Index for Chapters XXI-XXIX

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Chapter XXVI: The Covenant

Because you have thrown off your Prelate Lord,
And with stiff vows renounced his Liturgy,
Dare ye for this abjure the civil sword,
To force our consciences whom Christ set free,
And ride us with a classic hierarchy.

PAISLEY was now under the rule of the Covenant. Mr. Henry Calvert, [1] the minister of the Abbey who succeeded Mr. Crighton, was a very different man from his latitudinarian predecessor. He was a stern and unbending disciplinarian—a man of weak health but unflagging zeal, who put down with the strong hand everything that did not square with his own ideas. He did a generous thing at his entry in 1641. He assigned five chalders of his grain stipend to a second minister, who was to be “his colleague and helper, promising another chalder providing he should be a man agreeable to himself. After several disappointments in calling a minister, the session of the parish, which at this time appeared to have acted as patron, presented Mr. Alexander Dunlop to the newly-instituted second charge, and he was accordingly associated with Mr. Calvert in the care of the parish. Shortly after, Mr. Calvert's health broke down, and the parishioners secured for him an assistant—a Mr. Dryfesdale, who had left Ireland on account of persecution—giving him a stipend of seven hundred merks. These three gentlemen between them made Paisley a very uncomfortable residence for anyone who did not heartily accept the Covenant. Mr. Dunlop was an exceedingly able man, and was much respected for his great learning and powers as a preacher ; and, according to Wodrow, “did wonderfully improve himself after coming to Paisley,” a remark which perhaps may be made with truth regarding some of his successors. [2] “He had also great grace ; great learning and a great gift of disputing and arguing ; and a great painfulness in reading and studying, and in all his ministerial work. In the whole week he lay but three whole nights in his bed. This, and to all these great gifts, he also added as a great ornament to them all—that he was clothed with great humility, so that he thought highly of his honest brethren that were far inferior to him. He had but few words : he had but just so much as seemed to express his matter that he was to deliver. He had a strange gift and faculty in making very difficult things plain even to the common people's capacities.” Many other excellent things are recorded by the historian regarding this minister of Paisley, and to his pages we refer the reader who desires to be better acquainted with the life of Mr. Dunlop. One remark regarding him is, however, worthy of notice. He “used in the pulpit” a kind of groan at the end of some sentences. Mr. Peebles called it a “holy groan,” and one John Knox, a worthy and great Christian, who was related to the Laird of Ranfurly, in Kilbarchan, said of Mr. Dunlop, when he had been hearing him at Paisley, “Many a happy word he groaned over my head this day.” [3] He was evidently a man deeply imbued with the spirit of the time. He had the best of all courage, that of his opinions. When he acted in some of the troubles as an army chaplain, he was distinguished for his bravery, and made an excellent soldier, and he was ready to go to prison and to death as a champion of the Covenant. He and his co-presbyters had much to do in standing up for this famous bond. “He said of some who were very troublesome to him in Paisley that he would never be quit of them till he prayed them out of the place”; but the Presbytery Records tell us that he and his colleagues used other methods for this purpose besides that of Prayer.

[1] He was an Englishman, and incumbent of Oldstane in Ireland, where he was deposed by Henry Bishop of Down in 1636 for refusing to subscribe the Canons. He was presented to Paisley by James Earl of Abercorn, 27th May, 1641.
[2] Wodrow's Analecta, Vol. III., p. 21, where there is a life of Mr. Dunlop and of several other ministers of the time.
[3] Those acquainted with the preaching of many of the Highland clergy will recognise at once “the holy groan” as a great feature in their excellent performances.