« VorigeDoorgaan »
THE CHRISTIAN TREASURY.
THE REFORMATION VIEWED AS THE RESURRECTION OF
BY THE REV. THOMAS M'CRIE, EDINBURGH,
The history of man, as well as of nations, has | panding and unfolding as he advanced into the its seasons of rise and fall-of death and resur full-formed Gospel of Christ, made him a new rection. There have been periods in the world's man, and ushered him into a new world. And it history, when the attainments of early ages ap- is with feelings of no common interest that the pear to have been entirely lost sight of; and reader of his life traces the course of this truly mankind, reduced to a second childhood, re- great man, from the moment that the truth quired to be sent back to school to learn the dawned upon his mind, through the varied incielements of sciences once familiar to them, but dents of his progress. Wedwell with delight on now forgotten. The discoveries made in astro- the heroic resistance he made, at the outset of nomy in the seventeenth century, by Coperni. his career, to the profligate sale of indulgencescus, Galileo, and Newton, were but the revival of his triumphant encounter with Tetzel and the old truths, formerly discovered. The real mo- Romish doctors. We hang with breathless sustions of the heavenly bodies were known as early pense over his journey to the city of Worms, as the age of Pythagoras, who lived nearly six there to confront the emperor, surrounded by hundred years before Christ, and who, in his turn, a multitude of princes, nobles, archbishops, had gleaned his information from the priests of bishops, and representatives from almost every Egypt and the Magi of the East. The revival kingdom in Europe, such as never, perhaps, of learning, in the century preceding the Refor. convened before to confront them alone, mation, was occasioned mainly by the republi- single-handed and unprotected, except by a cation of the classical writings of antiquity; it safe-conduct which he knew had formerly was only the re-awakening in other lands of been basely violated in the case of Huss. the genius of ancient Greece and Rome. Thus we hear him, with undaunted courage, rehuman knowledge, like the ocean, has had its plying to the entreaties of his friends not to neap tides and its spring tides, its fluxes and its enter the city: “Go and tell your master, refluxes; and thus it was with religion at the that though there were as many devils in period of the Reformation. It was not a mo Worms as there are tiles on the roofs, I would dern religion invented, but an old revived—it enter it;" and when they said, “ They will was not a birth, but a resurrection.
burn you to ashes, as they did John Huss,” To the common taunt of the Papists, "Where replying, with equal firmness, “ Though they was your religion before Luther?” we might re should make a fire reaching from Worms to ply, It was buried buried under the rubbish of Wittemberg, and rising to the sky, I would Popery--but it was buried alire. For all the pass through it in the name of the Lord-I ! blessed purposes which it was designed by its would appear before them-I would enter into Author to serve, in regard to the world at large, the mouth of that Behemoth, and confess the it may be said to have been buried; but the re Lord Jesus Christ !" Finally, we rejoice to see i ligion itself existed, and was never wholly ex him terminating his days in peace, after having
tinct. It lived in the Bible,“ the Word of God been the instrument of imparting to unnumwhich liveth and abideth for ever"--it lived in bered thousands the blessings of an opened the hearts of the pious few who, in the midst of Bible, a recovered Gospel, and a purified surrounding death and darkness, had caught a Church. But the pious reader of this wonglimpse of its saving light through the institu- drous history will be at no loss to discover tions which had survived the general wreck of the real secret of his success. Nothing will Christianity—it lived in the valleys of the Alps, be more deeply impressed on his mind than among the primitive Waldensesmit lived even the conviction, that Luther would never have in depth of the cloister, where occasionally the become a Reformer had he not first become a solitary monk found that its “stolen waters Christian; that the Reformation owed its sucwere sweet,” and its “bread eaten in secret cess to the operation on the hearts of men of was pleasant;" and where, ultimately, the vital those same truths which first convinced Luther spark lighted upon the heart of the heroic that he was a sinner, and laid him, a tremLuther. Thenceforth the mighty heart of Ger- bling but hopeful penitent, at the foot of the many was moved, and its pulsations were felt in the remotest regions of Europe.
