« PoprzedniaDalej »
word, and to be thy true servants in this present life." On the following day when led to the fire, he thrice uttered these words: "O thou Saviour of the world, have mercy on me: Father of heaven, I commend my spirit into thy holy hands." He then turned to the people, and spoke as follows: "I beseech you, brethren and sisters, that ye be not offended at the word of God, for the affliction and torments which ye see already prepared for me. But I exhort you that you love the word of God for your salvation, and suffer patiently and with a comfortable heart for the word's sake-which is your undoubted salvation and everlasting comfort. Moreover, I pray you, show my brethren and sisters which have heard me often before, that they cease not, nor leave off to learn the word of God which I taught them, after the grace given to me, for any persecutions or Show them that my doctrine troubles in this world, which last not. was not old wives' fables, after the constitutions made by men. If I had taught men's doctrine I had gotten greater thanks of men. But for the word's sake and true gospel which was given to me by the grace of God, I suffer this day by man, not sorrowfully, but with a glad heart and mind. For this cause I was sent that I should suffer this fire for Christ's sake. Consider and behold my visage: ye shall not see me change my colour. This grim fire I fear not and so I pray you so do, if any persecution come to you for the word's sake, and not to fear them that slay the body, and have no power afterwards to slay the soul. Some have said of me, I taught that the soul of man should sleep until the last day. But I know surely, and my faith is, that my soul shall sup with my Saviour this night, (ere six hours,) for whom I suffer this. I beseech the Father of heaven to forgive them, that have of any ignorance or else of evil mind, forged lies upon me. I forgive them with all my heart. I beseech Christ to forgive them that have condemned me to death this day, ignorantly.—I beseech you, brethren and sisters, to exhort your prelates to the learning of the word of God, that, they may be ashamed to do evil and learn to do good. And, if they will not convert themselves from their wicked error, there shall hastily come upon them the wrath of God, which they shall not eschew."
Being tied to the stake and the fire kindled, he exclaimed, "This fire torments my body, but nowise abates my spirit." And then looking towards the cardinal, who witnessed his execution from the palace, he said: "He who in such state from that high place feedeth his eyes with my torments, within few days shall be hanged out at the same window, to be seen with as much ignominy as he now leaneth there with pride." Upon this the executioner, drawing the cord, stopt his breath, and he was forthwith consumed to powder.†
• It cannot be supposed from this expression, that Mr. Wishart supposed the important spiritual change which is called conversion, to be purely the result of a man's own agency. The word convert is here employed equivalently with the expression turn, and is meant to express only that act of a man's own will, by which, in accordance with the influence of God's Spirit and word exerted upon it."he ceases to do evil and learns to do well."
+ Knox's Hist. B. 1. Stevenson's Hist. vol. i. p. 62.
IV. WALTER MILL.
[The death of this martyr is said to have contributed most effectually to the downfall of popery, in Scotland. He was born about the year 1476, and, having taken orders in the church, became priest of Lunan, in Angus-shire. But having imbibed the reformed opinions, and left off the saying of mass, he was so early as the year 1538, arrested and condemned. He escaped, however, for his life into Germany, where he remained about twenty years. He then returned home, and having attempted to render himself useful, by instructing his neighbours in the protestant faith, he was again taken and condemned as a heretic. His conduct whilst on trial, powerfully evinced the sincerity of his faith, and made a deep impression on all who witnessed it. The following is a short account of what took place at his death:]
All things being prepared, he was led forth with a guard of armed men to execution. Being come to the place, some cried out to him to recant, to whom he answered, "I marvel at your rage, ye hypocrites, who do so cruelly pursue the servants of God; as for me, I am now eighty-two years old, and cannot live long by course of nature; but an hundred shall rise out of my ashes, who shall scatter you, ye hypocrites, and persecutors of God's people; and such of you as now think yourselves the best, shall not die such an honest death as I now do. I trust in God, I shall be the last who shall suffer death, in this fashion, for this cause, in this land."* Thus his constancy in
