Of Knox and of Cameron – True Zeal and Fire For the Lord

John Knox, one of the greatest Reformers of the Reformed Church. His appearance was like that of a dwarf. He was extremely short. Knox was considered to be of middle height which from what I can gather from that time frame was somewhere between 5’2 or 5’3. His beard was jet black with white hairs intermingled which was 13.5 inches in length. His face was longish; and his nose beyond the average length; his forehead rather narrow; with his brows standing out like a ridge. He also never went without a staff in his hand and when traveling always carried a sword on his back for defense. In his countenance, was grave and severe which befitted such a man of God with a certain graciousness was united with natural dignity and majesty.


John Knox carrying a sword for self defense


He had such fire and zeal in his heart for the Yahovah Almighty that he boldly stood up to anyone who dare question the word of God. As John Calvin would say, “A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.” and thus John Know was no coward even to one as powerful as Bloody Mary (Queen of Scots).

There he stood in a conference with Queen Mary when Mary asked him, “Will ye allow they shall take my sword in their hand? “

Knox stood with all defiance and fire in his stomach declared unto her,

“The sword of justice Madam, its God’s, and is given to princes and rulers for one end; which, if they transgress, sparing the wicked, and oppressing the innocents, they that in the fear of God execute judgment, where God hath commanded, offend no God, although kings do it not: the examples are evident, for Samuel spared not to slay Agag the fat and delicate king of Amalek, whom king Saul had saved; neither spared Elias Jezabel’s false prophets, and Baal’s priests, albeit that king Ahab was present; Phineas was no magistrate, and yet deared he not to strike Zimri and Cozbi in the very act of filthy fornication; and so, Madam, your Majesty may see that others than magistrates may lawfully punish, and have punished the vice and crimes that God commands to be punished.”

If only you could picture it. Queen Mary was considered by all standards to be a very tall, large, and a very fearful domineering woman. And here is John Knox who by all standards was considered a dwarf, one who was extremely weak in body standing in defiance to this extremely large and fearful woman declaring that the word of justice is not hers but God’s and that they that in the fear of God execute judgment where God hath commanded offends not God. Such zeal for Christ who is the creator of all the universe. Oh that we may have such men rise up today and be so bold and stand with such fire before all, even if it meant their life. For they would have a greater reward for all eternity.

Knox went on to give further elaboration on his thoughts that he had with Queen Mary in his ‘Appellation to the Nobility’ where he declared with regard to Deuteronomy 13,

“Plain it is, that Moses speaks not, nor giveth charge to kings, rulers, and judges only; but he commands the whole body of the people, yea and every member of the same, according to their possibility. And who dare be so impudent as to deny this to most reasonable and just? For seeing God had delivered the whole body from bondage, and to the whole multitude had given his law, and to the twelve tribes had distributed the land of Canaan; was not the whole and every member addebted [indebted] to confess the benefits of God, and to study to keep the possession received? which they could not do, except they kept the religion established, and put out iniquity from amongst them. To the carnal man this may seem to be a rigorous and severe judgment, than even the infants there should be appointed to the cruel death; and as concerning the city, and spoil of the same, man’s reason cannot think but that it might have been better bestowed, than to be consumed. But in such cases, let all creatures stoop, and desist from reasoning, when commandment is given to execute his judgment. I will search no other reasons, than the Holy Ghost hath assigned; first, That all Israel should fear to commit the like abomination; and, secondly, That the Lord might turn from the fury of his anger: which plainly doth signify, that, by the defection and idolatry of a few, God’s wrath is kindled against the whole, which is never quenched, till such punishment be taken upon the offenders, that whatsoever served them in their idolatry be brought to destruction, etc.”

John Knox inspired many of men after him. Including one name Richard Cameron- The Lion of the Covenant.

Richard Cameron

Richard Cameron was a young man with such zeal and fire like that of John Knox. He was as swift and bright as that of a blazing meteor and would become fiercely hunted. Richard Cameron was ordained in 1679 at the Scots Kirk in Rotterdam in the presence of John Hogg, the minister of the Scots Kirk, and two eminent Dutch divines, Jacob Koelman and James Borstius, a sign that the Nadere Reformtrie (Dutch Second Reformation Churches) was against the moderate Presbyterians in Scotland and supported the United Societies which would later be known as the Cameronians.

