What is it to “count the cost” in todays Western Christianity? During your day, what kind of persecution comes on you? What do you do as part of your “taking up your cross”? I urge you to think about what kind of life you’ve made for yourself, and ask yourself honestly if you’ve settled in to a “Comfortable Christianity” where the cross you take up is soft and squishy like a pillow and it never gets picked up and carried.
Today’s post comes from Old Truth. In light of my thoughts above, I think it’s definitely worth a read:
“I Have Counted The Costs of Following Christ”
Quoting Beeke, Spaans . . .
In the year 1554, soon after the accession of (Bloody) Mary to the throne of England, there lived a lad about nineteen years of age, an apprentice to a silk weaver. His soul had been illumined by divine grace during the controversies of the preceding reign, and he had learned to abhor the falsities of the Papal Church. When the edict requiring the people to attend [Catholic] mass was published in the name of the bigoted Queen, William’s master ordered him to comply, and to go with him to the church. But the boy replied that he dared not, for he believed that it would be a sin against God for him to countenance such idolatries. Consequently the master drove him from his house
William walked to the home of his father at Bruntwood, and was kindly received, for his parents loved the boy, feared God, and abhorred Popery.
He sat at the door one day of his father’s cottage, poring over a well worn copy of Tyndale’s Bible, which his father had long labored to purchase, and his soul was feeding with joyous relish upon its precious truths, when a priest passed by the door. William, absorbed, did not observe him until he softly approached, looked over his shoulder and saw the hated volume. The boy started to close the book. But it was too late. The priest uttered never a word, but scowled portentously, and walked away.
That night William Hunter was thrust into a dungeon. The next day he was taken before Master Justice Brown, who questioned him closely concerning his faith. William would not lie nor would he conceal what he believed. He confessed that he was in heart and soul a Protestant, and that he dared not in conscience attend mass.
(Read more about his trial.)
He was sent back to the dungeon. His pious father and mother visited him, and encouraged him to persevere in his good confession, even to death. “I am glad my son,” said his mother, “that God has given me such a child, who can find it in his heart to lose his life for Christ’s sake. “Mother,” he replied, “for the little pain I shall suffer, which is but a short space, Christ hath promised me a crown of joy. May you not be glad of that, mother?”
Then they all kneeled together upon the hard floor of the cell, and prayed that his strength might not fail;that his faith might be victorious.
His parents, as far as they were permitted, supplied his wants and ministered to his comfort. A few of the faithful came to see him, and encouraged him to hold out faithfully to the end, and prayed to God with and for him. Others of his acquaintance came and urged him to recant his opinions, to profess or pretend submissions to the priests, and not provoke them to deal more harshly with him. But William in his turn exhorted them to come out from the abomination of Popish superstition and idolatry. The priest, too, expostulated with him, and promised and threatened but all to no purpose; he would not abandon his faith in Jesus as a sufficient and only Savior.
In a few days he was tired, and condemned to be burned to death as a heretic. They took him back to his dungeon, and after long communion with God in prayer, he lay down and slept. He dreamed that the stake was set and the [bundles of wood] piled around it at a place that had been familiar to his boyhood, at the Archery Butts, in the suburbs of town, and that he stood beside it prepared to die. And there came to him, in his dream, a robed priest, and offered him life if he would recant and become a faithful son of the Papal Church. But he thought that he was impelled to bid him to go away as a false prophet, and to exhort the people to beware of his being seduced by false doctrines. He awoke from his dream encouraged and strengthened, believing that grace would aid him to do in reality as he had done in vision.
With the morning dawn, the sheriff came and bade him prepare for the burning. And when his father had gone, the sheriff’s son approached him, and threw his arms around his neck, and wept: “William,” said he, “do not be afraid to see these men with their bows and bills, who have come to take you to the stake.” “I thank God,” said William, “I am not afraid, for I have cast my count as to what it will cost me already.”
As he passed cheerfully out of the prison, he met his father. The tears were streaming down his face, and all the man could utter, amid his choking sobs, was, “God be with thee, William, my son; God be with thee, my son.” And William answered, “God be with thee, dear father! Be of good comfort, for I hope we shall soon meet again where we will be happy.”
So they led him to the place where the stake was prepared, and he kneeled upon a [pile of wood] and read aloud from the bible the 51st Psalm. And he read the words, “The sacrifice of God is a contrite spirit, a contrite and a broken heart thou wilt not despise,” “Nay, but the translation saith, a contrite spirit.” “The translation is false,” quoth Mr. Tyrell; “ye translate books as ye list yourselves, ye heretics.” “Well, there is no great difference in the words,” said William, and continued his reading.
Then came the sheriff and said to him, “Here is a letter from the Queen, offering thee life if thou will yet recant.” “No!” said William, “God help me, I cannot recant.”
The executioner passed a chain around his body, and fastened him to the stake. “Good people, pray for me,” said William. “Pray for thee!” said a priest, “I would rather pray for a dog.” “Well you have that which you sought for: I pray God that it be not laid to your charge at the last day. I forgive you.” “Ah!” said the priest, “I ask no forgiveness from you.” “Well if God forgive you not, my blood will be required at your hands.” And then the lad raised his eyes towards heaven and prayed, “Son of God, shine upon me.” And as he spoke, the sun, over which a dark cloud had floated, suddenly burst as from a veil, and a beautifully illumined his countenance.
Then came the priest, whom he had seen in his dream, with a book in his hand to urge him to recant. But the boy, whose soul was nerved to the endurance of martyrdom, waived him away, saying — “Away, thou false prophet. Beware of these men, good people, and come away from their abomination lest ye be partakers of their plagues.” “Then,” said the priest, “as thou burnest here, so shalt thou burn in hell.” But William answered, “Nay, thou false prophet, I shall reign with Jesus in heaven.”
And while a voice in the crowd excaimed, “God have mercy on his soul,” and many voices responded, ‘Amen, amen,’ they kindled the fire and the brave Christian boy prayed, “Lord, Lord, receive my spirit;” his head fell into the smothering smoke, and his soul fled to the loving embrace of the Redeemer, who had purchased it with His own blood.