The Covenanters Memorial
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Maybole was long famous for its attachment to the cause of the Covenants, and one proof of that attachment is still to be seen in the Antiquarian Museum, Edinburgh, where the names of about 250 of our leading townspeople are appended to the National Covenant of 1638. When the dark days of 1660 came, the heart of Carrick was not affrighted. Her ministers went out to a man rather than acknowledge the King's supremacy in matters of Religion. And not only her ministers, but her gentry and common people, with very few exceptions, took the same side. Even when the "Killing time" came, our forefathers were not daunted. They held their armed conventicles here when the rest of the country was cowering in silence; and the outlawed preachers could find safety and an audience

The covenanters' Memorial.

in these Westland fields, when they could find them nowhere else. It stirs the blood even yet to read in old records -"Last week there was a Fair in Maybole where a great many swords were sold," and "There was a Conventicle in Carrick (the Craigdow one) that the like hath not been seen in Scotland: for there were, as is said, about 600 well-appointed men in arms, and about 7000 common people, so that, in all probability, they will rise in rebellion." These old times have passed away; but there are relies of them yet among us; and it is a sacred duty to preserve these for the sake of those who may come after ns. For it is not often that the heart of a nation was strung so high as ours was at that time.

There are two special incidents of the Covenanting times connected with Maybole. The first clusters round a conventicle held at Cargill's Stone in the Spring of 1681. That conventicle is barely alluded to in the Scots Worthies, but, fortunately, the old whin boulder near which it took place remained, and one of the lords of the manor had the good taste to name the farm on which it stands after it. In this way, Cargillstone is known to young and old among us. The stone itself has had a singular history. It remained in its old form and on its old site till the Disruption of 1843, when the leaders of the Free Church here took a fancy to have a part of it built into their church. To accomplish this, they blew up the stone with gunpowder, and carried away a part of it, which may still be seen in the front wall of their place of worship. Left thus forlorn, the old stone became a prey to any one who chose to appropriate it, and parties even attempted to make curling-stones of some of the fragments remaining.

But there is a still more interesting Covenanting incident connected with Maybole. There is a tradition handed down that the field beyond Gardenrose Toll was anciently called the Muster Lea, from the fact that the Carrick Covenanters mustered there in 1679 before marching to Bothwell Brig fight. How many mustered we do not know; but if, as has been reckoned, there were 1000 Ayrshire men at Bothwell, we may be sure Carrick was not behind with her contingent. At Bothwell fight, 400 men were killed, and some 1200 taken prisoners. The prisoners were taken to Edinburgh, and there "penned" for five weary months in Greyfriars' Churchyard. A few escaped, several were hanged, a number died. Those who chose to acknowledge their error were set at liberty. But those who still held out (257 in number) were shipped off to America as slaves, whither, however, they never arrived, as they were ship-wrecked on the Orkneys, and most of them drowned.

Now, a list has been preserved of the men who were thus banished, and we find that six of them belonged to Maybole. These men once lived in our fields, gathered at the Muster Lea, marched away to Bothwell to aid their brethren, were taken prisoners there and driven into Greyfriars' Churchyard, refused to forswear themselves even for dear liberty, and at last found a rest from their troubles at the bottom of the restless sea. These men were as much martyrs for their faith as any who were shot in our fields in the "Killing times," and certainly suffered more. And it has been thought right to inscribe their names on the Memorial. Their names were Mungo Eccles, Thomas Home, Robert M'Garron, John M'Harrie, John M'Whirter, William Rodger-all brave men and true. Our Maybole Covenanters' Memorial, then, was designed to commemorate our forefathers' attachment to the Covenanting Cause. It stands in the corner of the field where Cargill preached in 1681 ; it has built into it some of the fragments of the stone beside which he stood that day; and it sets forth the names of six of the men who assembled on "Muster Lea" and marched away to Bothwell Bridge.

A few words may here also be said as to the preacher that day. The Rev. Donald Cargill (or Daniel, as he is sometimes called) succeeded the Rev. Zachary Boyd as minister of the Barony Church, Glasgow, in 1654. In 1662 he was ejected from his church, and went wandering over Scotland, preaching to the persecuted Presbyterians. In 1679 he was wounded at Bothwell Bridge. In June, 1680, he joined Cameron in disowning Charles II. as King. After Cameron's death, he solemnly excommunicated the King and his counsellors from the church of Christ. In July, 1681, he was seized and hanged at the Cross of Edinburgh. It was in the month of May preceding his death that he came to Maybole. 

