Friday, 21 January 2011

A Prophetic Presbyterian

In the sixteenth-century George Wishart was one of the early Scottish reformers.  He was hated by David Beaton, Cardinal and Archbishop of Saint Andrews.  Wishart escaped two public attempts on his life through supernatural revelation.  Having escaped an attempt of Cardinal Beaton on his life he predicted that the cardinal would ultimately be successful in his attempt to kill the Reformer.  When the time drew near, God revealed to Wishart his impending martyrdom.  At Ormiston, Cardinal Beaton had him arrested, and through a series of political intrigues and an illegal trial, had him condemned to be burned at the stake.  On March 1, 1546, they came to his cell, put a rope around his neck, tied his hands behind his back, fastened sacks of gunpowder about his body, and led him to a specially built scaffold just opposite the foretower of the Cardinal’s palace.  Rich cushions had been placed in the windows of the tower so the cardinal and his guests might watch the spectacle in comfort.  When the executioner tied him to the stake, Wishart prayed for his accusers, asking God to forgive them.  The executioner was so moved that he asked Wishart for forgiveness.  To which he replied, ‘Come hither.’  When the executioner drew near, Wishart kissed his cheek, and said, “I forgive you.  Do your work.”  The man turned and lit the fire.  The gunpowder blew up, but Wishart was still alive.  When the captain of the castle, guard saw this, he told the dying man to be of good courage.  Wishart replied, “This flame has scorched my body; yet it has not daunted my spirit.”  Then referring to Cardinal Beaton, he continued, “He who, from yonder place, looks upon me with such pride, shall within a few days, lie in the same [i.e., the same castle], as ignominiously as he is now seen proudly to rest himself.”  Less than three months later Cardinal David Beaton was murdered in the very palace from which he watched the martyr’s execution, fulfilling Wishart’s last prophecy.

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