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All articles in category Historical

August 2016
Articles > Historical

Whatever happened at Salters’ Hall (1)

‘History’, said Henry Ford, ‘is more or less bunk’. The Roman statesman Cicero had a very different view: ‘he who is ignorant of what happened before he was born’, he declared, ‘is destined to remain always a child’. But what benefit is there in a knowledge of history? To know that there was such a thing as the Battle of Bosworth is hardly beneficial. To know that it was fought in 1485, rather than, say, 1785 is helpful, but unlikely to be of great advantage in life. For that knowledge to carry any meaning, one must know about the parties that fought, the situation at...

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August 2016
Articles > Historical

Michael Faraday (1791-1867)

We are living in days when we can be easily intimidated by institutionalised atheism. Children in school science lessons may detect a sneer when they say they believe God created the earth and the first humans. When we enter museums, we are bombarded with information which promotes Darwinian evolution and its associated timescales, to the exclusion of creation. We have in Michael Faraday, however, a world-famous scientist who was not afraid to declare his belief in a creator God, and his personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Honoured Albert Einstein kept a picture of Faraday on his study wall, alongside those of Sir Isaac...

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August 2016
Articles > Historical

Seven marks of true revival

Knock & Point Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), on the Isle of Lewis, is a congregation with a history of revival over the last 100 years, and some of our members can remember seasons of remarkable blessing during the 1940s and 1950s. Sadly, revival has not been much experienced in recent years, but we long and pray for it to come again. Recently, I have been reading a couple of books on that subject. The log college by Archibald Alexander, originally published in 1851, is a classic account of the times of revival in America during the Great Awakening of the 1740s, later republished by...

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August 2016
Articles > Historical

Lieutenant Henry Robertson Bowers

Henry Bowers was just 28 when in March 1912 – with Captain Scott and Dr Bill Wilson – he lay down to die in a tiny tent in a swirling blizzard. The explorers were on the return journey from the South Pole.

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August 2016
Articles > Historical

Rowland Hill

This ‘second Whitefield’ of whom the Countess spoke was Rowland Hill, the brother of Richard Hill, author of Pietas Oxoniensis. He took up Whitefield’s mantle when that great man died in 1770, just as Elisha took up Elijah’s. Rowland Hill was born at Hawkstone in Shropshire on 23 August 1744. He was educated at Eton, where he was converted – mainly through the influence of his brother Richard. He went on to study at Cambridge University, where he formed a ‘religious club’ not too dissimilar to Wesley’s holy club at Oxford.

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August 2016
Articles > Historical

John Blackadder

A Presbyterian Covenanter who ministered with real blessing upon his ministry in the Dumfries area. He refused to accept the Scottish version of the Act of Conformity and was ruthlessly pursued and eventually confined to Bass Rock. On 3 December 1685 Black-adder was released at last from his cramped unhealthy cell and gnawing pain into the freedom of the city of God: ‘a glorious and triumphant martyr for the name of Jesus’, as one of his sons later wrote. Of whom the world was not worthy Scottish martyrs

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July 2016
Articles > Historical

John Flavel (1628-1691)

It was a privilege to be part of the Christian Union at Aberystwyth in the mid-1960s. A highlight, apart from the eminent preachers, was when books were put out for display on the book table.  Once a year the Banner of Truth took orders for ‘damaged’ books at only 40 per cent list price. I had heard about Puritan authors, but the works of John Owen in 16 volumes appeared too daunting, while the 6-volume set of John Flavel at less than £3.00 seemed a no-brainer (it has recently been reissued by Banner at £85.00). Works I began reading volume 1 of Flavel’s works shortly...

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July 2016
Articles > Historical

Christianity in Cornwall

County of ‘saints’, Celtic crosses, ‘holy wells’ and oratories. There is reason to believe that Cornwall received the gospel in the first century AD. The Cornish language became virtually extinct when Coverdale’s Bible and Cranmer’s Prayer Book in English replaced the Latin liturgy and mass. In 1661 and 1662, the Church of England in Cornwall was severely weakened when 50 devout Puritan ministers were ejected from their ministries, but the Independents and Baptists were strengthened by them. When King James II put five bishops in the Tower of London for refusing to have his indulgence to Roman Catholics and Nonconformists declared in their dioceses, the...

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June 2016
Articles > Historical

Victorian Christianity’s flight from faith (4)

Continued from Victorian Christianity’s flight from faith (3) The first two articles in this series explored the erosion of evangelical theology during the nineteenth century. The first weakening influence came through literature. Romantic poets and novelists drip-fed their dislike of eternal punishment and substitutionary atonement into people’s sensibilities. Then came philosophy, with its dismissal of the supernatural. Geology led to a revised view of the age of the earth and chronology of creation. Finally, in 1859 and 1860, Darwin’s theories and so-called High Criticism of the Bible inflicted decisive blows; the age of Victorian doubt was in full spate. God’s fatherhood All this led to...

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May 2016
Articles > Historical

Foxe at 500

‘Foxe’ is not a name familiar to many Christians. It is the first word in the title of what is today a widely un-read book, Foxe’s book of Martyrs. In fact, John Foxe was a real person, and two good reasons for thinking about him are that he was a Christian and that he was born exactly 500 years ago (probably!). For most of the twentieth century John Foxe was disregarded. He belonged firstly to the Puritan type of Christianity, which was so out of vogue; and secondly was widely read in Victorian times, and anything Victorian was certainly out of vogue. However, times change...

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May 2016
Articles > Historical

Why were our Reformers burned?

May 2016 is 200 years since the birth of J. C. Ryle, a staunch Anglican evangelical, whose writings have been greatly used by God. This extract is taken from a much longer lecture given in 1867, on the courageous stand of the Protestant martyrs under Queen Mary I (1553-58). Why were our Reformers burned? (see p.29) …Great indeed would be your mistake if you supposed that they suffered for the vague charge of refusing submission to the pope, or desiring to maintain the independence of the Church of England. Nothing of the kind! The principal reason why they were burned was because they refused one...

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May 2016
Articles > Historical

Victorian Christianity’s flight from faith (3)

Continued from Victorian Christianity’s flight from faith (2) The first two articles in this series surveyed the attack on evangelical faith during the first two-thirds or so of the nineteenth century, through novels, poetry, science and philosophy. ). These assaults arose largely from sentiment and an a priori presupposition that miracles and other divine interventions do not or cannot occur. They came from outside theological circles and began before Charles Darwin’s writings. This article now considers the effects of Darwin’s theory of evolution and of the so-called ‘Higher Criticism’ of the Bible, on religious faith in the Victorian era. Evolution Ideas of biological evolution did...

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