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The Boy Martyr of Brentwood

Young Christian, don’t be ashamed to take your stand for the Lord. Don’t allow youth to prevent you standing for the cause of Christ.

Sometimes we think that many of the great men and women of the past were well advanced in years. As you read of the great Protestant Reformation you may have the impression that it was middle-aged and even older men and women taking their stand for the Lord. However that is not the case.

Martin Luther was only 34 when he nailed his theses to the Wittenberg church door. John Calvin was just 27 when he wrote the timeless ‘Institutes of the Christian Religion’. And there are many other examples of those who, while still in their youth, took a courageous and bold stand for the Lord.

One such was a young man called William Hunter. Brought up in the doctrines and teachings of the Reformation from his earliest days, William had a good grounding in the faith. In his early years he grew to love the word of God, and it was while reading the Bible that he came to saving faith in Christ.

Because of his desire to remain faithful to God’s word, William lost his job in London as a silk weaver. At that time there was an order that everyone in the city of London had to attend Roman Catholic mass, but William refused. He knew from the Bible that the mass was a blasphemy of the finished work of Christ on the cross. He then moved back to the town of Brentwood where his parents lived.

William loved reading his Bible, but under the reign of Queen Mary this practice was banned. One day he was discovered reading the Scriptures in Brentwood Chapel, and he was taken before the court to be tried for daring to flout the law. The local judge, Master Brown, questioned him about his refusal to accept the teaching of Rome on transubstantiation. William Hunter put his case very well, but Master Brown refused to listen. William was then sent to London to be tried. There he was given an opportunity to recant, but he refused. Even bribery would not prompt young William Hunter to deny his faith.

Eventually he was returned to Brentwood and sentenced to be burned at the stake. As he went out to his death, he stopped and read aloud Psalm 51. Then, as he was tied to the stake and the flames were lit, William Hunter cried out, “I am not afraid of death”. He lifted his eyes to Heaven and said, “Lord, receive my spirit”. William Hunter lived for his faith, and William Hunter died for his faith on 26th March 1555. He was just 19 years old, and became known thereafter as ‘the boy martyr of Brentwood’.

Young Christian, don’t be ashamed to take your stand for the Lord. It may not cost you your life as it did for William Hunter, but don’t allow youth to prevent you standing for the cause of Christ. Take your stand, and make your life count for the Lord!

Rev. Garth Wilson.