We have said that Luther found his religion It was by the prayerful and persevering study in the Bible; and it was not long before he disof the Holy Scriptures, a copy of which he covered that, in every vital point, it was at found in his convent, that Luther first acquired variance with the system of Popery. One by those views of divine truth which, gradually ex one the abominations of that “mystery of iniNo. 6.
April 4, 1945.
quity” rose into view, until it glared on him Scripture, while the same honour was paid to in all its monstrous proportions—the Antichrist human traditions ? Of what avail to acknowof Scripture, the Man of Sin, and Son of Per- ledge the Trinity and the divinity of the Saviour, dition. On the other hand, in direct contrast, while angels and a whole host of saints were " the Mystery of Godliness" evolved itself, and exalted to divine honours, and the Virgin Mary the Temple of Truth was seen standing, as the extolled much higher than the Son of God! rubbish was removed from it, fresh and fair, in And of what avail to profess the atonement all its beautiful proportions, as it was at the of Christ, when the merit of salvation was beginning. The discovery filled him with shared by him in common with a multiplicity mingled feelings of amazement and delight, of earthly and heavenly mediators, and ascribed similar to what, we may suppose, would be ex- with an equal or not higher degree of confidence perienced by the late discovery of the ancient to the good works of the sinner himself? Did cities of Herculaneum, which, built in the our Lord speak the more leniently of the errors palmy days of Rome, but buried for ages under of the Scribes and Pharisees in his day, because the burning lava of Vesuvius, immediately they still professed some regard to Moses and upon removing the rubbish, presented them the prophets, or retained some of the instituselves standing entire – streets and houses, tions of divine worship! No; he denounced pillars and porticoes — as they stood at the the practised corruption as subversive of the fatal hour when first entombed in their fiery professed truth: “ Woe unto you, for ye have sepulchre.
made void the law of God by your traditions." The Reformation, therefore, was truly what “ In vain do they worship me, teaching for docwe have represented it-the resurrection of trines the commandments of men." It has Scripture truths. If we are asked, What Scrip- been the policy of Popery to retain a substratum, ture truths were then revived I we night answer or rather a sprinkling, of truth, in order to give with perfect propriety, that the whole of revealed currency to its errors, and a colour to its im. truth, viewed as Scripture truth, was then re- postures. It is to the perversion of the Gospel vived; for the whole may be considered as of Christ, indeed, that it owes its success. And having been buried with the Scriptures. When well do its interested supporters know how much once the Pope had succeeded in his blasphemous they have been indebted to it. “How much," attempt to substitute his authority in place of said one of the Popes, after receiving a vast that of Holy Scripture, and had withdrawn the sum for indulgences transmitted to Rome from Word of God from the sight of men, “exalting foreign countries, “How much are we indebted himself above all that is called God and that is to that Galilean!" worshipped,” it mattered little, in one respect, If we look more closely to those doctrines what truths materially scriptural were retained which directly concern salvation, and which under the Papacy. The true foundation of have been called the doctrines of grace, how faith was thus moved away; and thenceforth miserably were they all corrupted under Popery. the faith which might be accorded to any scrip- What a deplorable picture is that drawn by taral truth rested not on “the power of God,” Myconius, a man who was long a monk himself, but on “ the wisdom of man.” The truth might and subsequently an associate of Luther:be believed, but it was believed not on the “ The sufferings and satisfaction of Christ were testimony of God, but of man; and of man, too, treated as a vain fable, somewhat like the " sitting in the temple of God," and assuming Odyssey of Homer. On the subject of faith, his prerogatives.
