The Women of Scotland's Past: The Margarets of Wigtown By Landmark Events | August 18, 2015

In preparation for our Scotland Tour in September, our guides have composed a series of articles on the men, and women, that shaped Scotland’s past. Although the characters and circumstances were unique to their time, the lessons gleaned from the study of these remarkable Scots are strikingly relevant today.

No King But Jesus

The Covenanter period of Scotland’s history, often called “The Second Reformation”, witnessed the triumph of Reformed Christianity in both Church and State, and it affected every segment of society from the highest nobleman to the lowest peasant. Although factionalism and political turmoil did prevent total unanimity, the Kirk of Scotland, from the signing of the National Covenant in 1638 to the Restoration of the English monarchy in 1660, realized a freedom of worship and a development of godly rule unprecedented in countries where the Calvinist Reformation succeeded. When King Charles II came to the throne in 1660, a relentless persecution of the Scottish Church ensued in an attempt to destroy the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, which lasted until the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688 and the accession of William and Mary. A large proportion of those dangerous years in Scotland are known as “the killing times”.

The Rise of Conventicles

The King deposed over 2,000 Puritan and Scottish ministers from their churches. Many pastors simply continued their ministries in the barns, fields, forests, and private homes on the Sabbath, attracting just a few families in some areas and up to many thousands in others! Those meetings were known as Conventicles, and were declared wholly illegal and treasonous to the crown of England. The Episcopal religion had been imposed on all the people of the United Kingdom, so closely linked to government control that King Charles, “the head of the Church”, declared that without bishops ruling his church and under his control, there could be no monarchy. Resistance to that political reality was tantamount to treason, and treason must be punished to the full extent of the law.

Martyr’s Stake

Martyr’s Grave

Deadly Persecution

The attacks against the Scots were particularly ferocious, with the use of thuggish highlanders quartered in Covenanter homes and special military units of dragoons swept the countryside on Sundays trying to find Conventicles of congregations worshipping according to the Bible instead of State dictate. When successful, the raids resulted in arrests, murders, imprisonments or enslavement in the colonies. No one was spared, the old and the young, men and women, and, especially, the pastors, all of whom had the death penalty hanging over them.

Wigtown, Scotland and the Galloway Hills

The Two Margarets

In the southwest of Scotland in the royal burgh of Wigtown along Wigtown Bay, several Covenanters were accused of attending Conventicles. Three men were convicted and hanged and four women convicted but given the opportunity to repent and confess the King as Head of the Church — “the oath of Abjuration”. All four refused to betray Christ and were forced to their knees to hear their sentences read. Twenty-year-old serving maid Margaret Maxwell was to be publically flogged through the streets of the town three days in succession and then put in the stocks. Thirteen-year-old Agnes Wilson could be bonded out by her father if he could come up with the one hundred pound fine. Her sister, eighteen-year-old Margaret Wilson and seventy-year-old widow Margaret McLachlan were sentenced to death by drowning.

The two women were tied to stakes in the tidal river nearby, which filled with the waters of the Solway Firth, the older woman further out so she would drown first. As the waters rose and Margaret McLachlan struggled and drowned, the people shouted for young Margaret to admit to Charles II’s lordship over the church. She refused and remained true to her covenantal oaths to the true King. It was reported that she sang Psalm 25 as she was overwhelmed by the waves. Their bodies were taken down and lie in the old Wigtown churchyard to this day.

Solway Firth

Margaret Wilson

Choose Ye This Day

So often in history do we find the state or the leaders of the state demanding worship as well as absolute obedience, in denial of Christ’s Lordship. The Roman emperors demanded worship, the Japanese emperor was to be revered as a god, pagan monarchs of many continents and times set themselves up as the objects of worship. In the case of England, beginning with the Reformation, the King declared himself the head of the church to replace the Pope, and he ruled through his own bishops. When the very same Reformation took hold in Scotland, Christ was proclaimed the Lord of the Church, and the king, obeyed in all matters civil, could no longer dictate how Christ should be worshipped. That may seem like a small point now but the result was loyalty to Christ as King was viewed as treason to the state. Is it still?

Join Marshall Foster, Colin Gunn, Bill Potter and our small group of kindred spirits as we study the courageous Covenanters at significant sites across Scotland including the Grassmarket in Edinburgh, Bothwell Bridge in Hamilton, and many more during our Scotland Tour!

By Landmark Events | August 18, 2015 | Permalink

The Men of Scotland's Past: Samuel Rutherford By Landmark Events | August 11, 2015

In preparation for our Scotland Tour in September, our guides have composed a series of articles on the men, and women, that shaped Scotland’s past. Although the characters and circumstances were unique to their time, the lessons gleaned from the study of these remarkable Scots are strikingly relevant today.

