Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
John Knox Chosen as Preacher
By John Knox (c. 15051572)
From the History of the Reformation of Religion in Scotland
AT the Pasch after, anno 1547, came to the castle of St. Andrews John Knox, who, wearied of removing from place to place, by reason of the persecution that came upon him by this bishop of St. Andrews, was determined to have left Scotland, and to have visited the schools of Germanyof England then he had no pleasure, by reason that the popes name being suppressed, his laws and corruptions remained in full vigour,but because he had the care of some gentlemens children, whom certain years he had nourished in godliness, their fathers solicited him to go to St. Andrews that himself might have the benefit of the castle, and their children the benefit of his doctrine; and so, we say, came he the time foresaid to the said place, and having in his company Francis Douglas of Longniddry, George his brother, and Alexander Cockburn, then eldest son to the laird of Ormiston, began to exercise them after his accustomed manner. Besides their grammar, and other humane authors, he read unto them a catechism, account whereof he caused them give publicly in the parish kirk of St. Andrews. He read moreover unto them the evangel of John, proceeding where he left at his departing from Longniddry, where before his residence was; and that lecture he read in the chapel within the castle, at a certain hour. They of the place, but especially Mr. Henry Balnaves, and John Rough, preacher, perceiving the manner of his doctrine, began earnestly to travail with him, that he would take the preaching place upon him. But he utterly refused, alleging, That he would not run where God had not called him; meaning, that he would do nothing without a lawful vocation. Whereupon they privily amongst themselves advising, having with them in company Sir David Lindsay of the Mount, they concluded, that they would give a charge to the said John, and that publicly by the mouth of their preacher. And so upon a certain day, a sermon had of the election of ministers, what power the congregation, how small that ever it was, passing the number of two or three, had above any man, in whom they supposed and espied the gifts of God to be, and how dangerous it was to refuse, and not to hear the voice of such as desire to be instructed: these and other heads, we say, declared, the said John Rough, preacher, directed his words to the said John Knox, saying, Brother, ye shall not be offended, albeit that I speak unto you that which I have in charge, even from all these that are here present, which is this: In the name of God, and of His Son Jesus Christ, and in the name of these that presently call you by my mouth, I charge you, that ye refuse not this holy vocation, but as ye tender the glory of God, the increase of Christs kingdom, the edification of your brethren, and the comfort of me, whom ye understand well enough to be oppressed by the multitude of labours, that ye take upon you the public office and charge of preaching, even as ye look to avoid Gods heavy displeasure, and desire that ye shall multiply His graces with you. And in the end he said to those that were present, Was not this your charge to me? And do ye not approve this vocation? They answered, It was, and we approve it. Whereat the said John abashed, burst forth in most abundant tears, and withdrew himself to his chamber. His countenance and behaviour, from that day till the day that he was compelled to present himself to the public place of preaching, did sufficiently declare the grief and trouble of his heart; for no man saw any sign of mirth of him, neither yet had he pleasure to accompany any man, many days together.