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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
James I of England and Vi of Scotland
was the only offspring of Mary, queen of Scots, by her second husband, Henry Stuart, lord Darnley, who, through his father, Matthew Stuart, earl of Lennox, being descended from a daughter of James II, had some pretensions to the succession of the Scottish throne in case of Mary dying without issue. He was the grandson, as Mary was the granddaughter, of Margaret Tudor through whom the Scottish line claimed and eventually obtained the inheritance of the crown of England after the failure of the descendants of Henry VIII. The son of Mary and Darnley (or king Henry, as he was called after his marriage) was born in the castle of Edinburgh June 19,1566, and was baptized according to the Roman Catholic ritual in Stirling Castle December 17 following, by the names of Charles James. The murder of Darnley took place Feb. 18, 1567, and was followed by Mary's marriage with Bothwell on May 15 of the same year; her capture by the insurgent nobles, or Lords of the Congregation as they called themselves, at Carberry, on June 14; her consignment as a prisoner to the castle of Lochleven on the 17th, and her forced resignation of the crown on July 24, in' favor of her son, who was crowned at Stirling on the 28th as James VI, being then an infant of a little more than a year old. It was at this time that the final struggle was raging in Scot-land between the two great interests of the old and the new religion, which, besides their intrinsic importance, were respectively identified with the French and the English alliance, and which, together with the old and the new distribution of the property of the kingdom, made the minority of James stormy beyond even the ordinary experience of Scottish minorities. Before his mother's marriage with Both we he had been committed by her to the care of the earl of Mar; and James's education was mainly entrusted to Mar's brother, Alexander Erskine, and other distinguished Scotch scholars, among whom figured most prominently the Protestant George Buchanan, a zealous adherent of the Presbyterian Church, During the minority of the young king, the earl of Morton had been assigned the regency; but Jamns's guardians being anxious to control themselves the affairs of state, in 1578 Morton was driven from power, and James nominally assumed the direction ‘ of affairs. Morton, however, soon succeeded, in re-establishing himself, and held the government for another short period, when he was finally deposed, and the young king again obtained the control of state affairs. — He was. at this time only twelve years of age, and was assisted by a council of twelve nobles. Once more great rejoicings were manifest throughout the land. All parties hailed the event as the inauguration of a new era, and to all it seemed to bring the prospects of power and prosperity.
Presbyterians relied on the early training of the prince; Romanists on the descendency of the young ruler, and, regarding his mother as in some sense a martyr to their cause, supposed that it would naturally enough influence James to incline to, if not openly espouse Romanism. The pope wrote pleasant letters to the young monarch, and Jesuits were dispatched with all haste to serve, in the garb of Puritans, the cause of Rome. The greater, then, was the discontent among his Roman Catholic subjects when James showed predilections for the Presbyterian Church. Shortly after his accession, the "Book of Policy," which up to our day remains the guide of the Scottish Church in ecclesiastical government and other affairs of a similar nature, was issued. Another very important step taken was the publication of a confession of faith by the General Assembly, which the king approved and swore to (comp. Sack, Church of Scotland, 2, 5 sq.). New presbyteries were established throughout the realm, and it seemed as if the Puritans were to be the only favorites, when, on a sudden, by a successful conspiracy of a party of nobles, James was imprisoned, with the endeavor to force him to more favorable actions in behalf of his Roman Catholic subjects. The whole affair is known in English history as the "Raid of Ruthven." A counterplot in 1583 secured the freedom of the monarch, but from henceforth a new policy was inaugurated, in which he was wholly controlled by the nobles of his court. In 1584 five resolutions were published, known as the "black resolutions," which aimed at the total abrogation of the Presbyterian Church. Severe persecutions followed, and it seemed for a time as if James had actually turned to Romanism. After the death of his mother, Elizabeth courted the favor of James, and a treaty was finally concluded between them by which the two kingdoms bound themselves to an offensive and defensive alliance against all foreign powers who should invade their territories, or attempt to disturb the reformed religious establishments of either. This action, of course, at once favored the Protestant subjects of James; for his severity assumed towards them previous to this alliance was due, no doubt, to his endeavor to secure, in view of the persecution of his mother by Elizabeth, an alliance with Spain, a strong Roman Catholic power. It was supposed that the execution of his mother would naturally drive him to an alliance with Spain, but James, although "he blustered at first under the sting of the insult that had been offered him," was soon pacified, reflecting upon the necessity of a friendly relation with Elizabeth if he would maintain his chance for the English throne.
