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way whatsomever under pain of being esteemed art and part with him in the crimes foresaid, and pursued therefore with all rigour to the terror of others. And we hereby require all our Sheriffs to apprehend and commit to prison, the person of the said Mr James Renwick wherever they can find or apprehend him.”
Renwick and the Societies answered the Letters of Intercommuning by the Apologetic Declaration. The Government rejoined by a proclamation, characterised by the same wild fury of expression as the Letters of Intercommuning, in which the Societies are styled insolent and desperate rebels, and the Declaration execrable and treasonable. At the same time, sterner and more relentless measures than ever were taken to suppress the meetings of the Societies, and to seize the persons of their members. The Lords of the Privy Council asked the opinion of the Court of Session whether an owning of the Apologetic Declaration was an act of treason, and received as answer that it was. Fortified by this answer, it was resolved that all who owned, or would not disown, the Apologetic Declaration, whether they had arms or not, should be immediately put to death, wherever persons holding the commission of the Council might find them; provided two witnesses were present. The result of these steps was that of all the twenty-eight years of persecution, 1685 was the most terrible and most marked by the cruelty of the persecutor. Renwick himself had many a hairbreadth escape, yet none of his meetings was ever surprised by the emissaries of Government; and persecution had no other effect upon him than to strengthen his conviction that the work he was engaged in was the Lord's. And by the grace and goodness of God, says his biographer and companion in tribulation, Alexander Shields, he was still more animated and enlarged in spirit, and enabled in body to increase his diligence in preaching, baptising, and examining every week once at least; which had such success, that a great and effectual door was opened to the bringing in of many to Christ, out of ignorance and darkness of nature, and bringing back many from the times' sins and compliances, and calling out such multitudes, flocking after the persecuted Gospel ordinances in the open fields, that it was impossible for him to answer all the calls he received from all parts to preach to them.
At the nineteenth general meeting of the Societies, held May 28, 1685, at Blackgannoch, on the Spango Water, in the parish of Kirkconnel, the second Sanquhar Declaration was agreed upon.
Immediately after the meeting, about two hundred and twenty
men drew up in arms, and marched to Sanquhar, five miles to the south of Blackgannoch, where, after a psalm and prayer by Renwick, the Declaration was published, and a copy left on the Cross. The Declaration is manifestly from the pen of Renwick, and is a well expressed vindication of the Societies from the charge of encourageing assassination brought against them by their enemies, as well as a protestation against the illegality of the Duke of York, a professed Papist, ascending the throne as James II. Defiant as was this Declaration, the Government found it most prudent to take no notice of it. They evidently felt that the less said about the religion of the new king the better.
But the misrepresentations of Renwick and the Societies by their enemies did not cease. The failure of the Earl of Argyle's enterprise, which Renwick had refused to join until its aims were stated more in harmony with the principles he had been accustomed to maintain, increased the numbers of those who misrepresented him, but his usual answer, when told of their misrepresentations was, "I will not say so of them," while he charged his friends not to contend with such weapons, and to have a care not to render railing for railing. Slanders, too, rose up among the members of the Societies, but he pursued his course undeterred by all that might be said against him.
In December 1686, a reward of £100 sterling was offered to any one who should bring in James Renwick dead or alive, but it had no effect in leading any of his followers to betray him.
In 1687, three successive proclamations were issued, allowing Presbyterians to meet in their private houses for worship and preaching, but field meetings were strictly forbidden. The object of Government in these proclamations was to prepare the way for the legal toleration of Popery. Many, however, took advantage of these proclamations, and some ministers went so far as, in rather a fulsome manner, to thank the Government for the fettered permission afforded them to preach. Renwick drew up an answer to the proclamations, came into Edinburgh, January 1688, and gave a copy of it to Mr Hugh Kennedy, then indulged minister in Edinburgh, to be communicated to the rest of his brethren. From Edinburgh he went to Fife, where he preached in several places, and for the last time at Borrowstounness on January 29. Notes of a sermon preached on January 24, from Ps. xlv. 10: "Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine eye; forget also thine own people and thy father's
house," of a second, preached January 27 from Luke xii. 32: "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom,' and of his last sermon, from Isaiah liii. 1 : "Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed," are in Wilson's collection. They are obviously not so well reported as the notes of his first sermon, but they are full enough to show the expository, the evangelical, and earnest character of his preaching up to his last days. If there be any change in these later sermons from the first, it is to the better, for they present more exhaustively the lessons taught in the text.
He returned to Edinburgh, January 31. He lodged in the Castle Hill, at the head of the Bow, in the house of a friend, John Lookup, near where Free St John's Church now stands. The house was that of a trader in what were called "uncustomed goods from England," a profession in that age, from the character of the men then in power, by no means looked upon with disfavour by patriotic Scotsmen. An excise officer on the watch for contraband goods heard family prayer in the house, and suspected the voice was that of Renwick. He had the house surrounded next morning about daybreak. An entrance was soon made, when the excise officer exclaimed, "My life for it, this is Mr Renwick," and declared that all within must go to the guardhouse, to show what trade they were of. Renwick rejoined, “I
shall soon show you what is my trade."
