Sunday, 26 March 2017

Jesus as the Morning Star

One of the titles used by Jesus of himself is that he is the morning star. The morning star is generally regarded as the planet Venus and it was called the morning star because it is usually seen shortly before daybreak, and thus indicates that the dark night will soon be over. Given this background, it is not difficult to see what Jesus meant when he described himself as the morning star.

First, it is a reminder that the world is yet in a state of spiritual darkness. Paul, when writing to the Ephesians, led them to recall that at one time they too had been spiritually blind, unable to understand God and his ways. This description of sinners is not limited to people of the first century but also describes each person who is living today without Jesus. Such have no real grasp of the beauty and bounty of God. Still, Jesus is there as the morning star, as the light who shines in the darkness, drawing people to himself in order for them to discover how kind and merciful the Lord is.

Second, as the morning star, Jesus announces that the day of brightness and glory is soon to arrive. In the natural world, the morning star is seen a short time before daybreak. When people see it, they can assume that it will soon be daylight. Those who have seen Jesus know that the eternal day will soon be here. And what an incredible day it will be! It will be a day without end, a day without disappointment, a day without problems, and a day without pain. 

Of course, the items in that brief list, although real, are negative. The fact is that the features of the day which will soon be here is that there are countless positive features to it. We describe some of them by the categories of peace, joy, love, absence of sin and its effects, holiness and knowledge of God. The obvious point about such features is that they can only be understood by experience. But they are all features of the day of which Jesus is the morning star.

In the meantime, as we live in the land of the shadow of death and wait for the arrival of the eternal day, we can focus on the morning star. We see him in the Bible where he reveals himself to those who take the time to search its pages looking for him. And when we discover his presence there, we often find that he too is looking ahead with anticipation to the day of which he is the morning star.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Women of the Scottish Reformation (8) - Elisabeth Welsh

Elisabeth Knox was born about 1568, and was about four years of age when her father died. While she could have recalled some details of her father, it is more likely that her commitment to and understanding of the Reformed Faith was helped more by her mother Margaret Stewart (Knox’s second wife) and stepfather (Andrew Ker). 

When Elisabeth died in 1625, her cousin recorded, ‘This month of January, 1625, died at Ayr, my cousin, Mrs. Welsh, daughter of that great servant of God, the late John Knox, and wife of that holy man of God, Mr. Welsh, above mentioned; a spouse and daughter worthy of such a husband and such a father.’ What did she do that resulted in such a testimony?

She probably met John Welsh when he became minister of Selkirk in 1589 because his church would have been the one attended by the Ker family. At some stage they married, and in 1600 he moved to Ayr to minister there. 

In 1603, the union of the crowns of England and Scotland took place and James VI of Scotland became James I. One of his first actions was to try and arrange for the churches in England and Scotland to have the same type of church government, Episcopacy, because then he would be in charge. This intention included dissolving the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland. 

Welsh was one of the ministers who objected to this royal plan and in July 1605 was brought before the privy council in Edinburgh. He was put in Blackness Castle until January 1606 when he along with five other ministers were put on trial for high treason. The wives of the ministers made their way to Linlithgow for the trial. When they verdict of guilty was passed, the women ‘rejoiced, and thanked the Lord Jesus that their husbands had received strength and courage to stand to their Master’s cause.’ 

They had to wait until 23rd October 1606 before the sentence was passed. It was banishment from Scotland for life, and the ministers left Scotland on the 7th of November for France. They had to leave their wives and children behind.

Elisabeth joined her husband in France in the following year. But life there was not good. He had his problems and her health suffered, although her husband observed that she bore ‘her cross with comfort contentation’. By 1621, the husband’s health had broken and he had serious lung problems. Doctors recommended that they should return to Scotland, but the king only gave permission to them to come to London.

While there they decided that she should approach the king because she could get access through her family’s rank. The king was unwilling to let Welsh return to Scotland, and when he heard that the wife was the daughter of John Knox his unwillingness was strengthened. Eventually he said that Welsh could return to Scotland if he would submit to the bishops who had been appointed.  She replied that she would rather that her husband die as a martyr than betray his beliefs. Welsh died later that year (1622). His wife returned to Ayr and died thirty months or so later, in 1625. She left two sons and a daughter.

