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death there was published a poem of thirty-two pages, entitled, “Meditations upon the love of Christ, in the redemption of elect sinners, written by the truly worthy, learned, and eminently religious Mr Hugh Clark, sometime before his death, which was on the 15th day of February 1724, and of his age the 36th year.” Some of its lines are not without merit, and point him out to be the author of the “Encomium" following the Preface to the Reader in this volume, and possibly to have been concerned in writing the latter part of the Preface, and, it may be, some of the epitaphs on the gravestones of the martyrs.
A paragraph taken at random from the “Meditations” will sufficiently show his powers :
“O saints who share His love, in Him be glad,
Who loved you, ere you a being had !
In a note to his "Vindiciæ Magistratus," Edinburgh, 1773, P. 152, the Rev. John Thorburn, minister of the Reformed Presbyterian congregation of Pentland from 1762 to 1788, says that "the Testimonies were given to Messrs Marshall and Clark, to be copied out fair for the press, and to be sent to John M‘Main, A.M., teacher of a grammar school at Liberton's Wyndfoot, Edinburgh, who, it is very probable, was the writer of the Preface ; or, at least, it behoved to be the work of one or other of these three.”
John M‘Main, by the freedom of some strictures he had made upon the ministers of the Established Church, so provoked the Presbytery of Edinburgh, that they summoned him to appear before them, 29th November 1721, to answer for presuming at his own hand to keep a school within the city of Edinburgh, without license or warrant given him from any in authority. M'Main published his answer to the summons, in which, as might be expected, he has the better of the Presbytery. In 1724 he published Alexander Shields' life of James Renwick. In the preface he takes Wodrow to task for his not very favourable reflections on some of the martyrs whose testimonies are given in the “Cloud.” In both the answer to the Presbytery and the preface to Renwick's life, there seem evident traces of the vigorous pen that wrote the Preface to the “ Cloud,” and it goes far to justify the probability of the opinion, that, to a large extent, it was his production. But, whoever drew it up, it is a comprehensive and masterly statement of the lawful and Scriptural character of the contendings of the martyrs, and is written with a calmness, an earnestness, and catholicity of tone, and a power of expression, that reflect the highest credit upon its authors.
The Preface makes it unnecessary that the aim of the “Cloud of Witnesses” should be here stated. It may be enough to say that the position taken up in these testimonies towards the government of the time, which has often been much excepted to, was simply an anticipation, by some years, of what the estates of the kingdom of Scotland at their meeting in the spring of 1689 found and declared, ---"That king James the seventh being a professed Papist, did assume the regal power and acted as king without ever taking the oath required by law, and hath by the advice of evil and wicked counsellors invaded the fundamental constitution of the kingdom, and altered it from a legal limited monarchy to an arbitrary despotic power, and hath exercised the same, to the subversion of the Protestant religion and the violation of the laws and liberties of the kingdom, inverting all the ends of government, whereby he hath forfeited the right to the crown, and the throne is become vacant;" while the testimonies themselves were the voice of liberty, at a time when freedom was denied to the press, when the right of meeting in public was taken away, and when to utter an opinion different from the government was enough to expose to torture and death in its most cruel form. Hence the occasional sternness of the language in which they are clothed. The enemies of liberty compelled the martyrs to cast aside honeyed words, and to express themselves in strong terms.
This edition has been reprinted from the first. Great pains have been taken to ensure correctness. When difficulty has arisen, the fourth and fifth editions, which seem to have been printed with unusual care, have been referred to. No change, save in the spelling and manifest misprints, has been made in the text. Scotch or unusual words have been retained, and their signification given within brackets. Notes-historical, where such were required to elucidate the text; or biographical, when they could lend additional interest to the lives under review_have been added, wherever there seemed occasion for them. In some cases, these notes have been derived from the traditions of the localities where the martyrs lived or suffered; but mainly they have been drawn from the pamphlets of the period, and the writings of the Rev. Robert Wodrow, and Patrick Walker.
