FOURTH OF FEBRUARY
856: Rabanus Maurus, a theologian and educator mentored by Alcuin, dies at age eighty. His retirement from school administration at age sixty-six was followed by a career as archbishop of Mainz, Germany. He wrote:
Come, Creator, Spirit, come from your bright heavenly throne,
come take possession of our souls, and make them all your own.
You who are called the Paraclete, best gift of God above,
the living spring, the vital fire sweet christening and true love.
O guide our minds with your best light, with love our hearts inflame;
and with your strength, which never decays, confirm our mortal frame.
Far from us drive our deadly foe; true peace unto us bring;
and through all perils lead us safe beneath your sacred wing.
Through you may we the Father know, through you the eternal Son
and you the Spirit of them both, thrice-blessed Three in One.
1555: English reformer and theologian John Rogers becomes the first Protestant martyr under "Bloody" Queen Mary when he is burned at the stake for heresy.
From "Foxe's Book of Martyrs":
When the time came that he should be brought out of Newgate to Smithfield, the place of his execution, Mr Woodroofe, one of the sheriffs, first came to Mr Rogers and asked him if he would revoke his abominable doctrine and the evil opinion of the Sacrament of the altar.
Mr Rogers answered, "That which I have preached I will seal with my blood."
Then Mr Woodroofe said, "Thou art a heretic."
"That shall be known," quoth Mr Rogers, "at the Day of Judgment."
"Well," said Mr Woodroofe, "I will never pray for thee."
"But I will pray for you," said Mr Rogers.
And so he was brought the same day, the fourth of February, by the sheriffs, towards Smithfield, saying the "Psalm Miserere" by the way, all the people wonderfully rejoicing at his constancy; with great praises and thanks to God for the same. And there in the presence of Mr Rochester, comptroller of the queen's household, Sir Richard Southwell, both the sheriffs and a great number of people, he was burnt to ashes, washing his hands in the flame as he was burning.
A little before his burning, his pardon was brought, if he would have recanted; but he utterly refused it.
He was the first martyr of all the blessed company that suffered in Queen Mary's time that gave the first adventure upon the fire.
His wife and children, being eleven in number, ten able to go, and one sucking at her breast, met him by the way, as he went towards Smithfield. This sorrowful sight of his own flesh and blood could nothing move him, but that he constantly and cheerfully took his death with wonderful patience, in the defence and quarrel of the Gospel of Christ.
1906: Lutheran pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer is born in Breslau, Germany. Author of "The Cost of Discipleship" (1937) and "Letters from Prison" (1944), he opposed the Nazis as one of Germany's Confessing Church leaders.
From "The Cost of Discipleship":
Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.
Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.
Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: "ye were bought at a price," and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”