Mrs Welsh was a woman who could have chosen the easy path of comfort in an aristocratic home. Instead she chose to identify with the Reformation when the country and the church were attempting to move away from its goals. She was prepared to live in exile, where she encouraged her husband to be faithful. Despite the intensity of his sufferings in Scotland and in France she did not ask him to make life easier for them by reducing his commitment. She was willing to bear the cross.

Women of the Scottish Reformation (7) - Margaret Stewart

It is impossible to look at the Reformation and not come across the work of John Knox, and when we read about his life we can see the contribution made by his wives. Both are worthy of consideration, but we will focus on the second, because her daughter, as well as herself, made notable sacrifices for the Reformed Cause in Scotland as the seventeenth century dawned. 

John Knox married his second wife, Margaret Stewart, in March 1564. Margaret was from a very important family, with wealth and royal connections. Opponents of Knox attempt to make something of the fact that she was only nineteen when she married Knox and he was in his late forties. 

An account of how the marriage was arranged was given by Robert Millar, a minister in Paisley, in a letter written to Wodrow the historian in 1722 and is recorded in the book Ladies of the Covenant. I suppose we can say the process was unusual, but then we need to remember the customs of the time.

Knox often used to visit the Stewart family and held services in their home. Several members of the family were Christians. Knox was by now a widower and the lady of the castle on one occasion said to him that he needed a wife. He replied that he did not think anyone would want to marry a wanderer like him. She said she would find out.

The lady had three daughters and she started with them. She asked the oldest daughter who refused, stating that she hoped her mother wanted better for her than marriage to a poor wanderer. The second daughter responded in the same manner. The third daughter Elisabeth, aged nineteen, responded very differently. ‘Madam, I’ll be very willing to marry him, but I fear that he’ll not take me.’ The mother then said that she would find out his response during his next visit. She did, while Knox and the family were having a meal. Knox asked the Lady who the woman was and she replied, ‘My younger daughter sitting by you at the table.’ One wonders if the mother arranged the seating. 

Knox asked Elisabeth if she was willing to marry him. She replied that she was, but was afraid that he would not be willing to take her. He responded by informing her that marriage to him would not be easy: ‘you must take your venture of God’s providence, as I do. I go through the country sometimes on my foot, with a wallet (bag) on my arm, a shirt, a clean band, and a Bible in it; you may put some things in it for yourself, and if I bid you take the wallet, you must do it, and go where I go, and lodge where I lodge.’ She affirmed that she would do so, and they were married on Palm Sunday.

She and John were together for eight years and produced three daughters. She was with him during his years of ill health and troubles as he tried to solidify the Reformation after 1560. Her second marriage was to Andrew Ker, an aristocrat, but a staunch supporter of the Reformed faith. With him she had several more children. She died in 1612, after a lifetime of supporting the Reformed cause in Scotland.

Knox’s three daughters by her went to live with her in her new abode. The increase in the standard of living did not divert the daughters from the Reformed Faith. Each of them married ministers, but it is with the youngest, called Elisabeth, that we are concerned with because she became the wife of John Welsh, a leading minister who would suffer much for his Reformed convictions. We will think about her in the next blog.

Women of the Scottish Reformation (6) - the poem of John Davidson

In the first blog in this series we mentioned a couple, John Campbell of Cesnock and his wife Janet Montgomery, who had connections to the Lollards. Their granddaughter Elisabeth was married to a Robert Campbell and they were the subjects of a poem written by John Davidson, the well-known minister of Prestonpans, who dedicated it to their daughter.  He composed the poem in 1574, although it was not published until 1595. The year in which he composed the poem was the year in which they died, which means that much of their involvement with the Reformed Faith took place before 1560.

Davidson published the poem because he thought that the church in Scotland was losing its first love, a possibility that both George Wishart and John Knox had observed was likely. The author also seemed concerned that the daughter of the couple was in danger of being one such person, but that is difficult to prove.

Robert Campbell was one of three men who sat by Knox on his deathbed and it was to his care that Knox bequeathed his wife and children. He had been an ardent supporter of the Reformation and so had his wife. When they were married, probably in the 1550s, the Reformation was not guaranteed because those supporting the Protestant cause were in danger of punishment by the authorities. They bravely opened their castle for preaching occasions, and those who were present were encouraged to hope for success.