that grace by which the righteousness of the Some Protestants have gone so far, in the Saviour is apprehended, and through it the in excess of their charity, as to maintain that, heritance of life obtained, a profound silence with all her corruptions, the Church of Rome was observed. Jesus Christ was represented retained all the cardinal truths of Christianity, as a cruel judge, ready to condemn all who did such as the inspiration of Scripture, the Trinity, not avail themselves of the intercessions of the the divinity of the Saviour, and even the atone- saints, and the indulgences of the Pope. In ment of the cross; and that Popery erred his place they substituted, in the first place, the rather in excess than in defect, in requiring Virgin Mary, like the Diana of Paganism, and men to believe too much-not only to believe in after her a crowd of saints, the list of whom what was revealed, but in more than was re was daily swelled with new creations by the vealed. We might well ask, in reply to such Popes. To obtain the favour of these deities representations, Can the blind, implicit faith of certain services were exacted—not the duties the Papist be compared with the enlightened of the decalogue, but works of merit invented faith of the Protestant ?-can faith in the by the priests --acts of the most debasing kind; Church be put into the same category with but such as to bring as much money as possible faith in the Word of the living God? But it into their coffers. The people flocked to the ought to be remembered, that the truths ac convents—those receptacles of debauchery and knowledged by the Romish Church were all licentiousness-laden with money and jewels, neutralized and nullified by the opposite errors fowls, eggs, butter, and cheese; and then there with which they were associated. Of what might be heard the chanting of prayers and avail was it to confess the divine authority of the chiming of bells, strangely mingled with
BRIEF NOTICE OF JONATHAN EDWARDS
the chinking of glasses and the kitchen pre- adoration, now became that of its horror and
In opposition to all this perversion and corrup- Scripture, which were revived at the Reforma-
BY REV. JOIN FAIRBAIRN, ALLANTON. the Reformation. All the subsequent reforms in the doctrine, as well as in the government, Jonathan Edwards was born at East Windsor, U.S., ritual, and morals of the Church, may be traced in the year 1703, and was entered a student in Yale back to the successful establishment and appli- College in 1716. Until he entered college his educkcation of this first principle. It is hardly pos- tion was conducted under the paternal roof. His sible, in the present day, to conceive the effect father, who was a learned and godly man, devoted a Fhich must have been produced by this ele- portion of his time and much of his attention to the mentary truth, so obvious, and yet so long over
education of his family, and whilst no branch of looked and borne down. Before this sacred useful study taught at the time and place was ark of the testament the image of Dagon fell neglected, very great pains were bestowed by Mr down, and was broken in pieces. Thenceforth Edwards on their religious training. His zeal, dilithe writings of the fathers, the decrees of gence, and prayers, seem to have been abundantly councils, the bulls and decretals of the Pope, blessed and answered, not only in respect to Jonathan, ccased to be regarded as any part of the rule but also as concerned his other children; from which, of faith, and every doetrine was brought to the and many other like instances, parents should take test of “ the law and the testimony." - In con- encouragement to persevere diligently in that most nection with this, was the right of the Christian important and responsible branch of their duty-the people to enjoy the Scriptures in their own lan- bringing up of their children in the fear of God. guage, and to peruse and search them in the The industry with which young Edwards entered free exercise of their private judgment. This upon and prosecuted his studies at Yale College, invaluable privilege, so long denied them, was shows that his home education had been of a judicious speedily obtained. Through the labours of" and solid kind. Nothing could exceed the ardour Luther and Melanethon, the Scriptures were with which he engaged in the various branches of translated into