April 2: The First to Suffer in the Three Kingdoms

“Of Whom the World Was Not Worthy”

The day is lost to history, even church history. Not one book has it listed down. But we know the month and the year. It was April in 1661 in Ulster, or Northern Ireland.

On some day of that month of April then, in the year of 1661, faithful and godly Presbyterian ministers in what we know as Northern Ireland, or Ulster, were ejected from their pulpits, their manses,  and their salaries by the Church of England. They were the first Presbyterian  ministers to suffer this ejection in the three kingdoms of Northern Ireland, England, and Scotland. Why were they thrown out first? Some have answered that the old form of church government, to say nothing of worship, were still the norm in Ulster. It was just a matter of time before the Anglican church would lay down the law, so to speak, and eject Presbyterian ministers from its pulpits. In both England and Scotland, that church form and worship had been abolished by the Parliament, with even the Common Book of Prayer replaced, at least for a time.

But on one day in April, 1661, close to seventy Presbyterian ministers were ordered to obey the crown of England, or leave their pulpits. There was no gratitude for what they had accomplished for the Savior in previous years. In many cases, they and their Scottish followers had come into the area, reworked the barren fields into plots of industry and farming, repaired the churches which had fallen into disrepair from years of neglect, and even revived the people of the land to the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. But with all this material and spiritual success, the thought of Presbyterian doctrine and government being preached and lived in Ulster didn’t set right with the Anglican folks. So these faithful ministers were banned from five separate Presbyteries and their local churches, and their parishes. Only seven Presbyterian ministers conformed to prelacy and kept their pulpits, their parishes and their incomes.

It was a sad day for the Presbyterian church in Ireland.

Words to Live By:
The names of those who were ejected from Ulster’s churches and presbyteries are still recorded in the record books of the Presbyterian Church. Their witness for the truths of God’s Word still stands. Beloved, is your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life? Have you obeyed the Gospel call and put all your trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ? Then know too that if you truly are now a Christian, that God has called you to a life of holiness, set apart to His glory. There may well be a great cost some day for obeying this Gospel call, but that cost will pale in comparison to all that God has in store for His dear children.

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”—Philippians 2:12-13

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