Miller was captured after Cargill’s preaching at Largo Law
The story of Christopher Miller is one of betrayal. After hearing Cargill preach, Miller was determined to offer a martyrs’ testimony for the Covenanters’ cause if he was captured. On 11 March, 1681, he delivered on his resolution at his execution in Edinburgh. However, in a cruel twist of fate, his martyrs’ testimony was later rejected by his brethren and consigned to obscurity for over two centuries.
Miller thought that it was lawful to kill the King and his judges. His case caused outrage among moderate presbyterians, but it was not for his king-killing beliefs that Miller lost his place in the cloud of witnesses…
Christopher Miller was a weaver, or webster, in Gargunnock in Gargunnock parish, Stirlingshire. (Thomson (ed.), CW, 146.)
The village of Gargunnock was part of the Gargunnock estate of James Campbell of Gargunnock, the son of Campbell of Ardkinglas, one of the followers of the earl of Argyll.
Before Drumclog (1 June 1679), ‘the Lord tristed’ Miller ‘with great heart exercise, whither or not it was my duty to joyn with that party that was for the defence of the Gospell’. However, he joined the Rising and fought at Bothwell Brig, where his ‘honest father was killed …, being seventy or eighty years old’.
It is likely that Miller came under the command of James Ure of Shargarton, a moderate presbyterian who headed the men from Kippen and Gargunnock parishes during the Bothwell Rising. After his arrival on 7 June, Shargarton was a prominent opponent of the militant faction (that included Donald Cargill) and he pressed John Welsh to issue a declaration which did not meddles with powers of the king or the indulgences. Shargarton was also part of the moderate presbyterian Argyll interest. (M’Crie (ed.), Memoirs of Veitch, 455-64.)
After the defeat, Miller was captured and held prisoner in Greyfriars yard in Edinburgh, however, he managed to escape and took ship for France. He remained there for ‘the matter of half a year’, i.e probably until the late spring of 1680, before he returned to Scotland.
At Edinburgh, he witnessed the gruesome execution of David Hackston of Rathillet at the Cross of Edinburgh on 30 July. Hackston’s death was a turning point for Miller, which brought him to join the militant presbyterian cause:
‘I blese the Lord this day that ever I say (sic) that worthy gentlemen murthered, David Hackstoun of Rath-Elliot. I think, by the Lord’s bleseing, the seeing him murthered did me good, and put me to my duty, and mad me more valiant and stout for my lovely Lord and Master Christ.’
After Hackston’s execution, he followed that ‘nicknamed way of preaching’, which he termed ‘Cameron’s faction’, and heard Donald Cargill preach, presumably during September and October when Cargill preached in Stirlingshire and Linlithgowshire. In particular, Miller found that ‘the Lord did work wounderfully on my heart at a preaching over in Fife’ by Cargill. Miller must have been present at Cargill’s preaching at Largo Law on 24 October, 1680, as that was Cargill’s only preaching in Fife at that time. According to Miller, after hearing Cargill’s sermon, ‘I durst not but oun [the cause] to the lossing of my life in the quarrell’.
The Capture of Miller and Murray
Soon after the Largo Law preaching, he and at one other individual, probably John Murray, a sailor in Bo’ness, were taken by soldiers and brought to the Canongate Tolbooth. The date of Miller’s capture is not clear from the evidence of his testimony, but it was plainly after the Largo Law preaching 24 October and certainly before 9 December, 1680, when the prisoners who betrayed him to the council for a second time were released.
When Miller was brought before the council, he stated in his testimony that he acted on the advice of ‘one’ who was captured with him, almost certainly Murray. Miller remained silent at his first appearance before the council, which he found ‘a sore challenge to me’.
He did not find his company in the Canongate Tolbooth easy to live with:
‘ther was a wheen of our canny wise professors, which was like to break me; but the Lord discovered them to their collours quhat they were, which mad me abhore their way– for they deboasht themselves with drinking – and separated from them. And then they gave me up to the bloody enemies’
The cause of Miller’s second appearance before the Council was his tearing of king James VI’s name out of the Bible, which led some of his fellow prisoners to inform against him. There is little doubt that the other prisoners would have found that a shocking act. In his testimony, Miller named three men:
‘And I leave my blood on James Weer and Gavin Hamilton and Robert Henderson, for they wer the men that gave me up because I did rive out the wretches name out of the Bible.’
James Weir and Gavin Hamilton were presbyterian prisoners who were suspected on some role in the Bothwell Rising. The simultaneous entries in the Council registers for their release on 9 December 1680, appear to confirm that their informing against Miller had brought about a sudden change of heart by the Council in their cases. For example, Weir’s entry shows that after well over a year of imprisonment, the Council had either just discovered or agreed that Weir was a common fowler, rather than an armed Covenanter:
‘James Weir, prisoner, as being taken with a foulling piece shortly after the rebellion, it is the opinion of the Committy that, in regard it is proven he was not in the rebellion and is known to be a common fouller, that he be liberat upon enacting himselfe to live orderly and not frequent conventicles.’ (RPCS, VI, 602.)
It is possible that the terms of their release were, at least in part, a cover story which made no mention of their betrayal of Miller to protect them from revenge attacks. If so, Miller’s martyrs’ testimony may have shredded that pretence by naming them as his betrayers. However, Miller’s tearing of the Bible would have been seen as an outrage by the vast majority of Presbyterians.
Miller was not silent at his second appearance before the council, as he ‘told them my mind’. He clearly felt that he had failed to offer a public testimony at his first appearance due to Murray’s counsel:
‘for there was on[e] that was taken with me, that is in prison this day, that did insnar me with his counsell – I thought he had been in my own judgment – mad me hearken to his counsell and keep silente before these wretches at first, which was a sore challeng to me so long as I was in prison, untill I cam in again before them and told them my mind again.’
According to Robert Law, a moderate presbyterian, former minister of Easter Kilpatrick and field preacher, Miller and Murray were brought before the council in February, 1681:
‘February 1681, one Christopher Millar, and another, [John] Murray, being apprehended aforehand, and brought before the king’s councell at Edinburgh, were interrogat, whether they would kill the king, if it were in their power? answered that they would, becaus he is an enemy to God. Being again interrogat, whether if the king, whom they would kill, would spare their lyves, they would accept of that mercy and favour fra him ? answered, No’. (Law, Memorialls, 182.)
