Monday, August 15, 2016

4:12 Series - Hugh MacKail

I like this entry, because it's as challenging for the 20-somethings like me as it is for teenagers. It's about a young man named Hugh. Evil Times

For more than a hundred years, Scottish believers had been contending for the ideals of the Protestant Reformation in their country. When the kingdom adopted the Reformed faith as the national religion in 1560, it was a moment of victory for the gospel cause. But in 1618, the king imposed English Anglicanism on the Scottish Presbyterian Church. Reformed believers couldn't accept this, however, because many of the doctrines and practices of the Anglican Church contradicted the gospel. And so, they decided to “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29; John 19:11).

Several wars and many years later, in 1660, King Charles II began to systematically persecute the Reformed Presbyterian Church. From Pastor to Soldier

At this time, Hugh was a twenty-one year old pastor, and he preached against Charles' oppressive policies, declaring, "The Scripture doth abundantly evidence that the people of God have been persecuted sometimes by a Pharaoh on the throne, sometimes by a Haman in the state, and sometimes by a Judas in the Church."

Soon, he was forced to run for his life from the authorities. He joined a small band of men that had taken up arms in defense of the gospel. One author tells us,
They were of the school who know the permitted power of the devil, and in adversity rebel not against God, but bless the name of the Lord, as Job of old, neither sinning nor charging God foolishly. They believed that their sufferings were as blood-washed as their sins. 'Brother, die
well, it is the last act of faith you will ever be able to do,' was the advice of one Covenanter to another, sick and dying.
In the bleak winter of 1666, this haggard and homeless band of nine hundred rebels was hunted down and crushed by four thousand government troops. Those who died had the easier lot. At least they died quickly.

Twenty-five year old Hugh wasn't so fortunate. He was captured, interrogated and tortured. His leg was put into a device called “The Boot”.
The executioner enclosed the leg and knee within the tight iron case, and then placing a wedge of the same metal between the knee and edge of the machine, took a mallet in his hand and stood waiting for further orders. … [the executioner's] mallet instantly descended on the wedge, and forcing it between the knee and the iron boot, occasioned the most exquisite pain….
Hugh's leg was turned into a pulp of blood, flesh and shattered bone. Thankfully, God enabled him to endure, and he refused to say anything that would betray his brethren.

A Good Confession

On the day of his execution, he prayed, “Lord, we come to thy throne, a place we hitherto have not been acquainted with. … Our prayer this day is not to be free from death, but that we may witness before many witnesses a good confession.”

His prayer was answered abundantly. As he climbed up the hangman's ladder, he cried, “I care no more to go up this ladder, and over it, than if I were going home to my father's house,” and “Every step is a degree nearer heaven.” At the top, he took out his pocket Bible and read to the crowds from Revelation 22. Then, full of the Spirit, he cried,
Now, I leave off to speak any more to creatures, and turn my speech to thee, O Lord. Now I begin my intercourse with God which shall never be broken off. Farewell, father and mother, friends and relations! Farewell, the world and all delights! ... Welcome, God and Father! Welcome, sweet Lord Jesus, Mediator of the New Covenant! Welcome blessed Spirit of grace, God of all consolation! Welcome, glory! Welcome eternal life! Welcome, death!
The noose tightened around his neck, and this young man of proven faith was ushered into the Lord's presence to receive his eternal reward.


  1. Jock Purves, Fair Sunshine: Character Studies of the Scottish Covenanters.
  2. Robert McEvoy, "Covenanter Stories -- No. 12, Hugh MacKail",
  3. "Covenanters in Scotland General Overview/Background",
  4. "The Five Articles of Perth (1618)",

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