« PreviousContinue »
ally for all the wrongs done unto His cause and people. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones, that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited. Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of Hosts shall reign in mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously.' You may read it at your leisure, in the 24th chapter of Isaiah, from the 21st verse to the end. There is another word in the 36th chapter of Job, 18th verse. It is a word of advice, given by Elihu to Job: 'Because there is wrath, beware lest He take thee away with His stroke; then a great ransom cannot deliver thee.'
"2. It is my comfort this day, that my enemies are God's enemies. It is the allowance He bestows on poor things, in the following of their duty; though they have not much knowledge in religion, nor great experience, yet if they be faithful in the little, He helps them to be faithful in much. Ye know He says, 'Because thou hast been faithful in what I committed to thee, have thou rule over five cities.' I know that it is commonly reported, that they have not much grace, that adhere to this persecuted way; as I take in myself among them, who never had great gifts, nor parts, nor heart experience; yet He has told me, since I received the sentence of death by men who are the Lord's sword, that faithfulness in this juncture of time, in not denying His name, shall be an excuse for many infirmities. Among all the strong contenders, none get the prize but the sincere man, the resolute man, and they who are determined, as Esther was, to go, though it should cost them their life. And this is the time that the people of God should be at holding and drawing, rugging and riving [ie, earnestly struggling] ere the enemies of our Lord possess His crown, and bruik [i.e., enjoy] it with peace. And this I must add to these that are biassed: I shall be a dying witness against ministers and professors that made it their work to brand and clothe that faithful minister [i.e., Mr Richard Cameron] and martyr of Jesus Christ, with odious names and notorious lies, in calling him a Jesuit, and saying that he received the Pope's gold, and that he was a great favourite of the Duke of York, a declared papist; while I know, and many eminent Christians know, that he hated him as a limb of Satan ; and also they said, that the troopers had commission to pass him by rather than any man, even after the declaration came out; to give
5000 merks for him, dead or alive! Go and lie in the dust for what ye have said of him, and what ye have said of Mr Kid; I bless the Lord, that ever I saw his face, and that ever I heard him preach.
"3. Give me leave to say this much; I am afraid the apostacy of Scotland, the neutrality and formality that are among both ministers and professors, have shapen out this Church and land of Britain, in length and breadth, with the Church of Laodicea, whom the Lord. threatens to spue out of His mouth as a loathsome thing, and then He will have pleasure in His Zion. Yet ye see He is snedding down. [i.e., lopping off] a Guthrie, a Wellwood, a King, a Kid, a Brown, and a Cameron, and the like of a Henry Hall and a Robert Dick, that were contending for the truth, and for restoring the privileges of the Church. And these were counted disturbers of your sinful union with the enemies of the Lord! Lay it to heart; now their blood is shed for the cause, and ye are not free of it; but ye can wipe your mouth, and say ye are innocent! Remember that in the 50th Psalm and 18th verse, 'When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him.' And this the Lord hath seen, and kept silence; remember and mourn for it, lest He tear you in pieces when there is none to deliver. The court favour is too short a covering, it will not hide you; therefore, as a dying man, I warn you as from the Lord; consider your ways and your doings that have not been good, and cast yourselves out of the court favour, otherwise, I declare, ye shall not get the favour of God.
"4. If ye will set about some days of humiliation before the Lord, and take with you your sins and the sin of crying up this clatty [i.e., dirty] liberty, which is the price of blood; if ye will return unto the Lord, then return with all your heart; for He is merciful and gracious, and repents Him of the evil that He threatens, neither will He give way to His anger. He did so to me. I no sooner began to look to Him but He made me welcome, and put me to work, though I be but young, and know nothing. He was tender of me. He took me to Bothwell Bridge to own His cause; and I had many temptations to stay; what from my mother, and from one hand and another; but I durst not for my soul stay behind. I thought it my duty to join myself with that party against the Lord's enemies, and the Lord was good to me there, many ways. He covered my head in the day of battle, and suffered not one hair of my head to fall to the ground, and He suffered many, better than me a thousand times, to fall on all hands of me. So I thought then I held my life of Him;
and the Lord brought me to the Greyfriars Churchyard; though I came almost naked, yet He mounted me better than ever I was before with clothes, and wonderfully provided for me beyond many others. I bless the Lord, my mother's sickness did not keep me from Bothwell Bridge; and when I was in the Greyfriars Churchyard, I was threatened with death by the Justice-General, who swore a great oath that I should die if I would not take the Bond. I told him, as it was true, that many better than I had been hanged; but I was brought out of his hand, and the Lord took me to the sea, and did deliver me from the ragings thereof, when He suffered many better to lose their lives. And when He laid His hand upon me by sickness, He made me to be favoured by all my enemies. He healed me, and brought me home, and then He called me out to hear the Gospel, for which I desire to bless Him, and within a little while I shall praise Him for it. The Lord was so seen amongst His persecuted handful there, that He did engage me to join with them, who were hazarding their lives upon the fields for Him. I was at that late engagement [Airsmoss], and the Lord took some work off my hand there, and has brought me to this place this day to lay down my life for His sake. And this is the last combat I shall have. I shall work no more; I shall suffer no more; I shall fear no more; I shall sin no more. I must take my leave of you all, and so rest in His love. I go where all tears shall be wiped away; where the servant is made free from his master; to the land where the inhabitants shall not say they are sick.
