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From his early years he was remarkable for a tender regard and obedience to his parents, so that when they spoke of putting him to a trade, he would say nothing against it, but his inclina. tions were toward his book; and divine Providence favoured him in this respect, by raising him up frieods, who kindly assisted him at school in Edinburgh, vill he was fit for the university; and seeing him of an hopeful disposition, they interested themselves in his education, encouraging him to assist young gentlemen in their studies, in order that he might proceed in his own at the same time. This proved a snare to him, and greatly hindered him in the pursuit of solid piety, while he was endeavouring to lay in a
stock of useful knowledge, which has too often been the case : with young men. When the time came that he was to leave the
college, he refused to take the oath of allegiance, which brought him into disgrace. After this he continued his studies, and attend. ed on the ordinances of God.
He was brought into great distress of mind on account of the unfaithfulness of many ministers, who, as he thought, yielded too ; much to those who were then in power ; but was delivered by considering how remarkably the Lord appeared for those who continued faithful. He observed their stedfastness to their principles, their confidence in God, and unwearied patience under all
the hardships which they endured ; Being present at the execution · of that faithful Servant of God, Mr. Cargil, and observing how
wonderfully the Lord supported and comforted him at the time of his death, Mr. Renwick determined to embark with those faithful witnesses in that cause for which they suffered ; and was so strengthened and established in this resolution, from the word of God which was sealed with a strong hand upon his soul, that all the temptations and persecutions which he afterwards met with, could never shake his mind to the day of his death ; like Mofes, he accounted the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures of this vain world, and therefore chose to suffer afflic. tion with the people of God, rather than enjoy the pleasures of fin for a season, for he had respect to the recompence of the reward.
In this persuasion, he came to a meeting of some of his brethren, and by his discourse refreshed them greatly, teftifying how much he was grieved on account of those who thro' fear or favour fell off from that which they had believed to be the cause of God. He observed, That it would be a great ease to his mind to be en. gaged with a faithful remnant who would courageously bear a clear and full teftimony against the corruptions of the times : and that he should desire nothing more than to lend all the help in his power to such persons. At his first coming among them, he was taken great notice of, for while some were talking of removing the bodies of the martyrs who were lately executed, and had been buried under the Gallows, he was very active in assisting in that dan. gerous piece of business. When the adherents of Mr. Cameron and Cargil were scattered abroad tharoughout the land, Mr. Ren.
in . wick
ed his studies with the univerfity of co be ordaine
wick endeavoured to settle a general correspondence among them," for preserving union, and preventing their running into exiremes of any kind. A door being opened at this time, in the United Pro.. vinces, for preserving a regular succession of faithful ministers, Mr. Renwick, with some others, went over to be ordained for the ministry. He settled at the university of Groningen, where he followed his studies with unwearied diligence, and in a short time was ordained by the ministers of that place.
He now exceedingly longed to improve his talent for the good of the poor perfecuted people in Scotland, and finding a ship ready to fail, he embarked at the Brill; but was so discouraged by the wickedness of the passengers, that he left that ship, and went on board another bound for Ireland. A violent form obliged them to put in at Rye in England, about the time when there was so much noise about the Rye-house plot; here he was exposed to no small danger, but the Lord preserved him. After various perils at sea, he arrived safe at Dublin, and had many conflicts with those ministers who had proved unfaithful. His spirit and temper of mind were such, as obliged them to confess, that he was a pious and zealous youth. In his passage to Scotland he met with conliderable dangers, and had a prospect of many more, not knowing where to land, as all the ports were strictly watched, and the captain refused to let him go, until he gave in his name. At laft the captain was prevailed upon to set him on shore, 'where be began his weary uncertain wanderings, thro' an unknown wil.' derness, among strangers ; it being some time before he could meet with any of the societies.
In Sept. 1683, he entered upon the ministerial work in Scotland, taking up the testimony of the standard of Christ, where it had been fixed, but had fallen at the death of 'good Mr. Cargil. In the midst of many difficulties and dangers, he was received by a poor persecuted people, who had lost all their worldly fubstance for the sake of the gospel; and however they might be mistaken in some things, it is hard to say, what other end they could have in view but the glory of God, and the fal. vation of their souls, considering the extreme hardships they were, obliged to endure. His first public meeting was in a moss at Darmeed, where he informed the congregation how he was called to the ministry, upon what ground he then stood, and what he was determined to do through the help of the Lord,, . .
