Remembering the Reformation: Hugh M’Kail

Hugh M’Kail

In this week leading up to Reformation Day, I am sharing accounts of faithful witnesses from the Reformation. This is another account of a Reformation martyr from the Scots Worthies:

Born of devout parents near Edinburgh, he was prepared at an early age for the ministry.  He was licensed to preach in the winter of 1661 and “obtained the ultimatum of his ambition — that he might preach ‘Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God, unto salvation’.”

As one of the Scottish “Covenanters,” he was arrested, tortured, and tried for rebellion.  Sentenced to hang, he replied, “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

On the day of his execution, he sang a part of the 31st Psalm and “prayed with such power and fervency as caused many to weep bitterly.  When he took hold of the ladder to go up, he said with an audible voice, ‘I care no more to go up this ladder, and over it, than if I were going home to my father’s house!'”

His final words were filled with faith and power.  To the crowd he said,

“I hope you perceive no alteration or discouragement in my countenance and carriage; and as it may be your wonder, so I profess it is a wonder to myself; and I will tell you the reason of it . . . this is my comfort that when Lazarus died, the angels did carry his soul to Abraham’s bosom; so that as there is a great solemnity here . . . so there is a greater and more solemn preparation of angels to carry my soul to Christ’s bosom.

“Again, this is farther my comfort, that it is to come to Christ’s hand, and he will present it blameless and faultless to the Father, and then shall I be ever with the Lord.

“Farewell father and mother, friends and relations;  Farewell the world and all delights; Farewell meat and drink; Farewell sun, moon, and stars; Welcome God and Father; Welcome sweet Jesus Christ, the Mediator of the new covenant; Welcome blessed Spirit of grace and God of all consolation; Welcome glory; Welcome eternal life; and, Welcome death!

“O Lord, into thy hands I commit my spirit, for thou hast redeemed my soul, O Lord God of truth!” — and thus, in the 26th year of his age, he died as he had lived in the Lord —


“Shouting forth with his expiring breath,
The great Redeemer’s praise. Triumphant leap’d
Into the monster Death’s devouring jaws,
And made his hollow vaults, while passing through,
With hallelujahs ring. Thus Stephen died.”


Thanks to God for the testimony of faithful martyrs like Hugh M’Kail.  Surely worthy of remembrance this Reformation Day!

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