Like other Cameronian prisoners, Miller faced pressure to recant his views. While in prison, he was approached by Mr. Alexander Hastie, a moderate presbyterian minister, who attempted to dissuade him of his support for Cargill’s party:
‘I leave my blood on Mr Alexander Hasty, first, because he said I was easiery maintianed her and better nor I would be without; and I said would not com out of prison because I was so well maintianed. 2ly, he said that that poor [Cameronian] party would turn Babell’s brood. 3ly, he said that [Cameron’s] party that was dounright for God was all distracted.’
In Miller’s case, Hastie’s endeavours appear to have bolstered his determination to offer a testimony against backsliding moderate presbyterian ministers and professors, and to publicly reveal their collusion with the regime.
According to Robert Law, after their second appearance, the council offered Miller and Murray a conference with three moderate presbyterian ministers:
‘The abovenamed men, Miller and Murray, having had the offer made them by the councell of conference with Mr John Carstairs, Mr G[eorge]. Johnston, and Mr [Archibald] Riddell, ministers, refused, becaus, said they, they were apostats from the truth’. (Law, Memorialls, 183.)
In Law’s moderate presbyterian opinion:
‘Surely neither civill nor ecclesiasticall authority has weight with persons of such principles; and no wonder, when the Holy Scriptures has no weight with them, yet such of such principles have died with great magnanimity and courage lately at Edinburgh, which some, in their ignorance, count Christian fortitude. It is not the suffering, but the cause makes the martyr; and if folks be deluded in their principles, and will not receive warning from the servants of the Lord, according to his word, no wonder they be given up of God even so to their end, that they die in it. 1. Cor. xiii. 3, These that walk not according to the rule of God’s word, are out of the way, and a prey to Satan. Which dreadfull principles gives us a dowble admonition, one to our rulers, that they reflect and look back on their wayes, to see what is the cause of their peoples’ loathing and casting at them; another to us, that we willingly and cheerfully undergo the cross of Christ, when he calls us to it, without fretting and wrath, repyning and wishing evill to the instruments of our trouble, lest in going out of God’s way in this we provock him to give us up to our own ways, and to the delusions of our own hearts’. (Law, Memorialls, 183.)
Miller Before the Justiciary
According to Wodrow, Millar was indicted for treason on the basis of his confession before the Council ‘where he acknowledges he was in arms at Bothwell bridge, and thinks he may lawfully rise in arms against the king for the covenant’. Presumably when offered to subscribe his confession, he ‘declared he cannot write’. Both he and John Murray, with whom he was tried, were found guilty ‘by their own confession’ before the assize and Andrew Cunningham, the doomster, sentenced them both to he hanged at the Grassmarket on 11 March. (Wodrow, History, III, 277; Thomson (ed.), CW, 146-7.)
However, according to Miller, he was to be executed for his treasonable utterances which denyed the authority of the King, York and Council when he was brought before the council for the second time and spoke his mind. Miller’s testimony gives his view as to why the council sent him before the justiciary:
‘Now the reason of my being brought here this day way (sic) [i.e., at his execution], I durest not oun these usurping murther[er]s to be rulers, quho had taken Christ’s rights from him, and quho wer tirranizing over his inheritance, which did not becom them, and which I durst not but for my soul witness against them, although the ministers and professors doth not think duty but condemne them quho doth it; but I say they will get a worse sentence than mine, for they have my blood upon their head, and the rest of my brethren’s blood too. And the reason quherfor I did disoun them was, because they have brokn covenant with God, and covenanted with the devill in establishing that cursed supreamacy, and hold that tirrant head of the church – the croun which belons no mortall man to wear, nor Presbetrian to oun. As for my part, I do not think them Presbetrian that will oun these cursed wretches, for I wot well they have don as much as might have mad them examplary for judgment, as they might a been an example to any to lookd on, that side that they are on’.
Foutainhall stated that Miller was executed ‘for disouning the King’s authority, and adhering to Cargil’s covenant, declaration, and excommunication, and thinking it lawfull to kill the King and his Judges’. (Fountainhall, Historical Observes 1680 to 1686, I, 29.)
In the early eighteenth century, Wodrow obscured the reasons for the judgment against Miller and blamed the Restoration regime’s corrupt system of justice. However, the contemporary sources, Law and Fountainhall, shared Miller’s view that it was for his treasonable public denial of the King’s authority for which he was executed.
The Contrasting Case of John Murray
Murray, a sailor in Borrowstounness (aka. Bo’ness), was tried on the same day as Miller. Like Miller, he was indicted for treason on the basis of his previous confession before the privy council. The primary reason for Murray’s trial for treason was almost certainly the treasonable statements he made at his second appearance before the council with Miller. According to Wodrow, who was keen to downplay the severity of their treasonable utterances, when he was examined before the Council he confessed that ‘he was at the conventicle at Torwood with arms; … [and] when he is interrogate, if he owns the king’s authority, he answers, he owns all that is from God, and to be owned, and adds, that while the king observed the covenant, his was from God, but since he has broke that, he knows not what to say. As to the archbishop’s murder, he says, if they were sent of God to execute judgment on him, he will not judge them nor their actions.’ He was also given a ‘printed copy of the Queensferry covenant and Sanquhar declaration … to consider on’ and after ‘some days’ decided that he owned them.
On 2 March, Murray owned his confession before the Justiciary, but refused to sign it as that would recognise the authority of the Justiciary. Like Miller, he was sentenced to be hanged at the Grassmarket on 11 March.
Murray was on the same track to martyrdom as Miller, but then his commitment to the Cameronian cause wavered. According to Wodrow, in March,
‘John Murray a sailor was sentenced to die for his being at a conventicle in arms … [however,] some of the managers [on the council] were willing to show this man some favour. Accordingly, several draughts of a petition were proposed to him, which if he would sign, the council would procure him a reprieve: he refused them all, as what he thought imported a receding from his principles’. (Wodrow, History, III, 254.)
