The Gallantry of John Brown’s Wife

john-borwn-of-priesthillThe world will read the printed tale
Of olden stress and strife,
Of love made pure in furnace-fires,
And faith more dear than life.

But could thy tender eyes to-day
Upon the pages shine,
The hidden tale, to them revealed,
Would glow in every line.

Perchance e’en now, above the stars, “
Beyond these smiles and tears, “
The story others cannot read,
Thy listening spirit hears.

And sweeter strains from one glad harp
In fuller music tell
The lesson, learned in tears below–

“He doeth all things well.”

–Grace Raymond

John Brown lived in a house called Priesthill, in the parish of Muirkirk, in the day’s of the Covenant. He was an amiable and blameless man, and had taken no part in the risings or public testifyings of the times. Nevertheless, his hour at last arrived. It was the 30th of April, 1685. John Brown had been at home, and unmolested for some time; he had risen early, and had performed family worship. The psalm sung was the twenty-seventh, and the chapter read the sixteenth of John, which closes with the remarkable words, “In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” His prayer was, as usual, powerful and fervent, for although he stuttered, in prayer he could not but speak fluently in the dialect of heaven. He then went away alone to the hill to prepare some peat-ground.

Meanwhile, Claverhouse had come in late at night to Lesmahagow, where the garrison was posted, had heard of John; had risen still earlier than his victim, and by six on that grey April morning, had tracked him to the moss; had surrounded him with three troops of dragoons, and led him down to the door of his own house.

With the dignity of Cineinnatus, leaving his plough in mid-furrow, John dropped his spade, and walked down, it is said, “rather like a leader than a captive.” His wife was warned of their approach,and, with more than the heroism of an ancient Roman matron, with one boy in her arms, with a girl in her hand, and, alas! With a child within her, Isabel Weir came calmly out to play her part in this frightful tragedy.

Claverhouse was no trifler. Short and sharp was he always in his brutal trade. He asked John at once why he did not attend the curate, and if he would pray for the king. John stated, in one distinct sentence, the usual Covenanting reasons. On hearing it, Claverhouse exclaimed, “Go to your knees, for you shall immediately die!” John complied without remonstrance, and proceeded to pray, in terms so melting, and with such earnest supplication for his wife and their born and unborn children, that Claverhouse saw the hard eyes of his dragoons beginning to moisten, and their hands to tremble, and thrice interrupted him with volleys of blasphemy.

When the prayer was ended, John turned round to his wife, reminded her that this was the day come, of which he had foretold her when he proposed marriage, and asked if she was willing to part with him. “Heartily willing,” was her reply. ” This,” he said, ” is all I desire. I have nothing more now to do but to die.” He then kissed her and the children, and said, “May all purchased and promised blessings be multiplied unto you.” “No more of this,” roared out the savage, whose own iron heart this scene was threatening to move. “You six dragoons, there, fire on the fanatic.” They stood motionless, the prayer had quelled them. Fearing a mutiny, both among his soldiers and in his own breast, he snatched a pistol from his belt and shot the good man through the head. He fell, his brains spurted out, and his brave wife caught the shattered head in her lap.

“What do you think of your husband, now?” howled the ruffian. ” I thought a lot of him, sir, but never so much as I do this day.” “I would think little to lay thee beside him,” he answered. “If you were permitted, I doubt not you would; but how are ye to answer for this morning’s work?” “To men, I can be answerable, and, as for God, I will take him in my own hands.” And, with these desperate words, he struck spurs to his horse and led his dragoons away from the inglorious field.

Meekly and calmly did this heroic and Christian woman tie up her husband’s head in a napkin, compose his body, cover it with her plaid –and not till these duties were discharged did she permit the pent-up current of her mighty grief to burst out, as she sat down beside the corpse and wept bitterly.

Written by, William Adamson

A Gentle Glimpse Into a Covenanter Church Service and Communion During the Persecution of 1677.

I Thought that it may be interesting…

(c) National Galleries of Scotland; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundationto get the detailed account of one of these solemn communion seasons that was celebrated at East Nisbet, in Berwickshire, in 1677. It was well attended; the multitudes who assembled from all quarters of the country amounted to several thousand.

The people had reason to believe that an attempt might be made to disperse them by violence, and in order to protect from invasion the assembly and solemn work, some of the gentlemen present drew together about seven or eight score horses on the Saturday, equipped with such weapons as they had. Of these, parties of about twelve or sixteen men were appointed to ride forth towards the most suspected parts, and single horsemen were also dispatched to greater distances, to view the country, and give warning in case of danger. The remainder of the horses were drawn around the people, as a kind of rampart, at such distances as they might hear the sermon, and be in readiness in case of the approach of the enemy.

