Tuesday, November 05, 2013

The charismatic covenanters

I'm going to quote from an article which was originally published in the Westminster Theological Journal: Smith, Dean R. “The Scottish Presbyterians and Covenanters: A Continuationist Experience in a Cessationist Theology.” WTJ 63 (2001): 39-63. Dean Smith currently teaches at Geneva College. 
The article is illustrative in two respects. First of all, there's the question of whether continuationism is "truly Reformed." I myself don't find that a terribly interesting question, but other people do. The other reason is to present documented cases of predictive prophecy and the "gift of prophecy" in modern church history. 
Whether or not we believe it is a different question. That depends on your worldview, as well as how you evaluate testimonial evidence. 
The Scottish Presbyterians and Covenanters: 
A Continuationist Experience in a Cessationist Theology

Many Reformed people have assumed that Warfield adequately summarized the history of the church in regard to the continuation of charismata. Generally both cessationists and continuationists have until recently either ignored or overlooked the history and the testimony of the Scottish Presbyterians and Covenanters in regard to the continuation of both prophecy and healing.

Scottish Presbyterians were those early Protestants of Scotland who struggled for religious reformation in Scotland.. The first Scottish Confession of Faith was signed in 1557, subscribed again in 1581, 1590, 1596, and 1638. The Covenanters were those who signed the Solemn League and Covenant in 1638 and lived from 1638-1688, a period during which some 18,000 people suffered death or other penalties of hardship for their faith.  This same period, however, experienced a remarkable outpouring of the Spirit of God on his suffering church.  Some of the experiences were recorded in a series of books: John Knox’s History of the Reformation in Scotland; Robert Fleming’s The Fulfilling of the Scriptures, first published in Rotterdam in 1671; Patrick Walker’s Six Saints of the Covenant, originally published 1724; and John Howie’s The Scots Worthies, first published in 1775. Howie’s work, based on the earlier accounts, is primarily inspirational biographical sketches of the Scottish martyrs, arranged chronologically according to the date they died for their faith. Howie’s work is also more popular, written to encourage later generations of believers. The 1870 edition was reprinted in 1995 by the Banner of Truth Trust, thus making it readily available today.

One question that needs to be addressed is reliability. Many of the things recorded in these books are so remarkable that they naturally produce a response of skepticism, if not outright disbelief. Are the records reliable or are the events merely reflective of myth and Scottish folklore? 

Knox was present at George Wishart’s martyrdom and heard Wishart’s prophecy of Cardinal Beaton’s death.  Knox himself gives indication of his own experience of prophecy in writing “A Godly Letter to the Faithful in London, etc.” in which he clearly identifies the judgments of God coming through a variety of plagues. How does Knox know this?
But ye wald knaw the groundis of my certitude; God grant that hearing thame ye may understand and stedfastlie believe the same. My assurances are not the Mervallis of Merline, nor yit the dark sentences of prophane Prophesies; But (1.) the plane treuth of Godis Word; (2) the invincibill justice of the everlasting God; and (3.) the ordinarie course of his punishmentis and plagues from the begynning, ar my asurance and groundis. Godis Word threateneth distructioun to all inobedient; his immuntabill justice require the same. The ordinary punishmentis and plagues schawis exempillis. What man then can ceis to prophesie?
It might be argued by some that Knox is here referring to prophecy only in the sense of the proper exposition and application of the Scriptures.  However, in the same letter Knox cites several ministers who prophesied specific coming judgments:
Almost thair wes none that occupyit the place, but he did prophesie and planelie speake the plagues that ar begun and assuredlie sall end. MAISTER GRINDALL planelie spak the death of the Kingis Majestie; complaynyng on his houshald servandis and officeris, who neither exchameit nor feirit to raill aganis Godis trew Word, and aganis the Preacheris of the same. The godlie and fervent man, MAISTER LEVER, planelie spak the desolatioun of the commoun weill, and the plagues whik suld follow schortlie. MAISTER BRADFURDE (whome God for Chrystis his Sonis sake comfort to the end!) spared not the proudest, but boldlie declareit that Godis vengeance suld schortlie stryke thame that then wer in autoritie, becaus thay abhorrit and loathed the trew Word of the everlasting God. And, amangis many uthir, willit thame to tak exempill be the lait Duck of Somerset, who became so cold in hearing Godis Word, that the year befoir his last apprehensioun, he wald ga visit his masonis, and wald not dainyie himself to ga frome his gallerie to his hall for ehring of a sermone. “God punissit him (said the godlie Preacher) and that suddanelie, and sall He spair yow that be dowbill mair wickit? No, He sall not!    
This letter was written in 1554.  Can there be certainty that Knox really believed that God was giving special insights into the future to these men? Writing on September 19, 1565 a prefix to a sermon preached on August 19, 1565 in Edinburgh, Knox says:
For considering my selfe rather cald of my God to instruct the  ignorant, comfort the sorowfull, confirme the weake, and rebuke the proud, by tong and livelye voyce in these most corrupt dayes, than to compose bokes for the age to come, seeing that so much is written (and that by men of most singular condition), and yet so little well observed; I decreed to containe my selfe within the bondes of that vocation, wherunto I founde my selfe especially called. I dare not denie (lest that in so doing I should be inhurious to the giver), but that God hath revealed unto me secretes unknowne to the worlde; and also that he made my tong a trumpet, to forwarne realmes and nations, yea, certaine great personages, of translations and chaunges, when no such thinges were feared, nor yet was appearing, a portion wherof cannot the world denie (be it ever so blind) to be fulfilled; and the rest, alas! I feare, shall follow with greater expedition, and in more full perfection, than my sorrowfull heart desireth. These revelations and assurances notwithstanding, I did ever absteyne to commit anye thing to writ, contented onely to have obeyed the charge of Him who commanded me to cry. (Emphasis added).

