The huge forces stirred up by the Reformation produced a situation which continued in the main unchanged till the beginning of the twentieth century. It was as if God arose to judgment to help all the meek upon earth. Harvest time had come. The Reformation is inseparable from the Evangelical revival and missionary activity which were its natural corollary. The spiritual and social upheaval, brought into being by the spark lighted at Wittenberg, took roughly two hundred years to settle down. The Christian church fought for the recognition of fundamental Christian doctrine and practice, and when she had won their recognition she set out upon her primary, long-forgotten task of carrying her rediscovered Gospel to the uttermost parts of the world. When we remember the great commission, the purpose for which the church is in the world, we shall make no mistake about the meaning of God's moving, as we have seen Him move, to bring about the revival of the sixteenth century. Its purpose was not social nor political. Its ultimate purpose was missionary. As the Holy Spirit strove with Martin Luther, He had in view the perishing millions of China, Africa or South America, and the great upheavals in national life which then took place throughout Europe were the preparation of a background from which the Gospel might be sent to the world. The Reformers rediscovered and formulated the Gospel for us, the missionaries of the Evangelical revival took that Gospel to those who needed it. For two hundred years, then, the Gospel was in preparing; for another two hundred the church enjoyed the opportunity of carrying it over the world.
In the present section we shall look first of all at the expansion of the true church during the four hundred years following the Reformation; we shall then describe and explain some of the political results of the Reformation, then we shall examine the secret of the power of Protestantism and the fundamental Protestant truths; afterwards we shall glance at the formation and mutual relationship of the various Protestant churches.
The starting-point of the Reformation; as we have seen, was the 31st of October 1517. Within a generation from this day the Gospel was known and accepted throughout north-western Europe. During the next four hundred years the nations that had accepted it rose to a position of freedom, culture and enlightenment, some of them becoming the most influential nations in the world. These social conditions have fluctuated markedly in proportion as they have remained true to the Gospel of the Reformation or have discarded or lost it. On the other hand, those nations which rejected the Gospel, among them being some of the most powerful in Europe at the time, either sank into insignifcance or passed through violent social upheavals. Another remarkable phenomenon is the harm done to Protestantism by those Protestants who, even under great provocation, took up arms in its cause, although they may have emerged victorious, and, in contrast, the great advances made by the Gospel as the result of the sufferings of the martyrs. From the time that Luther first became prominent at Wittenburg the Emperor Charles V spent his life until his abdication nearly forty years later in attempts to crush Protestantism. Every attempt resulted in a greater success for the cause he hated. He was foiled partly by the political constitution of the German states, many of which had independent sovereign rulers with whose internal jurisdiction the Emperor could not interfere. Thus, almost at once, the Elector of Saxony and the Landgrave of Hesse protected Luther and recognised the Gospel in their dominions. Gradually toleration came. The Diet of Spires, which met in 1529, is remarkable for the great protest of the reformed princes, from which the honourable name of Protestant is derived. At the instigation of the Romanist princes and bishops, the Diet had passed an enactment, granting toleration to the princes and states that had already accepted the reformed religion, but forbidding its existence outside their boundaries. This would have meant, as it was intended to mean, the disappearance of the reformed religion in a generation. The princes saw this, refused to accept it, and drew up their famous protest:
The year 1530 is noteworthy for the great Confession of Augsburg, drawn up by Luther's friend, the reformer Melanchthon, signed by seven princes and the representatives of two free towns, and read before the Emperor and assembled magnates at the Diet of Augsburg. It sets forth in a series of articles the Protestant doctrine of God, of salvation, justification by faith, and the Protestant view of the church and the sacraments. It is Lutheran, not Calvinistic, and formed the basis for many of the subsequent confessions of the Protestant churches. It is a restatement of the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith after their disappearance through generations except among a scattered and unrecognized remnant. In 1555, after fighting had taken place, an edict of full toleration and recognition was won at the Peace of Augsburg. The subsequent history of Protestantism in Germany is saddened by the occurrence of the terrible Thirty Years' War, 1618-48, which was, in the main, a war of religion. The Romanists, under the Emperor Maximilian, had almost won the whole of Germany, when the Protestant cause was saved by Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, who in 1630 invaded Germany and turned the tide of battle. The war ended in stalemate when the civilization of Germany had been almost wiped out and the country reduced to despair. Protestantism survived as the established religion in Prussia and several other states, but the deadness which descended during the eighteenth century on so many of the national churches overwhelmed the Lutheran church, and the contribution of Germany to the revival in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was small. The theology of her universities became corrupted by rationalism, and though this sort of theology was for the most part confined to Germany during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, it gave birth in the 'eighties of last century to the popular higher criticism which has so much crippled the Gospel throughout the world.
The second country which has had more influence on the course of Protestantism than any other is Switzerland. The two most influential centres were Zurich, where the Reformation was established in 1525 and led by Zwingli, and Geneva. At the latter place, Farel and other French Reformers had been preaching, but Geneva steps into prominence with the arrival in 1536 of John Calvin. Calvin laboured in Geneva until his death in 1564. In leadership, influence, spiritual and intellectual power he was Luther's equal. The theology set forth in his "Institutes," an exhaustive and penetrating exposition of scriptural doctrine, forms the basis of the confessions of many of the Protestant churches. Before 1530 the cities of Berne and Basle had also firmly embraced the reformed faith. The Swiss Reformers differed from Luther in their teaching upon the Lord's Supper. They followed the Scripture to the logical conclusion that the ordinance is no more than a memorial feast, while Luther maintained the compromise doctrine of "consubstantiation," teaching that at consecration the body and blood of Christ were added to the elements, which, however, were not themselves transformed. To the sorrow of the Swiss a meeting between Luther and Zwingli failed to result in any agreement. The Swiss Reformers, under the guidance of Scripture, returned to primitive Christian simplicity of worship, while Luther was never able quite to rid himself of a veneration for images. The Swiss churches did not share directly in the Evangelical revival, and after its brilliant beginnings the energy of the Reformation in Switzerland seems to have been directed into social and cultural channels.
In our own country the establishment of the Reformation has led to incalculable results for the welfare of the world. We have seen how the Greek Testament brought light to Bilney even before the German Reformation had begun. But there was one factor in the English Reformation which differed from that of all other countries. On the continent the Gospel first came and was followed by the break with the papacy. In England King Henry VIII took the opportunity of breaking with the papacy in 1534 over the question of his divorce and suppressed the monasteries in order to appropriate their revenues, but remained to his life's end a staunch adherent of Romanist doctrines. During the last half of his reign he was the only Anglo-catholic King who has yet ruled England. He burnt to death Protestants for their faith and Romanists for their adherence to the pope. Yet he made concessions. In 1538, only two years after the martyrdom of Tyndale, the translator of the New Testament, he had a copy of the English Bible placed in every church in the country. On his death in 1547 Edward VI, who appears to have been a truly converted child of God, ascended the throne and reigned for six years. This reign is notable for the two editions of the Book of Common Prayer, the first in 1549 being a compromise and more or less of an Anglo-Catholic complexion, the second in 1552 being truly scriptural and Protestant and still today the only legal prayer book of the Church of England. At this time Protestantism was not popular in the country as a whole outside London, owing to dislike of the regency of the King's uncles. It needed the martyrdoms of Mary Tudor's reign (1553-58) to establish Protestantism in the hearts of the English people. About three hundred persons were burnt alive under the Statute of 1401, including Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishops Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, and Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester, and numbers of humbler folk of both sexes. "Now will I no more pray for you than I would for a dog," said the bishop to a Christian lad of Colchester whom he had sentenced. Without hesitation the boy answered: "But I will pray for you, my lord." The result of this attempt on the part of the pope and the Queen to destroy the reformed faith in England was the opposite to that which was intended. The people welcomed Queen Elizabeth to the throne in November 1558, the second Prayer Book of Edward VI was restored and the Protestant Church of England established.
