The Testimony of Thomas Stoddart Executed in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket on 12 August, 1685
Posted at Jardine's Book of Martyrs:
Thomas Stoddart was executed in the Grassmarket on 12 August, 1685. Matthew Bryce, David Law and Gavin Russell were hanged alongside him.
‘Men, Brethren, And Fathers, Hearken,—I being to take my farewell of the world, I leave this my dying testimony, according to the form of the Christians of old; I having like the same ground for it that he had who used that word; that was Stephen; who was condemned, because he spoke blasphemous words against the law and the temple. So, because I will not adhere to, nor approve of their laws, which now have power in their hands, they condemned me to die, though they could not witness so much against me for speaking against them, and they never essayed to prove the sentence upon me, which now I shall study in a word to give you an account of.
And first, I received my sentence of banishment, and then notwithstanding of that I was committed to the justices to abide the assize, and they passed upon me the sentence of death, for no other cause as I can give, but because I could not give such an answer to their questions about the government and the king’s authority (as they called it), as could satisfy their lusts, and that I durst not disown the Apologetic Declaration [Against Intelligencers of November, 1684]; and so I humbly conceive it will come to this as the ground of my suffering, that I could not own Christ’s enemies nor the power that they have taken to themselves against Him, nor disown Christ’s friends and their actings as they required; and therefore I am sentenced, albeit I owned as much of the authority as any Christian can be obliged to; that is to say, lawful authority according to the Word of God; but I desire to be submissive to His will who hath called me to this, and to have high thoughts of Him. I cannot get words to set Him out, but I find something to say to the commendation of Christ, as it is said in Cant. ii. 1: ‘He is the rose of Sharon and lily of the valley,’ the sweetest rose that ever I smelled, and never sweeter than when under the cross, and suffering upon His account.
Now I shall not be long. I have told you upon what account I suffer; it is out of love to Christ, and by faith in His mercy, that I venture upon it. I shall end it with a word. I thought it my duty to adhere to the Word of God, and to everything agreeable thereto; and I would suffer for everything as a ground which I think is right, and taken out of the Word of God, having encouragement from His blessed promises. ‘Thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and He that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee’ [Isa. 43.1, 2].