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which were thrown over him, and prevented him from wielding his sword, and he was thus secured. His three companions were shot dead. John Nisbet was then, as is narrated in the account preceding his testimony, taken to Edinburgh, where he was examined before the Council.
He was tried, November 30th, and found guilty, and sentenced to be hanged at the Grassmarket, December 4th. He must have employed his time diligently during the four days that intervened between his sentence and his execution, for, besides the testimony in this volume, we have in our possession a MS. quarto volume, in the writing of John Howie, of Lochgoin, which contains another with the following title: "The Testimony of John Nisbet, who lived at Hard
in the parish of Loudon, from the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, 1685." It is about a third shorter than that given in the “Cloud.” Its closing sentences are
“Now, in all I have said, possibly some may mistake me, and say that I commend myself. But thus and thus I have said, to commend the goodness of God, with whom there is no respect of persons. For I can say, from long and sad experience, that of all that have been privileged to suffer for truth, I have been the most notorious sinner; and this I leave under my hand, when I am now within seven or eight hours to enter into eternity, that all may wonder and admire the condescension of free grace and rich love so freely bestowed upon me. To the commendation of His matchless goodness, He has passed by guiltiness and sin in me beyond many.
And now I shall shut up my time, and discourse with this. Let all wonder, admire, and praise Him for what he has done to me and for me.”
John Howie adds the following note :
“ N.B.---Let none doubt of the veracity of this testimony although it be not the same as to matter or method with that published first in quarto by his son--a soldier in the Castle of Edinburgh--and now in the Cloud of Witnesses, perhaps it might be either by him corrected and enlarged, or else wrote at a later time, as the one is more full on his own case, and the other less so.
(Signed), “ John Howie, Jany. 1776." Neither Wodrow nor the “Cloud” gives an account of his last hours. A quaintly-expressed and deeply-interesting narrative is appended to his life. It is
“An Appendix, related and attested by some of his intimate acquaintance, that were eye and ear witnesses to his martyrdom."
“ This valiant Christian, and faithful courageous martyr for truth, John Nisbet, in Hardhill, with whom we were for many years familiarly acquainted, was a strict observer of the Sabbath, a great examiner of the Scriptures, a great wrestler in prayer, reserved always as to his own case and soul's concernment; nor did many know how it was with him as to that, till he came to prison. Notwithstanding, he was always ready to contend for truth when it was opposed (which he usually termed precious), and had Scripture ready at all times to back what he spoke, either directly or by necessary consequence to the purpose in hand
“ After he wrote this his last speech, he was taken out immediately to the Council, and from that to the place of execution; all the way thither he had his eyes lifted up to heaven, his face shined visibly, he seemed to rejoice, but spoke little till he came to the scaffold. When he came there he jumped up on it, and cried out: My soul doth magnify the Lord, my soul doth magnify the Lord; I have longed these sixteen years to seal the precious cause and interest of precious Christ with my blood. And now, now He hath answered and granted my request, and has left me no more ado, but to come here and pour forth my last prayers, sing forth my last praise to Him in time on this sweet and desirable scaffold, mount that ladder, and then I shall quickly get home to my Father's house, see, enjoy, serve and sing forth the praises of my glorious Redeemer, for ever more, world without end.'
“ Then he resumed the heads of his last testimony to the truth, and enlarged upon what he owned and what he disowned. But drums were always caused be beat when he spoke to the people, which you are sure deprived us much of the satisfaction that otherwise we might have had; yet over this difficulty we heard him say: 'The covenanted God of Scotland hath a dreadful storm of wrath provided, which He will surely pour out suddenly and unexpectedly like a thunderbolt upon these covenanted lands, for their perfidy, treachery, and woeful apostacy; and then men shall say, They have won well away that got a scaffold for Christ.
“He exhorteď all to make much use of Christ for a hiding-place, for blood, blood, blood shall be the judgment of these lands. sang the first six verses of the 34th Psalm, and read the eighth to the Romans. He offered prayer with great presence of mind and very loud; but for noise of drums, as hath been said, we could not distinctly hear what he either spoke or prayed, except when his face was
toward the place where we stood, so that in such disturbing circumstances this is all of his scaffold speech that we could safely gather. He went up the ladder rejoicing and praising the Lord, which we all evidently saw.
“ Thus he died 4th December 1685, the fifty-eighth year of his age, with the full assurance of his interest in the ever-blessed Lord Jesus Christ; as also of the Lord's returning to this poor land to raise up the fallen tabernacle of David therein in a more remarkable
and manner than ever, which sight he saw afar off by faith, and rejoiced thereat."
His testimony, as given in the following pages, contains a very large amount of passages from Scripture. These passages seem merely to have been cited by him, but were printed at full length, when published by his son James, who issued in 1718“ A true relation of the life and sufferings of John Nisbet, in Hardhill." It was reprinted in 1847, in the second volume of “Select Biographies," edited for the Wodrow Society, by the late Rev. W. K. Tweedie, D.D., Edinburgh. In substance it is given in the following pages. John Howie has given him a place among the Scots Worthies, and from tradition and manuscript sources, has told some facts not to be found elsewhere.- ED.)