In the seventeenth century there came a partial reaction in the church led by the bigot Archbishop Laud and supported by King Charles I. Spiritual life left the church, to return only partially at the time of the Evangelical revival. The Church of England became temporarily a persecuting church, though there was, of course, no approach to the horrors of the Inquisition. However, imprisonment and the loss of ears were included in Laud's treatment of Christians. The Reformation was carried to its logical conclusion in the country among the Nonconformist sects of the Puritans, whose religious movement brought England under Oliver Cromwell to great heights of power and prestige. The Puritans have been misunderstood and maligned. We have been too ready to believe the testimony of their enemies. The best Puritans were men of deep spirituality and practical common sense. They were no more "kill-joys" than are Evangelical Christians of today, though they are often called so by their enemies because they refrain from worldly amusements. Some of the Puritans were mistaken in attempting to impose Christian standards upon the unconverted by the force of law or of arms, but they are not alone in this mistake, and they came nearer to success in making England in a tangible sense a Christian country than anyone else before or since. They had not yet caught the missionary vision, but God's time had not come. Their marvellous grasp of Christian doctrine and their knowledge of the Bible are well illustrated by John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, a book whose spiritual value has been universally recognised and has been the means of spiritual uplift and comfort to thousands. A typical Puritan preacher and writer was Richard Baxter of Kidderminster (1615-91). He was ordained by the Bishop of Worcester about 1640, but left the Church of England at the Restoration in 1660. He lived and preached at Acton thenceforward so far as the oppressive laws would allow, and in 1681 was brought up before Judge Jeffreys and kept in prison for eighteen months. He lived to see the dawn of toleration and the Protestant succession. He wrote over two hundred works, which fill twenty-three volumes in the edition of 1830, expository evangelistic and controversial. Here is an extract from his Call to the unconverted to turn and live:
If we contrast this beautiful scriptural appeal to the unsaved with the extract from Rolle, the fourteenth-century moralist (p. 87), we shall perceive at once the change from darkness to light brought about at the Reformation. The familiar ring of Baxter's words in our own ears today shows how faithfully our predecessors of the Evangelical revival have passed on to us the great truths of the Gospel rediscovered in the sixteenth century and beloved by the faithful in the days of Bunyan and Baxter.
The Restoration in 1660 of the immoral and licentious King Charles II brought a reaction against the Gospel in this country. The court was vicious and the country followed suit. Yet, in the national sense, the Church was Protestant, as is clearly shown by the failure of James II to re-establish Romanism and his deposition in 1688. The Protestant succession was assured by the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement passed during William and Mary's reign, but the dead hand of worldliness had settled down on the church. Outwardly it was a Protestant church, but it simply regarded itself as a branch of the civil service and a sort of bulwark of tradition and respectability in the country. Yet, at the close of the seventeenth century, the repressive laws against Nonconformists were repealed, and forty years later we may date the beginning of the Evangelical revival.
In Scotland the course of the Gospel was slower but encountered more severe difficulties. The first preacher was Patrick Hamilton, martyred in 1528 suffering for six hours at the stake owing to the dampness of the faggots; but, although the truth increased among the people, no substantial change took place till the days of John Knox, the apostle of Scotland, who came to the country in 1547 and spent henceforth much of his time there. He constantly prayed for the conversion of Scotland. No great spiritual revival took place till King James VI left Scotland to succeed to the throne of England, although the Scottish Kirk had been organised by Knox in the days of Mary Stuart. In the seventeenth century Archbishop Laud failed in an attempt to force bishops and the Prayer Book upon Scotland, but this attack on the country's liberties was renewed at the Restoration in 1660. The Presbyterians resisted, and a severe persecution ensued lasting twenty-eight years. The Christians were known as Covenanters because they had signed a manifesto known as the Solemn League and Covenant. They were outlawed, their worship forbidden, and all who were caught were executed. Even the use of torture was not unknown. The Covenanters, hunted from hill to hill, lived very near to God. Their faith and power in prayer were amazing. The miracles of Pentecostal days reappeared among them, and there is at least one story of a young man being raised from the dead after an old Covenanter had prayed for thirty-seven hours by his body.* Their first martyr was the saintly Marquis of Argyll, hanged in Edinburgh in 1661. In 1688 relief came with the accession of William and Mary, and the Presbyterian Church of Scotland was re-established.
* see J. Howie, The Scotts Worthies p. 293.
The district where the Gospel encountered the greatest opposition of all before its final triumph was the Low Countries, which were part of the dominion of Spain. The first preacher and martyr was Jacob Spreng of Antwerp, who appeared in 1519, not two years after the publication of the Wittenberg theses. The Inquisition was let loose upon the Christians with the most appalling barbarities, that cause the mind to reel and beggar description. Historians have estimated that between 1523 and 1556 there were from fifty thousand to a hundred thousand martyrdoms. The smaller figure is likely to be nearer the truth, but so great was the carnage that the whole social life of the country was strained and the Government was obliged to call a halt. The Dutch took their Protestantism, as did Scotland, from Geneva, and large crowds invaded churches and smashed altars and idols to pieces. The repressive measures continued until the nation took up arms under William, Prince of Orange, and after years of fighting and suffering the nation won its freedom from Spain. But the Dutch church seemed to lose its spirituality by the close of the seventeenth century.
In Scandinavia the Reformation was quickly established without persecution, the national churches being Lutheran. The Gospel made great headway in Poland, which for some time during the sixteenth century became a haven for the adherents of every religious view, there being complete toleration. But the country was won back to Rome by a deliberate Jesuit campaign, and subsequently lost its independence by partition between Russia, Austria and Germany. This was only restored at the conclusion of the last war. The recent sufferings of this country have probably been greater than they have ever been in the past. In Bohemia and Moravia the Jesuits obtained the expulsion of the Protestant pastors in the seventeenth century, and those districts lapsed to Romanism. In Spain and Italy the Inquisition succeeded in crushing the Gospel by the systematic massacre of all Christian people. In France Protestantism nearly took root. The Protestants, who were very powerful, made the mistake of taking up arms against the Government, and three fierce religious wars were fought. One of the outstanding atrocities was the murder, by order of the king, of all Protestants who could be found on the 23rd of August 1572, the eve of St. Bartholomew's day. The mutilated body of Admiral Coligny, the Protestant leader, was sent to Rome as a trophy, and the pope had a medal struck in honour of the massacre. In 1598 the Protestants won toleration in the famous Edict of Nantes. King Louis XIV at the instigation of the pope revoked the Edict in 1685, though its provisions had for long been disregarded. For some time, in fact, Protestants had been subjected to the visitations of the dragonnades: soldiers compulsorily billeted upon them, who occurred their homes, lived on their property, and outraged their women. Many Protestants escaped from France to England, many were imprisoned for life or condemned to the galleys. In the great prison fortress near Marseilles can still be seen the word "recistez" roughly carved in the stone, for the encouragement of her fellow-prisoners, by one of the Christian women imprisoned there for life.
During the troubles of the seventeenth century various companies of English Puritans found some respite by leaving their country and settling in America. These companies took the Gospel with them, and it was in the American settlements that the first fruits of the Gospel in social life and complete toleration began to be seen. The Protestantism carried by the settlers to America laid the foundation of the liberties of the United States, and American Christians have been, and are, some of the most spiritual-minded and active in the work of God.
