The Basis of Church Reformation

II Chronicles 34:33
      And Josiah took away all the abominations out of all the countries that pertained to the children of Israel.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): If Josiah had looked around him, what would he have seen? Treachery, deceit, corruption, and violence. Such was the state of public morals. And what of religion? Errors and evils in every imaginable shape. Some of these were hoary with age. They had been instituted by Solomon and left standing by Hezekiah. The foundations had been laid during the splendours of the reign of Israel’s wisest and wealthiest monarch, and the most pious and devoted of Josiah’s predecessors had left them as they found them.
       Who, then, was Josiah, that he should presume to overturn such venerable institutions? What right had he, a mere youth, raw and inexperienced, to set himself in opposition to men so far beyond him in wisdom, intelligence, and mature judgment? Why not leave things as he found them? Why not allow the current to flow peacefully on through those channels which had conducted it for ages and generations? Disruptions are hazardous. There is always great risk in disturbing old prejudices.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Who knows not that a new idea is seldom advanced without an appearance of arrogance, and accusation of disputatiousness? Were humility herself to undertake something new, those of an opposite opinion would charge her with pride. Why were Christ and all the martyrs put to death? Because they were deemed proud despisers of the wisdom of the time, and advanced new truths without previous taking counsel of the organs of ancient opinion.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: And so it has been through the ages…Was it not like that at the Protestant Reformation? What hope had that one man, Martin Luther, just an unknown monk? Who was he to stand up against all the Church, and fifteen centuries almost, or at least a good twelve to thirteen centuries, of tradition in the opposite direction? It seems a sheer impertinence for this one man to get up and say, ‘I alone am right, and you are all wrong.’ That is what would be said about him today.

J. H. MERLE d’AUBIGNÉ (1794-1872): A great revolution is rarely accomplished without the friends of the old order of things combining to resist it…The [Reformation] of the sixteenth century was not to be accomplished by the heads of the Church any more than that of the first century had been by the Sanhedrim and the synagogue. In the sixteenth century, the heads of the Church were opposed to Luther, the Reformation, and its ministers, in the same way as they were opposed to Jesus Christ, the gospel, and His apostles, and as they too often are at all times to the truth.

FRANCES BEVAN (1827-1909): The world will turn an ear to those who have the world’s sanction and authority, but it is amongst those whom men separate from their company, and whose names they cast out as evil, that we shall find the truest of the messengers of God.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): And indeed, whoever pricks the conscience of his hearers closely, without producing repentance, will soon find them either absentees from his ministry, or unwilling listeners, if not open opponents.

WILLIAM GREENHILL (1591-1677): The world calls them wicked who are righteous, and those righteous who are wicked; but it is not so with the Lord…It matters not much what the world saith of men: it called Paul a babbler, Acts 17:18, a heretic, Acts 24:14, a pestilent fellow, vs. 5; but what said God of him? He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel, Acts 9:15.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): This passage also teaches that they who are unjustly despised by men, are regarded by the Lord. Hence it affords a singularly profitable consolation to the faithful, who, as experience shows, are for the most part despised in the world…It is the native property of the Divine Word, never to make its appearance without disturbing Satan, and rousing his opposition. This is the most certain and unequivocal criterion by which it is distinguished from false doctrines, which are easily broached when they are heard with general attention, and received with applauses by the world.

HUGH LATIMER (1483-1555, burned at the stake): Wherefore take this for a sure conclusion, that where the Word of God is truly preached, there is persecution as well of the hearers as of the teachers; and where quietness and rest in worldly pleasure, there is not the truth.

MARTIN LUTHER: It was by the Word the world was overcome, by the Word the church has been saved, and by the Word will she be re-established―by the Word, the Church is served and rebuilt.

C. H. MACKINTOSH: This a most weighty principle for every child of God and every servant of Christ. Without it, we can never make headway against the tide of evil which is flowing around us. It was this principle which sustained Luther in the terrible conflict which he had to wage with the whole of Christendom. He too, like Josiah, had to lay the axe to the root of old prejudices, and shake the very foundation of opinions and doctrines which had held almost universal sway in the Church for over a thousand years. How was this to be done? Was it by setting up the judgment of Luther against the judgment of popes and cardinals, councils and colleges, bishops and doctors? Assuredly not. This would never have brought about the Reformation. It was not Luther versus Christendom, but Holy Scriptures versus Error.
       Ponder this! We feel it is a grand all-important lesson for this moment, as it surely was for the days of Luther and for the days of Josiah. We long to see the supremacy of Holy Scriptures—the absolute sovereignty of divine revelation reverently owned throughout the length and breadth of the Church of God.


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