He is buried in the precincts of the ruins of St. Andrews Cathedral. It is certainly a comfortable and symbolic resting place for the leader of the “radicals” who proclaimed Christ as the head of the church, and His Word the only standard for worship. For twenty years Samuel Rutherford frustrated the enemies of the Covenanted Kirk of Scotland, whether noblemen seeking to curry favor with the crown, churchmen willing to compromise, or kings who hated his stand against prelacy and burned his books at the hand of the public hangman. He died of natural causes as the soldiers came to drag him off for trial and the gallows.

Samuel Rutherford’s early life remains obscure, though we know he was born around 1600 near Nisbet, Scotland. He earned his degree at Edinburgh College and was so brilliant they hired him as Professor of Humanity. The little country church in Anwoth by the Solway Firth, near the present village of Vale of Fleet, welcomed Rutherford as pastor in 1627. Unlike some ministers of scholarly bent, Rutherford did not allow his intellectual superiority to impair his warm-hearted ministry to souls. “He was always preaching, always visiting the sick, always catechizing, always writing and studying.”

St. Andrews, Scotland

In his lifetime, Rutherford published several profound treatises on theological topics, practical counsel, and ecclesiastical controversies. His most contentious work, Lex Rex, or The Law and the Prince — for which he would be attacked, hounded by the civil authorities, and eventually pursued for execution — brought notoriety which reached to the throne rooms of monarchs. His defense of Reformation presbyterian doctrine against the prevailing episcopacy of England and Scotland resulted in his exile to the northern city of Aberdeen.

St. Andrews Castle

St. Andrews Cathedral

In 1639 after the signing of the National Covenant, episcopacy was overthrown and Rutherford was appointed Professor of Theology at the University of St. Andrews. His influence in the national church, the Kirk, exerted a profound influence over the next generation of preachers in Scotland. Rutherford’s leadership helped many pastors resist compromise of the Gospel for two decades of struggle, civil war, and triumph of Reformed religion in Scotland. The effects of Rutherford’s influence helped many endure the years of persecution and martyrdom after the Restoration of Charles II.

Samuel Rutherford made friends easily and often and corresponded with them throughout his life, but especially when in exile. Ironically, those letters, published posthumously, have proven to be a lasting legacy of his godly counsel, especially in times of bereavement and persecution, and have been reprinted many times through the centuries. Lex Rex, the work that brought him the most trouble, however, probably most secured his place in history as it challenged the “divine right of Kings” and inspired the republican opposition to tyranny wherever Scots would settle in the world, especially in America. His last words inspired a hymn — “The Sands of Time are Sinking” — which hearkened to his eternal reward and has reflected the desires of Christians through the centuries. Look it up and get a glimpse of Samuel Rutherford.

Join Marshall Foster, Colin Gunn, Bill Potter and our small group of kindred spirits for an unforgettable day full of the rich history of St. Andrews as part of the Lowlands Leg of our Scotland Tour!

By Landmark Events | August 11, 2015 | Permalink

From Scotland to America By Landmark Events | August 04, 2015

Dr. Marshall Foster has been teaching the biblical and historical foundations of Liberty for forty years, launching The World History Institute in 1976. Now you have an opportunity to join Dr. Foster, along with Historian Bill Potter and Filmmaker Colin Gunn for a the trip of a lifetime to Scotland. Don’t delay, we leave in six weeks on this unprecedented providential history tour of the land of our forefathers of freedom.

From Scotland to America: Passing the Torch of Freedom
By Marshall Foster

For over 1,000 years the brave Scottish people reasoned, prayed, and fought for the cause of liberty. The spirit of bravehearts like William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and John Knox still runs deep in the American soul. To understand our great hope for recovering freedom and prosperity in America today, it is vital to understand the Scottish fight for liberty.

As the 14th century neared, the English King Edward “Longshanks” was brutally tyrannizing the Scots and men like William Wallace. Long Shanks’ hyper-taxation, land theft, and wholesale murder without trial broke all the rules of Common Law and Magna Carta (the heart of the English constitution). He even passed laws giving his nobles prima nocta (or first rights of nobles to rape Scottish women on the day of their weddings).


Sir William Wallace

Edward “Longshanks”

After his wife was brutally ravaged and killed by the English, William Wallace raised a citizen army of Scots to throw off English oppression. He became Scotland’s greatest patriot by inspiring his men to fight for liberty based upon their God-given rights guaranteed in Magna Carta and Common Law, all rights derived from the Bible. Wallace was eventually defeated and martyred. But in 1314, Robert the Bruce, King of the Scots, picked up the torch of freedom. He defeated the English oppressors at the Battle of Bannockburn, obtaining liberty in Scotland for 200 years.