In this country today, in spite of warning notes that are sounding ever more loudly from certain countries overseas, we take our religious liberty as a matter of course. It is not, however, a matter of course. Do we think of those who, under God, won it for us and the price they paid? Should we have paid a similar price? Do we think of the thousands who perished in the dungeons of the Inquisition? Do we remember the martyrs among our own countrymen, Tyndale, Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer, Hooper, who perished in the flames, that the light of truth should never go out? The Scotch Covenanters, harried from moor to moor, torn from their families, sold as slaves, have made us their debtors. So have the faithful Puritans who left us such a literature, nowadays neglected and unread, and in days when danger was still great, stood for truth and righteousness. "Their works do follow them." They follow to this day Countless men and women, ourselves among them, will be able to tell them that the suffering, the toil and the anguish were not in vain, but by God's grace produced a great harvest. And among the questions that they will wish to ask us will be whether we guarded the truth of the Gospel which they suffered so much to win, whether we kept ourselves from being beguiled by the subtleties of their foes and ours, whether we passed on that same Gospel to our children unsullied by the traditions of men, and whether we were willing to pay the price that they paid for Christ's sake and ours.
We have noticed that when the struggle with Rome was over, a kind of deadness settled down on the national churches. Our own country was no exception. During the eighteenth century the church was a state institution. The clergy cared chiefly for money. Preferment was what they sought after. Where they legally could, they held as many offices together as possible, in order to draw the emoluments. Rationalism and free thought were rampant. The reaction from the Puritanism of the mid-seventeenth century produced not only vice and worldliness but also infidelity. English rationalism was known as deism. It denied the Christian revelation. It reacted upon Germany, where it lay behind much of the rationalistic theology. In the eighteenth century infidelity increased in France, the most well-known figure with whom it was associated being Voltaire. It was this that constituted part of the driving-force behind the great revolution of 1789 and the succeeding years. Was the work of the Reformation to be undone?
God's answer was to produce in England and America the great Methodist and Evangelical revivals. In Oxford in 1729 John Wesley, rescued when a child only just in time from his father's burning house, founded with his brother Charles what was called the "Holy Club," a group of friends who studied the Scriptures and sought peace with God. Wesley was not converted till some time after he was ordained and had gone out under the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel as a missionary to American Indians. He determined to bring the Gospel back again to the people of England. Associated with him in his work were his brother Charles and his friend Whitefield. Wesley and Whitefield preached everywhere in the open air. The latter's favourite text was "Ye must be born again." When asked why he preached from it so often, he replied, "Because ye must be born again." The Methodist revival saved England from lapsing into infidelity or undergoing an upheaval such as the French Revolution. The revival met with contempt and opposition from the bishops and church authorities. Wesley did not intend to secede from the Church of England, but his followers were driven out and founded the various Methodist bodies, which some years ago were united in the single Methodist Church. The revival spread, however, rather later to the church, and as a result of it, a strong body of scriptural Evangelical Christians was formed within it. As so often in the days of revival the Spirit of God seemed to create an atmosphere in which it was natural for men to be converted. Many were brought to the Lord by themselves without any special appeal on the part of another. Thus there are instances of conversion through reading a devotional book, through the overhearing of a prayer, through dreams, through the words of a hymn, through a text displayed in a coach. Selina, Countess of Huntington, one of the great figures of the revival, was converted at an open-air meeting to which she stopped to listen. She maintained Wesley for many years as her chaplain and was in touch with all the Evangelical leaders of the day. Among these were Berridge, converted after being two years vicar of Everton, Bedfordshire, having been brought to realise the failure of his ministry by hearing what appeared to be a voice say, "Cease from thine own works"; Grimshaw, converted in 1739 shortly after Wesley; Henry Venn, vicar of Huddersfield; Romaine, the scholar; John Newton, a slave dealer and vicious man, converted on board ship, afterwards ordained; and Toplady, author of "Rock of Ages." An extract from John Wesley's Journal will illustrate the earnestness of their preaching and the power with which the Holy Spirit applied it to human hearts:
A shorter extract will show the power of Wesley's preaching and the extraordinary effect it had upon his hearers:
Up and down the country the people were aroused to a sense of sin and their need of personal salvation. Lady Huntingdon built chapels even in a fashionable resort such as Bath, and many great people, including the Prince of Wales and Horace Walpole, attended her meetings. Many scoffed, but others were gloriously converted, such as Lord Dartmouth and Lady Chesterfield. The Duchess of Marlborough asked indignantly if they really expected her to be saved like one of her own footmen. The bishops for the most part strenuously opposed the Gospel. "Church Methodism," said one, "is the disease of my Diocese: it shall be the business of my life to extirpate it." Mary Bosanquet, afterwards the wife of Fletcher, one of the Evangelical leaders, was turned out of her home when she was converted, and, after her husband's death, was refused communion by her husband's curate. Two or three generations elapsed before any Evangelical was appointed a bishop.
In the second generation there were two great leaders. William Wilberforce, converted in 1785, was author in 1797 of a book which at the time made a great impression, Practical View of the prevailing Religious System of professed Christians in the higher and middle classes, contrasted with real Christianity. His great work as Member of Parliament was the abolition of the slave trade, accomplished in 1807, the first fruit in the social sphere of the Evangelical revival. The second great leader was Charles Simeon, Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, and Vicar of Holy Trinity Church there for over fifty years. He introduced Evangelicalism into University life, and to his life and work the various University Christian Unions, now affiliated in the Inter-Varsity Fellowship, can be traced. Further social results of the revival were seen in the activities of Lord Shaftesbury, who was the author of the first Factory Acts, converted as a child through one of his nurses. We may also mention Hannah More, the foundress of Sunday Schools, who was once met with the remark, "The lower classes are born to be wicked"; and Mrs. Fry, the heroine of prison visiting.
Later came the great American revivals between 1825 and 1858 the last spreading to Ireland and England; the foundation of the Salvation Army by William Booth in 1865; and the inauguration of the Keswick Convention in 1875, as a result of the first visit to this country of D. L. Moody, the American Evangelist. Revival was by no means confined to the Church of England. Throughout the nineteenth century most Nonconformist churches shared it, and it is probable that in England and America alone more people were converted to God in the nineteenth century than in any other previous century throughout the whole world. A story from C. G. Finney's Memoirs will illustrate the remarkable scenes that took place during the American revival:
"A remarkable feature of the Evangelical revival was the outburst of praise, expressed in hundreds of hymns written by its leaders and poets. The hymns that we are accustomed to sing in church today date with few exceptions from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The Evangelicals were the first to introduce hymns as a regular feature of worship in the Church of England, just as they were the first to introduce communion services at eight o'clock in the morning, in order to provide an opportunity for the growing number of converts to come. Charles Wesley wrote many hymns, of which some of the best known are "Christ, Whose glory fills the skies?" "Hark! the herald angels sing," "Ye servants of God," "O for a heart to praise my God," " Jesu, Lover of my soul," "Oh for a thousand tongues to sing," "Love Divine, all love excelling," "Soldiers of Christ, arise," "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild," "Come, Thou long-expected Jesus." These were mostly written between 1737 and 1750. A faithful figure who bore witness for God in the dark days before the revival came, and forms a sort of connecting link between the Puritans of the seventeenth century and the Methodists of the eighteenth, was the Congregationalism minister Isaac Watts. He was the author of a large number of hymns, many of which are now unknown. Others are among the most familiar, such as "Before Jehovah's awful Throne," "O God, our help in ages past," "Jesus shall reign where'er the sun," "There is a land of pure delight," "Not all the blood of beasts," "When I survey the wondrous," "Come, let us join our cheerful songs." These were written between 1707 and 1719. They are echoes of the age of John Bunyan and Richard Baxter. The greatest poet of the revival was William Cowper of Olney. He wrote, "Jesus, where'er Thy people meet," "There is a fountain filled with Blood," "Oh for a closer walk with God," "God moves in a mysterious way," "Hark! my soul it is the Lord" "Sometimes a light surprises." These were written between 1768 and 1779. Besides "Rock of Ages" A. M. Toplady wrote "Inspirer and Hearer of prayer" (1774-75). About the same time John Newton wrote "How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds," "Glorious things of thee are spoken," "Why should I fear the darkest hour," There were many minor hymn writers of the revival. The tradition was carried on in the nineteenth century by Bishop Heber, who wrote "Holy, holy, holy"; H. F. Lyte, author of "Abide with me"; Mrs. Alexander, a prolific hymn writer, whose best known is perhaps "There is a green hill far away"; and, later still, by Bishop Christopher Wordsworth, Horatio Bonar and Frances Ridley Havergal.
