Wishart was born in Scotland and died as a
martyr, being 33 years old. He was a teacher of New Testament Greek at Montrose. He was
exceptional in his eloquence and manner of communication.
Being the time of the reformation, he adopted the Reformed
view of Scripture, denied the errors of the Catholic Church and was then charged with
heresy. He went to England and then to the Continent where he was introduced to the
Helvetic Confession and became the first one to translate it into English. He returned to
England and spent some time teaching at Cambridge around 1542. Afterwards, he returned to
Scotland. He fasted every fourth day, ate only twice a day, and lived in humble lodgings,
even though his family was well connected and had sufficient means to support him. He was
a sacrificial saint who ministered greatly to those suffering with the plague that swept
through Scotland at that time. He married the daughter of John Knox.
The Catholic church was dominant in Scotland and his
preaching against the papacy and the catholic doctrinal errors, aroused in the papists
such a fury that he was threatened with death. Their tyranny was carried out with deadly
aim. An attempt was even made on his life. When he was finally captured at Mirmiston, he
was taken to St. Andrews, and burned at the stake.
The plague being now considerably abated, he determined to pay a visit to the town of
Montrose. . .he received a letter directed to him from his intimate friend the laird of
Kinnear, acquainting him that he had taken a sudden sickness, and requested him to come to
him with all diligence. Upon this he immediately set out on his journey, attended by some
honest friends in Montrose, who, out of affection, would accompany him part of the way.
They had not traveled above a quarter of a mile, when all of a sudden he stopped, saying
to the company, I am forbidden by God to go this journey. Will some of you be
pleased to ride to yonder place (point with his finger to a little hill), and see what you
find, for I apprehend there is a plot against my life; whereupon he returned to the
town, and they, who went forward to the place, found about sixty horsemen ready to
intercept him. By this the whole plot came to light; they found that the letter had been
forged; and upon their telling Mr. Wishart what they had seen, he replied, I know
that I shall end my life by the hands of that wicked man (meaning the Cardinal), but it
will not be after this manner. (The Scots Worthies," by John Howie, of
Lochgoin. Edingburgh and London: Oliphant, Anderson, & Ferrier, 1870, page 22)
The two Sabbaths following he preached at Tranent; and in all his sermons, after
leaving Montrose, he more or less hinted that his ministry was near an end. . . The next
place he preached was Hadington, where his congregation was at first very large, but the
following day very few attended him, which was though to be owing to the influence of the
Earl of Bothwell, who, at the instigation of the Cardinal, had inhibited the people from
attending. . .Not withstanding the anxiety and discouragement which he laboured under, he
went immediately to the pulpit, and sharply rebuking the people for their neglect of the
Gospel he warned them, That sore and fearful would be the plages that should ensue;
that fire and sword wouldl waste them; that strangers should possess their houses, and
chase them from their habitations. This prediction was soon after verified, when the
English took and possessed the town, and while the French and Scots besieged it in the
year 1548. This was the last sermon which he preached; in it, as had for some time been
usual with him, he spoke of his death as near at hand. . .He went to Ormiston, accompanied
by the Lairds of Brunston and Ormiston, and Sir John Sandilands, the younger of Calder.
John Knox was also desirous to have gone with him; but Wishart desired him to return,
saying, One is enough for a sacrifice at this time.
Another mighty Reformed father moved in the gifts of the
Spirit. It seems that those who are deep in prayer are given by God that communication to
such a degree that He reveals to his friends the secrets of what is to come.
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Copyright by Matthew J. Slick, B.A., M. Div., 1998-2006
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