O God, give me Scotland or I die!- John Knox
John Knox; Scottish Reformer AD 1505-1572
November 24, 2008 was a holiday many Presbyterians should have celebrated. It marked the 505th birthday of one of the greatest reformers and preachers the world has ever seen. Although he was a mere instrument in the Hand of God to harvest lost souls in Scotland, John Knox was a lion of the gospel, much like the apostle Paul who sought to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the erring Jews and the heathen Gentiles. John Knox was born in Haddington, Scotland on this day, the son of a farmer, William Knox. Though not much is known about his beginnings, Knox did begin his study at the University of Glasgow and St. Andrews.
He became a priest in 1540 and soon afterward became the tutor of some young boys whose fathers were greatly influenced by the Reformed teachings of Luther and Calvin. But probably the most influential character in Knox’s early life and his conversion into Protestantism, was George Wishart. Because he was declared a heretic, there were many assassination attempts and Knox was appointed Wishart’s bodyguard where he wielded a two-handed broadsword while Wishart preached. Wishart was eventually betrayed and arrested and then burned at the stake while his most hated enemy, Cardinal Beaton, watched from a balcony. A little while later, Knox joined a group of men who avenged Wishart’s martyrdom by sieging Beaton’s casle and killing him. When they had captured the castle, Knox began preaching, at first rather reluctantly , but he was admired by all for his preaching abilities. For the action of the murder, all the men were given over to the French as galley slaves. Knox rowed for the French for two grueling years and was finally released.
After his release, he was exiled in England where he was instrumental in reforming the church and he also met his first wife, Marjory, there. He stayed in England from 1549 to 1554. When Mary Tudor ascended the throne, making England Catholic again, Knox moved to the Continent. While there, he preached to an English church exiled in Frankfurt and wrote his treatise: The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women. He became a good friend of John Calvin in Geneva.
When the Reformation began to grow in Scotland, Knox returned and preached many powerful sermons and won the support of the people and the nobility and eventually ousted Mary of Guise, the regent of Scotland. Knox and five other Johns began writing a Scottish Confession of Faith and a book of Church Discipline. He also had a series of interviews with the Catholic Queen Mary of Scotland and reprimanded her often for her actions and questionable marriages. After many years of political and military turmoil, during which Knox was on run much of the time, Knox returned to Edinburgh in July 1572 where he preached at St. Giles Cathdral until he died on November 24, 1572. His last request was that his wife read him First Corinthains. He was buried in the graveyard at St. Giles where the new regent of Scotland, James Douglas, spoke this testimony over his grave: “Here lies one who neither flattered nor feared any flesh”.