It is not known why elements of the council were prepared to offer ‘some favour’ to Murray. It is possible that in a similar interview to Miller with Alexander Hastie, that Murray had shown some sign of being prepared to recede from his former principles. Murray had also only been apprehended for his post-execution opinions. He had been armed at Cargill’s Torwood conventicle, but he had not assaulted individuals like Miller. The council certainly persisted:
‘At length, Sir William Paterson [the clerk of the council] calling Mr [John] Spreul who was in the same room of the prison with John Murray, to another, told him, the council inclined to spare Murray, and entreated him to deal with him to sign any petition, and he would present it. [According to Spreul,] John Murray would not direct any petition to [James] the duke of York [who was head of the council]: however, at length he [i.e. Spreul] drew a declaration with a petitory clause added to it, which satisfied John [Murray], and he signed it. It was directed to the [privy] council’. (Wodrow, History, III, 254.)
A selective extract from Murray’s petition was reproduced by Wodrow:
‘Whereas I am sadly misrepresented to your lordships, as if I were a man of king-killing principles, I declare I would kill no man whatsomever but upon self-defence, which the law of God and nature allows; I own the free preaching of the gospel, whether in the fields or houses, seeing it is written, “without faith it is impossible to please God, and faith cometh by hearing.” I also own Jesus Christ as the only head of his own church, and King of saints, and disown all others pretending thereunto. May it therefore please your lordships, to recall the sentence against me, as if I were of dangerous and king-killing principles, lest you bring innocent blood upon your own heads, this city, and inhabitants thereof; for I declare I am no papist, and hate and abhor all those Jesuitical, bloody, and murdering principles.’ (Wodrow, History, III, 254-5.)
According to Robert Law:
‘Murray, relenting and acknowledging the king’s authority, was repryved, but the other three [Miller, Gogar and Sangster], though they had the offer of their lives upon that acknowledgement of the king’s authority, refused it’. (Law, Memorialls, 183.)
‘Ther was a 4th condemned with them for the same principles, called [John] Murray, but he was prevailled on to give in a petition to the Privy Councell disouning the doctrine of killing Kings, or rising in arms against them, (only he qualified it with this exception, unlesse it was in selfe defence,) and acknowledged the King supreame in all civill matters, but not in ecclesiasticks, which, tho contrare to law, yet so far prevailled as to obtaine a reprival to him of his life’. (Fountainhall, Historical Observes 1680 to 1686, I, 30.)
By petitioning the Council, Murray acknowledged the authority of the King, York and the Council. His repudiation of ‘king-killing’ principles also recanted his earlier ownership of the Queensferry Paper and the Sanquhar Declaration. In short, Murray had rejected Cargill’s platform.
The language of the petition was not well received by York or the council, however, it was the drafter, Spreul, rather than petitioner, Murray, who found himself in difficulties. Murray was not executed with Miller on 11 March and he remained in prison until 2 June, 1681, when he was ‘recommended by the council to the king’s clemency, as being rather misled than malicious’. (Wodrow, History, III, 255, 277-8.)
Miller had thought that Murray shared his militant-presbyterian views, but Murray adopted a more-moderate stance. The lesson Miller drew from his ‘sad experience’ of Murray’s backsliding for his brethren was to
‘Seperat and com out from them. I here, as in the sight of the living God, seall with my blood an far seperation between true Presbyterians and them that hath acepted that tirrant’s favours. Com out from among them. Eat not drink not with them, lest they intise you, and draw you away with them, … Halt not between two opinions. Side yourselfe and com out. O, make a right choice quhatever ye do, for it is dangerous now to side with God’s enemies. I bid you have a care, and wot very well with quhom you joyn, and with quhom you converse, or with quhom you eat or drink, or quhat you eat or drink.’
The contrast between the similar cases of Miller and Murray reveals the fine line between life and death in cases where the only evidence of treason was the accused’s statements. There was remarkably little difference between the accusations that were levelled against Miller and Murray throughout the process, however, while Miller elected to offer a testimony and was executed, Murray wavered from that course and was offered clemency. The crucial determining factor for the council in such cases was the willingness of the accused, no matter how late in the day, to recognise their authority.
The Execution of Christopher Miller
Christopher Miller was executed with William Gogar and Robert Sangster at the Grassmarket in Edinburgh on 11 March.
Prior to their execution, all three Cameronians subscribed a joint testimony directed to their home shire of Stirlingshire. It can be found here:
Miller also subscribed an individual martyrs’ testimony, which remained out of public circulation for centuries. It appears that Miller did not write his own testimony; Miller ‘declared he cannot write’ before the council and in his testimony admitted that he was ‘unbred’ (unread?) and ‘unlearned’. He also subscribed his testimony in the Iron House of Edinburgh Tolbooth, i.e., prior to his appearance on the scaffold. That certainly suggests that it was written for him by one of the inmates of the Iron House. Nonetheless, his testimony was clearly constructed with his input, as it contains a considerable amount of biographical detail. According to Wodrow, it was common practice for ‘sufferers’ who could not draft their testimonies themselves to have ‘their testimonies writ for them …, and approved the draught when read to them’. (Wodrow, History, III, 226.)
It was fortunate for Miller that he did subscribe a testimony in advance, as it is not clear if he managed to deliver a testimony speech at the scaffold. According to Cloud, his fellow martyr William Gogar had the drums played when he tried to speak and was quickly turned over before he could recommend his spirit to the Lord. (Thomson (ed.), CW, 158.)
Fountainhall recorded that all of the condemned remained obstinate to the end, even when offered a reprieve on the scaffold:
[11 March] 1681. Ther ware 3 persons hanged at the Grassemarkat of Edinburgh, for disouning the King’s authority, and adhering to Cargil’s coveenant, declaration, and excommunication, and thinking it lawfull to kill the King and his Judges. … Ther names ware Gogar, Millar, and Sangster; if they would but have acknowledged his Majestie, they would have been pardoned; yea, when they ware upon the scaffold, [Wentworth Dillon] the Earle of Roscommons, by a privy warrand from the Duke of York, came and offered them ther lives, if they would but say, God save the King; but they refused to doe it’. (Fountainhall, Historical Observes 1680 to 1686, I, 29.)
An eyewitness to their execution recorded that:
‘At the Gallows there was a Pardon offer’d, if they would Repent, and ask for Forgiveness; But they refused all Grace there, as at their Tryals; all answered, That they would not receive a Pardon from such Murderers, (meaning the King and his Councel here); Another said, He owned the King as the King owned the Covenant. In fine, They Dyed Obstinate and Impenitent, expressing Great Zeal for their Cause, but no Charity; For they neither asked God nor Man Forgiveness, nor Forgave any.’ (T.D., A Letter from Edenbrough, 1.)
