Cloud of Witnesses

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Walter Mill

The death of this martyr is said to have contributed most effectively to the downfall of popery, in Scotland. He was born about the year 1476, and, having taken orders in the church, became priest of Lunan, in the county of Angus. But having imbibed the reformed opinions, and left off the saying of mass, he was so early as the year 1538, arrested and condemned. He escaped, however, for his life into Germany, where he remained about twenty years. He then returned home, and having attempted to render himself useful, by instructing his neighbours in the protestant faith, he was again taken and condemned as a heretic. His conduct whilst on trial, powerfully reflected the sincerity of his faith, and made a deep impression on all who witnessed it. The following is a short account of what took place at his death:

All things being prepared, he was led forth with a guard of armed men to execution. Being come to the place, some cried out to him to recant, to whom he answered, 'I marvel at your rage, ye hypocrites, who do so cruelly pursue the servants of God; as for me, I am now eighty two years old, and cannot live long by course of nature; but an hundred shall rise out of my ashes, who shall scatter you, ye hypocrites, and persecutors of God's people; and such of you as now think yourselves the best, shall not die such an honest death as I now do. I trust in God, I shall be the last who shall suffer death, in this fashion, for this cause, in this land.' ( It is generally understood that Mill was indeed the last person who suffered in the cause of reformation from popery.)

Thus his constancy increased, as his end drew near. Being ordered by Oliphant, one of the persecutors, to go up to the stake, he refused, and said, 'No, I will not go, except you put me up with your own hand, for by the law of God, I am forbidden to put hands to myself; but if you will take me forth by your hand, and take part in my death, you will see me go up gladly.'

'That he had spoken too much already, and that the bishops were exceedingly displeased with what he had said.'  But some youths having taken his part, and called to him to speak on what he pleased, he first went to his knees and prayed, then arose; and standing upon the coals, addressed the people to this effect: ' Dear friends, the cause why I suffer this day, is not for any crime laid to my charge, though I acknowledge myself a miserable sinner before God; but only for the defence of the truths of Jesus Christ, set forth in the Old and New Testaments, for which, as many faithful martyrs have offered their lives most gladly, so this day I praise God that He has called me, among the rest of His servants, to seal His truth with my life; which as I have received from Him, so I willingly offer it up for His glory.

Therefore, as you would escape eternal death, be no longer seduced by the lies of bishops, abbots, friars, monks, and the rest of that sect of antichrist, but depend only upon Jesus Christ and his mercy, that so you may be delivered from condemnation.'

During his speech, loud murmurs and lamentations were heard among the multitude, some admiring the patience, boldness, and constancy of the martyr. Others complaining of the hard measures and cruelty of his persecutors. Having spoken as above, he again prayed a little while, and was then drawn up and bound to the stake. The fire being kindled, he cried. ' Lord, have mercy on me: Pray, pray, good people, while there is time;' and thus cheerfully yielded up his soul into the hands of God.