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Biographia Scoticana Scots Worthies by John Howie


Mr. David Calderwood, having spent some time at the grammar-school, went to the university to study theology, in order for the ministry, where after a short space, being found fit for that office, he was made minister at Crelling near Jedburgh, where, for some considerable time, he preached the word of God with great wisdom, zeal and diligence, and as a faithful wise harvest man, brought in many sheaves into God's granary. But it being then a time, when prelacy was upon the advance in the church, and faithful ministers every where thrust out and suppressed, he, among the rest, gave in his declinature in the year 1608, and thereupon took instruments in the hands of James Johnston notary public, in presence of some of the magistrates and council of the town, whereupon, information being sent to the king by the bishops, a direction was sent down from him to the council, to punish him (and another minister who declined) exemplarily, but by the earnest dealing of the earl of Lothian with the chancellor in favours of Mr. Calderwood, their punishment resolved only in a confinement within their own parish, &c.

Here he continued until June 1617, that he was summoned to appear before the high commission court at St. Andrews, upon the 8th of July following. Being called upon (the king being present) and his libel read and answered, the king among other things said, |What moved you to protest?| -- -- |An article concluded among the lords of the articles,| Mr. David answered. |But what fault was there in it,| said the king. -- -- |It cutteth off our general assemblies,| answered Mr. Calderwood. The king, having the protestation in his hand, challenged him for some words of the last clause thereof. -- -- He answered, |Whatsoever was the phrase of speech, they meant no other thing but to protest, that they would give passive obedience to his majesty, but could not give active obedience unto any unlawful thing which should flow from that article.| |Active and passive obedience!| said the king. -- |That is, we will rather suffer than practise,| said Mr. David. |I will tell thee, said the king, what is obedience man, -- -- What the centurion said to his servant, To this man, Go, and he goeth, and to that man, Come, and he cometh, that is obedience.| -- -- He answered, |To suffer, Sir, is also obedience, howbeit not of the same kind, and that obedience was not absolute but limited with exception, of a countermand from a superior power.| |I am informed, said the king, ye are a refractor, the bishop of Glasgow your ordinary, and bishop of Caithness the moderator and your presbytery, testify ye have kept no order, ye have repaired to neither presbytery nor synod, and are no way conform.| He answered, |I have been confined these eight or nine years, so my conformity or non-conformity in that point could not well be known.| |Gude faith, thou art a very knave,| said the king, |see these same false puritans, they are ever playing with equivocations.| -- The king asked, If he was relaxed if he would obey or not? -- He answered, |I am wronged, in that I am forced to answer such questions, which are besides the libel, &c.| after which he was removed.

When called in again, it was intimated to him, that if he did not repair to synods and presbyteries between this and October, conform in the time, and promise obedience in all time coming, the bishop of Glasgow was to deprive him. Then Mr. David begged leave to speak to the bishops, which being granted, he reasoned thus, |Neither can ye suspend or deprive me, in this court of high commission, for ye have no power in this court, but by commission from his majesty; his majesty cannot communicate that power to you, which he claims not to himself.| At which the king wagged his head, and said to him, |Are there not bishops and fathers in the church, &c. persons clothed with power and authority to suspend and depose.| -- |Not in this court,| answered Mr. Calderwood. At which word there arose a confused noise, so that he was obliged to extend his voice, that he might be heard. In the end the king asked him, If he would obey the sentence? -- To which he answered, Your sentence is not the sentence of the kirk, but a sentence null in itself, and therefore I cannot obey it. At which some reviling called him proud knave. Others were not ashamed to shake his shoulders in a most insolent manner, till at last he was removed a second time.

Being again called in, the sentence of deprivation was pronounced, and he ordained to be committed to close ward in the tolbooth of St. Andrews, till afterward that farther orders were taken for his banishment, after which he was upbraided by the bishop, who said, That he deserved to be used as Ogilvy the Jesuit who was hanged. When he would have answered, the bishops would not allow him, and the king, in a rage, cried, Away with him: -- And lord Scoone taking him by the arm, led him out, where they staid some time waiting for the bailiffs of the town. In the mean time Mr Calderwood said to Scoone, |My lord, this is not the first like turn that hath fallen into your hands.| -- -- |I must serve the king,| said Scoone. And to some ministers then standing by he said, |Brethren, ye have Christ's cause in hand at this meeting, be not terrified with this spectacle, prove faithful servants to your master.| Scoone took him to his house till the keys of the tolbooth were had. By the way one demanded, |Whither with the man, my lord?| -- -- |First to the tolbooth, and then to the gallows,| said Scoone.

