Major John Andre was head of British Intelligence during the Revolutionary War. His modus operandi was to receive secrets about American troop movements from one Benedict Arnold until one fateful evening when he was intercepted wearing civilian dress and under cover of night before he could gather information from Arnold that would almost certainly have led to a British victory at West Point.
On October 2, 1780, Major Andre, having been convicted as a spy, was hanged even though he had earned the sympathy of many Americans and even the general of the Continental Army. George Washington said these words of the British major: “He was more unfortunate than criminal; an accomplished man and a gallant officer.”
We often think of the heroics of Americans during this time in our history—especially of those who worshipped the Lord Jesus Christ. But consider the ironclad testimony of this officer on the enemy side, written days before his execution:
The Hiding Place
Hail, sovereign love that first began
The scheme to rescue fallen man!
Hail, matchless free, eternal grace
That gave my soul a hiding place.
Against the God who rules the sky
I fought with hand uplifted high;
Despised the notion of his grace
Too proud to seek a hiding place.
Enwrapt in thick Egyptian night,
And fond of darkness more than light,
Madly I ran the sinful race,
Secure without a hiding place.
And thus the eternal counsel ran:
“Almighty Love, arrest that man!”
I felt the arrows of distress
And found I had no Hiding Place.
Indignant Justice stood in view;
To Sinai’s fiery mount I flew;
But Justice cried, with frowning face,
This mountain is no hiding place.
E’er long a heavenly voice I heard
And Mercy’s angel-form appeared;
She led me on with placid pace
To Jesus as my Hiding Place.
Should storms of sevenfold thunder roll,
And shake the globe from pole to pole;
No flaming bolt could daunt my face,
For Jesus is my hiding place.
On him almighty vengeance fell,
That would have sunk a world to hell;
He bore it for the chosen race,
And thus became their hiding place.
A few more rolling suns at most
Will land me on fair Canaan’s coast;
Where I shall sing the song of grace
And see my glorious Hiding Place.
On this traditional day when we celebrate our freedoms, I am so very grateful that the freedom I have in Christ has transported me from the mountain of justice to the Cleft of the Rock where I am sheltered forever in Jesus Christ; and now I sing (along with Major Andre) the enduring song of grace.