WAS KING JAMES REALLY THE UNGODLY MAN THAT HIS MODERN CRITICS PROCLAIM HIM TO BE?
Adapted by Leviticus James: From the works of Dr Phil Stringer
“I never with God’s grace shall do anything in private which I may not without shame proclaim upon the tops of houses.” King James I, 1603 “And there must go much more to the making of a guilty man, than rumour.” Ben Johnson, 1605
“USING THE PERSON OF KING JAMES TO ATTACK THE KING JAMES BIBLE.”
“King James was a fag. How can you advocate a Bible that was translated by a faggot?” (From an Internet chat room)
“King James was a homosexual. . . Was a bitter persecutor of our forefathers . . . King James chose the King James translators, instructed the King James translators, approved and disapproved portions of the translation.” Baptist evangelist J.H. Melton. Many critics of the King James Bible are deeply condescending towards the defenders of the King James Bible. This is seen in the statement by James White in his book, The King James Only Controversy:
“The KJV Only controversy feeds upon the ignorance among Christians regarding the origin, transmission, and translation of the Bible. Those who have taken the time to study this area are not likely candidates for induction into the KJV Only camp” (White, Introduction, p.v)
But, the truth is that the defenders of the King James are often far more educated on this subject than their critics. Many books have been published on the issue over the last few years. Many King James Bible defenders are easily able to shatter the often shallow attacks on the King James Bible. It is not unusual for those who have just found their pet arguments shattered to retreat to an argument like this. “Well, after all, King James was a homosexual you know!”
But was he? Is this just a very historically shallow, unsound repetition of gossip and rumour or is it a historical fact? It must be admitted that many historians report that King James was a homosexual. But what is the evidence for such a charge? If King James was not a homosexual, his memory has been done a great injustice.
The real King James was a very different man than the one described by the critics of the King James Bible.
A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF KING JAMES:
James was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on June 19.1566. He was the only son of Mary, Queen of Scots. His father, Lord Darnley was killed in an explosion when James was only eight months old. When James was one year old, his mother abdicated the throne of Scotland and James officially became king. She never saw her son again.
James was supervised during his childhood by several Scottish lords. He had several tutors, all evangelical Protestants. He became fluent in Greek, French, and Latin and received classical instruction in all three of these languages as well as English. He was kept fairly isolated until age 14. He developed a great fondness for books. Even as a teenager he was recognized as a serious scholar.
James was slender and of average height. He enjoyed horseback riding and hunting. His thin legs and narrow jaw prompted some to mock his appearance.
James opposed the attempts of the Presbyterian preachers of Scotland to control the royal government. However, he remained in sympathy with their doctrine and publicly supported many of their efforts.
In 1589 James was married to Anne, the daughter of Frederick II king of Denmark. They had eight children together. When Queen Elizabeth (his mother’s cousin) died, James was next in line for the throne of England. In 1603 he was crowned King of England. He was officially King James VI of Scotland and King James I of England. He quickly ended the English war with Spain and England was to live in peace during his reign.
James survived four assassination attempts, the most famous of which was the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. A Roman Catholic agent, Guy Fawkes, had planted several barrels of gunpowder in the basement of Parliament. He planned to blow up the Parliament building while James was addressing the Parliament. His plot was disclosed and defeated. The English still celebrate the survival of James and the Parliament with a national holiday – Guy Fawkes Day.
Even though James had many opponents among the nobility and the clergy, he remained popular among the English people. England experienced both peace and prosperity during his rule James was a strong advocate of the doctrine of the divine right of kings. Many Protestants felt that he took this concept much farther in his teaching and his pronouncements than the Scripture warranted. However, he ruled in a generally kind and benevolent manner rather than as a royal despot His many enemies were never able to generate any grassroots support among the people of England for their criticism of James.
The English program to colonize the Atlantic seaboard, begun under Queen Elizabeth, was strengthened under the influence of King James. Jamestown, the first enduring English settlement in the new world, was named after King James. King James’s most conspicuous claims to fame were the formation of Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland under one throne) and the sponsorship of the King James translation of the Bible.
