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The Scottish Nation
Renwick


RENWICK, JAMES, a celebrated field-preacher, and the last martyr for the covenanted work of Reformation in Scotland, was born in the parish of Glencairn, in Nithsdale, February 15, 1662. He was the son of Andrew Renwick, a weaver, by his wife, Elizabeth Corsan. From his childhood he evinced a pious disposition, and even at two years of age was observed to be aiming at prayer. His parents, being in very poor circumstances, with difficulty kept him at school, and during the time he attended the university of Edinburgh, he supported himself chiefly by assisting some gentlemenís sons in their education. On the conclusion of his academical course, having refused to take the oath of allegiance, he was denied laureation, but, with two others, afterwards received it privately at Edinburgh, where, for some time, he remained prosecuting his studies. He subsequently attached himself to the persecuted Presbyterians, and attended their secret meetings, taking an active part in all their proceedings. Having been present at the martyrdom of Mr. Donald Cargill, July 27, 1681, he determined to unite with the small remnant that adhered to his principles; and when the more zealous of the Covenanters agreed to publish the Lanark Declaration, Renwick was employed to proclaim it, which he did January 12, 1682, although he had no hand in its composition, and disapproved of some of its expressions.

Finding it impossible, in the then circumstances of the times, to obtain license in his own country, he was, by his party, sent over to Holland, in December 1682, when he entered a student at the university of Groningen. In six months he was found qualified for the ministry, and accordingly received ordination there. He commenced his ministerial labours in his native land, his first public sermon being preached November 23, 1683, in a moss at Darmead, in the parish of Cambusnethan; when, in vindication of himself, and for the information of his hearers, he gave an account of his call to the ministry, and declared his firm adherence to the persecuted Church of Scotland. At the same time he fully explained his mind as to the various religious questions then in agitation, and described particularly the class of preachers and professors he was resolved to hold no communion with. This gave great offence to some of the indulged ministers and false brethren, who had been led away by the defections of the times, and exposed him to much calumnious misrepresentation.

His fame and success as a field-preacher attracted the notice of the council, by whom he was publicly proclaimed a traitor, and all his adherents were treated as abettors of rebellion. In 1684 his troubles and discouragements began still more to thicken around him; nevertheless, he continued to preach wherever and whenever he could find opportunity. During that year his enemies became more vigilant in their search after him, and letters of intercommoning were issued against him and his followers, which led to the latter publishing, at the market-cross and church doors of several towns, their famous Apologetical Declaration, November 8, 1684. After this, the unhappy fugitives were hunted, like beasts of prey, through the mosses, muirs, and mountains of their native land, having often no place of refuge or retirement but a desert glen, or wild cavern of the earth. Renwick himself was often hotly pursued by the sanguinary soldiers, and had many signal escapes and remarkable deliverances.

On the accession of James VII. To the throne, Renwick, and about two hundred men, went to Sanquhar, May 28, 1685, and published a protest against his succession, at the same time renouncing their allegiance to him, which was afterwards called the Sanquhar Declaration. In October 1687 a reward of one hundred pounds sterling was offered for his apprehension. Having gone to Edinburgh in January 1688, to deliver to the Synod of indulged ministers a protestation against the toleration they had accepted, which he lodged in the hands of Mr. Hugh Kennedy, their moderator, he was discovered, and after a short resistance, seized, on February 1, and committed close prisoner to the Tolbooth. On the 8th he was tried before the high court of justiciary, on an indictment which charged him with disowning the kingís authority, refusing to pay the cess, and maintaining the lawfulness of defensive arms. He was found guilty, on his own confession, and executed in the Grassmarket of Edinburgh, on the 17th, being then only twenty-six years and two days old. His life was written by a contemporary field-preacher, Mr. Alexander Shields; and in 1777 appeared at Glasgow, ĎA Choice Collection of very valuable Prefaces, Lectures, and Sermons, preached upon the Mountains and Muirs of Scotland, in the hottest time of the Persecution,í by Mr. James Renwick; to which are added, by the same author, the Form and Order of Ruling Elders, a Reply to Mr. Langlanís Letter to Gavin Wotherspoon, &c., which work has been several times reprinted.


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