This is perhaps the clearest of Knox’s statements about God revealing events to him in advance so that he could warn kingdoms and rulers of things about to come.  Some of these he had seen come to pass, and some would yet come.  Knox is recording things out of his own experience and awareness.

What about Robert Fleming?  Deere notes:
Fleming and his contemporaries should be considered credible because they saw many of these things with their own eyes. Fleming’s spiritual fathers and other witnesses had passed on accounts of miracles before his time or the events were a matter of public record.  

The events recorded in The Fulfilling of the Scripture are carefully documented. Dates are frequently indicated and often the names of people present are given, with frequent notes that the observers are still alive. Steven notes the high regard in which Fleming is held:
Annexed to the folio edition is an extremely favourable attestation by Dr. Isaac Watts, Mr Jabez Earle, Mr. Daniel Neal, the historian of the Dissenters, and other eighteen distinguished ministers in London. The writer, they observe, “is universally known to have been a person of singular worth and piety, and his works declare him a diligent and careful observer of the provides (sic) of God towards his church and people. Many such instances, which no other author has taken notice of, and which, were they not well attested, would appear almost incredible, are to be met in his book called The Fulfilling of the Scripture; a performance which has so far entitled itself to the esteem of all serious Christians, as not to need our recommendation.” The work was originally published in Holland, where, as throughout the British Empire, Mr. Fleming acquired a lasting reputation. It is designed to shew the workings of particular providence, and, in our opinion, is a production which does much honour to the  piety and sound professional learning of its author.  Few Christians more habitually recognised the overruling hand of the Almighty than did Mr. Fleming; and indeed in every object and event, he devoutly traced the divine operations. From the history of all nations, and especially from that of his native, as well as of Holland, his adopted country, he has gratefully recorded several ever memorable instances of a public and private kind, which afforded evident proofs of the merciful interference of heaven in the hour of extremity

Similar statements are made about Patrick Walker.  Even though Walker traveled over 1000 miles in Scotland and Ireland, while collecting reports and historical facts, his accuracy was attacked from the beginning and he was accused of inadequate documentation.  However, D. C. Lachman notes: “In so far as his work can now be verified, his quotations are substantially accurate and his facts and dates correct.” 

D. H. Fleming, editor of the1901 edition of Walker’s Six Saints of the Covenant states: 
Many of Patrick’s (sic) statements can now be neither verified nor disproved; but, in going carefully over his printed works, I have been agreeably surprised to find that a number of his marvellous stories can be corroborated from other works, some of which he never saw. His quotations are fairly accurate, and his dates are on the whole amazingly correct. When he records what he had personally seen or heard, his statements, may, I think, be taken as absolutely truthful, subject of course to some allowance in details for lapse of memory, seeing that some of his stories seem to have floated in his mind for forty years before they were committed to paper. Although he appealed at the close of each pamphlet for additional information, it must not be supposed that he was credulous enough to believe everything and to insert anything. Credulous in some ways he undoubtedly was, he was not destitute of the critical faculty, as some learned to their cost who tried to trip him up.  

The conclusion to be drawn is that the unique and amazing accounts from this history are reliable accounts of actual events.  This is how they were understood at the time and by later historians and scholars who have evaluated the records.

