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Life Sketches from Scottish History of Brief Biographies of the Scottish Presbyterian Worthies
James Renwick

After all others had ceased to hold field-meetings, contented with the liberty they enjoyed, or unwilling to expose their people to almost certain destruction by an unequal war with the royal forces, one individual alone continued to outbrave the government by persevering in the practice. This was Mr. James Renwick. Rom of poor but pious parents, he was early devoted to the work of the ministry, and after finishing his course at the university, he went abroad, and received licence in the United Provinces. In September 1683, he returned to Scotland, and joining himself to the society-people, became their minister. With the ardour of youth, and the zeal of a martyr, he entered into all the extreme measures of his party; he penned the Sanquhar declaration, and preached with great keenness against all who accepted the various indulgences and tolerations of the period. It may be easily conceived that such a character would be obnoxious to the government. Young as he was, they thirsted for his blood, and set a high price upon his head. After a variety of hair-breadth escapes, he was at last apprehended in the beginning of February 1688. When brought before the Council, he boldly avowed his principles, disowning the authority of the king, and acknowledging that he taught his people that it was unlawful to pay cess, and lawful to come in arms to the field-meetings, to defend themselves against the king’s forces. The Council, struck with his ingenuousness and extreme youth, employed various methods to induce him to qualify or retract these sentiments, but in vain. He stood firm, and was brought to the scaffold. There he displayed the same noble intrepidity of mind, mingled -with a spirit of cheerful and elevated devotion. “Lord,” he said in his last prayer, “I die in the faith that thou wilt not leave Scotland, but that thou wilt make the blood of thy witnesses to be the seed of thy church, and return again and be glorious in this land. Now, Lord, I am ready; the bride, the Lamb’s wife, hath made herself ready.” He died, February 18, 1688, in the twenty-sixth }rear of his age.

We are told that “the drums beat all the time, from his first ascending the scaffold, till he was cast over, without intermission.” 'The government were too conscious of the injustice of their cause, and too much afraid of the impression likely to be produced by the home truths which came from the lips of this faithful witness, to allow him to be heard. But they failed to stifle his testimony; and his death may be said to have sealed their doom. He was the last that suffered martyrdom in Scotland.


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