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Covenanter Stories – No.3, Richard Cameron



Richard Cameron, the ‘Lion of the Covenant’, was born of the Episcopalian persuasion, son of a merchant in the Kingdom of Fife. He sometimes attended the meetings of the Indulged Presbyterians, but eventually found himself among the Covenanters, out in the fields, hearing the Gospel message of Salvation in Christ. He was saved under such direct preaching and resolved never to attend the preaching of the curates again, a decision which brought him into direct conflict with the timeservers of the established church.

Cameron was vehemently opposed to the ministers who had accepted the indulgence, on the grounds that to accept a pastorate under such circumstances would be to accept the divine right of the King to rule in ecclesiastical matters. This forthrightness meant that he had to leave Fife and travel south, where he met John Welsh of Irongray, who encouraged Cameron to apply for the ministry. He was first licensed by two of the ousted ministers, Mr Welsh and Mr Semple at Haughhead. At his ordination, Cameron promised that the theme of his ministry would be to preach against, expose and oppose the sins of the Indulgence, and urge separation from those ministers who had accepted the King’s favour. For such forthright preaching, Cameron was called before meetings of the Indulged ministers on several occasions.

Cameron’s ordination followed, in Holland, where he was forced to seek refuge, following his being proclaimed as a rebel by the government. At his ordination, one of the ministers, Mr McWard, left his hands on Cameron’s head for a while after the others, and said, “Here is the head of a faithful minister and servant of Jesus Christ, who shall lose the same for his Master’s interest and it shall be set up before sun and moon, in view of the world.”

Cameron returned to Scotland in 1680, dwelling among the Covenanting people until 22nd June, when he appeared with his brother and a band of horsemen at Sanquhar, proclaiming the famous Sanquhar Declaration against the rule of the King. (See earlier posts for more information on the Sanquhar Declaration)

Following Sanquhar, Cameron and a band of about sixty men dwelt together in the Ayrshire hills, holding services and praying much together. They organised and preached at several conventicles during this period. It was at one such service at Ayres Moss, when they were surprised by a band of troopers. The morning of his death he rose and washed his hands and face, remarking to his hostess that he must make them clean for they shall shortly be raised for many to see. So indeed they were, for at the battle that ensued at Ayres Moss, Cameron was murdered, and his head and hands severed from his body to be taken to Edinburgh. The rest of his remains were buried where he fell at Ayres Moss, where Peden cried to be buried with him.

The head and hands of Cameron were taken to the Edinburgh Tolbooth, where they were shown to his father, who at that time was a prisoner for Covenanting activities. He recognised them and kissed the head, saying that he knew well whose they were, that of his own dear son. Yet in this awful moment the elder Cameron proclaimed that he accepted God’s will with a calm and peaceful heart. The head and hands were then put on display on a pike above the Netherbow Port.

From → Covenanters

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