He was committed close prisoner, and the same afternoon a charge was given to transport him to the jail of Edinburgh. After the charge, he was delivered to two of the guard to be transported thither, although severals offered to bail him, that he might not go out of the country. But no order of council could be had for that end, for the king had a design to keep him in close ward till a ship was ready to convey him first to London and then to Virginia, but providence had ordered otherwise, for upon several petitions in his behalf he was liberate out of prison, upon lord Cranston's being bail that he should depart out of the country.

After this Mr. Calderwood went with lord Cranston to the king at Carlisle, where the said lord presented a petition to him, that Mr. David might only be confined to his parish, but the king inveighed against him so much, that at last he repulsed Cranston with his elbow. He insisted again for a prorogation of time for his departure till the last of April, because of the winter season, that he might have leisure to get up his years stipend. -- The king answered, Howbeit he begged it were no matter, he would know himself better the next time, and for the season of the year, if he drowned in the seas, he might thank God that he had escaped a worse death. Yet Cranston being so importunate for the prorogation, the king answered, I will advise with my bishops. Thus the time was delayed until the year 1619, that he wrote a book called Perth Assembly, which was condemned by the council in the month of December that same year, -- but as he himself says, Neither the book nor the author could be found, for in the month of August preceding, he had embarked for Holland.

During his abode there, one Patrick Scot a landed gentleman near Falkland, having wasted his patrimony, had no other means to recover his state, but by some unlawful shift at court, and for that end in the year 1624, he set forth a recantation under the name of a banished minister, viz. Mr. David Calderwood, who, because of his long sickness before, was supposed by many to have been dead. The king (as he had alledged to some of his friends) furnished him with the matter, and he set it down in form. This project failing, he went over to Holland, and sought Mr. Calderwood in several towns, particularly in Amsterdam, in the month of November, in order to dispatch him, as afterward appeared. After he had stayed twenty days in Amsterdam, making all the search he could, he was informed that Mr. Calderwood had returned home privately to his native country, which frustrated his intention. -- -- After the death of king James he put out a pamphlet full of this, intitled vox vera, and yet notwithstanding of all his wicked and unlawful pursuits, he died soon after, so poor, that he had not wherewith to defray the charges of his funeral.

Mr. Calderwood, being now returned home after the death of king James, remained as private as possible, and was mostly at Edinburgh (where he strengthened the hands of non-conformists, being also a great opposer of sectarianism) until after the year 1638, that he was admitted minister at Pancaitland in East Lothian.

He contributed very much to the covenanted work carried in that period; for first he had an active hand in drawing up several excellent papers, where were contained the records of church-policy betwixt the year 1576 and 1596, which were presented and read by Mr. Johnston the clerk at the general assembly at Glasgow anno 1638, as also by recommendation of the general assembly 1646, he was ordered to consider the order of the visitation of kirks, and trials of presbyteries, and to make report thereof unto the next general assembly; and likewise at the general assembly 1648, a further recommendation was given him to draw a draught of the form of visitation of particular congregations, against the next assembly; and was also one of those appointed with Mr. David Dickson, to draw up the form of the directory for the public worship of God, by the general assembly 1643.

After he had both spent and been spent, with the apostle, for the cause and interest of Jesus Christ, when the English army lay at Lothian anno 1651, he went to Jedburgh, where he sickened and died in a good old age. He was another valiant champion for the truth, who, in pleading for the crown and interest of Jesus Christ, knew not what it was to be daunted by the face and frowns of the highest and most incensed adversaries.

Before he went to Holland, he wrote the book intitled, Perth Assembly. While in Holland he wrote that learned book called, Altare Damascenum with some other pieces in English, which contributed somewhat to keep many straight in that declining period. After his return he wrote the history of our church as far down as the year 1625, of which the printed copy that we have is only a short abstract of that large written history, which both as to the stile and the manner wherein it is executed, is far preferable to the printed copy; and whoever compares the two or the last with his Altare Damascenum, both of which are yet in the hands of some, will readily grant the truth of this assertion; and yet all this derogates nothing from the truth of the facts reported in the printed copy, and therefore no offence need be taken at the information, that there is a more full and better copy than is yet extant. See the note on the 78th page of Mr. Livingston's life and memorable characteristics, &c.

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