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James, from which our fathers obtained a happy deliverance by the arrival of king William and the Revolution in 1688.
The following work records the dying testimonies of a great number of faithful witnesses for the truth, who suffered, chiefly during the twenty-eight years immediately preceding the Revolution. It includes indeed some of the first martyrs of the Reformation; and contains notices of the happy and triumphant death of some that escaped both the fire and the gibbet; but who, being martyrs in purpose, have very properly a place among their brethren who sealed their testimony with their blood. During the above period, vital Christianity prevailed in a high degree among the presbyterians in Scotland; and, with a few exceptions, it was to be found among them alone. It was evidently this that was the object of hatred to the court, and them who had the administration of affairs in Scotland; and their desire was to have it totally extirpated. In this, however, the devil was foiled again. During the fiery trial, there was a wonderful unction and power that accompanied the preaching of the gospel by the persecuted ministers. Great multitudes gave decisive evidence of being converted to God; and obtained the victory over the beast and his image, even such of them as fell in the conflict. They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony; and loved not their lives unto the death. A portion of the same spirit was communicated to their children; and 8 savour of it still remains after a hundred and forty years of peace and universal toleration.
COMPREHENDING TESTIMONIES THAT WERE EMITTED, PREVIOUS TO THE YEAR 1660.
I. PATRICK HAMILTON.
[THIS gentleman was among the first who suffered in Scotland, on account of religion. He was descended of noble parentage, and born in 1503; and having been artfully seduced into a confession of his principles, was condemned as a heretic by the archbishop of St. Andrews, and suffered death in that city on the 28th of February, 1527. The following is a short detail of what he uttered on the trying occasion:]
On the afternoon of the same day on which he was sentenced, he was hurried to the stake; and having arrived at the place where the fire was prepared, he put off his gown, coat, and bonnet, and gave them to a favourite servant, saying, "These will not profit me in the fire, yet they will do thee some good. After this, of me thou canst receive no more, except the ensample of my death, which I pray thee to bear in mind; for albeit the same be bitter to the flesh and fearful before men, yet is it the entrance to eternal life, which none shall inherit that deny Christ Jesus before this wicked generation." Having so said, he commended his soul into the hands of God, with his eyes fixed toward heaven: and the train of powder, though fired, not having kindled the fuel, and his comfortable speeches meantime being often interrupted by one of his persecutors, who called to him, "Convert, heretic; pray to our Lady, and say Salve Regina;" he spoke as follows: "Wicked man! thou knowest I am not an heretic, and
that it is the truth of God for which I now suffer. So much, thou didst confess to me in private; and thereupon I appeal thee to answer before the judgment-seat of Christ." In a little after, the fire was kindled, and the noble martyr died, exclaiming, “ How long, O Lord, shall darkness overwhelm this real? How long wilt thou suffer this tyranny of men?" And ended by praying, with Stephen, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit t
II. RUSSEL AND KENNEDY.
[These two persons were companions in suffering. The former was of the order of grayfriars, the latter a young gentleman of liberal education and promising talents, not more than eighteen years of age. Being tried and condemned by the archbishop of Glasgow, they, in that city, underwent the dreadful sentence which was then awarded to the crime of heresy, in the year 1539. The following are some of their sayings upon trial, and at death:] When sisted before the archbishop, Kennedy at first discovered some weakness; but being encouraged by Russel, and having his fortitude, as if on a sudden, revived by the effusion of the Holy Spirit from on high, he fell down upon his knees and uttered these remarkable words: "O, Eternal God! how wonderful is that love and mercy thou bearest to mankind, and unto me the most caitiff and miserable wretch above all others! For even now when I would have denied Thee and thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, my only Saviour, and so have cast myself into everlasting damnation, thou by thine own hand hast pulled me from the very bottom of hell, and hast made me to feel that heavenly comfort which hath taken from me the ungodly fear by which I was oppressed. Now I defy death."‡ And then to his persecutors: "Do what you please-I praise God, I am ready.”
Russel, who seems to have arrived at a more mature age, and who was characterized during the trial by the greatest firmness and composure of mind, at first reasoned with his accusers, and ingeniously
• The person here alluded to was one Campbell, a blackfriar, who was instrumental in drawing from Hamilton that acknowledgment of his principles on which he was condemned, and who shortly after died distracted, and under the most awful apprehensions of coming wrath.-See Scots Worthies.
See Knox's Hist. B. I. Stevenson's Hist. vol. i. p. 33.
This was an instance of spiritual support which some may be tempted to ook upon as singular, if not incredible, but which we are disposed to regard as probable, from the experience of ordinary Christians under the every-day trials of life; and which, though it may appear to be connected with enthusiasm, in the circumstances under which it was exhibited, is, we conceive, completely borne out by the state of feeling which frequently obtains in the pious mind. Cader circumstances, which in prospect involve great sacrifices or trials, it is natural for even the Christian sometimes to feel depressed; but it is also matter of fact, and of consciousness, that at other times, with an equally vivid conception of these sacrifices or trials, he is enabled to feel above them, and to welcome them with perfect composure and unshrinking stedfastness.
rebutted the charges which were brought against him. At length roused to a higher state of feeling by the railing and calumnies which they poured forth against him, he exclaimed: "This is your hour and power of darkness. Now sit ye as judges, and we stand wrongfully accused, and more wrongfully to be condemned; but the day will come when our innocence shall appear, and when ye shall see your own blindness to your everlasting confusion. Go forward and fulfil the measure of your iniquity." On being condemned and hurried to the place of execution, he comforted his fellow-martyr, with these affecting words: "Brother! fear not-more mighty is He that is in us than he that is in the world; the pain that we shall suffer is short and shall be light, but our joy and consolation shall never have an end and therefore let us strive to enter in, unto our Master and Saviour, by the same strait way which he hath taken before us. Death cannot destroy us, for it is destroyed already by him for whose sake we suffer."*
III. GEORGE WISHART.
[This distinguished martyr was of the family of Pittarrow, in the county of Mearns. He was educated chiefly at the university of Cambridge, but returned to his native country in 1544; and from an ardent desire to promote the truth, became a zealous preacher of the Gospel. In this good work he was allowed to continue till the end of February 1546, when being apprehended, he was tried and condemned for heresy, and suffered in the flames at St. Andrews, the punishment awarded to that crime. The following may be regarded as a full and correct account of his last words :] When about to receive the sentence on which, notwithstanding his cogent and intrepid answers, his judges had decided, he poured forth the following pathetic prayer: "O, Immortal God! how long wilt thou suffer the rage and great cruelty of the ungodly to exercise their fury upon thy servants which do further thy word in this world, seeing they desire to do the contrary-to choke and destroy thy true doctrine and verity, by which thou hast showed thyself unto the world, which was all drowned in blindness and misknowledge of thy name! O Lord, we know surely that thy true servants must needs suffer for thy name's sake, persecution, affliction, and trouble in the present life; which, is but a shadow, as thou hast showed to us by thy prophets and apostles. But yet we desire, merciful Father, that thou wouldst conserve, defend, and help thy congregation+ which thou hast chosen before the beginning of the world; and give them grace to hear thy
• Knox's Hist. B. I.
The term Congregation, from its use in this passage, seems to have been very early applied to the protestant church of Scotland. In the time of Knox, about twenty years after the death of Wishart, its use in this sense had become quite specific.