Even King James’s most loyal supporters acknowledged that he was sometimes unwise in his selection of advisors and cabinet ministers. Historian George McCauley wrote:”….. he could never tell a good man from a rogue or a wise man from a fool.” As a result, he was surrounded by plots and intrigues, especially the last few years of his life. In 1625 King James passed away peacefully at his country estate in Hertfordshire.
THE ORIGINS OF THE ATTACK ON KING JAMES:
There is no record of anyone accusing King James of homosexual behaviour during his lifetime. If you read most modern historians, you would believe that King James’s homosexuality was open and widely recognized but this is far from the truth. There are absolutely no contemporary accounts alleging homosexuality on King James’s part though contemporary accounts are praising him for his moral virtue.
Sir Anthony Welden was an officer in the royal household of King James. He was knighted by King James in 1617. He was eventually dismissed from the royal court by King James. He vowed to get revenge!
He supported the anti-monarchy forces during the English Civil War. Twenty-five years after the death of King James, (one year after the execution of Charles I, King James’s son) Welden made the first accusations of homosexuality against King James. His statements were widely rejected at the time because there were still too many living people who had known King James personally and who dismissed the allegations as ridiculous.
Disgruntled courtiers and political opponents picked up the allegations against King James and began to use innuendo to hurt his reputation. While not accusing him directly of homosexuality, they tried to create questions about his loyalties to his close friends and associates. These seventeenth-century critics seem to fall into two groups. Some had their political and personal ambitions thwarted by King James. Others opposed his policy of uniting Scotland and England into one kingdom. All of these allegations come from people with a strong bias against James and they all were made a long time after his death.
Some historians began to repeat these attacks against King James without investigation. Soon vague allegations, rumour, innuendo and speculations were reported as historical fact. While some historians have sifted through the rumours to get the facts, many just repeated the statements of previous historians without any examination.
In the eighteenth century, the primary reporters of King James’s homosexuality were those who opposed the union of Great Britain and also Roman Catholics who resented the support that James gave Protestants. In the twentieth century, two different groups have clung to the allegations about King James and propagated them in defiance of the facts.
Homosexual activists have been determined to claim King James as one of their own. These are the same activists who claim that Abraham Lincoln, William Shakespeare, the Biblical King David and Jonathan and even Jesus Christ were really homosexuals. Historical facts mean nothing to these people. They care only about their political and social agenda. It is a travesty when evangelicals quote their books as credible sources. The second group which refuses to be persuaded by the facts about King James are those who wish to use King James’s supposed homosexuality to discredit the King James Bible.
In 1985, Moody Monthly magazine alerted the evangelical world to the allegations that King James was a homosexual. These charges came in an article entitled The Real King James by Karen Ann Wojahn. No evidence was provided. The article was accompanied by The Bible That Bears His Name by Leslie Keylock; this article was an attack on the King James Bible. Numerous attempts have been made to get Moody Monthly to either document or withdraw the charges made in these articles but fourteen years later neither has been done.
Despite the lack of evidence (and in spite of the evidence to the contrary), some evangelicals are quick to use the baseless accusations against King James to bolster their attacks on the King James Bible. But facts are contrary things! King James never claimed to be a homosexual. He was never accused of being one during his lifetime. No one ever claimed to see James in a homosexual situation. The accusations against him, past and present, stem from bias and not from fact. The character and record of King James refute the charges of homosexuality against King James.
CONTEMPORARY REFERENCES TO THE MORAL CHARACTER OF KING JAMES:
In 1602, Sir Henry Wotton wrote of King James, “… Among his good qualities, none shines more brightly than the chasteness of his life, which he has preserved without stain down to the present time contrary to the example of almost all his ancestors. .” Sir Edward Coke, the famous English jurist was a contemporary of King James. He was often a political opponent of King James. Historian Jasper Ridley called Sir Edward the leader of the “lawyer’s opposition” to the king. He had been appointed by James as the chief justice of the Court of the King’s Bench. A number of his judicial rulings went against the king. He considered himself the defender of the English common law against the doctrine of the divine right of kings. James eventually had him dismissed from the English high court.
