Cloud of Witnesses

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Russel & Kennedy

These two persons were companions in suffering. The former was of the order of Greyfriars, the latter a young gentleman of liberal education and promising talents, not more than eighteen years of age. Being tried and condemned by the archbishop of Glasgow, they, in that city, underwent the dreadful sentence which was then awarded to the crime of heresy, in the year 1539. The following are some of their sayings upon trial, and at death:

When appearing before the archbishop, Kennedy at first discovered some weakness; but being encouraged by Russel, and having his fortitude, as if on a sudden revived by the effusion of the Holy Spirit from on high, he fell down upon his knees and uttered these remarkable words: 'O, Eternal God! How wonderful is that love and mercy thou bearest to mankind, and even unto me the most miserable wretch above all others! For even now when I would have denied Thee and thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, my only Saviour, and so have cast myself into everlasting damnation, Thou by Thine own hand hast pulled me from the very bottom of hell, and hast made me to feel that heavenly comfort which hath taken from me the ungodly fear by which I was oppressed. Now I defy death!'

And then to his persecutors: 'Do what you please - I praise God, I am ready!'

Russel, who seems to have arrived at a more mature age, and who was characterized during the trial by the greatest firmness and composure of mind, at first reasoned with his accusers, and ingeniously rebutted the charges which were brought against him.

At length roused to a higher state of feeling by the railing and calumnies which they poured forth against him, he exclaimed: 'This is your hour and power of darkness. Now ye sit as judges, and we stand wrongfully accused, and more wrongfully to be condemned; but the day will come when our innocence shall appear, and when you shall see your own blindness to your everlasting confusion. Go forward and fulfil the measure of your iniquity.'

On being condemned and hurried to the place of execution, he comforted his fellow martyr with these affecting words: 'Brother, fear not - more mighty is He that is in us than he that is in the world; the pain that we shall suffer is short and shall be light, but our joy and consolation shall never have an end: and therefore let us strive to enter in, unto our Master and Saviour, by the same strait way which he hath taken before us. Death cannot destroy us, for it is destroyed already by Him for whose sake we suffer.'