How John Knox Received his Call to Preach

pd1560127After Archbishop Beaton’s death…

…the castle of St. Andrews was at that time held by the Reformers as a place of safety, and as a place of refuge for all that might flee in times of danger. Knox, who was then teaching and who was fearful for the lives of his students, repaired there with his pupils who had principally came from the persecuted areas of Langniddrie and Ormiston. There he taught them in a chapel, the ruins of which is still called Knox’s kirk.

The acting preacher at the castle during this period was one John Rough, who was a few years younger than Knox. This Godly man, feeling himself overwhelmed by the responsibility which the leadership of the Protestant cause had thrust upon him, urged Knox to share in his work, and to take over the leadership of the struggling group; but Knox declined.

So John Rough commenced to preach a sermon on the right of a congregation to elect a minister, and the responsibility of the unfortunate person, if he refused the call. Needless to say it was a passionate sermon, and finally at the close, Rough turned and addressed Knox and said, “Brother, you shall not be offended, although I speak unto you that which I have in charge, even from all those who are here present, which is this: In the name of God, and of His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the name of all that presently call you through my mouth, I charge you that you refuse not this holy vocation; but, as you are tender to the glory of God, the increase of Christ’s kingdom, the edification of your brethren, and the comfort of me, whom you understand well enough to be oppressed by the multitude of labours, that you take the public office and charge of preaching, even as you look to avoid God’s heavy displeasure, and desire that He shall multiply His graces unto you.”

Then, addressing the congregation (one of whom was Sir David Lindsay, of the Mount), said “Was not this your charge unto me? and do ye not approve this vocation?” They all answered, “It was, and we approve it.” At these words, Knox suddenly burst into tears, and left the assembly.

It is recorded that “his countenance and behaviour from that day till the day he was compelled to present himself in the public place of preaching, did he sufficiently declare the grief and trouble of his heart, for no man saw any sign of mirth from him; neither had he pleasure to accompany any men for many days together.” In this way the divine call came to the great Scotch Reformer, and the voice of God in that call he obeyed, and with what results his noble life showed.

Taken and adapted from “The Religious Anecdotes of Scotland.”

The Honest Executioner…

3-1-Executioner-with-axeDuring the “killing time,” there were so many executions in some parts of Scotland, as to make them common…

So convinced were all classes of the innocence and moral worth of those “who suffered, that no executioner in Ayershire could be prevailed upon to carry the sentence into effect. At last one of the prisoners, who was bribed and dragged into service, executed his companions, but soon afterwards died; himself in despair.

In Irvine, the hangman, a poor simple Highlander, named William Sutherland, peremptorily refused to execute the good men merely for opposing the bishops, whom he said “he had never liked since he knew how to read his Bible.” Solicitations, promises, and threats, were all used with him, but in vain. They threatened him with “the boots.” You may bring your boots and the spurs too,” said William, “you shall not prevail.” They swore they would pour melted lead on him –they would roll him in a barrel full of spikes; but the Highlander stood firm.

They then put him in the stocks, and the soldiers having charged their pieces, and blind-folding him, rushed upon him with fearful shouts and imprecations; but all in vain. Confounded at his fortitude, they declared “that the devil was surely in him.” ” If the devil be in me,” said William, ” he is an unnatural devil, for if he were like the rest, he would bid me take as many lives as I could; but the Spirit that is in me will not suffer me to take good men’s lives.” “Tell me,” said one of the judges, “who put these words into your mouth?” “Even He who made Balaam’s ass to speak and reprove the madness of the prophet,” replied William. At length, finding that they could make nothing more of him, they allowed him to escape.


Taken from, The Religious Anecdotes of Scotland

Revival! A story of conversions and the “fencing of the tables”

More than two hundred and seventy years ago…

…in the year 1742, there was an extraordinary religious awakening in the West of Scotland. It began in Cambuslang, a parish on the Clyde, near Glasgow, There were not over nine hundred souls in the parish, yet out of that number about five hundred were, it was believed, converted.