It was the Evangelical revival of the eighteenth century that was the means used by God to turn the mind of the church to the perishing millions who had waited in vain for generation after generation for the Gospel light which had never come. Some of the American colonists preached the Gospel to the Indians, but the first systematic missionary efforts were made by the Moravian Brethren, founded in 1727 by Count Zinzendorf at Dresden. In a short time they established mission stations in widely distant parts of the world. In England, when the work of the revival had become established, the great missionary societies were formed all within a few years of each other: the Baptist Missionary Society in 1792; the London Missionary Society in 1795; the Wesleyan in 1796; the Church Missionary Society in 1799; and the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1804. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge had been founded about a hundred years previously, but seem to have made comparatively little advance. The hero of the B.M.S. was William Carey, a shoemaker of Leicester, who went out to India and did valuable translation as well as evangelistic work. The first to offer to the C.M.S. was Henry Martyn, Senior Wrangler at Cambridge, one of Charles Simeon's curates, who left behind him his fiancee, whom he never saw again, and went to India. No English boat would carry missionaries, and Martyn had to go in the capacity of chaplain to the East India Company. He was able to work among the Indians, however, and was the means of leading at least three notable converts to Christ. He died, seven years after he left England, in Asia Minor on his way home by land. In its earliest years the C.M.S. had money but few recruits, and it was long before any advance was made. The early missionaries had no furlough and lived and died at their posts. In these days of quick transport, regular furlough, sound medical care and attention, how much less does it seem that the sacrifice must be than was demanded of the pioneers! The L.M.S. first sent missionaries to the South Sea Islands, while the C.M.S. and the B.M.S. went to India. Their work was opposed by the British Government, and it was some time before they received recognition. In 1812 the B.M.S. went to Ceylon, and in 1813 to Jamaica, where the Moravians had been carrying on work since 1754. The C.M.S. were at first at Tinnevelly in southern India and worked up the country to the north, reaching Amritsar in the Punjab in 1850. Both the C.M.S. and the B.M.S. sent workers to the west African coasts, the latter as early as 1795, this district having aroused special interest owing to the slave trade. The B.M.S. evangelized the Congo region, while in 1841 the C.M.S. advanced up the Niger. In 1875 the C.M.S. started the wonderful work in Uganda, which, after the martyrdom of Bishop Hannington, resulted within almost a generation in the conversion of the king and the recognition of Christianity in the country. The first missionary to China since Nestorian days had been Robert Morrison, who went there in the service of the East India Company, and died in 1834 knowing of only three converts. After 1840 China became open to mission work proper, and both the C.M.S. and the B.M.S. went in. About 1850 the Gospel reached the northern districts of Canada, while between 1860 and 1870 Japan opened to the Gospel. American missionaries were the first to enter, and the C.M.S. followed about 1868. By this time the Gospel had encircled the world. Some countries remained closed, as one or two do today, and an immense number of individuals have as yet had no chance to hear the good news of salvation. The work was carried on at first in the face of opposition from authorities in church and state, among many difficulties and at great sacrifice. Yet the advance made during the nineteenth century was phenomenal. Towards the close of the century many smaller societies dealing with particular localities came into being as the conscience of Christian people awoke more and more to the need of obedience to the Lord's command. Among all the missionary effort of the nineteenth century there is one phenomenon that is perhaps the most striking of all. The prophet Isaiah mentions the Chinese by name in connection with the Gospel (xlix. 12) and thus it seems almost in direct fulfillment of prophecy that the China Inland Mission was called into being by God through Hudson Taylor in 1863. Its story is one of heroism and sacrifice, not, as in former days, forced upon those who embarked on it by persecution, but voluntarily undertaken at the Master's call in love for those in need. The first party to sail for China, in 1866, including women and children, travelled in a sailing-ship and were nearly overwhelmed in two cyclones through which they passed. The journey occupied some four months. Often during the mission's history its missionaries have been in great danger from natural disturbances, or from the hostility of soldiers, rioters and latterly Communists, notably during the Boxer riots of 1900, when all foreigners were obliged to travel from the interior to the coast under circumstances of hardship and peril. Several missionaries lost their lives. "They wandered about," not indeed in "sheepskins and goatskins,"but often in disguise, hiding in barns and travelling by night, hungry and weary, "of whom the world was not worthy."
Every activity of the mission has been undertaken in dependence upon God and in believing prayer. Money is asked for only from God. The result has been that the needs of every missionary and member of the mission have been supplied since the mission was founded. When the exchange became adverse the income rose in proportion and fell again when the exchange improved. Thousands of Chinese are rejoicing in salvation and thousands more have heard the Gospel or come in contact with it. Today there is witness in every province of China, although of course vast districts in some of the provinces are untouched, and there are still only spots of light in a wide area of darkness. And so we see the fruit of the spiritual anguish of the Wittenberg monk, of the heart-searchings in the library at Trinity Hall, of the overwhelming anguish of the fires at Oxford and Smithfield. The river of life spread to one European country after another, received eagerly by peoples parched after generations of drought. Dammed up in one country, it broke out with all the more strength in the next. When it had established itself in sufficient force, it passed on through channels of self-sacrifice, love and obedience to India, Africa, the West Indies, northern Canada, China, Japan, while, with the coming of freedom to do so, Christian missions and churches were established in the Romanist countries of Europe. In the course of this wonderful four-centuries revival we may observe one significant omission. The Reformation reached Poland in force (though it was afterwards destroyed by the Jesuits), and Bohemia; but it went no further east. The Turks barred its way to the south-east, but to the north-east was a large country, wrapped in the darkness of the eastern Greek church. No ray of Gospel light penetrated to this region. It had not received the true Gospel when it was first christianized. It did not come under the influence of the Reformation. In the eighteenth century when Mennonites and Lutherans reached it, their message did not affect the Government or its general social life. That country was Russia.
