First published in 1907 (reprinted by the Banner of Truth in 1961, this 2019) this account of the life and times of Robert Bruce, provides an invaluable profile of one of the most important figures in the Scottish Church during one of the most challenging periods in its history.

Although now largely forgotten, the story of his life is in many ways the story of the Church in Scotland in the turbulent years following the death of John Knox in 1572. Placed midway between Andrew Melville, his tutor, and Alexander Henderson, his most notable disciple, Bruce connects the age of the Reformation under Knox, with that of The Second Reformation, the leader of which was Alexander Henderson.

The book describes a man combining eminent godliness and statesmanship. Yet, Bruce suffered intolerable persecution in his resistance to the policies of James VI, whose aim was to reduce the position of the Scottish Church to a mere department of State. Banished in 1605 from his pulpit in St. Giles, Edinburgh to an eight-year exile in Inverness, and again in 1622 to his own house and estate at Kinnaird, near Stirling, even in banishment Bruce’s ministry was blessed. Thousands went to hear him, and many were converted through his ministry in exile.

This biography describes, in a very readable style, Bruce’s ministry at St Giles, his conflicts with royal absolutism, his domestic and pastoral life, his character as a Christian, his qualities as a preacher, with the final chapter given to a description of thirty of his sermons.

The Stuart absolutism which Bruce resisted is long gone, but many other threats to our liberties exist. The principles for which he and his supporters contended are of fundamental importance still: liberty of conscience, freedom of religion, ecclesiastical freedom from State control and the rights of Jesus Christ as King over his Church.

Reading this account of Bruce’s life confirms that these remain our most precious possessions and that all threats to their eradication require our active resistance too.

This book is available to purchase from Banner of Truth.

James Maciver, Stornoway Free Church