The great reformer, John Knox, had many interviews with the infamous Mary Queen of Scots; and these interviews brought out the characters of both parties.
In a sermon in St. Giles’s Church, when the Queen’s marriage was talked about, Knox said,
“Now, my Lords, to put an end to it all, I hear of the Queen’s marriage… Whenever the nobility of Scotland professing the Lord Jesus consent that an infidel (and all Papists are infidels) shall be head to your sovereign, then you are doing everything in your power to banish Christ Jesus from this realm.”
Mary, as well as Knox, knew that this was the hinge of the whole question, and the preacher was instantly sent for to the palace. On his appearance the Queen burst into a passion of tears. Never had Prince been handled as she was “she had borne with him, had listened to him, and had sought his favor” “and yet I cannot be quit of you. I vow to God, I shall be once revenged.” Knox stood unmoved, and then calmly reasoned that in the pulpit, and as preacher, he was not his own master, and was bound to instruct his hearers in their duty. “But what have you to do with my marriage?” question Mary. Knox began to point out the importance of her marriage to the commonwealth; but the Queen impatiently repeated the question, and added, “What are you in this commonwealth?” “Madam,” answered Knox, “a subject born within the same. And albeit I be neither earl, lord, nor baron in it, yet God has made me (however abject that I be in your eyes) a profitable member within the same.” And thereupon he repeated to her the same very practical doctrine which he had given in the pulpit two hours before.
Mary again had recourse to tears, and her indignation that the Reformer remained unmoved under them, was not diminished by his quaint protest that he was really a tender-hearted man, and could scarcely bear to see his own children weep when corrected for their faults. Ordered to depart from her presence, he found himself in the ante-room, shunned by the nobles, but near the other ladies of the Court, in their rich dresses. Knox felt lonely, and records himself how he tried to “procure the company of women” in this interval. “Oh, fair ladies,” said Knox, “how pleasing were this life of yours, if it should ever abide, and then in the end we might pass to heaven with all this gay gear! But alas and woe upon that knave Death, who will come, whether we will or not!” These grim pleasantries led to conversations which lasted till the Royal permission came for him to go home. “And so that storm quieted in appearance.”
But It was in December of the same year that Knox again stood at the bar, and on this occasion no man stood by him. The Queen was sure of her victory.
“That man,” she said, looking, around, “made me weep, and never shed a tear himself; I will see if I can make him weep.” This rash exultation was checked by the constant bearing of the accused, who, through a long examination, maintained his right to caution his countrymen against “the pestilent Papists, who have inflamed your grace against those poor men.” “You forget yourself,” cried the Chancellor, “you are not now in the pulpit,” “I am in the place,” he answered, “where I am demanded of conscience to speak the truth, and therefore the truth I speak, impugn it whosoever will.” The Lords of the Council, who at first frowned upon Knox, before the day had closed, pronounced him innocent by a majority.
The Queen came back into the room, and the vote was taken over again in her presence; but with the same results.
“That night there was neither dancing nor fiddling in the Court.”
But the firmness of Knox had maintained the freedom of the Protestant cause.
Written by, W. Adamson.
Edited for thought and sense.