He was minister at Edinburgh. He it was that
penned the short Confession of Faith, or the National Covenant of the Church
of Scotland. I have heard my Lord Wariston report an history of some rare
dangers and deliverances that he met with coming out of Italy.
He had the charge of the
education of a noble and honourable man’s children, he being of the Reformed
Religion. Near to that honourable person’s house there was a little wood or
park, into which Mr John Craig used often to retire by himself to meditate,
pray, &c., and in this place (it being a secret pleasant place) he often
used to teach his scholars. It fell out on a day, when he was in that place
with his scholars, that a poor wounded soldier, who had received a shot in his
belly, came to that place, carrying up with his two hands his entrails, and
seeing Mr Craig with young students with their books, came to Mr Craig, and
related to him his present and doleful condition, how he was wounded, &c.
Mr Craig, commiserating this poor wounded soldier’s case, gave him money,
and spake Christianly and kindly to him.
After Mr Craig had continued some
space educating his scholars, especially in the knowledge of God and the
grounds of the Reformed Religion, he was by the Inquisition found out and
apprehended as a Huguenot, (so were those of the Reformed Religion then
called,) and put in a base prison, or rather a pit, in Rome, into which pit
the river Tiber did every tide flow, so that the prisoners stood in water
sometimes almost to their middle. After that the Pope had apprehended and
imprisoned for some space of years a number of Protestants in that base pit,
at last they were arraigned and condemned to be burned quick [alive]
for the Reformed Religion on a certain day appointed for their execution. But
it pleased the Lord, in his good and gracious providence, so to order matters,
that upon the very night before he should have been brought forth upon the
morrow to be burned quick, the Pope is smitten by the hand of God, so that he
dieth;* the Lord having decreed to keep honest Mr Craig alive for his service
when a Pope dies,
in the interim till another Pope be created, there is a jubilee, all
prisoners, whatever their crime has been, are released, prison doors are cast
open, &c. The first day (which was the day appointed by the Pope for Mr
Craig’s execution) after the Pope’s death, all the prison doors were
opened and the prisoners set at liberty, except the prison of the Huguenots:
it was forgotten being in an obscure and base place of the city, but upon the
second day the Lord opened their prison door also, and all of them, and Mr
Craig among the rest, were set at liberty.
Mr Craig having thus, in God’s
providence, got liberty and life restored to him, knew not well what to do, he
being almost naked, (having lain long in that base pit,) and having no money,
and not knowing well how to beg. Yet he thought it safest for him to leave the
city and go to one of the suburbs, to make the best shift he might for meat,
and something to cover his naked body, and so the Lord directed him to a
change house where meat and drink were sold.
While he was in that house, cold
and hungry, warming himself at the fire, where meat and drink was making
ready; as yet not having asked either meat, drink, or clothes, there came in
an officer, a commander in the Pope’s armies, with his retinue at his back,
who called to the hostler to make ready his dinner, to prepare for him and his
company that he had with him, calling for wines, &c. Mr Craig seeing and
hearing all this, was afraid lest this commander should have been sent to
apprehend the Huguenots. This commander, after he had walked up and down a
little, began to eye Mr Craig, and to look narrowly to him, which did the more
frighten and terrify Mr Craig, suspecting that he was sent to search out the
Huguenots. But after that he had for some space of time narrowly eyed and
looked to Mr Craig, he said to him, “I believe I have seen you before, and
in a better condition than I see you now.” Mr Craig answered, “That may
be, Sir.” The commander replies, “Do not you, Sir, remember that so many
years ago you (as I believe, and if I be not mistaken) was in such park with
young scholars and your books with you, and that a poor wounded soldier having
received a shot in his belly came past, to whom you gave money largely?”
“Yes, (says Mr Craig,) I remember very well of that.” “Now, (says the
commander,) this is a happy rencontre, and we are well met, though I am sorry
to see you in this sad condition that I see you into, for I was that poor
wounded soldier, and that money which you gave me did I give to the surgeon
who cured my wound, so that, Sir, you saved my life; and now the fortune of
the wars having favoured me, I being now a commander, I am well able to repay
you your money with the interest thereof, and to help you in your sad and
desolate condition that I see you into. Tell me how it is that I see you so
now, whom I saw then in so good a condition when I was in my sad and deadly
like danger,” &c.
Mr Craig, in his heart blessing
God for this second gracious providence, related to him so much of his
personal sad condition as in prudence the Lord directed him. This commander,
after he had refreshed him with meat and drink, gave him money largely, with
which he did put a suit of clothes on him presently; and then resolving to
travel towards France, and so homewards to Scotland, he came on his journey
paying for meat and drink as he travelled, and accommodating himself the best
way he might, &c. But at last his money began to grow scarce upon him.
Two or three days before his
money was all spent, coming through a landward town, there did follow him out
of the town a pretty dog, fawning upon him as if he had been his master. Mr
Craig did boast the dog from him, fearing that he should have been challenged
for stealing so pretty a dog, but the dog would not be boasted from him, but
followed him a space out of the town. Mr Craig did cast stones, or what came
by his hand, at the dog to beat him back again, but by no means would the dog
part with him, still growing the more kind the more he was boasted and beaten.
At last Mr Craig began to make of the dog, and was content, seeing he would
not go back, to take him to bear him company in his travels; and so the dog
followed him for some days, and waited carefully on him as his master.
At last his money was all spent,
and he had not so much as to buy his dog a loaf, as it is in the proverb.
Honest Mr Craig was put to new difficulties, and he new not well what to do.
He was ashamed to beg, and he had not will to stay there, being so very
desirous to come home. While he is tossing sad thoughts within himself, and
being doubtful what to do, he came to the side of a green hill, and it being a
very hot day, and he wearied with his journey, did sit down to rest him there.
He then lay down upon his face, and began to pour out his heart to God,
blessing and praising him who had preserved his life when he was condemned to
be burned quick, and who hitherto had graciously and wonderfully provided for
him, supplying him with money, meat, drink, clothing, &c. While the honest
servant of Jesus Christ is thus praying and begging of God that he would still
provide for him and direct his way homewards, his dog, his kind
fellow-traveller, came to him, and with his foot scrapes upon his shoulder.
After he had scraped once, again, and the third time, Mr Craig looked up and
saw in the dog’s mouth a full purse. The dog shakes the purse upon Mr Craig,
offering it to him; he was astonished, and afraid to touch the purse, but the
dog kindly looking in his face, and still shaking and offering the purse to
him, Mr Craig took the purse out of the dog’s mouth, and opening it, finds
it a purse full of gold, all of one kind. Mr Craig wondering and astonished,
but blessing and praising God, takes it as sent of God to him for to be his viaticum,
and blesses God for this third wonderful and gracious providence, and being
then well provided, he travels on, and after some stay in France, he comes
home to Scotland, and brought with him to Edinburgh the dog, the purse, and
some of the gold.
*There were four Popes between 1550 and 1560, one of whom, Pope
Marcellus II., died
the 30th of April 1555, and his successor, Paul IV., on
the 18th of August 1559.
COLLECTIONS OF ACCOUNTS OF REVIVAL,” compiled
by the Rev. John Gillies, D.D., 1754. Published by The Banner of Truth Trust,
1981. pp 160-163.