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The FINLEYs have always had strong religious beliefs. As we have already seen, one John FINLAY became the Bishop of Dumblane. Several famous Presbyterian ministers have also come from the FINLEY line. But, alongside with the pride taken in their religion, the tragic side of the FINLEYs' religious struggles must be examined.
In the Handbook of Denominations in the United States, a commentary on the influence John CALVIN had upon Presbyterianism says, "He gave courage to British Presbyterians in their bitter struggle against Catholic Bloody Mary. To him came Scots who became Covenanters; to him came John Knox, who went home to cry, `Great God, give me Scotland, or I die.' Knox and the Covenanters set Scotland afire and made it Protestant and Presbyterian."
John FOX, who lived in England from 1517 to 1587, gave graphic accounts in his Book of Martyrs of several Protestants who were burnt at the stake in Scotland in the 1500s.
"One Rev. John FINLEY, the last martyr to Christ's Crown and Covenant, was burned at the stake in Edinburgh just prior to the expulsion of James II."
Charles A. HANNA, in The Scotch-Irish Families in America, Vol. 2, Appendix R, p. 237, confirms this fact, as he includes an account of the confession of the Rev. John FINLAY of Kilmarnock, which he says is taken from a book published in 1714, A Cloud of Witnesses.
The account states that John FINLAY lived in Muirside, Kilmarnock Parish, and suffered in the Grass-market of Edinburgh on 15 Dec 1682. By giving his lengthy testimony, he states to his oppressors that he is "Shewing you that I am condemned unjustly by a generation of bloody men, who is thirsting after the blood of the saints of God, and upon no other account, but for my being found in the way of my duty in the sight of God; glory to his holy name for it, though gone about with many failings, much imperfections, for adhering to Christ and all his offices, as Prophet, Priest and King; and for my following him in all his persecuted gospel truths."
During this same period in our history, the first of the FINLEYs migrated to America. It is certain that in view of such persecution, one of the reasons for the exodus from Scotland was the degree of religious tolerance allowed in the New World.
See Also: Finley Pastors listed in Prominent Cousins and Ancestors involved in starting churches.
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