Gerinan, and the pages of that learning to which his attention was directed. But book which is able to make wise unto salva- whilst he made progress in all these, the strong bent tion were thrown open to the inspection of all. of his mind towards abstract and metaphysical pursuits Nor was this all. The preaching of the Gospel soon discovered itself. It has often been remarked, --that ordinance of life which had been so long that where there is a strong bias of mind to any parprostituted or laid aside-was revived in all its ticular pursuit, it will not be long till it manifest primitive purity, and attended with almost all itself. The history of many eminent men, in the its primitive power. The writings of Luther, carlier parts of it, illustrates this and is the record of in which the doctrines of Scripture were simply their struggles, in which they have overcome obstacle explained, and the opposite errors boidly con after obstacle lying between them and the object of demned, spread with unexampled rapidity; their early and unquenchable aspirations. Many and such was the power of the Word of God, have been surrounded with innumerable difficulties, with the energetic principles of which they and overcome them. It was otherwise with Edwards. were impregnated, and to which they owed ail The circumstances in which he was placed, from his their success, that in the course of three years carliest years, were favourable to the nourishment the gigantic system of Popery, the growth of and growth of the most marked peculiarities of his upwards of a thousand years, and raised by mind. His father's house was the resort of several pontifical decrees, scholastic subtleties, monk- eminent ministers, where, in their conversations, they ih fables, and regal violence, to the highest gave their views on the most vital and interesting
pinnacle of power and splendour, began to points in theology. At the age of fifteen, he is study-
history. He was brought, at a very early period,
under strong religious convictions, which, in the end, the inward burnings of my heart had vent. The i resulted in his conversion to godliness. His own ac lights which I now felt in the things of religion was count of the progress of divine grace in his mind is of an exceeding different kind from those before the best source from which to draw.
mentioned that I had when a boy, and what then “ I had a variety," says he, “ of concerns and exer had no more notion of than one born blind bus cises about my soul from my childhood; but I had pleasant and beautiful colours. They were of a mun two more remarkable seasons of awakening before I inward, pure, soul-animating, and refreshing nato met with that change by which I was brought to Those former delights never reached the heart; 22 those new dispositions and that new sense of things did not arise from any sight of the divine excelles that I have since had. The first time was when I was a of the things of God, or any taste of the soul-sat boy, some years before I went to college, at a time of fying and life-giving good there is in them.” remarkable awakening in my father's congregation. The eight months during which he remained I was then very much affected for many months, and New York, was a precious season to his soul. concerned about the things of religion and my soul's enjoyed almost uninterrupted peace of mind, at salvation, and was abundant in religious duties. I much intimate and sweet communion with God. He used to pray five times a-day in secret, and to spend pursued at great length, and with abundant prof: ts much time in religious conversations with other boys, his own soul, his favourite meditations on the exe and used to meet with them to pray together. I ex- lence of the divine character. It was his habit t perienced I know not what kind of delight in religion. retire for hours into solitary places, and give himseli My affections seemed to be lively and easily moved, up to such contemplations, carrying them often and I seemed to be in my element when engaged in great heights and depths, till his soul was humble religious duties. And I am ready to think, many are and, at the sametime, filled with holy joy. deceived with such affections and such kind of delight In the years 1722 and 1723 (the nineteenth art as I then had in religion, and mistake it for grace.” twentieth of his age), he drew out the seventy res.
Further on in the same record from which the lutions regarding his designs and intentions as to above is extracted, we find the following observa-self-government, so far as God should give him grac tions :-“ From my childhood up, my mind had been to perform them; which are well known to all who full of objections against the doctrine of God's sove have read his biography. Some of these resolution reignty in choosing whom he would to eternal life, are in many points of view remarkable, more este and rejecting whom he pleased—-leaving them eter- cially as being formed and expressed by one so young nally to perish, and be everlastingly tormented in They manifest a great reach of thought, a deep inhell. It used to appear a horrible doctrine to me. sight into revealed truth, mature growth in grace, an But I remember the time very well when I seemed entire dedication of himself to God, and an arden: to be convinced and fully satisfied as to this sove desire after an increase in holiness. They show how reignty of God, and his justice in thus eternally dis- clearly he perceived that conformity to God's will is posing of men according to his sovereign pleasure. the highest state of the creature, and how earnestly But I never could give an account how or by he longed after being made more and more conformwhat means I was thus convinced; not in the least able to it. Of these seventy resolutions, only one imagining at the time, nor for a long time after, that or two shall be quoted at present:-“Being sensible there was any extraordinary influence of God's that I am unable to do anything without God's help, Spirit in it. However, my mind rested in it; and it I do humbly entreat him, by his grace, to enable me put an end to all these cavils and objections. And to keep these resolutions, so far as they are agreeable there was a wonderful alteration in my mind, with to his will, for Christ's sake.-Resolved, that I will respect to the doctrine of God's sovereignty from do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of that day to this. Absolute sovereignty is what I love God and my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the to ascribe to God; but my first conviction was not whole of my duration; without any consideration of 80. After this my sense of divine things gradually the time, whether now or ever so many myriads of increased, and became more and more lively; and had ages hence. Resolved, to do whatever I think my more of inward sweetness. The appearance of every- duty, and most for the good and advantage of manthing was altered: there seemed to be a calm, sweet kind in general. Resolved so to do, whatever difficast or appearance of divine glory in almost every culties I meet with, how many soever and how great thing. God's excellency, his wisdom, his purity and soever. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, love, seemed to appear in everything: in the sun, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends moon, and stars—in the clouds and blue sky—in the to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can grass, flowers, trees--in the water, and all nature; possibly avoid it. Resolved, never to lose one mowhich used greatly to fix my mind. I often used to ment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable sit and view the moon for a long time; and in the way I possibly can. I frequently hear people in old day spent much time in viewing the clouds and sky, age say how they would live if they were to live their to behold the sweet glory of God in these things; in lives over again. Resolved, that I will live just so as the meantime singing forth, in a low voice, my con I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live templations of the Creator and Redeemer. And to old age.” scarcely anything, among all the works of nature, $In 1727, Edwards received a call to Northampton, was so sweet to me as thunder and lightning; for- in which place he faithfully laboured in the Gospel merly nothing had been so terrible to me. Prayer during the period of twenty-four years. For the de seemed to be natural to me, as the breath by which tails of his life and labours at Northampton, reference
POPISH FANATICISM-ITS CRUELTY.
must be made to more copious biographies. Only | dom of professing the faith which he had embraced, one or two particulars can be mentioned here. He he left Paris in company with Matthew Budé and applied himself with great assiduity to his studies, John Crespin, and went to lieneva, where he resided engaging in them twelve or thirteen hour's daily: Gales. Having removed to Strasburg in the begin
for some time in the house of his countryman, Pedro Being of a weakly habit of body, such intense appli- ning of the year 1546. his talents and suavity of man. cation was prevented from making fatal inroads upon ners recommended him so strongly to the celebrated his constitution only by the strictest attention to Bucer, that he prevailed on the Senate to join the method in exercise, diet, &c. It has passed into a Spanish stranger with hintself in a deputation which maxim, that nothing of worth can be accomplished they were about to send to a conference on the diswithout labour. The experience of every one confirms puted points of religion, to be held at Ratisbon. Op
going thither, Diaz met with his countryman, Pedro Scripture in this particular. His labours were greatly Malvenda, whom he had known at Paris, and was acknowledged and blessed by God, to the awakening now to confront as an antagonist at the conference. and conversion of many in Northampton. Symptoms To the pride and religious prejudices of his countryof a revival of religion for sometime manifested men, Malvenda added the rudeness of a doctor of the themselves, and in 1737 a great revival took place. Sorbonne and the insolence of a minion of the court. It extended over the whole town. Every class of taken place in his sentiments, he expressed the ut
When informed by Diaz of the change which had citizens was affected. Men talked of nothing but
most surprise and horror, saying, that the heretics their spiritual concerns. The salvation of their souls would boast more of making a convert of a single became, in their estimation, the one thing needful.” Spaniard than of ten thousand Germans. Having The Gospel triumphed. The work of grace went for-laboured in vain, at different interviews, to reclaim ward with prosperity. Many were brought to the him to the Catholic faith, he laid the matter before saving knowledge of the truth. It has been recorded, sultations they had; but a Spaniard named Mar
the emperor's confessor. It is not known what con" that upwards of fifty persons above forty years of quina, who had transactions with them, repaired age-ten above ninety-nearly thirty between ten soon after to Rome, and communicated the facts to and fourteen, and one of four, became, in the view of a brother of Diaz, Dr Alfonso, who had long held Mr Edwards, the subjects of the renewing grace of the office of advocate in the Sacred Rota. The pride God. More than three hundred persons appeared to and bigotry of Alfonso were inflamed to the highest become Christians in half a-year; about as many of and taking along with him a suspicious attendant, hé
degree by the intelligence of his brother's defection; them males as females.” The Lord's arm is not set out instantly for Germany, determined, in one shortened that it cannot save. For the details of way or other, to wipe off the infamy which had fallen this outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which are full of on the hitherto spotless honour of his family. In the interest, reference must be had to Edwards' own meantime, alarmed at some expressions of Malvenda,
and knowing the inveteracy with which the Spaniards account of it.
