Reformation Day – Patrick Hamilton

For many tonight is Halloween, a celebration of fear and evil. For others, it is a memorial of the Reformation. A number of years ago, a missionary gave me a book titled, “Scots Worthies.” Its pages detail the martyrdom of many Scots during the Reformation in that country. The first of these is Patrick Hamilton, a young man of noble birth who had been influenced by the teaching of salvation by faith alone. He was accused by authorities of believing (among other things):

1) That the corruption of sin remains in children after their baptism.
2) That no man is without sin as long as he lives.
3) That no man, by the mere power of his free will, can do any good.
4) That man is not justified by works, but by faith only.
5) That good works make not a man good, but that a good man does good works, and that an ill man does ill works; yet the same ill works truly repented of, do not make an ill man.

At the age of twenty-three, he was sentenced to the stake for these beliefs, yet even in death his influence was felt.

“During the interval (between his trial and death) he was visited by Alexander Aless, canon of the metropolitan church of St. Andrews, who again tried to reclaim him to the bosom of the catholic church, but in vain. Aless himself was staggered by the martyr’s arguments . . . These conferences ended in the conversion of Aless; and the constancy with which he beheld Hamilton adhere to his opinions at the stake, strengthened his resolve.”

On a mission trip to Great Britain, I had the privilege to visit the site of Hamilton’s martyrdom. I was only a few years younger than he was at his death, and his example has inspired me ever since. Today, instead of candy and pumpkins, I celebrate the life, faith, and death of this faithful believer.


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