Melville, Andrew

Melville, Andrew one of Scotland's celebrated characters, the most eminent worker in the "Kirk" next to John Knox himself, and denominated by Anglican churchmen "the father of Scottish Presbytery" (Stephen, 1:258; compare, however, Hetherington, p. 78, col 1), was born Aug. 1,1545. He was the youngest of the nine sons of Richard Melville of Baldovy, a small estate on the banks of the South Esk, near Montrose. He had the misfortune to lose both his parents when only about two years old, his father falling at the battle of Pinkie in 1547, and his mother dying in the course of the same year; and the education of young Andrew devolved upon his eldest brother, who was minister of the neighboring parish of Maritoun after the establishment of the Reformation in 1560. Even as a child Andrew distinguished himself by the quickness of his capacity, and, though a delicate boy, it was determined that he should have all the advantages the schools of his day could afford him. At the age of fourteen he was removed from the grammar-school of Montrose, where he had been for some time, to St. Mary's College, in the University of St. Andrew's. Here he studied for four years most devotedly, and, upon the completion of the curriculum, bore away the reputation of being "the best philosopher, poet, and Grecian of any young master in the land." We are told that John Douglas, who was at that time rector of St. Andrew's, showed Andrew Melville much marked attention, and that the old rector was so much pleased with his shrewdness and accuracy of observation, that, on parting with him, Douglas exclaimed, "My silly fatherless and motherless boy, it's ill to wit what God may make of thee yet." Anxious to continue his studies under the guidance of master minds, he determined to go abroad, and take his place at the feet of the learned of other lands. 'First among the highschools of that day figured Paris, and thither he now directed his steps. He was only a boy of nineteen, but he had the purposes of a man, and without the loss of a moment, he made haste to reach Paris, and recommenced his studies at the French capital. After a two-years' stay he proceeded to Poitiers, to devote some time to the study of civil law, not, however, for the purpose of preparing for the legal profession, but only as a source of discipline "connected with a complete course of education." Melville had gone to Poitiers, as he imagined, a perfect stranger, but his reputation as a scholar had reached the place long before he made his actual debut, and he was greeted with the offer of a professorship at the highschool which he had intended to enter as a student. For three years he labored at the College of St. Marceon with most marked success, at the same time, however, adhering steadfast to the chief intention of his visit thither, viz. the study of civil law. In 1567 the renewed political disturbances obliged him to quit France. He retired to Geneva, and by the exertions of Beza the chair of humanity, which happened to be then vacant, in the academy of that place, was secured for him. Andrew Melville was now more in his element, both politically and religiously, and Geneva was a scene to which his mind often recurred in after-life. It was there he made that progress in Oriental learning for which he became so distinguished. There also he enjoyed the society of some of the best and most learned men of the age; but above all it was there the hallowed flame of civil and religious liberty began to glow in his breast, with a fervor which continued unabated ever after. In the spring of 1574, at the urgent request of his friends at home, he resigned his position here, and decided to return to his native country, from which he had now been absent altogether about ten years. On this occasion Beza addressed a letter to the General Assembly, in which, among other expressions of a like kind, he declared that Melville was "equally distinguished for his piety and his erudition, and that the Church of Geneva could not give a stronger proof of affection to her sister Church of Scotland than by suffering herself to be bereaved of him that his native country might be enriched with his gifts." On Melville's arrival in Edinburgh, in July, 1574, he was invited by the regent Morton to enter his family as a domestic tutor; but this invitation was declined by Melville, who was averse to a residence at court, and preferred an academic life. He was early gratified in this wish, for, having taught for a short time as private tutor in the house of a near relative, he was urged by archbishop Boyd and other leading men for the principalship of Glasgow College, and was promptly appointed by the General Assembly. In this new position his learning, energy, and talents were eminently serviceable, not only to the university over which he presided, but to the whole kingdom and to literature in general. He introduced improvements of great importance in teaching and discipline, and infused an uncommon ardor into his pupils. It was not, however, as a mere scholar or academician that Melville now distinguished himself. The constitution of his office, as a professor of divinity, entitled him to a seat in the ecclesiastical judicatories, and he took a prominent part in the ecclesiastical disputes of the time, and was active in the Church courts and in the conferences' held with the Parliament and' privy council on the then much agitated subject of Church government. During Melville's absence from Scotland, an incongruous species of Church government-nominally Episcopalian, but which neither satisfied Episcopalians nor Presbyterians- had been introduced. He, however, was not a believer in prelacy. He insisted that prelacy is not founded upon scriptural authority, and that it is foreign to the institutions and practices of apostolical times. His stay in Geneva, moreover, had afforded him a very favorable opportunity to judge of the workings of the Presbyterian parity, and, in consequence, he was determined to exert himself for the establishment of like institutions in his own country. Hetherington will have it that the Episcopalians are in "the habit of ascribing the decided Presbyterian form of Church government in Scotland to the personal influence of Andrew Melville, who, they say, had brought from Geneva the opinions of Calvin and Beza, and succeeded in infusing them into the Scottish ministers, who had previously been favorable to a modified prelacy." But no less an authority than Dr. Cook. himself a Presbyterian, holds that until Melville's arrival from Geneva "a modified and excellent form of