Patrick Hamilton’s Excursus on Faith, Hope, and Charity from “Patrick’s Places” (1527)

The only known portrait of Patrick Hamilton, painted by John Scougal (1645-1730).

The following is excerpted from the great little treatise on Law and Gospel published by Patrick Hamilton, the first Scottish Lutheran martyr, in 1527 as Patrick’s Places. The treatise was republished in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (1751), and recently published for the Kindle by Pastor Don Matzat with a foreword by Pastor Jordan McKinley.

A short biography of Hamilton from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica:

“HAMILTON, PATRICK (1504–1528), Scottish divine, second son of Sir Patrick Hamilton, well known in Scottish chivalry, and of Catherine Stewart, daughter of Alexander, duke of Albany, second son of James II. of Scotland, was born in the diocese of Glasgow, probably at his father’s estate of Stanehouse in Lanarkshire. He was educated probably at Linlithgow. In 1517 he was appointed titular abbot of Ferne, Ross-shire; and it was probably about the same year that he went to study at Paris, for his name is found in an ancient list of those who graduated there in 1520. It was doubtless in Paris, where Luther’s writings were already exciting much discussion, that he received the germs of the doctrines he was afterwards to uphold. From Alexander Ales we learn that Hamilton subsequently went to Louvain, attracted probably by the fame of Erasmus, who in 1521 had his headquarters there. Returning to Scotland, the young scholar naturally selected St Andrews, the capital of the church and of learning, as his residence. On the 9th of June 1523 he became a member of the university of St Andrews, and on the 3rd of October 1524 he was admitted to its faculty of arts. There Hamilton attained such influence that he was permitted to conduct as preceptor a musical mass of his own composition in the cathedral. But the reformed doctrines had now obtained a firm hold on the young abbot, and he was eager to communicate them to his fellow-countrymen. Early in 1527 the attention of James Beaton, archbishop of St Andrews, was directed to the heretical preaching of the young priest, whereupon he ordered that Hamilton should be formally summoned and accused. Hamilton fled to Germany, first visiting Luther at Wittenberg, and afterwards enrolling himself as a student, under Franz Lambert of Avignon, in the new university of Marburg, opened on the 30th of May 1527 by Philip, land grave of Hesse. Hermann von dem Busche, one of the contributors to the Epistolae obscurorum virorum, John Frith and Tyndale were among those whom he met there. Late in the autumn of 1527 Hamilton returned to Scotland, bold in the conviction of the truth of his principles. He went first to his brother’s house at Kincavel, near Linlithgow, in which town he preached frequently, and soon afterwards he married a young lady of noble rank, whose name has not come down to us. Beaton, avoiding open violence through fear of Hamilton’s high connexions, invited him to a conference at St Andrews. The reformer, predicting that he was going to confirm the pious in the true doctrine by his death, resolutely accepted the invitation, and for nearly a month was permitted to preach and dispute, perhaps in order to provide material for accusation. At length, however, he was summoned before a council of bishops and clergy presided over by the archbishop; there were thirteen charges, seven of which were based on the doctrines affirmed in the Loci communes. On examination Hamilton maintained that these were undoubtedly true. The council condemned him as a heretic on the whole thirteen charges. Hamilton was seized, and, it is said, surrendered to the soldiery on an assurance that he would be restored to his friends without injury. The council convicted him, after a sham disputation with Friar Campbell, and handed him over to the secular power. The sentence was carried out on the same day (February 29, 1528) lest he should be rescued by his friends, and he was burned at the stake as a heretic. His courageous bearing attracted more attention than ever to the doctrines for which he suffered, and greatly helped to spread the Reformation in Scotland. The “reek of Patrick Hamilton infected all it blew on.” His martyrdom is singular in this respect, that he represented in Scotland almost alone the Lutheran stage of the Reformation. His only book was entitled Loci communes, known as “Patrick’s Places.” It set forth the doctrine of justification by faith and the contrast between the gospel and the law in a series of clear-cut propositions. It is to be found in Foxs’s Acts and Monuments.

A Comparison Between Faith and Unbelief

  • Faith is the root of all good: unbelief is the root of all evil.
  • Faith makes God and man good friends: unbelief makes them foes.
  • Faith brings God and man together: unbelief separates them.
  • All that faith does, pleases God: all that unbelief doth, displeases God.
  • Faith only makes a man good and righteous: unbelief only makes him unjust and evil.
  • Faith makes a man a member of Christ: unbelief makes him a member of the devil.
  • Faith makes a man the inheritor of heaven: unbelief makes him inheritor of hell.
  • Faith makes a man the servant of God: unbelief makes him the servant of the devil.
  • Faith shows us God to be a sweet Father: unbelief shows him a terrible Judge.
  • Faith holds firm to the word of God: unbelief wavers here and there.”
  • Faith counts and holds God to be true: unbelief holds him false and a liar.
  • Faith knows God: unbelief knows him not.
  • Faith loves both God and his neighbor: unbelief loves neither of them.
  • Faith only saves us: unbelief only condemns us.
  • Faith extolls God and his deeds: unbelief extolls herself and her own deeds.”

Of Hope

  • Hope is a trusty looking after the thing that is promised us to come, as we hope after the everlasting joy, which Christ has promised unto all that believe in him.
  • We should put our hope and trust in God alone, and in no other thing. “It is better to trust in God and not in man.” Psalm 118:8.
  • He that trusts in his own heart is a fool, Proverbs 28:26.
  • It is good to trust in God, and not in princes, Psalm 118:9.
  • They shall be like unto the images which they make, and all that trust in them, Psalm. 65:8.
  • He that trusts in his own heart is a fool, Proverbs.28:26.
  • Cursed be the man that trusts in man, Jeremiah 17:5.
  • “Bid the rich men of this world, that they trust not in their unstable riches; but that they trust in the living God.” I Timothy 6:17.
  • It is hard for them that trust in money, to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Luke 18:25.
  • Well are they that trust in God, and woe to them that trust not in him.
  • “Well is that man that trusts in God, for God shall be his trust.”
  • They shall rejoice that trust in you; they shall ever be glad, and you will defend them.”

Of Charity

Charity is the love of your neighbor. The rule of charity is this: Do as you wouldst be done to: for Christ regards all alike, the rich, the poor, the friend and the foe, the thankful and unthankful, the kinsman and stranger.

A Comparison between Faith, Hope, and Charity.

  • Faith cometh of the word of God; hope cometh of faith; and charity springs from them both.
  • Faith believes the word; hope trusts after that which is promised by the word; charity doth good unto her neighbor, through the love that she has to God, and gladness that is within herself.
  • Faith looks to God and his word; Hope looks to His gift and reward; charity looks on her neighbor’s profit.
  • Faith receives God; hope receives His reward; charity loves her neighbor with a glad heart, and that without any respect of reward.
  • Faith pertains to God only; hope to His reward; and charity to her neighbor.

Hamilton, Patrick. Patrick’s Places: Patrick Hamilton’s Distinction Between Law and Gospel, Faith and Works. Ed. Don Matzat. 2019. Kindle Edition.

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