On the first of March, 1528 , some eight years before Tyndale was betrayed by a Romish spy, Archbishop Beaton condemned Patrick Hamilton to be burned because he advocated the doctrines of the Reformation and exposed the errors of popery.
The principal accusations were that he taught that it was proper for the poor people to read God's Word and that it was useless to offer masses for the souls of the dead.
Hamilton admitted the truth of these charges and boldly defended his doctrine. But his judges, Archbishop Beaton and the bishops and clergy associated with him in council, could not endure the truths presented by their prisoner, which indeed were greatly to their disadvantage. For a people before whom an open Bible is spread will soon test by it the lives and teachings of their pastors, and to abolish masses for the dead is to cut off a chief source of the revenues of Rome 's priesthood. Hamilton therefore was quickly condemned, and in a few hours afterwards, to avoid any possibility of his rescue by influential friends, the stake was prepared before the gate of St. Salvador College.
When the martyr was brought to the stake, he removed his outer garments and gave them to his servant, with the words, "These will not profit me in the fire, but they will profit thee. Hereafter thou canst have no profit from me except the example of my death, which I pray thee keep in memory. For, though bitter to the flesh and fearful before man, it is the door of eternal life, being a release from this life into the presence of Christ, which none will attain who denies Christ Jesus before this ungodly generation."
His agony was prolonged by a slow fire so that his execution lasted six hours. But, through it all, he manifested true heroism and unshaken faith in the truth of the doctrines, which he preached. His last words were "How long, O Lord, shall darkness brood over this realm? How long wilt thou suffer this tyranny of man? Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
Thus, in the bloom of early manhood, died Scotland 's first reformation martyr, and his death was not in vain. A Romanist afterwards said, "The smoke of Patrick Hamilton infected all it blew upon." His mouth was closed, but the story of his death was repeated by a thousand tongues. It emboldened others to seek a martyr's crown and stirred up many more to defend the truths for which he died, and to repudiate the hierarchy, which found it necessary to defend itself by such means. "Humanly speaking," says the author of 'The Champions of the Reformation,' to whom we are chiefly indebted for the facts of our sketch, "could there have been found a fitter apostle for ignorant, benighted Scotland than this eloquent, fervent, pious man? Endowed with all those gifts that sway the heads of the masses, a zealous, pious laborer in season and out of season, what Herculean labors might he not have accomplished! What signal triumphs might he not have achieved!" So men may reason, but God judged otherwise. A short trial, a brief essay in the work he loved and longed for, was permitted to him, and then the goodly vessel, still in sight of land, was broken in pieces.
"Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness,
and for his wonderful works to the children of men!"
- Dying Testimonies, via The Way of Truth