Elegy upon the death of that famous and faithful minister and martyr Mr. James Renwick

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Elegy upon the Death of that Famous and Faithful Minister and Martyr Mr. James Renwick  (1760) 
by Alexander Shields





Of that Famous and Faithful





Composed after his Execution at EDINBURGH, February, 17th, 1688.

By Mr. ALEXANDER SHIELDS, then Preacher of the Gospel in the Fields

Lev. ii.13. I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: And thou holdest fast my Name, and hast not denied my Faith, even in those Days wherein Antipas was my faithful Martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.


Printed for George Morison. 1760.

HEre’s work, alas! for mourners to deplore
This fatal stroke, sadly presaging more!
In such a day, let’s hang our Harps on willows;
’Tis not a time of laying heads on pillows:
In such a day of wrath, and consternation,
In such a day of dread, and desolation;
A day of trial, and of treading down,
A day wherein our head hath lost its crown,
A day of blasphemy, rebuke, and trouble,
A day of darkness, and of sorrows double;
A day of great vexations, and confusions,
A day of great temptations, and delusions,
A day of jumbling, manifold distractions,
A day of stumbling, manifest defections,
A day of famine of the word of life,
A day of sinning, suffering and strife:
When Babel's brats the world so much encumber,
When Zion's Sons daily decrease in number,
When now the godly cease, the faithful fail,
When few are left, their funerals to bewail,
When nought but thorns, where corn grew, we can find,
When gold is gone, and dross but left behind,
When our Elijahs, Israel's Chariot’s gone,
When yet, alas! their mantle’s left with none,
When many hypocrites Christ’s fan discovers,
When few are left, that are his loyal Lovers,
When for his laws, these few are sore oppress’d,
When for his cause, they’re pillag’d and distress’d,
When those are hunted, and always afflicted,
When of all help, and harbour interdicted.
When chas’d through country, and pursu’d in city,
When banish’d, butcher'd, yet, instead of pity,
(When counted slaughter-sheep, and daily killed,
By such as sit, at ease) they much are filled
With insolent contempt, and sad reproaches,
Which of all falshood still the Father broaches;
When Popish tyrants, vile Beelzebub’s drudges,
On thrones of tyranny, are own’d for judges,
When now, like stupid Asses, men are mute,
When such usurpers challenge absolute
And arbitrary power, to sacrifice
Religion, laws, and lives, and liberties;
When faithful Gospel-preachers are so few,
In lauring times, to give a warning due;
When now foul-murd ring wolves, Christ’s flock devour
When watchmen wanting are on Zion’s Tower,
When few that’s called so deserve the name;
But many are the ages bane and Shame;
When now instead of valour for the truth,
And crying loud with trumpets at their mouth,
Upon such loudly clamant, clear occasions;
When Babel's bastards boldly make invasions,
By blinding bribes, corrupting flatteries,
By cunning craft, and cheating shams, and lies
Upou our cevenanted Reformation,
And all our liberties of church and nation,
Betrayed, by this Popish toleration.
Whereby this absolute pow’r is reconosc’d,
And its proud encroachings are ingross’d,
Over laws divine, human, all made void,
Religion’s legal bulwarks all destroy’d,
All blasphemy, idolatry, and sin,
How suffer’d, yea invited to come in;
The Church of all her privileges robb’d,
And with a kiss, under the fifth rib stobb’d,
In Lieu of all her laws, securities,
All oaths, and vow, and solemn promises,
Having no more assurance, than a blind
Promise, of one, whom no such bond can bind:
(illegible text)er doctrine, worship, and church government,
According to our solemn Covenant,
All hereby undermin’d and overturn'd,
For which her sons should all have rather mourn’d)
Our ministers for sin have made Addresses,
harmed with Babel’s flattering caresses,
Bewitch’d with this intoxicating drink,
Which hell did brew, and Rome with art did blink,
Left in a deep zeal-quenching Lethargie,
Purchasing hereby ease, and liberty,
In terms of selling truth, and shifting duty;
Whereby Christ's Bride’s depriv’d of all her beauty.
In such a day to loss a faithful witness,
(illegible text)d champion, accomplished with fitness,
(illegible text) strive for Christ’s prerogatives and laws,
(illegible text) all be bemoan’d by all that love his cause.
Come therefore, all ye doves, that dwell i’ th’ rock,
Come and deplore this wrath-presaging stroke:
Come chafed Birds hotly pursu’d to mountains;
Come hunted Harts, which pant and bray for fountains
Come, wandring Sheep, without a shepherd straying,
Come hidden ones, afraid of false bewraying,
Come, all ye faithful followers of the Lamb,
Whole hearts in zeal do for his glory flame,
