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Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists

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    Reformers in Sweden

    Orebro was the home of two of the leaders in the Swedish Reformation, Olaf and Lawrence Patersen. They were the sons of a blacksmith, but received a liberal education, studying for several years at the University of Wittemberg, under Luther and Melancthon, where they received the doctrines of the reformed faith. The elder of the two brothers is said to have been in the crowd before the door of the church at Wittemberg when Luther nailed his theses to it. Both were eminent for their learning and piety, and for the zeal and courage with which they advocated their faith. They are said to have resembled the great reformers of Germany. Like Melancthon, Lawrence, the younger, was learned, thoughtful, and calm, while Olaf by his powerful eloquence aroused the people. For this reason he was often violently assailed by the mob. The Catholic priests stirred up the prejudices of the ignorant and superstitious people, so that upon several occasions the reformer barely escaped with his life.HS 201.1

    These reformers were, however, favored and powerfully assisted by the king. Under the rule of the Romish church, the people were steeped in poverty and ground down by oppression. They were destitute of the Holy Scriptures, and having a religion of mere signs and ceremonies, which conveyed no light to the mind, they were returning to the superstitious beliefs and pagan practices of their heathen ancestors. The nation was divided into contending factions whose perpetual strife increased the misery of all. The king determined upon a reformation in the State and the Church, and he welcomed these able and powerful assistants in the battle against Rome. Olaf Patersen he appointed preacher in the great cathedral at Stockholm, while Lawrence was made professor of theology in the university at Upsala. The two brothers translated the Bible into the Swedish language, giving to the people of that country for the first time the word of God in their native tongue.HS 201.2

    In the presence of the king and leading men of Sweden, Olaf Patersen ably maintained the doctrines of the reformed faith against the Romish champions. He declared the Fathers to be below and not above Scripture, and that their interpretations were to be received only when in accordance with Holy Writ. He denied that the word of God is obscure when laying down the fundamental doctrines of the faith, and he presented the Bible's own testimony to its simplicity and clearness. Christ said, “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me,” and Paul declared that should he preach any other gospel than that which he had received, he would be anathema. “How, then,” said Dr. Olaf, “shall others presume to enact dogmas at their pleasure, and impose them as things necessary to salvation?” He showed that the decrees of the church are of no authority when in opposition to the commands of God. And maintaining the great Protestant principle, “The Bible, and the Bible only as the rule of faith and practice,” he gained a victory which decided the king in favor of the Protestant faith, and virtually established the Reformation in Sweden.HS 201.3

    “The stage on which this conference was conducted was an obscure one compared with that of Wittemberg and Augsburg, and the parties engaged in it were but of secondary rank compared with the great chiefs between whom previous contests of a similar kind had been waged; but .... it shows us the sort of men that formed the rank and file of the army of the reformers. They were not illiterate, sectarian, noisy controversialists; far from it. They were men who had studied the word of God, and knew well how to wield the weapons with which the armory of the Bible supplied them.”HS 202.1

    There now stands in Orebro, in a little park in front of the college, a monument erected over fifty years ago to the memory of these remarkable men, and bearing the inscription, “In memory of Olaf and Lawrence Patersen, the first preachers of the Lutheran doctrine in Sweden, born in Orebro. Daniel 12:3.” Just across the river is a beautiful park, and to the right stands “Engelbrekt Slott,” one of the oldest castles in Sweden. For many years this castle was also the prison for the district, and it was here, no doubt, that those arrested for preaching the Lord's soon coming in 1843 were imprisoned. Some of our friends visited the dark room in the round tower that was used as a prison; they also visited the large prison built since, in which Bro. Rosqvist was confined for preaching the present truth in Grythyttehed.HS 202.2

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