(c) National Galleries of Scotland; Supplied by The Public Catalogue FoundationThe awakening in Cambuslang was preceded by a year’s faithful preaching of regeneration and the atonement by the pastor, Rev. John M’Culloch. Who then for twelve weeks came daily preaching –generally out-door or in tents. Whitefield (then in the zenith of his power and popularity) came to Cambuslang, and delivered a dozen discourses. This “Son of Thunder” never stayed long in one spot; as he used to say, ” More than two weeks in one place kills me as dead as a door-nail.” But his two visits to the rural parish near Glasgow were inundations of blessings to the thirsting multitudes. Mighty audiences from Glasgow and Western Scotland thronged to hear him.

Whitefield frequently addressed 20,000 souls in a day!

At the first communion season after his visit, no less than seventeen hundred persons sat down to the tables, which were spread under tents. A few weeks after, the Lord’s Supper was dispensed again; and probably it was the most extraordinary communion service ever witnessed on earth. No less than forty thousand people gathered to witness the solemnities. Preaching went on for several days previous under Whitefield and others; but on the second Sabbath in August, the Pentecostal scene culminated.

The day was mild and genial, the air fragrant with the breath of new mowed hay, and the fields yellow with the wheat-harvest. At half-past eight on that memorable Sabbath morning, the “action sermon” was preached. Then came the “fencing the tables;” *  then, immediately after this, the table was spread, and the first company passed into the Lord’s Supper. During the whole day the sacred service went forward; no less than twenty-four companies of over one hundred, each sitting down in rotation! The whole number who partook of the sacred emblems was about three thousand.

The soft twilight was stealing over the “braes” when the last group left the communion tent, and there was only light enough left to read four lines of a psalm as a doxology. A grey haired pastor turning homeward from the hallowed place, exclaimed, in the fulness of his grateful heart,” Lord! now let Thou, Thy servant, depart in peace; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.”

Such a revival could not be without abiding fruits. Accordingly, we are told that after the close of the extraordinary meetings, the morals of the whole neighborhood were changed. Profanity became almost unknown. God’s day was honoured in every dwelling. Nearly every house became a house of prayer. Evil speaking ceased. Old enmities and family feuds were forgotten. Every father was a kinder parent; every child more dutiful. Religion went into men’s daily business as a controlling principle; skeptics owned its power, and scoffers were silenced before the beauty and majesty of daily godliness. May He who holds the seven stars in His right hand renew such a period!


*  “fencing the tables” means the special address in the ministration of the Lord’s Supper. This was a term often used among the Scotch Presbyterians. It is a lecture from the minister just before the distribution of the elements, pointing out the character of those who have and of those who have not a right to come to the Lord’s table. It was formerly called “debarrings,” because in it the ministry debarred from the sacrament those who were not supposed to be worthy.

Taken from “The Religious Anecdotes of Scotland.”

A Covenanter Campmeeting and God’s Sabbath Deliverance…

abd_aag_ag002702_largeIt is Sabbath-day among the mountains…

…and a company of the Persecuted have assembled. Around them, is a mighty chasm of cliffs, called the Cartland Crags, where Wallace used to take refuge, through which a river is flowing, at present so low, owing to the heat of summer, that men could walk all but dry-shod up its channel.

A hundred Covenanters “men, women, and children included” have assembled to hear a minister, who stands up in a pulpit stone, and having a birch tree waving over his head.

Between him and the congregation is a clear, deep pool, formed by the diminished stream, and there, after the sermon is over, a row of young maidens come gliding over the stream, to consecrate a number of infants who are to be baptized. The baptismal water is lying in the hollow of a large stone beside the brink of the pool.

How beautiful to look down, as you see the boys doing. Look into the clear water and see the whole scene, from the maidens, the parents and the minister, up to the topmost peaks of the sky striking summits, reflected there over the purest of mirrors.

The minister baptizes seven infants in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and gives out a psalm, with the words,

” Lo, children are God’s heritage,
The womb’s fruit his reward,
The sons of youth, like arrows, are
For strongman’s hands prepared.”


