reformed Churches. That the English Parliament had found Episcopacy a very inconvenient and corrupt government That the Hierarchy had been a public grievance from the Reformation downward. That the Bishops had always encouraged Popery, and retained many superstitious rites and customs in their worship and government; and had lately brought in many innovations, and made a nearer approach to the Roman Communion, to the great scandal of the Protestant Churches of Germany, France, Scotland, and Holland. That the Prelates had embroiled the British Island, and kindled the flame which raged through the three kingdoms. That for these reasons the Parliament had resolved to change this inconvenient and mischievous government, and to set up another in it's room, more naturally formed for the advancement of piety. And that this alteration was the best expedient to unite all Protestant Churches, and to extinguish the remains of Popery: nor could he conceive that His Majesty's conscience could be urged against this salutary change, seeing that he had agreed to the suppression of Prelacy in Scotland.
But the advocates for Episcopacy were fully determined not to hazard their cause upon such grounds as were plain to all, but endeavoured to involve the question, by introducing the dispute at large respecting Episcopal government. Dr Stewart, who was Commissioner for the King in religious affairs, enlarged upon the apostolical institution of Episcopacy, and endeavoured to prove, that without Bishops the sacerdotal character could not be conveyed, nor the sacraments administered to any signiflcancy. Dr Stewart said, that the debate was too general, and desired that they should dispute syllogistically, as became scholars, to which Mr Henderson readily agreed. The dispute continued a considerable time; and though each party claimed the victory, as is common, yet, it was said by some auditors, who must be allowed not to have been prejudised in favour of Pressbytery, that while Mr Henderson equalled the King's Commissioners in learning, he surpassed them in modesty.
The treaty was broken off without success, and Mr Henderson returned to London, and continued to assist the Assembly of Dvines in their arduous work. This year, his health began visibly to decline. He suffered repeated attacks of the gravel, and other diseases which of course follow upon confinement and hard study. Toward the end of the year 1645, it was judged necessary that Mr Henderson, with some other persons, should go to Scotland, with a view to procure a better correspondence among the nobility and others; but he was detained by the weather, want of health, important business, and the importunity of friends in London.
The King's affairs, which had been some time on the decline were entirely ruined, in the spring of 1646. Upon this, he cast himself into the Scottish army who retired with him to Newcastle. When he arrived there, he sent for Mr Henderson, who was his Chaplain, to come to him. The only measure which then promised a settlement to the nation, and the King's restoration to the actual exercise of his authority, was his taking the Covenant, and speedily consenting to the establishment of the Presbyterian Reformation in both kingdoms. Mr Henderson was judged the best qualified person to deal with the King respecting a compliance, and the removal of any difficulties with which his mind might be embarrassed. And norwithstanding his unfitness for the journey, he complied with the King's request, enforced by the advice and entreaties of his fellow-commissioners; clearly shewing his public spirit for the advancement of the interests of the Redeemer's kingdom, and for the good of his country He arrived at Newcastle about the middle of the month of May. He received a kind welcome from his Majesty, but he soon perceived that he would not comply with the requisitions of his Parliaments. The King signified that he could not in conscience consent to the abolition of Episcopacy; and proposed that Mr Henderson should carry on a dispute with some Episcopal Divines, of whose names he gave him a list, in his presence. This Mr Henderson declined, as what he had no authority to undertake, and no reason to expect, when he complied with his Majesty's request in coming to Newcastle. Mr Henderson also added, that such disputations had seldom any good effect, in ending controversies, and that, in the present instance; such a mode would be exceedingly prejudicial to his Majesty's affairs. All that I intended was a free, yet modest expression of my motives, and inducements, which drew my mind to the dislike of Episcopal government, wherein I was bred in the University. It was, therefore, agreed, that the King's scruples, should be discussed in a series of papers, which should pass privately between him and Mr Henderson. The papers are eight in number, five by his Majesty, and three by Mr Henderson; continued from some time in May, until the 16th of July. On that occasion, Mr Henderson gave the infatuated Monarch a very good advice, to leave off exciting learned men to dispute respecting the power or prerogative of Kings and Princes by which he had lost very much. The neglect of that advice cost him both his crown and his life.
Perceiving that he obstinately adhered to opinions which were disowned by all the moderate Episcopalians, and maintained by those only who had acted as base incendiaries between the King and his Parliaments, Mr Henderson declined entering farther into a fruitless contest.
