In later years, there was a scathing joke that emerged during James’ reign in England. The joke was in Latin, but translated, it declared, “Elizabeth was King, now James is Queen.”
During the previous autumn of 1595, it became known that King Philip II of Spain, had begun to prepare a second Armada. His descent on this occasion was to be on the Irish Coast. The English Government prepared for resistance and the Scottish Privy Council promised its cooperation. This required the levying of a tax which could only be carried out with the approval of the Church.
About this time, Johne thought it necessary that he give a discoursed from the pulpit on the evil character of Manasseh, and hoping to awaken the conscience of the young king and the importance of his responsibilities that come with being the sovereign. In presence of the king, Davidson admonished him with pointed severity preaching about King Manasseh, who was the son of King Hezekiah. He (similar to James) became king at the age of 12 when he inherited the throne of the southern kingdom of Judah, and ruled for fifty-five years. The details of his life are recorded in 2 Kings 21:1–18 and 2 Chronicles 33:1–20. Johne preached “But Manasseh, despite his being the son to the God-honoring Hezekiah, did what was evil in the sight of the LORD!” (2 Kings 21:2). Johne pointed out, “Often were the practices that can be hidden from the sight of men. Unfortunately sin like fire, if left unattended can spread, these practices do not remain the private actions of the king. – For his sins, God allowed Manasseh to be taken captive by a foreign king, The severity of Manasseh's imprisonment brought him to repentance, and was finally restore by God as King of Judah. But the medley of his sins, the influence of which was slow to disappear.”
Needless to say, James was not happy with Johne Davidson’s sermon. Johne had crossed the line, Johne was no longer a curious oddity to the King, and was becoming a irritating thorn in the King’s side. Next day Johne was brought to court, when the king demanded that he and his brethren should desist from using public censures. Davidson insisted on the privilege of his order, and counseled the monarch to use his regal authority "against malefactors not against ministers.” On the 24th March 1596 the General Assembly was convened, and the Moderator Robert Bruce entreated the brethren to sanction the civil arrangement for defending the kingdom. On this Johne Davidson submitted an overture from the Presbytery of Haddington contending that deep humiliation on account of sin was the first and best preparation against national disaster. A resolution embodying this view was passed by acclamation, and Mr Davidson was empowered to ”give up the particular catalogue of the chief offences and corruptions in the estates." The enumeration of evils to be reformed came under the following heads: " Corruptions in the persons and lives of ministers of the gospel." " Offences in His Majesty's house." “ The common corruptions of all estates." “ And offences in the Courts of Justice.”
However, upon hearing this, the King, was clearly under the impression that this resolution had a special reference to himself, not forgetting Johne’s previous pointedly sharp admonishment towards the King. On the very next day the King entered the Assembly, and proceeded to entreat the House to sanction his proposed tax. But, Johne reminded the King that he was “present as a Christian and not as president of the Assembly” then firmly informed by Davidson, that "the purging of offences" had yet been resolved upon; and with the approval of the House. Mr Davidson also insisted that the estates of the exiled Popish, very pro-Catholic lords— Huntly, Errol, and Angus— still held by their families, should be confiscated and the proceeds applied to national use.
The leadership of the Assembly was a standing committee of sixteen ministers who were empowered to take executive action on behalf of the church in between meetings of the general assembly of the church (which occurred once or twice a year). The commissioners gained centre stage as the presbyterian campaign intensified during 1596. They campaigned against the Catholic earls, lobbying the king, councillors, and courtiers, and rallying grassroots support. The 1596 covenant was not just an affair for the ministers. It was to be adopted by at least some individual congregations, the laity too. In the presbytery of St Andrews, the covenant was renewed "be a verie frequent assemblie of gentilmen and burgesses, prepared for the purpose befor be thair ministers in everie paroche." The result could be a military muster. Protestant Scotland spent 1596 under military threat, externally from the second Spanish Armada, and internally from the "Catholic earls," a pro-Spanish political faction headed by the earl of Huntly. The Catholic earls had been exiled in 1595, but the king was planning to rehabilitate them on terms that the presbyterians feared would be far too lenient. Protestants were thus divided as to how to respond politically to the Catholic threat. To this demand the King gave an evasive answer, but expressed he, himself willing to undergo ecclesiastical discipline, if the censure was privately administered and not in the church. James was held at his word, and a few days afterwards was informed by a deputation from the Assembly that King James was "blotted with banning and swearing; and that the Queen Anne was guilty of frivolity and forsaking ordinances.”
Johne Davidson saw the rising use of profane swearing as a sure sign of the King’s declining respect for solemn oaths. An oath called on God to guarantee the truth of a statement. Common belief was that profane swearing dishonors God and endangers society. When you swear by God's (Yahweh's) name, you acknowledge that he is omniscient and omnipotent, able to hear your oath and punish you if you swear falsely. You implicitly acknowledge that GOD is the only God.
“By God’s bones!” was considered the worst kind of swearing. Swearing such oaths had many versions – “by God’s wounds,” “God’s nails,” “by the blood of Christ,” etc. These phrases were extremely offensive because if you swear falsely, it implies through the same logic to be able to rip apart the body of Christ as he sits at the right hand of God in heaven, when proven to be lie, – it is working in collaboration with the "father of all lies" – Satan.
King James Queen Anne
On the 9th December, 1595 Johne Davidson had preached a valedictory discourse at Edinburgh. In that discourse he used these words: "I came not hither by haphazard, but sent of God more than sevin yeers since. So long as I had place to teache, I dealt faith fullie according to the meane measure of knowledge bestowed on me, after a rude and familiar way, of verie purpose for edificatioun's sake; whereas I could have done otherwise if my conscience would have suffered me. It was compted rude and rough by manie ; but I thanke God I wist what I spake; so that I have uttered nothing against Prince, preacher, or people which I have not my warrant for, and bye the helpe of God will stand to the defence of it in face of man or angell. So that my first preaching and last are one, without differing, to witt, that the Princes of the land, the King, the chiefe prince, with the rest of the rebellious nobilitie, … The profane ministrie are negligent for the most part to winne soules, and the rebellious multitude shall be severlie punished except they repent. I have sought to be away, but could not till that it has pleased the Lord to ryppin my departure. It was nather a drinke of the Muse Well nor anie other benefite in Edinburgh that drew me to it like an adamant stone, as some speeke, or that keeped me here; but the mightie hand of God sent me hither, for causes known to Him, and so having cleered my ministrie hitherto I take my leave of you in Christ." Johne Davidson