A_Covenanters'_Conventicle,_from_a_children's_history_bookThe psalm is reverberated like musical thunder from the surrounding crags…

…and all again is silent. Suddenly, a large stone falls from the rock above their heads into the pool; a voice is heard from the summit, and when they look up, there is a shepherd’s plaid waving in the air in the hand of the watchman stationed above.

It is the signal of instant danger, and immediately the whole congregation vanish into caves and hidden recesses, known only to themselves. They vanish almost in a moment; but they have been seen by a party of soldiers who have reached the top of the rock, and who exclaim when they see them, “They are delivered into our hands –they are caught in this nook as in a net; let us down, and they are our own. Halloo, boys! Halloo! Remember Drumclog, and let the blasted Covenanters perish!”

They leave their horses, and rush down a cleft in the crags, and arrive at the spot. But, to their utter astonishment, nothing is to be seen; nothing but a bonnet that had fallen from one of the Covenanters’ heads, and the Bible the minister had been using, and which they spurn into the pool. They are utterly unable to discover where their enemies have fled, and awful are the curses and the threats which they utter.

But hark! Louder than these curses and threats, is a sound like a distant muttering thunder far up the stream. It comes rolling, and warring, and deepening, as it descends. “What can it be?” The crags shake as if to the sound and stamp of earthquake.

“Lord! have mercy on us!” cried the soldiers, falling down on their knees and looking a hundred ways in their consternation, with pale faces and white lips. Meanwhile, the minister comes out of the cave where Wallace had long ago found refuge, and exclaims, “The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.” It is a powerful voice that comes from the Lord Most High.” What is it? –what can it be? It is a water-spout which has burst among the hills, and there the river raging in flood is coming down in its irresistible power. The whole hollow of the cliffs is filled with the waters.

The army must have been swept away by that raging torrent. The soldiers perish in a few minutes, swept down by the flood; but far up in the cliffs are the Covenanters, now emerged from their hiding places, and, with clasped hands and streaming eyes, uttering prayers to the Almighty, and some of them exclaiming,

“We will sing unto the Lord,
for He hath triumphed gloriously;
the horse and his rider He hath
cast in the depth of the waters.”

–Exodus 15:1

Taken from “The Religious Anecdotes of Scotland.”

ITS WAR AT CHURCH ! … Jenny Geddes throws her stool at the Pastor

Scottish LadieNOTE: Jenny Geddes (c.1600 – c.1660) was a cabbage grocer at the local market, in Edinburgh.  One day, she’d had enough and threw her stool at the head of the minister.
…The act sparked a riot which led to the Wars of the Three Kingdoms including the English Civil War.


An order was given by the King to introduce a new Service Book into the churches of Scotland…

…and this was to be done on the 23rd of July, 1637. On that day a great concourse of people, including the Lord Chancellor and the Archbishop of St. Andrews, along with several members of the Privy Council, the Judges of the Supreme Court, the Magistrates of the City, and a great multitude of the citizens, assembled in the church of St. Giles, then called the “Great Church,” to witness the ceremony. In the morning the usual prayers had been read from the old Book of Common Order. The Dean of Edinburgh, in his surplice, was to read the new service, and the Bishop of Edinburgh was to preach.

Book_of_common_prayer_Scotland_1637As soon as the Dean took his place in the reading-desk, and opened the obnoxious volume, a murmur arose in the congregation, and on his proceeding to announce the collect for the day, an old woman, named Janet Geddes, who kept a green grocer’s stall in the High Street, is said to have exclaimed,

“De’il gie you colic, the wame o’ ye,
fause thief; daur ye say Mass in my lug?”
“Devil give you colic in your stomach,
false thief: dare you say the Mass in my ear?”

She then flung the stool on which she had been sitting at the Dean’s head!

A scene of uproar and confusion immediately ensued. A crowd, consisting principally of women, rushed to the desk with loud menaces, and the Dean, in great alarm, threw off his surplice and fled.