The moderate-presbyterian Robert Law joined a chorus of disapproval against Miller, Gogar and Sangster and accused them of ‘self-murder’:
‘To this hight of delusion are some come; and by the same principles they were obliged, if it were in their power, to kill all that are in a naturail state, yea, every one whom they judged enemies to God, whether they be so or not. … Oh! Satan prevails much in changing his methods to tempt souls to sin against God’s commands, and to self-murder. Alace! it’s the sad fruits of putting out of the ministrie of the Presbyterian persuasion in the year 1662, who taught the people both religion toward God, and loyaltie to authoritie’. (Law, Memorialls, 182-3.)
While Fountainhall disapproved of their rancourous behaviour, he also recognised that the impact of their martyrdom was unsettling and in some cases counterproductive:
‘To refuse the pardoning ther enemies was to dy in much malice and unmortified rankor, as appears by Gogar’s printed speach. Yet some thought it sad to dispatch men away to the other world in such spirituall madnesse and religious melancoly, who rushed upon death and ware wain of suffering, and from whose boldnesse in dying (as if it had come from the immediate divine assistance) other simple peeple, as Hydra’s head, and Cadmus teeth fowen, ware proselyted, at leist ware hardened and confirmed in their error; and it could have been better to have kept them in bonds as madmen, or to have employed physitians to use ther skill upon them as on hypocondriack persones’. (Fountainhall, Historical Observes 1680 to 1686, I, 30.)
Immediately after their executions, the heads of two of them were spiked on Edinburgh’s West Port gate as replacements for the heads of two other executed Cameronians which had been secretly removed by their brethren:
‘About 8 dayes before this [i.e., on c.3 March], they had stollen away 2 heads, which stood on the West Port of Edinburgh, viz.: [Archibald] Stewart’s and [John] Potter’s; the criminal Lords, to supply that want, ordained 2 of thir criminal heads to be struck off and to be affixted in ther place.’ (Fountainhall, Historical Observes 1680 to 1686, I, 30.)
The West Port gate lay at the west end of the Grassmarket.
The Fate of Miller’s Testimonies.
Within two months of their executions, rumours circulated that the recent Cameronian testimonies were part of a secret Catholic conspiracy against the Protestant religion. It was, of course, complete nonsense, which was doubtless spread by moderate presbyterians to discredit their militant brethren:
‘It’s reported that severalls of the speeches of the lait dying persons on scaffolds at Edinburgh have been penned by papists, and put out in their names to make the protestant religion odious unto the world; and that they have a great hand in stirring up these men and women to these foperies and follies, that thereby our religion may be contemned.’ (Law, Memorialls, 185-6.)
In the longer term, Miller’s testimony befell a worse fate. After all of Miller’s efforts to offer a martyrs’ testimony, his own was excluded from all the later published collections of testimonies. In particular, it was not printed in Cloud of Witnesses, the major collection of Societies’ testimonies which was first published in 1714 and ran through many revised editions in the next two centuries.
According to Cloud, ‘there are extant particular testimonies of these three martyrs; but, because it is doubted that they may not be genuine, but vitiated [corrupted or debased] by John Gib, or some of these that were tainted with his errors, therefore they are here omitted.’ Cloud also admitted that ‘some are suspicious that these three martyrs themselves, or at least the two last [i.e Miller and Sangster], were in some danger from the errors of John Gib’.
It is clear that there were persistent doubts that the testimonies of Miller and the others had been corrupted or influenced by John Gibb who led the Sweet Singers (or Gibbites), a small charismatic sect that rejected all presbyterian authority that split from the Cameronian Society people in the spring of 1681.
As discussed in the post on Gogar and Sangster, the Sweet Singers almost certainly did not emerge until after the 1 December execution of Skene, Stewart and Potter. At the time of his capture, Miller had no connection to the Sweet Singers.
In spite of their reservations, the anonymous editors of Cloud of Witnesses in the eighteenth century did decide to print Miller’s joint testimony with Gogar and Sangster on the grounds that it was not for Gibb’s principles that they had suffered, ‘but for testifying against the Ecclesiastical Supremacy, they ought to be recorded among the rest, as dying witnesses for Jesus Christ’. (Thomson (ed.), CW, 159.)
The doubts over the validity of Gogar, Miller and Sangster’s testimonies probably sprang from James Renwick’s opinion of them in 1683:
‘I add my testimony and seal to all the faithful testimonies given to the truth by our noble and worthy martyrs, particularly these that have been given upon that head, viz. the declining altogether of that man, Charles Stuart. But I hope none will understand me to include here that testimony given out in the names of these three well-meaning men, William Gogar, Christopher Millar, and Robert Sangster, which was penned by that blasphemous man John Gib.’ (Renwick, Sermons, 589.)
It is worth noting that Renwick only claimed that the joint testimony directed to Stirlingshire was penned by Gibb, rather than the individual testimonies. If Gibb penned or copied the joint testimony of 11 March, then he must have done so before his ideological split from the Society people, as there is no evidence that Gibb’s views impacted on the joint testimony.
There is no evidence that Gibb had any hand in the composition of Miller’s individual testimony, as it was drafted and subscribed in the Iron House of Edinburgh Tolbooth before his execution. The evidence about Gibb’s capture nearly two months later at the beginning of May, would strongly suggest that he was not present in the Iron House when Miller’s testimonies were drafted and subscribed.
Perhaps the real reason for the exclusion of Miller’s individual testimony from Cloud lies in the fact that it contained a passage in which he mentioned that he had tore the King’s name out of the Bible. Some of the Sweet Singers were also said to have done similar things in 1681 and Law also notes that on 27 July, 1681, the day of Donald Cargill’s execution, that Edinburgh’s town-major seized
‘a woman on suspicion that she was one of that gang that disclaimed the king’s authority [i.e., a Cameronian]; and being enquired, Whether she acknowledged the king’s authority? answered negatively. The Bible being taken from her and searched, it was found that the word king where it was, was blotted out. She was cast into prison.’ (Law, Memorialls, 199.)
