Who Wrote this Letter? Part 1

Here is a letter I recently read and was very impressed with, but was quite surprised to find out who wrote it. It opened my eyes afresh to the seriousness of forsaking Christ! See if you can guess out who wrote it with such authority. I can provide a couple hints if needed. By the way, do you real-ize Christ’s payment for your sin? Do you understand the awe of eternal rewards compared to the vanishing world? Is the judgement day real to you?

“To Mr. Harding

“So oft as I call to mind the dreadful and fearful saying of God, that he which layeth hold upon the plough, and looketh back, is not meet for the kingdom of heaven; and, on the other side, the comfortable words of our Saviour Christ to all that, forsaking themselves, do follow him, I cannot but marvel at thee, and lament thy case, which seemed sometime to be

the lively member of Christ, but now the deformed imp of the devil; sometime my faithful brother, but now a stranger and apostate; sometime a stout Christian soldier, but now a cowardly runaway. Yea, when I consider these things, I cannot but speak to thee, and cry out up on thee, thou seed of Satan and not of Judah, whom the devil hath deceived, the world hath beguiled, and the desire of life subverted, and made thee, of a Christian, an infidel. Wherefore hast thou taken the testament of the Lord in thy mouth? Wherefore hast thou preached the law and the will of God to others? Wherefore has thou instructed others to be strong in Christ, when thou thyself dost so shamefully shrink, and so horribly abuse the testament and law of the Lord? When thou thyself preachest not to steal, yet most abominably stealest, not from men, but from God, and committing most heinous sacrilege, robbest Christ thy Lord of his right members, thy body and soul, and choosest rather to live miserably, with shame in the world, than to die, and live gloriously, with honour, reign with Christ, in whom even death is life — why doest thou now show thyself most weak, when indeed thou oughtest to be most strong? And wilt thou resist thy Maker, that fashioned and framed thee? Wilt thou now forsake him that called thee from the custom-gathering among the Romish anti-Christians, to be an ambassador and messenger of his eternal word? He that first framed thee, and since thy first creation and birth preserved thee, nourished and kept thee — yea, and inspired thee with the spirit of knowledge (I cannot say grace), shall he not now possess thee? Darest thou deliver up thyself to another, being not thine own, but his? Wilt thou torment again, rend and tear the most precious body of our Saviour Christ, with thy bodily and fleshly teeth? Wilt thou take upon thee to offer any sacrifice unto God for our sins, considering that Christ offered up himself (as St. Paul saith) upon the cross, a lively sacrifice once for all? Can neither the punishment of the Israelites (which, for their idolatry, they so oft received), nor the terrible threatenings of the prophets, nor the cures of God’s own mouth, make thee afraid to honour any other God than him? Dost thou so regard him that spared not his dear and only Son for thee? so diminishing, yea, utterly extinguishing his glory, that thou wilt attribute the praise and honour due unto him to the idols which have mouths and speak not, eyes and see not, ears and hear not, which shall perish with them that made them?

“God saith he is a jealous God, which will have all honour, glory, and worship given to him only. And Christ saith in the fourth of Matthew, to Satan which tempted him, even to the same Beelzebub, the same devil which hath prevailed against thee: ‘It is written,’ said he, ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.’

“These and such like do prohibit thee and all Christians to worship any other God than he who was before all worlds, and laid the foundations of heaven and earth; and wilt thou honor a detestable idol, invented by Romish popes? Christ offered himself up once for all, and wilt thou offer him up again daily at thy pleasure? But thou wilt say thou doest it for a good intent. Oh, think of sin! Dost thou dream therein of good intent, where thy conscience beareth thee witness of God’s threatened wrath against thee? How did Saul, who, for that he disobeyed the word of the Lord for a good intent, was thrown from his worldly and temporal kingdom? Shalt thou then, that dost deface God’s honour, and rob him of his right, inherit the eternal and heavenly kingdom? Wilt thou for a good intent dishonour God, offend thy brother, and endanger thy soul, for which Christ shed his most precious blood? Wilt thou for a good intent pluck Christ out of heaven, and make his death void, and deface the triumph of his cross by offering him up daily? Wilt thou, either for fear of death or hope of life, deny and refuse thy God, who enriched thy poverty, if thou couldest have kept it? Dost thou not consider that the thread of thy life hangeth upon Him that made thee? Remember the saying of Christ in his gospel: ‘Whosoever seeketh to save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.’

“Last of all, let the lively remembrance of the last day be always before your eyes, remembering the terror that such shall be in at that time, with the runagates and fugitives from Christ, which, setting more by the world than by heaven, more by their life than by him that gave them that life, did shrink, yea, did clean fall away from him that forsook not them: and contrariwise, the inestimable joys prepared for them that, fearing no peril, nor dreading death, have manfully fought, and victoriously triumphed over all the powers of darkness, over hell, death, and damnation, through their most redoubted captain Christ, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour, praise, and glory everlasting. Amen.”


  1. Donald July 16, 2008 at 1:19 am #

    Whoever did write the letter had a clear perspective on the words “It is finished”! It seems to have been written some time ago but more recently than Martin Luther. Hardwing sounds English so I’ll guess John Knox???

  2. Joshua July 17, 2008 at 4:40 pm #

    Thank you Michael for posting this letter. Its a timely post seeing we have recently been studying the impact and importance of confronting sin in the church as Christ commanded in Matthew 18. Oh that we, as the body of Christ, would have the love for one another to confront sin and error in our midst. What an example before us in the letter above!

    After hearing a couple people today reference the Godly life of Jonathan Edwards, I’m going to guess it was him.

  3. Michael July 18, 2008 at 1:18 pm #

    Joshua, you are right about the need to have enough love to confront sin, because sin certainly will result in much pain if it is not dealt with!
    Donald, you were right about it being English, and about the timing!!! It was indeed written shortly after Luther’s death – 8 years to be exact. Amazing guess!
    Everyone, keep guessing before someone else gets it right first! 🙂 I will be posting the answer on Tuesday, July 21. (The family here is not guessing because I told them the answer when I first read the letter before I knew how this post would turn out.)

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