"Robert Bruce... was one of the most distinguished men whom Scotland has ever produced, and rendered invaluable services to his Church and country... Andrew Melville, his illustrious coadjutor in that great struggle in which they both suffered so much, describes him as a 'hero adorned with every virtue, a constant confessor, and almost martyr of the Lord Jesus.' Livingstone says, 'Mr Robert Bruce I several times heard, and, in my opinion, never man spake with greater power since the Apostles' days'" (Preface).
The subtitle also notes that these sermons were "Reprinted from the original edition of 1590 and 1591 with collections for his life by Robert Wodrow." The print is reset in the common times font of the nineteenth century and the text "Englished" for easy reading.
Calderwood, who was personally acquainted with Bruce, played a major role in preserving the information used by Wodrow in the Life of Bruce (which consists of 201 pages). Many startling instances of God's supernatural power at work in Bruce are recounted in Wodrow's introductory biography, under the section titled "Some Singular Passages of His Life".
Here are four samples, from the many given by Wodrow:
"HIS STOP AT A COMMUNION TABLE -- I have several other singular passages from one of his successors, Mr White, minister of Larbert, which are handed down from persons present, and firmly believed there. When dispensing the sacrament of the Supper to his people, Mr Bruce was about to serve a table which was filled. When he rose up to speak he remained silent; at length, he broke out with a very great concern, and said, 'Certainly there is some person at this Holy Table guilty of some dreadful sin unrepented of; for my Master has shut my mouth, and I can say nothing till he remove; and in the Lord's name, I charge him to remove from this Holy Table;' and then sat down again. While all were musing, and waiting for the event, a man rose from the table, and went out of the church. Mr Bruce went on and served the table with very much freedom. The man was noticed, and inquired after; and, when dealt with, confessed he was habitually guilty of a most horrid sin." (pp. 147-148)
"HIS SAYING TO BISHOP SPOTTISWOOD -- His zeal against such as he thought betrayers of the interest of the Church was very conspicuous. From his successor above cited I have this account: That Archbishop Spottiswood came to visit him in his own house of Kinnaird, when Mr Bruce was pretty old and infirm. When he came in, he would not be rude to him in his own house, yet he would not own him in any of his titles, and did not desire him to stay. The Bishop, when he saw this, said, 'Mr Bruce, do ye not know me, and who I am?' The other answered, 'Sir, I know you to be a traitor to God, and to the Church of Scotland. I have nothing to do with you; you may begone when you please.'" (p. 153)
"ABOUT A MAN DROWNED -- The same person gives the following accounts, which it may be are some of the things that Mr Fleming had accounts of from credible persons, and thought them so strange that he did not publish them; and I set them down here rather for preservation, and further inquiry, than for present publication, till they be further considered. There was a person in his congregation at Larbert, who had been for some time under great discouragement, and deep soul exercise. After Mr Bruce had for some time conversed with him one day at his own house, it turned late, and there had been great rain, and the waters were big. The man left Mr Bruce, and would go home. Mr Bruce urged him to stay with him till to-morrow; but by no means could prevail. When he went away, Mr Bruce declared he was afraid there was somewhat before him. Next morning he was found drowned in a water. Mr Bruce, when he had heard he was missing, sent out to help to seek for him, and ordered that, when he was found, his clothes should be narrowly marked. One would think he had got a sign from the Lord with relation to him; for he said, if his clothes and skin were dry about his heart, he was persuaded of his salvation; if not, he would determine nothing about his eternal state. Accordingly, when he was found, the man's clothes upon his left side, even to his shirt and skin, were found perfectly dry when they got him, for a handbreadth or two about his heart, though all the rest were wet through and through." (pp.148- 149)
"HE IS THE INSTRUMENT OF MR. HENDERSON'S CONVERSION -- Mr Bruce was one of the most powerful and authoritative preachers of his age, and though, as to his voice, he was not a Boanarges, yet being, as Mr Fleming observes, of a slow and grave delivery, he spake as becometh the oracles of God, with great authority, composure, and weight, and many of the most stout-hearted of his hearers were made to tremble, the secrets of their hearts were made manifest, and multitudes of his hearers went away with undeniable proofs of Christ speaking in him, and that God was with him of a truth. His success, as Mr Calderwood, we have seen, remarks, was very great; many thousands were gained to Christ by his labours. I shall only give one instance; and I may say it was one of the greatest fishes caught in his net, and that was the excellent Mr Alexander Henderson, of whom Mr Fleming gives the following account: 'Mr Henderson, at his first entry into the parish of Leuchars, was highly Episcopal in his opinion, and brought in by the Bishop of St Andrews against the consent of the parish; so that upon the day appointed for his admission the people shut the church doors, and his admitters were obliged to break up a window, and that way to procure him entrance. A little after his settlement there, which was before the pretended Assembly at Perth, where Mr Henderson was named to be one of the ministers of Edinburgh,--but this falling in, which I am to narrate, I imagine, stopped his settlement there,--Mr Henderson having heard Mr Bruce was to be at a communion at some distance from Leuchars, was very desirous to hear him preach, and went to the place, where few knew him, and placed himself in a corner of the church where nobody should notice him. When Mr Bruce entered the pulpit, and rose up to preach, as his custom was, he stood silent for some minutes, which astonished Mr Henderson a little; but he was yet much more moved by the first words he uttered, which were those of our Lord: 'He that cometh not in by the door, but climbeth up another way, the same is a thief and a robber,' which words were powerfully sent home upon his conscience, and, by the blessing of God, as he afterwards owned, were the instrument of his conversion." (pp. 154-155)
Bruce was truly a "Presbyterian prophet" and the power of these 17 sermons (as well as the story of Bruce's life) will not be lost upon the present day reader.