Scotland’s First Martyr!

Patrick Hamilton, the Abbot of Ferne. Having had travelled through Germany and imbibed the doctrines of Luther, he became well acquainted with most of the eminent Reformers. He was fully convinced of their opinions. On his return to Scotland, he began to espouse those opinions and expose the corruptions of the church. His boldness in doing so began to receive his discourses and to alarm and irate the clergy. Invited under false pretences to confer in a friendly atmosphere, which simply had the effect of emboldening Patrick the more. The Archbishops of St Andrews and Glasgow, along with other dignitaries of the church, forming a court, called him to account. Hamilton neither lost his courage nor altered his opinions. He was convicted of heretical depravity and given over to the secular authorities. The indictments against him were as follows:

# Man hath no free will.
# Man is in sin as long as he liveth.
# Children, incontinent after baptism, are sinners.
# All Christians, that be worthy to be called Christians, do know that they are in grace.
# No man is justified by works, but by faith only.
# Good works make not a good man, but a good man doth make good works.
# And faith, hope, and charity are so knit that he that hath the one hath the rest, and he that wanteth the one of them wanteth the rest.

Patrick Hamilton was barely twenty-four years of age. His youth, his virtue and his magnanimity accompanied with his sufferings, all served in his favour with the people. To Alexander Campbell’s insults to him at the stake, Patrick objected to his treachery and cited him to appear before the judgment seat of Christ. A few days later this persecutor fell into a frenzy and died in that condition. It was widely held and believed that Patrick Hamilton was an innocent man and a martyr. So effectual was his sacrifice, it excited throughout Scotland a universal curiosity and indignation. The tenets of his faith were enquired into and the doctrines of the Romish church were brought under scrutiny. Converts to the new opinions began to multiply throughout the realm. The rest, as we say, is history.

(© James R Hamilton, written Summer, 2011)

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