Friday, May 7, 2010

A Little Reproach

A selection from a letter by Thomas Hardcastle, written from prison in Bristol, England, to the Broadmead Church (Baptist) of which he was pastor from 1671 to 1678. He had been imprisoned because dissenters were not allowed to have their own churches; they were expected to worship with the Church of England, the only legal Church. Hardcastle refused to comply with the law on moral grounds. He wrote 22 letters to his congregation during the six months he spent in the Newgate Prison, encouraging them to be faithful to Christ during the awful days of persecution. This selection comes from the 14th letter and was written November 12, 1675.

What an honor he has put upon me, that I should be spoiled, and abused, and imprisoned for his cause!... And blessed be his name, which counts me worthy of such a privilege. Oh, sweet and precious cross! Lovely Jesus! What glory did he leave for me to take my sinful, infirm nature upon him! He made himself of no reputation and took upon him the form of a servant, who thought it not robbery to be equal to God [see Phil. 2:5-11]. And I, a poor vile wretch, who is made of the same mold with the worms, and dust, and have a nature as vile as the vilest, and cannot say that I am worth a crumb of bread, or drop of water,—shall I think it hard to suffer a little loss, to bear a little reproach, to endure a little hardship?

No Armor for the Back: Baptist Prison Writings, 1600s—1700s, by Keith E. Durso, Mercer University Press, p. 139.

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