Soon after Bannockburn, the Scots wrote the Declaration of Arbroath. This was the first of their biblically based freedom documents. Their words cry out to us through the ages and inspire millions even today. “For as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honors that we are fighting, but for freedom — for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”


Magna Carta

Declaration of Arbroath

But over the next 200 years, the government abuse under the so-called “divine right” of kings, nearly wiped out freedom once again. The kings of England were burning Scotland’s most sincere believers in the streets.

Then, gloriously, in the 16th century, the original document of freedom, the Bible, was unleashed in the language of the people in Scotland. In 1558, after centuries of semi-pagan barbarity, the Scottish people were led to the Savior and His Word by a former bodyguard, galley slave, and then powerful preacher, John Knox. With their new biblical understanding, they were the first nation to put limits on the power of government (checks and balances). Within a decade the Scots succeeded in dethroning their tyrannical queen.

The struggle for liberty against government oppression would go on for another century. But a number of precious freedom documents were created during this time of trial in Scotland. They set the stage for America’s Declaration of Independence.

When the English Stuart Kings, James, and Charles, attempted to destroy true biblical faith, the Scots met in the Greyfriar’s church yard and signed their National Covenant of 1638. Many Scots signed the document in their own blood, swearing never to compromise their faith or that of their children.


King James I of England

Greyfriars Churchyard

The Christian Scots were declaring to the world that their rights came from God, not from the king (or any government leader, court or legislature). Therefore, a ruler, cannot force his arbitrary laws upon the people and expect them to passively follow.

To understand this bold National Covenant we must realize that these Scottish men in kilts were not just playing war games. They did not promote anarchy, as have most modern revolutions up to our time. They were biblically and intellectually prepared to stand against oppression, even unto death, by men like the eminent Professor Samuel Rutherford. Rutherford’s book, Lex Rex, written in 1644, stands even today as the premier defense of the biblical rights and responsibilities of people to resist tyranny (out of control government) and to restore the rule of law (God’s law).

For hundreds of years the people had been erroneously taught, by ruler and prelate alike, that the king was God’s absolute authority on earth and was always to be obeyed. Rutherford unraveled this argument biblically. He powerfully defended the right of the people to resist, with force if necessary, a ruler who abuses his trust and his people, just like an abusive father or husband may be removed from leadership. Rutherford made it clear, as did Calvin and others, that the people have no right to riot, but must act formally through their representatives, publicly naming the wrongs the ruler has committed. America’s Declaration of Independence directly parallels the principles delineated in Lex Rex.

It took another 40 years and the martyrdom of 18,000 courageous ministers, until the brutal Stuart Kings were swept from power. In 1688, England and Scotland experienced true freedom under William and Mary and the Glorious Revolution and the English Bill of Rights. Again the revival of liberty can be traced to brave defenders of God’s justice, who remembered the paper trail of freedom.

Two hundred years later, liberty was again at risk. The English King, George III, had chosen to brutally oppress his colonies in America. Defying 800 years of English law and the blood bought freedom documents back to the biblically based law code and Common Law of Alfred the Great, he taxed without representation, boarded his troops in American colonists’ homes (giving the English the right to steal and rape), and took entire cities captive.

King George III of England

Battle of Bunker Hill

But those Scots, 900,000 of them, had immigrated to America during the 18th century. They made up one-third of the colonies during the American Revolution and most of the army. They led in a historic remembrance, calling the colonists back to the documents of freedom. The Declaration of Independence was a re-statement of the Scottish and English biblical resistance to tyranny documents of the past 1,000 years! The Founders rose up, stood on principle, and created the finest constitutional republic in history.

This brief history reminds us of the invaluable sacrifice of the brave Scots who came to America and helped plant the tree of liberty. Now, 200 years later, we have once again forgotten the freedom documents which have been the only safe and secure anchor of liberty throughout history. Like America’s Founders, the Scots and the English before us, we must turn humbly back to our God, remember the essential lessons of history and work diligently to restore true freedom and prosperity again.

By Landmark Events | August 04, 2015 | Permalink

The Men of Scotland's Past: John Knox By Landmark Events | July 27, 2015

In preparation for our Scotland Tour in September, our guides have composed a series of articles on the men, and women, that shaped Scotland’s past. Although the characters and circumstances were unique to their time, the lessons gleaned from the study of these remarkable Scots are strikingly relevant today.

Graduates accepting their diplomas at the University of St. Andrews are whacked with the “pant-leg of John Knox.” I once asked a student the day after his graduation if he knew who John Knox was. He said he thought it was “someone who graduated from the college a long time ago and did well for himself in the real world.” I propose that that St. Andrews student be given the Understatement of the Year Award, if there is such a thing. John Knox, by the Grace of God, shook Scotland and the world in a way that extended the Protestant Reformation into the next four hundred fifty years.

