“All you have to do is swear an oath to the king!” shouted the soldiers. “You will surely die as your friend did if you don’t.” Margaret had watched as her seventy year-old friend, Margaret MacLachlan had been drowned when she refused to say that King Charles II was the head of the church. “Only Christ is the Head of the church,” she had proclaimed. The soldiers held the elderly Margaret under the water until she died, hoping that the young Margaret would be frightened into taking the oath.
“Lord, give the king repentance, forgiveness, and salvation, if it be Thy holy will,” prayed eighteen year-old Margaret Wilson. The bystanders cried out to the king’s soldiers to release Margaret. “She has prayed for the king. Please let her go!”
“That is not the prayer we want to hear. She must swear an oath to the king. Let the dog go to hell!” shouted the soldiers furiously.
“No, I cannot make a sinful oath. I am one of Christ’s children. Please let me go,” she answered.
In response, a soldier pushed her down into the water. He held her there until she drowned. She died for her love of Christ. She could not forsake her conscience by disobeying God’s Word.
Margaret Wilson and her elderly friend Margaret MacLachlan lived in Scotland during the time period that came to be known as the “killing times.”
The year was 1685. Charles II was king in England. Since the time of Henry VIII, the monarchs considered themselves to be the head of the church. During this time, the king not only controlled the church in England, but he also tried to control the church in Scotland.
Groups of faithful believers, called Covenanters, defied the king. They had been ordered to worship God only in the way that the king of England permitted. They tried to honor God by worshiping Him only as commanded in the Bible. When they met to worship God in a way that would not violate their consciences, the king closed their churches. Still trying to obey God, they began to meet in fields. These meetings would often be broken up by English soldiers who would ride down on them on horses and put the Covenanters to death. That is how this period in history became known as the “killing times.”
Many brave men and women died rather than violate their consciences. They had drawn a line in the sand. Their line was faithfulness to the Word of God. It would be many years before the Scots would attain religious freedom. But the story of the two women from Solway would encourage believers to stay the course and not give up.