The place where they were assembled was peculiarly well adapted for such a work. It was a verdant and pleasant low-lying meadow, secretly close by the side of the Whitadder, with a spacious hillside in front, and on either hand, in form of a semi-circle. It was covered with delightful pasture, and rising with a gentle slope to a goodly height.

The communion-table was set in the midst of the little valley, around which a large number of people were congregated, but the great body of the people sat on the face of the hillside, which was crowded from top to bottom, “presenting perhaps the finest and most lovely sight of the kind which many present had ever beheld.”

That all things might be done decently and in order, tokens of admission to the Lord’s table were distributed on Saturday, and they were given only to such as were known to ministers or persons of trust present, to be free of known scandals.

The Sabbath morning rose calm and peaceful…

…and throughout the day the sky over their heads was serene and unclouded, in delightful harmony with that tranquilizing joyful, and holy service, in which they were to engage.

The ministers were remarkably well assisted and the whole scene was most interesting and solemnizing. All seemed to feel like Jacob, “Surely the Lord is in this place; this is none other than the house of God, this is the gate of heaven.” Or, perhaps even like the disciples on the mount of transfiguration; “It is good for us to be here.”

CovworThere were sixteen tables in all, and each table was supposed to contain about a hundred persons. After the communion was over, Mr. Welsh offered up a fervent prayer and thanksgiving, and then the whole assembly united in a solemn hymn of praise to Him who had thus mercifully spread a table before them in the presence of their enemies. Blackadder particularly mentions the solemn joy with which the people joined in this concluding exercise.

Such were some of the scenes in which Blackadder and his fellow exiles from their sorrowing flocks passed the time of their probation.

Edited for thought and sense

The success of life is not measured by the years we live, but by loyalty to Jesus Christ and service in the Gospel.


wishartThe light was rising; springtime was coming…

…the early rain of God’s grace was falling upon Scotland. Godly lives now sprang up thick as flowers in the meadow. They must be uprooted in bunches, thought the Romanists, or the people, gaining light, will cast off the Papal religion and be free to worship God according to His Word. During the next few years many were condemned and executed for their faith.
George Wishart arose at this time in the spirit and majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was born in 1513 and became one of the earliest Scottish religious reformers.  Wishart’s character displayed the banner of truth with an invincible faith. His heart was true, pure, fresh, and fragrant as the heart of a rosebud. Through the indwelling Spirit of God, his life was wonderfully attractive. His eloquence was seraphic; his lips had been touched with a live coal from the altar of God; his soul was aflame with the Gospel. He was animated with transfiguring revelations of Christ and His redeeming truth. He was a burning and shining light. The light he shed was too bright to last long in those dangerous times.   In 1545, plague broke out in Dundee and as soon as Wishart heard of it he went back there, preaching to everyone and caring for the sick. He told them how there was a worse disease than the plague – sin – which could only be healed by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Opposed to Wishart was Cardinal David Beaton, a cruel and proud man who lived openly with a mistress and was despised by the people. He once disgraced himself at a cathedral door vying for precedence with another churchman. As the two quarreled, their followers shoved each other and tore off one another’s vestments. By contrast, when Beaton sent a priest to assassinate Wishart. Wishart took the dagger off the priest, subdued the man, and then saved him from the fury of the crowd.
The cardinal, prelates, and priests consulted for his overthrow and eventually it happened. Wishart suddenly fell into their hands, and his death was decreed. On March 1, 1546, soldiers from St. Andrews Castle ushered George Wishart to his place of death. Some beggars at the roadside pleaded with him for alms as he passed, but he replied that with his hands tied, he could give them nothing. He might have added that he had already given away all his money the day he was taken to trial.  The executioner lit the fire and hung sacks of gunpowder around the victim. Wishart knelt to ask God for mercy on himself and forgiveness for his persecutors. Touched, the executioner pleaded for pardon and Wishart gave it.  Wishart kissed his cheek, saying, “Go, here is a token that I forgive thee; do thine office.” One standing near said to him, “Be of good courage.” He replied, “This fire torments my body, but in no way abates my spirit.”

Turning to the crowd, he urged them not to be offended with the gospel because of the end that had overtaken him.

“Had I taught men’s doctrine, I had gotten great thanks by men;
but for the word’s sake and the true gospel, which was given to me by the grace of God, I suffer this day by men, not sorrowfully, but with a glad heart and mind,” he said. He was fixed to the stake and burned alive. His execution was in 1546.

Wishart’s execution set in motion a train of events that changed Scotland.

It was just one more incident aggravating popular resentment against the Roman Church. The people knew Wishart to be a godly man. Revenge was perpetrated: hotheads went in and assassinated Cardinal Beaton. Fortunately, John Knox, an associate of Wishart, became their chaplain and eventually ushered in the Scottish reformation. The Roman Church was overthrown and the Presbyterian brought in.