* This sentiment, but for the cautious and modest language in which it is expressed, might well have been deemed prophetical, for reasons quite as satisfactory as those on which it has been alleged that statements ascribed to others of the Worthies were of this character. We know not whether, in point of fact, it has ever been regarded in this light, but it must be evident to every one who reflects on the subject, that, but for the preliminary clause, "I trust in God," by which its meaning and reference is so very properly limited, the expression of the dying martyr would have been a prediction, whose fulfilment was proved, by the record of after history. It is generally understood to have been the case, that Mill was the last person who suffered in the cause of reformation from popery. But the trust which he expressed, that this would be the case, was only what a due consideration of the signs of the times and the ways of Providence would have justified in any one. And yet we doubt not, that an omission of such a qualifying expression as is here employed, has led other similar statements of the Worthies to be viewed in the light of absolute predictions, whilst, in reality as delivered, they only expressed and were meant to express the trust or opinion of their authors. That this was not the case in every instance is readily admitted; nor is it denied, that even in the formation of such a trust, opinion, or presentiment (if you will), with regard to future events, there might not be the experience, or at least the enjoyment, of heavenly influence. Nay, with the learned and accurate biographer of Knox, we" think it not inconsistent with the principles of either natural or revealed religion, that God on particular occasions should forewarn persons of some things as about to happen," and we are even inclined with him "to believe that the reformers were occasionally favoured with extraordinary premonitions," nor has any thing to the contrary of this, as some have imagined, been argued or affirmed in the Notes to the late edition of the Scots Worthies, to which the pre
creased, as his end drew near. Being ordered by Oliphant, one of the persecutors, to go up to the stake, he refused, and said, "No, I will not go, except thou put me up with thy hand, for by the law of God, I am forbidden to put hands to myself; but if thou wilt put to thy hand, and take part of my death, thou shalt see me go up gladly.” Then Oliphant putting him forward, he went up with a cheerful countenance, saying, Introibo ad altare Dei.* Having then requested permission to speak to the people: he was answered by Oliphant, "That he had spoken too much already, and that the bishops were exceedingly displeased with what he had said." But some youths having taken his part, and called to him to say on what he pleased, be first went to his knees and prayed, then arose; and standing upon the coals, addressed the people to this effect: "Dear friends, the cause why I suffer this day, is not for any crime laid to my charge, though I acknowledge myself a miserable sinner before God; but only for the defence of the truths of Jesus Christ, set forth in the Old and New Testaments, for which, as many faithful martyrs have offered their lives most gladly, so this day I praise God that he hath called me, among the rest of his servants, to seal his truth with my life; which as I have received it of him, so I willingly offer it up for his glory. Therefore, as ye would escape eternal death, be no longer seduced by the lies of bishops, abbots, friars, monks, and the rest of that sect of antichrist, but depend only upon Jesus Christ and his mercy, that so ye may be delivered from condemnation."-During this speech, loud murmurs and lamentations were heard among the multitude, some admiring the patience, boldness, and constancy of the martyr, others complaining of the hard measures and cruelty of his persecutors. Having spoken as above, he again prayed a little while, and was then drawn up, and bound to the stake. The fire being kindled, he cried, "Lord, have mercy on me: Pray, pray, good people, while there is time;" and thus cheerfully yielded up his soul into the hands of God.†
sent volume is meant as an accompaniment. It has been questioned, indeed, in particular instances, whether the premonitions emitted, amounted to predictions, in the proper sense of the word, and whether they were extraordinary and preternatural, or the mere result of natural sagacity and ordinary means of knowledge. But this is quite in accordance with the admission we have made, because, allowing that the great and good men alluded to were occasionally so favoured, it may still be questioned on what particular occasions they were so; and were it even allowed that this was the case on all the occasions alleged, it would still remain to be observed, that to call them prophets, to speak of them as having the gift and spirit of prophecy, and as having foretold and predicted future events, is, according to the proper and common sense in which such expressions are employed with a reference to religion, a gross misapplication of terms-an employment of language inconsistent with right views of scripture truth, and calculated to lead the simple and unwary into false and erroneous impressions of their true character.
"I will go unto the altar of God."-Psalms. + Stevenson's Hist. vol. i. p. 81.
V. JOHN KNOX.
[This great Reformer was born at Gifford, near Haddington, in the year 1503. He was educated in the popish faith; but having at an early period been freed from its shackles, he became, as is well known, the chief instrument, under providence, in establishing the protestant ascendancy over Scotland. After a life of unremitting labour and severe privation and suffering, spent in this good cause, he died at Edinburgh on the 24th of November, 1572; bearing the most ample testimony to the glorious truths, which he so firmly believed and so successfully propagated.]