Whole hearts in fervent love to Christ are burning,
Whole hearts do melt out at their eyes in mourning
Come, with a flood of Tears the valleys fill,
And make your voice resound from hill to hill;
Cause all the mountains circling round from Carrick,
With roaring noise, rebound as far as Berwick;
From Carn table skirts, and Ahingilloch,
To Morochs tow’ring heights, and heads of Killoch;
From Tintoch-tops, and all the hills of Clidsdale,
To all the hills of Galloway ami Nithsdale,
From thereabout Black-gannoch, and the Lothers,
To Crawfoord-muir, and Tweeddale hills and others
Wherein ye hunted were, through all the glens,
Wherein ye hiding places sought in dens,
Wherein ye often forced were to flights,
Wherein ye often filled were with frights,
Wherein your hands were strengthned, heads supported
Your minds confirmed, and your hearts comforted,
While your renowned RENWICK, now a Martyr
Was passing through, preaching in every quarter,
His Master’s glorious and gracious banner
Displaying faithfully, in lovely manner;
Like to a voice in wildernesses crying,
Making a noise most sweet, as Swans when dying,
Declaring all God’s counsels, and revealed
Truths, which alive h’asserted, dying sealed:
But now in those waste desolate recesses,
No voice is heard, but mourning for distresses,
No voice is heard, but that of grievous groaning,
The Glory gone, deplorably bemoaning.
Come therefore and put on your Sable, saints,
Fill all the hills and vales with sad complaints,
Wherof the Eccho may be heard in heaven,
In lamentations for the blow that’s given,
Unto the wounded weeping remnant left,
Which of their Renwick is of late bereft,
By murd’rirg violence of beasts of prey,
Rome’s bloody whelps, torn from his house of clay,
How may his little flock, alas, complain!
How may they now, so great a loss sustain!
Scotland hath lost, the world hath lost a man,
Whose Room supply, there’s few surviving can:
The church hath lost a Son more pure and dearer,
Than Ophir's gold, the truth a Standard-bearer;
(illegible text)lon hath lost by this complex disaster,
(illegible text) witness, wrestler, mourner, and a pastor,
The scattered sheep, a most laborious leader,
Poor hungry souls have lost a painful feeder;
The sufferers have lost a sympathiser;
The doubtful halting souls, a good adviser:
The weak, a wise encouraging supporter:
The wanderers and mourners, a comforter:
The tempted souls, a counsellor in terrors;
The ignorant, a guide to keep from errors:
The zealous, from extreams, a holding bridle:
The lazy sort a spur from being idle.
The temporizing sort of faint complyers,
Duty‘s deserters, and Christ’s truth’s denyers,
May boldly now proceed in their backslidings,
Since that they are deliv’red from his chidings,
Who never ceas’d to be a free reprover,
Nor sins and snares in season to discover.
How insupportable is such a cross!
How irreparable is such a loss!
Oh, let us now make search, that we may know
What may the meaning be of such a blow!
What sins have this procur’d let’s meditate,
What further sorrows may’t prognosticate?
Our misimprovements, let us now confess,
Of such enjoyments, our unworthiness
Of Renwick’s gracious message, little priz’d,
And of his precious ministry despis’d,
Our barrenness, and base ingratitude,
Our weariness of that angelic food,
Whereof the worth we know now by the want,
And must henceforth in tears the loss lament,
These have this rod in righteousness extorted,
From a just God, and left us uncomforted;
A rod which we may sadly now suppose,
A fatal forerunner of future woes,
Impendent on this base degen’rate age;
The perishing of worthies must presage,
That they delivered are from that which we
Are call’d to fear, but cannot bear, nor flee;
But tho’ our loss be great, his gain is glory,
His life, his death, shall be renown’d in story;
Which death, to us most costly and most painful,
Shall to the covenanted cause be gainful;
In that, in place of a reproached pastor,
A Martyr now renown’d by this disaster,
Is left us, to their everlasting shame,
Who ceased not with lies to lead his name,
And with reproaches foully to bespatter,
Which malice did contrive, and madness scatter;
Which fraud invented, as its father fain’d
Fury did vent, and folly entertain’d.
Now shall his name in monuments of praise,
(Which to his fame posterity shall raise)
Still stand recorded, that he was a martyr,
Fruitful in life, faithful in his departure:
Contemn’d indeed by apostates, and Scorners;
But eminent among all Zion’s mourners:
For love undoubted, and undaunted faith,
For constancy unto his final breath,
For patience abiding in all trial,
For piety, and humble self denial,
For meekness true, in condescending tender,
For strictness due (he’d not a hoof surrender)
For uniform true zeal and moderation,
Of more than ordinary elevation:
Which with an equal pace did still advance,
