Robert Bruce - Minister (1629-1631)

Robert Bruce 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.

When the time of his death drew near, which was on 27th July 1631, he was mostly confined to his room, through age and infirmity, where he was frequently visited by his friends and acquaintances. Being asked by one of them, how matters stood between God and his soul? he answered: ‘When I was young, I was diligent, and lived by faith on the Son of God; but now I am old, and am not able to do so much, yet He condescends to feed me with lumps of sense.’ On the morning before he died, his sickness being mostly a weakness through age, he came to breakfast; and having, as usual, eaten an egg, he said to his daughters, ‘I think I am yet hungry, ye may bring me another egg.’ But instantly thereafter falling into deep meditation, and after having mused a little, he said, ‘Hold, daughter; my Master calls me.’ With these words, his sight failed him, and calling for his family Bible, but finding he could not see, he said ‘Cast up to me the eighth chapter of the epistle to the Romans, and set my finger on these words, “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”’ ‘Now, is my finger upon them?’ and being told it was, he said, ‘Now, God be with you, my children; I have breakfasted with you and shall sup with my Lord Jesus Christ this night.’ And so, like Abraham of old, he gave up the ghost in a good old age and was gathered to his people. He was buried in the aisle of the church of Larbert; four or five thousand attended his funeral.

John Livingston who was in the church of Larbert for a great part of the summer of 1627, says, ‘No man in his time spake with such evidence and power of the Spirit; no man had so many seals of conversion; yea, many of his hearers thought that no man since the apostles spake with such power. He had a notable faculty in searching deep in the Scriptures, and of making the most dark mysteries plain, but especially in dealing with everyone's conscience. . . . He was both in public and private very short in prayer with others, but then every sentence was like a strong bolt shot up to heaven. I have heard him say he hath wearied when others were longsome in prayer, but being alone, he spent much time in prayer and wrestling. . . . When he preached at Larbert, he used after the first sermon on the Sabbath, when he had taken some little refreshment, to retire to a chamber in a house near the kirk. I heard one day that some noblemen being there, he staying long in the chamber, and they having far to ride after the afternoon's services, desired the bellman to go hearken at the door if there were any appearance of his coming. The bellman returned and said, “I think he shall not come out the day at all, for I hear him always saying to another, that he will not nor cannot go except the other go with him, and I hear not the other answer him a word at all.”’

Livingston also wrote, ‘One time I went to Edinburgh to see Robert Bruce, in the company of the tutor of Bonnington. When we called on him at eight o’clock in the morning, he told us he was not for any company; and when we urged him to tell us the cause, he answered, that when he went to bed he had a good measure of the Lord’s presence and that he had wrestled with Him about an hour or two before we came in, and had not yet got access; and so we left him.’

Additional Information

Robert Bruce's Church was knocked down in 1820 and replaced by the current one. The Manse was built four years after Bruce's death.