Cloud of Witnesses

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John Shields

This is another of the ten persons who suffered on the 7th December 1666. He is described in Wodrow, as resident in Titwood, and as a tenant of Sir George Maxwell of Nether Pollock. It appears that he had joined the insurgents in Ayrshire, and, that, with John Ross and others, he was employed to watch the movements of the king's forces in the neighbourhood of Kilmarnock. From there he accompanied them till their overthrow at Pentland, where he was made prisoner. The following is his separate testimony to the cause in which he died.

'I am a man unlearned, and not accustomed to speak in public; yet being now called to witness and suffer for the Lord in public, I cannot be altogether silent of that which religion and reason has taught me anent the cause of my suffering.

I bless the Lord, I suffer not as an evil doer, especially not for any rebellion against his majesty's lawful authority; I attest him who is the searcher of hearts, that was never my intention in the least, and it is as little the nature and intention of what I have done; but for the renewing of the covenant with the Lord, and following the ends thereof, as to the suppressing of abjured prelates, and intruders upon the Lord's flock, and the restoring of the government of the house of God by Presbyters, as he himself hath appointed in his word, with a faithful, godly, called and sent ministry; and together with pure ordinances, the power of godliness. For this I am condemned, and to suffer this day. This I acknowledge freely before our judges, this I still acknowledge, and am persuaded that herein I witness a faithful confession. This cause and covenant I commend to all the Lord's people. It is not free for you to forsake it; you are inviolably engaged init; it is not safe to desert it, because of the curse of the perjurer and false swearer. There is unspeakable blessedness in the pursuance of it, whereof I can bear witness to the Lord by my rich experience, since we began to do and suffer at this time for him; whereupon I cheerfully lay down my life for this his cause; he it is who justifies it, what man or authority under heaven can condemn it? Arise O Lord let not man prevail against thee! Plead and judge this cause which is thine own, for thine own name's sake.'