Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

a day or two. He then grew pensive, and being asked the reason, he answered, "What do I differ from a dead man? Hitherto God hath used my labours for the instruction of others, and to the disclosing of darkness; and now I lurk as a man ashamed to show his face." His friends perceived that his desire was to preach, whereupon they said to him, "It is most comfortable for us to hear you, but because we know the danger wherein you stand, we dare not desire it." He re plied, "If you dare hear, let God provide for me as best pleaseth him;" after which it was concluded, that the next day he should preach in Leith. His text was from the parable of the sower, Matt. xiii. The sermon ended, the gentlemen of Lothian, who were earnest professors of Jesus Christ, would not suffer him to stay at Leith, because the governor and cardinal were shortly to come to Edinburgh; but took him along with them; and he preached at Branstone, Longniddry and Ormistone. He also preached at Inveresk, near Muselburg: he had a great concourse of people, and amongst them Sir George Douglas, who after sermon said publicly, "I know that the governor and cardinal will hear that I have been at this sermon; but let them know that I will avow it, and will maintain both the doctrine and the preacher, to the uttermost of my power."

Among others that came to hear him preach, there were two grayfriars, who, standing at the church door, whispered to such as came in; which Wishart observing, said to the people, "I pray you make room for these two men, it may be they come to learn ;" and turning to them, he said, "Come near, for I assure you, you shall hear the word of truth, which this day shall seal up to you either your salvation or damnation;" after which he proceeded in his sermon, supposing that they would be quiet; but when he perceived that they still continued to disturb the people who stood near them, he said to them the second time, with an angry countenance, "O ministers of Satan, and deceivers of the souls of men, will ye neither hear God's truth yourselves, nor suffer others to hear it? Depart, and take this for your portion; God shall shortly confound and disclose your hypocrisy within this kingdom; ye shall be abominable to men, and your places and habitations shall be desolate." He spoke this with much vehemency; then turning to the people, said, "These men have provoked the spirit of God to anger;" after which he proceeded in his sermon, highly to the satisfaction of his hearers.

From hence he went and preached at Branstone, Languedine, Or mistone, and Inveresk, where he was followed by a great concourse of people. He preached also in many other places, the people flocking after him; and in all his sermons he foretold the shortness of the time he had to travel, and the near approach of his death. When he came to Haddington, his auditory began much to decrease, which was thought to happen through the influence of the earl of Bothwell, who was moved to oppose him at the instigation of the cardinal. Soon after this, as he was going to church, he received a letter from the west country gentlemen, which having read, he called John Knox, who had diligently waited on him since his arrival at Lothian; to whom he said, "He was weary of the world, because he saw that men began to be weary of God: for," said he, "the gentlemen of the west have sent me word, that they cannot keep their meeting at Edinburgh."

Knox. wondering he should enter into conference about these

[graphic][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small]

things, immediately before his sermon, contrary to his usual custom, said to him, "Sir, sermon time approaches; I will leave you for the present to your meditations."

Wishart's sad countenance declared the grief of his mind. At length he went into the pulpit, and his auditory being very small, he introduced his sermon with the following exclamation: "O Lord! how long shall it be, that thy holy word shall be despised, and men shall not regard their own salvation? I have heard of thee, O Haddington, that in thee there used to be two or three thousand persons at a vain and wicked play; and now, to hear the messenger of the eternal God, of all the parish, can scarce be numbered one hundred present. Sore and fearful shall be the plagues that shall ensue upon this thy contempt. With fire and sword shalt thou be plagued; yea, thou Haddington in special, strangers shall possess thee; and ye, the present inhabitants, shall either in bondage serve your enemies, or else ye shall be chased from your own habitations; and that because ye have not known, nor will know, the time of your visitation."

This prediction was, in a great measure, accomplished not long after, when the English took Haddington, made it a garrison, and forced many of the inhabitants to flee. Soon after this, a dreadful plague broke out in the town, of which such numbers died, that the place became almost depopulated.

Cardinal Beaton, being informed that Wishart was at the house of Mr. Cockburn of Ormiston, in East-Lothian, applied to the regent to cause him to be apprehended; with which, after great persuasion, and much against his will, he complied.