Do we have the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our own lives?

Are we every day trying to make our lives rich, radiant, successful, through earnest effort to bring others into the possession of the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

[ A NOTE TO MY READERS AS TO THE PURPOSE OF THESE STORIES:  These stories are about Christians who before us have suffered great persecution and/or died in the cause of Christ.  Their living faith was their testimony unto Christ Jesus.  They were not all great Christians.  Many of those that I read and write about had significant flaws, some morally and some theologically… But all had found “The Christ.”  And they each had witnessed to, and testified of that living Christ which takes away the sins of the world.  Having done all, these Christians stood, and their stories still stand today, demonstrating to us and pointing to us their Lord, both with their teachings, and more importantly, with their lives. And therein lies the power… They were totally committed. 
As you look around yourself, do you see that type of commitment?  As you look deep within yourself, do you see yourself standing in their shoes?  Can you say, with grace, “If called, there go I?”  As you look around your church, can you sense as a member, an increasing importance of who we are in Christ Jesus, or do you see an increasing importance of who we are in the world?  From your vantage point, which seems to be most important?
Never before has the Christian Church been assaulted on so many fronts.  Never before, has it faced so many enemies from without and enemies from within.  One shudders at the sound of all the axes being laid to the roots of our Christian heritage, and we ask ourselves, “When Christ comes will he find faith on the earth?”  To this question, I am deeply stirred with a sense of urgency.
Today, I call to you wherever you are, find your commitment, find your passion, find who you really are –in Christ!  Resolve in yourself right now, to make Him and his cause, the purpose for your highest commitment, and the reason for your deepest passion.  I can tell you, that you will never be sorry.
As apostates and apostasy continues in the church, I seek to point to our blessed Savior through the fingers and lives of those Christians who have once lived and died for Christ, and whose voices and anthems, I believe, now blend with the others from the church triumphant, and with the angels and cherubim as they circle around the throne of the Living God; “To whom be glory forever.  Amen.”  –MWP]


The “Killing Times”

Written by Michael Pursley.

kw392346The sixteen hundreds was a very difficult time for many of the Reformed groups, including those Separatist groups in England and Scotland.

As you may recall, the Mayflower, loaded with the Pilgrims, had already landed in America in 1620.  This group was also a part of the “Dissenters” or “Non-Conformists” as they were then called, who had left England because of the political and religious persecution already beginning to take place. But what came about later, was with those staunchly Calvinistic Christians who had decided to stay in England and Scotland to weather the upcoming political and religious storm. 

And storm it was.  But, it was that desperate period from 1680 until 1685 that was the fiercest in terms of persecution, especially that period of a few months, occurring between 1684 and 1685.  It was so horrendous in Scotland, that this period has become forever known as the “Killing Times.” 

WylieAttackRemember, Charles’ brother James II had come to the throne, and inasmuch as he was a believer in the Divine Right of Kings and a supporter of the Roman Catholic faith, it became his sworn intent to totally eradicate the Presbyterians.

As a result, there were the most horrific and atrocious crimes ever inflicted on the Calvinistic people of Scotland; or The Covenanters, as they called themselves.  These Protestant Christians were flushed out and hunted down as never before; common soldiers were empowered to take life at will of any suspect without trial of law. Usually it was done without any evidence.  Or as noted, these murders were often as the result of the suspicions of an over-zealous town official or Minister.

preview_1978-p6202Brutality in those days defied the imagination, and the persecution had no mercy on man, woman or child, irrespective of circumstances. Any class of Covenanters once caught by the King’s troops were shot or murdered on the spot.  As one author noted, “this was a time of legends, of soldiers having fun by throwing women into pits full of snakes, and of men hanged on their own door lintels.”



But God had not forsaken his people.

I recently came across a story of one of the meetings of the Covenanters, one that was being held on a hillside.  During the service, the alarm was given that the dragoons or troopers were near. The Covenanter men were stout and strong but unarmed, and worse, the greater number of the assembly consisted of women and children, besides the aged minister.

Defense and flight were alike impossible. What should they do? They cried unto God, that He would save and deliver them, that He would hide them under His wings. And their cry was heard.

While the dragoons were yet at a distance, there came rolling over the hills a thick, white, blinding mist, which shrouded everything, and enfolded the little company in its embrace and hid them. They themselves kept silent, and soon discovered, from the noise and shouting of the troopers, that they had lost their way. The commander now thought only of the safety of his men; and when they at length found the track, the word was given, and they rode off. No sooner were they out of sight than the mist rolled off and the sun shone forth. Those who had been kept by God, hidden under the shadow of His Hand, sang praises unto Him for their great deliverance.

You are my hiding place; You sing over me songs of deliverance.
–Psalms 32:7