David Houston Memorial David Houston was a young man who was training to be a minister in Ireland and had been licensed to preach by the Presbyterians there. He was appointed to preach in the vacant congregations of Glenarm and then Ballymoney. While in Ballymoney, he was influenced by Alexander Peden and soon began preaching in favour of the covenants. The Presbytery of Route took away his licence to preach in 1672.
After this Houston went back and forward from Scotland a number of times, where he spent time with James Renwick. Renwick wrote of him: “As for Mr. David Houston, he carries very straight. I think him both learned and zealous … he opposes much the passing from any part of our testimony.” Houston strengthened and build up the Irish Covenanter society meetings.
After Renwick was arrested in 1688, Houston came back to Ireland. He kept on preaching to great crowds of people in the fields, and was finally arrested and sent to Scotland for trial. While the soldiers were bringing him along the road to Edinburgh however, some Scottish Covenanters managed to rescue him. One of his rescuers, and several of the soldiers, were killed in the process.
Houston soon returned to Ireland where he preached to a congregation of around 500 people in Armoy, Co. Antrim. By his death in 1696 he had united the Covenanting societies and firmly established the cause of Reformed Presbyterianism in Ulster. The next few years would be hard for these Irish Covenanters, who would have few ministers and no Presbytery until 1763, but they were not going to let go of their Covenanting beliefs. This was not because they were being stubborn or because they didn’t like change, but because they and their nation had made solemn promises to God which passing years or changing circumstances would never cancel out.
The Covenanters never split from the rest of the Presbyterians in Ireland - they just kept believing the same things that all Irish Presbyterians had believed in up until they began to face persecution for them in the 1660s.
Adam Loughridge, The Covenanters in Ireland (Belfast, 1984), pp 11-13.
Reformed Presbyterian Testimony, Part II, Historical (Belfast, 1939) pp 84-6.
James Seaton Reid, History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, ed. W. D. Killen (3 vols, 3rd edn, Belfast, 1867), ii, 310-14; 333-4 .
Robert Wodrow, History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland, ed. Robert Burns (4 vols, Glasgow, 1828-30), ii, 190; iv, 395, 442