In his legal commentary, Coke maintained the common law position about homosexuality, “Buggery is a detestable and abominable sin … Against the ordinances of the Creator and the order of nature.” Coke was no friend of homosexuality and no political ally of the king. Yet about the personal character of King James, he wrote: “and I knowing the sincerity of his (James’s) justice, (for which he is the most renowned king in the Christian world)…”
Sir Arthur Wilson was a historian during the time of James. He opposed James and the concept of the monarchy. He wrote harshly about James in some areas. However, in his Dictionary of National Biography, he has these references to King James. He states that James’s life was “decidedly pure” and “his own life was pure.” He also stated that James did not “come into conflict with the Presbyterian clergy” in the area of “morality.” The Presbyterian preachers had opposed his mother, Mary Queen of Scots, on the grounds of her adulteries. They found no reason to oppose King James on moral grounds.
Bishop Godfrey Goodman lived during the time of King James. He publicly preached against moral sins. He opposed King James and was denied opportunities for advancement by King James. James suspected him of sympathy towards Roman Catholicism. However, when Anthony Weldon began to question James’ morality, Bishop Goodman refuted him. According to English historian Charles Williams, Goodman wrote, “the king himself was a very chaste man.”
It is a rare political leader whose morality and virtue is praised even by his contemporary opponents.
Dr Miles Smith was chosen by the King James translators to write the preface to the King James Bible. “The Translators to the Readers.” In this preface, he says very complimentary things about King James. Some have suggested that this was simply the custom of the times and others have questioned the sincerity of the translators because of these comments. In reality, these were devout Bible-believing men who were not afraid to disagree with the king. Many of them spoke publicly against King James’s position on the divine right of kings. Had there been any reason to believe that he was a homosexual they would have openly condemned him for it. Yet their estimate of his spiritual character and moral leadership is reflected in statements such as these. From the preface to the King James Bible:
“Great and manifold were the blessings, most dread sovereign which Almighty God, the Father of all mercies, bestowed upon us the people of England, when he first sent your Majesty’s Royal Person to rule and reign over us.” The preface also praises King James for “maintaining the truth of Christ and propagating it far and near is that which hath so bound and firmly knit the hearts of all your majesty’s loyal and religious people unto you, that your very name is precious among them. Their eye doth behold you with comfort, and they bless you in their hearts, as that sanctified Person, who, under God is the immediate author of their true happiness.”
The Puritans were not frightened, helpless preachers who were scared into praising a wicked monarch When James’s son, Charles I, became king, the Puritans thundered against his perceived immoralities like John the Baptist against Herod. Yet they had nothing but praise for King James’s moral and spiritual character.
Not all historians have blindly repeated the slander against King James. Isaac Disraeli (1863) wrote:
“Perhaps no sovereign has suffered more by that art, which is described by an old Irish proverb of killing a man by lies, the surmises and the insinuations of one party, dissatisfied with the established government… the misconceptions of more modern writers… And the anonymous libels … vilify the Stuarts. These cannot be treasured as authorities of history.” Much can be substantiated in favour of the domestic affections and habits of this pacific monarch: and those who are more intimately acquainted with the secret history of the times will perceive how erroneously the personal character of this sovereign is exhibited in our popular historians, and often even among the few who, with better information, have re-echoed their preconceived opinions.
In 1891, F.A. Inderwick wrote (Side Lights on the Stuarts) about King James:
“I think only justice to say, that much of scurrilous abuse to which he has been subjected appears to be without warrant and that he was personally a man of good moral character, a quality which he was probably much indebted to the strict and careful training he received from his Presbyterian tutors.
Historian Robert Chambers (1830) published two volumes on the life of King James. Chambers calls him “greatly loved and greeted”, and “very much beloved by his people.” He also calls him a “monarch whose character was good.” He also says that his “conduct was everything that could be expected of a good Christian.” Historian Samuel Rawson Gardiner wrote of King James, “His own life was virtuous and upright.”
