When the present publisher first issued The Reformation in England in 1962, it was hoped, in the words of its editor, S. M. Houghton, that it would 'be a major contribution to the religious needs of the present age, and that it [would] lead to the strengthening of the foundations of a wonderful God-given heritage of truth'.
In many ways there has been such a strengthening. Renewed interest in the Reformation and the study of the Reformers' teaching has brought forth much good literature, and has provided strength to existing churches, and a fresh impetus for the planting of biblical churches.
Concurrent with this development in the life of the churches, however, has been a dramatic shift in Western society at large. In the decades since the 1960s, the de-Christianization of society at a cultural and legislative level has been rapid. Biblical illiteracy is the norm. Secularism now dominates the Continent that witnessed the reforming work of Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin, Tyndale, Cranmer, and Knox.
In this hostile intellectual climate, d'Aubigné's work again provides a means for Christians to place themselves in history. The Reformation in England brings to mind the important part that Reformers and Martyrs played in the development of our now fragile modern freedoms.
Above all, however, this work bears testimony to the power of the Spirit of God in the lives of individuals, churches, and nations. D'Aubigné wrote as a serious historian, but also, and crucially, as a pastor who had a deep understanding of the way in which God sovereignly acts in providence to bring about his purposes.
Gripping in its prose, yet far from sensationalist, this colourful record of the period is one which will be appreciated by spiritually-minded Christians everywhere.
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This work bears testimony to the power of the Spirit of God in the lives of individuals, churches, and nations. D'Aubign wrote as a serious historian, but also, and crucially, as a pastor who had a deep understanding of the way in which God sovereignly acts in providence to bring about his purposes. Gripping in its prose, yet far from sensationalist, this colourful record of the period is one which will be appreciated by spiritually-minded Christians everywhere.About the Author:
Jean Henri Merle d'Aubigné (1794 1872), the most popular church historian of the nineteenth century, was born on 16 August 1794 into a well-known Huguenot family in Geneva.
In 1835 the first volume of The History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century was published in French. The five-volume work was completed in 1853. This was followed by The History of the Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin in eight volumes, published in French between 1863 and 1878, the last three volumes appearing posthumously.
The immense popularity of the History is evident from the remark of the church historian Philip Schaff that this work 'had a wider circulation, at least in the English translations, than any other book on church history'. The principal factor in its popularity is the powerful personal element that pervades the work. The author focuses on the lives of men such as Luther, Melanchthon, Zwingli, Farel, Calvin, Tyndale, Cranmer, and many others whose names are less well known. He recounts their struggles, their labours, their sufferings, their failures, their triumphs, and their Christian heroism. It is undoubtedly this emphasis which lends vividness and interest to his writing of history. The second major factor in his popularity is the powerful divine element that pervades his writing. He wrote that the historian 'ought to embrace in his survey the whole field of human affairs. He must, of course, take into consideration the earthly powers that bear sway in the world, ambition, despotism, liberty; but he ought to mark also the heavenly powers which religion reveals. The living God must not be excluded from the world which He created.' 'There is in history,' he wrote, 'as in the body, a soul.' It was the soul of the grand drama of the sixteenth century that Merle d Aubigné sought to lay bare. He did not write as a detached, disinterested spectator; he loved the Reformation of the sixteenth century, for he saw in it a mighty movement of the Spirit of God, unparalleled since the early days of Christianity.
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