Brief Sketch of his Life
Alexander Peden was born about 1626 at Sorn in Ayrshire.
After University, he became schoolmaster at Tarbolton, where Guthrie was then
minister. He was also precentor and clerk of session to the same church.
He was ordained about 1658 to the charge of New Luce, in Galloway. The Restoration of 1660, followed by the persecution, led to Peden's departure from his parish. As he left the pulpit for the last time having preached on Paul's address to the elders at Miletus, he closed the door, and knocking three times on it, repeated three times: 'I arrest thee, in my Master's name, that none ever enter thee but such as come in by the door, as I have done.' Strange to say, none of the curates ever entered that pulpit.
After the Revolution, a Presbyterian minister opened it and preached to a large congregation. Peden then became a wanderer. In 1666 a proclamation was issued against him by the Council, because he had held conventicles and administered baptism. Should he refuse to obey, he would have forfeited his life. For about seven years, he evaded his persecutors, having hidden for a part of the time in Ireland.
In 1673, he was taken prisoner to Edinburgh and sent for confinement to the Bass. Five years later sentence of banishment was pronounced against him. But at Gravesend, all the prisoners were liberated, and at once returned to Scotland. Under various disguises he struggled to survive spending much time in Ireland. On one occasion he hired himself as a servant.
In 1685 he came back to Scotland, evidently willing to share in the honourable sufferings of the persecuted remnant there. As the ship on which he was crossing to Scotland lay becalmed, Peden prayed: 'Lord, give us a loof-full of wind; fill the sails, Lord, and give us a fresh gale, and let us have a swift and safe passage over to the bloody land, come of us what will.' The winds came while he prayed, filled the sails, and carried the vessel to Scotland. As he parted from his fellow passengers on landing, he said: 'My soul trembles to think what will become of the indulged, backslidden, and upset ministers of Scotland: as the Lord lives, none of them shall be honoured to put a right pin in the Lord's tabernacle, or assert Christ's kingly prerogative as Head and King of His Church.'
At this time he met with many remarkable deliverances from those hunting him. Several horse and foot soldiers came once close to him and a number of companions. A slight elevation of ground coming in the course of the pursuit between them and their pursuers, Peden called a halt, and uttered this memorable prayer, 'Lord, it is Thy enemy's day, hour, and power; they may not be idle, but hast Thou no other work for them but to send them after us? Send them after them to whom Thou wilt give strength to flee, for our strength is gone. Twine them about the hill, Lord, and cast the lap of Thy cloak over Old Sandy and these poor things, and save us this one time, 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.' A mist covered the hill, and Peden and his friends were safe.
As the end of his life drew near, Peden took himself to his home parish of Sorn - to a near relative who lived there, but still he could not frequent his friend's house, and for safety he had a cave dug for himself, and a bush placed as a covering over the cave's mouth. That cave was the House of God and the Gate of Heaven. It was here that he left his last charges with his friends regarding the cause of Christ in the land. Some short time before his death, Peden had an interview with James Renwick. 'Before you go,' said Peden at the close of the interview, 'you must pray for me, for I am old, and going to leave the world.' After Renwick prayed, Peden drew him near and kissed him, and said, 'Sir, I find you a faithful servant to your Master. Go on in single dependence on the Lord, and you will get honestly through.' Then Peden prayed fervently as he alone could pray, that the God of Jacob would be Renwick's defence, a covering for his head in the day of battle. A few days afterwards, this tempest-tossed saint cast anchor in the haven of eternal rest.
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