Robert Bruce - Exile (1605-1613)

On the 18th of August, he was charged to enter ward at Inverness, within ten days. He obeyed and he remained there for the better part of eight years, teaching every Wednesday and Sunday morning, and used to read public prayers every other night. These labours were blessed; for this dark country was wonderfully illuminated, and many brought to Christ by means of his ministry, and seed was sown in these remote places, which remained for many years afterwards.

Bruce returned from Inverness in 1613 to his own house, and though his son had obtained a license for him, he could find nothing but grief and aggravation, especially from the ministers of the Presbyteries of Stirling and Linlithgow, and all for curbing the vices some of them were subject to. At last he obtained liberty of the Council to transport his family to another house he had at Monkland, and he was able to preach for some time in the parish church but, so many people attended that the archbishop of Glasgow forced him to retire back again to Kinnaird. So this good man was tossed about, and obliged to go from place to place. Supporters of the king and bishops constantly complained about him, making life as difficult as possible for him. It was around this time (1615) that a new minister by the name of Alexander Henderson, later to lead the second Reformation, heard that Bruce was preaching nearby, so he went to hear him preach. It was through this sermon that Henderson was truly converted and he would refer to Bruce as his spiritual father.

Robert Bruce was exiled again to Inverness.

He remained at Inverness, for the most part, until September 1624. His position there was most uncomfortable; not being able to find suitable lodging and receiving persecution from the local lord. His ministry at that time was described by John Brand. He wrote, ‘The memory of that man of God, Mr Robert Bruce, is sweet to this day(1700) in this place. In the days of King James he was confined in this town, where the Lord blessed his labours to the conversion of many brethren in the town and country round about, for multitudes of all ranks would have crossed ferries every day to hear him. They came both from Ross and Sutherland.’A contemporary testimony is that of Robert Blair, afterwards minister of St Andrew's. In 1622 he writes: ‘I intended a journey to the North to visit the faithful servants of Christ who were confined there by the Prelatic High Commission. I found very sweet passages of Divine Providence all the time from day to day; my spirit was much refreshed observing the Lord's guidance; and when I arrived at the sufferers their company and conference was to me admirably refreshful, especially at Turriff, where Mr David Dickson was confined, and at Inverness where Mr Robert Bruce was now a second time confined.’

It appears that Bruce had great success with his ministry during this stay at Inverness. Although the revival at Stewarton/Irvine is dated from 1625, Davidson returned from banishment in July 1623, and it is quite possible that the Lord was pouring out his Glory in Scotland from 1622/3 which would account for the great number of people being converted around Inverness as the Spiritual atmosphere would have changed. A Jesuit wrote around the middle of the century, ‘But if the region is warm, so also is the temper of the inhabitants, who are ardent Calvinists, having become obstinately imbued with these sentiments by a preacher who was sent here for banishment by King James the Sixth.’

He obtained license to return from his confinement, in order to settle some of his domestic affairs. The condition of his license was so confining, that he planned to return to Inverness; but in the meantime the King died, so he was not urged to go back; and although king Charles I. renewed the charge against him in 1629, he continued mostly in his own house, preaching and teaching wherever he had occasion. About this time the parish of Larbert, having no minister, Bruce repaired the church and discharged all the parts of the ministry there with great success, - many besides the parishioners attended the church. The last appearance we see of Bruce was at the revival at Shotts (see this website) in 1630 where he was one of the preachers.