’Gainst all defection and extravagance:
All bastard zeal opposing with all boldness,
As well as dead base Laodicean coldness:
For ministerial diligence much fam’d,
A workman needing not to be asham’d;
In preaching all the counsel God reveal’d,
His ministry on many souls was seal’d;
Which in his Master’s strength he did commence,
And unto its fulfilment did advance,
Against the violentest opposition,
That ever any youth in his condition
Had to conflict with, and at such a season,
When dangers seem’d invincible to reason;
For, like another Athanasius bold,
He all the world opposed and control’d,
And had all sorts of men upon his top,
And Prelatists, all vassals of the Pope;
Who did pursue him with all rage and rigour,
With might and malice violence, as of vigour:
Those brethren also, whom, tho’ still he lov’d,
He could not join with, but their sins reprov’d,
Who (illegible text)ome their ministry subjected,
Or had (illegible text) to mischiefs they enacted,
Or by disorders had their charge perverted,
Or had then duty in its day deserted,
Or were in foul compliances involv’d,
Or those to doub and plaister were resolv’d
Or shamefully were silent at the times
Iniquities, when duties went for crimes:
With those to strive, zeal for his Master’s glory,
And indignation at their silly, sorry,
Foolish, and feeble, fainting cowardice,
(That few their all for truth durst sacrifice)
His generous soul did vigorously excite,
For which, by some, he was oppos’d with spight.
With malice, envy, and with cruel rage,
That nothing could unto his death asswage,
Yet, maugre all assaults, his bow abode
In strength, his hands confirm’d by Jacob’s God:
By frowns, from duty ne’er could he be daunted,
By flatteries, he ne’er could be inchanted:
No fear of danger could him ever scar,
From diligence: nor disadvantage mar:
Nor any want of good accomodations
Could stop his pastoral exercitations;
In painful preaching, visiting, baptizing;
In conferences, and in catechising;
Even when in wandering he had no repose,
But haggs, or hiding holes, in fear of foes:
Nothing to lay his weary head upon;
No couch but grass; no pillow but a stone;
No better chamber oftimes he could have,
Than a dark den; no closet but a cave:
Yet under all this inconvenience,
He could possess his soul in patience;
His Master’s favour above all things loving,
Himself as his true minister approving,
By purity, by charity unfeigned,
By verity in i(illegible text)ny maintained,
By wisdom, patience, by the spirit’s light,
By righteousness, on the left hand and right,
Caring for neither calumnies nor honour,
So that he might his conscience exoner:
As a deceiver, yet approven true;
As tho’ well known, yet known but to a few:
As dying daily, and yet living still,
As chastined, yet above their reach to kill;
As sorrowful, yet joying evermore,
As poor, yet making (illegible text) rich in store ;
In many wants, in manifold distresses,
In pinching, prison, and in wildernesses,
In painful labours, and in weary watching,
In cold, and hunger, still in fear of catching;
In many perils, both by sea and land,
From enemies, and from false brethren’s hand;
Holland in part, Britain and Ireland know,
What perils he was forc’d to undergo:
In none of which he any rest could find,
But every where, both foes and friends combin’d,
By tongue and hand, him still to persecute,
In a most keen and violent pursuit;
Hence such a price was set upon his head,
As did entice to catch him, quick or dead.
Hell’s hottest harpies, villains, vilest vermine,
Who by all means, to take him did determine:
Therefore, in fury they the chase did follow,
By hue and cry, and many hideous hollows;
Through cities, country, villages of Boors
Through wettest mosses, and through wildest muirs,
Through highest mountains, and remotest glens,
Compelling him to caves and hidden dens:
Where weary, cold, and hungry, he could find
No comfort, but what from the heavens shin’d:
Yet after all their proud designs were done,
His works to them prov’d Sisyphus his stone;
Still with renewed force, afresh returning,
The bush did burn, but did not waste in burning;
His dispicable followers, tho’ few,
The more they were afflicted, more they grew;
All proclamations, cruel prohibitions,
All circuit-courts of Spanish inquisitions,
(Imposing conscience-coz ning oaths and bonds,
Recusants, banishing to foreign lands,
Or murdering by bloody butchers hands.
Could never either their own cumbers finish,
Nor so much as their numbers yet deminish:
Nor crush, nor cool his unappalled zeal,
Nor of his ministry cancel the seal,
Engraven on the hearts of many hearers,
Who were Jehovah’s followers and fearers;
Which now’s impressed with a deeper stamp,
Since the expiring of this burning lamp;
Whose latest Sparklings hath lo brightly blaz’d,
That many eyes were dazled and amaz’d,
