Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones and the Ulster Scots

Yes, it's hard to believe, but I've just come across an excerpt from the renowned theologian Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones' book Preaching and Preachers where he refers to John Livingstone, the Killinchy minister who had preached with such power at the Kirk O Shotts revival in Scotland in 1630:

"...A revival, by definition, is the mighty act of God and it is a sovereign act of God It is as independent as that. Man can do nothing. God, and God alone, does it … A revival is something which, when it happens, leads people to say, as the townspeople said in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, ‘What is this? What is it?’ It is something that comes like a tornado. It is almost like an overflowing tide, it is like a flood. Astounding things happen, and of such a magnitude that men are left amazed, astonished...

Miraculous things happen, things that are beyond the explanation and the wit of men. And indeed, if you consult the men whom God has used on such occasions, they will all tell you the same thing.

They suddenly, like John Livingstone, became conscious of a power coming upon them.

Not themselves. Taken up, taken out of themselves. Given liberty. Given authority. Given fearlessness. Speaking as men of God with the boldness of the original apostles. They knew when the power came, they knew when the power went. You will read it in the journals of Whitefield and of Wesley and all the rest. This is the hand of the Lord. This is the demonstration of the Spirit and of power. It was because he knew so much about this that the Apostle Paul says ‘For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ’ (2 Corinthians 10:4–5). That is it ..."

Monday, March 17, 2008

First Derry Presbyterian Church

William Roulston and I visited this church a few weeks ago, it's right on the famous walls of the city. Here's a pic of a huge memorial in the entrance hall. It reads:

"... from 1605AD onward, many Scotsmen settled in Londonderry and the neighbourhood, so many that in 1644, when the Solemn League and Covenant was publicly signed in the Diamond, they formed the bulk of the population..."

Once again, the Covenanters are everywhere!

Michael Bruce

Michael Bruce was minister of Killinchy from 1656 - he was their next minister after John Livingstone. He was a great-grandson of Rev Robert Bruce of Edinburgh, and was a mighty field preacher of his day, both in Ulster and Scotland. I've just downloaded a copy of Howie's "Sermons Delivered in Times of Persecution in Scotland", where it says of Bruce:

"...The fire of persecution for non-conformity in Scotland soon extended to the North of Ireland. The king and his courtiers
well knew that there were many valiant men in Ulster who would never bend before the blast, however furious it might blow.

Bruce was ejected from the church and living of Killinchy, and, orders being given for his apprehension, he was compelled to betake himself for safety to the houses of private friends and other places of refuge. But he did not cease to proclaim the Gospel. In kilns, barns, or woods, and even in the night, he and many of his flock met and held sweet fellowship together in partaking, in doctrine and sacrament, of the bread of life..."

Covenanters in Ulster on GoogleMaps

Spent Saturday with William Roulston and John Turner, visiting some Covenanter sites in County Antrim. Two of them (The Vow and Laymore) were tricky to find, so I've started an online heritage trail on GoogleMaps to make it easier to find them again, and for other folk to find them too. Click the link on the left under "My Other Websites" to see them - let me know what you think.

Blair Necessities

How important was Robert Blair? Am I exaggerating all of this?

" is an undoubted fact that the labours of Blair and his brethren had a most blessed effect on the tumultuous colony of Ulster, and served to make that Province what it has ever been since..." (p. 111)

"...the awakening which followed was the chief means of putting on Ulster the stamp which it has ever since retained..." (p. 110)

" was this spiritual awakening that laid the foundation of the prosperity of Ulster..." (p119)

from The Preachers of Scotland by William Blaikie, 1888.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Covenanter Street Names in Belfast

(Thanks to Jack Greenald for the tip-off on this one.) Jack mentioned this to me a while back, so I dug out the Belfast Streetfinder, and lo and behold down in Orangefield, close to Grosvenor Grammar School, there are three streets named after David Houston, and one after Richard Cameron / the Cameronians.

At the side of Sandy Row Orange Hall is Renwick Street, and just off the Shankill is Cargill Street.

Cameron, Cargill and Renwick were all killed for their stand, and all three had their heads displayed at the Netherbow in Edinburgh as a deterrent to others who might follow them. Houston died in Ulster and was buried near Connor in County Antrim. Somebody in the old Belfast Corporation obviously knew his Ulster-Scots history for him to propose these names!

