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often treated each other, made the quiet of the land wish for the wings of the dove, that they might fly thence and be at rest.
From whatsoever cause, in the year 1652, after the arrival of the second Charles among the Scots had raised their dissensions to a height, and brought their affairs to a crisis, and when his defeat had strengthened the distractions in the church, and spread a wider desolation in the country, Leighton tendered his resignation to the Presbytery ; this they declined accepting, and he was persuaded to remain ; but when there appeared little prospect of settlement among the divided Presbyterians, and increasing bitterness of spirit between those who wished and prayed for the restoration of their King, and those who deprecated such an event from the specimen they had already receiv. ed of his conduct and disposition, he again renewed his request, and on the 3d February 1653, was released from his ministerial connection with Newbottle, after having laboured eleven years diligently among them. | Nothing tries a man's principles better than touching his purse, and were we to judge from the conduct of many who bear the name of Christian, we should be apt to imagine that the injunction, “ Love not the world, nor the things of the world," ought to be inverted; but wisdom is justified of her children, and sometimes there do appear men, whose actions corresponding to their profession, evince, that setting the affections on things that are above, and not on things below, is, though a rare, yet a real attainment. Leighton was one; and a circumstance occurred about this time, which places his estimate of the uncertain riches of time, in a striking point of view, and which, although it possesses an appearance of carelessness, and might possibly mark him out as a fit prey for pecuniary plunderers, was not by himself looked back upon during his life with much pain; and that he got so far above the world before he got out of it, will not be now to his holy spirit any cause of regret.
His father, who had acquired some property after his sufferings, having died, left him about one thousand pounds: this, which was all his patrimony, his brother-in-law Mr Lightmaker, had advised him to come to London, and get placed in proper security. He answered: “Sir,- I thank you for your letter. That you gave me notice of, I desire to consider as becomes a Christian, and to prepare to wait for my own removal. What business follows upon my father's [death,] may be well enough done without me, as I have writ more at large to Mr E-, and desired him to show you the letter when you meet. Any pittance belonging to me may possibly be useful and needful for my subsistence, but truly if something else draw me not, I shall never bestow so long a journey on that I account so mean a business. Remember my love to my sister, your wife, and to my brother and sister Rathband, as you have opportunity. I am glad to hear of the welfare of you all, and above all things wish for myself and you all, our daily increase in likeness to Jesus Christ, and growing heavenwards where he is, who is our treasure. To his grace I recommend you. Sir, your affectionate brother, R. Leighton.” Dated December 31st 1649. Before a month had elapsed, he had occasion to acknowledge
the propriety of his brother's advice, for the merchant in whose hands the money was placed became bankrupt, and he lost all. In another letter to the same gentleman, which is subjoined, his Christian temper is remarkably evident: he owns his error, and is sensible of his loss, but as his heart was not with the treasure that had perished, he was not affected beyond what a Christian ought.“ Sir,-Your kind advice I cannot but thank you for, but I am not easily taught that lesson. I confess it is the wiser way to trust nobody : but there is so much of the fool in my nature, as carries me to the other extreme, to trust everybody. Yet I will endeavour to take the best courses I can in that little business you write of. It is true there is a lawful, yea, a needful diligence in such things ; but alas ! how poor are they to the portion of believing where our treasure is! That little that was in Mr Es hånds hath failed me; but I shall either have no need of it, or be supplied some other way; and this is the relief of my rolling thoughts, that while I am writing this, this moment is passing away, and all the hazards of want and sickness shall be at an end. My mother writes to me and presses my coming up. I know not yet if that can be ; but I intend, God willing, so soon as I can conveniently, if I come not, to take some course that things be done as if I were there. I hope you will have patience in the mean time. Remember my love to my sisters. The Lord be with you, and lead you in his ways. Your loving brother [signed] R. Leighton, dated Newbottle, Feb. 4. 1650.”
When the Scottish religious parties could not agree among themselves, and each were anxious to obtain an ascendancy, the English Parliament, now paramount, appointed Sequestrators, with an ample commission to superintend the setting aside, or planting churches or universities. These uniformly supported what would now be styled the Evangelical party, then called the Remonstrants, to which Leighton had always adhered, although he had differed on the political question of the Engagement; and from among these the Sequestrators filled
all the vacancies that occurred,—for they were men of superior talents, and generally reported of superior sanctity. And it is here deserving especial notice, that the Parliament first, and Cromwell afterwards, filled the public situations in the church and universities of Scotland, solely with men of acknowledged abilities and good conduct, and in the civil courts with Judges of strict integrity and worth.