KING JAMES OWN STATEMENTS ON HOMOSEXUALITY:
King James book Basilicon Doron (the Kingly Gift) was written in 1599. It contained instructions to his son about how to properly carry out the responsibilities of the king. Included among his instructions is this statement: “there are some horrible crimes that ye are bound in conscience never to forgive: such as witchcraft, wilful murder, incest and sodomy…”
In July of 1610, James was asked to pardon several criminals. He did pardon several on the list but refused to pardon those convicted of sodomy. He advised his son to stay away from “effeminate ones.” James repeatedly referred to homosexuality as the “horrible crime!” These are indeed strange statements from someone given to homosexuality. James routinely listed homosexuality with witchcraft and murder just as the Bible does).
The King James Version translation of the Bible, which was sponsored by King James, does not in any way weaken the Biblical statements about homosexuality. Modem English translations like the RSV and the NIV weaken or delete Biblical statements condemning homosexuality. The King James Bible is clear in reflecting the Bibles’ strong statements condemning homosexuality.
KING JAMES MARRIAGE AND MORAL TEACHING ABOUT MARRIAGE:
King James was married to Anne of Denmark in 1589. They remained married until her death in 1619. King James’s modern critics say that this means nothing since homosexual rulers have often maintained wives for public appearance’s sake. However, King James spent much time with his wife (more than most monarchs), was openly affectionate to her in public and wrote her many love poems and sonnets. He greatly mourned her passing. More significantly James and Anne had eight children together.
The unmarried Puritan preacher John Rainolds questioned the use of the phrase “with my body I thee worship” in the standard English wedding ceremony. King James openly teased him about this. He said, “Many a man speaks of Robin Hood who never shot his bow; if you had a good wife yourself, you would think that all the honour and worship you could do her would be well bestowed.” He then spoke of his queen as “our dearest bedfellow.”
In 1603 James wrote the following to Anne:
“…I thank God I carry that love and respect unto you which, by the law of God and nature, I ought to do to my wife and mother of my children. . . For the respect of your honourable earth and descent, I married you; but the love and respect I now bear you for that ye are my married wife and so partaker of my honour, as of all my other fortunes… Where ye were a king’s or cook’s daughter ye must be all alike to me being one my wife.”
D.H. Wilson wrote the following about King James’s love poems to his wife:
“He remained infatuated with his bride, whose praises he sang in sonnets and other verse. Her beauty, he wrote, has caused his love,
‘Long smouldering as fire hidden among coals, to burst into sudden blaze.’ She inspires his verse, and her approbation spurs him to preserve, though government brings stormy cares. But she is a sweet physician who can soothe and cure his ills.”
James did something almost unique for a royal monarch. He taught that the king should be a moral person, faithful to his wife and should set a moral example for his people. It was common for kings to have several mistresses. In France, the king’s mistress was considered an official member of the royal court. In fact, the lack of mistresses in King James’s Court is often used as proof that he was a homosexual. However, a lack of mistresses is also a sign of a godly man leading a clean moral life.
James further writes:
“Marriage is one of the greatest actions that a man does all his time.” “When you are married, keep inviolably your promise made to God in your marriage, which all stands in doing of one thing. And abstaining from another, to treat her in all things as your wife and the half of yourself, and to make your body (which then is no more yours but property hers) common with none other. I trust I need not to insist there to dissuade you from filthy vice of adultery remember only what solemn promise you made to God at your marriage.” And for your behaviour to your wife, the Scripture can best give you counsel therein. Treat her as your own flesh, command her as her lord, cherish her as your helper, rule her as your pupil, please her in all things reasonable, but teach her not to be curious in things that belong not to her. You are the head, she is your body, it is your office to command and hers to obey, but yet with such a sweet harmony as she should be as ready to obey as you to command, as willing to follow as you to go before, your love being wholly knit unto her, and all her affections lovingly bent to follow your will.”
James repeatedly taught the importance of morality and marriage. James wrote in Basilicon Doron:
“But the principal blessing that you can get of good company will stand, in your marrying of a godly and virtuous wife . . . being flesh of your flesh and bone of your bone. . . Marriage is the greatest earthly felicity. .. Without the blessing of God, you cannot look for a happy marriage.”
