All of us should know what Nathan Hale said just before the British hanged him as a spy, but maybe we mix up his quote or else his name with Patrick Henry who said, “Give me liberty or give me death!” Of course Nathan said, “I only regret, that I have but one life to lose for my country.” I would suspect that this is about all that the average person or even the average Christian could tell about the sacrifice of young Mr. Hale.
I am sure that there is more to the story that would be a help to Christian workers and pastors in making applications or illustrations in Sunday school lessons and sermons. Nathan Hale is a great example to us. He would love to have an influence on Christians and sinners in his beloved homeland, but unfortunately, we probably know too little about him to make use of his example very well. Unless this email was seen, probably the anniversary of his sacrifice for our freedom would have gone unnoticed by us.
I am writing on Nathan’s behalf. I assume that a little timely research will help us to make use of this ultimate sacrifice in our Christian community this week.
Obviously, Mr. Hale gave his life for our freedom and the parallel is that with a much greater result the Lord Jesus gave His life for our spiritual freedom. Hale helped us to have freedom from the tyranny of King George III. Jesus offered to us freedom from sin and from the tyranny of Satan who once was our spiritual father (John 8:44).
The history book says, “Captain Hale had changed his uniform for a plain suit of citizen’s brown clothes, with a round broad-brimmed hat, assuming the character of a Dutch schoolmaster, leaving all his other clothes, commission, public and private papers, with me, and also his silver shoe buckles, saying they would not comport with his character of schoolmaster, and retaining nothing but his college diploma, as an introduction to his assumed calling.”
Hale put aside his sign of wealth and stature, his silver buckels. He put aside almost everything he had with him for our sake. The lovely Lord Jesus put aside His Celestial Home and His reputation to be the humble sacrifice for our sins (Phil. 2:7 & 8). The song says, “He left the splendor of heaven, knowing his destiny…If that isn’t love…”, and the hymn says, “Out of the ivory palaces, into a world of woe – only His great, eternal love made my Savior go.”
The good captain my have been a born again Christian. Once again we go to a secular history book and there we find this quote, “His mental powers seemed to be above the common sort – his mind of a sedate and sober cast, and he was undoubtedly pious; for it was remarked that when any of the soldiers of his company were sick he always visted them and usually prayed for and with them in their sickness.” – Lieutenant Elisha Bostwick
Today the word “pious” is a joke and often a slur against the one who “thinks he is so pious.” This word is rarely used today as a compliment, but in other centuries that word was used to mean that an idividual was godly.
After Captain Hale was hanged the “…kindhearted British officer, Captain John Montresor was quoted as follows by American Captain (later General) William Hull: “Sir William Howe [Br.], without the form of a trial, gave orders for his [Hale’s] execution the following morning. Captain Hale, alone, without sympathy or support, save that from above, on the near approach of death asked for a clergyman to attend him. It was refused. He then requested a Bible; that too was refused by his inhuman jailer [the provost marshal].”
The names of two Americans from the War for American Independence are well-known today. One is famous and the other infamous. One is the hero, Captain Nathan Hale, the other is a man who died friendless (we could say that he died without a country.) His name is Benedict Arnold. I have met scores of Americans named Nathan, but to my knowledge I have never met an American boy or man named Benedict.
Benedict Arnold is a despised traitor to America. Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus. Nathan Hale was loyal to the United States. Will you be known for being loyal to the God of the Bible?
Yours for God and country,