George Gillespie was one of the four ministers who were sent as commissioners from the Church of Scotland to the Westminster Assembly and was considered unequaled in clarity of thinking and strength of argument.  Gillespie makes some significant observations about prophecy as it was experienced by the Scottish Presbyterians and Covenanters of previous generations as well as by those he would have known as contemporaries.
And now, having the occasion, I must say it, to the glory of God, there were in the church of  Scotland, both in the time of our first reformation, and after the reformation, such extraordinary men as were more than ordinary pastors and teachers, even holy prophets receiving extraordinary revelations from God, and foretelling divers strange and remarkable things, which did accordingly come to pass punctually, to the great admiration of all who knew the particulars.  Such were Mr. Wishart the martyr, Mr. Knox the reformer, also Mr. John Welsh, Mr. John Davidson, Mr. Robert Bruce, Mr. Alexander Simpson, Mr. Furgusson, and others.  It were too long to make a narrative here of all such particulars, and there are so many of them stupendous, that to give instance in some few, might seem to derogate from the rest, but if God give me opportunity, I shall think it worth the while to make a collection of these things; meanwhile, although such prophets be extraordinary, and but seldom raised up in the church, yet such there have been, I dare say, not only in the primitive times but amongst our first reformers and others; and upon what scripture can we pitch for such extraordinary prophets, if not upon those scriptures which are applied by some to the prophesying brethren, or gifted church members?  
Gillespie’s use of the words “holy prophets receiving extraordinary revelations from God” is most important.  As a signer of the Confession, he was committed to the uniqueness and completeness of the Scriptures, yet he sees in these men extraordinary revelations from God.
Samuel Rutherford was another Scottish commissioner to the Westminster Assembly. In writing about the nature of subjective (internal) revelation Rutherford says:
(3) There is a revelation of some particular men, who have foretold things to come even since the ceasing of the Canon of the word as John Husse, Wickeliefe, Luther, have foretold things to come, and they certainely fell out, and in our nation of Scotland, M. George Wishart foretold that Cardinall Beaton should not come out alive at the Gates of the Castle of St. Andrewes, but that he should dye a shamefull death, and he was hanged over the window that he did look out at, when he saw the man of God burnt, M. Knox prophecied of the hanging of the Lord of Grange, M. Ioh. Davidson uttered prophecies knowne to many of the kingdome, divers Holy and mortified preachers in England have done the like…
Rutherford notes that these men did not require others to believe their prophecies as Scripture and did not denounce those who did not believe their predictions of particular events and facts. It is significant to note that Rutherford, along with Gillespie, recognized the unique extraordinary revelation that was given to those who had preceded them, and uses the term prophecy to describe such revelation.
Robert Blair, a contemporary of Gillespie and Rutherford, also makes reference to Wishart, Knox, Davidson, and Welch as men who had received extraordinary revelations concerning the times in which they lived. 
The force of the Gillespie, Rutherford, and Blair references is that these men who either were commissioners to the Westminster Assembly, or lived during its time, recognized the extraordinary revelation that God had given to their predecessors and did not see it as inconsistent with their understanding of the Scriptures as the only infallible rule of faith and life. In other words, their understanding of the uniqueness of the Scriptures did not lead them to conclude that God could not continue to reveal himself through extraordinary revelation.

What was the nature of the extraordinary revelation experienced by these Scottish Presbyterians and Covenanters? Illustrations will be given from the lives of the Scots from George Wishart to Alexander Peden. The information included comes mainly from Howie’s biographies which were based on the earlier works of Knox, Fleming and Walker. The examples chosen are but a few selections from many examples in the lives of these men.
George Wishart (1513-1546)
George Wishart was one of the early Scottish Reformers and martyrs.  Cardinal David Beaton was Wishart’s nemesis.  Beaton made several unsuccessful attempts on Wishart’s life. Eventually Beaton had Wishart arrested, tried and condemned to be burned at the stake for heresy on March 1, 1546. Howie notes:
…Two executioners came to him, and arraying him in a black linen coat, they fastened some bags of gunpowder about him, put a rope about his neck, a chain about his waist, and bound his hands behind his back, and in this dress they led him to the stake, near the Cardinal’s palace…
the fore-tower, which was immediately opposite to the fire was hung with tapestry, and rich cushions were laid in the windows, for the ease of the Cardinal and prelates, while they beheld the sad spectacle. 
When they kindled the fire, the gunpowder blew up, but did not kill Wishart. Right before the executioner drew the cord about his neck to end his life, Wishart uttered these words:
This flame hath scorched my body, yet it hath not daunted my spirit; but he who, from yonder place, beholdeth us with such pride, shall within a few days lie in the same, as ignominiously as he is now seen proudly to rest himself. 
Deere notes that: 
On May 28, 1546, less than three months after Wishart’s death, at about fifty-two years of age, Cardinal Beaton was murdered in the very palace from which he watched the prophetic martyr’s execution, fulfilling Wishart’s last prophecy. 
Howie notes that Wishart “possessed the spirit of prophecy to an extraordinary degree.” 

