John Knox, Letter 5: On resting in Christ despite trouble and vexation from the Devil

There is no condemnation to such as be in Christ Jesus, to whom be all praise.


Dearly beloved sister,

After most hearty commendation. In my conscience I judge, and by the Holy Spirit of my God, am fully certified, that you are a member of Christ’s body, sore troubled and vexed presently, that the lusts and vain pleasures of the flesh may be mortified. You may shortly rest and rejoice hereafter in honor and glory, whereto yet never attained mortal creature, but first they confessed themselves almost burnt in hell. Wherefore persevere, albeit the battle be strong, that the glory of your deliverance may be ascribed and wholly given to God alone.

I think it best you remain till the morrow, and so shall we commune at large, at afternoon. This day you know to be the day of my study and prayer to God, yet if your trouble be intolerable, or if you think my presence may release your pain, do as the Spirit shall move you, for you know that I will be offended with nothing that you do in God’s name. And how glad would I be to feed the hungry and give medicine to the sick!

Your messenger found me in bed, after a sore trouble and most dolorous night, and so dolor may complain to dolor when we two meet. But the infinite goodness of God, who never despises the petitions of a sore troubled heart, shall, at His good pleasure [free us from these][1] pains that we presently suffer, and in place thereof, shall crown us with glory and immortality forever.

But, dear sister, I am even of mind with faithful Job, yet most sore tormented[2] that my pain shall have no end in this life. The power of God may, against the purpose of my heart, alter such things as appear not to be altered, as he did to Job. But dolor and pain, with sore anguish, cry the contrary. And this is more plain than ever I spoke, to let you know you have a fellow and companion in trouble.

And thus, rest in Christ. For the head of the Serpent is already broken down, and he is stinging us upon the heal.

From Newcastle, 1553.

In great haste. 

Your brother,

John Knox


[From Works III:352-353. All syntax, diction, and relevant notes from publisher David Laing retained; word endings, spelling, and punctuation modernized sparingly by Sam Caldwell.]


[1] Laing note: A small portion of the manuscript is cut out…

[2] Laing: Still grievously tormented.

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