Today is the beginning of my second week of studies, and my eleventh day since arriving in the “Land of Knox” and already my dreams of Scotland have been superseded by an even greater reality. The land is far more beautiful than I could have imagined and the people possess a rare degree of kindness – especially to two foreigners such as we are. I have already been to Glasgow, stood inside its High Church where once the venerable Reformer and Covenanter, Alexander Henderson, presided as moderator of the first free General Assembly of the Church of Scotland since the time of Knox. I gazed upon the original painting of the martyrdom of John Brown of Priesthill, and stood motionless and with the utmost sobriety and shock as I read the grave plaque of five martyred Covenanters, buried only yards away from me. My mind has never been so actively concerned with the work of Reformation as it is now, and gazing upon the very real and very good reminders of what sufferings the Church has underwent for “Christ’s Crown and Covenant” has left me longing, more than ever, to see the banner raised once again over this, and every other land of forgetfulness. Past grace, however, does not make a present reality. The Gospel is barely spoken here, and already it is apparent that this land may be well under the impression that they are in a “Post-Christian world” where the riches of the Gospel are esteemed as antiquated coinage and of no real value, save only for historical inquiry. Knox may be known – and his monument at the Necropolis in Glasgow is the largest on the whole hill, overlooking the city like the shepherd it is made in likeness of – but His Christ is not. Those who are laboring here, with whom I have the delight and privilege to know, have a Gospel-fever that dwarfs my own and one much like their martyred predecessors. The challenges they face in Christian ministry are met with rare graces, and a true love to God, which prompts them to look at the land as being exceedingly “ripe for the harvest”. This is not the Scotland of the Covenanted Reformation anymore, but the Gospel is still preached by a remnant, and that remnant is tirelessly employed in the work.
I am learning as well. Learning theology, history, and piety in the same part of the world where the fields once ran crimson with martyr blood is a phenomenon I truly did not expect to have. Men and women, cities, buildings, and fields that I had read and dreamed about have come to life. It, I imagine, is much like what a devout Tolkien fan would experience if ever he was invited to explore the shire, the city of Rivendell, and the stone fortress at Helm’s Deep. My fantasy world has come to life. I can stand and see what Cargill saw, look upon the Grassmarket, and wander the hills that were once killing fields for those who would rather die than forsake Christ, and deny His crown rights and royal prerogatives.