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Travelogue: Persevering in the Christian Life

The Scottish Parliament was very serious. This was a place where the Roman Catholic Church was deeply entrenched. Patrick Hamilton was born of nobility. His father was second son to the king, and the family was significantly wealthy. He did right by that wealth, by going to the University of Paris to study in 1520. In Paris, where they were debating the ideas of Martin Luther — to refute them, of course — Hamilton was exposed to the ideas of Luther and was converted. He went on to study in Belgium, and in 1523, he made his way back to Scotland. When he arrived, he wrote a small book called Patrike’s Places. In one of his essays, he contrasts the Roman Catholic system, what he called “the Law,” with the gospel. Elsewhere in the document he refers to “the law” in its biblical context, but he also uses it later to refer to Roman Catholicism. He writes,

The Law saith,
Pay thy debt.
Thou art a sinner desperate.
And thou shalt die.

The Gospel saith,
Christ hath paid it.
Thy sins are forgiven thee.
Be of good comfort, thou shalt be saved.

The Law saith,
Make amends for thy sin.
The Father of Heaven is wrath with thee.
Where is thy righteousness, goodness, and satisfaction?
Thou art bound and obliged unto me, to the devil, and to hell.

The Gospel saith,
Christ hath made it for thee.
Christ hath pacified him with his blood.
Christ is thy righteousness, thy goodness, and satisfaction.
Christ hath delivered thee from them all.

With the heat turned up, Hamilton left Scotland again in 1523 and he went to Marburg, Germany, where he came into contact with William Tyndale. At the time, Tyndale was fleeing Roman Catholic authorities, trying to get his New Testament in English printed and distributed. He was in Marburg from 1524 to 1527, but he couldn’t stay there. When Hamilton recognized that Tyndale was risking his life to get his New Testament published, Hamilton was encouraged to go back to Scotland — knowing full well that to go back there was to sign his own death warrant. It was largely through the influence of Tyndale that Hamilton knew that for the gospel to flourish in his country, that he needed to return. So he went back in January 1528, and in February — a century after Paul Craw was martyred at St. Andrews — Patrick Hamilton was burned at the stake.

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