John Knox (1514-1572)
John Knox is perhaps the most famous of the Scottish Reformers and played a leading role in the Reformation in Scotland.
John Knox was an eminent wrestler with God in prayer, and like a prince prevailed. The Queen Regent herself had given him this testimony, when upon a particular occasion she said that she was more afraid of his prayers than of an army of ten thousand men. He was likewise warm and pathetic in his preaching, in which such prophetical expressions as dropped from him had the most remarkable accomplishment. 
(1) As an instance of this, when he was confined in the castle of St. Andrews, he foretold both the manner of their surrender, and their deliverance from the French galleys; and when the Lords of the Congregation were twice discomfited by the French army, he assured them that the Lord would ultimately prosper the work of Reformation. 
(2) Again, when Queen Mary refused to come and hear sermon, he bade them tell her that she would yet be obliged to hear the Word of God whether she would or not; which came to pass at her arraignment in England. 
(3) At another time, he thus addressed himself to her husband, Henry, Lord Darnley, while in the king’s seat in the High Church of Edinburgh: “Have you, for the pleasure of  that dainty dame, cast the psalm-book into the fire? The Lord shall strike both head and tail.” Both King and Queen died violent deaths. 
(4) He likewise said, when the Castle of Edinburgh held out for the Queen against the Regent, that “the castle should spue out the captain (meaning Sir William Kircaldy of Grange) with shame, that he should not come out at the gate, but over the wall, and that the tower called Davis Tower, should run like a sand-glass; which was fulfilled a few years after—Kircaldy being obliged to come over the wall on a ladder, with a staff in his hand, and the said fore-work of the Castle running down like a sand-brae. 
(5) On the 24th of January 1570, John Knox being in the pulpit, a paper was put into his hands, among others containing the names of sick people to be prayed for; the paper contained these words, “Take up the man whom you accounted another God,” alluding to the Earl of Moray, who was slain the day before. Having read it, he put it into his pocket, without showing the least discomposure. After sermon, he lamented the loss which both the Church and the State had met with in the death of that worthy nobleman, showing that God takes away good and wise rulers from a people in His wrath; and at last said, “There is one in the company who maketh that horrible murder, at which all good men have occasion to be sorrowful, the subject of his mirth. I tell him, he shall die in a strange land, where he shall not have a friend near him to hold up his head.” Thomas Maitland, the author of that insulting paper, hearing what Knox said, confessed the whole to his sister, the Lady Trabrown, but said, that John Knox was raving, to speak of he knew not whom; she replied with tears, that none of John Knox’s threatenings fell to the ground.  This gentleman afterwards went abroad and died in Italy, on his way to Rome, having no man to comfort him. 
(6) At his execution in June 1581, (the Earl of Morton) called to mind John Knox’s words and acknowledged, that in what he had said to him he had been a true prophet. [Parentheses added]

John Knox not only made such prophecies consciously, his hearers regarded them as prophecy.

John Davidson (d. 1595)
John Davidson was a minister who suffered for over 20 years beginning in 1584 with the Raid of Ruthven. Like a number of others, he received extraordinary revelations.
He likewise, in some instances, showed that he was possessed, in a considerable measure, of the spirit of prophecy. While in Preston, he was very anxious about the building of a church in that parish, and had from his own private means contributed liberally to it. Lord Newbattle, having considerable interest in that parish, likewise promised his assistance, but afterwards receded from his engagements upon which Davidson told him, that these walls there begun should stand as a witness against him, and that ere long God should root him out of that parish, so that he should not have one bit of land in the same; which was afterwards accomplished.
Robert Fleming, in his Fulfilling of the Scriptures, relates another remarkable instance of this kind. A gentleman nearly related to a great family in the parish of Preston, but a most violent hater of true piety, did on that account, beat a poor man who had lived there, although he had no manner of provocation. Among other strokes which he gave him, he gave him one on the back, saying, “Take that for Mr. Davidson’s sake.” This maltreatment obliged the poor man to take to his bed, complaining most of the blow which he had received on his back. In the close of the sermon on the Sabbath following, Davidson, speaking of the oppression of the godly, and the enmity which the wicked had to such, in a particular manner mentioned this last instance, saying, “It was a sad time, when a profane man would thus openly adventure to vent his rage against such as were seekers of God in the place, whilst he could have no cause but the appearance of His image;” and then said with great boldness, “He who hath done this, were he the laird or the laird’s brother, ere a few days pass, God shall give him a stroke, that all the monarchs on earth dare not challenge.”  Which accordingly came to pass in the close of  that very same week; for this gentleman, while standing before his own door, was struck dead with lightning, and had all his bones crushed to pieces.  

John Welch (1570-1622)
John Welch was born about 1570. He was very much the prodigal son in his early years, leaving home and living as a thief. He then decided to return home where he was reconciled to his father, entered college and then went into the ministry.  He was diligent not only in preaching and  studying, but also in prayer.  Welch had many extraordinary experiences in his ministry according to Howie: 

(1) While Welch was at Ayr, the Lord’s day was greatly profaned at a gentleman’s house about eight miles distant, by reason of a great confluence of people playing at the football, and other pastimes. After writing several times to him, to suppress the profanation of the Lord’s day at his house, which he slighted, not loving to be called a puritan, Welch came one day to his gate, and, calling him out, told him that he had a message from God to show him; because he had slighted the advice given him from the Lord, and would not restrain the profanation of the Lord’s day committed in his bounds, therefore the Lord would cast him out of his house, and none of his posterity should enjoy it. This accordingly came to pass; for although he was in a good external situation at the time, yet henceforth all things went against him, until he was obliged to sell his estate; and when giving the purchaser possession thereof, he told his wife and children that he had found Welch a true prophet. [Emphasis added]