Davidson, in his poem, affirms that Mrs Campbell was exceptionally gifted in understanding and explaining the doctrines of the Bible. She did not object to her husband’s frequent travels in support of the Reformed cause and she was noted for her care of the poor. Anderson mentions that she housed many poor nightly in the castle, and her care was not limited to their physical needs. In addition, those who received her hospitality were examined on the knowledge of the Apostles Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments. As we know, the Shorter Catechism was shaped around those three areas, so Mrs Campbell’s catechising of the poor was not in any way shallow, and indicated that she wanted them to find salvation.

Davidson himself had written the poem shortly after experiencing the brave help of this couple. He had composed the poem against the policy of the Reformed government which was trying to take hold of the resources of the church. One of the policies was to unite parishes under the care of one minister, which meant that the church did not need the same amount to meet stipends. Davidson found himself in trouble over this with the government and the General Assembly, while agreeing with him, were too frightened to disagree with the policy of the Protestant government. One member of the Assembly who was appalled by its lack of courage was Robert Campbell – he described it as a pack of traitors. He took Davidson home with him, which would have been a dangerous thing to do, and his wife did not object to his actions. 

Around that time, Robert took ill and died of a fever. Shortly afterwards, his wife also succumbed to a fever. Davidson was of the opinion that their removal was an indication that God was going to punish the nation for its rapid turning away from God after the deliverance it had experienced fourteen years before in 1560. The poet had such an estimation of their Christian qualities that he regarded their deaths as indicating things would not go well for the church or the country in the years ahead, which turned out to be the case.

This couple were obviously important in the Reformed movement. Their story reminds us that it does not take long for something that was good to become listless. Although they remained devoted to the Lord’s cause, many others did not. Perhaps the time of ease that followed the difficult years prior to 1560 made many lose their first love. Davidson mentions that many of the ministers were prepared to compromise. The times that Robert and Elizabeth lived to see highlights the dangers that can occur when an evangelical church and politics become entwined.

Women of the Scottish Reformation (5) - Isobel Scrimger

Isobel Scrimger is mentioned in Anderson’s Ladies of the Reformation and her significance for the history of Scotland is that she was the mother of James Melville, and the aunt of Andrew Melville. Although she was the aunt of Andrew, she brought him up after his mother died when he was two years of age. Her own son James was only about ten years younger than Andrew, and they grew up as brothers rather than uncle and nephew. 

Andrew became the next significant Protestant leader in Scotland after the death of Knox. In addition, he and his nephew were outstanding scholars. Andrew was Principal of both Glasgow University and then St Andrews University, and after he was exiled he taught theology in a French University. He often spoke gratefully of his aunt.

Isobel came into the Melville family when she married Richard Melville, the oldest son of a family in which Andrew was the youngest. Richard initially was a laird near Montrose and after the Reformation in 1560 he became a minister there. His future wife was connected to a prominent family whose lands were near Dundee.

According to Anderson, she was an early follower of the Reformation and was one of the first converts in the area in which she lived. She attended meetings held in the castle of John Erskine of Dun, who became a prominent supporter of the Reformation and a leader of it in the years after 1560. At those meetings, the Scriptures were read and expounded, probably by Erskine, and sometimes there would be a guest preacher. One preacher who helped her greatly was George Wishart, who was a friend of Erskine’s. Apparently, Erskine only escaped having the same kind of death as Wishart because of his rank in society. Wishart, as we know, was put to death in Dundee.

After Isobel married Richard she made a big impression on his family. Her son James records the opinion that his uncles had of her; he observes, ‘I have divers times heard when my father’s brothers, Roger, John, Mr. James and Robert, could not satisfy themselves in commending her godliness, honesty, virtue, and affection towards them.’ Of course, in saying that about her, they were only describing what a Christian should be.

Although she was the mother of James, she died in 1557, a year after he was born, and three years before the Reformation became official. So in literal sense, she played virtually no role in his upbringing, apart from two ways. One of them was prayer. James records in his diary that she saw something special in her nephew Andrew and often prayed, ‘God give me another lad like thee, and syne tak me to his rest!’ It looks as if she knew she would not live long and prayed that she would bear a son like her nephew. She already had two other sons, one of whom died young. But she received her wish when James was born because history tells us he was as devout and almost as gifted as Andrew.

Her second contribution to the development of James was seen in the way she had trained her daughter, also called Isobel, in the Christian faith. Anderson records that Isobel, her eldest daughter, ‘had been trained up under her own eye’, and ‘possessed much of her own excellence of character’. The daughter died in 1574 in childbirth, when James was eighteen. Still, she had taken care of him during much of his adolescence and he recorded her spiritual tendencies. She loved to read and sing the songs of David Lindsay about the final day – the judgement, hell, and heaven.