"Now be not discouraged at the ways of God's providence to me, for I can assure you the cause is His own, and He will own it. For lo, thine enemies shall perish.' I would have every one of you seeking the favour of God, for ye will have ado with it at death and judgment. The greatest persecutor or malignant will have sore missing of His favour in that day. O seek Him in time! and the Lord help His poor young wrestling people well through their trials! The Lord help them to be faithful, and to endure to the end, for they have the promise of being saved. Join with His people, and cast in your lot with them, and do not stand on the other side; let His cause be your cause in weal and woe. O noble cause! O noble work! O noble heaven! O noble Christ, that makes it to be heaven! And He is the owner of the work. O noble Mediator of the new covenant! O noble Redeemer, who is powerful to help in time of need, and will help such as trust in Him! There was never one that trusted in Him
that came to loss. He made them aye up [i.e., always recompensed them] sometimes with an hundred-fold in this life, and heaven after. I lay down my life, not as an evil-doer, but as a sufferer for Christ. "I shall say no more, but a word or two. One is, anent that which some would be informed in; whether I took the Bond that was tendered to the prisoners [taken after Bothwell Bridge]? I acknowledge there was a supplication drawn up containing two articles; one was, craving the benefit of the Act of Indemnity, the second was, that I should not lift arms against the king or any lawful authority; but because it was not authority only, but lawful authority, it was not granted. And at that time there were pains taken by some persons of note, that persuaded men to take the Bond as it was tendered by the bloody Council. Indeed, it hath been a thing heavier than the sand to me, and hath made me groan. I think for that and for many other private failings the Lord did not give me His countenance. The Lord pardon, as I hope He will, that I should have put my hand to a pen, and blacked paper in that supplication; but for the Bond, I bless the Lord I did not subscribe it!
"The second thing I am reputed guilty of is, that I supplicated for a delay some short time, and that I called it rebellion that I was at Airsmoss. Indeed, I subscribed no such thing; but it was only this, that it might please them to grant us some more time, for we were in confusion, because of the shortness of the time. We desired some more time, that we might get our souls' case laid to heart, and our peace made with God through Jesus Christ.
"I shall say no more, but wish that ye would all seek repentance in time, before it be hid from your eyes. I recommend my spirit to Him that is able to save to the uttermost all that come to Him through Christ, and desire to take my leave of all created comforts. Farewell all relations; farewell world; farewell sin! Welcome Christ, welcome heaven, and glory for evermore!
JAMES SKENE was connected with the best families in Aberdeenshire; his brother's estate of Skene being in the parish of that name, about ten miles to the west of Aberdeen. His association with Richard Cameron is somewhat remarkable, as he came from a county, the stronghold of prelatic principles in the North, as is manifest from the strong expressions in his letters to Mr William Alexander and other of his friends. He was apprehended on the charge of being a hearer of Donald Cargill, at a time when he had no idea that even his name was known as one attached to the persecuted cause. Nothing could be brought against him, save what he himself said. He was sentenced to be hanged on the 24th November. He obtained a respite for eight days, but at its expiry was hanged at the Market Cross of Edinburgh, at the same time with John Potter and Archibald Stewart, whose testimonies follow.
Skene's testimony against the tyranny and illegal character of many of the acts of the Government is expressed in stronger language than almost any other in the volume. The compilers of the "Cloud," in a note, guard against taking his expressions in a wrong sense. Wodrow finds much fault with the compilers for publishing Skene's testimony at all; he fears lest its strong language may lead Papists and Prelatists to bespatter the Protestant religion and Presbyterians in general. But no one who now dispassionately reads Wodrow's own history will entertain such thoughts. Indeed the marvel is, that the sufferers were able to restrain their just indignation, and speak so calmly as they did.
The Hamilton Declaration, noticed by Skene, and repeatedly referred to throughout the volume, was one of the papers issued between the battle of Drumclog and that of Bothwell Bridge. It stated the reasons for continuing in arms. 1. The defence of the Protestant religion, as established by law and sworn to by all ranks in the Covenants, and more particularly the defending and maintaining the kingly authority of our Lord Jesus Christ over His church.