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Heroes of Scotland’s Past: Richard Cameron

In preparation for our Scotland Tour in July, 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.

Richard Cameron — “The Lion of the Covenant”

Of all the Scottish Covenanters of the latter half of the 17th Century, no one evoked more controversy, within and without the church, or fought more fiercely for the “Crown Rights of King Jesus”, than did Richard Cameron. As a coventicle preacher, his willingness to take up arms against the king alienated many of his friends and brought further crack-down on Covenanters unassociated with the Cameronians. How far should Christians take resistance to tyranny?

About ten years before Cameron’s birth, the people of Scotland signed a National Covenant, vowing to defend the true religion against any man-made innovations, and to “maintain the true worship of God, the majesty of our King, and the peace of the kingdom”. The King, however, was determined to continue imposing bishops and episcopal worship on Scotland with himself as the head of the Church. War ensued, eventually bringing the English Parliament into the feud on the side of Scotland, inaugurating the English Civil Wars. In a few years, the King was executed for treason, Parliament turned to General Oliver Cromwell as the Lord Protector, and war broke out between England and Scotland once again.

Dr. Marshall Foster on Richard Cameron

Persecution Began in Earnest

Richard Cameron was born in the “Kingdom of Fife” of a small-landed proprietor, around 1648. Scotland at that time was under occupation by English troops serving Oliver Cromwell during the Protectorate. When Cameron was about thirteen years old, King Charles II was restored to the Stuart throne of England and the persecution of the Scots who still defended the National Covenant, began in earnest. The attacks on Presbyterian congregants gathering in the fields and barns for worship (since their churches were closed to them) lasted more than twenty-six years and cost some eighteen thousand men, women, and children who were fined, jailed, tortured, transported to the colonies as slaves, or just murdered.

Fenwich Parish Church — Home to Covenanters Pastor William Gutherie and Martyr Capt. John Payton

Marshall, Jay and Pastor Redmayne of Fenwick Parish Church Praying for Covenant Restoration

The Fruit of a Faithful Family

Many pastors gave up resisting the civil authorities’ rule over the churches, and compromised in order to get their incomes and church buildings back. Many also continued to meet in the illegal worship services called conventicles. Special battalions of soldiers were formed to catch the covenanters in the fields and arrest or kill the ministers and participants. By the 1670s, Richard Cameron had become a school teacher with covenanter convictions. His parents were committed to Reformed preaching, and the entire family — including Richard’s three younger brothers — had been fined for attending unauthorized meetings.

Our Tour Group at the Martyrs’ Memorial in Greyfriars Kirkyard

Covenanters Monument in the Grassmarket Where Hundreds Were Executed for Their Beliefs

Many Souls Were Won to Christ

Richard took his own non-conformity to the next level by becoming the chaplain to a sympathetic noble family. He then identified closely with one of the best known and most powerful preachers of the Covenant, John Welsh, great-grandson of John Knox. Recognizing Cameron’s gifts of preaching, apologetics and proficiency in Greek and Hebrew, Welsh asked him to stand for licensure to preach. Many souls were won to Christ through Cameron’s faithful preaching. By 1678, multiple thousands gathered at the worship services led by Richard in the fields. At one communion service, an estimated fourteen thousand people gathered to hear Cameron, who preached on the dangers of compromise, especially accepting the King’s Indulgence.

Town After Town Memorialized These Brave Men and Women — This is Lanark’s Monument

“Corpse of Peter Gimmel... shot dead for bearing faithful testimony to the Cause of Christ. Aged 21 years...”

His Death Inspired Others to Greater Faithfulness

After a short sojourn in Holland, Cameron returned to Scotland where, according to Richard’s biographer Maurice Grant, “his preaching had a power and authority that had not been heard in Scotland in many many years.” Cameron organized armed guards to protect the worshipping families, for the ever-diligent troopers of the evil Claverhouse sought them out on Sabbath days. Eventually, Cameron and his men were caught, and he was killed in battle at Airds Moss in Ayrshire. Some churchmen breathed a sigh of relief that such a troublemaker as Cameron was finally silenced. His death, however, inspired others to greater faithfulness to Christ and continued worship, untrammeled by the innovations of the English tyrant. Considered the most radical of the Covenanters, Richard Cameron’s memory lived on in the church for many years. Even within the future British army, a Cameronian Regiment was raised with the understanding they were upholding a high standard of behavior to God’s law and obedience to their earthly monarch, happily sympathetic to the renewed Kirk of Scotland.

Join Dr. Marshall Foster, Colin Gunn, Bill Potter and our small group of kindred spirits for an unforgettable trek through the land of the Scottish Covenanters, William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, John Knox and many others as part of our Scotland Adventure in July!

Take Landmark Along!

Take Landmark Events along on your travels. We have many of our tours recorded and plenty of stand-alone messages to choose from in our download store, including:

Cradle of Liberty Tour Audio (MP3 Album)

Lewis & Clark and More Tour Audio (MP3 Album)

Riches of Richmond (MP3 Album)

Forgotten Founder of the Republic (MP3)

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