Like most great reformers of the Church, Knox was a priest seeking a much closer conformity to the Word of God in belief and practice. A friend and disciple of the martyr George Wishart, Knox was seized by the French and made a galley slave, surviving to become a royal chaplain to Edward VI, the new English king, in 1549. Deeply affected by the Protestant Reformation, Knox sought to bring more biblical worship practices to the English Church. With the death of the young King, and his replacement by Mary Tudor, Knox fled to Geneva, Switzerland when “Bloody Mary” re-instituted Roman Catholicism in England, and began the burning alive of reformers.


Beautiful and Historic Edinburgh, Scotland


Knox pastored churches of Marian exiles in Frankfurt and Geneva, and learned from John Calvin and other reformers. Two sons were born in Geneva to Knox and his wife Elizabeth Bowes and he honed his preaching and teaching skills in “the most perfect school of Christ that ever was in the earth since the days of the apostles.” Knox returned to Scotland for the second time, entering a country that had embraced the Reformation but suffered under Mary of Guise, the Dowager Queen of Scotland. Knox’s fiery sermons galvanized the Protestants to resist popery, bringing the wrath of the Queen upon him. The Reformation in Scotland may have had a short history had not a number of nobles embraced the Reformation and with it, John Knox. Although hated and hunted, Knox was protected by powerful political interests, and when the Scottish nobility deposed Mary Guise from the regency, Knox became the leader of the Kirk.


St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland


For two years, beginning in 1560, Knox and the Parliament led the whole nation into Reformed Presbyterianism. Congregations were given the power to call their own pastors, the bishops were replaced, Knox wrote a new Confession of Faith and Book of Discipline and the Mass was made illegal. When Mary Queen of Scots, the rightful heir to the Scottish throne arrived in 1561, the conflict between Knox and the Queen began its stormy career, which lasted until her abdication in 1566.

After the death of his first wife, the fifty-year-old Knox married seventeen-year-old Margaret Stewart, ironically a distant relative of Mary the Queen. His ministry in Edinburgh and around the nation continued with great effect until after he completed his greatest work, A History of the Reformation in Scotland, and preached the coronation sermon of James VI (the future James I of England) at Stirling.

His death in 1572 passed almost unnoticed and his grave today is under a parking lot behind his beloved St. Giles in Edinburgh. The Regent of Scotland, James Douglas pronounced at Knox’s burial “Here lies one who never feared any flesh.”


John Knox’s grave under parking space 23 of St. Giles Cathedral

The Lowlands Leg of our In Freedom’s Cause Tour will include stops in Edinburgh at the John Knox home and St. Giles Church, as well as St. Andrews where Knox’s mentor, George Wishart was burned at the stake.

By Landmark Events | July 27, 2015 | Permalink

The Men of Scotland's Past: Columba By Landmark Events | July 21, 2015


In preparation for our Scotland Tour in September, our guides have composed a series of articles on the men, and women, that shaped Scotland’s past. Although the characters and circumstances were unique to their time, the lessons gleaned from the study of these remarkable Scots are strikingly relevant today.

In the 6th century, a warrior-monk of Ireland named Columba brought his fellow missionaries to the tiny island of Iona off the Scottish coast on the western side of the Isle of Mull. As a part of the monastic movement in Ireland, perhaps three generations from the coming of the Christian faith to the emerald isle, Columba’s spiritual exploits became the stuff of legend. Adomnan of Iona wrote a biography of Columba about a hundred years after his death and it became a much revered classic hagiography. His words and deeds were exaggerated and passed on with embellishment in every generation until the Roman Church claimed him and made Columba a “saint.” It is a story full of tales of miracles, prophecies, and hearsay about his life, so we must read with care and a healthy skepticism to find the real Columba.

Nonetheless, what is clear is that Columba trained missionaries and sent them out, copied biblical manuscripts, and established the educational foundations for future ministers of the Gospel sent forth from Iona. The island became the burial site of Christian Irish and Scottish kings including Kenneth McAlpin, the first king to unite the Scots and Picts. The pagan Vikings in their brief forays and raids there, killed the monks for the sport of it. Yet the Church remained. Over the centuries, Christians have visited the quiet island in the midst of the sea to contemplate how God used a handful of monks to spread the Gospel to the British Isles and preserve the documents of the faith in beautiful manuscripts.

The Beautiful Isle of Iona

It is a small island covered by the mists of time, yet the reality of Gospel witness in the early centuries of the Church still reverberates with the memory of Columba and his successors. We will walk the paths of Columba and visit the medieval ruins and graveyard of the kings. We will climb the hills and watch the sea, basking in the beauty of a remote but not God-forsaken land—a launching pad for the timeless Gospel of Christ.

Join Marshall Foster, Colin Gunn, Bill Potter and our small group of kindred spirits for two nights on the enchanting Isle of Iona as part of the Highlands Leg of our Scotland Tour!

By Landmark Events | July 21, 2015 | Permalink