Imprisoned (as he put it himself) “merely for preaching the Gospel, as he had received power from Christ”, William Erskine would certainly preach again to the benefit of many. His cousins Ralph and Ebenezer are better known but the little we can learn about “honest Mr William Erskine” gives evidence of a resolute Covenanter. We visit the building where he preached: Tron Church, Edinburgh, sadly no longer used as a church.
“So great an engagement, than which nothing is higher”: The International Covenant in England – SFH099
The International Covenant was enthusiastically welcomed and subscribed to in England as well as Scotland. The momentous day it was sworn first, 25 September 1643 was said to be “a day of contentment and joy.” Some said, “we judged the day of entering into this Covenant to be England’s coronation-day, as it was the day of the gladness of our hearts.” We find out more about the depth of commitment displayed at this time and the strong connections it brought between Scotland and England.
Intense emotion surrounded the beginnings of the movement that brought about the Solemn, League and Covenant. It was an international covenant that embraced the political, religious and personal of these nations – a very unique thing. In this episode, we find out how it was first drafted and received in Edinburgh.
We conclude the life of John Carstairs (or Carstares), this remarkable story is not often told. He was not just a man of prayer but also “a man of many meditations”. Also “of great and rare piety; he was full of love; he dwelt, walked, and lived in that fire of love”. We find out how his prayers and meditations could melt the hearts of even the greatest enemies of the Covenanters.
Many Covenanter prisoners were kept in the fearful conditions of the Canongate Tolbooth. Anyone would want to escape, and more than a few Covenanter prisoners actually managed to gain their freedom. We find out more about that in this episode but also look at those who exited the prison still under punishment. Episode 77 covered Gabriel Semple and his time here in 1681.
What was it like to be married to a persecuted minister? Did the trials put a strain on relationships? We find out first hand from the letters that passed between Janet and John Carstairs (sometimes Carstares) while he was being pursued by the authorities. She would be imprisoned briefly herself for attending a conventicle. Her loving yet courageous words to him are especially moving.