In Loving Memory: Robert Bruce, God’s Remarkable Minister

robert-bruceThis minister of the gospel was a man of great power…

…and he so impressed King James, that he said Mr. Bruce was worthy of half of his kingdom. He was a man that had much inward exercise, and had been often assaulted concerning that great foundation truth if there was a God; which cost him many days and nights wrestling. When he had come to the pulpit, after being sometime silent, which was his usual way, he would say, “I think it is a great matter to believe there is a God,” telling the people it is a greater thing to believe that, than they might suppose, and would from there go into the Bible and teach many of the great doctrines of God.

Great success attended his ministrations in Inverness, Edinburgh, and wherever he preached. A rather remarkable conversion under his ministry occurred on this wise. Mr. Henderson, who at his first entry to the ministry at Leuchars, was often very disparaging, and by the Bishop of St. Andrews brought in against the parish’s consent, so that, on the day of his admission, the church doors being shut by the people, they were forced to break in by a window to get him entrance. But a little after this, upon the report of a communion where Mr. Bruce was to help, he would needs, from a longing he had to hear and see such a man, go secretly there, and placed himself in a dark part of the church where he might not be known.

When Mr. Bruce was come to the pulpit, he did for a considerable time keep silence, as his manner was, which did some way astonish Mr. Henderson; but much more when he heard the first words wherewith he began, which were these, “He that comes not in by the door, but climbs up another way, the same is a thief and a robber; “which did, by the Lord’s blessing, at the very present take him by the heart, and had so great an impression on him, that it was the first mean of his conversion.

When aged, and through infirmity of body confined to his chamber, where he was frequently visited by his friends, being asked by one of them how matters now stood betwixt God and his soul, he made this return, “When I was a young man,” said he, “I was diligent, and lived by faith on the Son of God; but now I am old, and not able to do much, yet He condescends to feed me with lumps of sense.”

That morning before the Lord removed him, he came to breakfast at his table, and having, as he used, eaten one single egg, he said to his daughter, “I think I am yet hungry, ye may bring me another egg;” but instantly thereafter falling into a deep meditation, and after having mused a while, he said, “Hold, daughter, hold; my Master calls me!”

With these words his sight failed him, whereupon he called for a Bible, but finding his sight gone, he said, “Cast up to me the 8th chapter to the Romans, and set my finger on these words, ‘I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities nor, powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ Now,” said he, “is my finger upon them?” When they told him it was, without any more, he said, “Now God be with you, my children; I have breakfasted with you, and shall sup with my Lord Jesus Christ this night,” and so gave up the ghost, death shutting his eyes, that he might see God.

Thus that valiant champion for the truth, who, in his appearing to plead for the crown and interest of Jesus Christ, knew not what it was to be daunted by the face and frowns of the highest and most incensed adversaries, was, by his Master, taken off the field, as more than a conqueror and into the everlasting kingdom of his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Written by William Adamson


Meet this remarkable Christian and part of your heritage: Robert Bruce (1554 – 1631) was Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland which was called on 6 February 1588 to prepare defenses against a possible invasion by the Spanish Armada.

He was born in 1554, the second son of Sir Alexander Bruce of Airth. His mother Janet was the great, grand daughter of King James I of Scotland. In 1572, he graduated M.A. from St Andrews University, where he had been a student at St Leonard’s College. He then went to Paris where he studied law, returning to Edinburgh to practice. However, during the night of 31 August 1581 he had a remarkable religious experience, which made him decide to study for the Church. He was licensed by the Presbytery of St Andrews in 1587 and immediately took up the post of Minister of St Giles, Edinburgh. In October 1589, in very disturbed times, King James VI appointed him as Privy Councilor. He so helped keep the peace while the King was away in Norway (where he had gone to bring home bride Anne of Denmark) that he got a personal letter of thanks on his return.

He crowned the Queen 17 March 1590, and was again elected Moderator in May 1592. In 1596, he was banished from Edinburgh for opposing the King’s religious policy. He was allowed to return after a time, and in May 1598 was appointed Minister to the Little Kirk, a division of St Giles, though he quibbled a bit about the admission ceremony. In August 1600 the Gowrie Conspiracy took place. Bruce was one of those who doubted there was a real threat, so he did not offer prayers of thanksgiving for the King’s safe delivery. For this, he was banished from Edinburgh and forbidden to preach publicly anywhere in Scotland under pain of death.

This did not seem to stop him. From 1605 he was in Inverness, where he seemed to have continued preaching, at least to friends. He even acted as Minister at Forres’ In 1609, his son managed to persuade the King to let Bruce return to his own lands at Kinnaird, near Stirling. There, he paid for the repair of the Kirk at Larbert, where he also acted as Minister. Sometimes he preached in Stirling. He had property in Monkland near Glasgow where he also preached, apparently to great acclaim. “Wherever he had an opportunity of preaching, great crowds attended; he preached with remarkable power, and his own life being in full accord with his preaching, the influence lie attained was almost without parallel in the history of the Scottish Church.” Inevitably, he was, in 1620, again banished to Inverness, where he remained until 1624, growing increasing infirm. King James died in 1625. His son King Charles I allowed Bruce to return to Kinnaird, where he died 27 July 1631. Andrew Melville described him as a “hero adorned with every virtue, a constant confessor and almost martyr to the Lord Jesus”.