At his first entrance upon the ministry, bę met with great op.' position from every quarter; reproach in abundance was pouredi upon him, and all sorts of false' reports were spread through the country concerning him, in so much that many of the minifter? and professors of religion were prejudiced against him. In the mean time by the noise which went thro' the country concerning him, the Council got notice; and being enraged on account of his preaching in the fields, they raised a more cruel persecution again it him than against any of his predecessors. He was publicly
proclaimed a traitor and a rebel; his followers were pursued with, ihe utmost fury; notwithstanding which, the more they were opposed, the more they encreased in number. Mr. Renwick never omitted one day's preaching, but laboured faithfully in the Lord's. vineyard; sometimes he preached in the churches, when the weather was so bad, or the danger so great, that he could not preach in the fields ; but this offended some of the ministers, who accused him with intruding upon their parilhes, without their consent. Alas for such ministers! could that be deemed a crime, when a Servant of Gud, by the violence of persecution, or the inclemency of the. weather, was drove into a church to preach the gospel of Christ, to a starving and greatly oppressed people ?
In 1684, the soldiers began to double their diligence in search. ing after him, from whom he had many remarkable deliverancese At one time, as he was going to a meeting, a countryman seeing him to be weary, lent him his horse to ride upon for some miles.
They were surprized by a party of soldiers, and the two men who were with him were taken and dreadfully wounded. Mr. Renwick was so closely followed, (the soldiers firing upon him all the time) that he was obliged to leave the horse, and seeing no other refuge, he ran to a great heap of stones, where being for a short time out of their fight, he found an hollow place into which he crept, and committed himself into the hand of God, with calm submission to his will, either to live or die. In this situation he was encouraged to believe that he should be reserved for greater usefulness in the Church; the words of the Psalmist were brought to his mind, " He shall give his angels charge concerning thee.” The soldiers searched all the hill, bụt were prevented from looking into the place where he lay, so that he escaped from them at i hat time. Many such desperate chales he and his followers met with, some continuing whole days and nights, in the wildest places in the country, 'being exposed to all sorts of hardships and dangers.
In the course of this year, the Council issued a proclamation, for apprehending Mr. Renwick, forbiding all persons from conceale ing him, or to give him either meat, drink, or any entertain, ment. The poor sufferers were reduced to almost incredible straits; they were not only in the greateft danger of being mur. dered by the soldiers, but of ftarving to death by hunger and cold, Soloman says, “ Oppression makes the wise man mad;" fo these rigorous proceedings drove the oppressed people to adopt such measures as cannot be justified, and wbich brought ihem into still greater troubles and hardships; They.published a declaration of their political sentiments, which so enraged the men in power, that they ordered a reward of 500 marks for apprehending any one of them ; that no person above the age of sixteen should travel without a pass; and that every one Ihould take the oath of abjura. tion. The persecution now became so hot, that many were shot dead in the fields, without any trial at all; others who refused to take the oath, were apprehended, sentenced, and executed, all on
dered by the folder Oppreßion he oppressed brought
the same day : And those who attended the executions, were required to say, Whether those men suffered justly or not. . * Mr. Renwick's difficulties multiplying, the Lord was pleased to lighten his burthen by the help of Mr. David Houston, from Ire. land, and Mr. Alexander Shields, who unired with him in bear. ing a public teftimony against the prevailing evils of the times. Yet he met with unkind treatment even from those who professed to be friends to religion, but none of these things moved him: he continued with great diligence in his master's work, altho' his body, was so much weakened, that he was obligd to be carried to the place of meeting ; yet he never once complained of his affli&tions, but patienily endured them, as seeing him who is invisible. In the mean time the persecution increased, so that within five months no less than fifteen very strict searches were made for him, and an hundred pounds sterling offered to any one who would bring him in dead or alive.
