The Rest of GOD’s Story: Margaret Erskine

Henry Erskine (1624–1696) was a well-known Scottish Presbyterian minister.  He lived in Scotland during some of the worst times of persecution of the Covenanters.  His first wife passed away, and very little is known about her.  But after sometime, Henry Erskine decided that he needed to find someone to help him in his ministry, so he married again to a Margaret Halcro, a descendant of an old family in Orkney. This was also a time in which persecution had risen up again in the land and marriage prospects did not look very promising. Also, neither Henry nor his new wife, Margaret, were in the very best of health, and this is where “The Rest of GOD’s Story” begins…

This remarkable circumstance was connected with the history of Henry Erskine, and was a fact well authenticated during that time, and in that part of Scotland where his family lived. That his wife, Margaret was “dead and was buried,” some years BEFORE she gave birth to his two distinguished sons, Ralph and Ebenezer.

Let me explain!

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MinaMargaret wore on her finger at the time of her death a rich gold ring, which, from some domestic cause or other, was much valued by the family. After her body was laid in the coffin, an attempt was made to remove the ring, but the hand and the finger were so much swollen that it was found impossible.

It was proposed to cut off the finger, but the husband’s feelings revolted at the idea. She was therefore buried with the ring on her finger. The sexton, who was aware of the fact, formed a resolution to possess himself of the ring. Accordingly, on that same night he opened the grave and coffin. —Having no scruples about cutting off the finger of a dead woman, he provided himself with a sharp knife for the purpose. He lifted the stiff arm, and made an incision by the joint of the finger. The blood flowed—and the woman arose and sat up in her coffin! The grave-digger fled with affright, while the lady made her way from her coffin and walked back to the door of her dwelling, there she stood without and knocked for admittance.

Her husband, Henry Erskine, sat mourning that evening and conversing with a friend. When the knock was repeated he observed, “were it not that my wife is in her grave, I should say that that was her knock.” He arose hastily and opened the door.

There stood his wife and dear companion,  Margaret Erskine, wrapped in her grave-clothes, and her uplifted finger dripping blood.” My Margaret!” he exclaimed. “The same,” said she—”Your dear wife, in her own proper person; do not be alarmed.”

Henry’s wife, Margaret Erskine , lived seven or eight years after this occurrence, and became the mother of several children, among whom were the renowned ministers and theologians mentioned above, Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine.