Watchman’s notes: Thomas was martyred for preaching the words of God to the parish villagers every week, that forgiveness of sins and salvation are only through the blood of Jesus Christ. Preaching of the Gospel was considered offensive by the church and political authorities of those days. So do many find the Gospel today. This is what Jesus has warned His disciples and followers in Matthew 24:9-10.
“He was of gentle birth, of the house of Forret in Fife, and was educated in the schools of Cologne. When he entered the Abbey he was a zealous Romanist; but the reading of a volume of Augustine was the means of opening his eyes. “Oh, happy and blessed was that book!” he would often afterwards exclaim. He converted all the younger canons of the monastery, but “the old bottles,” he said, “would not receive the new wine.” When he was made Vicar of Dollar he became a perfect model of a parish priest. “He taught his flock the ten commandments, and showed them the way of their salvation to be only by the blood of Christ He penned a little catechism, which he caused a poor child to answer him, to allure the hearts of the hearers to embrace the truth, which indeed converted many in the country about. When the pardoners would come to his kirk to offer pardon for money, he would say,’ Parishioners, I am bound to speak the truth to you; this is but to deceive you: there is no pardon of our sins that can come to us from Pope or any other, but only by the blood of Jesus Christ’ When he visited any sick person in the parish that was poor, he would carry bread and cheese in his gown sleeve to him, and give him silver out of his purse, and feed his soul with the bread of life. He preached every Sunday to his parishioners the Epistle or Gospel, as it fell for the time; which then was a great novelty in Scotland to see any man preach except a Black Friar or a Gray Friar.”
Not long after the burning of David Stratton and Master Gurlay above-mentioned, in the days of David Beaton, bishop and cardinal of St. Andrews, and George Creighton, bishop of Dunkeld, a canon of St. Colm’s Inche, and vicar of Dolor, called Dean Thomas Forret, preached every Sunday to his parishioners out of the epistle or gospel as it fell for the time; which then was a great novelty in Scotland, to see any man preach, except a Black Friar or a Grey Friar: and therefore the friars envied him, and accused him to the bishop of Dunkeld, (in whose diocese he remained,) as a heretic, and one that showed the mysteries of the Scriptures to the vulgar people in English, to make the clergy detestable in the sight of the people. The bishop of Dunkeld, moved by the friars’ instigation, called the said Dean Thomas, and said to him, “My joy Dean Thomas, I love you well, and therefore I must give you my counsel, how you shall rule and guide yourself.” To whom Thomas said, “I thank your Lordship heartily.” Then the bishop began his counsel after this manner:
Bishop.–“My joy Dean Thomas! I am informed that you preach the epistle or gospel every Sunday to your parishioners, and that you take not the cow, nor the uppermost cloth, from your parishioners, which thing is very prejudicial to the churchmen; and therefore, my joy Dean Thomas, I would you took your cow, and your uppermost cloth, as other churchmen do; or else it is too much to preach every Sunday: for in so doing you may make the people think that we should preach likewise. But it is enough for you, when you find any good epistle, or any good gospel, that setteth forth the liberty of the holy church, to preach that, and let the rest be.”
The martyr.–Thomas answered, “My Lord, I think that none of my parishioners will complain that I take not the cow, nor the uppermost cloth, but will gladly give me the same, together with any other thing that they have; and I will give and communicate with them any thing that I have; and so, my Lord, we agree right well, and there is nodiscord among us. And whereas your Lordship saith, It is too much to preach every Sunday, indeed I think it is too little, and also would wish that your Lordship did the like.”
Bishop.–“Nay, nay, Dean Thomas,” saith my Lord, “let that be, for we are not ordained to preach.”
Martyr.– Then said Thomas, “Whereas your Lordship biddeth me preach when I find any good epistle, or a good gospel, truly, my Lord, I have read the New Testament and the Old, and all the Epistles and Gospels, and among them all I could never find an evil epistle, or an evil gospel: but, if your Lordship will show me the good epistle and the good gospel, and the evil epistle and the evil gospel, then I shall preach the good, and omit the evil.”
Bishop.– Then spake my Lord stoutly and said, “I thank God that I never knew what the Old and New Testament was; [and of these words rose a proverb which is common in Scotland, Ye are like the bishop of Dunkeldene, that know neither new nor old law:] therefore, Dean Thomas, I will know nothing but my portuese and my pontifical. Go your way, and let be all these fantasies; for if you persevere in these erroneous opinions, ye will repent it, when you may not mend it.”
Martyr.–“I trust my cause be just in the presence of God, and therefore I pass not much what do follow thereupon.”
….were condemned to the death without any place for recantation…And so they were all together burned upon the castle hill at Edinburgh, where they that were first bound to the stake godly and marvellously did comfort them that came behind.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Revelation 6:9 King James Version (KJV)
9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: