More than an ordinary man?
Alexander Peden was born sometime during the year 1626 in Scotland. His father was a small business man who left him a small inheritance. He could have entered into any of the social positions in the area, but a call from God came to him early to seek the proclaim the good news of everlasting life to his neighbors. Graduating from the University of Glasglow, he was ordained and became the pastor of New Luce, in Galloway, in his native Scotland. It was here that his congregation discovered that Pastor Peden was more than an ordinary man.
Let Rev. J.M. Dryerre sum it up for us. He writes, “his prayers were conversations with a personal friend. His sermons were visions of the glory of God which had come to him in his meditations, and filled his people with awe. His talk was about God and His will in regard to downtrodden Scotland. Tall in stature and well-built, he proclaimed his message from God.” (Heroes and Heroines of the Scottish Covenanters, Rev. J.M. Dryerre, Religious Tract and Book Society of Scotland, 1907, p. 100)
But these were times in the kingdom which were not easy for anyone to bear. The infamous ejection of ministers from their pulpits by the Crown included the removal of Pastor Peden from his pulpit after his first three years. With great sorrow, he left the people he loved to begin a ministry in the fields and pastures of the countryside. Under an indictment from the king of England for that, he made many marvelous escapes from the soldiers, sleeping in caves and barns.
Once when a group of soldiers appeared at one of the country spots where he was proclaiming the Word, he began to pray. His prayer went something like this: “Lord, we are ever needing at Thy hand, and if we had not Thy command to call upon Thee in the day of trouble, and Thy promise of answering us in the day of our distress, we know not what would become of us. If Thou hast any more work for us in Thy world, twine them about the hill, Lord, and cast the lap of Thy cloak over poor old Sandy (himself, he meant) and these people, and we will keep it in remembrance and tell it to the commendation of Thy goodness, pity, and compassion, what Thou didst for us at such a time.” It was said that a dense white cloud of mist appeared, enveloping the troop of soldiers and the worshiping Covenanters alike. The latter was able to escape through the midst, with the soldiers not able to advance to find the Covenanters.
Later, Alexander Peden was captured, tried, and cast into the infamous Bass prison where he suffered greatly for several years. Removed from there, he was placed in the hold of a ship with sixty other Covenanters to be sold as slaves to owners in the American colonies. However, when the ship’s captain found out the reason for their captivity, he released them all. Peden went back to his Scottish home, and spent the last years of his life among his friends, spending days and nights in a nearby cave when the soldiers came too close. He died on January 26, 1686.
In a final act of atrocity, the authorities dug up his body and hung it on a tree. After that symbolic act, they buried him at the base of the tree on which his body had hung, thinking that it would become a tree of shame to his memory. But the Sovereign God overruled their evil intentions. Even though there was a graveyard around the local church, his friends would bring their loved ones to be buried at the foot of the hanging tree. It became the resting place of countless of the people of God to whom he had ministered during his life.
Words to Live By: To some faithful servants of the King of kings, they are set apart to serve their Lord and Master in the great halls of learning and wide open fields of opportunity in this world. Others, though equally called by the same Spirit of God, are set to minister in obscure places of ministry. In both cases, we are to be faithful to minister in large or small opportunities. The former is not to belittle those in the latter callings, but each should serve faithfully according to the Lord’s calling. Support the work of Christ by your spiritual gifts and prayers, dear reader.
From the Writings of Alexander Peden:—
The following is something of a curious piece, some might even say a bit controversial given the way it is phrased, as if written from the perspective of the Trinity. I would understand this short article as a teaching tool, explaining the nature and content of what theologians term the “covenant of redemption,” which is the covenant between the Persons of the Trinity, designed to effect our salvation:—
THE COVENANT OF REDEMPTION
Be it known to all men, that, in the presence of the Ancient of Days, it was finally contracted, and unanimously agreed, betwixt these honourable and royal persons in the God-head, to wit, the great and infinite Lord of Heaven and earth, on the one side; and Jesus Christ, God-man, his eternal and undoubted heir, on the other side, in manner, form and effect, as follows; That forasmuch as the Lord Jesus Christ is content and obliges himself to become surety, and to fulfil the whole law; and that he shall suffer and become an offering for sin, and take the guiding of all the children of God on him, and make them perfect in every good word and work; and that of his fulness they shall all receive grace for grace; and also present them, man, wife and bairns [i.e., children], on Heaven’s floor, and lose none of them; and that he shall raise them up at the last day, and come in on Heaven’s floor with all the bairns at his back: therefore, the noble Lord of Heaven and earth, on the other side, binds and obliges himself to Christ, to send all the Elect into the world, and to deliver them all fairly to Christ; and also to give him a body, flesh of their flesh and bone of their bone; and to carry Christ through in all his undertaking in that work, and to hold him by the hand; and also, let the Holy Ghost, who is our equal, go forth into the world, that he may be sharer in this great work, and also of the glory of this noble contrivance; and let him enlighten the minds of all those whom we have chosen out of the world, in the knowledge of our name; and to convince them of their lost state; and perswade and enable them to embrace and accept of his free love offer; and to support and comfort them in all their trials and tribulations, especially these for our name’s sake; and to sanctify them, soul and body, and make them fit for serving us, and dwelling with us, and singing forth the praises of the riches of our free grace in this noble contrivance, for ever and ever. Likewise the same noble Lord of Heaven and earth doth fully covenant grace and glory, and all good things, to as many as shall be perswaded and enabled to accept and embrace you, as their Lord, King and God; and moreover, he allows the said Jesus Christ to make proclamations by his servants, to the world in his name, that all that will come and engage under his colors, he shall give them noble pay in hand for the present, and a rich inheritance for ever; with certification, that all those who will not accept of this offer, for the same cause, shall be guilty and eternally condemned from our presence, and tormented with these devils, whom we cast out from us, for their pride and rebellion, for the glory of our justice, through eternity.
In testimony whereof, he subscribes thir presents, and is content the same be registrate in the Books of Holy Scripture, to be kept on record to future generations. Dated at the throne of Heaven, in the ancient records of eternity.
[excerpted from Six Saints of the Covenant: Peden, Semple, Welwood, Cameron, Cargill, and Smith, by Patrick Walker. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1901, pp. 114-115.]
For Further Study:
“A Brief History of Covenant Theology,” by Dr. R. Scott Clark
and for more specifically about the covenant of redemption, click here to read Paul Helm’s discussion of Robert Letham’s criticism of that theological concept.