We now turn to look at another side of the Reformers' work, the results of their message in the political sphere. This aspect raises questions today. There are those who think that the Reformers should have concentrated entirely on doctrinal matters and left political ones alone. Moreover, certain situations that arose as a result of this side of the activities of the Reformation created difficulties for the Reformers. It is perfectly true that, scripturally and ideally, the church is the whole company of believers gathered out from, and independent of, all peoples, nations and tongues. The purpose of its existence is to preach the Gospel and win souls, not to usurp the place of the state in governing the world. But the Reformers were realists as well as idealists. The historical facts are that in each country in which the Government was won over to an external recognition or establishment of the true faith, the Gospel prospered, many souls were won in that country, and in some cases the church so established became the channel of missionary blessing to distant heathen parts. On the other hand; wherever the Gospel was opposed and refused by the Government, it did not make its way among the peoples. Even in France, where it struggled long for recognition, the outcome of the struggle depended upon the attitude of the Government. The Reformers were not alive to every aspect of the question, but the Holy Spirit Who guided them was. Their eyes were not opened to the full scriptural position of the church in relationship with the state, because at the time the attempt to strive after such a position would have wrecked the great revival which they were the means of carrying out.
The reason for their attitude and the line which they took lies in the history of the previous thousand years. We have seen the mistake that the church made in the fourth century, and the logical result of it, which was that the church became a sort of super-state, concerned with temporal government, claiming, through the one man whom she recognised as her head, powers of rulership over all the Governments of the world. One result of this attitude naturally was that Governments were vitally concerned with religion. The time had not arrived when the preservation of freedom of conscience came to be considered as the governmental ideal. The Government considered the religion that it recognised to be binding upon all its subjects as part of their allegiance to the state. The Reformers were brought up in this position and accepted it. It did not occur to them to attempt to alter it. They were therefore concerned with two things: first, to reform the recognised religion from abuses and see to it that it was scriptural; and secondly, to rescue the civil government from the pope. If there had ever been an opportunity to ask the state for recognition without establishment, it had gone by twelve hundred years before. As it was, the only possible way in which to protect the Gospel and ensure its dissemination was to set the civil government in opposition to the pope, and place it in the position of guardian of the faith. The Governments which had felt the papal yoke an intolerable burden were glad to take the opportunity of throwing it off. Then again, the Reformers emphasized what was quite correct, that the truths they taught were not new, but the primitive scriptural Christian faith, which had been corrupted and distorted by tradition and accommodation for centuries. They also saw, though not readily, that the pope was identified, not, as Luther at least at first expected him to be, with the true religion which they taught, but with the corruption of it. They therefore rightly and logically rejected and denounced the whole papal and mediaeval system. The Reformers believed that the scriptural faith was one, and that obedience to the Scriptures was binding upon all men, nationally as well as individually. They did not stand for freedom of conscience. They held that no man had a right to false beliefs, and that it was the duty of the civil power as the instrument of God to suppress it. Before we condemn them, we must remember two things: first, that if the Governments had not protected the Gospel, if before the Gospel was established anyone had been allowed to broadcast any creed, it is likely that the Gospel would have gone under amid the babel of tongues, and the pope would have come once again into his own if only on the ground that he provided stability. Secondly, we must remember that, though the Reformers did not realise it, there lay within their Gospel all the potentialities of spiritual and social freedom, which developed as the light spread and the Gospel took hold of the hearts of men.
Luther, Melanchthon and the other Reformers therefore acted, not only as prophets, evangelists, preachers and teachers of the Word, but as advisers in ecclesiastical matters to the princes who had accepted the Reformation. They worked out a theory, which was perfectly consistent with the Scriptures, to explain theologically the attitude they took. They regarded church and state as one, just as the Old Testament Israel was the people of God. Yet there were really two churches: the outward visible church, which was indeed a reality in the sense that it was recognised by God, Who, for example, might bless a nation with temporal blessings owing to the existence of the visible church within it. The outward church implied national recognition of God. But the Reformers did not confound the visible church with the true. Within the visible church of professors was the invisible church of the elect, consisting of the whole company of faithful people, those truly born again and justified, known to God, if invisible to men. Calvin taught that it was not necessary for the true church at any given time or place to be visible at all, and that in any visible church members of the invisible church might be found, "yea, even among the papists." The Reformers therefore occupied in this respect a position midway, as we shall see, between the Romanist position and that of the Baptist churches, known at the time as Anabaptists. The Romanists identify the visible church with the true, but do not teach that every member of the church, though he is a member of the true church, will be finally saved. The Baptists taught that there was only one church, as the Romanists do, but that the true church is the invisible church. They did not recognise the existence of the visible church, teaching that its members stood in a relationship to God no different from that of the heathen. Naturally, therefore, they did not baptise infants, but baptised those of responsible years as an outward sign of the true faith which they professed to have and which rendered them members of the true and only existing church. Many Evangelicals today will consider this last view of the church to be the right one. Yet we must remember that, though it might be difficult to find in Scripture any recognition by God of a visible church as opposed to the true, the New Testament often foretells and assumes the existence of a large body of unconverted professors who would attach themselves to the true church. All down Christian history this body of unconverted professors has as a fact existed. Since the Reformation, where the visible church has professed the true Gospel, its existence has been accompanied with social advancement and freedom for soul-winning in those countries where it has been established.
If the recognition of the visible church and its establishment in the various countries was for the time being necessary and was in God's hands a means of the ultimate spread of the Gospel, it is obvious that there were evils to which it could lead and to which, in fact, it sometimes did lead. In the matter of doctrine the line was not, as a rule, too narrowly drawn. In our own country the settlement under Queen Elizabeth was intended to be sufficiently comprehensive to include everyone, even Romanists. The articles of religion, which definitely set forth the doctrinal position of the church, were not intended to be subscribed by laymen but only by the ordained ministry. People were required by law to attend the parish churches and hear the Gospel. If it were possible always to ensure a supply of parish clergymen who knew and could preach the Gospel, such a regulation has much to commend it. And it must be said that the formularies of the Prayer Book and the requirements of the church as to ordination show that the utmost care was intended to be taken that there should be such a supply. The trouble is that these requirements have been commonly neglected. But obviously the established churches came directly in contact with those Christians who held different views on matters of church order from those recognised by the establishment, or, above all, who could not reconcile their consciences with the fact of an establishment at all. It would have been possible to allow these people to believe and worship as they thought right. They would have repaid kindly treatment by friendliness, and many of them would have been won for the establishment. In Poland there seems to have been complete freedom and toleration, and the country was happy and quiet. Instead, however, the Protestant establishments almost everywhere resorted to repressive measures. Queen Elizabeth imprisoned the Brownists, Independents and Anabaptists. Later she gave this up and banished them, and they found a refuge in Holland. At Zurich under Zwingli many Anabaptists were executed, often by drowning. At Geneva there took place the horrible tragedy of what has been termed "the one Protestant stake. The description is, alas! not quite true, for in England there were a very few sectaries burnt alive as late as the reign of James I. The Geneva case was doctrinal. Servetus, a Spaniard, the leader of what seems to have been a Unitarian sect, was condemned to death by the Council for heresy. John Calvin was required by law to examine Servetus' teaching, to pronounce on the question of its heresy, and to dispute with the writer. Calvin approved of the sentence of death, but begged the Council that it might be by beheading instead of by fire, but they refused to comply. Romanist propaganda today shamelessly asserts, even in supposedly responsible publications such as the (Roman) Catholic Encyclopedia, that Protestant persecution was equal in severity and scope to the Romanist, or even more severe. When we remember the dungeons and torture-chamber of the Inquisition, such statements make us smile. To take our own country alone, the fact is that, since the death of Henry VIII, not a single Romanist has been put to death in England for his religion. During the last thirty-three years of Queen Elizabeth's reign two hundred and ten Romanists were executed or died in prison, not because they were Romanists, but on the ground that they were engaged in helping to carry out the pope's orders to assassinate the Queen. The pope's very words are extant today, in which he states that anyone murdering Queen Elizabeth not only does not commit sin but actually gains merit. In less than three years during Mary Tudor's reign two hundred and eighty Christians were burnt alive simply because they were Christians. No question arose of disloyalty to the state. There is ample proof that Queen Elizabeth did not put Romanists to death for their religion in the fact that she placed in command of the fleet that met and defeated the Armada Lord Howard of Bingham, a Roman Catholic. During the time that the monstrous Torquemada was directing the Inquisition in Spain an average of one person in every two and a half days was burnt alive after undergoing the hideous brutalities that we have described in a previous section. Fortunately statistics are available for any who prefer evidence to propaganda. Add to this the fact that the early Protestants owed their theories of persecution, as well as the very laws under which they were carried out, to the Romanism in which they had been brought up, while the advance of the Reformation Gospel carried Protestants further and further out of mediaeval darkness and customs. There is no Protestant church today that does not deplore any persecution of which her early members may have been guilty, while the Romish church looks longingly back to the days when she had the power to burn and torture, and forward to the opportunity when she will be able to put these practices into force again. Her only difficulty is in explaining to minds enlightened by the Protestant Gospel the barbarities of which she has been guilty in the past.
