On the wall of my room in the same beautiful house there was a powerful cartoon of Peter’s crucifixion, head downwards, for his Master’s sake. The masterpiece of Filippino Lippi I felt to be an excellent illustration also of Rutherford’s letter to James Guthrie and the rest of the ministers and elders who were imprisoned in the Castle of Edinburgh for daring to remind Charles Stuart of the contents of the Covenant to which both he and the whole nation had solemnly sworn. ’If Christ doth own me,’ Rutherford wrote to the martyrs in the Castle, ’let me be laid in my grave in a bloody winding-sheet; let me go from the scaffold to the spikes in four quarters—grave or no grave, as He pleases, if only He but owns me.’ And I seemed to see the crucified disciple’s glorified Master appearing over his reversed cross and saying, ’Thou art Peter, and with this thy blood I will sow widespread my Church.’ Yes, my brethren, if Christ but owns us, that will far more than make up to us in a moment for all our imprisonments, and all our martyrdoms, and all our ebbing tides down here. ’Angels, men, and Zion’s elders eye us in all our suffering for Christ’s sake, but what of all these? Christ is by us, and looketh on, and writeth it all up Himself.’
James Guthrie was hanged and dismembered at the Cross of Edinburgh on the first day of June, 1661. His snow-white head was cut off, and was fixed on a spike in the Nether Bow. James Guthrie got that day that which he had so often prayed for—a sudden plunge into everlasting life with all his senses about him and all his graces at their brightest and their keenest exercise.
XVII. WILLIAM GUTHRIE
’A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.’—Solomon.
William Guthrie was a great humorist, a great sportsman, a great preacher, and a great writer. The true Guthrie blood has always had a drop of humour in it, and the first minister of Fenwick was a genuine Guthrie in this respect. The finest humour springs up out of a wide and a deep heart, and it always has its roots watered at a wellhead of tears. ‘William Guthrie was a great melancholian,’ says Wodrow, and as we read that we are reminded of some other great melancholians, such as Blaise Pascal and John Foster and William Cowper. William Guthrie knew, by his temperament, and by his knowledge of himself and of other men, that he was a great melancholian, and he studied how to divert himself sometimes in order that he might not be altogether drowned with his melancholy. And thus, maugre his melancholy, and indeed by reason of it, William Guthrie was a great humorist. He was the life of the party on the moors, in the manse, and in the General Assembly. But the life of the party when he was present was always pure and noble and pious, even if it was sometimes somewhat hilarious and boisterous. ’If a man’s melancholy temperament is sanctified,’