James also recorded an occasion when she had been reading a song about ministers who gave up their calling because they did not get a stipend. Her response was to weep and wonder what such would say at the Day of Judgement, and then prayed that her father and others whom she named would be kept from such a choice. 

James says of her influence, ‘With her speeches and tears she made me to quake and chout bitterly, which left the deepest stamp of God’s fear in my heart of anything that ever I heard before.’ He was eleven at the time.

Here we are, some of the individuals four centuries later who have inherited the cause for which Andrew and James Melville devoted their particular talents. We honour them rightly, yet we should not forget the mother and the daughter who influenced them when they were young and taught them to love the gospel that was recovered at the Reformation and to dedicate themselves to the service of God.

Both the mother and the daughter died relatively young, at least by our expectations. Yet they remind us that it is possible to do a lot in a short space of time. They also tell us that if we do what we should do in our families as far as bringing them up in the faith is concerned God may honour us by using family members to shake the nation for Christ

Women of the Scottish Reformation (4) - Elisabeth Adamson

Elizabeth Adamson was the wife of James Barron, a burgess of the city of Edinburgh, and a follower of John Knox. In 1555, John Knox came to Edinburgh and among his activities he engaged in house meetings. Among his listeners was Elizabeth. David Calderwood tells us that she ‘heard Mr Knox with greediness, because she was troubled in conscience, and he opened more fully the fountain of God’s mercies than did the friers, or common sort of teachers that she heard before’.  Her involvement shows us that people were seeking the truth and not finding answers from the official clergy, the priests and friars.

What has come down to us is the account of Elizabeth’s deathbed. She suffered great physical pain, yet drank deeply of the comforts of the gospel. Her sisters on one occasion asked her what she thought of her physical pain in comparison to her previous spiritual distress, she replied, ‘A thousand years of this torment, and ten times more joined unto it, is not to be compared to the quarter of an hour that I suffered in my spirit. I thank my God, through Jesus Christ, that he has delivered me from that most fearful pain; and welcome be this, even so long as it pleaseth his godly Majesty to discipline me therewith.’

Some time later, her sisters and a few others were with her and she asked them to sing a psalm. One of the psalms that she requested was Psalm 103 because through it previously she had found spiritual help. She informed her companions, ‘At the teaching of this psalm, my troubled soul first began effectually to taste of the mercy of God, which now to me is more sweet and precious than were all the kingdoms of the earth given to me to possess for a thousand years.’ 

The account of her deathbed also includes a reference to the involvement of priests who probably came to offer her the Last Rites. On the edge of eternity, she ordered them to leave: ‘Depart from me, ye sergeants of Satan; for I have refused, and in your own presence do refuse, all your abominations. That which ye call your Sacrament and Christ’s body, as ye have deceived us to believe in times past, is nothing but an idol, and has nothing to do with the right institution of Jesus Christ. Therefore, in God’s name, I command you not to trouble me.’

Shortly afterwards she passed into the presence of the Lord. I have no idea of her age, although her husband married again and had a family of several daughters, which could point to him, and therefore her, as being young at that time.

What can we learn from her? First, the gospel can give great peace even when there is great physical agony. Obviously, she lived before the existence of terminal care and no doubt many a person, including believers, died in great physical agony. Yet it is clear that she was composed by the gospel, comforted by its content, and confident in the hope it gave her. 

Second, the gospel can give great courage when there is great pressure to conform to false religion. After all, as she edged towards the Jordan, she would want to have something certain to help her wade into its waters. Such a time is not the moment to grasp at religious straws. Through the gospel, she had found the way to heaven, and she reached the desired haven.

The testimony of Elizabeth was a valued one in the past. Andrew Bonar refers to her experience in his commentary on the Book of Psalms when commenting on Psalm 103. He writes: ‘How often have saints in Scotland sung this Psalm in days when they celebrated the Lord’s Supper! It is thereby specially known in our land. It is connected also with a remarkable case in the days of John Knox,’ and he goes on to detail her experience.

