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Donald Cargill was a Scottish Presbyterian when such were outlawed. One listener said his sermons “came from his heart and went to the heart. He spake as never man spake, and his words went through us.” People often complained his messages were too short. But his life proved almost as short as his sermons. His arrest being imminent, he gathered his people and spoke from Isaiah 26. The final words of his last sermon were recorded thus: He exhorted us earnestly to dwell in the clefts of the rock, to hide ourselves in the wounds of Christ, to wrap ourselves in God’s promises, and to make our refuge under the shadow of his wings until these sad calamities pass over.
On July 10, 1681, Scottish troops burst into the house where Cargill, James Boig, and Walter Smith were sleeping. The men were rousted from bed, tied to barebacked horses, and taken to prison. Soon, two others joined them. All were condemned.
At the scaffold Cargill put his foot on the ladder, turned, blessed the Lord with uplifted hands, and said, “The Lord knows I go up this ladder with less fear, confusion, or perturbation of mind than ever I entered a pulpit to preach.”
After watching Cargill die, Walter Smith ascended the executioner’s block. A hood was placed over his head, but he lifted it and said, “I have one more word to say, and that is that all who love God and his righteous cause would set time apart and sing a song of praise to the Lord for what he has done for my soul. To him be praise.” The hood was replaced, he was forced against the decapitated corpse of his friend, and his head, too, fell.
James Boig was next. He shouted praise to God, saying he was as calm at the scaffold as he would be at the marriage altar.
The next to die was William Cuthill, and finally William Thomson—five good men all martyred in Edinburgh on “that never-to-be-forgotten bloody day—27 July 1681. The hangman hashed and hagged off all their heads with an ax.”
The Lord gives perfect peace To those whose faith is firm. So always trust the Lord Because he is forever our mighty rock. (Isaiah 26:3,4)
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day: 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). July 26.
ALSO ON THIS DAY
1099 – Pope Urban II, who had preached the first crusade; died.
1649 – An Act for Promoting and Propagating the Gospel in New England is ordered by the English House of Commons, inspired by the work of John Eliot among the American Indians.
1814 – Philanthropist Isabella Graham died in New York City. She trained poor women to learn life skills and habits of thrift and authored a best-seller, The Power of Faith. Her charities had been inspired by her Christian faith.
1926 – William Sangster is ordained in Wesley Chapel. He became one of the most influential leaders of the British Methodists during the twentieth century and was constantly appealed to Methodists to return to their roots and seek deeper faith. He also resisted anti-Semitism.
Accessed ChristianHistoryInstitute.org 26 July 2022.