James instructed his son:
“Keep your body clean and unpolluted while you give it to your wife whom to only it belongs for how you can justly crave to be joined with a Virgin if your body be polluted? Why should the one half be clean, and other defiled? And suppose I know, fornication is thought but a venial sin by the most part of the world, yet remember well what I said to you in my first book regarding conscience, and count every sin and breach of God’s law, not according as the vain world esteems of it, but as God judge and maker of the law accounts of the same: hear God commanding by the mouth of Paul to abstain from fornication, declaring that the fornicator shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven, and by the mouth of John reckoning out fornication among other grievous sins that declares the committers among dogs and swine.” James notes the end thereof is a “man given over to his own filthy affections.”
Because of King James’s strong moral teaching and personal example, Disraeli wrote: “James had formed the most elevated conception of the virtues and duties of a monarch.” Few English monarchs used the moral authority of the throne to teach morality and demonstrate it by example. Those who did, like King James and Queen Victoria, generated great resentment from those who were convicted by their moral teachings. In both cases, after their death, their enemies attacked them with vicious moral slanders. The real King James was an outstanding moral example and a clear moral teacher. In neither case was there any evidence to back up their accusations. King James pointed out how many civil wars were started by the illegitimate sons of kings. He pointed out how many innocent lives could have been saved if kings had been moral people.
MISUNDERSTOOD CUSTOMS OF THE TIME:
King James’s critics ask: isn’t it true that King James publicly kissed men on the cheek and called men affectionate names like darling and sweetheart? Didn’t men routinely sleep at night in his bed? Didn’t King James often lean on male members of the royal household? These allegations are true. Similar evidence is also used by modern homosexual activists to assert that William Shakespeare (a contemporary of King James) was a homosexual. But this is all a misreading of the customs of the time.
The assassination of royalty was a common event and it was a customary thing for kings to have bodyguards sleep in their bed. No one accuses the promiscuous, womanizer, Henry VIII of being anything but a heterosexual. Yet he routinely slept with bodyguards in the royal bed. King James survived two kidnappings and four violent attempts on his life. Such experiences did nothing to cause King James to break with the normal procedure of always keeping his bodyguards close at hand. In sharing his bed with royal bodyguards, King James was only following the normal practice of the royalty of his time.
Terms of affection like “sweetheart” and “darling” were normal terms used between men in the seventeenth century in England. In Psalm 22:20, God the Father calls Christ the Son “My Darling.” He does so again in Psalm 35:17. In the 1990’s African – American women routinely called each other “girlfriend.” This is not a homosexual term but a normal expression of the time. Anyone who presents the use of terms like “sweetheart” and “darling” as proof of homosexuality in seventeenth-century England is a very shallow historian (or has a very vulgar mind). King James (or for that matter William Shakespeare) does not deserve such treatment.
Men kissing men as a form of greeting was a common innocent custom in seventeenth-century England (just as it is in twentieth-century France).
Erasmus wrote of the English:
“Wherever you come, you are received with a kiss by all; when you take your leave, you are dismissed with kisses: you return, kisses are repeated, they come to visit you, kisses again: they leave you, you kiss them all round. Should they meet you anywhere kisses in abundance: in fine, wherever you move, there is nothing but kisses.”
Before evil-minded men are quick to present this as proof of homosexuality, perhaps they should remember that this was also a common custom in Bible times: “Greet ye one another with a holy kiss.” I Corinthians 16:20 (see also Luke 7:45, Romans 16:16, II Corinthians 13:12, I Thessalonians 5:26.1 Peter 5:14, Acts 20:37).
Because of the weakness of his legs, James often leaned on members of the royal staff as he was dealing with official business. Such a position is not unusual for a king (II Kings 7:2, 17). John leaned on Jesus (John 13:23, 21:20). Homosexual activists try to claim this as proof of homosexuality on the part of Jesus but Bible believers are quick to see through such foolishness, (Titus 1:15). Anyone interested in the truth would be willing to understand King James’s behaviour in the light of the customs of the day.
WAS KING JAMES A SAVED MAN?