To see now visibly without a cloud,
And legibly in characters of blood.)
The adversaries Tyranny disclos’d,
Their calumnies confute, that him oppos’d;
That those despised truths have overcome,
For which contending, he got martyrdom,
His testimony for his Master’s cause,
The churches liberties, and nations laws ;
(For which, in life, he mightily contended)
Now by his death to many much commended;
Who searching what could be the cause or crime,
Wherefore he lost his life at such a time;
Did find that only he was too distinct
In speaking that, which many others think.
This was the only crime was on him charg’d,
Tho‘ to the height of hainousness enlarg’d;
Because these soul-enriching Rendezvouse,
Of Christ's Militia, in the fields, or house.
The devil’s grand eye-sore, and great vexation,
Of all his friends, and foes of reformation;
(Where hungry fools with heavenly food were nourish’d
And where a banner faithfully was flourish’d.
For the Regalia of the churches head,
And liberties, wherewith he hath her freed.)
He never suffer would to be suppress’d,
Nor that the duty should not be confess’d;
Now when it was declared capital,
And when by law discharg’d as criminal;
And by its old promoters now deserted,
Whom Popish tolerations now perverted.
In such a case he vigorously contended.
That meetings could be valiantly defended;
By arms defensive, which the law of nature;
And law of God, allows to every creature;
When now they were in daily jeapordice,
Of having blood mixt with their sacrifice.
This also was his crime, or rather crown,
That he would not a Popish monster own;
Sitting upon a throne of tyranny,
Usurp'd by rapine blood and treachery;
Nor pay allegiance to his absolute power,
As pimp employ’d for the Romish Whore;
Nor say, a robber’s sacrilegious rod,
Was now the sacred ordinance of God;
When such in sacred writ is called rather
A fox or dog, than a politic father.
In fine, for this he also was indicted,
Because to bear the dross he us invited;;
Rather than pay an execrable cess,
Impos’d our gospel-meetings to suppress,
For raising forces, tyranny to strengthen,
Our much enthral’d misery to lengthen,
For ruin the weak remnant left devoting,
The church and state, supremacy promoting,
For tests of lawless loyalty enacted,
And for betraying liberty exacted.
The full amount then of his accusation,
Of all his troubles, the alone occasion,
Was that at wickedness he’d never wink;
But still speak out, what others durst but think;
From which unto the death he would not swerve,
But boldly spake, his mind without reserve,
To Prelatists and Papists in their fury,
And to professors sitting on his jury;
Invincibly he all their tricks withstood,
Inflexibly resisting unto blood:
And for his life to supplicate disdain’d,
Lest he should have his testimony stain’d;
By which through blood of Lamb he overcame,
And lov’d not life too dearly for the same;
Which fruitfully h’affirmed during breath,
And faithfully confirmed by his death;
In such a measure of humility,
Of patience meekness, zeal and constancy;
That it to enemies hath been confounding,
To Neutralists conviction much redounding,
To Hesitants and halters confirmation,
And to all Zion’s mourners consolation;
Hence in a bloody chariot he hath gone,
To see and stand before Emmanuel’s throne;
His hands with palms, his head with pleasant bays,
His clothes in white, do sprinkle glister’ring rays
Of glory, glory singing, and salvation
To him that brought him out of tribulation,
Unto the Throne and temple of his God,
Where everlastingly he hath abode;
Where without intermission night or day,
Where without interruption or delay,
Without all cares, without all faints or fears,
Without all snares, without all plaints or tears,
He serves, he sings, he sees the Lamb that's feeding,
And unto lovely living waters leading:
Where leave we him full of Jehovah's joy,
Whom no more sin, nor sorrow, can annoy;
And rest lamenting, while i ‘th‘ vale of tears,
Our growing grief, and fresh recurring fears.

An Anagram on


I am Christ's meek Servant.

An Acrostic on the same.

Meekness and Magnanimity most rare,
Advanc'd thy Actions with advantage fair,
Submissive Self denial, suffering slights,
Twisted with True zeal for Emmanuel's rights,
Extoll'd thee Early in esteem and fame,
Renowned Renwick, evermore the same.
Jehovah Jireh was thy constant joy.
Along thy Always arduous employ :
Magnified Martyr! men thee much admire ;
Enemies Envy, and enraged ire,
Shaming them Selves, thy sufferings to bespatter.
Reproaches Restless with renown did scatter,
Eminent Enterprises in all dangers,
Noble thy Name have notify'd to strangers,
Vexations Various suffered valiantly.
Imbalm’d thy Innocence to memory.
Comfort from Christ did stop all thy complaints,
Kill‘d thour’t for Keeping his commandments.


This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.