Heroes of the Faith: James Guthrie

We often forget, or possibly are ignorant of, the cost of our heritage. We become content in a materialistic world, living in the now, forgetting the past. May this present article interest us all as to the forgotten past. Israel, time and again, was given one word of tremendous import: remember! We are aware that September 11th will not easily be forgotten. The news media, the T.V., radio talk shows, plus the magazines and books have all brought this tragic event into focus, leaving non-erasable pictures in our minds! People frantically trying to escape! Some plunging from the twin towers in desperation! The firefighters! The bereft mothers and children! Heart-torn husbands! The last words of some before their tragic end! The sacrifices of thousands who rallied around their fallen heroes! The united patriotism in the USA! These all are indelibly imprinted and impacted upon our hearts. Lest we forget was the apt slogan in the one-year memorial services throughout the USA and others countries. How telling this is to all! We have all been touched!

We turn the clock back a few centuries, (1600-1690) perusing the annals of Christian history and our eyes fasten upon greater heroes and greater sacrifices that surpass the 11th September (this is not diminishing the brave hearts of the 11th September) bowing our hearts and causing our eyes to flow with tears before our God with gratefulness for those who stood with devoted hearts and unswerving loyalty to the Lord Jesus at the cost of blood! Blood? Rivers of blood flowed from weary, worn, and poverty stricken wanderers, who were captured, tortured, and martyred. Their beds were the heather-clad hills, thick forests, and isolated dens. They were cave dwellers! These spots became sacred ground, sanctified by prayer, praise, and reading from the Scriptures! We bow our heads and take off our shoes at the contemplation of these heavenly souls! They had joy unspeakable as they held high the banner of the cross amidst the scorn of kings, queens, and the mighty power of Rome. These noble warriors with their wives, sons, and daughters stood bravely, and with courage died as martyrs for Christ. United they stood, firmly grounded on the eternal Rock of Ages, the Lord Jesus Christ, and His eternal Word. To them, Christ was the nearest and dearest object of their souls.

James Guthrie of Scotland is worthy of mention. He was one of the foremost of the Covenanters and a true Puritan, called by many the son of consolation. On one occasion when asked to compromise according to a Scotch proverb,

Jouk that the wave may gang oure ye! Will ye nae jouk a wee bit?(Scottish).

Duck that the wave may go over you. Will you not duck a little bit(English)

His terse reply: There is no jouking (ducking) in the cause of Christ. This faithful warrior of the gospel stood firm amidst scorn and ridicule. It was in 1638 that he stepped out boldly in his faith in Christ to preach that MESSAGE THAT CONSUMED HIM. He witnessed the mighty power of the gospel that turned many from darkness to light! In those days it seemed that the pit of Hell had opened to let the underworld of demons attack Christlike-ones! There was a price to pay to preach Christ and to trust Christ, and for such the shadow of the torturing chamber, the gallows, and the sword were ever present. These dear believers went counter to the demands of cruel powers whose diabolical tortures originated from that old serpent, the Devil. But, they were more than conquerors! We often are compromisers! Today we see a generation go with the flow instead of going against the flow! (Thank God, not all.) Beloved, we need an update by a look-back!

James Guthrie lived his final twelve years in Stirling, Scotland, that fortress city, a fitting symbol of the man who was a fortress against the tide of evil sweeping England and Scotland. In 1661 he was brought before Parliament to defend his position and he boldly, by the power of the Holy Spirit, defended the truth he loved and preached. This Parliament, called the Drunken Parliament, condemned him to death. At Edinburgh Cross, James Guthrie, with a fellow-soldier-of-the-cross, was hanged. He had prophetically announced in 1638 that my blood, bondage, and banishment will further the gospel cause more than my living in liberty to proclaim it. How true! His head was taken and lifted high on a pole that all passers-by could see it. There it remained for twenty-seven years! This wicked deed was turned to the glory of God, for it was a constant reminder to many of this godly, faithful, and loving servant of Christ. Many turned to his Savior as the result. Wee Willie Guthrie, his son (six years of age) often stole away to gaze upon his (faithers heid) fathers head and then hide away repeating, my fathers head, my fathers head. In childhood, boyhood, and youth he often visited that sacred spot to look at his fathers head whether under summer sun, or winters blast. (William became a follower of the Lamb and followed in his fathers footsteps; he died of illness at 46 years of age.) James Guthries final farewell from the lofty scaffold is worthy of mention. To a friend he said, Carry this ring to my wife and tell her I died in humble confidence in the Cross of Christ. How sweet! Christ had done ALL for him; it was by Him alone that he was justified. Someone cried out to James Guthrie, Look up to the Lord Jesus. He replied in those final moments, He looks down and smiles at me. Thus ended this beloved Scottish soldier of the Cross who magnified Christ in life and in death. This intriguing account reaches deep into our hearts, and to this list, thousands could be added! What pathos in the inscription of a sixteen-year-old brave Christian lad, If every hair on my head was a body and every drop of blood a life, I would gladly give all to my dear Lord Jesus who gave His lifes blood for me. I would appeal to the younger generation: Let this influence us to live for Christ only! Too many wasted lives! Too many casualties! Volumes could be written about the martyrs. We will see the Martyrs Memorial and Records when we reach the glory-land and shake hands with Stephen, Paul, James Guthrie, and that noble and select band of men and women. Blessed memory! Blessed history! Blessed victory!

Remember that from those killing-times, we in North America are debtors to the martyrs of England and Scotland. The triumphant march of the Covenanters is worthy of our attention as we enjoy our evangelical prosperity. North America enjoys the fruit of the seed sown by those whose blood soaked English and Scottish soil. (A history lesson on those times might be helpful in our affluent and materialistic society!Lest we forget is appropriate as we look-back and remember. Let us with grateful hearts appreciate the wealth of biblical and gospel truth they gave us. The martyred band far exceeds in love, in loyalty, and in results the tragedy of September 11th. The seed sown by the Martyrs has resulted in fruit that has extended to the ends of the world, and stretches out to the eternal shores of everlasting blessing! Amen.

To be continued.