We may readily admit that the eyes of the first generation of Reformers were not opened to the implications of the Gospel that they had rediscovered. We may be puzzled by inconsistencies in their policy. But we see that, in the providence of God, the establishment of the true faith as the recognised religion of so many countries produced a background for the advance of the Gospel.
Further dangers, of course, arose in the eighteenth century when in most of the established churches spirituality disappeared. The churches forgot that they were organizations of Christian people for the purpose of evangelistic witness, and became branches of state service, occupied with the financial and legal aspect of their position. They became little more than an instrument in the state's hands for administering the religion which the state favoured, regarded as a means of preserving order and tradition. In spite of these evils, however, the background of Christian consciousness which the establishment of religion has created has meant the moral uplift of the nations and has made evangelisation easier because the fundamentals of Christianity were intellectually assumed to be true.
We must now turn to look at the doctrines of the Reformers and assure ourselves of the source of their power. The truth brought to light at the Reformation may be summed up in two propositions. The first is that the Bible and the Bible alone is the source of all doctrine and the only guide to all practice. The second is that the mediaeval system with the papacy at its head is not only not the true church, but satanic in every aspect. The Reformation was the movement of the open Book. The church of Rome believed theoretically in the inspiration and authority of Scripture, but she qualified this belief by another which made it of no practical value. "Tradition" was of equal authority, and by tradition she meant the interpretation put upon the Bible by her own divines and the doctrines added on to Scripture during the course of centuries. By the decree of 1229, as we have seen, she refused the layman access to the Bible. He was not to be allowed to judge for himself whether his priest's teaching and interpretation was or was not in conformity with its statements. The underlying principle of the Reformation was that every man had the right of access to the Bible and the right of interpretation. He was not to be dependent on a priesthood for his spiritual food. The Reformers indeed believed that a trained and consecrated ministry was useful or necessary for the exposition of Scripture, and in this they were simply following the Scriptures themselves (see Eph. iv. 11, 12). Their persecution, in the first generation, of Anabaptists and other sectaries was an unconscious betrayal of the principle on which they rightly founded their belief, but we have seen that it did not take long for that principle to work itself out to its logical conclusion. The persecutions of the Presbyterians in Scotland and of the Nonconformists in England during the seventeenth century were carried on by men who had drifted out of the main stream of Protestant light and truth. Yet, so strong was the principle of respect for the individual conscience set free at the Reformation, that in England the worldly church of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries had neither the means nor the wish to imprison or execute Nonconformists, but did no more than treat them with disdain and bitterness. In other words, the persecution of Christians became social and ceased to be political.
The Reformers' first care was to see that in every country that accepted the Reformation the Bible was translated into the vernacular and made accessible to all. Thus the reading and teaching of the Bible became the means of the conversion of thousands. Luther, as we have seen, employed his time in the Wartburg in 1522 in translating the Bible into German. The first translator of the New Testament into English was William Tyndale, who devoted his life to this work, and was obliged to carry it out in Germany and the Low Countries. He was finally martyred in Belgium on the 6th of October 1536. Several versions followed during the sixteenth century, and finally in 1611 came the great standard Authorised Version, still based to a considerable extent on Tyndale's work. Here is part of the third chapter of John's Gospel in Tyndale's version:
The great principle of access to the Bible brought with it far-reaching results in the social sphere. It is not the main purpose of the Bible to bring these about. Its object is to show sinners their way back to God by the atoning sacrifice of Christ. Social results are a by-product, and constitute a useful piece of evidence of its value. If a man and woman who are drunkards are converted, their house becomes clean and tidy and the outward circumstances of their lives rapidly alter. They were not led to Christ that this might be the case. They were led to Christ for salvation from sin and from God's judgment upon it in the world to come. The change in outward circumstances is evidence of the reality of conversion. This is what took place nationally on a large scale at the Reformation. Slowly the scope of education began to widen. People learned to read in order to study the Bible. The setting free of thought and the rise of education and knowledge began to banish mediaeval superstition. The high moral principles enshrined in the Bible began to take root in men's minds. In early days this was partly counteracted by the sense of freedom from restraint that arose from the throwing off of mediaeval shackles. The Elizabethan age in England, for instance, was a bold age of high adventure and strong language, vivid imagination and intellectual and emotional riot. These characteristics, however, were not the result of the Reformation but of the Renaissance which preceded it, and were due to the same causes as produced the paganism of the papal court and Italian cities at the end of the fifteenth century. And what a modification we may discern! Elizabethan England may have been bold and vicious. It was virtuous compared with the Rome of the Borgias, where hideous vices reached excesses that would be incredible were it not for the records of the facts. The reason was that in England the bold paganism of the Renaissance was arrested by the spreading knowledge of the open Bible. Later, the Puritans completed what the Reformers and translators had begun. And so, for four hundred years following the Reformation, the countries that knew and owned the open Bible became the progressive countries of the world: America, the British Commonwealth, Denmark, Holland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany partially. Education and enlightenment increased. On the other hand, France; whose Government after a long struggle rejected the truth, passed through violence, despotism and defeat into rationalism, having risen morally little above the standard of the middle ages; while Spain, under Rome and the Inquisition, remained in ignorance and darkness, still prevalent with manifest results today, and sank to the position of a third-rate power. We have not to go so far afield to find an example of the superstition in which the dominance of the Romish priesthood keeps a people. An Irishman was recently converted from Romanism at a Protestant meeting. His priest had told him that if he attended the meeting his legs would become paralysed. Several times during the meeting he pinched his legs to see if the threat was being fulfilled. He was also genuinely afraid of another statement of his priest, which was that he would be changed into a donkey.
With the Bible itself the Gospel of the bible came back to the church at the time of the Reformation. Of the two great leaders, Luther was responsible for the fundamental doctrine of justification by faith and Calvin for its complement, the sovereignty of God. One of the earliest documents in which a Protestant confession was publicly drawn up was, as we have already noticed, the Confession of Augsburg, compiled for the Diet of Augsburg in 1530. Swiss confessions were also drawn up in 1523, 1532, 1536 and 1566. Two of the fullest and most lucid and scriptural of all Protestant confessions are the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England and the Westminster Confession of the Presbyterian churches, the latter compiled at Westminster at a meeting of Scottish and English Presbyterians in 1647. The Thirty-Nine Articles were completed in 1571 after they had undergone unsubstantial modifications from their first publication as Forty-Two Articles in 1553 and as Thirty- Eight in 1563. Let us follow the great theme of justification by faith through the Protestant confessions. Here it is in the Augsburg Confession of 1530:
The same teaching occurs in the Wurttemburg Confession of 1552:
Here is the doctrine of justification as expressed in the document known as the First Helvetic Confession, drawn up in 1536 under the influence of Bucer and Capito, reformed theologians of Strassburg, who were trying to reconcile Luther's teaching and that of Zwingli:
The Second Helvetic Confession was drawn up by Bullinger in 1566 and was influenced by both Zwingli and Calvin. Its teaching on justification is as follows:
Here is Article XI of the Articles of the Church of England:
The Homily referred to is that on justification in the now neglected book of Church of England Homilies, and sets forth clearly the Protestant doctrine.