James was around the preaching of the gospel and the teaching of evangelical theology from his early childhood. His coronation sermon was delivered by Reformation leader John Knox. Puritan theologian George Buchanan was one of James’s early tutors and later dedicated a doctrines textbook to him.
Historian Robert Chambers described James’s Biblical knowledge this way, “He was deeply read in Scripture; he could quote its texts with great facility; knew it even with philological exactness.” James wrote to a friend and said, “Praying God that as you are regenerated and born in him anew, so you may rise to him and be sanctified in him forever.” In his writings, James often refers to salvation as a free gift, salvation by faith and regeneration. He refers to one day receiving “white garments washed in the blood of the lamb.”
In only one area does James ever seem to differ doctrinally with his Scottish Presbyterian tutors – the doctrine of civil government?
James was trained by evangelical Christians, claimed to be an evangelical Christian, wrote about evangelical doctrine and was accepted as a saved man by the born again Christians of his time. Nothing documented in his life gives anyone reason to question his salvation. In fact, the real King James showed an interest in morality and holiness that is almost unique among the royalty of the period. James wrote, “Holiness being the first and most requisite quality of a Christian (as proceeding from true fear and knowledge of God).”
There is no legitimate reason to question James’s salvation. The real King James was a professing Christian with a good testimony.
KING JAMES’S ROLE IN SPONSORING THE KING JAMES TRANSLATION:
From January 14-18, 1604 A.D., the leaders of the Church of England met at Hampton Court in London. This meeting was called by King James. The Church of England was divided into three main factions. The Anglo-Catholic faction wanted to keep all the trappings and much of the doctrine of Roman Catholicism without acknowledging the authority of the Pope. The Protestant faction wanted the Church of England to be the state Protestant Church like the Lutheran in Germany and the Reformed Church in Switzerland.
The Puritans were the most thoroughly evangelical and Biblically oriented of the three groups. They wanted a complete break with Catholicism and a greater degree of independence for local churches.
The three factions were at considerable odds with each other. King James attempted to moderate between the different factions. John Rainolds, representing the Puritans, made a formal request that King James sponsor a new English translation. The Bishop of London opposed this suggestion but John Rainolds eventually persuaded King James to give his blessing! Because of this Rainolds is remembered as the Father of the King James Bible.
King James became the first earthly monarch to successfully sponsor and encourage the distribution of the entire Word of God in the daily language of his people. (King Alfred had attempted to get part of the Scripture into the language of the people of England centuries earlier).
William Tyndale, the Father of the English Bible, had been used of God to bring an early translation of the Bible in English to the English people. For this crime, he was declared to be a heretic and was burned at the stake. His last words were “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.” Now a born again English king was sponsoring an English Bible, produced openly on English soil for English churches and English Christians. King James appointed 54 learned men to make “one more exact translation of the Bible.” Later others would be invited to join them. King James encouraged financial gifts to this project and set the example by agreeing to underwrite the salary of several of the translators himself.
Even though the official name for this translation would be the Authorized Version, it was soon known as the King James Bible. It was uniquely made possible and promoted by the King of England – King James. Laymen now had no fear of owning their own Bible – it was sponsored by the King for them.
THE LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND SCHOLARSHIP OF KING JAMES:
King James was fluent in Greek, Latin and French. He wrote a number of books and pamphlets on a wide variety of subjects. In his book Great Britain’s Solomon Maurice Lee, Jr. wrote: “It would be difficult to imagine a more absorbing companion than this intelligent, learned, witty Scot, an author who wrote on subjects as diverse as theology, tobacco, witchcraft and the theory and practice of kingship and who was a poet to boot. And a king – a king almost from birth in his native Scotland, for forty of his forty-nine years and England and Ireland for twenty-two. And be it said at once a successful king.”
King James did his own private translation of Psalms. He also wrote a commentary on the book of Revelation and a series of devotionals on the Lord’s Prayer.
Tobacco use began in England during the time of King James. Tobacco was being introduced from England’s new American colonies. King James wrote a small book about tobacco and condemned both the smoking and chewing of tobacco as a disgusting habit. He wrote that “. . . a smoker and a non- smoker cannot be equally free in the same room.” James wrote a book entitled Demonology. This book enraged the witches of England because it attributed their supernatural powers to demon possession. They swore their eternal hatred of James.
