Written by Tiana Popovic
I am always challenged whenever I read about the martyrs. I am often more than just challenged!! Often, I am convicted of my, at times, shallow Christianity. I always wonder if I would be able to stick by my Saviour, if it meant death - I would hope that I would, but NO one will know unless they are put in the position. The apostle Peter, himself, denied his Lord and he had SEEN Him! A great challenge to all of us!
Today, I am going to share about Margaret Wison, who was martyred at the age of 18. Before the story, is an explanation - it shows that they were only asked to say the simplest thing, or preform the slightest act to again be free. But in doing so, they would be denying their Master.
"It was customary at the period, in order to find what was reckoned plausible ground of condemnation, to put to the arraigned persons
such questions as the following: ‘Was the rising at Bothwell rebellious, or not?’ Or this, ‘Will you pray for the king?’ - questions put in an equivocal sense, and meant to lead to further admission from the parties accused.
Or they were ordered to say, ‘God save the king,’ meaning thereby an acknowledgment not only of his civil authority, but also of his ecclesiastical supremacy. If the meaning intended to be put upon the words was inquired into by the accused, he was told that they implied not only the owning of his person and government, but also of his supremacy as head of the Church as well as of the State.
As proposed, and intended to be answered, it was tantamount to a
renunciation of the principles on account of which the adherents of the covenant felt called upon to testify. It was so plausibly worded as to
make refusal to take it appear in the light of obstinacy and disloyalty: ‘But,’ says M ‘Crie, with admirable truth, ‘it was like the grain of incense which the early Christians were required by their persecutors to let fall on the altars of the pagan deities, - the slightest token, indeed, but still a token quite intelligible and well understood, of their renouncing the views of doctrine and principle held by them in reference to this particular.’
We give, in illustration of the preceding remarks, a true tale of that
Gilbert Wilson, a farmer in Roxburghshire, who along with his wife conformed to prelacy, had two daughters.
The latter having embraced covenanting views, refused to hear the
episcopal incumbent, a refusal which entailed the leaving of their father’s
house, and the seeking shelter in bogs, hills, and caves. Their names wereMargaret and Agnes.
Both were of tender years, one being only eighteen, and the other a child of but thirteen. After trial, sentence of death was passed on
them. The distracted father hastened to Edinburgh, and by payment
of a large sum purchased the life of his youngest daughter, Agnes.
But Margaret’s doom was to be carried into effect; and, along with an
aged woman of sixty-three, she was sentenced to death by being bound to stakes planted in the sea within flood-mark, in the neighbourhood of
Margaret was implored by her friends to take the oath, and promise to hear the curate; but persisting in refusal, she was along with her companion tied to the stake in presence of an immense crowd, and
surrounded by soldiers.
Her aged companion’s stake was further advanced, so that she was the first to suffer. She was struggling in the water, and nearly choked by the advancing tide, when the question was put to Margaret, what she thought of her friend now. ‘What do I see,’ she answered, ‘but Christ in one of
His members wrestling there? Think you that we are the sufferers? No; it is Christ in us, for He sends none on a warfare upon their own charges.’
She continued praying as the water slowly crept up around, and at last nearly covered her person. Before life was gone, they pulled her up
till she was able, after gasping, to speak. Then Major Windram, who commanded, asked if she would pray for the king; to which she replied, that ‘she wished the salvation of all men, and the damnation of none.’
‘Dear Margaret,’ said a bystander, much affected, ‘say God save the king,’ when she replied, ‘God save him, if He will, for it is his salvation I desire.’ ‘Sir,’ cried he to the major, ‘she has said it! she has said it!’
On this the major, approaching within hearing, offered the abjuration oath, charging her instantly to take it, or be again immersed into the water. But she firmly replied, ‘I will not; I am one of Christ’s children.
Let me go.’ So she was anew thrust into the water, and drowned.
This touching incident has been finely rendered in verse by Mr Henry Inglis, in his ‘Death Scenes of Scottish Martyrs.’ We quote an extract:
I was down by Bladnoch side, Willie,
Low down by Wigtown bay;
For a crummie o’ the hirsel
Had wander’d from the hazel brae,
And there I saw a sight of woe,
Of horror, and of shame,
That has frozen up my life-blood,
And sear’d my soul with flame.
In the tide-way of the ocean,
Full in the eye of heaven,
Bound like a heathen sacrifice
To deities of darkness given
Begirt by troops of savage men,
Some in the tide, and some
Watching ashore with pike and gun,
And dismal rolling of the drum;-
Two hapless, helpless women, Willie,
In midst of this array,
That might have stemmed the rushing charge
Of a thousand beasts of prey,‑
Were planted in the waxing wave,
Advancing sure and slow,
To meet the King of Terrors borne
Upon the crested ocean flow.
Two harmless, helpless women, Willie!
One was a feeble thing,
Stricken with sorrows and with years,
And weight of mortal suffering:
She was the farrest from the shore,
And I could only see
Her grey hair floating in the foam
Of her last struggling agony.
I was near hand to the ither:
Oh! she was young and fair!
What kenn’d she about Bothwell Brig,
Or risings at the Moss of Ayr?
They were foughten when that lassie Play’d
At gowans on the lea;
But judge and jury doom’d her
For Bothwell Brig and Ayr to dee.
Her cheek was wet wi’ tears, Willie!
A lassie’s tears will spring,
As surely as the laverock
In the lift of heaven will sing:
But like the notes from silver bells,
Unbroken, clear, and calm,
Arose in sacred melody
The music of her psalm.
The waves wore settling o’er her, when
A strong man waded in;
He was one that lo’ed the lassie weel,
One of her nearest, dearest kin. [some say, father]
He raised her in his arms of power,
Parted her streaming hair,
And press’d her cold lips to his own
In the frenzy of despair.
Oh! Maggie lass - come back, come back,
It is a harmless thing,
And ne’er can blight the covenant,
To bid ‘God save the king.’
“God save him, an’ He will,” she said,
“It is my constant prayer,
That He may save all human‑kind,
Baith now and evermair.”
“She hath said it! she hath said it!
Men, let the lassie free!”
But from the strand, with sword in hand,
Rush’d Winram, of the gallows tree,
And ’midst a storm of blasphemy
That might have dimm’d the sky,
He bade her swear the oath of fear,
That makes the covenant a lie.
I saw her calmly raise her head,
And calmly gaze on him;
I heard her last enraptured words,
Though sense and light were waxing dim
“I will not swear your impious oath,
Even in this last extreme of woe;
"I am one of Christ’s own children;
I hear Him call me - let me go!" '
This story happened in Scotland, hence the Scot words throughout the poem! :o) I fully understand them all, but if you do not, you can ask me what any of them mean and let you know. ;o)
That is a truly touching poem of an 18 year old young lady who could have saved her life with but three words "God save the King." I hope that you are blessed by it, as I was, and that you will seriously think about what you would have done under her circumstances - really think about.
The Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in the same way that He gave that girl the strength to bear what she had to go through, He can give it to us! God is sooo good to us!!