The earl accordingly went, with proper attendants to the house of Mr. Cockburn, which he beset about midnight. The master of the house, being greatly alarmed, put himself in a posture of defence, when the earl told him that it was in vain to resist, for the governor and cardinal were within a mile, with a great power; but if he would deliver Wishart to him, he would promise, upon his honour, that he should be safe, and that the cardinal should not hurt him. Wishart said, "Open the gates, the will of God be done;" and Bothwell coming in, Wishart said to him, "I praise my God, that so honourable a man as you, my lord, receive me this night; for I am persuaded that for your honour's sake you will suffer nothing be done to me but by order of law: I less fear to die openly, than secretly to be murdered." Bothwell replied, "I will not only preserve your body from all violence that shall be intended against you without order of law; but I also promise, in the presence of these gentlemen, that neither the governor nor cardinal shall have their will of you; but I will keep you in my own house, till I either set you free, or restore you to the same place where I receive you." Then said Mr. Cockburn, "My lord, if you make good your promise, which we presume you will, we ourselves will not only serve you, but we will procure all the professors in Lothian to do the same."

This agreement being made, Mr. Wishart was delivered into the hands of the earl, who immediately conducted him to Edinburgh.

As soon as the earl arrived at that place, he was sent for by the queen, who being an inveterate enemy to Wishart, prevailed on the earl (notwithstanding the promises he had made) to commit him a prisoner to the castle.

The cardinal being informed of Wishart's situation, went to Edin burgh, and immediately caused him to be removed from thence to the castle of St. Andrew's.

The inveterate and persecuting prelate, having now got our martyr fully at his own disposal, resolved to proceed immediately to try him as a heretic: for which purpose he assembled the prelates at St. Andrew's church, on the 27th of February, 1546.

At this meeting, the archbishop of Glasgow gave it as his opinion, that application should be made to the regent, to grant a commission to some noblemen to try the prisoner, that all the odium of putting so popular a man to death might not lie on the clergy.

66

To this the cardinal readily agreed; but upon sending to the regent, he received the following answer: that he would do well not to precipitate this man's trial, but delay it until his coming; for as to himself, he would not consent to his death before the cause was very well examined; and if the cardinal should do otherwise, he would make protestation, that the blood of this man should be required at his hands."

The cardinal was extremely chagrined at this message from the regent; however, he determined to proceed in the bloody business he had undertaken; and therefore sent the regent word, "That he had not written to him about this matter, as supposing himself to be any way dependant upon his authority, but from a desire that the prosecution and conviction of heretics might have a show of public consent; which, since he could not this way obtain, he would proceed in that way which to him appeared the most proper."

In consequence of this, the cardinal immediately proceeded to the trial of Wishart, against whom no less than eighteen articles were exhibited, which were, in substance, as follows:

That he had despised the "holy mother-church;" had deceived the people; had ridiculed the mass; had preached against the sacraments, saying that there were not seven, but two only, viz. baptism and the supper of the Lord; had preached against confession to a priest; had denied transubstantiation and the necessity of extreme unction; would not admit the authority of the pope or the councils; allowed the eating of flesh on Friday; condemned prayers to saints; spoke against the vows of monks, &c. saying, that "whoever was bound to such vows, had vowed themselves to the state of damnation, and that it was lawful for priests to marry;" that he had said, “it was in vain to build costly churches to the honour of God, seeing that he remained not in churches made with men's hands; nor yet could God be in so small a space as between the priest's hands;"-and, finally, that he had avowed his disbelief of purgatory, and had said, "the soul of man should sleep till the last day, and should not obtain immortal life till that time."

Mr. Wishart answered these respective articles with great composure of mind, and in so learned and clear a manner, as greatly surprised most of those who were present.

A bigoted priest, named Lauder, at the instigation of the archbishop, not only heaped a load of curses on him, but treated him with the most barbarous contempt, calling him "runagate, false heretic, traitor, and thief;" and not satisfied with that, spit in his face, and otherwise maltreated him.

« ZurückWeiter »