The fragmentary evidence suggests that the removal James VI’s name from the Bible was a practice which both the extreme “right-hand” wing of the Cameronian movement and the Sweet Singers shared in 1681. Nonetheless, it was probably the scandalous nature of Miller’s assault on the Bible combined with the later association of that act with the Sweet Singers, which led to Miller’s individual testimony being associated with Gibb and quietly left out of later collections of martyrs’ testimonies.
Miller’s individual testimony remained in manuscript for over two-hundred years, but in 1911, David Hay Fleming transcribed it from a small volume of Cameronian documents privately held by a minister in Heckmondwike, Yorkshire. (PSAS, 45, 225-49.)
Miller’s individual testimony can be found here:
The full text is as follows:
‘The Last Testimony of Christopher Miller.
Men and brethren, – I am, this 11 day of the 3d moneth 1681, in your sight to lay doun this life of mine, for ouning of my lovely Lord Christ and his controverted truths, which this day both ministers and professors ar disouning, and condemning me for ouning such controverted truths; but let them condemne me was they will, I durst not but adhere to them although I am unbred; (and in the by) I must tell you I am unlearned, and it is my oun fault; yet quhat was duty I durst not oun. Altho I be but feckles and worthiles and unfit for such work, he hath been pleasd to put this in my hand, and hath given me strengh to endure to the end. For which I blese his holy namme that ever he counted me worthy of such honour as this day he hath put on me, for I wot well I am a brand bluckt (sic) out of the fire, for befor Bothwell, at Lothian Hill [i.e. Loudon Hill/Drumclog on 1 June 1679], the Lord tristed me with great heart exercise, whither or not it was my duty to joyn with that party that was for the defence of the Gospell. It was ay my fear that my being ther would dome skaith to the rest, for it was my fear that I should have been the Achan in the camp, that would make the Lord God of Israel’s anger to break forth among his people and cause his people flee befor his enemies. Yet the Lord took me to Bothwell, for I durst no bid away for fear of Moroze [i.e. Meroz’s] curse [Judges 5.23.]; and he brought me from Bothwell to the Gray-Friars-Yard, and he mad me wounderfully to escape out [of] their hand; and I was in many jeopardys by the bloody souldiers; and then I did go abroad to France and stayed the matter of half a year, and cam hom again; and then the Lord, by taking pains upon me, moved me to follow that nicknamed way of preaching; and the Lord did work wounderfully on my heart at a preaching over in Fife preached by Mr Donald Gargill, which after I had heard I durst not but oun to the lossing of my life in the quarrell. And after that the Lord gave the bloody souldiers leave to take me and bring me to the Cannongate Tolbooth, quher ther was a wheen of our canny wise professors, which was like to break me; but the Lord discovered them to their collours quhat they were, which mad me abhore their way – for they deboasht themselves with drinking – and separated from them. And then they gave me up to the bloody enemies, and I was called befor them and got my sentence, and now I am to lay doun my life befor you, for which I bless God, and all that is within me exalts his holy name for my lot this day.
Now the reason of my being brought here this day way (sic), I durest not oun these usurping murther[er]s to be rulers, quho had taken Christ’s rights from him, and quho wer tirranizing over his inheritance, which did not becom them, and which I durst not but for my soul witness against them, although the ministers and professors doth not think duty but condemne them quho doth it; but I say they will get a worse sentence than mine, for they have my blood upon their head, and the rest of my brethren’s blood too. And the reason quherfor I did disoun them was, because they have brokn covenant with God, and covenanted with the devill in establishing that cursed supreamacy, and hold that tirrant head of the church – the croun which belons no mortall man to wear, nor Presbetrian to oun. As for my part, I do not think them Presbetrian that will oun these cursed wretches, for I wot well they have don as much as might have mad them examplary for judgment, as they might a been an example to any to lookd on, that side that they are on.
Wo to the ministers and professors for their joyning and going in under the hand of that tirrant, I heir give my testimony against them as the greatst enemies the work of God hath, and says that his veangance be on them for quhat they have don to his glory. They may read their doom in 55 Psalm, v. 12, and dounward. David, in Psalm 15, prayeth that they may go quick doun to hell. I desire them to take Cora, Dathan and Abiram’s example; and they may read Obadiah, and there they will see quhat Edom, a bastard brother, did; and quhat he got to his reward; and quhat Judas got for betraying his Master. Alace they have betrayed their Master with a kiss, in joyning with God’s enemies and living under their favour. Our blessed Lord hath sought a proof of many of their lovs that was ministers and professors in Scotland; and they said that they would have nothing adoe with him, he is a hard master; but they would have their life of that tirrant and the bloody louns thats taking the blood of the poor remnant. And now they had their life no more of God, but of that tirrant and his father the devill. Now they had their life with the broad curse of God on it; and the poor people of God cannot get leave to live asid them. They ar groun their greatest persecutor that the poor remnant hath. O wo to them for they will be sure to meet with a black day or it be long, for indeed I think ther is not much repentance ordiand for non of them, for our blesed Lord says these that puts their hand to the plough and look back again is not fit for the kingdom of heaven; and if any man draw back my soul shall have no pleasure in them; there remain no mor sacrifice for sin, but a fearfull looking for of judgment and fiery indignation from the Lord, which will devour them quick; he will lead them forth with the workers of iniquity. They may look if Scripture allows any of God[‘s] enemies favours and to do such and [such] things. They may read Ezekiel 33, 13 and dounward, and if they allow them liberty they may be doing. As for my part, I have no favour for them, for we ar called this day to com out from amongst them, and not to touch, taste, handle; but to be seperated, lest we be partakers of their plagues, which will be sudden, sure and certain, and shortly.