In the beginning of the year 1688, being now near the end of his course, he ran very fast, and worked hard, both as a minister and as a christian. As he wení to Edinburgh in his way to Peebles, he narrowly escaped being apprehended. From thence he went into Fife, and preached on several sabbaths. On the 29th of January. he preached his last sermon at Borrow ftonness. He returned to Edinburgh and lodged in a friend's house upon the Castle-bill, who was said to deal in untustomed goods. A custom-house officer hearing him at prayer with the family fufpccted whọ he was, and came next morning with some other officers, on pretence of search, ing for prohibited goods. Mr. Renwick hearing the noise, came out of his room, and was challenged by the officer. Upon which Mr. Renwick went out at another door, but as he was run, ning, he fell several times, and at last was taken and carried before a committee of the council, who ordered him to prison. He now beiook himself to prayer, intreating før grace to bring him thro' approaching trials, and that his enemies might not be suffered to torture his body ; both which requefts were granted, and by him thankfully acknowledged before his execution. Before he receive ed his indi&tment, he was taken before the Chancellor, and exq amined respecting his owning the king's authority and several other particulars ; Mr. Renwick delivered himself with such freedom and boldness as astonished all that were present, . After receiving his indictment, his pious Mother was permitted to see him, to whom he spoke many comfortable words. He la. mented i hat he was now obliged 19 leave his poor flock, and de. clared, chat, no withstanding the great perils and hardlhips he had enduied for the truth's lake, yet if he was agaio permitted io preach in the fields, he durft not deviate from the Truih, but should look upon himself as obliged to bear a faithful ieftimony again ft all ungodliness as he had done before : Adding, “ I desire that none will bę troubled on my account, but rather Tejoice with me, for I am now joyfully waiting in hope for my coronation hour."
At another time, bis Mother asked him, how he found himself? He answered, “ Since my last examination I can scarcely pray, I am fo taken up with praising God; and am so ravished with the joy of my Lord." His Mother expreffed her fear of fainting away, when she should see his head and his hands set up among the rest of the Martyrs over the gate of the city. He smiled and faid, “ You shall never see them there ; I have offered up my life unto the Lord, and I have prayed unto him that he would bind them up ; and I am persuaded that they will not be permitted to torture my body, nor to touch one hair of my head, farther than to take away my life.” At first he was much afraid of the torture, but now having obtained this confidence in God, that terror was removed; and he said, “I would raiher that they thould caft me into a chaldron of boiling oil, than that I should do any thing againg the truth." When some of his friends were permitted to see him, he exhorted them to make sure of their peace with God, and to be stedfast in his ways." And when they lamented his lofs, he answered “You should rather praise the Lord, that I am taken away from those reproaches which have nearly broken my heart, and' which could only be wiped off by laying down my life for the truth."
Feb. 8, he appeared before the Justiciary, and when his indi&t. ment was read, the Clerk asked him, if he adhered to his former confeffion, and acknowledged all that was in the indiĉtment ? He answered, “ All, except where it said, I cast off all fear of God, that I deny, - for it is, because I fear to offend God, and violate his law, that I am here this day, ready' to be condemned." After some further examination, he was brought in guilty, and sentence passed upon him, That he should be executed in the GrassMarket on the Friday following. Lord Linlithgow, Juftice-genea ral, asked if he desired a longer time? He answered, “ It is all one to me; if it be protraéted, it is welcome: if it is shortened, it is welcome; my Master's uime is the beft time." Being returned to prison, without his knowledge, he was reprieved till the 17th of February. It is rather remarkable, that altho' none of those who suffered in the former part of this dreadful period, spoke to the Judges with more freedom and boldness, than Mr, Renwick, yet none were treated with such moderation. The lenity of the Judges was admired by many; for they permitted him to say what he pleased, without threatening or interruption, although he gave none of them the title of lord, except Linlithgow, who was a no. bleman by birth. Bishop Paterson, often visited him in prison, and endeavoured to procure a second reprieve for him, which would easily have been granted, had he himself petitioned for it. The Bishop asked him, if he thought that none could be saved, but those who held his principles ? Mr. Renwick answered, “I never said, nor thought so: but there are truths which I suffer for, and I have not rathly concluded upon them, but deliberately; and of a long time I have been satisfied, that they are sufficient points