extract from the “History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century” by
J. H. Merle d’Aubigné (1794-1872)
H. Merle d’Aubigné was a famous Christian historian and one of God’s
great gifts to the Church. A preacher and scholar of Presbyterian persuasion,
he was born in
Geneva, the son of Protestant refugees from
France. As an unconverted student for the
ministry he met the Scottish minister Robert Haldane in Geneva, who expounded
and preached to Merle d’Aubigné and his fellow students from the Epistle to
the Romans. The whole group of students at length all came to a saving
knowledge of Jesus Christ.]
enfeebled world was tottering on its foundations when Christianity appeared.
The national religions which had satisfied the parents, no longer proved
sufficient for their children. The new generations could not repose contented
within the ancient forms. The gods of every nation, when transported to Rome, there lost their oracles, as the nations themselves had there lost their
liberty. Brought face to face in the Capitol, they had destroyed each other,
and their divinity had vanished. A great void was occasioned in the religion
of the world.
kind of deism, destitute alike of spirit and of life, floated for a time above
the abyss in which the vigorous superstitions of antiquity had been engulfed.
But like all negative creeds, it had no power to reconstruct. National
prepossessions disappeared with the fall of the national gods. The various
kingdoms melted one into the other. In
Europe, Asia, and
, there was but one vast empire, and the human race began to feel its
universality and unity.
the Word was made flesh.
appeared among men, and as man, to save that which was lost. In Jesus of
Nazareth dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
is the greatest event in the annals of the world. Former ages had prepared the
way for it: the latter ages flow from it. It is their centre and their bond of
the popular superstitions had no meaning, and the slight fragments preserved
from the general wreck of incredulity vanished before the majestic orb of
Son of Man lived thirty-three years on earth, healing the sick, converting
sinners, not having where to lay his head, and displaying in the midst of this
humiliation such greatness and holiness, such power and divinity, as the world
had never witnessed before. He suffered and died – he rose again and
ascended into heaven. His disciples, beginning at
Jerusalem, travelled over the
and the world, every where proclaiming their Master as the author of
everlasting life. From the midst of a people who despised all nations, came
forth a mercy that invited and embraced all men. A great number of Asiatics,
of Greeks, and of Romans, hitherto dragged by their priests to the feet of
idols, believed the Word. It suddenly enlightened the whole earth, like a beam
of the sun.1 A breath of life began to move over this wide field of
death. A new people, a holy nation, was formed upon the earth; and the
astonished world beheld in the disciples of the Galilean a purity and
self-denial, a charity and heroism, of which it had retained no idea.
principles especially distinguished the new religion from all the human
systems that fled before it. One had reference to the ministers of its
worship, the other to its doctrines.
ministers of paganism were almost gods of these human religions. The priests
of Egypt, Gaul, Dacia, Germany,
India, led the people, so long at least as their eyes were not opened. Jesus
Christ, indeed, established a ministry, but he did not found a separate
priesthood: he dethroned these living idols of the world, destroyed an
overbearing hierarchy, took away from man what he had taken from God, and
re-established the soul in immediate connexion with the divine fountain of
truth, by proclaiming himself sole Master and sole Mediator. “One is your
master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.”2
regards doctrine, human systems had taught that salvation is of man: the
religions of the earth had devised an earthly salvation. They had told men
that heaven would be given to them as a reward: they had fixed its price; and
what a price! The religion of God taught that salvation comes from him alone;
that it is a gift from heaven; that it emanates from an amnesty – from the
grace of the Sovereign Ruler: “God hath given to us eternal life.”3
Christianity cannot be summed up in these two points; but they seem to govern
the subject, as far as history is concerned. And as it is impossible for me to
trace the opposition between truth and error in all its features, I have been
compelled to select the most prominent.
Oia tiV hliou bolh.
Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. ii. 3.
John v. 11.
OF THE REFORMATION IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY,” by J. H. Merle
d’Aubigné, 1846. French edition 1835. Published by Baker Book House (USA),
reprinted from the edition issued in London in 1846. Vol 1, pp