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    EMINENT REFORMERS

    [For portraits, see page 556]

    Martin Luther, the greatest of reformers, was born in Saxony, in 1483. When a poor boy, a benevolent lady took him in charge to educate. At first he studied law, but a narrow escape from death so affected him with the uncertainty of life that he retired to a monastery. Here he came in possession of a Bible, and was struck with the difference between the teachings of the gospel and the practices of the Romish Church. Being sent on an errand to Rome, the impression was deepened, and when the pope issued his famous bull granting the sale of indulgences, Luther, who was then professor of divinity in the University of Wittenberg, was prepared to oppose it, which he did so ably that multitudes, including many nobles, upheld him. He was ordered to appear at Rome, but refused. The pope issued a condemnation, which Luther burned. At the Diet of Worms he refused to retract, and soon spread his view throughout the kingdom by his writings. He also translated the Bible into German. A decree being passed that the mass should be universally observed, a protest was issued by the reformed party, from which they received the name of Protestants. The confession of Augsburg, the standard of their faith, was then drawn up. He still kept on writing and laboring until he died, worn out by excessive toil, in 1546.DAR1909 789.1

    Philip Melancthon, the famous reformer and friend of Luther, was born in the grand duchy of Baden in 1497. At the age of seventeen he graduated as master of arts from the university of Heidelberg, and soon after obtained the Greek professorship at Wittenberg. Here he formed a friendship with Luther, whose opinions he accepted and defended in his lectures and writings. His prudence aided the promulgation of Protestant doctrines greatly, as it guarded them from the abuses of intemperate zeal. His greatest work was the drawing up of the Augsburg Confession, although he was a fluent writer, and was the author of the first system of Protestant theology, which passed through more than fifty editions, and was used as a text-book in the universities. His learning and moderation became famous throughout all Europe, and the kings of England and France invited him to their kingdoms; but he preferred to remain at Wittenberg, where he died in 1560.DAR1909 789.2

    Ulric Zwingli, whose name in the annals of Protestant reformers ranks second only to that of Luther, was born in 1484. As he early evinced a taste for study, he was sent first to Bale and Berne, and finally to the university at Vienna, to receive an education. On his return he was pastor of a large parish near his birthplace, and afterward preacher to the cathedral church at Zurich. Here he made a special study of the Scriptures, committing to memory the whole of the New and a part of the Old Testament. His theological researches led him to see the corruptions of the Romish Church, and he commenced declaiming against them, especially against papal indulgences, until he effected the same separation for Switzerland from the Catholic dominion, that Luther did for Saxony. These religious dissensions brought on a civil war in Switzerland, and Zwingli, who accompanied his army as chaplain, was slain on the field of battle, 1531.DAR1909 790.1

    John Calvin, an eminent reformer, and founder of the religious sect known as the Calvinists, was born in 1509. He was early destined for the church, being presented with a benefice when only twelve years old. He was educated at Paris for the ministry; but becoming dissatisfied with the tenets of the Romish Church, he turned his attention to the law. He soon received the seeds of the reformed doctrine, and so strongly defended them that he was obliged to leave France. He retired to Bale, Switzerland, where he composed his famous Institutes of Christianity, which was translated into several languages. He then settled at Geneva as minister and professor of divinity, but was compelled to leave for refusing to obey some papal forms. Going to Strasburg, he raised up a French church, where he officiated. By the divines of this town he was sent as deputy to the Diet of Worms. He returned to Geneva after repeated solicitation, and was actively engaged as speaker and writer in the interests of the Reformation, until his death in 1564.DAR1909 790.2

    John Knox, the celebrated Scotch reformer, was born in 1505, and was educated at St. Andrew’s University. He received a priest’s orders, but renounced popery after reading the writings of St. Augustine and Jerome. He was accused of heresy, and his public confession of faith condemned; but he began to preach it openly from the pulpit, and the reformed doctrines spread rapidly. St. Andrew’s being taken by a French fleet, he was carried to Rouen, and condemned to the galleys, where he remained nineteen months. After his liberation, he went to England, and was made chaplain to Edward VI, having refused a bishopric. On Mary’s accession, he went to Frankfort and preached to the English exiles. Thence he went to Geneva, where he was much esteemed by Calvin, to whose doctrines he was much attached. He returned to Scotland, where he died in 1572, after rendering the Reformation triumphant in his native land.DAR1909 790.3

