Francis Spira

Francis Spira was a Venetian lawyer, an Italian of wealth, learning and eloquence who, attracted by the fame of Martin Luther and the principles of the Reformation, became a preacher and for six years proclaimed the evangelical doctrines represented by the Reformation.  The persecutions of the time, directed against Christians, frightened him and he became an apostate.  Before a crowd of two thousand people, he recanted and acknowledged once more the Roman Catholic doctrines.  As soon as this public recantation was over, Spira took seriously ill and implored someone to kill him.  Friends came to bid him farewell and were horrified at his cursing and blasphemy against God.  In his last hour he confessed in a somewhat lengthy fashion:

“I have denied Christ voluntarily and against my convictions.  I feel that He hardens me, and will allow me no hope.  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God!  I feel the weight of His wrath burning like the pains of hell within me.  I am one of those whom God has threatened to tear asunder.  Oh, the cursed day!  Would I had never been at Venice.  I am like the rich man who, though he was in hell, was anxious that his brethren should escape torment.  Judas, after betraying his Master, was compelled to own his sin and to declare the innocence of Christ, and it is neither new nor singular that I do the same.  The mercy of Christ is a strong rampart against the wrath of God; but I have demolished that bulwark with my own hands.  Take heed of relying on that faith which works not a holy and unblamable life, worthy of a believer – it will fail.  I have tried.  I presumed I had the right faith, I preached it to others.  I had all places in Scripture in memory that might support it.  I thought myself sure, yet in the meantime lived impiously and carelessly.  Now the judgment of God hath overtaken me, not to correction, but to damnation.”

It is not at all what you believe, but what you live

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