(2) But though John Welch, on account of his holiness, abilities, and success, had acquired among his subdued people a very great respect, yet was he never in such admiration as after the great plague which raged in Scotland in his time. And one cause was this: The magistrates of Ayr, for as much as this town alone was free, and the country around infected, thought fit to guard the ports with sentinels and watchmen. One day two travelling merchants, each with a pack of cloth upon a horse, came to the town desiring entrance, that they might sell their goods, producing a pass from the magistrates of the town from whence they came, which was at that time sound and free. Notwithstanding all this, the sentinels stopped them till the magistrates were called, and when they came they would do nothing without their minister’s advice; so John Welch was called, and his opinion asked. He demurred, and putting off his hat, with his eyes towards heaven for a pretty space, though he uttered no audible words, yet he continued in a praying posture, and after a little space told the magistrates that they would do well to discharge these travellers their town, affirming with great asservation, that the plague was in these packs. So the magistrates commanded them to be gone, and they went to Cumnock, a town about twenty miles distant, and there sold their goods, which kindled such an infection in that place, that the living were hardly able to bury their dead. This made the people begin to think of Mr. Welch as an oracle. [Emphasis added]
 (3) John Welch was some time prisoner in Edinburgh Castle before he went into exile. One night sitting at supper with Lord Ochiltree, he entertained the company with godly and edifying discourse, as his manner was, which was well received by them all, except a debauched Popish young gentleman, who sometimes laughed, and sometimes mocked and made wry faces. Thereupon Mr. Welch brake out into a sad abrupt charge upon all the company to be silent, and observe the work of the Lord upon that mocker, which they should presently behold; upon which the profane wretch sunk down and died beneath the table, to the great astonishment of all the company. 

John Semple (d. 1677)
John Semple was among the faithful “Protesters” who was arrested in August 1660. Howie notes:
Mr. Semple was a man who knew much of his Master’s mind, as evidently appears by his discovering of several future events.
(1) When news came that Cromwell and those with him were engaged in the trial of Charles I, some persons asked him, what he thought would become of the king. He went to his closet a little, and coming back, he said to them, “the king is gone, he will neither do us good nor ill any more;” which of a truth came to pass.
(2) At another time, passing by the house of Kenmuir, as the masons were making some additions thereunto, he said, “Lads, ye are busy, enlarging and repairing the house, but it will be burnt like a crow’s nest in a misty morning,” which accordingly came to pass, for it was burnt in a dark misty morning by the English.
(3) Upon a certain time, when a neighboring minister was distributing tokens before the Sacrament, and was reaching a token to a certain woman, Mr. Semple (standing by) said, “Hold your hand, she hath gotten too many tokens already; she is a witch;” which though none suspected her then, she confessed to be true, and was deservedly put to death for the same.
(4) At another time, a minister in the shire of Galloway sent one of his elders to Mr. Semple with a letter, earnestly desiring his help at the Sacrament, which was to be in three weeks after.  He read the letter, went to his closet, and coming back, he said to the elder, “I am sorry you have come so far on a needless errand; go home, and tell your minister, he hath had all the communions that ever he will have, for he is guilty of fornication, and God will bring it to light ere that time.” This likewise came to pass.  

James Wood (163?-167?)
James Wood ministered in the 1650s. He was made the principal of the Old College of St. Andrews sometime after 1651.  He also experienced extraordinary revelation.
On one occasion, in company with Mr. Veitch, he went into one James Glen’s shop, in Edinburgh, to see Sharp, whom he had not seen since he became archbishop, and who was expected to pass in the Commissioner’s coach. Sharp coming first out of the coach, and uncovering his head to receive the Commissioner, they had a full view of his face, at which Mr. Wood looked very seriously, and then, being much affected, uttered these words: “O, thou Judas and apostatised traitor, thou hast betrayed the famous Presbyterian Church of Scotland to its total ruin, as far as thou canst; if I know anything of the mind of  God, thou shalt not die the ordinary and common death of men.”  This, though spoken eighteen years before, was exactly accomplished in 1679.  

Richard Cameron (1655?-1680)
Richard Cameron preached in the 1670s. We find in his life several references to extraordinary revelation.
When Richard Cameron came to preach in and about Cumnock, he was much opposed by the lairds of Logan and Horsecleugh, who represented him as a Jesuit, and a vile, naughty person. But yet some of the Lord’s people, who had retained their former faithfulness, gave him a call to preach in that parish. When he began, he exhorted the people to mind that they were in the sight and presence of a holy God, and that all of them were hastening to an endless state of either weal or woe. Andrew Dalziel, a debauchee (a cocker or fowler), who was in the house, it being a stormy day, cried out, “Sir we neither know you nor your God.” Mr. Cameron, musing a little, said, “You, and all who do not know my God in mercy, shall know Him in His judgments, which shall be sudden and surprising in a few days upon you; and I, as a sent servant of Jesus Christ, whose commission I bear, and whose badge I wear upon my breast, give you warning, and leave you to the justice of God..” Accordingly, in a few days after, the said Andrew, being in perfect health, took his breakfast plentifully, but before he rose he fell a-vomiting, and died in a most frightful manner. This admonishing passage, together with the power and presence of the Lord going along with the Gospel, as dispensed by him during the little time he was there, made the foresaid two lairds desire a conference with him, to which he readily assented; after which they were obliged to acknowledge that they had been in the wrong, and desired his forgiveness. He said, from his heart he forgave them what wrongs they had done to him; but for what wrongs they had done to the interest of Christ, it was not his part to forgive them; but he was persuaded that they would be remarkably punished for it. To the laird of Logan he said, that he should be written childless; and the Horsecleugh, that he should suffer by burning—both of which afterwards came to pass.” 