N the 4th of December 1685, suffered John Nisbet, in Hard
hill, in the parish of Loudon, whose testimony, though it be
extant, could not be found by the publishers of these speeches; only that the memory of so eminent a martyr be not buried, take this short relation, which is all the account they could find concerning his sufferings. [In the fourth edition of 1741, John Nisbet's testimony is inserted with the following note: “ The testimony of this martyr is now come to the hands of the publisher of this edition, and is inserted in its proper place, immediately after this account.”—ED.)
About the year 1664, he, having received the sacrament of baptism to his child, from one of the outed ministers (John Blackader], came to be troubled by the enemies on that account, and the curate declared out of the pulpit his purpose to excommunicate him the next Lord's day, but was prevented by sudden death. When that handful of the Lord's people renewed the Covenants at Lanark, and
appeared in arms at Pentland Hills, he engaged in the covenant with them, and was sore wounded in the fight, insomuch that he was left for dead. But by God's goodness he recovered, and all alongst testified against the abominations of Prelacy, Supremacy, Arbitrary Government, and Indulgence, till the rising in arms at Bothwell, where he did good service, being not only a zealous Christian, but a courageous soldier. After this the enemies seized all his goods, expelled his wife and four small children from house and hold, and offered a large sum of money for himself; but the Lord preserved him, while He had work for him.
He was a close follower of the Gospel faithfully preached in the fields; was kept steadfast in the truth from extremes on right or left hand; and was assistant in publishing the declarations for truth, emitted during that time.
At length, in November 1685, being in a poor man's house in the parish of Fenwick, with other three, after he was sore wounded, he was taken by Lieutenant Nisbet, the other three being shot dead on the spot. The lieutenant having caused tie him, asked, 'What he thought of himself now?' He answered, “I think as much of Christ and His cause, for which I suffer, as ever, but I judge myself at a loss, being in time, and my dear brethren in eternity, whom you have unjustly murdered.' The bloody wretch swore that he had reserved him for a further judgment. He answered, “If the Lord stand by me, and help me to be faithful to the death, I care not what piece of suffering I be put to endure.'
He was carried first to Kilmarnock, from thence to Ayr next morning, and being brought back to Kilmarnock again, was thence transported to Edinburgh, where, being brought before the Council by the foresaid Lieutenant Nisbet, who demanded his money for him they interrogated him to this effect.
Q. Were you at that conventicle? (naming time and place). " A. Yes.
Q. How many men and arms were there?
“ A. I went there to hear the Gospel preached, and not to take an account of what men and arms were there.
“Q. Which way went ye when the preaching was done ? “ A. Which way we could best think of, to escape your cruelty.
Q. Where keep ye your General Meetings, and what do you at them ?
“ While he was about to answer, one of the Councillors inter
rupted him, telling in his fashion what was done at such General Meetings, and that there was one of them kept at Edinburgh, and asked the prisoner if he was there? who answered, No.
“ Then they said to him, We hope you are so much of a Christian, as to pray for the king. He answered, Prayer being a holy ordinance of God, we ought to pray for kings as well as others, but not when every profligate bids us.
'Q. Do you own the king as sole sovereign ?
“ A. He being Popish, and that from his youth, and I a Protestant of the Presbyterian covenanted persuasion, I neither can nor will own him, while he remains such.
Whereupon, incontinent [i.e., forthwith], without further process, they passed sentence upon him, which he received not only with Christian submission, but with much thankfulness, blessing and praising his God, who had counted him worthy to suffer for His
And during the time of his imprisonment he was wonderfully assisted and graciously supported of the Lord under his cross, having both assurance of the pardon of his sins, and his peace with God, and also a firm persuasion of the justness of the cause and work to which he adhered, and for which he was put to such sufferings. Besides the seven wounds which he received when he was apprehended, he had a merciless weight of irons upon him, during the whole time of his imprisonment.
In his testimony he invites and exhorts all to embrace the cross, encouraging them by his own sweet experience of God's presence under it, declares his adherence to all the truths contained in the Word of God, summed up in the Confession of Faith, sworn to in the Covenants, and sealed with the blood and faithful testimonies of former martyrs, and, among others then controverted, to the “Method of transmitting a Testimony," taken by the reverend Mr James Renwick, and the suffering remnant. He manifests his detestation of all the courses of defection, and witnesses against all the wrongs done to Jesus Christ, either in His cause or in His members ; and particularly bears testimony against the Earl of Argyle's misstating the quarrel in his Declaration, and his too lax and promiscuous admitting of all sorts into his army. He concludes with a solemn farewell to the world, and recommendation of his soul into the hands of God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
The above narrative was transmitted by one of his nearest relations, who had full knowledge of the whole matter.