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Life Sketches from Scottish History of Brief Biographies of the Scottish Presbyterian Worthies
Robert Bruce


Robert Bruce was born about the year 1554, and was bred to the study of the law; but, in consequence of strong conscientious feelings, he determined to relinquish that profession, which he did, and entered the ministry about the year 1590. He once told Dr. Livingston, that, in a dream, he had seen a great long book with black boards flying in the air, and a multitude of black fowls flying about it, and that, as it touched any of them, they fell down dead; and that he heard a voice, which was quite audible, saying, “This is the ire of God upon the ministry of Scotland” and that he presently fell a weeping and crying to God that he might be kept faithful, and not be one of those that were stricken down dead; and he said when he awoke he found all the pillow wet with his tears.

The day on which the news of Dr. Leighton’s censure reached him, Mr. Bruce remained till late in his studjg weeping. He said his grief was not for Dr. Leighton, but for himself; "for,” said lie, “if I had been faithful, I might have got the pillory, and some of my blood shed for Christ as well as he, but he hath got the crown from us all.”

He was, both in public and private, very short in prayer with others, but then every sentence was like a bolt shot up to heaven.

When he preached at Larbert, he was accustomed, after the first sermon on the Sabbath, when he had taken some little refreshment, to return to his chamber in a house near the kirk. One day some noblemen being there, and he staying long in the chamber, aid they having far to ride home after the afternoon’s sermon, desired the bellman to go listen at the door, if there was any appearance of his coming. The bellman returned and said, “I think he shall not come out the day at all, for I hear him always saying to another, that he will not nor cannot go, except the other go with him, and I hear not the other answer him a word at all.” The foolish bellman understood not that he was dealing with God.

Before king James’s departure into Norway, to meet the princess of Denmark whom he was to marry, he appointed a provisional government, and Bruce was nominated as an extraordinary member of the privy council, the king declaring that he reposed more confidence in him and his brethren, than he did in all his nobility. During the six months that the king was absent, the kingdom exhibited a scene of unwonted tranquility; and, upon his return, so sensible was he of the valuable services of Bruce, that he declared he was “worth the quarter of his kingdom.”

Bruce was afterwards banished by the king, because he would not violate his conscience. lie was allowed to return before his death, but was never forgiven by the king.

For some time previous to his death, which happened in August, 1631, he was, through age and infirmity, mostly confined to his chamber. Being frequently visited by friends and acquaintances, he was, on one occasion, asked by one of them, how matters stood between God and his soul. lie made this reply, “When I was young I was diligent, and lived by faith on the Son of God; but now I am old and not able to do so much, and }ret he condescends to feed me with lumps of sense and experience.” On the morning before he died, his sickness consisting chiefly of weakness, he came to breakfast, and having, as usual, eaten an egg, he said to his daughter, “I think I am yet hungry, ye may bring me another egg;” but instantly afterwards, falling into deep meditation, and after having mused a little, he said, “Hold, daughter, my Master calls me!” Upon these words his sight failed him; and calling for his family Bible, but finding he could not see, he said, “Cast up to me the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, and set my finger on these words, if am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall he able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord’ Now,” said he, “is my finger upon them?” and being told it was, he said, “Now God he with you, my children. I have breakfasted with you, and shall sup with my Lord Jesus Christ this night,”—and so, like Abraham of old, he gave up the ghost, in a good old age, and was gathered to his people.


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