Women of the Scottish Reformation (3) - Helen Stark

James V died in December, 1542, the same month in which his daughter Mary was born. A regent was appointed, and the one chosen, the Earl of Arran, recanted the Protestant faith under pressure. Unlike ones just mentioned (in previous blog), I have not read of his repentance. He functioned under the control of Cardinal Beaton and a prolonged persecution of Protestants took place. Among the martyrs was Helen Stark and she has the honour of being the only female martyr of the Scottish Reformation.

As part of his plan to eradicate Protestants, Cardinal Beaton went to Perth to investigate what was happening there (Perth had allowed its citizens to express sympathy with the Reformed faith). Six individuals were arrested and among them were Helen and her husband James Ranoldson. They were charged with heresy and of meeting together to discuss the Bible. Specific charges were also brought against them as individuals, and the charge against Helen was that when giving birth she had refused to ask the Virgin Mary for help. She had been urged to do so by her neighbours, probably because the Virgin Mary was regarded as the patroness of women about to give birth. Helen had refused to do so and instead prayed herself that God would give her the strength to give birth safely. 

Helen also said words to the effect that had she been alive when Jesus was born, God could have chosen her to be the mother of Jesus. All she meant was that whoever would have been the mother of Jesus had no merit of her own. We can see, however, that her opinion would have been regarded as very offensive by the investigators and it would not have been difficult for them to accuse her of heresy.

All of them were found guilty and sentenced to death. The men were to die by hanging and Helen by drowning. There was considerable sympathy for them in the town, but appeals to the regent to spare their lives were unsuccessful. As a last request, Helen asked if she could die alongside her husband, but this was denied her. She was allowed to go with him to the place of death, and comforted and encouraged him on the way, exhorting him to be faithful to the cause of Christ. When they reached the location, she kissed him and said to him: ‘Husband, be glad; we have lived together many joyful days, but this day, on which we must die, ought to be the most joyful of all to us both, because now we shall have joy for ever. Therefore I will not bid you good night, for we shall suddenly meet with joy in the kingdom of heaven.’

Helen was taken to a pool nearby. Her children, including the one recently born, were with her. She had to give them to neighbours to look after, with the youngest child being given to a friend who had agreed to nurse it. Obviously, such a public set of actions caused sympathy and distress in the watching crowd, but not in the outlook of the authorities. Helen was tied in a sack and plunged into the pool and her spirit soon arrived in the presence of God.

We obviously are to admire Helen Stark as the only woman of the Scottish Reformation who will wear a martyr’s crown. Later, more women were to suffer such a fate during the Covenanting times. She has this unique privilege and it will be recognised yet on the day when Jesus is revealed. 

Her experience reminds us of the hostility of the kingdom of darkness against those who profess faith in Jesus and who are prepared to nail their colours to the mast wherever they are. She must have been under great pressure to recant because of the state and the age of her children. I suppose she exemplifies for us the words of Jesus that any who put family or their own lives before him are not worthy of him.

The striking detail of Helen’s behaviour and words is the strength of her assurance and the manner in which she was able to comfort those condemned with her. Her confidence in God was also expressed in the way she left her children in the care of others. And she also had the confidence to express that God would take revenge on those who caused her death and that of her friends, which came true several years later.

Where was Jesus when this was happening to Helen? I suspect we get the answer to this question by recalling how Luke describes the death of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. 

As we think of how Helen Stark witnessed for Jesus, we would agree with Donald Beaton’s words in his Scottish Heroines of the Faith: ‘Noble-hearted woman! All honour be to her, or, rather, to the grace that made her strong in the hour of trial! May the land that gave her birth ever honour the truths for which she and others laid down their lives!’ 

Women of the Scottish Reformation (2) - Katherine Hamilton

In 1517 Martin Luther triggered what we now call the Reformation when he nailed his famous theses to the church door in Wittenberg. The Reformation was a work in progress and initially those who advocated it in Scotland were not fully Calvinists or Presbyterians. Instead, it was the views and writings of Luther that had great influence. One of the persons influenced by Luther and his colleague Melanchthon was Patrick Hamilton, who studied under them in Germany.

At one time, everyone in Scotland knew the story of Patrick Hamilton. For our purposes, we want to note he had a sister called Katherine who embraced the Reformed faith as it was taught by her brother. By this time, Tyndale’s translation of the New Testament into English had arrived in Scotland and she had a copy. This conversion of her and others in the family took place a few months before Patrick was martyred. His death in 1628 is often regarded as the event that marked a turning point in Scotland’s national embrace of Protestantism.