    John Bunyan, the most popular religious writer in the English language, was born in 1628. He was a tinker by trade, and therefore received but a meager education. His mind was little drawn toward religious matters until his enlistment as a soldier, during which one of his comrades, who had taken his post, was killed. This he looked upon as a direct interposition of Providence, and after his return home, became deeply concerned about his spiritual welfare. He soon joined the Baptist Church, and from an exhorter, became a successful preacher among them. At this time all dissenters from the Church of England were punished, and Bunyan was thrown into jail, where he remained twelve years. Here he wrote the world-renowned Pilgrim’s Progress, which has since been translated into every tongue of Christendom. He was also the author of other religious writings, such as the Holy War. At the close of this persecution he was released. He soon resumed his former labors, and was popularly known as Bishop Bunyan. His death, in 1688, resulted from exposure.DAR1909 791.1

    John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was born in 1703, and was educated at Oxford, becoming an eminent tutor in Lincoln College. With his brother and a few others, he formed a society for mutual edification in theological exercises, and they rigidly occupied themselves in religious duties, in fasting and prayer, and visiting prisons and relieving the suffering. At the solicitation of General Oglethorpe, Wesley accompanied him to Georgia with a view of converting the Indians. He finally returned to England to engage in missionary labors, but his design was not to withdraw from the established Church of England, but to create a revival among the neglected classes by preaching salvation through simple faith in Christ. However, the churches being shut against him, he held open-air services, obtaining so many converts that organization became necessary, and spacious churches were built. Until his death in 1791, he was indefatigable in his self-imposed work, which he carried through England, Scotland, and Ireland, traveling nearly 300,000 miles, and preaching over 40,000 sermons, besides being a voluminous writer.DAR1909 791.2

    George Whitefield, an English clergyman, born in 1714, was educated at Oxford, where he received the degree of B.A., and where he became acquainted with Charles Wesley, and was an enthusiastic member of the club which gave rise to Methodism. He was soon ordained, and commenced his remarkable missionary career. Upon the urgent invitation of John Wesley, who was in Georgia, he embarked for America, but soon returned to solicit funds for a proposed orphan asylum. He made five subsequent visits to America, preaching in all the large cities, also in those of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and made a journey to Holland. He met with great opposition from the clergy, and being shut out of the churches, was the first to introduce open-air services. Having differed from the Weleys in some belief, they finally separated, which gave rise to the two classes, Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists. He still continued his laborious efforts, sometimes speaking three and four times a day for weeks, until his death, in 1770, at Newburyport, Mass., while preparing for a seventh missionary tour in America.DAR1909 791.3

    John Fletcher was born in Switzerland, in 1729. He was of noble birth, and was educated at the university of Geneva. Not conforming conscientiously to all the Calvinistic doctrines, he forsook the clerical profession, and entered military service. Peace being proclaimed, he went to England as a tutor. He joined the Methodist society, and received orders from the Church of England. Though presented with a good living, he declined, saying “that it afforded too much money for too little work.” The poor and suffering were his charge, and in a region of mines and mountains, midst opposition and persecution, he labored with charity and devotion. He visited France, Switzerland, and Italy, and on his return was president of a theological school, but his advocacy of Wesleyanism sundered the connection. He afterward devoted his life to parishional duties, making long missionary journeys with Wesley and Whitefield, and to the preparation in writing of their peculiar doctrines. His death occurred in 1785.DAR1909 792.1

    William Miller,the greatest reformer of modern times, born in Massachusetts in 1782, was of poor but honorable parentage. Having a thirst for knowledge, he acquired considerable education by his own exertions. He served in the war of 1812, and was promoted to the rank of captain. Until 1816 he favored infidelity; but a careful study of the Bible for the purpose of refuting Christianity convinced him of his error, and opened to the world the then almost unexplored fields of prophecy. After much solicitation, he began his life work, - the promulgation of the prophetic interpretations, especially in regard to the second advent, thus inseparably connecting himself with the great religious movement of 1844. The message soon became so wide- spread that invitations came from all the principal cities of the United States, as many as possible of which he answered; and a revival such as had never been known sprang up in every denomination, extending even to Europe. Though disappointed in the time of the second advent, by a misapplication of prophecy, the majority of his views proved themselves to be correct, and introduced a new era in the never-ending work of reformation. He devoted himself to the work which he had begun, both lecturing and writing, until his peaceful death in 1849.DAR1909 792.2

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