Procedure: speech before parliament
The speech given by [William Maitland], master of Lethington at the beginning of parliament2

If at any time heretofore parliaments have been thought necessary or profitable, I think whosoever shall narrowly look at the present state of this realm will immediately judge that it is not without purpose that we are assembled here at this time, and that for diverse reservations, whereof every one is of sufficient consequence to impart to this general convention, to wit, the establishing of a uniform religion, the acknowledging of the just authority in the person of the king, our sovereign lord, upon the demission of the crown in his favour by [Mary], the queen, his mother, and during his minority in the person of [James Stewart, earl of Moray], my lord regent; also, by his appointment, the reviewing of the minds of the nobility in so far as any diversity of judgements has appeared in their actions in the time of the late controversies, the taking order for the cruel murders perpetrated in the person of [Henry Stewart, lord Darnley], the king, our sovereign's father of good memory, besides many other disorders standing in public state, very worthy to be redressed by the grave judgements of you, my lords, and others here assembled, which I pass over with silence, as unwilling to weary you with any unnecessary rehearsal of those points which more properly will be discussed before the lords of the articles. These I have but thought as the principal, summarising them without any further overture, leaving more ample discussion of every head to the judgement thereof in his just time and place. Two points I may not omit, both tending to your great comfort, if with thankful hearts you will embrace God's benefits so liberally offered to you. The first is your duty to examine what great success in a short time has followed upon a small beginning concerning matters of religion, and with that, to consider God's providence towards you, whose care of your preservation in this behalf has not only been exte[nded] towards the safety of your consciences, although that is the principal and to be taken for the chief benefit, but also to the security of your lives and lands, wherein as he has wrought miraculously and far beyond your expectation, so has he excelled in the ordinary and common course of the advancement of his glory by the hands of the nations around about you. The quietness you presently enjoy declares sufficiently the victory that God, by his word, has obtained amongst you within the space of less than nine years, howsoever the foundation was in the days of men, how unlikely it was to rise so suddenly to so large and huge a greatness. With what slander the work has proceeded, not one of you is ignorant. Iron has not been heard within the house of the Lord, that is to say, the whole is built, set up and erected to this greatness without bloodshed. Note it, I pray you, as a singular testimony of God's favour and a peculiar benefit granted only to the realm of Scotland, not as the most worthy but chosen out by his providence from amongst all nations for causes hidden and unknown to us, to show his almighty power that the true religion has obtained a free course universally though the whole realm; and yet not a Scotsman's blood was shed in the advancement of the whole quarrel. With what nation on the earth has God dealt so mercifully? Consider the progress of religion from time to time in other countries: Germany, Denmark, England, France, Flanders, or wherever you please. You shall find the lives of many thousands spent before they could purchase the tenth part of that liberty to which we have attained, as it were, sleeping on down-cushions, as God's mercies in this behalf have been more plenteously poured out upon you than others when you desired nothing less. So if you be found negligent to put the talent to profit, whereof he has put you in trust, especially when you have the time and so far an occasion offered, it is to be feared that by the dreadful plagues that shall come upon you, he shall teach others not to abuse the time of his merciful visitation, and how fearful it is to fall in the hands of the living God. This I say not that I have despair of your zeal to go forward in the work that has begun, but to admonish you of your duty, putting you in remembrance that this is the time when you may declare yourselves thankful for the benefits you have received, and, by establishing of one uniform order in the makers of religion, it may appear to the whole world that you prefer the advancing of God's glory before all worldly respects. Next, to encourage you (which is the second head I had to touch) by reason of the fit instrument you have to advance the godly ordinances, you shall agree upon as well in the makers of religion as in touching the commonwealth. I mean my lord regent, in whose person the execution of the king's authority is committed for this time, whose behaviour, being so well known to you all by the experience you have had of his proceedings from the beginning, even to this hour, will make me speak of him all the more moderately, especially in his own presence. This only will I touch and dare promise it in his name, that he will never take upon him to empire over the law, but on the contrary, submitting his own person to the law, will profess himself only to be your minister and executor of the good ordinances you shall agree upon, without any private respect to his own commodity, danger or any other thing that may touch himself in particular.

  1. PRO, SP52/14, ff.228-229.
  2. On reverse of manuscript is the description 'An Oration of the L. Ledington at the parliament in Scotland in December 1567'. According to the heading, this was given at the beginning of parliament, but since no specific date is given, it has been placed at the end of the additional material.