During the conference with the King, Mr Henderson's health, which was considerably impaired when he came to Newcastle, grew much worse. His constitution was now worn out with great labour and travel. His colleagues at London, greatly alarmed with the accounts which they received respecting him, wrote to him, earnestly entreating that he would be careful of himself, and not allow vexation on account of the King's obduracy to prey upon his spirits, and increase his disorder. Mr Baillie, in a letter addressed to him, under the date of May 16, 1646, says, If that man now go to tinkle on Bishops, and Delinquents, and such foolish toys, it seems he is mad. If he have the least grace and wisdom, he may, by God's mercy, presently end the miseries, wherein himself, and many more, are likely else to sink. Let me entreat you for one thing, when you have done your uttermost, if God is pleased to deny the success, not to vex yourself more than is meet. When we hear of your health and courage, it will refresh us.
In another letter, dated Aug. 4, Mr Baillie writes to him as follows: Your sickness has much grieved my heart. It is a part of my prayers to God, to restore you to health, and continue your service at this so necessary a time. We never had so much need of you as now. The King's madness has confounded us all. We know well the weight that lies on your heart. And in another letter, dated Aug. 13, 1646, he says: Your weakness is much regretted here by many. To me it is one of the sad presages of the evils coming. If it be the Lord's will, it is my hearty prayer oft-times, that you might be lent to us yet for some time.
Mr Henderson, having now concluded that his disease was mortal, resolved to return to Scotland. But before he left Newcastle, he obtained an audience from the King, and having again reminded him of the very critical situation of his affairs, he took a final farewell of him, having faithfully discharged the duties of his commission, and of that employment which placed him about his Majesty's person, in the fulfilling of which he had enjoyed very little satisfaction. In dealing with the King, Mr Henderson only failed where he evidently could not succeed. He went to his native country by sea, and arrived at Edinburgh on the 11th of Aug. 1646, very sick and much exhausted. He continued so weak, that he was not able to speak much. But he enjoyed great peace of mind, and expressed himself, in what he was able to say, very much to the comfort of his brethren and Christian acquaintance who visited him. In a short confession of faith, which was afterward found among his papers, and written with his own hand, expressing, at the trying hour, his dying thoughts, among other mercies, he declares himself most of all obliged to the grace and goodness of God, for calling him to believe the promises of the Gospel, and for exalting him to be a preacher of these to others, and to be a willing, though weak instrument, in this great and wonderful work of Reformation, which he earnestly beseecheth the Lord to bring to a happy conclusion. He rested from his labours, sickness, and sorrow, on the 19th of Aug. 1646. He died within eight days after his arrival in Scotland.'
Mr Livingston. in his Characteristics, at the end of his Life, declares that he was present, and saw Mr Henderson die with great peace and comfort. Baillie says, That he died as he lived, in great modesty, piety, and faith. His mortal remains were interred in Grayfriar's churchyard, Edinburgh. As he had no family of his own, his nephew, Mr George Henderson, performed the last kind office of humanity to his earthly part, and erected a monument over his grave with appropriate inscriptions, which testify that Mr Henderson was very highly esteemed by all classes. His life was much desired, and his death greatly lamented, both in Scotland and England. A London newspaper, Perfect Diurnal, No. 162, under the date of Aug. 3 I, 1646, says, This day - the only news was by letters from the North, and first of all a sad lamentation for the death of Mr Henderson.
After the Restoration, when all indignity was done to the work of Reformation, and to those persons who had been most active in promoting it, the Earl of Middleton, the King's Commissioner, procured an order of Parliament in July 1662, for erasing the inscriptions, and disfiguring his monument. But at the Revolution, the monument was repaired, and the inscriptions replaced. It still stands entire on the south-west side of the Greyfriar's church. It is a quadrangular pillar, with an uria at the top. Mr Henderson having died soon after his conferences with the King at Newcastle, the Episcopalians industriously circulated the report, that he was not only vanquished, but also converted by his Royal antagonist. But this report had not the least shadow of foundation, and was very keenly contradicted by the concurring testimony of all who had access to be well acquainted with Mr Henderson's sentiments during that time. But this was not enough, for about two years after his death, a Declaration in Mr Henderson's name, the forgery of a Scots Episcopal Divine, was published, in which he was represented as expressing great contrition for acceding to the proceedings of the Presbyterians. Upon the appearance of that base pamphlet, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland called and examined several persons, who were present with Mr Henderson during the conferences at Newcastle, and also during the time which elapsed from his return to Edinburgh till his death, who declared that he had continued to the last constant and unaltered in his sentiments; upon which the Assembly passed an act, declaring the said pamphlet forged, scandalous, and false, and the author and contriver of the same void of charity and a good conscience, and a gross liar and calumniator, led by the spirit of the accuser of the brethren.
