On Sunday, November 16, 1572, Robert Fairley of Edinburgh didn’t go home after church. The reformer John Knox lay dying nearby, and he went to see him. Fairley sat at a table near Knox’s bed, both men sharing food and fellowship.
Fairley, longing to be the last to see the great reformer alive, followed Knox’s illness. Sensing the end, he visited again on Thursday. Waiting till everyone else had left the room, he crept beside the dying man. Knox looked over and whispered, “I have been greatly indebted to you. I shall never be able to recompense you, but I commit you to One who is able to do it—to the Eternal God.”
Fairley never forgot those words. He told his children. They told theirs. The story passed from generation to generation until young Marion Fairley was told, “Your great grandfather was committed in prayer to the Eternal God by his servant, John Knox.” Moved by that legacy and by her father’s preaching, Marion gave herself to Christ.
Marion grew up to marry godly William Veitch. One night soldiers burst in, carrying William to prison for his gospel preaching. “All the time the officers were in the house,” Marion later wrote, “(the Lord) supported me so that I was not in the least discouraged before them.”
Presently, news arrived that William was to be hanged. Marion rode horseback through a blinding January snowstorm to Morpeth jail, arriving at midnight. At daybreak she was given a few moments with her husband, “then I went to a friend’s house and wept my fill.” That day prosecutor Thomas Bell announced, “Veitch will hang tomorrow as he deserves.”
But that evening prosecutor Bell tarried at a friend’s house, drinking and talking until past ten. The night was dark and cold when he left for home. He never arrived. Two days later his body was found in the river, frozen up to his arms in solid ice.
William Veitch was released, and he and Marion lived to ripe old age, passing their godly heritage on to their children and grandchildren.
These are things we learned from our ancestors, And we will tell them to the next generation. We won’t keep secret the glorious deeds And the mighty miracles of the Lord. (Psalm 78:3,4)
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Nov. 16.