Wodrow was minister of Eastwood, in Renfrewshire, and died in 1734, in the fifty-fifth year of his age, and thirty-first of his ministry. The first volume of his “ History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland from 1660 to 1688 ” appeared in 1721, and the second in the following year. Its materials had been sent to him from all parts of the country, and he had been employed for about eight years in their arrangement. The book was folio, and the subscription price two guineas, yet there were 650 subscribers. Although it has no graces of style, it was immediately successful, and by almost all parties was felt to be a great work. The Jacobites smarted under its statement of the tyranny and cruelty of their idols, and did their utmost to depreciate its value, but their labours were in vain. Its voluminous collection of facts illustrative of the sufferings of the Presbyterians under Charles II. and James II. might be parodied, but their truth could not be denied. A very different class from the Jacobites found fault with the “History.” The Societies-the compilers of the “Cloud of Witnesses "—took exception to the manner in which he spoke of James Renwick and others for declining to take advantage of the Indulgence, or to associate with the indulged ministers. But they did not challenge its statements of facts. It was simply the historian's inferences or reflections that they called in question. Wodrow's father had accepted the Indulgence, and many of his friends were in the same position. These friendships manifestly biassed the historian's judgment.
Patrick Walker was a prisoner in Dunottar for some months, and when brought to Leith for further trial, made his escape from the Tolbooth. He took a prominent part in the Societies at the Revolution on their presenting a statement of grievances to the government, but he soon afterwards withdrew from their association. When he published his “Some Remarkable Passages of the Life and Death of Mr John Semple, Mr John Welwood, Mr Richard Cameron, Mr Alexander Peden, Mr Donald Cargill, and Mr Walter Smith," in 1727 and 1728, he seems to have been a chapman, and to have had a house in Fdinburgh "within Bristo Port, opposite the Society gate." His “Passages” are a curious farrago of matter; but it is not difficult to pick out what must really have happened under his own eye, or that of trustworthy witnesses; and these narratives are often of interest and value as corroborative of the “Cloud of Witnesses" and Wodrow.
Of the martyrs' graves whose inscriptions are given in the Appendix, we have visited the greater number, and have been able to add to those contained in the first edition a goodly number of others, scattered about in various parts of the country. Of the original forty-six there is only one, that of Andrew M'Gill at the Gallows of Ayr, which we have been unable at this date to find. In visiting these graves it is impossible not to feel how much their present condition is due to a man whom the creative genius of Sir Walter Scott has immortalised-Robert Paterson, "Old Mortality." All over the south-west of Scotland his work is seen in the deeply graven letters, cut evidently by no hireling hand, but by a workman determined, that, so far as deep lettering would perpetuate the names of the witnesses for Christ's Crown and Covenant, until a generation should arise that would reverence their memory, it should be done by him. And he has succeeded. The indifference characteristic of the end of last century, and the beginning of this, to the memory of the martyrs in Scotland has passed away.
Of all the martyrs' monuments or gravestones that we have visited, we have not found one (with the single exception of that at Magus Moor) but what is in excellent preservation, or in the course of being restored, or a new stone being placed alongside of that which had become illegible by age. On inquiry we have always learned that the inhabitants of the districts where they are, irrespective of denomination, have vied with each other to keep them in proper repair. The graves themselves seem, with few exceptions, to have been undisturbed, and they may be often detected by their being considerably lower than the surrounding ground, which has risen up by many interments since. This is nowhere more strikingly seen than in the Greyfriars Churchyard in Edinburgh.
JOHN HENDERSON THOMSON.
EAGLESHAM, September 1871.
HRISTIAN READER, the glorious frame and contriv
ance of religion, revealed by the ever-blessed Jehovah in the face or person of Jesus Christ, for the recovery of lost mankind into a state of favour and reconcilement with Himself, is so excellently ordered in the counsels of Infinite Wisdom, and exactly adjusted to the real delight, contentment, and happiness of the
rational world ; that it might justly be wondered why so many men in all ages, otherwise of good intellectuals, have not only had a secret disgust thereat themselves, but laboured to rob others of the comfort and benefit of it, and make the world a chaos of confusion by persecutions raised against it; had not the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures laid open the hidden springs of this malice and enmity, which exerts itself in so many of the children of men.
We are told in these Divinely inspired writings, that the first source of this opposition that the true religion meets with in the world, flows originally from Satan, that inveterate enemy of God's glory and man's happiness; who, having himself left his original state of obedience to, and enjoyment of God his creator, hath no other levamen of his inevitable miseries, but to draw the race of mankind into the like