In preparation for our Scotland Tour in September, our guides have composed a series of articles on the men, and women, that shaped Scotland’s past. Although the characters and circumstances were unique to their time, the lessons gleaned from the study of these remarkable Scots are strikingly relevant today.
No King But Jesus
he Covenanter period of Scotland’s history, often called “The Second Reformation”, witnessed the triumph of Reformed Christianity in both Church and State, and it affected every segment of society from the highest nobleman to the lowest peasant. Although factionalism and political turmoil did prevent total unanimity, the Kirk of Scotland, from the signing of the National Covenant in 1638 to the Restoration of the English monarchy in 1660, realized a freedom of worship and a development of godly rule unprecedented in countries where the Calvinist Reformation succeeded. When King Charles II came to the throne in 1660, a relentless persecution of the Scottish Church ensued in an attempt to destroy the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, which lasted until the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688 and the accession of William and Mary. A large proportion of those dangerous years in Scotland are known as “the killing times”.
The Rise of Conventicles
The King deposed over 2,000 Puritan and Scottish ministers from their churches. Many pastors simply continued their ministries in the barns, fields, forests, and private homes on the Sabbath, attracting just a few families in some areas and up to many thousands in others! Those meetings were known as Conventicles, and were declared wholly illegal and treasonous to the crown of England. The Episcopal religion had been imposed on all the people of the United Kingdom, so closely linked to government control that King Charles, “the head of the Church”, declared that without bishops ruling his church and under his control, there could be no monarchy. Resistance to that political reality was tantamount to treason, and treason must be punished to the full extent of the law.