episcopacy" was prevailing in the Church of Scotland, and that it was the indifference of the earl of Morton, who was now acting regent that resulted perniciously to the country, and paved the way for the. agitation of "new plans of ecclesiastical polity" (i. 237, 238). He certainly was not given the name of Episcopomastrix, or the "scourge of bishops," by any Episcopalian, and there seems every reason for the opinion that Melville was really the first Scotchman to press the interests of Presbyterianism. There is one thing certain, however, that even though Melville did not come determined to oust prelacy from Scottish churches, he yet steered clear of the regent's proposals, which, if Melville had acceded to them, " might have enabled that crafty statesman [Morton] to rivet securely the fetters with which he was striving to bind the Church, instead of being mightily instrumental in wrenching them asunder" (Hetherington, p. 78, col. 2). Melville's intrepidity was often very remarkable. On one occasion, when threatened by Morton in a menacing way, which few who were acquainted with the regent's temper could bear without apprehension, Melville replied, "Tush, man! threaten your courtiers so. It is the same to me whether I rot in the air or in the ground; and I have lived out of your country as well as in it. Let God be praised; you can neither hang nor exile his truth !" In March, 1575, Melville had an opportunity to publicly press his reforming schemes. He was at this time a member of the General Assembly, and his name was included in a committee appointed to confer with the government on the subject of the polity of the Church, and to prepare a scheme of ecclesiastical administration to be submitted to a general assembly. In 1578 his labors were finally-crowned with success. He presided this year over the assembly, and had the pleasure to take the vote approving the secondbook of Discipline, from that period the standard of Presbyterian Church government. Another matter to which thei attention of the General Assembly was at this time directed was the reformation and improvement of the universities. Here Melville also took a leading part. The high state of learning and discipline to which the University of Glasgow had been raised by him, and the comparatively low grade of education in the other colleges, had become an object of public notoriety, and it was necessary that measures be taken for reforming and-remodelling them. A new theological school was agreed upon for St. Andrew's, and it' was resolved to translate Melville thither. At the end of the year 1580 he was installed principal of St. Mary's College, in the University of St. Andrew's, and in this new position he distinguished himself by his usual zeal and ability. Besides giving lectures on theology, he taught the Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, and rabbinical languages, and his prelections were attended not only by young students in unusual numbers, but also by several masters of the other colleges. But his scholastic labors, however arduous and multifarious, could not prevent him from continuing an active worker for the interests of the Church, even in the pulpit. Immediately after his removal to St. Andrew's, Melville began to perform divine service, and he also took a share of the other ministerial duties of the parish. His gratuitous labors were highly gratifying to the people in general, but the freedom and fidelity with which he reproved vice exposed him to the resentment of several leading individuals, and the most atrocious calumnies against Melville were conveyed to the king, whose mind was predisposed to receive any insinuations to his disadvantage. A bad matter was made worse in 1582, when Melville was sent to the General Assembly, and was by that body honored with the office of moderator. In this prominent place he had many-opportunities to advocate the interests of his pet plans on ecclesiastical government. But even here matters did not rest. He was invited to preach before the assembly, and in his sermon he boldly inveighed against the tyrannous measures of the court, and against those who had brought into the country the "bludie gullie" of absolute power. This fearless charge, which the assembly had applauded, and had seconded by a written remonstrance, intrusted to Melville for presentation at court, led to a citation before the privy council for high-treason, and, though the crime was not proved, he was sentenced to imprisonment for contempt of court, as he had refused to appear, maintaining that whatever a preacher might say in the pulpit, even if it should be called treason, he was not bound to answer for it in a civil court until he had been first tried in an ecclesiastical court. Apprehensive that his life was really in danger, he set out for London, and did not return to the North till the faction of Arran was dismissed in the year following. After being reinstated in his office at St. Andrew's, Melville and his nephew took an active part in the proceedings of the'. Synod of Fife (q.v.), which terminated in the excommunication of archbishop Adamson, for having dictated and defended the laws subversive of ecclesiastical discipline. When Adamson was relaxed from censure, and restored to his see, Melville was charged to retire to the north of the Tay, and was not permitted to return to his post till the college had reluctantly consented to gratify one of the king's menial servants by renewing a lease, to the great diminution of the rental. Not long afterwards, the king, accompanied by Du Bartas, the poet, on a visit to St. Andrew's, had an opportunity of hearing from Melville a most spirited and learned, though extemporaneous, refutation of an elaborate lecture by Adamson in favor of' his views of royal prerogative, and, upon the decease of Adamson in 1592, Melville had the pleasure of seeing the passage of an act of Parliament ratifying the government of the Church by general assemblies, provincial synods, presbyteries, and kirk sessions, and explaining away or rescinding the most offensive of the acts of the year 1584-the black acts, as they were usually called. This important action is considered to this day as the legal foundation of the Presbyterian government, and it was regarded by Melville as an ample reward for his laborious efforts. The king, however, was not sincerely in favor of these measures, and secretly displayed a strong desire to make the " Kirk" a mere tool of political power, or to restore episcopacy. Melville strenuously resisted every such attempt, whether made in an open or clandestine form.

