Index for Chapters XXI-XXIX

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Chapter XXV: The Service Book

Synods are whelps of th' inquisition,
A mongrel breed of like pernicion ;
Sure 'tis an orthodox opinion,
That grace is founded in dominion.

THE events related in the last two chapters took place under a system of Episcopal Church government. This may seem strange to those whose notions of Episcopal rule are taken from the Roman Church or the Anglican Establishment, but it will not be so to any who are acquainted with Scottish ecclesiastical history, especially in the period that succeeded the Reformation. The only Church that took any hold in Paisley after that time was Episcopal, but it was very different in many respects from what is now called by that name. A Presbytery met regularly in the Abbey, and carried on its business much as the business of a Presbytery is carried on now. The congregations were ruled by “sessions,” composed of elders chosen from among the people. The discipline exercised was according to the form laid down by the General Assembly. The Archbishop of Glasgow presided over all, but kept in the background, and seldom interfered with his clergy. He was represented in the Presbytery by a moderator whom he appointed. He exercised supervision over the manner in which the power of excommunication was used, he conferred orders, and he gave collation to benefices. Nor was the worship of the Church very similar to that which is now associated with Episcopacy. It was essentially Scotch. It was partially liturgical, but the ritual was very simple. The character of the service was that which prevails now. The prayers read were those of the book of “Common Order,” or, as it was called from being bound up with the Psalms, “The Psalm Book;” but extemporary prayer was constantly used also, and the sermon was the chief feature of the service. Under this Episcopal Church a generation had grown up. With few exceptions, the leading divines of Scotland conformed to it. Even one like Boyd of Trochrig, who had been so long on the Continent, and who had officiated in the continental churches, which were formed after the model of Geneva, came to Paisley with the consent of the Archbishop, and took “collation” to the Abbey Parish from that dignitary. There was no reason why this system of church government, with many of its obvious advantages, should not have continued to the present day, and it probably would have done so had it been left alone. Attempts were made to Anglicanise it, which roused the whole amour propre of the Scotch people, and precipitated a conflict, the results of which have not yet passed away. It would be foreign to our purpose to enter on the history of that conflict. We shall only notice some of those aspects, which belong to the subject of our story.

Mr. Hay, who succeeded the laird of Trochrig, was translated in 1628 to Renfrew, and the Earl of Abercorn presented to the Archbishop, for induction to Paisley, Mr. John Crighton, parson of Campsie. The Archbishop directed him to preach on two Sundays in the Abbey, that he might know what the parishioners thought of his doctrine. After he had done so, the leading men of the parish
[1] held a meeting, and “all in one voice gave applause and approbation to the said Mr. John and his doctrine, and sent a deputation to the Archbishop earnestly to entreat his Lordship to give him admission as soon as possible may be, according to the order and constitution of the Kirk.” The Archbishop granted their request, and shortly afterwards Mr. Crighton was inducted, “being accompanied with the noblemen, gentlemen, and bailies of the burgh of Paislay,” and subsequently was admitted to the “peaceable possession of the manse, barne, barne-yard, and glebe” enjoyed by his predecessors. [2]

[1] These were “James Lord Ross, Sir Robert Montgomery of Skelmorlie, Wil. Ross of Muirestoune, Robert Semple of Beltrees, Brice Semple of Cathcart, Alex. Cochrane of that Ilk, Malcolm Crauford of Newtoune, Allane Lockhart, Claud Hamiltoune, and James Alex., Bailies, with many others, the elders and honest men of the toun and parochein of Paislay, solemnly convened in the kirke thereof, to the effect they might advise and deliberate upon the fittest course to be taken for settling a minister in the said kirk.”
[2] This was on 24th Feb., 1631. The subjects are described as “the ground of the house yard, barn, and barn yard, and four acres land on the east end of the burgh of Pasley.” The Presbytery passed “To the ground of the house and yard at the kirk style of Paisley, and also to the barn and barn yard in the crofts, called little croft or neweyard, betwixt the barn of umquhile Thomas Inglis on the south, and the house and yard now possessd by Andro Boyd on the north parts, and siclyke, to the four acres land in the croft called the meikle croft of Paislay, and which house, &c., were all possessed by his predecessors, ministers of Paislay of before.” They designed these subjects “to be the manse and glebe of the said Mr. John and his successors at Paisley, in the name of the Presbytery, at the desire of a letter direct to them by the Right Reverend father in God James, by the mercie of God Archbishop of Glasgow, within whose diocese the said Presbytery lies.”