Accordingly, James lent his assistance to Elizabeth in the preparations to repel the attack of the Spanish armada. Still more gracious seemed the attitude of James towards the Puritans on his return from Norway (1589), whither he had gone to espouse princess Anne, the second daughter of Frederick II, king of Denmark. At the meeting of the General Assembly of the Presbyterians in 1590 he attended and spoke highly of their establishment, and in 1592 he caused, by an act of Parliament, the establishment of the Presbyterian Church as a national form of religion. This action the Scottish Church regarded as their true charter, but they soon learned that James had only favored them because outward circumstances had necessitated this course, and that inwardly he had changed to an avowed admirer of episcopacy, and inclined even towards popery; "so that the alliance of Church and State in this case was one of a very frangible nature." To make matters worse, both parties cherished the loftiest opinions of their poalers and rights. Various unsuccessful treasonable attempts against the government had kept the people in a high pressure of excitement, and when it was ascertained that these attempts were supported, if not instigated, by the court and nobility of Spain, having for their especial object the intimidation of the irresolute monarch, and the re-establishment of Romanism, first in Scotland, and finally in England also, the people desired the severe punishment of the traitors. James, however, inflicted only a very mild punishment, and the dissatisfied multitude began loudly to condemn the policy of their king. The Church also criticized James's course, and a contest ensued that assumed very much the appearance of the commencement of a civil war. Nearly all the aristocracy and the upper classes, however, were with the king; and by an unusual exertion of vigor and firmness, very seldom manifested in his personal history, James was enabled not only completely to crush the insurrection, but to turn the occasion to account in bringing the Church into full subjection to the civil authority. In the course of the following year, 1598, the substance of episcopacy, which James by this time had come to espouse openly, and in which lie was governed by the maxim "No bishop, no king," was restored, in a political sense, by seats in Parliament being given to about fifty ecclesiastics on the royal nomination. Even the General Assembly was gained over to acquiesce in this great constitutional change.
By the death of Elizabeth in 1603 James finally reached the object for which he had striven for many years, and which had induced him even to court the favor of the murderer of his own mother. On March 24 he succeeded to the throne of England, and by virtue of this act became spiritual head of the Church of England. "That Church had already enjoyed the honor of having the grossest of voluptuaries for its supreme head; it was now to enjoy the honor of having the greatest liar, and one of the greatest drunkards of his age, in the same position" (Skeats). As in the Church of Scotland the contest had been waged between Romanists and Protestants for the favor of the throne, so in England the Established Church, the Episcopal, and the Puritans were arrayed against each other, and James was called upon to settle the dispute. Biased in favor of the episcopacy, James, however, decided on a conference of the two parties, anxious to display his "proficiency in theology," and "determined on giving both sides an opportunity of applauding his polemical skill, and making his chosen line of conduct at least appear to result from partial inquiry" (Baxter, Engl. Ch. History, p. 550).
As yet no separation had taken place, neither had the Puritans even renounced episcopacy, nor did they question regal supremacy; they only objected to being bound against the dictates of their conscience to the observance of certain performances; they desired purity of doctrine, good pastors, a reform in Church government and in the Book of Common Prayer; in short., a removal of all usages which savored of Romanism. A conference (q.v.) was consequently assembled at Hampton Court in January, 1604, and the points of difference discussed in James's presence, he himself taking, as might have been expected, a conspicuous and most undignified part. "Church writers, in dealing with this subject, have felt compelled to employ language of shame and indignation at the conduct of the king and the bishops of this period, which a Nonconformist would almost hesitate to use" (Skeats). On the episcopal side appeared archbishop Whitgift, assisted by bishops Bancroft, Bilson, and others; on the side of the Puritans appeared four divines, headed by the celebrated Dr. Reynolds, at that time president of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. "It is obvious, from the whole proceedings, that the conference was summoned for a purpose opposed to its ostensible aim. It was not intended to bring the two parties in the Church-into harmony, but to give occasion for casting out one of them" (Skeats). The attitude of the king pleased the churchmen, and "the prelates accepted him with devout gratitude. The more his character became revealed to them, the greater was their satisfaction. When he al most swore at the Puritans, Whitgift declared that his majesty spoke by the especial assistance of God's Spirit (comp. Baxter, Ch. Hist. of England, p. 559), and Bancroft that he was melted with joy, for that, since Christ's time, such a king had not been.
When he driveled they held up their hands in amaze at his wisdom." Indeed, it seems that "the two parties fully understood each other. James had quite sufficient cunning to detect the ambitious designs of the prelates, and the prelates had sufficient learning, and sufficient knowledge of the theory of morals, to know that they were dealing with a dissembler and a fool. But it served their purposes to play into each other's hands. The king could put down Puritanism in the Church, and ‘ Harry' all Brownists and Anabaptists out of the land, and the bishops, in their turn, could exalt the supremacy of the monarch" (Skeats). But, as if the ungenerous and ungracious action of the king had not yet reached the climax, the Hampton Court Conference Convocation met in the year following, and framed a new set of canons to insure conformity. "These laws-laws so far as the clergy are concerned - still deface the constitution and character of the English Episcopalian Church.... They are now little else than monuments of a past age of intolerance, and of the combined immobility and timidity of the ecclesiastical establishments of the present day. Old bloodhounds of the Church, with their teeth drawn and their force exhausted, they are gazed at with as much contempt as they once excited fear" (Skeats). Baxter (p. 563) says of these laws, "Some of them have become obsolete, others inoperative through counter legislation; but no consistent clergyman can forget that they constitute the rule of his pledged obedience, although there may be cases in which attention to the spirit rather than the letter will best insure the object of their enactment." But some good sprang also from the Hampton Court Conference; results which none probably had anticipated. "Reynolds, the Puritan, had suggested a new translation of the Bible by his majesty's special sanction and authority. The vanity of the king was touched, and the great work was ordered to be executed." (See ENGLISH VERSIONS).