350px-Riot_against_Anglican_prayer_book_1637The Bishop of Edinburgh then ascended the pulpit and attempted to restore order, but without effect. A volley of sticks and other missiles was hurled at him, accompanied with cries of “A pope!   A pope! …Stone him!   Stone him!” So that he could not be heard. “The gentleman,” says a contemporary writer,” did fall a-tearing [weeping], and crying that the mass was entered amongst them, and Baal in the church.

There was also a gentleman who was standing behind a pew and answering ‘amen’ to what the Dean was reading. A she-zealot, hearing him, starts up in choler. ‘Traitor,’ says she, ‘does thou say mass at my ear?‘ And with that struck him in the face with her bible in great indignation and fury.”

The rioters were at length expelled from the church, and the doors having been bolted, the Dean emerged from his hiding-place and resumed the service. It was rendered almost inaudible, however, by the shouts of the mob without, who battered at the door, and shouted, “A pope!   A pope!   Antichrist! Pull him down!” and other exclamations of the same sort. At the close of the service, the Dean made his escape unnoticed; but the Bishop of Edinburgh, who was very unpopular, was threatened and assailed by the populace, and was with difficulty rescued from their hands.


Charles II head croppedHere is some additional history of a Protestant Christian variety and part of your Christian heritage:  Since the early years of the 17th century, the Scottish Church had been established on the same Episcopalian basis as its English cousin, but was far more puritan, both in doctrine and practice. In 1633 King Charles I came to St Giles’ to have his Scottish coronation service, using the full Anglican rites, accompanied by William Laud, his new Archbishop of Canterbury. In the years that followed he began to consider ways of introducing Anglican-style church services on Scotland. The King arranged a Commission to draw up a prayer book suitable for Scotland, and in 1637 an Edinburgh printer produced:

The BOOKE OF Common Prayer
AND Administration Of The Sacraments:

And other parts of divine Service
for the use of the CHURCH OF SCOTLAND.

These developments met with widespread opposition.

The first use of the prayer book was in St Giles’ on Sunday 23 July 1637, when James Hannay, Dean of Edinburgh, began to read the Collects, part of the prescribed service, and Jenny Geddes, a market-woman or street-seller, threw her stool straight at the Minister’s head. 10723Some sources describe it as a “fald stool” or a “creepie-stool” meaning a folding stool as shown flying towards the Dean in the illustration, while others claim that it was a larger, three-legged cuttie-stool.

3884924002This was the start of a general tumult with much of the congregation shouting abuse and throwing Bibles, stools, sticks and stones. Prebble reports the phrase “Daur ye say Mass in my lug?” as being addressed to a gentleman in the congregation who murmured a dutiful response to the liturgy, getting thumped with a Bible for his pains, and describes Jenny as one of a number of “waiting-women” who were paid to arrive early and sit on their folding stools to hold a place for their patrons. The rioters were ejected by officers summoned by the Provost, but for the rest of the service hammered at the doors and threw stones at the windows.

Casting the Stool - reasons title page 1744More serious rioting in the streets (and in other cities) followed, and the Provost and magistrates were besieged in the City Chambers, to the extent that it became necessary to negotiate with the Edinburgh mob. At the suggestion of the Lord Advocate it appointed a committee known as the Tables to negotiate with the Privy Council. Characteristically, Charles turned down the Tables’ demands for withdrawal of the Anglican liturgy and more riots ensued with talk of civil war. This led to widespread signing of the National Covenant in February 1638, with its defiance of any attempt to introduce innovations like the Prayer Book that had not first been subject to the scrutiny of Parliament and the General Assembly of the Church. In November of the same year, the bishops and archbishops were formally expelled from the Church of Scotland, which was then established on a full Presbyterian basis. Charles reacted by launching the Bishops’ Wars, thus beginning the Wars of Three Kingdoms.

Story taken from, “The Religious Anecdotes of Scotland.”
Biographical excerpts taken from Wikipedia