I leave my blood on ministers and professors for I wot well they have a good share of it. I leave my blood on Mr Alexander Hasty, first, because he said I was easiery maintianed her and better nor I would be without; and I said would not com out of prison because I was so well maintianed. 2ly, he said that that poor party would turn Babell’s brood. 3ly, he said that party that was dounright for God was all distracted. And I leave my blood on James Weer and Gavin Hamilton and Robert Henderson, for they wer the men that gave me up because I did rive out the wretches name out of the Bible. The rest of my fellow prisoners ar not free of my blood. I leave my blood on ministers, because once in a day they wer forward for God in preaching against joyning with enemies, and was faithfull to the Lord in declaring of his mind, and once engaged poor things to the wrath of enemies; and quhen ever hazard cam they turned their back on their Master’s work, and left poor things in the dark; and quhat they have preaching up befor, they have cryed all doun; and cryed to their hearers to accept of favours of the enemies. O wo to them for quhat they have done now. They may read their doom in Ezekiel 33, from the beginning. If they will not set the trumpet to their mouth, and give the people a faithfull warning, their blood will be required at their hands. Yes, did they see judgment coming on Scotland and sat still too? Wo to them the Lord will be about with them yet for their silence. In such a day escape who will, they shall not escape. The veanganc[e] of God will pursue them for quhat they have done to his glory. Indeed, they would have [us] not to speak for Christ and his despised truths. Indeed, all the ministers will condemne us, if we lend in our word to a despisd glory. Ha, quoth they, people hath a hand in their oun blood. (Say ye so?) I say God will be about with you for that saying, brave ministers. The vengance of God will be among such ministers and professors, for this is the day God is calling for people to speak for him. And if ye will not speak for his despised glory, ye will get the wicked devill to go with; for I am sure it was all your parts to have contended for lovely Christ and his glory was trampling upon (as well as min). And I woot well its seen to the world that they have robbed our Lord of his rights, and I am sure that they that have any love to my sweet Lord Jesus dare not but for their heart witnes against these wretches. Alace, would ye have them enjoying our Lord’s rights, and not on to move their tongue against them. Na, na, our Lord will not want witneses to witnes against this generation for all their abominations, and amongst the few he hath honored me to be on, for which I bless his holy name this day, although ministers and professors do condemn me and say that I do not take the Scripture to be my rule; but I say that they ar liars; and says sham and black follow them that will not take Scriptures to be their rule to squar their life by; which hath been refreshfull to me, although I could make litle use of them, I not being learned to read.
I give my testimony to the Confession of Faith, to the Longer and Shorter Catechisms, to the Nationall and Solemn League and Covenants. I adhere with all my heart to the Ruthgland Testimony, and the Sanquhar Declaration, to the [Queens]Ferry papers that was goten with that worthy gentlemen Henry Hall [when he] was killed. I leave my testimony to the Acknowledgment of Sins and Engagments to Dutys. I give my testimony to the excommunication at the Torwood as a thing that was lawfully and legaly don by a minister of the Gospell; and on just grounds it was don, for any of all the faults was enough to cast any person out of the Church. Read Ezekiel 21, but especialy v. 2, and Ezekiel 17, and v. 17 to the 22. These is Scriptures and proofs to prov the justnes of it, and the justnes of my disowning of them as trators to God, which is a Presbyterian principale condemn it quho will. Next, I give my testimony to the bound of condemnatione that was goten that day that our worthies fell at Airdsmoss [i.e., the Bond before Sanquhar], quhen our worthy standard bearer Mr Richard Cameron fell, and it was goten in his pocket, quhen our worthy martyr David hackstoun of Rathillet was taken. I here give my testimony to all that our worthies hath done except the crouning of that tirrant: none protested then I trow. I give my testimony to all their appearances in the feilds, first and last, quherever ther hath any appeared for the work of Reformation in the behalfe of Christ. I give my testimony to all the testimonys of the worthy martyr that hath gone befor, both first and last, and all that they have don in defence of the Gospel and witnesing for their lovely Lord and Master.
And now here, in my Lord and Master’s name, I protest against that tirrant, and all the bloody crew that’s under him; and as a dying man I witnes against all those that accept of their favours. First, for his breach of covenant. 2ly, for sheding the blood of the people of God, and destroying that which he was bound to maintain and avouch; and I say God’s wrath will pursue him for it. 3ly, for seting up acursed supreamacy, insulting over the Lord’s inheritance, investing himselfe with that which did [not] belong to him, for or long the Lord will root him out, root and branch, and all his generation, and all that acepts favours from him; for He is on his way to avenge the quarrell of [a] burnt and broken covenant. O, but they have need to fear that hath gone under the tirrant’s wings for shelter. 4ly. For his adultry and horrid wickedness that he hath comited and that flows from him. O, the filth that coms down from that thron that polluted the whole land and mad it all accursed. Now I say any of these is enough to cast them of.
I leave my blood on that tirrant’s head; and on all these heads, I leave my blood on James the Duke of York his head, a profest Papist, for first quhen he came he got a drink of my dear brethers’ blood quho was execute at Magus-Moor; and the last time he came he got a drin of my brethers’ blood, Mr Skeen, John Potter and Archbald Stewart. He got these to his here coming; and now he must have us. He will get blood to drink for he is worthy. I leave my blood on Sir George M’Kenzie, advocat, and all the rest of these bloody wretches. I leave my blood on these assissers, and Ando Cuningham, damster [i.e. doomster], and on Thomas Dalzel, called Generall, and on the shouldiers that took me. I leave my blood on all that went to Bothwell in defence of the Gospell, that accepted any of that trator’s favours after they cam from it, ministers or professers, or be quho they will. I shall be a standing witness against them in the great day of accounts, that hath strengthened their hands, quhethere they were at Bothwell or not, be quho they will, ministers or professers, man or wife, lass or lad, freinds or relations, my blood will ly heavy at their door, except they repent for contributing to hold up a party against God in this land.
I leave my testimony against the paying of that wicked cess, for the strengthning thes bloody wretches hands to go on against the people of God, in robbing and spoiling and taking, heading and hanging. They are not free of the blood of the saints. Never go to make an excuse for them, for I say here, as in the sight of God, ye are not free of the blood of the people of God. Repent or else he will com in flaming fire to render vengance upon them, for there is tribulation and anguish to every soul that doth evill, both Jews and Gentles. There meekle wo and sorrow to them that trouble the poor people of God. Escape quho will, ministers and professers will not escap. I tell you here as a dying man that God will pursue in his justive for quhat you have done to his glory. O, the black day that’s abiding you.
Ye will not believe none. I think, although on rise from the dead, ye will not believe. All the testimonys of our dear worthies, that hath been martyred and mangled for the truth, hath had no weight on you. [You] was no more moved at quaht was in their speechs no more than they were an old wife’s tale; but, believe as ye will, remember that they ar in record of heaven, and they will be a standing witnes against you and me both, if free grace prevent it not. You must not think that all these worthy martyres that hath been so tortured will be in vain; for our Lords suffering so much blood to be shed on ——– is a purpose that it may be a witnes against this generation; for any thing that any wrot in their testimony they would ay seek the mind of the Lord in it that they might leave behind them concerning sin and duty. O sirs, take warning, for it is like ye will get few mo[r]e warnings. It may be some of your warnings next will be in the howl pot of hell. I here give you all warning as in the sight of a living God before quhom I must shortly appear and get sentence. Take it as you will, I durst not but be free with you befor I went of time, that the broad curse of God is on ministers and professers, for your joyning for their uphold.