hated such of their countrymen as had become ProNor can we enter on the statement of the circum- testants, Bucer and the other friends of Juan Diaz stances which led to his retirement from Northamp- had prevailed upon him to retire for a season to Neuton in 1750; which was to him a very painful and burg, a small town in Bavaria situated on the Danube. severe trial—a dispensation of divine Providence very
On arriving at Ratisbon, Alfonso succeeded in disafflictive, but to which he resigned himself with truly covering the place of his brother's retreat, and
consulting with Malvenda, repaired to Neuburg, « Christian meekness. At Stockbridge, where he re By every art of persuasion, he sought during several
sided six years after his departure from Northampton, days to bring back his brother to the Church of he engaged in his studies with his usual diligence Rome. Disappointed in this, he altered his method and untiring delight, till he was chosen President of -professed that the arguments which he had heard New-Jersey College. He had scarcely entered upon
had shaken his confidence, and listened with apparent the duties of this new office, when he was carried explained to him the Protestant doctrines, and the
eagerness and satisfaction to his brother while he off by death. He died on the 22d of March 1758, passages of Scripture on which they rested." Finding in the fifty-fifth year of his age--full of peace and Juan delighted with this unexpected change, he prohumble resignation to the will of God, resting with posed that he should accompany him to Italy, where assured confidence upon Christ his Saviour. Our there was a greater field of usefulness in disseminaspace forbids us from saying anything of his works. ting the doctrines of the Gospel than in Germany, Nor is it needful. Their excellence is well known. labonrers. The guileless Juan promised to think
which was already provided with an abundance of He is the most acute of metaphysicians; one of the seriously on this proposal, which he submitted to the most cogent of reasoners; and, at the sametime, one judgment of his Protestant friends. They were unaof the most thoroughly practical of all divineg. nimously of opinion that he should reject it; and in
particular Ochino, who had lately tied from Italy, and was then at Augsburg, pointed out the danger and
hopeless nature of the project. Alfonso did not yet POPISH FANATICISM-ITS CRUELTY. desist. He insisted that his brother should accomA STORY OF THE REFORMATION.
pany him at least as far as Augsburg, promising to
acquiesce in the decision which Ochino should pro JOAN Díaz, a native of Cuenca, after he had studied nounce, after they had conversed with him on the for several years at Paris, was converted to the
Pro subject. His request appeared so reasonable that testant religion by the private instructions of Jayme Juan agreed to it; but he was prevented from going Enzinas. Being liberally educated, he had, pre- by the arrival of Bucer and two other friends, who, vionsly to that event, conceived a 'disgust at the having finished their business at Ratisbon, and fearscholastic theology, and made himself master of the ing that Juan Diaz might be induced to act contrary Hebrew language, that he might study the Bible in to their late advice, had agreed to pay him a visit. the original. With the view of enjoying the free Concealing the chagrin which he felt at this unex