He was then 71 years of age, and he preached that day with a prize of 5,000 merks on his head. Cargill's Stone was a boulder of dark whinstone, similar in appearance to Peden's Stone near Barr. The common notion is that these stones formed the Pulpit, or as some say, the Communion Table of those Covenanting worthies. But this was not likely to be the case. In the first place, a boulder would not form a very convenient platform for a vigorous speaker. And in the second place, Covenanting Communions were few and far between; and what is known in history as the Maybole Communion was the one celebrated on Oraigdow Hill in 1678, under John Welch and others. These large boulders were merely trysting-places where those conventicles were held.

Several sermons of Cargill's have been preserved, from which a few extracts are here given; and it is interesting to think that our forefathers may have heard some of these very words as they gathered round him that day at Cargill's Stone. Cargill's sermons were all short, for which he gave the following quaint and sensible reason -"I never preach with my gifts merely; and when my heart is not affected, I think it time to quit." And one of his hearers thus describes his preaching :-" It was short, marrowy, and sententious-with the greatest evidence of concernedness, exceeding all that ever I heard open a mouth, or saw open a Bible, to preach the Gospel."


Some of Carigill's Sayings.

O sirs, think it a happy providence, whatever it be, that keeps you near God, and farthest from sin.

I wish there were more true conversions, and then there would not be so much back-sliding.

Is it not a mercy that we are not lying in the bosom of the earth, unprepared and unconverted?

If our time here is short, it ought to be the better employed.

He that remembers his sins most will be best prepared for death and judgment.

Those who get most prosperity from God have generally least to do with Him.

When a minister of the Gospel has the awe of God upon his spirit, and His glory before his eyes, he will not be much afraid.

The safety of a man lies in the mercy of God.

There are some heritors bound by their charters to little more than answer before the court thrice a year. Methinks Christ has many of these gentlemen-tenants now-a-days.

The best of believers are not able to abide much dandling.

Wise souls will never lie a night in wrath's way.

There is not a more blessed or profitable sight upon earth than a sanctified sight of the Last Judgment. Verily, they will sleep no more who have once been thoroughly affrighted by it.

There never will be such a great assembly as the Judgment. Heaven, Earth, and Hell will meet together there.

A soul that esteems worldly things little must be a soul that is making for heaven.

I think every one who has lost a sense of God's presence should say with Joshua-" Sun, stand thou still, until I get God again."

If believers loved Christ as He loves them, they would be more in haste to meet Him.

Death to the believer is just like putting off a worn suit of clothes, and putting on a new suit.

It is sad that in an assembly like this, consisting of some thousands, there is not one but has some sin reigning in him, not yet cast out.

Some souls have made themselves as sure of hell as the art of man and devils can devise.

We will give earthly greatness its due; but when employed in opposition to God, it ought to be testified against.

[This and the two following sayings are from the Excommunication sermon.]

Those who are Christ's ought not to see His dishonour.

The Church ought to declare that those who are none of Christ's are none of hers.

The news has come to Maybole toon,
And spread on every hand,
That Donald Cargill is coming to preach
In spite of the King's command.
He 's coming to preach to the Carrick men
In the lone sequestered dell,
Where the big stane stands beside the path
That leads to Ladycross well.

Oh, dark are the days of the Covenant noo,
And few the preachers be
Wha lift their voice like a trumpet loud
And claim their liberty.
But God has yet seven thousand left
To stand for His holy will,
And chief o' them a' at this testing time
Is the dauntless good Cargill.

Sae the folks hae come, and the watch been set, 
And the preacher grey stands forth,
To plead for that Crown and Covenant,
'Maist banished from the earth.
And he bade them keep their conscience pure,
Let kings say what they may,
And cited the hills as witnesses,
'Gainst the coming Judgment Day.

The meeting's o'er-the folk 's gane hame- 
The preacher went his way,
To meet his fate on the gallows high,
And be laid 'mang felons' clay.
But still the green hills cluster round
That spot sae still and lone,
Where the daisies spring, and the lavcrocks sing, 
Around brave Cargill's stone.

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