How a Scottish teenager touched the hearts of her people with her resolute faith, and enabled them to overcome their persecutors during the Killing Times of the 17th century.
1 Corinthians 1:27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
Margaret Wilson was eighteen years old when she gave her Christian testimony. She and her younger sister Agnes used to visit an old lady, Margaret McLachlan, in the village of Wigtown, Scotland. They enjoyed her stories and shared prayers together, and all three loved the Lord completely. They lived in troubled times, but their friendship and faith that they shared was personal and beautiful.
One day, however, the elder Margaret was arrested by the King’s dragoons and charged with being a dissident. She was ordered to swear her loyalty to the King and his prayer book, but the old lady refused, knowing that it would cost her freedom. Her trial was quick and her sentence was cruel. She was to be chained to a post and drowned by the incoming tide of the Solway Firth on the banks of the town. During the arrest, someone informed the authorities about the two Wilson girls and they were also arrested, judged, and sentenced to death.
Gilbert Wilson, the father of the two teenagers, was frantic. He practically sold everything that he owned and borrowed from friends and family. He rode to Edinburgh to buy his daughters’ pardon. He managed to raise one hundred pounds, which was the equivalent of a lifetime of earnings in his day. Sadly, Gilbert could only buy back one of his daughters, so he chose the youngest, Agnes, who was only thirteen years old.
On the morning of 11 May, 1685, the two Margarets were chained to their posts. As the tide came in, faster than a running horse, Margaret McLachlan quickly succumbed to the mighty force of the waves. Young Margaret Wilson had been chained nearer to the shore, from where her friends and family begged the young maiden to recant of the National Covenant by swearing loyalty to the king. Even her own mother frantically pleaded with Margaret to give up her faith in order to save her young life.
The town officer tried to intervene and held young Margaret’s head above the closing waters. He asked her to pray for the king, to which she answered: “God save him, if he will, for it is his salvation I desire.”
Her relatives clamored for mercy, but the officer asked Margaret once again to renounce the Covenanters.
Summoning all of her energy and faith, this wee lassie of no nobility, prosperity or esteem, calmly replied: “I will not, I am one of Christ’s children, let me go.” Soon after, the waves overwhelmed her and she drowned.
God chooses foolish things to shame the wise and weak vessels to shame the strong. Both Margarets are known to the Scottish people as the Solway Martyrs. And even today, when their stories of injustice and cruelty are told, we are in awe of their courage, devotion, and faith. Margaret Wilson may have been a young and carefree teenager, but she will be forever known in history as a remarkable and faithful servant of Christ.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, throughout the centuries You have called upon people to witness to Your words and ways. Sometimes people, young and old, have sacrificed everything in order to be faithful to You. In this day and age, Lord, we have trouble in making the same commitment and we forget the true cost of the faith that we place in You.
Challenge and change our lives today, so that we may effectively witness to Your Power. Keep us from being fearful and insecure. Help us to be faithful and sincere. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.