In 1596 a very favorable opportunity seemed to present itself for the court to effect its purposes. A tumult had taken place at Edinburgh on December 16, and this opportunity was seized by the court as a handle for the purpose of effecting a change in the constitution of the Church. Melville, and the Synod of Fife, and many leading clergymen, protested. To reach the king's ears, Melville was selected as chairman of a deputation to the king. Upon this occasion Melville displayed the same intrepidity of character that he had exhibited on meeting Morton while in the regency. King James seemed to be displeased with the Protestants, and reminded Melville that he was his vassal. "Sirrah," retorted Melville, "ye are God's silly vassal; there are two kings and two kingdoms in Scotland: there is king James, the head of the commonwealth; and there is Christ Jesus, the king of the Church, whose subject James the Sixth is, and of whose kingdom he is not a king, nor a lord, nor a head, but a member." It is not to be wondered at that such plain speaking met the displeasure of the man who had a peculiar liking for stratagems, or who was accustomed to look upon the works of darkness as the essence of "kingcraft." A general assembly was summoned by the king to meet at Perth; and as it was composed chiefly of ministers from the north, who were studiously infected with prejudices against their southern brethren, the adherents of Melville were left in the minority. But the next assembly at Dundee, as we shall see presently, was not quite so tractable. and it became quite clear to king James that in this way he would not succeed in annihilating, nor even lessening, Melville's ascendency. An opportunity, however, was not long wanting for such' a nefarious attempt. A royal visitation of the university was determined upon, and king James went to St. Andrew's in person, where, after searching in vain for matter of accusation against Melville, it was ordained that all professors of theology or philosophy, not being actual pastors, should thenceforth be precluded from sitting in sessions, presbyteries, synods, or assemblies, and from teaching in congregations. When the assembly met at Dundee in 1588, Melville made his appearance, notwithstanding the restrictions under which he had just been placed; but, when his name was called, king James objected, and declared that he would not permit any business to be done until Melville had withdrawn. Melville defended himself, and boldly told the king that the objection was invalid; to prevent difficulty, however, he finally withdrew under protest. Preparation was now made for restoring the order of bishops, and the first approach to this measure was to induce the commissioners of the General Assembly to solicit that the ministers and elders of the Church might be represented in Parliament. A statute was accordingly passed, declaring prelacy to be the third estate, and asserting the right of such ministers as should be advanced to the episcopal dignity to the same legislative privileges which had been enjoyed by the former prelates. The next conference, held at Falkland, Melville attended. and there, in presence of his majesty, maintained his sentiments with his accustomed fearlessness and vehemence, and the king judged it prudent to refer all the matters which were still intended to be adjusted to an assembly which met at Montrose in March, 1600. Melville appeared as a commissioner from his presbytery, and though, by the king's objections, he was not suffered to take his seat, his counsels and his unconquerable zeal served to animate and confirm the resolution of his brethren; and the assembly was with great difficulty prevailed upon to adopt the scheme of the court, under certain modifications. In 1601 Melville, nothing daunted by the fierce opposition of his royal master, attended the assembly at Burnt Island. Melville's conduct was grossly misrepresented, and James, incensed by the perseverance of his subject, immediately set out for St. Andrew's, and there, without even the sanction of his privy council, issued a lettre de cachet, charging Melville to confine himself within the walls of the college; the royal mandamus decreeing, at the same time, "if he fail and do in the contrary, that he shall be incontinent thereafter, denounced rebel, and put to the law, and all his movable goods escheat to his highness's use for his contemption." The king's conduct towards the Church from this time forward we have already treated in detail in the article JAMES SEE JAMES I (q.v.).