I give my testimony against the paying of malitia money; and all them that hath carried armes on the enemies side in town or country. A black day will com on you together or long, ay many of you [were] with the enemies all the time of Bothweell; and some of you contributed for the sending of a whin knaves out against the Lord; and do you think to escape? I tell you nay, you will not escape. There is a black day abiding you together. Your sentence will be sure and sudden. You was on the other sid[e] against the people of the Lord, and God will lead you forth with them. Take it as you will, you will not escape the just judgment of the Lord. You think you ar well and at ease, but God will give you a wakening that will make all your ears to tingle. He sits silent now quhen ye comit such wickedness; but, remember I tell you, he will not bear longer with you. Ye may think you will escape the judgment of God, but there is an ill licklie of it quhen you state yourselves against his people. I give my witnes and testimony against all robbing, prisoning, finning and confinning, stigmatising, booting, heading and quartering, banishing and sending to other countrys, and against the forfaulting of the Lord’s people, and against all that hath been don to them these 20 years, and against all the proclamations that hath been gon out against them, and against quhatever the enemies hath don first and last. In short, I here, as a dying witness for Jesus Christ, doth protest against all them that seek any favour from them in less or more.
And now I give my hearty and coridall testimony to the suffering of the poor people of God, from Mr [James] Guthry [executed in 1661] until now; and especially, I give my hearty testimony to that nicknamed, reproacht party that this day is the but of the world’s malice; which can hardly get leave to live on earth for a pack of ministers and professers, mickle wo and wandreth con on them, and so it will for quaht they have don to that poor party, that this day is force[d] to wandre in the wildrness and dens and cavs of the earth, quhom the world is not worthy of. They ar destitute despised afflicted and tormented. Iniquity is grown to such a h[e]ight that they can neither eat nor drink, nor yet wear without sinning. I think then they will be force[d] or long to wandre about in sheep-skins and goat-skins.
Shame and lack be among them that is called ministers and professers, that puts the church and people of God in such straits, for I an sur they have all the wit of it. Be separated from them, purg out the old leaven that ye may be a new lump. And Paul says, Follow me no further then I follow Christ. Shame and Lack will fall on them that will not be separate from them. I wot well they have good warrant from the Word of God to go out from among them and be seperated and touch no unclean thing. And you may read the 10 chapter to the Romans, v. 17 to the end of 16 chapter. And you may read how Paul separated from Barnabas, becaus he would not witness against John for his silence, it is in Acts 5, 39 v. to the end. Read Revelation 18, and 1 Corinthians [5,] from the 7 v. to the end, if a brother walk disorderlie, not so much as eat or keep company with them. You may read the 9 of Zechariah.
All these Scriptures is sufficient grounds to separate from them that joyns affinity with the people of these abominations. Seperat and com out from them. I here, as in the sight of the living God, seall with my blood an far seperation between true Presbyterians and them that hath acepted that tirrant’s favours. Com out from among them. Eat not drink not with them, lest they intise you, and draw you away with them, for I had the sad experience of it myselfe, for there was on[e] that was taken with me, that is in prison this day, that did insnar me with his counsell – I thought he had been in my own judgment – mad me hearken to his counsell and keep silente before these wretches at first, which was a sore challeng to me so long as I was in prison, untill I cam in again before them and told them my mind again. Quherfor I say com out from among them and be seperat, or else I will be a witnes against you. Halt not between two opinions. Side yourselfe and com out. O, make a right choice quhatever ye do, for it is dangerous now to side with God’s enemies. I bid you have a care, and wot very well with quhom you joyn, and with quhom you converse, or with quhom you eat or drink, or quhat you eat or drink. Taste non of their dainties, but choice water with Daniel and the 3 children, to eat pulse and drink water, or [i.e. rather than] that ye sin against God, for it is my sorrow this day that I sided so long with them, and did not sooner separate [and] com out from among them.
I give my testimony against Popry and Prelacy, Quakerism and Errastianism, indulgence first and last, and all the favorits and siders with them in less or more, be quhat they will, and all that keep company with them. I give my testimony against all that gets the enemies’ favor to com out of prison quhen they are taken, for truly I can see no way how any can win out cleanly at this time. As for my part I could not see how I could win out, so I see not how any can win without going to the place of execution, or else the (sic) come out with prejudice to the work of God, and they will note be free of our blood. They may take it as they will, I do not care.
And now I here give my testimony to that despised way of preaching I was going to to, that poor party that is nicknamed Cameron’s faction. I blese the Lord this day that ever I heard that way of preaching. I blese the Lord that ever I heard Mr Gargill preach. I blese the Lord this day that ever I say (sic) that worthy gentlemen murthered, David Hackstoun of Rath-Elliot. I think, by the Lord’s bleseing, the seeing him murthered did me good, and put me to my duty, and mad me more valiant and stout for my lovely Lord and Master Christ.
