Andrew Melville - 'Trial' (1606)



There are other instances of the magnanimity of this faithful witness of Christ, which are worthy of notice. In the year 1606, he, and seven of his brethren, who stood most in the way of having Prelacy advanced in Scotland, were called up to England, under pretence of having a hearing granted them by the king (who had now succeeded to that throne), with respect to religion; but rather to be kept out of the way, as the event afterwards proved, until Episcopacy should be better established in Scotland. Soon after their arrival they were examined by the king and Council, at Hampton Court, on the 20th of September, concerning the lawfulness of the late Assembly at Aberdeen. The king, in particular, asked Andrew Melville whether a few clergy, meeting without a moderator or clerk, could make an Assembly. He replied, there was no number limited by law; that lack of numbers could be no argument against the legality of the court; especially when the promise was in God?s word given to two or three convened in the name of Christ; and that the meeting was ordinarily established by his Majesty?s laws.

The rest of the ministers argued in the same way; after which Andrew Melville, with his usual freedom of speech, supported the conduct of his brethren at Aberdeen, recounting the wrongs done them at Linlithgow, where he himself was a witness. He blamed James? Advocate, Sir Thomas Hamilton, who was then present, for favouring Popery, and mistreating the ministers, so that the Accuser of the brethren could not have done more against the saints of God than had been done; that prelatists were encouraged, some of them promoting the interests of Popery with all their might, and the faithful servants of Christ were shut up in prison. And, addressing the Advocate personally, he added, ?Still you think all this is not enough, but you continue to persecute the brethren with the same spirit you did in Scotland.? After some conversation between the king and the archbishop of Canterbury, they were dismissed, with the applause of many present for their bold and steady defence of the cause of God and truth; for they had been much misrepresented to the English.

They had scarcely left the king before they received a charge not to return to Scotland, nor come near the king?s, queen?s, or prince?s Court, without special license and being called for. A few days later, they were again called to Court, and examined before a select number of the Scots nobility; where, after James Melville?s examination, Andrew being called, told them plainly, ?That they knew not what they were doing; they had degenerated from the ancient nobility of Scotland, who were wont to hazard their lives and lands for the freedom of their country, and the Gospel which they were betraying and overturning.? With night drawing on, they were dismissed.