At his ordination Robert MacWard declared,

“The publick standard of the Gospel is fallen in Scotland; and if I know any thing in the mind of the Lord, ye are called to undergo your trials before us, and go home to lift the fallen standard, and display it publickly before the World.”

MacWard then charged Richard Cameron to return to Scotland and lift the fallen standard of the Gospel. Specifically, he instructed him that,

‘before ye put your hand on it, ye shall go to as many of the field ministers … as ye can find, and give them your hearty invitation to go with you: and if they will not go, go you alone, and the Lord will go with you’.

MacWard had little expectation that many presbyterian ministers would break ranks and he warned Cameron that his mission to Scotland would end with his martyrdom. And yet Richard Cameron returned and did what he was charged to do.

In 1680 Richard Cameron and his men rode into the town of Sanquhar and at the market center nailed the Sanquhar Declaration to the post. The Sanquhar Declaration declared war on the government and renounced their allegiance to Charles and denouncing his brother, James, as a papist.

The Sanquhar Declaration declared,

“Although we be for government and governors, such as the word of God, and our covenants allows; yet we for ourselves and all that will adhere to us, the representatives of the true Presbyterian church and covenanted nation of Scotland, considering the great hazard of lying under sin any longer, do, by these presents, disown Charles Stuart, who hath been reigning these years bygone (or rather we may say tyrannizing) on the throne of Britain, as having any right, title, or interest to, or in the said crown of Scotland or government; as forfeited several years since, by his perjury and breach of covenant with God and His Church, and usurpation of His crown and royal prerogative, and many other breaches in matters ecclesiastic, and by his tyranny and breaches in the very leges regnandi in matters civil.

For which reasons we declare that several years since he should have been denuded of being king, ruler, or magistrate, or having any power, or to be obeyed as such. As also we, under the banner of our Lord Jesus Christ the Captain of salvation, do declare a war with such a tyrant and usurper, and all the men of these practices, as enemies to our Lord Jesus Christ and His cause and covenant, and against all such as have any way strengthened him, sided with, or acknowledged him, in his usurpation, civil and ecclesiastic: yea, and against all such as shall any way strengthen, side with, or acknowledge him, or any other in the like usurpation and tyranny; far more against such, as would betray or deliver up our free reformed church into the bondage of Antichrist, the pope of Rome.”

Throughout 1680 Cameron and his godly band of mighty men did much guerrilla warfare against the royalist forces. My own ancestor (James Nimmo) being one of his godly band.

Though he was fiercely hunted he was kindly housed by Covenanters throughout Scotland, and although there was a huge price on his head there was none that would betray him. Closely sought, he was ever sheltered; greatly loved.

I have to ponder that if Richard Cameron was alive today how many Christians in America would house him and hide him against the authorities? How many would create a railroad network to shelter him from such tyrants today? How many would betray him and turn him in because of a serious misunderstanding of Romans 13. Turn him over for the huge price on his head? But here in Scotland, no Society man would betray him and he was ever sheltered and loved by all.

The last week of Cameron’s life was lived with about sixty others including Patrick Walker, the Covenanter Pedlar who was also known as the Covenanting John Bunyan who wrote about this band of the last week of their life, “They were of one heart and soul, their company and converse being so edifying and sweet, and having no certain dwelling place they stayed together, waiting for further light in that nonesuch juncture of time.’ They were well armed.

The last Sabbath of his life he spent with the dauntless veteran Donald Cargill, and preached from Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”

The Cameronians were met with harsh repression from the royalist forces and the authors of the Sanquhar Declaration were annihilated. Here the Lion meets his doom, Richard Cameron met a violent death at the battle field of Aird Moss in Ayrshire, being hacked to death by the Dragoons.

Richard Camerons Death


The death of Cameron was a severe blow, made worse by the involvement of the moderate presbyterian laird, John Cochrane of Ochiltree.

Later, Alexander Peden- the Prophet of the Covenant, declared in a sermon beseeching God to send us another Cameron,

“how few of the ministers of Scotland will answer the plumbline! Lord send us a Welwood, a Cargill and a Cameron, and such as they, and make us quit of the rest [of the ministry]. And I will rise against the House of Jeroboam with the Sword.”

And that should be our prayer today. Lord send us another Knox, a Cargill and Cameron. Such heroes of the faith. I yearn to see such men again today. Men with such zeal and passion with such fire in their hearts. Oh may they come!


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