Her connections to her brother made her a target of the ecclesiastical authorities, led by Cardinal Beaton. Six years later, in 1534, she with some others was taken before an ecclesiastical court for her beliefs. Another brother, called James, who was also a supporter of the reformed faith, had to flee the country, and in his absence he was condemned as a heretic and his property confiscated, even although he was the Sheriff of Linlithgowshire.

Katherine was charged with ‘maintaining that none could be saved by their own works, and that justification is to be obtained exclusively through faith in the righteousness of Christ.’ She was not a theologian and she found the interrogation daunting and beyond her grasp. Yet she was not moved by the subtleties of what the church taught about works. Eventually she responded with this statement: ‘Work here, work there, what kind of working is all this? I know perfectly that no kind of works can save me but only the works of Christ, my Lord and Saviour.’

The King, James V, was her nephew; he was present at the trial and was amused by her responses. Because he wanted to save her life, he persuaded her to recant her statements, which she did. Shortly afterwards, she repented of her response and had to flee to England, and she lived in Berwick for several years. She was one of many that had to flee to England for sanctuary at that time.

How should we react to a woman who recanted her faith under pressure? First, we need to ask ourselves what we would do in such a situation. After all, what do we say when a hostile person verbally attacks us about our faith? Do we always stand up for Jesus? There is more than one way of protecting ourselves. 

Second, she was not the only person to recant. We are all familiar with the story of Thomas Cranmer, the English Reformer who recanted, and then repented of his denial and held his hand in the flame before he was burned to death. 

Third, while she and Thomas may never have seen each other, they did experience the blessing of repentance provided by the Saviour through the work of his Holy Spirit. 

Fourth, she lived for many years as a true follower of Jesus while unable to live in her native land.

Women of the Scottish Reformation (1)

Recently I spoke on Women of the Scottish Reformation. In this blog are my notes of what I said about women connected to the Lollards. Details about others will be given in subsequent blogs.

In 1560, Scotland became a Reformed country. The Reformation movement had been a long process, and 1560 would not be the close of opposition to it. We are familiar with several names of males who are connected to it, before and after 1560. What about women at that time? Not much information about female individuals has come down to us, and in this paper I have tried to include what we have received about them. We will look at women who contributed before 1560 to the Reformed cause and some who made their mark after 1560. It was not easy before 1560 and it was not always easy after that year either. 

Some want to trace roots of the Reformation in Scotland back to the Lollards connected to John Wycliffe in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. His preachers did come to Scotland and at least two were martyred, one in Perth and one in St Andrews. John Knox in his History of the Reformation in Scotland mentions a well-known trial that occurred in 1494 in which several Lollards were tried for heresy. They are known as the Lollards of Kyle. Among them were two women, sisters; one was Lady Polkellie and the other was Lady Stair. The husband of a third sister was also on trial. While the trial petered out and the accusers did not get their way, the trial does remind us that it was dangerous to question the doctrine of the Romish church. What is clear is that women were embracing the Bible and some of them were married into the gentry.

Another account that comes down from this period concerns a couple, John Campbell of Cesnock and his wife Janet Montgomery. John’s father, George, was one of the Lollards of Kyle. Their story is told in a volume called The Annals of the English Bible, and its author describes the history of Bible translation and distribution in the British Isles. In describing what took place in Scotland in the period between Wycliffe’s translation and the more accurate version of Tyndale, he details what happened to this couple. They were charged with using their home for the promotion of heresy, which of course means that they were using their home to spread the faith. They hosted a priest who read to the family from the New Testament and turned it into their language (probably turning some of Wycliffe’s renderings into Scots). The topic of conversations in the home at times focussed on biblical doctrines and the religious errors they saw around them. They and their priest were betrayed by some monks they had shown hospitality to, and were charged with heresy.

John was frightened by the prospect of a negative verdict from the ecclesiastical powers and appealed to the king, James IV, who possessed exclusive authority to try such cases. Even this did not make John brave in answering the accusations. It was a different matter when his wife. She spoke bravely, competently and accurately about the doctrines for which she was on trial. The king was impressed by her and rebuked the monks and gave more land to John as a reward. 

This incident does tell us that there was not always harmony between the monarch and the religious authorities over the pursuit of religious dissenters and if the accused could argue their case they could win. We can also see that women were instructed well in what the Bible taught, and some of them were prepared to state clearly what they believed, even when their lives were in danger for their faith