Captain John Paton, a legendary Scottish soldier and Covenanter, is best known for his stirring testimony delivered from the scaffold on May 9, 1684. He fought bravely for Gustavus Adolphus in Germany, and also for his Covenanter brethren against the English crown in pitched battles going back to 1644. His last testament to faith has become Captain Paton’s gift to the ages:
Dear Friends and Spectators,
You are come here to look upon me a dying man…I am a poor sinner, and could never merit but wrath, and have no righteousness of my own; all is Christ’s and His alone; and I have laid claim to His righteousness and His sufferings by faith in Jesus Christ; through imputation they are mine; for I have accepted of His offer on His own terms, and sworn away myself to Him, to be at His disposal, both privately and publicly.
Now I have put it upon Him to ratify in heaven all that I have purposed to do on earth, and to do away with all my imperfections and failings, and to stay my heart on Him…I now leave my testimony, as a dying man, against the horrid usurpation of our Lord’s prerogative and crown-right…for He is given by the Father to be the head of His church…Oh! Be oft at the throne, and give God no rest. Make sure your soul’s interest. Seek His pardon freely, and then He will come with peace. Seek all the graces of His Spirit, the grace of love, the grace of holy fear and humility … Now I desire to salute you, dear friends in the Lord Jesus Christ, both prisoner, banished, widow and fatherless, or wandering and cast out for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s; even the blessings of Christ’s sufferings be with you all, strengthen, establish, support, and settle you…Now as to my poor sympathizing wife and six small children upon the Almighty Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, who hath promised to be a father to the fatherless, and a husband to the widow, the widow and orphans’ stay. Be Thou all in all to them, O Lord…And now farewell, wife and children. Farewell all friends and relations. Farewell all worldly enjoyments. Farewell sweet Scriptures, preaching, praying, reading, singing, and all duties. And welcome, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I desire to commit my soul to Thee in well doing. Lord, receive my spirit.
Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.
This story is an excerpt from Foxe: Voices of the Martyrs. You can get your own copy free with any donation to The Voice of the Martyrs.