John Welsh, John Knox’s son-in-law, was the pastor in the city of Ayr. It was said of him that he believed that his day was ill spent if he did not pray 7 to 8 hours a day. He was so renown as a prophet that often the magistrate would ask for his advice.
One day, with the city on lock-down for fear of the plague, some cloth merchants came with two horses loaded down with bolts of cloth wanting in. The guards did not know what to do so they sent for the magistrate who then sent for John Welsh. When pastor Welsh gets there he goes to the top of the gate and looks down at the men. He then looks up to heaven and prays for a few minutes. Then he turns to the magistrate and says, “I fear that the plague is in those bolts of cloth.” That was good enough for the magistrate so they sent the men on their way.
They go 20 miles down the road to the city of Cumnock where they let the merchants in and the plague breaks out in the city to where there are not enough living to bury the dead.
Pastor Welsh is most famous for the story of a young man whom Welsh was very close to who died in his house while Welsh was in exile. They called for Welsh. He went in and began to pray over the body of the young man. He stayed with the body for 12 hours. When men came to bury the young man Welsh asked for 12 more hours and he prayed. When the time was up he asked for 12 more hours. After these 12 hours he asked for another 12 hours. Finally, after 48 hours they bring a doctor in to prove to Welsh that the man is dead and is not coming back.
So the doctor took a bowstring and pulled it tightly around his head and no reaction. He then pinched his legs with pliers like instruments and no reactions. “See,” said the doctor, “He is dead. Let the men bury him.”
Pastor Welsh asked for two more hours of prayer. So he prayed his heart out for two more hours and the story goes that the man woke up. The young man said, “Sir, I’m whole, except for my head and my legs – they hurt.” Physicians witnessed that story and it was from their account.
This young man became Lord Castle Stewart in Ireland.
Surprised by the Voice of God by Jack Deere, 1998
The Fulfilling of Scripture by Robert Flemming, 1668