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The following is lite text in full
of Rev. C. K. Shield's sermon on
"John Knox mul the Scotch Relor-
mntion," delivered nt the Ilnili
Church on Sunday morning, June
It lias heen my privilege nt dif
ferent times to (spenk of the life and
works of some of the great reform
ers who have exerted their influence
to keep pure the faith which was
once for all delivered unto the
saints. It is well for us to maik
the cour.se of providence in the his
tory of the Church. Such provi
dence is a kind of .secondary gospel,
which points out the issue of certain
tendencies of belief, and .shows the
preserving and governing hand of
God in the affiirs of His Church.
The study of high moral purpose
as it is manifest in the strong char
acters of the Church must be profit
able. We admire the courage of
those who dared to do and suffer
for conscience .sake. In these more
favored times of peace, their sturdy
devotion is a healthful tonic to
quicken our cooling love and fire
our lagging renl.
A considerable portion of the
Protestant Church is, at about this
time, doing honor to the memory of
John Knox, as they celebrate the
quatcr-ccntcuuial of his birth. It
is with real pleasure that I take up
the study of Knox as the leader of
the Reformation movement in Scot
land. And yet it is with some
hesitancy, because it is altogether
likely that the incidentals of his
career, and the local colouring of
his life, are more familiar to many
of you than to myself. Hut Knox
is not dependent on local circum
stance. The chief features of his
work arc an essential part of Church
history and must be considered as
The Reformation of the sixteenth
century produced three figures who
towers above all others in the pro
minence and efficiency of their
work Luther, Calvin and Knox.
Luther was the first in point
of time and this circumstance gives
him a certain priority. He more
than any other of the reformers,
impressed his personality upon his
work. He not only entered heart
and soul into the movement in Ger
many; for a time he was the move
ment. He left the stamp of his
individuality upon the life and
speech of his people. But he did
not influence the political conditions
of the German states to any great
Calvin was in physical charac
teristics the exact opposite of Lu
ther. His personality called forth
no enthusiasm. He was supported
by no great national movement.
He had no people of kindred blood
and sympathies to make him a pop
ular idol. The land of his labors
was not the land of his birth. But
he was the intellectual giant of his
tunes. He was the keenest theo
logian since St. Augustine, if not
since bt. l'aul. lie turmsliccl the
stable theological foundation for the
Reformation. And he was the
chief outside influence in molding
the Scottish thought of that time.
The conditions in England were
different from other parts of Europe.
Here no one man stands in undis
puted leadership. The Reforma
tion was patronized, and then
checked by Royal authority. The
laity did not participate so freely in
the movement; and the affairs of
Church and State were kept in
The positive movement toward
the Reformation in Scotland was a
little later than on the continent,
but when it came, it entered into
the very life of the people. It was
thorough and complete. More
radical than the movement in En
gland, it was modeled closely after
Geneva, from whenco Knox drew
his inspiration. Laymen partici
pated largely in the effott and con
tributed much to its vitality, and to
the future .strength of the Church.
Scotland had no such middle-age
period of progress as had England.
No Grosicte.ste, Ansclin or Wycliffe
had appeared to check growing
abuses and stimulate the pious im
pulses of the people. As a conse-
Iqueuce the affairs of the Church
I were in sad disorder. Perhaps this
made the reactions more radical
The first martyr of the Scottish
list was Patrick Hamilton, who had
studied on the continent and
brought back to his professorship
at St. Andrews a strong liking for
the doctrines of Luther, which were
then rousing Germany. Bishop
Beaton invited him to a friendly
discussion of the points nt issue,
and burned him for his doctrine of
Justification and his popular use of
Scripture After Hamilton came
Geo. Wishart. He too came tinder
the influence of the Lutheran doc
trines, and like Hamilton he was
burned by Bishop Beaton. But
Wishart did not pass Irom the
scenes until his influence had taken
hold upon the man who was to
shape Scotland's religious future.
What Stephen was to Paul in the
Apostolic age, Wishart was to Knox
in the Scotch Reformation. Knox's
love for Wishart was so great that
he begged to share his imprison
ment and martyrdem. "Go back
to your bairns," said Wishart, "one
is sufficient for a sacrifice." It was
fortunate for Scotland that Knox
heeded the advice.
John Knox was born in Hadd
ington in 1505, and he was given
to live in a time which saw the de
velopcmcnt of most important his
tory in church and state. He was
four years the senior of John
Calvin, and was born twelve years
before Luther posted his famous
Theses at Wittenberg. He saw the
reign of Henry VIII nnid part of
Elizabeth's reign in England. Fran
cis I, of France died at about the
time Wishart's mantle fell upon
Knox. He saw the reign of
Charles V, and the first years
of Philip II in Spain and
the Netherlands. He must have
been familar with the struggle
ol W 1 h mi i. Orange, and ho dud
a few months after the M usacie
of St. Bartholomew.
Knox was not a great origi
nator, but he was a great ad
apter and administrator. He was
much like Calvin in his physical
characteristics and in his habits of
thought. He was like Luther in
molding the religion life of a peo
ple. But he surpassed Luther in
the political influence which he ex
erted. Luther moulded a people,
but Knox was instrumental in
furthering national stability also.
His life divides naturally into
three periods, which might be call
ed the period of his preparation;
the period of his exile; and the
period of his power. Of the first
period but little is known. He
was educated at Haddington and
St. Andrews, and at the age of thir
ty was ordained to the priesthood.
He never entered upon the duties
of his priestly office, but turned
aside to teaching. He was tutor
to the sous of Hugh Douglass and
John Cockburu when he came un
der the influence of George Wish
hart. Wishart referred to these
pupils when he admonished Knox
"Togo back to his bairns." The
Martyrdom of Wishart brought
about a reaction against the perse
cutors. Beaton was murdered in
his castle at St. Andrews by a baud
of nobles, and the place became
for the time a stronghold of the re
forming interests. Here Knox
took refuge with his pupils. Here
his great gift as a preacher was first
discovered. A mouthpiece for the
Reformation had at last appeared
and St. Andrews Church soou re
sounded with his vigorous dis
His work at St. Andrews lasted
little more than a year when the
city was taken by the French, and
Knox began thus as a prisoner his
twelve years of wandering and ex
ile. The first twenty mouths of
this period he spent rowing as a
slave in a French galley. He was
chained to a bench beside all kinds
of low ciminnls, exposed to the
rigours of climate, and the most
exacting toil. We do not know
how lie escaped from the galley but
it was possibly in some way through
the influence of Edward VI who
had now come to the throne of
England. Knox went to England
and became one of the six chnt)
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