Alexander Peden (1626-1686)
Perhaps the most famous of the recipients of extraordinary revelation was Alexander Peden. Howie does not note his date of birth, but we can determine the approximate time of his ministry by the fact that a proclamation against him was issued in 1666. Howie lists some eleven different prophecies by Peden that were fulfilled. Some of these were:
 (1)…(I)n the year 1680, being near Mauchline, in the shire of Ayr, Robert Brown, at Corsehouse, in Loudon parish, and Hugh Pinaneve, factor to the Earl of Loudon, stabling their horses where he (Peden) was, went to a fair at Mauchline.  In the afternoon, when they came to take their horses, they got some drink; in the taking of which, the said Hugh broke out into railing against our sufferers, particularly against Richard Cameron, who was lately before that slain at Airsmoss. Peden, being in another room, overhearing all, was so grieved, that he came to the chamber door, and said to him, “Sir, hold your peace; ere twelve o’clock you shall know what a man Richard Cameron was; God shall punish that blasphemous mouth of yours in such a manner, that you shall be set up for a beacon to all such railing Rabshakehs.”  Robert Brown, knowing Mr. Peden, hastened to his horse, being persuaded that his word would not fall to the ground; and fearing also that some mischief might befall him in Hugh’s company, he hastened home to his own house, and the said Hugh to the Earl’s; where, casting off his boots, he was struck with a sudden sickness and pain through his body, with his mouth wide open, and his tongue hanging out in a fearful manner. They sent for Brown to take some blood from him, but all in vain, for he died before midnight. 
(2) After this, in the year 1682, Mr. Peden married that singular Christian, John Brown, at his house in Priesthill, in the parish of Muirkirk, in Kyle, to Isabel Weir. After marriage, he said to the bride, Isabel, “You have got a good man to be your husband, but you will not enjoy him long; prize his company, and keep linen by you to be his winding sheet, for you will need it when ye are not looking for it, and it will be a bloody one.” This sadly came to pass in the beginning of May 1685. 
A final prophecy by Peden is found in Smellie’s Men of the Covenant. It is a prophecy uttered in regard to the death of John Brown.
Again, on one of the last days of April in 1685, Alexander Peden came to the carrier’s house at Priesthill. He was always an honored friend, and he remained overnight- this gaunt and gracious seer of the Covenant, who for the most part, had nowhere to lay his head.  Early on May-day morning (i.e. May 1, the morning of Brown’s death) he said his farewells; but passing out from the door, he was heard repeating to himself, ‘Poor woman, a fearful morning!’ These words twice over, and then—‘A dark misty morning!’ 
The murder was committed between six and seven in the morning. Alexander Peden was then ten or eleven miles distant. Before eight o’clock he found himself at the gate of a friend’s house, and lifted the latch, and entered the kitchen, craving permission to pray with the family.  ‘Lord,’ he said, ‘when wilt Thou avenge Brown’s blood? O, let Brown’s blood be precious in Thy sight!’  When the voice of yearning and entreaty had ceased, John Muirhead, the father in the home, asked Peden what he meant by Brown’s blood. ‘What do I mean?’ he answered. ‘Claverhouse has been at the Priesthill this morning, and has murdered John Brown. His corpse is lying at the end of his house, and his poor wife sitting weeping by his corpse, and not a soul to speak comfortably to her.’  And then, lifted into a kind of ecstasy, he continued, ‘This morning, after the sun-rising, I saw a strange apparition in the firmament, the appearance of a very bright, clear, shining star fall from heaven to the earth. And indeed there is a clear, shining light fallen this day, the greatest Christian that ever I conversed with.’  Into Peden’s eyes ‘from the well of life three drops’ were instilled; his heart, as the Quaker apostle said, was baptised into a sense of all conditions; and he saw, by a spiritual intuition, the sorrows which were happening in other parts of the vineyard of Christ. 
Smellie indicates that Brown had been killed in the presence of his wife outside their home that morning, just as Alexander Peden had said.
John Howie makes a significant summary about Alexander Peden:
Thus died Alexander Peden, so much famed for his singular piety, zeal, and faithfulness, and indefatigableness in the duty of prayer, but especially exceeding all we have heard of in latter times for that gift of forseeing and foretelling future events, both with respect to the Church and nation of Scotland and Ireland, and particular persons and families, several of which are already accomplished. 