James wrote often about moral matters including homosexuality. There is absolutely nothing in his writings to give evidence to the moral charges against King James and there is much to refute them.
King James wrote more books than any royal monarch of any nation. As a result, he is the most often quoted royal monarch of all time. The real King James was a respected scholar and an influential author.
KING JAMES POLITICAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS:
King James was the first British monarch to bear the title “sacred majesty.” King James united Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland under one royal throne. This created the United Kingdom. How different the world might have been if the United Kingdom had not had the strength to resist first the German fascists and then the Russian communists in the twentieth century.
The leadership of King James was essential in planting an enduring English presence in the Western Hemisphere. These humble beginnings would lead to the foundation of the United States of America. Again, how different the world would have been in the twentieth century had the United States not been Great Britain’s indispensable partner in resisting both fascism and communism in the twentieth century.
Certainly, all the credit cannot be given to King James for the strength and development of the United Kingdom and the United States but he played an important and positive role in the history of each.
One of James’s contemporaries described his rule this way: “… for he lived in peace, died in peace and left all his kingdoms in a peaceable condition.”
James is also credited with ending torture as a part of the English legal system. He also replaced burning at the stake as a means of execution.
When James became King it was a common thing for Baptists (among others) to be executed by the state for being religious nonconformists. This continued through the early years of the reign of King James but he put an end to this policy in 1612. He wrote,
“I will never allow in my conscience that the blood of any man shall be shed for diversity of opinions in religion.”
The peace and prosperity enjoyed by England during James’s rule would be a credit to any civil ruler. Upon his death in 1625 James was compared (in his funeral sermon) to King Solomon.
“King Solomon is said to be Brigentus Corm Matre Sua, the only son of his mother, Proverbs 4:3. So was King James. Solomon had a complexion white and ruddy, Song of Solomon 5:10. So was King James. Solomon was an infant king, Pver Parvulus, a little child, I Chronicles 22:5 – So was King James, a King at the age of 13 months. Solomon began his reign in the life of his predecessor, I Kings 1:32, so by the force and compulsion of the state (Scotland) did our late sovereign King James. Solomon was twice crowned and anointed a King. I Chronicles 29:22 – so was King James. Solomon’s minority was rough, through the quarrels of the former sovereign; so was that of King James. Solomon learned above all the princes of the East, I Kings 4:20. So was King James. Above all the princes of the universal world. Solomon was a writer in prose and verse, I Kings 4:32 – so in a very pure and exquisite manner was our sweet Sovereign King James. Solomon was the greatest patron we ever read to church and churchman and yet no greater (let the house of Aaron now confess then King James). Solomon was honoured with ambassadors from all Kings of the earth, I Kings 4- And so you know was King James… Solomon died in peace when he had lived about 60 years and so you know did King James.”
Sir Fernando Gorges one of the founders of Jamestown, also compared James to Solomon. “This great monarch gloriously ascending his throne (1603) being born to greatness above his ancestors to whom all submitted as to another Solomon for wisdom and justice.”
KING JAMES – UNJUSTLY ACCUSED?
Almost half of the information in this monograph comes from one source – the book King James the VI of Scotland and the I of England Unjustly Accused. This book was written by Stephen Coston Sr. and published in 1996. It is 392 pages in length. This book does a masterful job of refuting the moral accusations against King James. Coston’s work is unanswerable.
King James spoke eloquently of the role of the King as a moral example:
“But it is not enough to be a good king, by the thralldom of good laws will execute to govern his people, if he joins not therewith his virtuous life in his own person and in the person of his court and company by his good example alluring his subjects to the love of virtue and hatred of vice …”
King James believed his servant John Gibb had lost some important papers. In his anger, he kicked him. Later he found out that Gibb had not lost them. In a display of humility, almost unheard of for a royal monarch, he knelt before Gibb and begged his forgiveness. As historian Steven Coston Sr. says “James was, no matter what tales some may tell, a virtuous man of good intentions, who did the best he could as God gave him strength.”