(sorry for the messy layout, but Blogger's not a very refined publishing tool)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Robert Blair of Bangor

Robert Blair is probably the most important of all of the early Ulster Presbyterian ministers. He arrived in Ulster, somewhat reluctantly, after a career in both teaching and ministering in Scotland. That's his signature above, taken from his autobiography. There's a ropey digitised version of it available here on Google Books to download free as a PDF.

The Presbyterian Historical Society will be reprinting it later in the year, and next week they're launching a reprint of "Adair's Narrative". It'll be on sale for £20, but they've only printed 250 copies with Tentmaker Publications, so my advice is to get one quick. It's a magnificent source of information about the early Scots settlement in Ulster, and has a lot of details about the early ministers, Eagle Wing, the Sixmilewater Revival and the later persecutions. Absolutely essential reading.

Here's a bit about Blair. He was obviously getting on well in Scotland, and was considering going to France to preach among the Huguenots. However, much like Abraham and Jonah, he felt the call of God. The Lord said to Blair - "as if one standing by had audibly said" -

"Thou fool art taking the disposal of thyself, not submitting to me. Thou must either preach the Gospel in Ireland or nowhere at all" Being thus rebuked, he found himself bound in spirit to set his face towards Ireland; and yet, for all this, was not persuaded to settle there, loathing that country, and hankering still after France. Yet, the Sovereign Lord thrust him over into Ireland wholly against his inclination.

So, coming over, and landing at Glenarm, he goes towards Carrickfergus; and, having come within a mile of the town, upon the top of the hill Bangor in these parts appeared to him; at sight of which the Lord did unexpectedly fill his heart with such a sweet peace and extraordinary joy that he could scarcely contain himself, but was forced to lie down upon the grass to rejoice in the Lord, who was the same in Ireland that he was in Scotland..."

Seeing Bangor doesn't usually have that affect on people! Blair had been invited to Bangor by Sir James Hamilton, who I refer to as one of the Founding Fathers of the Ulster Scots. A great booklet of Blair's life is available from the Presbyterian Historical Society for £2.00

I recently bought a reprint copy of “Scottish Martyrs and Covenanters” by Daniel Defoe and Others. Defoe wrote the classic Robinson Crusoe. It has a short chapter entitled “Blair, Rutherford, Dickson and Douglas”, where Blair is described as having a “mild and amiable temper”, and of being “a sweet, majestick-looking man, and he showed me the majesty of God”.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

"It's Rangers For Me"

I'll never play at Ibrox, and I've only ever been to the great stadium a handful of times. So to be quoted in a book dedicated to Rangers is quite something for me.

I'm on page 128, right in the top left corner, in Chris Williamson's chapter entitled "Rangers and the Ulster Scots".

I only started following Rangers when I was about 12 - it was 1984 - I couldnt work out why all the boys in my year at school were wearing white Umbro shorts for PE that had a funny monogram on the leg. I'd never seen it before; it was of course the world-famous "RFC" crest.

At that point, Jock Wallace was the manager, the Rangers News was a two colour newssheet, the kit sponsor was CR Smith (a Glasgow double glazing firm) and they weren't winning much. Nevertheless most Saturday nights were spent desperately trying to tune the tv into BBC Scotland so we could watch the Rangers highlights on "Sportscene" rather than the English football on "Match of the Day"!

Monday, March 03, 2008

"Two Shall Be Together" (Notes from a PreMillennial Childhood)

Another wee Sunday School chorus that drifted back into my head tonight:

Say, will you be ready when Jesus comes?
Are you sure you're born again and washed in Jesus' blood?
Are your garments spotless, are they white as snow?
Say will you be ready when Jesus comes?

Two shall be together, grinding at the mill;
Two shall be together, sleeping calm and still;
One shall be taken, the other left behind
Say will you be ready when Jesus comes?"

Graeme and I should record this, and others like it, sometime. Capture them all now while there are still older folks about to sing them to us, and before we forget them ourselves.

(Illustration from There's a New World Coming by Hal Lindsey, 1973)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Today's edition of "The Scotsman"!

I subscribe to the daily free email from The Scotsman newspaper. In today's one it included "Fact of the Day", which was:

Fact of the Day
On this day in 1546, Protestant reformer George Wishart was burnt at the stake by Cardinal Beaton. Wishart's death precipitated a riot as Protestants stormed St Andrews Castle, the Cardinal's refuge. To read more about Scotland's history go to

Roll on the day when Northern Ireland's mainstream media commemorates events like this!

[Just a few weeks ago I blogged about Wishart's martyrdom here, where I revealed that one of Hilary's ancestors was involved in the retaliatory murder of Cardinal Beaton!]