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matters were not right with him, and, learning that in the place where he lived there were some hearers of the persecuted Presbyterian ministers, he, though they were strangers to him, made bold to tell his case to one of their number. The result was, that he was taken to where he heard a sermon that left on his mind a conviction of the evil of his former courses. Henceforward he ceased to wait on the ministry of the curates. However, he soon found it prudent to flee into England, where he resided for sometime in Newcastle.
Here the oath of allegiance was tendered to him, which he refused, and he was thrown into prison. By some means or other he escaped, and got to Edinburgh, where, at a rigorous search, made in November 29, 1684, in consequence of the publication of the Apologetic Declaration against informers and intelligencers, he was apprehended. He was brought before the Council, and was speedily ensnared by the usual questions. The Council remitted him to the Lords of Justiciary.
His trial, along with that of nine others, took place on December 8th. Although it was impossible that he, and the others tried with him, could have had any share in the drawing up the Apologetic Declaration, they were indicted upon the charge, “that upon the 28th of October last bypast, they did emit a most barbarous and hellish proclamation."
The trial was continued till next day. In the course of the trial, six of the accused were dismissed on renouncing the Declaration, but Thomas Robertson, and George Jackson, and James Graham, whose testimonies follow in a later part of the volume, and Thomas Wood, were brought in guilty, and sentenced to be hanged that day, December 9, 1684, at the Gallowlee, betwixt two and five in the afternoon.
The Apologetic Declaration was the natural result of the cruel measures of the government. A "proclamation against rebels" had been issued July 22, 1684, in which the king is made to assert that the monarchy had devolved upon him by God alone, and at the same time all the sheriffs and subordinate officers of government are charged, when any of the persecuted appeared in their jurisdictions, to call together the lieges, to raise the hue and cry against them, and to pursue them until caught. On August 1, 1684, the officers of the army were empowered to call for and examine all persons as can give them information respecting the so-called rebels.
At the general meeting of the United Societies, in October 15, 1684, it was resolved, in order to warn informers of “ the wickedness of their way,” and to deter them from acting as spies, as well as to vindicate themselves from false charges, to issue a public declaration. James Renwick was commissioned to draw it up. It was published October 28, 1684, under the title of “ The Apologetic Declaration and Admonitory Vindication of the true Presbyterians of the Church of Scotland, especially anent Intelligencers and Informers." It will be found in Wodrow, and it forms part of the Informatory Vindication. It declares :
“ As we utterly detest and abhor that hellish principle of killing all who differ in judgment or persuasion from us, it having no bottom upon the Word of God or right reason; so we look upon it as a duty binding upon us to publish openly unto the world, that, forasmuch as we are firmly and really purposed not to injure or offend any whomsoever, but to pursue the end of our Covenants, in standing to the defence of our glorious work of Reformation and of our own lives; yet we do hereby declare unto all, that whosoever stretch forth their hands against us, while we are maintaining the cause and interest of Christ against His enemies, in defence of our covenanted Reformation, by shedding our blood . . . and all intelligencers, together with all such as raise the hue and cry after us ...
we say all and every one of such shall be reputed by us enemies to God and the covenanted work of Reformation, and punished as such according to our power and the degree of their offence.” To guard against individual efforts among their followers to take the law into their own hands, it is added, “ Finally, we do hereby declare that we abhor, condemn, and discharge any personal attempts upon any pretext whatsomever, without previous deliberation, common or competent consent, without certain probation by sufficient witnesses, the guilty persons' confession, or the notoriousness of the deeds themselves.”
It will be noticed that the testimony of Thomas Robertson is somewhat out of the chronological order that has been followed since that of David Hackston of Rathillet, page 39. This is the case also with the short account of John Dick, and the testimony of Thomas Harkness, and his fellow-sufferers. All, however, are within the year 1684.-Ed.]