Lastly, here is the statement of the Westminster Confession:
It is very important to realise that the Articles of the Church of England form one of a series of several Protestant confessions that were being drawn up at the time, that they are connected with, and dependent upon, the others, and that, apart from the overwhelming evidence of Protestantism in the Prayer-Book, they set the Church of England in her place among the Protestant churches with a doctrine that is Calvinistic rather than Lutheran. In view of the statements of the Tractarians, which we shall mention later, and the pretensions of the Anglo-Romanists, it is very important to understand the history of the Thirty-Nine Articles. Those statements are easily refuted by those who know the history of the foundation of the church, but have gained wide currency owing to widespread ignorance.
An important factor that shaped the emphasis and wording of the later Protestant confessions, including the Articles of our own church, was the promulgation of the decrees of the Council of Trent. This Council met in three sessions from 1545 to 1547 from 1551 to 1553 and from 1562 to 1564. It covered the whole range of doctrine and order that were in dispute at the time, and drew up and defined the Romanist attitude and teaching in a long series of canons, each of which ended with an anathema on those who did not conform. The Council of Trent constitutes the basis of the doctrine of the modern Roman church. Points which were in dispute during the middle ages were defined and made binding by the Council of Trent. This has not prevented the Roman church from promulgating additional binding dogmas in quite modern times and pretending that they represent what she has always taught and believed, although in some cases the teaching embodied in them has been contradicted by some of her most prominent theologians in the past.
The Council of Trent and those drawing up the Protestant confessions kept an eye on each other, and sometimes deliberately answered each other. The Council, for instance, at one of its earlier sessions, was dealing with the power of the priest to absolve sins. It declared that he enjoyed authority to do so by virtue of his office, and that should anyone deny this and say that the priest had only authority to declare and pronounce (declarare et pronuntiare) the forgiveness of sins in God's Name, let him be anathema. The reply of the Church of England was to compel by her rubrics every one of her clergymen, when reading service, to assert twice daily, "Who giveth power and commandment to His ministers to declare and pronounce to His people, being penitent, the absolution and remission of their sins." Nothing could be more definite than this holy defiance of the enemy. Again, the earlier Latin draft of our Article XXXI had stated, "The sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said, that the priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were fables and dangerous deceits." In 1562 the Council of Trent anathematized the denial of the mass as blasphemous. The Church of England immediately added to her Article in 1563 the word "blasphema” and the Article has ever since run, "The sacrifices of Masses .... were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits."
The difference between Luther and the Swiss Reformers on the significance of the Holy Communion was continued in the churches that followed them. Archbishop Cranmer was Calvinistic in this respect, and the doctrine of the Church of England follows him. In the seventeenth century there was a reaction from the Calvinistic view of divine election, brought about by the teachings of the Dutch theologian Arminius who died in 1607. He emphasized human responsibility. This controversy was of course older than the Reformation. It had been brought to a head early in the fourteenth century by Duns Scotus the Franciscan, who took a semi-Pelagian view, somewhat like the views which were later to be those of Arminius. He contradicted Thomas Aquinas the Dominican, who took the Augustinian view, resembling the views later associated with Calvin. Arminius was excommunicated by the Dutch church, but the controversy over free will and election continued among Protestants. It broke out rather acutely in England at the time of the Evangelical revival, Wesley and the Methodists being Arminian, most of the Evangelicals in the Church of England being Calvinistic. Charles Simeon sensibly believed in both responsibility and election. He is followed by most Evangelicals today and their position is well summed up by the great Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon of a generation ago, who declared that when he was praying he believed in election, and when he was preaching he believed in free will.
Since the very beginning the Protestant churches have been divided into three main divisions, which remain in being today, and have given birth to various subdivisions. A taunt levelled by Romish propaganda today against Protestantism is that it is hopelessly divided into sects. Which church, it is asked, is the true church? The Protestant belief about the true church, which identifies it with no visible church, is of course a sufficient answer. While it is true that the churches have on the whole shown too sectarian a spirit towards each other, the division is a blessing. The church was never so corrupt as when it was outwardly a unity. The division of the churches provides a safeguard against error and a means of preserving balance.
The first division is Lutheran. Martin Luther, the great pioneer of freedom and truth, did not go as far as other Reformers in his doctrine of the Lord's Supper, and retained a certain mediaeval ornateness in worship. The Lutheran churches contain statues, altars and candles. This fact makes no difference to their essential Protestantism. The national Protestant church of Prussia is Lutheran, as also those of the three Scandinavian countries. The Lutheran churches retained an episcopal system, and in this respect the Church of England followed them, and in certain externals must be classed with them. Some of the Methodist bodies, notably those in America, which broke off from the Church of England at the time of the Methodist revival, have also retained episcopacy. The retention of episcopacy was a source of deep division and has remained so. Evangelicals today do well to regard the matter as indifferent. The bishops of the first generation in the Church of England, some of whom were martyrs, proved magnificent and devoted leaders, and no doubt their leadership and stand for truth had much to do with the retention of episcopacy by the English church. After that, the bishops became worldly and occupied with politics. Archbishop Laud and his colleagues did what they could to ruin the church while professing enthusiastic loyalty to it. In the nineteenth century a few spiritually-minded Evangelical bishops, such as Bishops Ryle, Handley Moule, Knox and Crevasse, showed what a blessing bishops can be when they are converted men. The rise of the Anglo-Romanist party today might have been seriously handicapped if the church had discarded episcopacy at the Reformation. Speaking as a whole, apart from the Reforming bishops and the nineteenth- century Evangelicals, the weight of the bishops has been thrown against the Gospel.
The second great division of the Protestant churches consists of those which take their model from Geneva. Their emphasis may be said to be laid on Presbyterianism and predestination. They threw off episcopacy, regarding it as a part of the mediaeval system, and have thus made it difficult for their churches to become involved in controversy about apostolic succession or to become the prey of any parasitical Anglo-Romanist party. All their confessions emphasized Calvin's doctrine of the sovereignty of God. In this division are the Swiss Protestant churches, the churches of Holland and Scotland, the Waldensian church, and the Presbyterian churches of America. Their Christianity has, on the whole, tended to be of a severe type. The Independent churches, more recently called Congreatonal, may be said to fall into this type, though they differ from the Presbyterians in the matter of church government.