On Monday, the 17th, he thus addressed the members of his session, who with Mr. Lawson his colleague, and Mr. Lindsay, one of the ministers of Leith, assembled in his room for that purpose: "The day approaches and is now before the door, for which I have frequently and vehemently thirsted, when I shall be released from my great labours and innumerable sorrows, and shall be with Christ. And now God is my witness, whom I have served in spirit, in the Gospel of his Son, that I have taught nothing but the true and solid doctrine of the Gospel of the Son of God; and have had it for my only object, to instruct the ignorant, to confirm the faithful; to comfort the weak, the fearful, and the distressed, by the promises of grace; and to fight against the proud and rebellious, by the divine threatenings. I know that many have complained, and do yet loudly complain, of my too great severity; but God knows that my mind was always void of hatred to the persons of those against whom I thundered the severest judgments. I cannot deny but that I felt the greatest abhorrence at the sins in which they indulged; but I still kept this one thing in view, that, if possible, I might gain them to the Lord. What influenced me to utter whatever the Lord put into my mouth so boldly, without respect of persons, was a reverential fear of my God, who called, and out of his grace appointed me to be a steward of divine mysteries, and a belief that he will demand an account of my discharge of the trust committed unto me, when I shall stand before his tribunal. I profess, therefore, before God, and before his holy angels, that I never made merchandise of the sacred word of God, never studied to please men, never indulged my own private passions, or those of others, but faithfully distributed the talent intrusted to me, for the edification of the church, over which I watched. Whatever obloquy wicked men may cast on me respecting this point, I rejoice in the testimony of a good conscience. In the meantime, my dearest brethren, do you persevere in the eternal truth of the Gospel; wait diligently on the flock over which the Lord hath set you, and which he redeemed by the blood of his only begotten Son. And thou, my dear brother Lawson, fight the good fight, and do the work of the Lord joyfully and resolutely. The Lord from on high bless you and the whole church of Edinburgh, against whom, as long as they persevere in the word of truth, which they have heard of me, the gates of hell shall not prevail."
When they were going out, he desired Messrs. Lawson and Lindsay to remain behind, and thus continued: "There is one thing that greatly grieves me.-You have been witnesses of the former courage and constancy of Grange, in the cause of God; but now, alas-into what a gulf has he precipitated himself! I entreat you not to refuse the request which I now make to you: Go to the castle and tell him from me, that John Knox remains the same man now, when he is about to die, that ever he knew him when able in body, and wil 1. him to consider what he was, and the estate in which he now stands, which is a great part of his trouble.' Neither the craggy rock, in which he miserably confides, nor the carnal prudence of that man, (Maitland) whom he esteems a demi-god, nor the assistance of strangers shall preserve him; but he shall be disgracefully dragged from his rest to punishment, and hung on a gallows before the face of the sun, unless he speedily amend his life, and flee to the mercy of God. That man's soul is dear to me, and I would not have it perish if I could save it."
To the earl of Morton, after having asked him as to his previous knowledge of Darnley's murder, be said, "Well, God has beautified benefits which he has not given to every man; as he you with many has given you riches, wisdom, and friends, and now is to prefer you to the government of the realm. And, therefore, in the name of God I charge you to use all these benefits aright, and better in time to come than ye have done in times bypast; first, to God's glory, to the furtherance of the evangel, the maintenance of the church of God and his ministry; next, for the weal of the king, and his realm, and true subjects. If so ye shall do, God shall bless you and honour you; but if ye do it not, God shall spoil you of these benefits, and your end shall be ignominy and shame."
On Thursday, the 20th, the lords Glencairn and Ruthven, having called, and the latter having tendered his services to do for him any thing in his power, his reply was, "I care not for all the pleasure and friendship of the world."-A lady of his acquaintance, desiring him to praise God for what good he had done, and speaking in his commendation, he thus interrupted her:-" Tongue, tongue! lady, flesh of itself is overproud and needs no means to esteem itself.” He then exhorted her to put off pride and be clothed with humility, protesting as to himself that he relied wholly on the free mercy of God, manifested to mankind through his dear Son Jesus Christ, whom alone he embraced for wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption. And the rest of the company having taken their leave of him, he said to the laird of Braid-" Every one bids me good night, but when will you do it? I have been greatly indebted unto you, for which I shall never be able to recompense you; but I commit you to one that is able to do it, to the Eternal God."
On Friday the 21st, these words were often in his mouth, "Come Lord Jesus. Sweet Jesus, into thy hands I commit my spirit. Be merciful Lord to thy church, which thou hast redeemed. Give peace to this afflicted commonwealth. Raise up faithful pastors, who will take charge of thy church. Grant us, Lord, the perfect hatred