Chapter 15: An Account of the Persecutions in Scotland During the Reign of King Henry VIII (5/5)
The governor of the castle, who stood so near that he was singed with the flame, exhorted the martyr, in a few words, to be of good cheer, and to ask the pardon of God for his offenses. To which he replied, “This flame occasions trouble to my body, indeed, but it hath in nowise broken my spirit. But he who now so proudly looks down upon me from yonder lofty place (pointing to the cardinal) shall, ere long, be ignominiously thrown down, as now he proudly lolls at his ease.” Which prediction was soon after fulfilled.
The hangman, that was his tormentor, sat down upon his knees, and said, “Sir, I pray you to forgive me, for I am not guilty of your death.” To whom he answered, “Come hither to me.” When that he was come to him, he kissed his cheek, and said: “Lo, here is a token that I forgive thee. My heart, do thine office.” And then he was put upon the gibbet and hanged, and burned to powder. When that the people beheld the great tormenting, they might not withhold from piteous mourning and complaining of this innocent lamb’s slaughter.
It was not long after the martyrdom of this blessed man of God, Master George Wishart, who was put to death by David Beaton, the bloody archbishop and cardinal of Scotland, A.D. 1546, the first day of March, that the said David Beaton, by the just revenge of God’s mighty judgment, was slain within his own castle of St. Andrews, by the hands of one Leslie and other gentlemen, who, by the Lord stirred up, brake in suddenly upon him, and in his bed murdered him the said year, the last day of May, crying out, “Alas! alas! slay me not! I am a priest!” And so, like a butcher he lived, and like a butcher he died, and lay seven months and more unburied, and at last like a carrion was buried in a dunghill.
The last who suffered martyrdom in Scotland, for the cause of Christ, was one Walter Mill, who was burnt at Edinburgh in the year 1558.
This person, in his younger years, had traveled in Germany, and on his return was installed a priest of the Church of Lunan in Angus, but, on an information of heresy, in the time of Cardinal Beaton, he was forced to abandon his charge and abscond. But he was soon apprehended, and committed to prison.
Being interrogated by Sir Andrew Oliphant, whether he would recant his opinions, he answered in the negative, saying that he would ‘sooner forfeit ten thousand lives, than relinquish a particle of those heavenly principles he had received from the suffrages of his blessed Redeemer.’
In consequence of this, sentence of condemnation was immediately passed on him, and he was conducted to prison in order for execution the following day.
This steadfast believe in Christ was eighty-two years of age, and exceedingly infirm; whence it was supposed that he could scarcely be heard. However, when he was taken to the place of execution, he expressed his religious sentiments with such courage, and at the same time composure of mind, as astonished even his enemies. As soon as he was fastened to the stake and the fagots lighted, he addressed the spectators as follows: “The cause why I suffer this day is not for any crime, (though I acknowledge myself a miserable sinner) but only for the defense of the truth as it is in Jesus Christ; and I praise God who hath called me, by His mercy, to seal the truth with my life; which, as I received it from Him, so I willingly and joyfully offer it up to His glory. Therefore, as you would escape eternal death, be no longer seduced by the lies of the seat of Antichrist: but depend solely on Jesus Christ, and His mercy, that you may be delivered from condemnation.” And then added that he trusted he should be the last who would suffer death in Scotland upon a religious account.
Thus did this pious Christian cheerfully give up his life in defense of the truth of Christ’s Gospel, not doubting but he should be made partaker of his heavenly Kingdom.