George Wishart - Burned (1546)

After Wishart answered the final charge, the bishops returned a verdict of guilty. Wishart, on his knees, expressed these words of prayer: "Gracious and everlasting God, how long wilt Thou permit Thy servants to suffer through infatuation and ignorance. We know that the righteous must suffer persecution in this life, which passeth as doth a shadow, yet we would entreat Thee, merciful Father, that Thou wouldest defend Thy people whom Thou hast chosen and give them race to endure and continue in Thy Holy Word.? He was then sentenced to be burned at the stake the following day. The execution took place in front of the main gate into the castle. Wishart was wearing black, with bags of gunpowder hanging round his neck. At the stake, Wishart fell on his knees and exclaimed aloud: "Saviour of the world, have mercy upon me. Heavenly Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit." Turning to the crowd he said: "Christian brethren and sisters, be not offended at the Word of God on account of the tortures you see prepared for me. Love the Word which publisheth salvation, and suffer patiently for the Gospel's sake. To my brethren and sisters who have heard me elsewhere, declare that my doctrine is no old wife?s fables, but the blessed Gospel of salvation. For preaching that Gospel, I am now to suffer, and I suffer gladly for the Redeemer?s sake. Should any of you be called on to endure persecution, fear not them who can destroy the body, for they cannot slay the soul. Most falsely have I been accused of teaching that the soul shall sleep after death till the last day; I believe, my soul shall sup with my Saviour this night. I beseech you, brethren and sisters, exhort your prelates to acquaint themselves with the Word of God, so that they may be ashamed to do evil and learn to do good; for if they will not turn from their sinful way, the wrath of God shall fall upon them suddenly, and they shall not escape." Again falling on his knees, he prayed for those who had, through ignorance, condemned him, and for all who had testified against him falsely. One of the executioners, who entreated his forgiveness, he kissed on the cheek, saying to him, ?By this token I forgive thee; do thine office." Wishart was now made fast, to the stake, while a heap of faggots was piled around his body. Fire being applied, the bags of gunpowder attached to his person exploded, and he died. Shortly after the death of Wishart, Cardinal Beaton was killed by Wishart?s supporters. Wishart?s life and death are important to the Reformation. Firstly the number of people who turned to Christ under his ministry, secondly the influence he had on John Knox and thirdly the influence his death had on the people of Scotland. Killing godly men in such a brutal way just makes people look into their teachings and life to find out why they were executed. Far from stopping the Reformation through his death, Beaton helped to light the flame of the Reformation.

Additional Information

George Wishart was burned outside the Castle, the place is marked on the street (see below), and is in the middle of this photo.