But what, perhaps, decided him in his course, if decision could ever become manifest in the actions of James I, to identify himself wholly with the Episcopalians, was the gunpowder plot (q.v.), which was maturing about this time (1604-5). It exterminated in James the last vestiges of favor for Romanism when he found that from Rome he never could expect anything but a death-warrant unless the English Church changed to a Roman Catholic State Church. And if James had declared in Parliament in 1604 "that he had never any intention of granting toleration to the Catholics," he could now be justified in adding "that he would drive every one of them from the land," as he did threaten to do towards all Nonconformists. As if the conspiracy, which had fortunately failed, was not worthy the censure even of Rome. but deserved commendation, one of the principal leaders, the Jesuit Garnet, was even canonized by the Roman court, of course not openly on the strength of his assistance in the diabolical project, but "L on the faith of a pretended miracle, his face having, it was said been seen in a straw sprinkled with his blood." Thus Rome "did its very best to identify, or at least to confound, one of the most diabolical projects ever conceived, with the evidences of transcendent sanctity" (Baxter, p. 565), and for Rome's treachery the honest Puritans of England were made to suffer. The policy of the king (who by this time had assumed the title of king of Great Britain) was, however, not to be confined to England. In Scotland also the power of the Puritans was to be utterly broken, and the episcopate to be re-established. In August, 1606, a Parliament was held at Perth which had this object in view, and the decision arrived at, by a union of the nobility and the prelatic faction, to erect seventeen bishoprics, and to bestow on these newly-created prelates the benefices, honors, and privileges heretofore awarded to those of the Roman Catholic Church. After having properly disposed of the leaders of the Scottish Church, a General Assembly was unconstitutionally convened at Linlithgow on Dec. 10, 1606. As most of the synods opposed its acts, new persecutions were the issue. Feb. 16, 1610, the king established two ecclesiastical tribunals, to be presided over by the two archbishops, and designated these tribunals as "Courts of High Commission," uniting the two shortly after their establishment.
This ecclesiastical tribunal, a sort of Inquisition, combined the attributes of a temporal and spiritual tribunal; but it was bound to no definite laws, and was armed with the united terrors of civil and ecclesiastical despotism. On June 8, 1610, a meeting was finally held at Glasgow, and there, b means of bribes, which are said to have reached the not inconsiderable sum of £300,000 sterling, the prelatic measures were carried, and all opposition nominally overcome. But the people by no means seemed ready to coincide with the opinion of the king, and many were the disturbances that prevailed throughout the land. Whatever work had to be done to further the royal schemes was done quietly, and no General Assembly met until August, 1616, this time held at Aberdeen, and especially celebrated in the history of Scotland by the issue of a new confession of faith projected by the prelatic party, and which, although tolerably orthodox, was remarkably at variance with the discipline of the Established Church. Affairs assumed another and more serious turn in the summer of 1617, when James, on a visit which he paid to Scotland, succeeded, though not without great difficulty, in securing from Parliament, which he had newly summoned, as well as from the General Assembly, the approbation of such regulations as, along with other innovations previously made since his accession to the throne of England, brought the Scottish Church-in government, in ceremonies, and in its position in relation to the civil power-very nearly to the model of the ecclesiastical establishment of England. Change, however, as the king might, the constitution and ordinances, almost without number, published again and again, public opinion by no means altered even for a moment, and the 19th century still finds Scotland true to her Puritanical notions of the 16th century. The king had succeeded in securing the adoption of the "five articles of Perth" (q.v.); he had succeeded in suppressing the Scotch Presbyterian Church, but he failed to conquer it.
