Gillespie had been observed by his Scottish brethren writing occasionally in his note-book, as if marking the heads of Selden’s argument; and one of them, some accounts say Rutherford, turning to him in this emergency, said, “Rise, George, rise up, man, and defend the right of the Lord Jesus Christ to govern, by his own laws, the church which he hath purchased with his blood.” Thus urged, Gillespie arose, gave first a summary of Selden’s argument, divesting it of all the confusion of that cumbrous learning in which it had been wrapped, and reducing it to its simple elements; then in a speech of singular acuteness and power, completely refuted it, proving that the passage could not be interpreted or explained away to mean a mere reference to a civil court.

Somewhat confused, if not appalled, by the vast erudition displayed, even the most learned and able of the divines seemed in no haste to encounter their formidable opponent. At length both Herle and Marshall, two very distinguished men, attempted answers, but failed to counteract the effect of Selden’s speech.

The effect of Gillespie’s speech was so great, as not only to convince the Assembly, but also to astonish and confound Seldon himself, who is reported to have exclaimed in a tone of bitter mortification, “That young man, by this single speech, has swept away the learning and labour of ten years of my life!” Those who were clustered together in the passage near the door, remembering Gillespie’s expression when he was attempting to enter, said one to another, “It was well that we admitted the pinning, otherwise the building would have fallen.” Even his Scottish brethren, although well acquainted with his great abilities, were surprised with his masterly analysis of Selden’s argument, and looked into his note-book, expecting there to find the outline of the summary which he had given.