Mr. John Craig, was a man of considerable learning and singular abilities; he travelled abroad in his youth, and was frequently delivered out of very great dangers, by the kind interposition of a gracious providence; an instance of which we have while he was in Italy: Being obliged to fly out of that country, on account of his regard for the reformation, in order to avoid being apprehended, he was obliged to lurk in obscure places in the day-time, and travel over night; by this means any little money he had was soon exhausted, and being in the extremity of want, a dog brought a purse to him with some gold in it, by which he was supported until he escaped the danger of being taken.
After his return home, he was settled minister at Edinburgh, where he continued many years, and met with many trials of his fortitude and fidelity. In the year 1567, the earl of Bothwel, having obtained a divorce from his lawful wife, as preparatory to his marriage with queen Mary she sent a letter to Mr. Craig, commanding him to publish the banns of matrimony betwixt her and Bothwel. But the next sabbath, having declared at length that he had received such a command, he added, that he could not in conscience obey it, the marriage being altogether unlawful, and that he would declare to the parties if present. He was immediately sent for by Bothwel, unto whom he declared his reasons with great boldness, and the very next Lord's day, he told the people what he had said before the council, and took heaven and earth to witness, that he detested that scandalous marriage, and that he had discharged his duty to the lords, &c. Upon this, he was again called before the council, and reproved by them as having exceeded the bounds of his calling, he boldly answered, that |the bounds of his commission was the word of God, right reason, and good laws, against which he had said nothing;| and by all these offered to prove the said marriage scandalous, at which he was stopt, and set out of the council.
Thus Mr. Craig continued, not only a firm friend to the reformation, but a bold opposer of every incroachment made upon the crown and dignity of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the year 1584, when an act of parliament was made that all ministers, masters of colleges, &c. should within forty-eight hours, compear and subscribe the act of parliament, concerning the king's power over all estates spiritual and temporal, and submit themselves to the bishops, &c. Upon which, Mr. Craig, John Brand and some others were called before the council, and interrogate, how he could be so bold as to controvert the late act of parliament? Mr. Craig answered, That they would find fault with any thing repugnant to God's word; at which, the earl of Arran started up on his feet, and said, They were too pert; that he would shave their head, pair their nails, and cut their toes, and make them an example unto all who should disobey the king's command and his council's orders, and forthwith charged them to appear before the king at Falkland, on the 4th of September following.
Upon their appearance at Falkland, they were again accused of transgressing the foresaid act of parliament, and disobeying the bishop's injunctions, when there arose some hot speeches betwixt Mr. Craig and the bishop of St. Andrews, at which the earl of Arran spake again most outrageously against Mr. Craig, who coolly replied, That there had been as great men set up higher, that had been brought low. Arran returned, |I shall make thee of a false friar a true prophet;| and sitting down on his knee, he said, |Now am I humbled.| |Nay,| said Mr. Craig, |Mock the servants of God as thou wilt, God will not be mocked, but shall make thee find it in earnest, when thou shalt be cast down from the high horse of thy pride, and humbled.| This came to pass a few years after, when he was thrown off his horse with a spear, by James Douglas of Parkhead, killed, and his corpse exposed to dogs and swine, before it was buried.
Mr. Craig was forthwith discharged to preach any more in Edinburgh, and the bishop of St. Andrews was appointed to preach in his place; but as soon as he entered the great church of Edinburgh, the whole congregation (except a few court-parasites) went out. -- It was not long before Mr. Craig was restored to his place and office.
In the year 1591, when the earl of Bothwel and his accomplices, on the 27th of December, came to the king and chancellor's chamber-doors with fire, and to the queen's with a hammer, in the palace of Holyrood-house, with a design to seize the king and the chancellor. Mr. Craig upon the 29th, preaching before the king upon the two brazen mountains in Zechariah, said, |As the king had lightly regarded the many bloody shirts presented to him by his subjects craving justice, so God, in his providence, had made a noise of crying and fore-hammers to come to his own doors.| The king would have the people to stay after sermon, that he might purge himself, and said |If he had thought his hired servant (meaning Mr. Craig who was his own minister) would have dealt in that manner with him, he should not have suffered him so long in his house.| Mr. Craig, (by reason of the throng) not hearing what he said, went away.
In the year 1595, Mr. Craig being quite worn out by his labours and the infirmities of age, the king's commissioner presented some articles to the general assembly, wherein, amongst other things, he craved, That, in respect Mr. Craig is awaiting what hour God shall please to call him, and is unable to serve any longer, and His Majesty designing to place John Duncanson with the prince, therefore his highness desired an ordinance to be made, granting any two ministers he shall choose; which was accordingly done, and Mr. Craig died a short time after this.
Mr. Craig will appear, from these short memoirs, to have been a man of uncommon resolution and activity. He was employed in the most part of the affairs of the church during the reign of queen Mary and in the beginning of that of her son. He compiled the national covenant, and a catechism, commonly called Craig's catechism, which was first printed by order of the assembly, in the year 1591.