In England, also, the shortsighted policy of James now brought distrust and discredit. The execution of Raleigh and the denial of assistance to the Protestant Bohemians, both sacrifices to the court of Spain, the latter even at the expense of his son-in-law, whom the Bohemians had chosen for their king, hardly justify Baxter in the statement that king James's object was the consolidation of the Protestant interests, and that "his treatment of the Puritans was marked by a leniency strongly contrasting with the more vigorous course adopted by his predecessors, and naturally occasioning a difference of opinion as to its wisdom and propriety". (p. 568). If toleration was the policy of James I, it did not manifest itself against the Independents, who," after repeated and fruitless applications for toleration" (Baxter, p. 572), were obliged to go to distant lands to find a place where they could follow the dictates of their conscience. Certainly the state did not pay the expenses of these pilgrim fathers in 1619 because they were Puritans, but simply because they were likely to settle and to cultivate land otherwise almost worthless. In 1624 James was finally driven, both by the opposition of Parliament to his policy in seeking a closer alliance with Spain and by the clamor of the people for a war with that country, to dispatch an army into Germany to recover his son-in-law's possessions. But, as if his measure of tribulation was not yet full, this enterprise proved a total failure, and brought discredit upon the English name. The king also assumed a ridiculous attitude on the question of the observance of the Sabbath. Roman Catholicism is wont to look upon Sunday as a holiday; the Puritans, however, desired it observed as a Christian day of rest. To counteract these efforts, James published a "Book of Sports," advising the people that Sunday was not to be a day mainly for religious rest and worship, but of games and revels (Skeats, p. 47). (See SABBATARIAN CONTROVERSY).
This reign, so detrimental to the interests of the English and Scottish State and the Church of Christ, were finally brought to a termination by the death of James, March 27, 1625. Severe as may have been some of the historians who have written the fate of this king, none can be said to have exaggerated the many despicable features of his character; and we need not-wonder that his vacillating course towards his subjects, favoring first the Puritans, then the Episcopalians; tightening first the reins, and then loosening them against the Romanists-all inspired, not by the true spirit of toleration, but by artful designs, well enable us to repeat of him Macaulay's judgment, that James I was "made up of two men-a witty, well-read scholar, who wrote, disputed, and harangued, and a nervous, driveling idiot who acted."
James I was a voluminous writer, and, though he was far from deserving the surname which the flattery of his contemporaries accorded him, "Solomon the Second," he was certainly not wholly destitute of literary ability, and, had he pursued a literary life instead of governing a state, it is barely possible that he might have earned a much higher position among his fellow beings. It brings to mind the prophetic utterance of his tutor, that James was better fitted to be a scholar than a ruler. The writings of James which deserve mention here are, Fruitful Meditation upon a part of the Revelation of St. John (Lond. 1588): — Daemonologia, a dialogue in three books in defense of the belief in Witches (Lond. 1597, 4to); and yet the king withal hesitated not to punish his subjects for a like faith: — Βα . — (ΤΚΞτΧβ Αωποᾷ ; instructions to his son Henry (who died Nov. 6, 1612), in which James laid down his opinions on the power of the throne over the State and Church, and which, for the doctrines it contained on Church government, was censured as libelous by the Synod of St. Andrew's (Lond. 1599): — Triplici Nodo Triplex Caneus, an apology for the oath of allegiance that ‘ James exacted of his Roman Catholic subjects, which was answered by cardinal Bellarmine, and produced a long controversy and many other publications on both sides, for an account of which, see a note by Dr. Birch in the Appendix to. Harris's Life of James: — Protestatio Antivorstia, in qua rex suam exponit sententiam de confederatorum ordinum effectu et actis in catusa Vorstii (London, 1612), the successor of Arminius as professor of ‘ divinity at the University of Leyden, whom he accused of heresy, (See VOSTIUS), etc. A complete edition of his works was published in folio (London, 1616), and a Latin translation by bishop Mountague in 1619. A more complete edition was published at Frankfort on the Main in folio in 1689. He is also said to have written a metrical version of the Psalms, completed up to ‘ the 31st Psalm (Oxf. 1631, 12mo). See James Welwood, Memoirs of the most material Transactions in England for the last 100 Years preceding the Revolution (London, 1700, 8vo); Peyton, Divine Catastrophe of Kingly Family of the House of Stuart (1731, 8vo); Wilson, Life and Reign of King James I (1653, fol., and reprinted in Bp. Kennet's Complete History, vol. 2); Lingard, History of England, vols. 8 and 9; Baxter, Ch. Hist. ch. xiii; Collier, Eccles. Hist.; Hallam, Constit. Hist. (see Index); Raumer, Gesch. v. Europe, vol. 5; Rudloff, Gesch. d. Reformation in Scotland, vol. 1; Soame, Elizabethan History, p. 515 sq.; Skeats, History of the Free Churches of England, p. 35 sq.; Hunt (the Rev. John), Religious Thought in England (Lond. 1870, 8vo), vol. 1, ch. 2 and 3; English Cyclop. s.v.; Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 6:381 sq. (See ENGLAND (CHURCH OF);) (See PURITANS). (J. H.W.)
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'James I of England and Vi of Scotland'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/j/james-i-of-england-and-vi-of-scotland.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
the Second Week of Advent