Bothkennar Parish Church (1587-1595)



William Couper, who lived less than half a century after Wishart. Scotland had, in 1560, held its first General Assembly. Somewhere between 1580 and 1590, the Assembly appointed Mr Cooper to the charge, of the parish of Bathkenner, in Stirlingshire. When he came there he found only four ruinous walls, without roof, door, or window, for a church; yet it pleased God to give such a blessing to his ministry, that within half a year the people, of their own accord, repaired and adorned the church with great pleasure. During seven or eight years of a very successful ministry in that place, it pleased God to begin to acquaint him with his terrors and with inward temptations, so that his life was almost wasted with heaviness; yet thereby he learned to know more and more of Christ Jesus. He was afterwards' removed to the North of Scotland, where, for nineteen years together, he was a comfort to the best, and a wound to the worst sort. He had a public meeting in the evenings of Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, concerning which he says himself, " It would have done a Christian's heart good to see those joyful assemblies, to have heard the zealous cryings to God among that people, with sighings, and tears, and melting hearts, and mourning eyes." Of himself he says, " My witness is in Heaven, that the love of Jesus and his people made continual preaching my pleasure, and I had no such joy as in doing his work." All the time that this lively work was going on, the Lord still exercised him with inward temptations and great variety of spiritual combats, the end of all which, through divine mercy, was joy unspeakable, as himself testifies. " Yea, once," saith he, " in the greatest extremity of horror and anguish of spirit, when I had utterly given over and looked for nothing but confusion, suddenly there did shine in the very twinkling of an eye, the bright and lightsome countenance of God, proclaiming peace, and confirming it with invincible reasons. O what a change was there in a moment ! The silly soul that was even now at the brink of the pit, looking for nothing but to be swallowed up, was instantly raised up to heaven, to have fellowship with God in Christ Jesus; and from this day forward, my soul was never troubled with such extremity of terrors. This confirmation was given to me on a Saturday morning; there found I the power of religion, the certainty of the word; there was touched with such a lively sense of the divinity and power of the Godhead, in mercy reconciled with man, and with me in Christ, as I trust my soul shall never forget; glory, glory, glory be to the joyful deliverer of my soul out of all adversities for ever'

Such are the joyful expressions of this holy man, when delivered from conflicts of which half the Christian world have only heard by the hearing of the ear; and by such severe discipline does the master of assemblies train his servants for enduring hardness like good soldiers of Christ. In the midst of his inward wrestlings Mr Cooper was not without his combats with wicked men, but all outward trial seemed small to him after his inward experience. He never had a controversy with any man but for his sins, and the Lord assisting him, " the power of the word did so hammer down their pride,'' that they were all of them brought to acknowledge their evil ways.

It was no marvel," says the quaint historian, " to see Satan stir up his wicked instruments to molest him, for he professed himself a disquieter of him and his kingdom." Mr Cooper ceased from his labours in 1619.*

He lost a lot of respect by accepting a bishopric in 1612. • Clark's Lives.

From 'History of Revivals of Religion in the British Isles, Especially in Scotland Mary Grey Lundie Duncan 1836.'