The third great section into which Protestantism may be said to fall is that of the Baptist churches, in which we may include a body that during the last hundred years has become prominent in England and elsewhere, the Brethren. The Baptists really antedate the Reformation. They descend from the Cathari, Albigenses, Bogomils, and ultimately the Paulicians. They were persecuted with fury and bitterness during the middle ages, as we have seen. At the Reformation they took advantage of the establishment of Protestantism, but for some generations the advantage was not very great. Three of them had an interview with Luther, who would not associate with them because they pretended to visions and revelations of their own which were complementary to the Word of God. At the time they were known as Anabaptists, "ana-"' having the force of "again," because they denied infant baptism. Those converted to their tenets were therefore regarded by the orthodox as having been rebaptized. There seems to have been a variety of opinions among the Anabaptists. They were agreed in disowning any connection between the church and the state, and persisted in their belief that the true church was entered spiritually by faith. In this belief they were perfectly scriptural. After the Reformation they increased greatly in Holland and Germany. At one time some of their number ran amok and ruled the town of Munster in extravagant disorder, pretending that their government was the kingdom of God. The persecution of the Anabaptists by the Protestant states is a blot upon the early history of the latter. They were usually people of simple piety, well instructed in the Scriptures and showing a high moral standard of living. Slowly toleration came to them. The Baptist churches came to be recognised as an integral and important section of Protestantism. Akin to them in certain respect: were the Quakers, who first appeared in England in the seventeenth century under the leadership of George Fox. They denied the use of both ordinances and emphasized the ministry of women. They refused military service and the taking of oaths. Their sincerity and godliness, which carried on the tradition of the Cathari and Albigenses, brought respect and recognition.
On the continent the great Baptist church of the Menonites was founded in the sixteenth century by Simon Menno. Protected by one of the small German rulers, the church spread to Holland and Prussia, and at the close of the eighteenth century migrated almost en masse to Russia, where the Empress Catherine II offered it land. The Mennonites became wealthy in Russia and declined somewhat from their high spiritual standard, but were the means of introducing the Gospel into parts of Russia. Little evangelisation, however, seems to have been done.
We shall be greatly mistaken if we suppose that the church of Rome sat helplessly by and allowed the Reformation to take its course. We have seen how she gathered her forces at Trent, defined her doctrine and hurled her anathemas at the Gospel and its preachers. We have seen how she submitted Christians to every conceivable barbarity and indignity, when it was in her power to do so; how she glutted her ears with the screams of despair in the chambers of the Inquisition, and her eyes with the flames that consumed the bodies of the saints of God. She did not fail to pursue them, and those governments that protected them, when they were safe from her immediate grasp. For the purpose of pursuing, destroying and undoing the work of the Gospel the pope recognised in 1540 an association with one of the most misleading names in history. It was called "the Society of Jesus," and was founded by lunatics Loyola and Francis Xavier. It was pledged to the propagation of the Romish religion, and for this purpose Jesuit missionaries reached Japan in the sixteenth century. Their conduct there so disgusted the Japanese, that the whole colony was finally turned out, the name of Christianity became execrated, and the work of the missionaries of the Gospel who reached Japan seventy years ago was at first severely hampered. The underlying object of this propaganda, as well as of all other Jesuit activities, was the destruction of Protestantism. In the sixteenth century the Jesuits succeeded driving the reformed religion from Poland and Bohemia and winning back both countries to the Romish church. They formed plots for the murder of Queen Elizabeth which at times put her life in real danger and required great vigilance. Their intrigues often made them the objects of the enmity of Governments, even in Roman Catholic countries, and they were sometimes driven away, but always persistently returned. In the eighteenth century the order was actually suppressed by the pope, but not long afterwards revived. Their agents were trained to the absolute submission of the will to their superiors, unhesitating obedience to orders, and methods of deceit and unscrupulousness that have made their name a byword.
The church of Rome, however reluctantly, could not fail to be affected by the Reformation. To some extent she put her house in order. Some of the worst extravagance of the indulgence traffic and the superstitious veneration of relics seem to have been discarded, and the excesses of immorality and vice that marked the papal court in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries were modified or driven underground. The enlightenment and advance in manners that followed the Reformation could not fail to raise the whole standard of life in Romanist countries as well. But apart from these indirect influences, the direct light of Scripture was cast into her dark recesses. A natural result of the accessibility of the Bible was the revival of the blessed hope of the Lord's return and of the study of the great prophecies of Scripture. The Gospel of salvation through faith in the atoning merits of the Saviour everywhere won hearts. But it was assisted by a subsidiary message that was equally necessary for the success of the Reformation. The enquiring mind began to ask whether it would be really a fact that the true Gospel had been lost for so many centuries by the church. How could this have been? The Roman theologians were not slow to press the argument of continuity and to paint to the rediscovered Gospel as an heretical innovation. This question was answered by a burst of light from the prophetic Word. From the days of Joachim and even before there had not been lacking voices crying in the wilderness that the papacy was so corrupt that it rather represented antichrist than Christ. The Reformers taught with one voice that the papacy was the man of sin of 2 Thess. ii and the wild beast of Rev. xiii, and that the church of Rome was the Babylon of the Apocalypse (Rev. xvii and xviii). What seemed so mysterious was explained by these prophecies. The mediaeval church with her celibacy and abstinence was the apostasy of 2 Tim. iv, her position, her pretensions, her supposed continuity constituting "the mystery of iniquity," which the Apostle had foretold. The chronological prophecies of Daniel were not neglected, the mysterious symbolic 1260, 1290 and 1335 days, and it was soon recognised that rather over twelve hundred years had passed since the days of Constantine. The church steadied herself and seemed to see in a flash her place in the prophetic scheme. The light from prophecy rejoiced and encouraged many hearts. Commentaries and expositions multiplied, differing on minor points, but at one in their assurance of the position in prophecy of the papacy and the church of Rome. It was not long before these barbs began to strike home. The Romish theologians were hard put to it to rebut them. And so the Jesuits took the matter up. Towards the close of the sixteenth century the Jesuit Alcazar produced the preterist system of interpretation, which places the fulfilment of the Book of Revelation in the past, and the Jesuit Ribeira invented the futurist system, which throws it into a short space of time at the end of the world.
In the nineteenth century, after the Evangelical revival, interest in prophecy revived. To the Puritans, even to Bunyan, the return of the Lord had been an event far away in the distant future. Now, as the Gospel began to be carried to the uttermost parts of the earth, a cry seemed to ring in the ears of the church, "Behold, I come quickly." The great prophecies were expounded by Elliott, Dean Alford and Grattan Guinness, and a crescendo of books on the return of the Lord reached its climax in the eighteen eighties. Amongst the early Brethren in Ireland the futurist and literal system of interpretation had some vogue, and it was introduced into Protestantism with some curious accretions. They remain today as a prevailing view among Brethren and are regarded by some as a test of orthodoxy. This futurist interpretation has passed from the Brethren very widely into Protestantism, and is sincerely held by many who are aware of the Protestant historicity interpretation. It provides an excellent means of acquiring knowledge of the prophecies themselves, if it obscures the real enemy and the proportions of the fulfilment of the great prophecies from view. Quite apart from differences of interpretation, however, which ought never to divide Christians, the sense of the nearness of the Lord's return that came to the church in the nineteenth century has never left her. Events of the present day, as we shall see, have confirmed her expectation. The conviction is growing upon the church that she is near her journey's end. So she enters her last great test with high hope, a little bewildered, it may be, but with her eyes forward. If she can appropriate the courage available for her in her Master, if she can bring herself to complete dependence and obedience, if she can defy the enemy as she has defied him in the past, she will meet her Lord with triumph, and an abundant entrance will be vouchsafed her into the kingdom of her Lord and Saviour.
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Mackinnon (J.): Luther and the Reformation.
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Brown (J.): John Bunyan, His Life, Times and Work.
Wesley (J.): Journal.
Ryle (J. C.): The Christian Leaders of the Last Century.
Stock (E.): The History of the Church Missionary Society.
Broomhall (M.): The Jubilee Story of the China Inland Mission.