HE LAST SPEECH and TESTIMONY of THOMAS
ROBERTSON, who lived at Newcastle, and was put in prison there, for refusing the oath of allegiance, and having made his escape thence to Edinburgh, was taken at a public search there, November 29, 1684, and suffered at the Gallowlee, the oth day of December thereafter.
“Now, DEAR FRIENDS,—Time seems to me to be but short; oh! now, welcome long eternity. It is, and has been the butt of my desire, this considerable time, to eye God's glory, and I preferred it to my own soul's salvation ; yet, when I heard my indictment, it had a strange effect upon me; and although death hath sometimes been my desire for the cause of Christ ; yet it seemed not a little terrible unto me, and that for the space of six or seven hours ; so that sometimes it had such a prevalency, that I was afraid I should have turned back; and I was so put to it, that I had nothing to hold by but former purposes and determinations; and from the consideration of Christ's faithfulness, I grappled like a man more than half-drowned. At last I got hold—a small hold of Him whom I could not see. And that small grip which I got through His mercy, I kept until I got more; so that now He has discovered Himself unto me, and He was pleased to stay, and make with me a new contract; so that now, through His grace, I am resolved not to let Him go, let the cost be what it will.
“Now, my friends, I say not this for the discouragement of any that is beginning to follow Christ, or any that is already begun; only I do it as a warning. I would fain have poor things to make sure work, and to get sure hold of Him; for although He seems to cover Himself, and that when poor things think they stand in most need, yet He will return unto them, in His own appointed time, and that for the greater advantage of them that are thus trysted [i.e., tried].
“Oh! for hearts to love Him! It hath been my great trouble, that I could never love Him much, nor fall upon the right way of worshipping Him. Oh! to have my soul soundly knit to Him. Oh! for strength. Oh! for strength to be carried straight and cleanly through, so that I may lose neither hair nor hoof of the truths of Christ. In so far as I am able to understand, it hath been my great care always to know what was sin, and what was duty. I think I have not been out of my duty in so doing ; and I think it is the duty of all persons to be concerned in that matter ; for how can persons know how to avoid the one, and cleave to the other, except they distinguish betwixt the two. Now, I shall say no more to that, but only, oh! that folk would make it a great part of their work, to distinguish betwixt the two.
“Now, I adhere to the covenant of redemption betwixt the Father and the Son, before the foundation of the world, for redemption of poor things that He has chosen out of the world. O! for love to Him! oh for love to Him! O! now to be with Him, that I may experience the benefit of that Covenant which cost Him His precious blood! And now, seeing He is calling me to give a testimony, I think, if every hair of my head were a man, it is all too little to lay down for Him. O for love to this nonsuch Jesus Christ !
“I adhere and leave my testimony to the Word of God, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, by which I must be judged ; for if we take any other way, we will be sure to go wrong, for the Spirit of God witnesseth with our spirits, that the Word of God is the only rule by which we ought to walk.
“I leave my testimony to the Work of Reformation, once glorious in our land; although, alas ! now defaced, and the hedge and government of Christ's house broken down; and the kingly office of Christ usurped by a cruel and blood-thirsty man, to whom I could wish repentance, if it were the will of God; and to all that associate and join with him ; but alas ! I think it is hid from their eyes.
“Now, I leave my testimony to the National and Solemn League and Covenant, Confession of Faith, Larger and Shorter Catechisms, Sum of Saving Knowledge, and the several parts of Reformation to this day of my death.
“ Also, I leave my testimony to all the faithful ambassadors, and sent servants of Jesus Christ, and to the preached Gospel itself; to Mr Donald Cargill, that worthy servant of Jesus Christ, who kept up the standard and banner of Jesus Christ, when the rest fled from Him, and the Lord's standard. Also, I leave my testimony to Mr James Renwick, as a faithfully and lawfully ordained and called servant of Jesus Christ.
"And I leave my testimony to all the testimonies of the faithful martyrs and witnesses of Jesus Christ, that have laid down their lives