Friday, June 16, 2017

Rise, My Soul

The King of love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never,
I nothing lack if I am His,
And He is mine forever.

"The King Of Love"
Henry W. Baker

The Martyr of the Solway
Sir John Everett Millais

" In My Father’s house there are many rooms…
I am going there to prepare a place for you.”
 John 14:2

The haunting painting above depicts the
 15th century martyrdom of a
young Scottish woman named Margaret Wilson,
a member of the Covenanters, believers and
followers of Jesus Christ whom regarded their
faith in God as a covenant relationship with Him,
much in the same way of the Israelites in the Bible.

The Covenanters were opposed to the influence

of Roman Catholicism in Scotland, which they considered
both idolatrous and unscriptural, vowing instead
to uphold the principles found within the Confession of Faith
of Scottish Protestantism, which was based on
the truth of the infallible word of God,
which is the Holy Bible.

 The confession of faith was published in 1560
 by six leaders of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland.

The Scots Confession of Faith 
Published in 1560

Margaret Wilson was born at Glenvernoch, 
a farm near Newton Stuart in Wigtownshire Scotland in 1667.
Although her parents were devout Episcopalians, Margaret's
older brothers were members of the Covenanters.

Refusing to pledge allegiance to Catholic King James II
of England,  the Bible-believing Covenanters were
treated as outlaws and had to hide from authorities
in the hills of the Scottish countryside, much like the
believers of the early Church, fleeing from the
  persecution of the Roman emperors, hid themselves 
in the underground catacombs.

Despite the risks, young Margaret
 began attending conventicles,
or  prayer assemblies, 
conducted by the Covenanters,
 with her younger brother, Thomas,
 and later with her younger sister, Agnes.

As a woman with a strong faith in, 
and love of God, living in
 a time of both great heresy and persecution,
it must have been exciting as well as encouraging 
 for Margaret when the opportunity arose
 for her to see and hear a charismatic leader
 of the Covenanters named James Renwick*
speak to a secret gathering of believers.

 However, while on a trip to Wigtown

to see a friend and colleague of the group,
Margaret and her sister were arrested, possibly for
refusing the drink a toast to the health of the king, and 
 were thrown into a "thieves hole" a  dank and
often muddy pit in the ground to await trial. 

They were later indicted, along with their friend, 
an elderly widow named Margaret McLachlan,
and found guilty of rebellion at Bothwell Bridge,
Aird's Moss, 20 field conventicles and 20 house conventicles.

All three were sentenced to death by drowning.

Although the girls' father, Gilbert Wilson, traveled to

Edinburgh to plead for clemency for all three, only his younger
daughter Agnes was granted her freedom on a bond of 100 Scots.
 Unfortunately, the reprieve granted for Margaret Wilson, 
 as well as for Margaret McLachlan, were apparently
   ignored by their vengeful executioners.

On May 11, 1685
  eleven days after the signing of the reprieve,
Margaret Wilson, along with Margaret McLachlan,
 were chained to stakes on Solway Firth.
  After being forced to watch 
her older friend's death by drowning,
 Margaret herself  was lowered into the salt water.

Beginning to choke on the water which would kill her,
Margaret offered up a prayer for the king's salvation, but,
refused to swear allegiance to him.

Her refusal to do so further angered her killers, and 
they began to thrust her violently beneath the
waves to hasten her death.

  As Margaret's tortured lungs
 gasped for air, they could still
 hear her voice, as she, in her dying breath,
 recited from the psalms and  the epistles,
before the water eventually overwhelmed her.

Margaret Wilson was buried along with her friend,
 Margaret McLachlan in the churchyard in Wigtown.

She was just eighteen years old.

Rise, my soul, and stretch thy wings,
Thy better portion trace,
Rise from transitory things
Toward heav'n, thy native place;
Sun and moon and stars decay,
Time shall soon this earth remove;
Rise, my soul, and haste away
To seats prepared above.

Rivers to the ocean run,
Nor stay in all their course;
Fire ascending seeks the sun;
Both speed them to their source;
So a soul that's born of God,
Pants to view His glorious face,
Upward tends to His abode,
To rest in His embrace.

"Rise, My Soul"
Robert Seagrave

 *Renwick was a leading figure
  in the Reformation in Scotland.
 A member of the more radical Camerons, 
he too, was martyred for his faith.

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