The excise officer now went out to the street and called for assistance to carry the dog Renwick to the guardhouse. Meanwhile Renwick, with two friends in the house, tried to escape by another door, but it was found watched by the excise officers, and when one of the two sought to break through he was driven back. At this Renwick fired a pistol, which at once opened a way for himself and friends, but as they went out he received a blow from a staff that partly stunned him, and made him fall once or twice as he ran down the Castle Wynd towards the head of the Cowgate, where he lost his hat. By his falls the pursuers gained on him, and the loss of his hat marked him out, so that he was soon caught by a person on the street, but his two friends made their escape. He was taken to the guardhouse, and put in irons by the order of a committee of Council. He was examined on February 3. He himself has given an account of his examination in a letter contained in the Collection of his Letters, (Letter lx.) When he was searched, his pocket-book was taken from him, but it contained nothing but a few names in full, as many more
in the first letter only, and notes of two sermons which he had preached January 18, at the Braid Craigs, two miles south from Edinburgh, at a place still pointed out. These names, as their owners were out of danger, he readily explained.
On February 3, he received his indictment, which will be found in full in Wodrow. He was tried Wednesday, February 8, and was sentenced to be executed the following Friday. The Lord Justice General, Earl of Linlithgow, asked him if he desired longer time. He replied it was all one to him; if it was protracted it was welcome, if shortened it was welcome; his Master's time was the best time. Without his knowledge, however, the day of execution was delayed for another week.
During this week his friends were forbidden to see him, and every effort was made by the government to get him to petition for a reprieve. Writing materials were taken from him, but he managed to write the testimony and letter that follow. On the morning of execution he wrote a short letter to his dear friend Sir Robert Hamilton, full of faith and confidence. He says, "I go to your God and my God. Death to me is as a bed to the weary. Now, be not anxious, the Lord will maintain His cause and own His people; He will show His glory yet in Scotland; farewell." The compilers of the "Cloud" have given a short account of his last words, to which we have added Alexander Shields' narrative of what he said just before he was executed. He was buried in the Greyfriars Churchyard. A monument was erected to his memory in 1828, at Moniaive, near the farmhouse where tradition says he was born.
In 1687, James Renwick, in conjunction with Alexander Shields, drew up the only work ever published by him: "An Informatory Vindication of a Poor, Wasted, Misrepresented Remnant of the Suffering, Anti-popish, Anti-prelatic, Anti-erastian, Anti-sectarian, true Presbyterian Church of Christ in Scotland; United together in a General Correspondence; By way of Reply to various Accusations in Letters, Informations, and Conferences given forth against them." The first eighteen, or perhaps the first thirty, of its 108 pages bear traces of Alexander Shields, but the rest is evidently from Renwick himself. It is much to be regretted that the "Informatory Vindication" should be so little known, as its ability, its catholicity, and its terseness and clearness of statement make it one of the most readable documents of that age, and altogether worthy of its title. No one who reads it dispassionately, but will feel that a Government
that could put to death the author of such a document, for no other crime than the avowal of its opinions, was deservedly overthrown in the Revolution of 1688.
In 1724 John M‘Main, M.A., schoolmaster at Liberton's Wynd, published, in an 18mo volume of 248 pages, Alexander Shields' Life of Renwick. Shields finished it in September 1688, but it had lain in manuscript till it came into M'Main's hand. M'Main has added to it a preface of forty pages, in which he takes exception to Wodrow's history for doing scant justice to the sufferers whose testimonies are given in the "Cloud." Shields' Life contains more of characteristic declamation against the tyranny of the time than narrative. Nevertheless, it is one that the reader will be grateful for, and no doubt wish that we possessed similar lives of more than one of the sufferers of that age.
In 1748 William Wilson published two 18mo volumes, with the title, "A choice Collection of very valuable Prefaces, Lectures, and Sermons, preached upon the mountains and muirs of Scotland in the hottest time of the late persecution, by that faithful minister and martyr of Jesus Christ, the Reverend Mr James Renwick." The collection has been several times reprinted in one octavo volume. Although printed from notes, taken by hearers, that are often obviously imperfect, the collection is yet one of interest and value.
In 1764 the Rev. John M'Millan, for many years minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Congregation that met at Sandhills, near Glasgow, published a 12mo volume, entitled "A Collection of Letters, consisting of ninety-three, sixty-one of which were wrote by the Rev. Mr James Renwick." The first letter is dated July 1682, and the last is that written to Sir Robert Hamilton on the morning of his execution. Far more than his sermons, these letters reveal the character of Renwick, and show him to have been what Alexander Shields calls him, "a ripe Christian." Mr M'Millan printed them from the manuscript, but not very accurately, and with the omission of the postscripts, which are at least as valuable as the rest of the letters. The original autographs of Renwick's last speech and testimony, and of his letter to his Christian Friends, are in the library of the Free College, Edinburgh. Through the kindness of the acting librarian, the Rev. John Laing, we have been permitted to examine them. The examination has shown a great many obvious misprints, or mistakes in the transcription, in all previous editions of the "Cloud." These we have corrected, and given an exact copy