In the search after persons capable of filling eminent stations, Leighton was not overlooked ; he was called to the highly responsible office of Principal in the University of Edinburgh. William Colville, minister of the Scottish Church at Utrecht, had been previously elected, but as he was a known enemy to the existing government, he was set aside, and the magistrates of the capital, who have always shown a due submission to the powers that be, joined in presenting Mr Robert Leighton, “who was prevailed with to accept of it, because in it he was wholly separated from all church matters.” The ministers were joint patrons, but refused to vote, “because, though they were content with Mr Robert Leighton, they were not clear in the manner of the call.” This event took place early in 1653, and in the month of July follow
ing, the General Assembly was conducted by Lieut.-Cól. Cotterell, under a guard of foot-musqueteers and dragoons, a mile beyond Edinburgh, where they were dismissed and commanded never more to assemble; Government conceiving that they asșumed a civil power inconsistent with the peace of the realm. Synods and inferior judicatories were allowed to meet, but from this time all coercive power was removed from the church, and she was left to wield her own proper arms. Whether the English Parliament interfered to enforce the Covenant or not, is uncertain, though shortly after it was positively forbidden. Leighton, however, both took it himself, and enforced it upon others during this period, so that he cannot be considered as having withdrawn from Presbyterian communion till afterwards, as indeed there was no other form of religion professed publicly, till the Independents gave a free toleration to all, when several sects sprung up, to none of which could he, as Principal of the University, have joined himself.
His labours in this office were abundant. He delivered a theological lecture in Latin once a week to the Students, and at stated intervals preached to them in the College Church. These prelections, which form the 6th vol. of Jerment's Edition of his works, attracted crowds, who were charmed with the elegance of his style, and the animation of his delivery. They were translated by Dr Fall, and will be found in the present volume. He did not however confine his attention to his public duties; in his private conversation with the young men, he laboured to form their minds to the practice of virtue, and his instructions were happily enforced by his own example ; indeed, in public or private, religion was the vital principle of his soul, the element in which he breathed.
For eight years Scotland enjoyed under the Commonwealth a de gree
of prosperity and quiet, such as that country had scarcely ever known; and Kirkton and other contemporary writers bear testimony to its being a time, in which religion flourished more than almost at any period upon record; and so widely diffused had been the benefits of common education in the lowlands, particularly the west and the south, that there was hardly a family which could not read, and which had not a Bible. For these benefits Scotland had been partly indebted to the establishment of Parish Schools by the Act 1633, but chiefly to the assiduity of the parochial Clergy, who had always shown the deepest interest in the education of the peasantry. The unwearied pains they took, and the good effects which followed, may be judged of from the caricature which Bishop Burnet draws of a faithful ministry, and a godly people, and making the necessary deductions for his episcopalian prejudices, it in the most material points confirms the perhaps too flattering picture of Kirkton: “ The former incumbents, are his words, “were a grave, solemn sort of people; their spirits were eager, and their tempers sour; but they had an appearance that creat- : ed respect. They were related to the chief families in the country either by blood or marriage, and had lived in so decent a manner that the gentry paid great respect to them. They used to visit their parishes much, and were so full of the Scriptures, and so ready at extempore prayer, that from that they grew to practise extempore sermons ; for the custom in Scotland was, after dinner or supper, to read a chapter in the Scripture, and where they happened to come, if it was acceptable, they on the sudden expounded the chapter. They had brought the people to such a degree of knowledge, that cottagers and servants would have prayed extempore. I have often overheard them at it; and though there was a large mixture of odd stuff, yet I have been astonished to hear how copious and ready they were in it. Their ministers generally brought them about them on the Sunday nights, when the sermons were talked over; and every one woman, as well as man, were desired to speak their sense and their experience, and by these means they had a comprehension of matters of religion, greater than I have seen among people of that sort anywhere.” “ And as they [the ministers] lived in great familiarity with their people, and used to pray, and to talk oft with them in private, so it can hardly be imagined to what a degree they were loved and reverenced by them. They kept scandalous persons under a severe discipline; for breach of Sabbath, for an oath, or the least disorder in drunkenness, persons were cited before the church-session, that consisted of ten or twelve of the chief of the parish, who with the minister had this care upon them, and were solemnly reproved for it.” “ These things had a grave appearance, their faults and defects were not so conspicuous.” Leighton, who well knew that the preservation of such a system depended, humanly speaking, upon the education of the ministers themselves, and the providing suitable teachers, set himself to promote both these objects, and he obtained an annuity of £ 200 from the Protector to aid his beneficent plans, but the death of that great man caused a universal stagnation of every praiseworthy project, and the restoration threw the country half a century back in the progress of improvement.
