2003-08-25 - Killing Walter Mill
Numbers 12:7 Not so, with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all My household.
My guess is that no one reading this has ever heard of Walter Mill, but you should know about him. He is a very significant, yet forgotten, historical figure. With his death ended the killing of Christians in Scotland for many years. The first to be burned at the stake was Patrick Hamilton, the next was George Wishart. I have been to the place where both of them were burned in St. Andrews. Mill was the last and his story is really sad. His testimony to God's grace and his faithfulness as a follower of Christ is quite inspiring.
He was largely uneducated but was condemned to death for his faith in Christ when he was young. He fled to Germany, married, but when he was 82 years old he returned to Scotland to finish out his years. He was hunted down even though he held no position and posed no threat. He was arrested and imprisoned in the castle of St. Andrews. When brought to his trial he entered the court room at the cathedral of St. Andrews and fell to his knees in prayer. He was forced to stop praying and was so feeble from his time in prison that most felt that he would not be able to even utter a word in his own defense. However, he spoke with force and was yet still condemned to be burned at the stake. His treatment was so harsh that after he was tied to the stake to be burned the people assembled demanded that he be given a chance to speak. Here are some of his dying words...
"Dear friends, the cause why I suffer this day, is not for any crime laid to my charge, thought I acknowledge myself a miserable sinner before God, but only for the defense of the truths of Jesus Christ set forth in the Old and New Testaments. I praise God that he hath called me, among the rest of his servants to seal his truth with my life; and that I have received it of him, so I willingly offer it up for his glory...(I urge you to) depend only upon Jesus Christ and his mercy, that so you may be delivered from condemnation."
Speaking to his killers he then said, "I marvel at your rage, ye hypocrites, who do so cruelly pursue the servants of God! As for me, I am now 82 years old, and cannot live long by course of nature; but a hundred shall rise out of my ashes, who shall scatter you, ye hypocrites and persecutors of God's people; and such of you as now think yourselves the best, shall not die such and honest death, as I now do. I trust in God, I shall be the last who shall suffer death in this fashion for this cause in this land." As it turns out, he was the last martyr of the early Reformation in Scotland. His death took place in 1538.
There must be a light that comes from burning someone at the stake. It is a light of wickedness, but out of that light which killed Walter Mill there a came a light that has yet to be extinguished. From his ashes rose an establishment of the Christian faith in Scotland. Those who watched the burning of this 82 year old man, who was fragile to begin with, were so upset that they demanded an end to the burning of Christians.
There have been dark hours in the history of the Christian church. What would you do? Mill was given numerous opportunities to recant his faith in Christ and save his life, but he would not. How would you respond if your life depended upon holding firm to Christ or denying Him? Would you be tempted to say that your family needs you and you are only denying Him for your family needs or think in your head that you are not really denying your faith, but just "saying it?" Think how this man's death may have saved so many lives by him being faithful to His Lord. He was the last martyr of this time in history and it could be his faithfulness that saved many. It is a lesson to us all to seek to be faithful to our blessed and high callings as servants of the One who has saved our souls.
Soli Deo Gloria,