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John Knox   By: (1833-1912)

Book cover

First Page:

JOHN: KNOX

by

A: TAYLOR INNES

Famous Scots: Series

Published by Oliphant Anderson Ferrier Edinbvrgh and London

The designs and ornaments of this volume are by Mr Joseph Brown, and the printing from the press of Messrs Turabull & Spears, Edinburgh.

May 1896.

CONTENTS

PAGE

CHAPTER I THE SCHOLAR AND PRIEST: HIS ENVIRONMENT 9

CHAPTER II THE CRISIS: SINGLE OR TWO FOLD? 25

CHAPTER III THE INNER LIFE: HIS WOMEN FRIENDS 48

CHAPTER IV THE PUBLIC LIFE: TO THE PARLIAMENT OF 1560 65

CHAPTER V THE PUBLIC LIFE: LEGISLATION AND CHURCH PLANS 95

CHAPTER VI THE PUBLIC LIFE: THE CONFLICT WITH QUEEN MARY 117

CHAPTER VII CLOSING YEARS AND DEATH 144

CHAPTER I

THE SCHOLAR AND PRIEST: HIS ENVIRONMENT

The century now closing has redeemed Knox from neglect, and has gathered around his name a mass of biographical material. That material, too, includes much that is of the nature of self revelation, to be gleaned from familiar letters, as well as from his own history of his time. Yet, after all that has been brought together, Knox remains to many observers a mere hard outline, while to others he is almost an enigma a blur, bright or black, upon the historic page.

There is one real and great difficulty. For the first forty years of his life we know absolutely nothing of the inner man. Yet at forty most men are already made. And in the case of this man, from about that date onwards we find the character settled and fixed. Henceforward, during the whole later life with its continually changing drama, Knox remains intensely and unchangeably the same. It is the contrast, perhaps the crisis, which is worth studying. The contrast, indeed, is not unprecedented. More than one Knox like prophet, in the solemn days of early faith, 'was in the desert until the time of his shewing unto Israel'; and not the polished shaft only, but the rough spear head too, has remained hid in the shadow of a mighty hand until the very day when it was launched. But each such case impels us the more to inquire, What was it after all which really made the man who in his turn made the age?

Knox was born in or near Haddington in 1505. Of his father, William Knox, and his mother, whose maiden name was Sinclair, nothing is known, except that the parents of both belonged to that district of country, and had fought under the standard of the House of Bothwell. We shall never know which of the two contributed the insight or the audacity, the tenacity or the tenderness, the common sense or the humour, which must all have been part of Knox's natural character before it was moulded from without. His father was of the 'simple,' not of the gentle, sort; possibly a peasant, or frugal cultivator of the soil. But he saved enough to send one of his two sons, John, now in the eighteenth year of his age, and having, no doubt, received his earlier education in the excellent grammar school of Haddington, to the University of Glasgow. Haddington was in the diocese of St Andrews, but a native of Haddington, John Major, was at this time Regent in Glasgow. He had brought from Paris, four years before, a vast academical reputation, and Knox now 'sat as at his feet' during his last year of teaching in Glasgow. In 1523, however, Major was transferred to St Andrews, and there he taught theology for more than a quarter of a century, during the latter half of which time he was Provost or Head of St Salvator's College. Whether Knox at any time followed him there does not appear. Beza, Knox's earliest biographer, thought he did. But Beza's information as to this portion of the life, though apparently derived from Knox's colleague and successor,[1] is so extremely confused as to suggest that the Reformer was equally reticent about it to those nearest him as he has chosen to be to posterity. For nearly twenty years of manhood, indeed, Knox disappears from our view... Continue reading book >>




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