About the middle of the 18th century, this convicted forgery was credulously revived by Mr Ruddiman, who, notwithstanding his eminent learning, is well known to have had the weakest prejudices on the subject of Jacobitism and Episcopacy. This was triumphantly exposed by Mr Logan. When Mr Henderson had finished his academical studies at St Andrew's, he was chosen Professor of philosophy and rhetoric in that University. His talents and acquirements sufficiently recommended him to the office. Upon the change of his mind, he became faithful Minister of the Gospel, and a decided Presbyterian. Educated in Episcopal sentiments, and having the fairest prospects of preferment in a rising hierarchy, he readily sacrificed his high expectations to the word of God, and to the deep convictions of his own conscience. He cheerfully espoused a cause, which, though honourable in the sight of God, was much despised and borne down by men who were high in place. He strongly resisted ecclesiastical oppression, and earnestly contended for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. He was very highly esteemed by all ranks of the people, who were attached to the cause of Truth, and had much influence with both the Nobility and Clergy, even with the greatest and wisest men of the kingdom. He was called from his delightful retirement to the assistance of his dear countrymen, who groaned under the oppression of ambitious prelates, who were greatly supported by an arbitrary Court and corrupt Statesmen. "Though he sighed after his original solitude, and suffered from the fatigues and anxiety to which he was subjected, yet he did not relinquish his station, nor shrink from the difficult tasks imposed upon him, until his feeble and shattered constitution sunk under them, and he fell a martyr to the cause.'
Clarendon, with all his prejudices against Mr Henderson, cannot deny that he was eloquent though he is pleased to say, that he had more eloquence or rhetoric than logic. Bishop Guthrie, in his Memoirs, p. 24. says; Upon Mr Henderson all the ministry of that judgment depended; and no wonder, for in gravity, learning, wisdom, and state.policy, he far exceeded any of them. Pinkerton, in his Iconographia Scotica, calls him, the Franklin of the Scottish commotions. And Grainger, a clergyman of the Church of England, gives the following character of him: Mr Henderson, the chief of the Scottish Clergy in this reign, was learned, eloquent, polite, and perfectly versed in the knowledge of mankind. He was at the helm of Writings of affairs in the General Assemblies in Scotland, and was sent into England in the double capacity of a divine and plenipotentiary. He knew how to rouse the people to war, and to negotiate a peace. Whenever he preached, it was to a crowded audience, and when he pleaded or argued, he was regarded with mute attention.
And a very late writer, of great respectabilhy, says: Mr Henderson had talents and acquirements which fitted him for rising to eminence; that eminence he actually attained and preserved; and nothing but shameful ignorance or ruthless bigotry will deny him the praise of having been both a great and a good man.~ib It is certain, that he held a very conspicuous place, among our worthy Reformers, and was well known and highly respected for his judicious, faithful, and important servi. ces, in the cause of Christianity, which rendir the par ticulars of his Life deeply interesting to us. And to give such a name a distinguished place in the rolls of Biography, is a debt of gratitude which the public are bound to pay, in return for benefits received.
Mr Henderson having been much employed in public affairs, had little time to prepare works for the press. But the few sermons of his which were published, although hastily composed amid much business and many avocations, afford very favourable specimens of his talents, and .clearly shew that in pulpit oratory he was inferior to none of his contemporaries. His compositions are distinguished by accurate thinking, appropriate illustration, and elegant simplicity of language, - and bear marks of a vigorous and well cultivated mind. These probably will be perused with great avidity by some persons at this present time, and may become an important record to posterity. Beside the pieces mentioned in his Life, I have seen the following sermons under his name, which are still extant.
(From "Memoirs of the Westminster Divines" by James Reid)
Home | Links | Hall | Writings | Biography