Summary on Prophecy among the Scottish Presbyterians and Covenanters
For a period of almost one hundred and forty years, extraordinary revelation was reported in Scotland concerning these ministers.  What was experienced was viewed as more than merely an extraordinary providence. It was noted above that Knox viewed a number of his contemporaries as prophets to whom God had revealed specific coming judgments as He had to Knox himself. 

A second gift usually considered among the charismata is the gift of healing. Like prophecy, healing was also experienced among the Scottish Presbyterians and Covenanters and is recorded by Fleming, Walker, and Howie.

Robert Bruce (1554-1631)
Bruce’s prophetic ministry was also accompanied by a healing ministry. Howie notes:

Robert Bruce was also a man who had somewhat of the spirit of discerning future events, and did prophetically speak of several things that afterward came to pass; yea, and divers persons distracted says Fleming, in his “Fulfilling of the Scripture,” and those who were past all recovery with epileptic disease, or falling sickness, were brought to him, and were, after prayer by him on their behalf, fully restored from that malady. This may seem strange, but it is true, for he was such a wrestler with God, and had more than ordinary familiarity with him.  
It is important to note that there appears to be more than just one extraordinary providence recorded about Robert Bruce in regard to healing.  A variety of people were brought to him and healed through his prayers.

John Scrimgeour (16th Cent.)
John Scrimgeour lived at the end of the 16th century and served for a time as chaplain to James VI. Howie notes that he had a particular talent for comforting the dejected. He also notes:
He was also and eminent wrestler with God, and had more than ordinary power and familiarity with Him as appears from the following instances:
(1) When he was minister at Kinghorn, there was a certain godly woman under his charge, who fell sick of a very lingering disease, and was all the while assaulted with strong temptations, leading her to think that she was a castaway, notwithstanding that her whole conversation had put the reality of grace in her beyond a doubt. He often visited her while in this deep exercise, but her trouble and terrors still remained. As her dissolution drew on, her spiritual trouble increased. He went with two of his elders to her, and began first, in their presence, to comfort and pray with her; but she still grew worse. He ordered his elders to pray, and afterwards prayed himself, but no relief came.  Then sitting pensive for a little space, he thus broke silence: “What is this! Our laying grounds of comfort before her will not do; prayer will not do; we must try another remedy.  Sure I am, this is a daughter of Abraham; sure I am, she hath sent for me; and therefore, in the name of God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, who sent Him to redeem sinners; in the name of Jesus Christ, who obeyed the Father, and came to save us; and in the name of the Holy and blessed Spirit, our Quickener and Sanctifier, I, the elder, command thee, a daughter of Abraham, to be loosed from these bonds.”  And immediately peace and joy ensued.

(2) Mr. Scrimgeour had several friends and children taken away by death. The only daughter who at that time survived, and whom he dearly loved, was seized with the king’s evil, by which she was reduced to the very point of death, so that he was called up to see her die.  Finding her in this condition, he went out to the fields, as he himself told, in the night-time, in great grief and anxiety, and began to expostulate with the Lord, with such expressions as for all the world he durst not again utter. In a fit of displeasure, he said, “Thou, O Lord, knowest that I have been serving Thee in the uprightness of my heart, according to my power and measure; nor have I stood in awe to declare Thy mind even unto the greatest in the time, and Thou seest that I take pleasure in this child. O that I could obtain such a thing at Thy hand, as to spare her! And being in great agony of spirit, at last it was said to him from the Lord, “I have heard thee at this time, but use not the like boldness in time coming, for such particulars.” When he came home the child was recovered, and sitting up in the bed, took some meat; and when he looked at her arm, it was perfectly whole. 

John Welch (1570-1622)
We have earlier seen John Welch’s experience with extraordinary revelation. Howie also attributes one of the most remarkable instances of healing in history to John Welch.
There was in his house, amongst many others who boarded with him for good education, a young gentleman of great quality and suitable expectations, the heir of Lord Ochiltree, Governor of the Castle of Edinburgh. This young gentleman, after he had gained very much upon Mr. Welch’s affections, fell ill of a grievous sickness, and after he had been long wasted by it, closed his eyes and expired, to the apprehension of all the spectators; and was therefore taken out of his bed, and laid on a pallet on the floor, that his body might be more conveniently dressed. This was to Mr. Welch a very great grief, and therefore he stayed with the body fully three hours, lamenting over him with great tenderness. After twelve hours, the friends brought in a coffin, whereinto they desired the corpse to be put, as the custom was; but Mr. Welch desired that, for the satisfaction of his affections, they would forbear for a time; which they granted, and returned not till twenty-four hours after his death.  Then they desired with great importunity, that the corpse might be coffined and speedily buried, the weather being extremely hot; yet he persisted in his request, earnestly begging them to excuse him once more, so they left the corpse upon the pallet for full thirty-six hours; but even after all that, though he was urged not only with great earnestness, but displeasure, they were constrained to forbear for twelve hours more. After forty-eight hours were past, Mr. Welch still held out against them, and then his friends, perceiving that he believed the young man was not really dead, but under some apoplectic fit, proposed to him for his satisfaction, that trial should be made upon his body by doctors and chirurgeons (sic), if possibly any spark of life might be found in him, and with this he was content. So the physicians were set to work, who pinched him with pinchers in the fleshy parts of his body, and twisted a bow-string about his head with great force; but no sign of life appearing in him, the physicians pronounced him stark dead, and then there was no more delay to be made. Yet Mr. Welch begged of them once more that they would but step into the next room for an hour or two, and leave him with the dead youth; and this they granted.
Then Mr. Welch fell down before the pallet, and cried to the Lord with all his might, and sometimes looked upon the dead body, continuing to wrestle with the Lord, till at length the dead youth opened his eyes and cried out to Mr. Welch, whom he distinctly knew, “O sir, I am all whole, but my head and legs:’ and these were the places they had sorely hurt with their pinching. When Mr. Welch perceived this, he called upon his friends; and showed them the dead young man restored to life again, to their great astonishment…This story the nobleman himself communicated to his friends in Ireland.  