During the vacations he frequently made excursions to London and to the Continent. In his visits to the Capital he was an occasional attendant at Cromwell's court, of whose clergymen Burnet makes him give a very contemptuous character: “they were men of unquiet and meddling tempers : and their discourses and sermons were dry and unsavoury, full of airy cant, or of bombast swellings." Had the Bishop been kind enough to have given the names of these worthies that he employs the venerated shade of Leighton to stigmatize, it might have been possible to judge of the justice of the charge, at least to discriminate, for never did England produce a body of abler divines, freer from “ bombast or swellings,”-unless the overflowing of hearts earnest in the cause of God were such,—than what assembled in the court and enjoyed the countenance of the Protector ; but as a general charge can only be met by a general answer, I would refer those who wish to see a fuller account of some of these traduced ministers, to Orme's Life of Owen, a work which contains a great deal of not common information respecting the ecclesiastical literature of “the Sectaries," among whom were men in whose society Leighton would have met neither disgust nor degradation.
According to the same authority, however, the Principal found himself more at home among the Romanists at Douay, and derived much ad. vantage during his frequent visits to that college, from the pious lives of
some of these religionists; but Leighton himself has declared his own opinion of the Roman Catholic system, and of its opposition to Christianity in its fundamental articles, distinctly and repeatedly. Now, if a system be wrong in the foundation, what does it signify how fair the structure! if a man build on sand, the more precious the materials of his house, the more terrible the ruin; and if the Roman Catholics have, as Leighton affirms, [vide remarks on 1 Peter, chap. ii. ver. 6.] despised that stone which God hath made the head of the corner, would any of the Lord's people wish to take a pattern from their mode of moulding or polishing other living stones of their temple! The Romish system is designated in scripture, Mystery, Babylon, the mother of abominations; and instead of learning from her children, the command is, “ Come out from among them, be ye separated from them; come out of her, that ye be not partakers of her plagues."
With regard to monkish seclusion, to which some of his friends allege hewas partial, he thus speaks: “This is amongst many others a misconceit in the Romish Church, that they seem to make holiness a kind of impropriate good, that the common sort can have little share in almost all piety, being shut up within cloister walls as its only fit dwelling. Yet it hath not liked their lodging it seems, but is flown over the walls
from them, for there is little of it even there to be found ; but however, their opinion places it there as having little to do abroad in the world, whereas the truth is, that all Christians have this for their common task, though some are under more peculiar obligations, [alluding to ministers] to study this one copy." —Remarks on 1 Peter iii. 13.
I should not have said so much on a subject in which our author is so explicit, had it not been that some of his former biographers seemed anxious to exalt the papists at the expense of the Presbyterians and Independents, by representing the amiable prelate as deriving so much advantage from his intercourse with them, while he was forced almost to flee the world, to get rid of the contention and bombast of the others.
It is not mentioned to whom the following letter was addressed, written while he was principal, but it throws some light on the estimation in which he held that species of learning so much esteemed among Roman Catholics : “ Meanwhile I think I have at a venture given up with the contemptible desires and designs of this present world, and must have something beyond them all, or nothing at all: and though this Boçßăposu Ünn, this base clod of earth I carry, still depresses me, I am glad that even because it does so I loath and despise it : and would say, Major sum et ad majora genitus, quam ut mancipium sim vilis corpusculi; I am greater, and born to greater things, than to be the slave of a vile body. I have sent you two little pieces of history, wherein it may be you will find small relish, but the hazard is small; and however, I pray you do not send them back to me at all, for I have enow of that kind ; the one is from a good pen, and an acquaintance and friend of yours, Paulus Nolanus, and his life of Martin Tour I think you will relish, and I think it is not in your Vitæ Patrum: the other, Valerius Maximus, I conceived would cloy you the