James's accession to the English throne brought to Melville a permit enlarging his circle of activity to within six miles of the college, and three congratulatory poems, which he had written for the occasion, seemed even to have established peace between the two combatants. In 1606, however, the war broke out anew, and this-time it ended only with the removal of the sturdy reformer. In 1604 and in 1605. Melville had sorely provoked the king by his activity against the royal measures. In 1606 Melville was selected to represent his presbytery at Parliament, and protest against the act of restoring episcopacy and reviving chapters. This action was unfavorably commented upon before the king, and the latter determined to punish Melville. One fine day Melville quite unexpectedly received a letter from his majesty desiring him to repair to London before September 15, that his majesty might consult him and others of his learned brethren on ecclesiastical matters. Melville and others went accordingly, and had various interviews with the king, who at times condescended even to be jocular with them; but they soon learned that they were interdicted from leaving the place without special permission from his majesty, and that James was only waiting for a favorable opportunity to vent his wrath upon Melville. The occasion was not long wanting. Melville having written a short Latin epigram, in which he expressed his feelings of contempt and indignation at some rites of the English Church on the festival of St. Michael, was immediately summoned before the privy council, found guilty of "scandalum magnatum," and, after a confinement of nearly twelve months, first in the house of the dean of St. Paul's, and afterwards in that of the bishop of Winchester, was committed to the Tower, and was there kept a prisoner for more than four years, in violation of every principle of justice. The first year of his imprisonment was particularly severe. He was deprived of all opportunity to give expression to his thoughts either by writing or oral communication. Through the influence of Sir James Sempill, he was removed, at the end of ten months, to a more healthy and spacious apartment, and was allowed the use of pen, ink, and paper. When the rigor of his confinement was relaxed, he was consulted both by Arminius and his antagonist Lubbertus on their theological disputes. He continued to refresh his mind by occasionally writing a poem, and in two or three letters to his nephew, James Melville, whom he loved as a son, he reviewed Dr. Downham's sermon on Episcopacy. In 1610 he printed a specimen of poetical translations of the Psalms into Latin verse, and he never wrote a letter to his nephew without transmitting copies of some of his verses. In 1611 he was released, on the, solicitation of the duke of Bouilion, who wanted his services as a professor in the university at Sedan, in France. Melville, now in his sixty-sixth year, would fain have gone home to Scotland to lay his bones there, but the king would on no account hear of such a thing, and he was forced to spend his old age in exile. Melville died about 1622, but neither the date of his death nor the events of his last years are ascertained.

Melville appears to have been low in stature and slender in his person, but possessed of great physical energy. His voice was strong, his gesture vehement, and he had much force and fluency of language, with great ardor of mind and constancy of purpose. His natural talents were of a superior order, and he was a scholar and divine of no common attainments. "As a preacher of God's word, he was talented in a very high degree-zealous, untiring, instant in season and out of season, and eminently successful-and as a saint of God, he was a living epistle of the power of religion on the heart. Sound in faith, pure in morals, he recommended the Gospel in his life and conversation-he fought the good fight; and, as a shock cometh in at its season, so he bade adieu to this mortal life, ripe for everlasting glory. If John Knox rid Scotland of the errors and superstitions of popery, Andrew Melville contributed materially, by his fortitude, example, and counsel, to resist, even to the death, the propagation of a form of worship uncongenial to the Scottish character" (Howie, p. 278). Dr. McCrie concludes his two interesting volumes of Melville's Life (1819) with the declaration, "Next to the Reformer, I know no individual from whom Scotland has received such important services, or to whom she continues to owe so deep a debt of national respect and gratitude, as Andrew Melville." See, besides McCrie's biography, Hetherington, Hist. of the Church of Scotland (N. Y. 1856, 8vo), p. 78 sq.; Cook, Reformation in Scotland, chap. xxvii; Stephen, Hist. of the Church of Scotland (Lond. 1845, 4 vols. 8vo), 1:258 sq.; Russel,

Hist. of the Church of Scotland (Lond. 1834,2 vols. 18mo), i, chap. ix; ii, chap. x sq.; Howie, Scots Worthies, p. 239 sq.; Chambers and Thomson, Biog. Dict. of Eminent Scotsmen (1855), 4:1 sq.; Blackwood's Magazine, Sept. 1824. (J.H.W.)

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