Further in our study of church history we shall look at Scotland. In 1561, Mary Queen of Scots arrived in Scotland from France, and immediately issued an order to celebrate Mass in her private chapel. On hearing that, Mary’s relatives and attendants threatened to return to France, rather than live in a land where Mass could not be said, John Knox stated “Would that they, together with the Mass, had taken goodnight of this realm forever.” He denounced the Mass from the pulpit, concluding his sermon with the words that “one Mass is more fearful to me, than if ten thousand armed enemies were landed in any part of the realm.”
Knox well understood that this would only be the first step in a counter-reformation, designed to overthrow the work which had been achieved so far. His words were reported to Mary, and he was summoned to appear before her in conference. Mary accused Knox, saying,
[Here is the conversation] Mary: “You have taught the people to receive another religion than that which their princes allow; but God commands subjects to obey their prince. Therefore you have taught the people to disobey both God and their prince.”
“Madam,” Knox calmly replied, “as right religion receive not its origin nor authority from princes but from the eternal God alone, so are not subjects bound to frame their religion according to the tastes of their princes, for oft it is that princes are the most ignorant of God’s true religion. . .”
“Well then,”, she said, “I clearly perceive that my subjects shall obey you, and not me; and shall do what they list and not what I command; and so must I be subject to them and not they to me.”
“God forbid,” answered Knox, “that ever I take upon me to command any to obey me or to set subjects at liberty to do whatever pleases them. . . My travail is that both princes and subjects may obey God. And think not, Madam, that wrong is done you when you are required to be subject unto God, for He it is who subjects peoples under princes, and causes obedience to be given unto them. . .”
“Yea,” replied the queen, “but ye are not the Kirk that I will nourish. I will defend the Kirk of Rome; for it is, I think, the true Kirk of God.”
“Your will, Madam, is no reason; neither doth it make that Roman harlot to be the true and immaculate spouse of Jesus Christ. . .”
“My conscience is not so,” said Mary.
“Conscience, Madam,” said Knox, “requires knowledge, and I fear that right knowledge, ye have none.”
Mary asked Knox who she should believe, seeing that he interpreted Scripture in one way, and her Roman advisors in another. “Whom shall I believe? and who shall be judge?”
“You shall believe God, who plainly speaketh in His Word. And further than the Word teacheth you, ye shall believe neither the one nor the other. The Word of God is plain in itself; and if there appears any obscurity in one place, the Holy Ghost, who is never contrary to himself, explains the same more clearly in other places, so that there can remain no doubt, but unto such as are obstinately ignorant.”
Excerpt from John Knox and The Scottish Reformation.