This recorded instance of John Welch’s healing raises a number of questions.  Often the skeptics of the continuation of the charismata will ask if there are any recorded instances of people being restored from death.  While there have not been many in the history of the Reformation, there is at least this one. 

Thomas Hog (1628-16??)
Thomas Hog was born in 1628 and was ordained to the ministry in 1654 or 1655.  Hog is noted for the intense labors of his pastoral ministry in the homes in his parish.  He is also noted for what we would call a significant ministry of healing. As Howie records:
So soon as it pleased the Lord thus to bless his parochial labours with a gracious change wrought upon a considerable number of the people, he took care to unite the more judicious in societies for prayer and conference. These he kept under his own inspection, and did heartily concur with them; for he himself was much in the exercise of that duty, and had several notable returns to prayer, of which we have several instances.
1. A good woman having come with this sore lamentation, that her daughter was distracted, Mr. Hog charged one or two devout persons (for he frequently employed such on extraordinary occasions) to set apart a day and a night for fasting and prayer, and join with him in prayer for the maid the next day. Accordingly, when this appointment was performed, she recovered her senses as well as before.
2. A daughter of the laird of Park, his brother-in-law, who lodged with him, was seized with a high fever, which left little hope of life. Mr. Hog loved the child dearly, and while he and his wife were jointly supplicating the Lord in prayer, acknowledging their own and the child’s iniquity, the fever instantly left her. This passage was found in his own diary, which he concludes with admiration upon the goodness of God, to whom he ascribes the praise of all.
3. In like manner, a child of the Rev. Mr. Urquhart having been at the point of death, those present pressed Mr. Hog to pray, for he now was become so esteemed that none other would in such case do it, while he was present; upon which he solemnly charged them to join with him, and having fervently wrestled in prayer and supplication for some time, the child was restored to health. A like instance is found of a child of Kinmundy’s in his own diary.
4. David Dunbar, who lived at a distance, being in a frenzy, came to Mr. Hog’s house in one of his fits. Mr. Hog caused him to sit down and advised with Mr. Fraser of Brea, and some others present, what could be done for the lad. Some were for letting blood, but Mr. Hog said, “The prelates have deprived us of money, wherewith to pay physicians, therefore let us employ Him who cures freely,” and then laid it on Mr. Fraser to pray, who put it back on himself. So after commanding the distracted person to be still, he prayed fervently for the poor man; who was immediately restored to his right mind. This is faithfully attested to by those who were eye and ear witnesses.
5. Mr. Hog having once gone to see a gracious woman in great extremity of distress, both of body and mind, he prayed with her and for her, using this remarkable expression among others, “O Lord, rebuke this temptation, and we in Thy name rebuke the same;” and immediately the woman was restored both in body and mind.
And yet, notwithstanding the Lord had honoured him in such a manner, it is doubtful if any in his day more carefully guarded against delusions than he did, it being his custom, whenever he bowed a knee, to request to be saved from delusions.  

Again there are several observations to be made. Hog recognized that some of what he was called to do was extraordinary. It is interesting to note his use of other devout people along with the use of fasting.  It is also interesting to note that Hog was recognized (or esteemed) as having a unique ministry in this area.  It is also important to note that Hog was very much concerned about delusions in anything he was doing and prayed constantly against being deluded.

The kind of healing ministry experienced is different from what is observed today in that there was no advertising or promoting of this ministry.  Nevertheless, there was a gift of healing that was recognized as being possessed by these men.


  1. Replies
    1. If anyone is interested here's a link to be able to get Frank Viola's response to John MacArthur's books Charismatic Chaos and Strange Fire. It's free for the next two weeks:

  2. Fascinating journal article. Have you had a chance to read Garnet Milne's dissertation "The Westminster Confession of Faith and the Cessation of Special Revelation: The Majority Puritan Viewpoint on Whether Extra-Biblical Prophecy Is Still Possible" as I haven't gotten my hands on it yet.

  3. I've heard of it, but I haven't read it. I'm less interested in the opinions of 17C divines than the experience of 17C divines.