Monday, 5 June 2017

James Renwick, a Covenanter

A few years ago, I was blessed to receive a packet of blessings in the post from my dear sister in Christ. In it was a booklet called "Covenanters Call Back", a glimpse into the lives of the saints who died for their faith in Christ, in Scotland during the 17th century, 

Here is a tiny taster of the book, and a solemn reminder of the price that was paid by the courageous ones who were not ashamed to call Christ their own in a less comfortable and "tolerant" era.

David Hackston
From Rathillet in the parish of Kilmany in Fife, came David Hackston, a stranger to grace and to God, until in his youth he went up into the hills to hear the homeless, wandering preachers tell forth the good news of the blessed gospel.
Not long after, he experienced forgiveness through the Blood of His cross and took his place among the persecuted people of God.

James Renwick

Although poor, his parents succeeded in providing him with an education, both at school and at university in Edinburgh. 
Chosen to go abroad to study for the ministry, his life made a great impression on those who knew him, and after ordination, he went back to the homeland he loved.
Never strong in body, he laboured incessantly in the work of his Master.
His life was constantly in danger, with government troops pursuing him all over southern Scotland, forcing him to hide in caves, huts and wherever he could find shelter.
On 17th February, 1688 at 26 years of age, this trustworthy and true servant of Christ sealed his testimony and his ministry with his blood. He was among the Christians executed publicly for their faith, and the struggle for religious freedom.

There are many short accounts in this little booklet by M McBride, if anyone is interested, please leave a comment and I will give the address where a copy can be requested.

I was very interested in these individuals as I read the brief accounts in this great little booklet, so I looked further into this faithful characters. 

James was born in 1662 in Dumfriesshire, and went on to religious studies at the University of Edinburgh. Aged 21 he witnessed the martyr of several Covenanters, including that of Donald Cargill, who was a Minister to the Covenanters movement. Leaving a huge impression on young James, he joined the society and traveled to the Netherlands with four others to further study the scriptures and receive his ordination. 

Aged 23, he was back in Scotland preaching his first sermon, and spent the next five years travelling and ministering in his native land, trying not to get caught. The persecution grew worse and worse, with many Covenanters being executed, both young and old between 1685 and 1688. This time is know as the Killing Times. 

Renwick kept on preaching but was finally caught in January 1688. When the captain of the troops that caught him saw how young he was, he said “What! Is this the boy Renwick that the nation has been so much troubled with?” On the day of his execution, some people tried to get Renwick to pray for the king. But he replied, “I am within a little while to appear before Him who is King of kings, and Lord of lords, who shall pour shame, contempt, and confusion upon all the kings of the earth who have not ruled for him”. 

His last words were, “Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit, for thou hast redeemed me, Lord God of truth.” He was then hanged in the Grassmarket in Edinburgh – the last Covenanter martyr to be publicly executed. The date was 17 February 1688 – 3 days after his twenty-sixth birthday.

Grass Market today, with memorial stone marking the gallows where over 100 Covenanters resisted not death by public hanging.


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