I have on word to the shire of Stirling before I go of time. I think it is the most God daring place of any that I know, for I wot weell there hath been much of the powr [and] presence of God seen in the preached Gospell in it, as ever was in any shire in so short a time, for the shout of a king hath been among the mettings of his people at hillsids. O, but he was kind among them, and much of his power and presence was seen at preachings, and many flocking to them, crying Hosanna to Son of David [Math. 21.15.]; and it wold been thought that Stirlingshire wold have don great exploits for Royall Christ, more than any; and quhen the Lord put into and sought a proofe of their love, and they began to venture and suffer som litle tryalls for Christ; and then our Lord would have them and Scotland better tryed; and he will make them draw up at Bothwell, and he will make the enemies to carry the day, and my honest father was killed there, being seventy or eighty years old, and chased and brake them, and killed many of them and took many of them prisoners, to see how they will cary under such a dispensation as that, and they had had as much love as they seemed to have, all that would never have cooled it; but indeed they proved false and hypocriticall in the matters of God. A black day will com on them altogether. And this day they are crying out, Crusifie him, crusifie him, away with such a fellow from the earth; and we follow him any longer we will lose our goods and he hanged too. Yea, are ye doing so? Yea, ar the folke of Stirlingshire doing so well! Ye may be doing; but there shall be another or it be long. God in his justice will make you sudenly smart for it ere it be long. Have ye com under a tirrant that hath taken my rights from me? And have you promist to be for him and quit me? Will ye band to be for him, and never defend the Gospell again, but rather pay sess and militia money to uphold and maintian a party against Him and his work? You may be doing, but it shall be a sad doing for you, for the wrath of God will be sure to be poured forth and that suddenly. And will you tell me if you think you be free of breach of covenant, when you will joyn with them that hath both broken and brunt the covenant? I am sure the Scripture says you ar not free. Read the 50 Psalm at the end – Quhen thou sawest a thiefe thou consentedest with him in it, and is a guilty as he is. I will be standing witnese against you all except ye repent. Sad will your day be ere long. Heavy will your judgment be. It was all your parts to witness for lovely Christ as well as mine. You was once far for contending for the Gospell, but now you will not hear it, but you will joyn with God’s enemies and embrace popry. O black will your day be. I, as a dying man for truth, will be a witnes against you for the reception of the Duke of York, a profest Papist. The wrath of God will pursue you, for quhat you have don to the honour of God. And that wicked Sodom, Stirling, wo, wo be to it, for all that it hath. I leave my testimony against it and you both, and my blood both, for receiving the Duke of York with such noveltie. I leave my blood on them that carried armes quhen that cursed Duke came, and payed fines for the strenghening their hands. I leave my blod on all that carried armes all the time of Bothweell, ore since, on the enemies aid. O Stirling and the shire repent, or else heavy will your doom be. And here as a dying man I protest against the reception of that cursed excommunicat wretch, the Duke of York, because they knew he was a profest Papist.
I here protest against all that they have don in our land in their opresing the poor people of God, against their proclamations and actings against the people of the Lord. I leave my testimony against their sending doun the Hilland Host to pillag and plunder the poor people of God. I leave my testimony against the Duk’s engagement and Dumbar, for they were against the covenant, for the Englishe were pursuing the bloody damned wretch, the head of malignants.
But now I most leave of, my time being short, only a word to my dear friends that ar yet standing to the truth, and as willing to witness for my lovely Lord and Master Christ. Goe on my dear freinds, and be valiant in acting for my lovely Jesus, for, O, he is sweet to suffer for, for I can now set to my seall to it with my blood that he is altogether lovely, and that his yock is easie and his burden light. O, but he is sweet to lay down a life for. If all the hairs of my head were men, and all the drops of my blood lives, I could be will[ing] to lay them all doun for my lovely Lord Christ. O, my dear freinds, scare not at the crose of my sweet Lord. O, be strong for him. Spend much tim for him, and be much in eyeing of your hearts. Keep a constant watch that the devill get not a fitting. O, study to get on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand in the evill day. Keep by quhat is truth, my dear freinds. Quit not a hoofe of it. Lay your case on him, and he will carry you through. Cast not away your confidence.
O, be busie in praying for vengance on all the enemies of God; but especially against pretended freinds, which is called ministers and professors. You have good warant from the Word of the Lord. You may read 55 Psalm, 13 v.; and the 109 Psalm; and the 20 of Jeremiah 12 v., quhar he prayes that he may see his vengance upon his enemies, and if you will read that chapter you may see that they were seeming professors that he was praying against; and or it be long my soul shall be nder the altar, crying for vengance on them that dwell on the earth that will not witness f[aith] fully for Christ.
O, my dear billies and freinds, I hope ye will have no ground to scare at the cross of lovely Christ because of our sufferings this day, for I hope that our blood shall be a good lift to the Church of God, and a mean of her delivery. I am now going to leave you, and you ar like to mett with a sore tryall of it; but do not weary, for it will not be long; but it will yet be sharper nor it is, and there will be fewer to oun it. O, my freinds, ly near the throne and lean on your welbeloved, untill ye get your foot on the other side of [the] shore, on Canaan’s land. O, keep by the Holy On of Israel. Although many do quit with him and his lovely cross, look that you quit not with him. Let them reproach you as they will. O learn to esteem the swet reproachs for lovely Christ greater riches than all the treasures in the world. O, but reproachs for my lovely Lord Christ hath been sweet to me. They ar without compare. O, he hath been kind to me, quho was the fecklesest that ever was honoured to seal such contraverted truths with blood. O, but he is kind and was tender of me, quhen he brought me to such and such tryalls. O, trust and credit him much, for he can perfit his strength in the weakest of things, and carry them thorrow to the admiration of onlookers. O, he is sweet. O, he is kind. O, praise him. O, bless him.
Now I bid you fareweell, my dear freinds, that is on the Lord’s side. O, act valiantly for him, for he will plead your cause, and execute true judgment for you that ar oppressed. Give him much credit you quho ar his people. O be busie in wrestling upon the Church and people of God’s account. Now I am going away to leave you. The Lord help his poor groaning kirk quhen I am gon, and his poor suffering remnant, for indeed it is weighty to me to think on quhat you his poor followers is to meet with, and quhat you will meet with quhen I am gon. Oh, if I could be usefull on your account, but I cannot be it now, only this, keep by your Lord and Master, and converse much with things above. Seek the mind of God how to carry, so as that you may not do skaith to his glory. Keep up fellowship metings. Give not over. Seek much of the mind of the Lord annent quhat is called for at your hands.
Now my dear frends, I bid you farewell for a while. Farewell holy and sweet Scriptures. Farewell all created comforts, sun, moon, and stars. Farewell my dear freinds, that is faithful to the Lord and keep his way. His blessing that dwells in the bush and it brunt not, be with you; and my feckless blessing be on you, quho is now to be martyred for the truth. Farewell brether and sister and all relations, Fareweell sighing and sorowing. Farewell sufferings. Farewell sweet reproaches for lovely Christ. Farewell all things in time. Welcome Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Welcom everlasting praises, everlasting glory. Welcom angels and the spirits of just men mad perfite. Now, com Lord jesus, com quickly. Into thy hands I recommend my spirit.
Subscrived at the Iron House, in the High Tolbooth of Edinburgh, by me,
Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved.