Wednesday, December 08, 2010


David Calderwood identified 1596 as the year of greatest "perfectioun" and "puritie" in doctrine and discipline for the church in Scotland. 1596 was not only the year in which Andrew Melville called King James VI "God's sillie vassall," a phrase that symbolises the Scottish resistance to Erastianism; it was also the year in which the presbyterian movement showed most strength. A covenant, subscribed in March 1596 was adopted by the general assembly and two synods. The covenant involved a confession of the sins of ministers and a promise to be more zealous. It was a national repentance led by the Church. These were the headings of the covenant:

"Corruptions in the persons and lives of ministers of the gospel."
"Offences in His Majesty's house."
"The common corruptions of all estates."
"And offences in the Courts of Justice."

The initiative in this came from Davidson of Prestonpans. He submitted an overture from the Presbytery of Haddington showing that deep humiliation on account of sin was the first and best preparation against the national disaster of impending invasion. This had followed his visitation to Nithsdale, Annandale, Lauder-dale, Eskdale, and Ewesdale where he witnessed sad corruptions.

On Tuesday, 30th March 1596, the members of Assembly and other brethren having met in the " Little High Church," Mr Davidson discoursed on the evils of an ungodly ministry, and urged his hearers to repentance and self-abasement. For fifteen minutes he sat down and remained silent, the whole place became a Bochim as many of his hearers became deeply moved and sobbed audibly. After another impassioned address, he called on each one to stand up, and with extended hand to pledge himself to a more earnest ministry. "There have," says Calderwood, "been manie dayes of humiliation for present judgement in imminent dangers, but the like for sinne and defectiqun was thus never seen since the Reformation."