Knox and His Brethren

For Reformation Day, the following rare article is now available as a PDF:

Prof. W.G. Blaikie, “Scotch Preachers in Reformation Days: Knox and Brethren,” Sunday at Home 36 No. 1828 (May 11th 1889): 294-299.

Knox and His Brethren

It is singular to think that John Knox, of I whom when he was buried the Regent of the Kingdom said, “ Here lies one who never feared the face of clay,” was overwhelmed with distress and anxiety at the bare thought of being a preacher. And this was not in boyish days, as in the case of many a shy youth, to whom mounting the pulpit-stairs for the first time is something like mounting the steps of the gallows. For Knox was turned forty before he ever opened his mouth to a public congregation. His feeling was more like that of Saul when he hid himself among the stuff; or, to come nearer to the particular case, that of Gregory Nazianzen, when, on being ordained, in order to avoid the responsibilities of his office, fled to the wilderness; or that of Ephrem Syrus, when he feigned madness; or that of Ambrose, when, to shock the people, and make them think him unfit for the bishopric, he caused shady characters to be brought to his house as if in his company. The suspicion of heresy under which Knox had fallen, and the known desire of Cardinal Beaton for his life, had brought him to the humble vocation of domestic pedagogue—a kind of “Dominie Sampson” in the house of a Protestant gentleman, Hugh Douglas, of Longniddry. To the duties of this humble calling, however, Knox applied himself with all the energy and thoroughness of his nature. And in particular he sought to make the Bible lesson and the catechism interesting and impressive. And it was when, for safety, he took refuge in the castle of St. Andrews, and, being there, taught his boys in a public place, and when laymen, like Sir David Lindsay the poet, and Henry Halnaves the lawyer, saw how admirably he did this work, that they became convinced that the making of a good preacher was in him, and solemnly called him to become their pastor. Knox, to use a common phrase, was dreadfully “cut up;” the very thought took the life out of him for days; he could neither laugh nor talk, but went about in desolation and misery. It was neither want of physical nor of moral courage that oppressed him; but a sense of his unfitness to undertake so solemn an office, and to deliver God’s message to his countrymen at so vital a crisis of their history.

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Philip Melanchthon article

Philip Melanchthon from the portrait by Lucas Cranach
Philip Melanchthon from the portrait by Lucas Cranach

This is a hard-to-find article from 1889 by an anonymous writer giving a brief overview of the life of Philip Melanchthon and his relationship with Martin Luther. The article is in the public domain.

Anonymous, “Philip Melanchthon,” Sunday at Home 36 No. 1815 (Feb. 9th 1889): 81-85.

Philip Melanchthon

In the closing years of the fifteenth century I there lived in the small town of Bretten in the Palatinate, a skilful armourer, George Schwarzerd. The excellence of his work and the worthiness of his character, had made him known far and wide, and brought him orders not only from the Palatinate princes, but from those of Bavaria and Saxony. He was a man of probity, and also of piety, as many of the laity were, according to the light they had, before the Reformation. The armourer’s wife, daughter of one of the magistrates of the town, was also devout in her way, and was remarkable for her shrewdness and prudence. To her is ascribed the authorship of some old-fashioned metrical sayings, still current among the German people, such as these:

No money’s lost in giving alms,
Nor time, at church, in prayers and psalms.
Ill-gotten wealth but loss secures;
God’s Word to error never lures.

This worthy pair had a son, born on the 14th of February, 1497, who was named Philip Schwarzerd; in after life, and in history, better known by the Greek paraphrase of Schwarz-Erd (black earth) Philip Melanchthon. Who gave him this name, and when, we shall presently hear.

Philip was not eleven years old when his father died. Two days before he breathed his last, George the armourer called his son to his bedside, and exhorted him to have the thought of God always present to his mind. “I foresee,” he said, “that there are troublous times coming upon the world. I have witnessed great changes, but greater are now preparing. May God guide and guard you!” Then the boy was sent to the house of a friend, at Spires, that he might not be distressed by the sight of his father’s death.

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Gosse’s Biography of Zwingle

Ulric Zwingle from Gosse (1892)
Ulric Zwingle from Gosse (1892)

The following public domain biography of Ulric Zwingle (Ulrich Zwingli) is now available for download in pdf:

Robert Wilkes Gosse, Ulric Zwingle. London: James Nisbet & Co., 1892. pp.160.

CHAPTER I. Zwingle’s Birth and Early Life

“Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;-
“Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.” – LONGFELLOW.

 Standing upon an elevated spot at dusk overlooking a city or town we see specks of light appearing here and there in the darkening streets below, as the lamplighters go their rounds, illuminating scenes which would otherwise be enveloped in darkness. A spectacle somewhat resembling this presents itself to the mind’s eye as we look back in thought at that period of deep interest to every devout student of the history of the Christian Church, the Reformation period. There is terrible widespread spiritual darkness overshadowing all-the darkness of superstition, idolatry, error, which takes possession of the human soul whenever it puts man in the place of God. That darkness, which has been gathering for centuries, is almost unrelieved by a single ray, till at length we observe one brilliant light appearing in our own island home, burning with a clear and steady blaze, its rays extending throughout the length and breadth of the land. Bishops, Monks, Friars, and Priests – yea, and Popes also – endeavour in vain to extinguish it. That light is the candle kindled by the great “Evangelic” or “Gospel Doctor” of the fourteenth century, John Wycliffe. Standing alone, until his labours began to tell in the conversion of others, he faithfully taught the truth, sacrificing everything to the Gospel, and laying all his talents, every power that he possessed, upon God’s altar, to be used by him in His most blessed and honoured service, and for the enlightenment of his fellow-country men by means of the Word of God, which he disseminated.

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September News: Forthcoming Material and Latest Developments

I have updated my brochure introducing Theology on the Web to reflect the latest developments. You can download a copy here. Please pass on a copy to anyone whom you think would be interested in supporting this ministry. The priorities for the rest of the year are:

  • Continuing to focus on uploading high quality theological journals and articles. Although I will be adding a few digitised books, other people are filling this need via archive.org. Unless important titles are blocked, damaged or incomplete then it does not seem a good use of my time to duplicate them.
  • Adding more journal titles to the list I am already working on.
  • To seek paid advertising from Bible Colleges and Seminaries that would guarantee basic site running costs. The websites had over 145,000 visitors in April who are obviously interested in theology, so the sites would seem to lend themselves to this use.
  • To build up a base support of those who are willing to contribute towards the ongoing development of the sites. There are a number of ways to support the sites other than financially, click here to find out how.