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churchyard were crowded with men deeply moved; but nothing was done rashly; they were too much in earnest for that. Henderson, with a fervour bordering on inspiration, led the prayers of the assembly. Warriston, with clear, firm voice, read the Covenant amid deathlike silence, every ear strained to catch its import. Then a solemn pause ensued, as if they felt themselves exposed to the eye of the Invisible One, whose presence they had invoked as a witness of their deeds, and with whom they were entering into solemn covenant. The Earl of Sutherland was the first who approached, and, with much emotion, signed the document. Then, as name followed name in quick succession, the pentup feelings of the people found relief in tears. Strong, bearded men wept, and sobbed aloud; they raised their hands, and adjured the God of heaven; they wounded themselves, that with their own blood they might write their names. They were terribly in earnest. Alive to the importance of the interests at stake, and the grandeur of the work which they had to do, they towered above their ordinary stature into the proportions and the attitude of the morally sublime. Loving their liberties, dreading the dangers which threatened them, stirred by their own stern resolution to defend them to the utmost, cleaving to each other, and trusting in God, resolute yet trembling, their conflicting emotions burst through all restraint. Petty proprieties and conventional formalities gave way before the mighty rush of feeling in which all hearts were blended. And with breasts heaving, and lips quivering, and eyes flashing, and hand clasped in hand, they stood, a united resolute people, ready to do or die in defence of their country's rights.
It was a grand spectacle-a nation, first in its representatives and afterwards in the masses of its people, banded together in such a spirit and for such an end. Oh! had they only had leaders worthy of themselves-had there been a
Scottish Cromwell to head that movement-had there been a wiser Garibaldi to embody and direct that enthusiasm― had there been found among Scotland's nobles another Wallace or another Bruce-what might not such a nation have achieved! Their great want was, that they had no such leader, and sad results followed in consequence, as our narrative will presently show. Meanwhile, it is ours to tell how rapidly the movement spread,-how, when all in the Church had signed, the document was spread on a tombstone, to receive the signature of the crowds in the churchyard,how, when borne in triumph through the city next day, it was hailed with rapture by all classes,-" opulent citizens, women, young people, servant maidens, all did swear and hold up their hands to the Covenant,"-how the surrounding districts caught the enthusiasm,-how copies in the north and west and south were signed by thousands and tens of thousands, until the great body of the Scottish people, in imitation of their leaders, who met in the Greyfriars, stood, sword in hand, sublimely defiant, trusting to the strength of their own right arm, and to the succour of the Lord of Hosts, ready to hurl back the encroachments of despotic power, and at the sacrifice of life, if necessary, to guard the land and the liberties and the religion which they loved.
Noble spectacle! And such, in the main, was Covenanting Scotland in 1638. One feels a glow of honest pride at the thought of belonging to a country which has, for once, assumed such an attitude, especially when he can believe, as we do, that, did occasion call for it, she would assume such an attitude again. Such times, gentlemen, are epochs in a nation's history, when through the pangs and throes of travail she emerges into nobler life. By one stride she exceeds the progress she would have made during a century of sluggish uneventful existence. By one mighty effort she
is lifted into a higher region, and henceforth moves on a more elevated plain. By some of her sons there may be an open abandonment of the standard she has raised, secret defection on the part of others; but withal she is higher for that one effort throughout all coming time. The memory of that time is cherished by all that is worthiest in the nation. It cannot die. It remains to restrain her downward tendencies-to rally her from her deepest depression -to rouse her from her lethargy—to make her shake off the corruptions which cleave to her, and assume the attitude, and cultivate the character, of these earlier times. And the vitality which still distinguishes the Scottish nation, and the stirring events, ecclesiastical and political, which have marked her history during the last two centuries, and the vigour with which she now conducts her temperance movement and other measures of social reformmeasures which promise to rid her before long of the evils which confessedly exist, and have existed for some time, as blots on her fair fame;-this vigour, I say, this vitality, may be traced in great measure to the influence of the year 1638, when she rose up nobly in defence of a holy cause, resolved to fight, ready to die, for Christ's crown and covenant.
It will not be supposed that all who signed the Covenant either breathed its spirit or valued its principles. As always happens under similar circumstances, there were some who took advantage of, some who were borne along with, the popular current. Among the leaders there were politicians who cared little for the religious elements of the question, though ready to turn to account for political purposes the strong religious feeling. There were selfish and ambitious men, who cared little for either religion or politics, except in so far as they could be made to contribute to their own aggrandizement. Among the people there were some
of that unthinking class always found on the side which for the time is uppermost-men who, without any fixed principle or definite object, accepted the Covenant only because the current was flowing in that direction. These we call the scum of the movement; the waifs and straws swept up by the torrent in its resistless course. But besides these, there were the men who formed the torrent-the centre and soul of the movement-who gave to it its vitality and strength-the high-souled men who loved their Bibles and believed in God-who recognised the existence of the Invisible and Eternal-and therefore felt that there was something better for a man than to cower and cringe at a despot's nod, or to sacrifice his soul for the favour of a fellow worm, who wore a crown and was yclept a king. With them the signing of the Covenant was no idle vapouring, no meaningless ceremony; it was an act solemn and significant as their baptism or their first communion. It was done in grim earnest in the sight of God; and by His help they stood prepared to defend with the sword, or, if unsuccessful in the field, to bear on the scaffold or at the stake the consequences of the deed they had done. And when politicians trimmed and compromised, and self-seeking men betrayed the Covenant, and persecuted its adherents, and the unthinking rabble changed sides, these men, under all changes, continued faithful to their pledge, and not a few ultimately became martyrs to the cause. So it is always. Sceptics talk largely, sometimes, of the want of earnestness in Christians, of professors of religion choosing the winning side, and of the sacrifices which they themselves make for their honesty. One would like to ask, how is it that the religious is the winning side? that Christianity once spit upon and trampled under foot and crucified, is now triumphant throughout these realms? How is it but because its adherents, in all ages, have been ready to seal their testimony with their blood?
After all they can say, history testifies, that not infidelity, but religion, has the power of making martyrs. They are the faithful praying men-men who believe in God and Eternity-who know how to brave death and all the horrors of persecution-who can bear the tortures of the thumbscrew and the boot as calmly as if silken gloves pressed their fingers and silken hose their feet-who can play with the flames that are to consume them, as the youth toys with the tresses of his lady love-who can lay their necks upon the block joyfully, as if headsman's knife were to invest them with knightly honours-who can tread the scaffold with kingly step, and vault like conquerors into chariots of fire.
In those eventful times, circumstances soon arose which shook asunder these various elements, and created division among those who, in heart, and in regard to the principles and purpose of the Covenant, were one. Their want of a proper leader, though not so much felt at first, led to deplorable consequences when their position imperatively required that those who guided the movement should possess the rare combination of penetrating insight, honest purpose, and unflinching courage. So long as they had only to resist the encroachments of the king, there was little room for mistake. Their common danger united them in the discharge of their common duty; and they were strong because it was for liberty they struggled. The help they gave the English Parliament when engaged in death-struggle with the king, turned the balance in its favour. On the king's invasion of Scotland, they brought him to terms by the resistance they offered at Dunselaw. They fought gallantly by the side of Cromwell's troops at Naseby, and shared with them the honours of the day. At Phillipshaugh, though not without some excesses which are a blot upon their name, they routed the royalists under Montrose. Here, however, their fighting culminated. With the excep