The Psalmist wrote, “This the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.” I believe that not only is every day a gift from God, but is to be a testimony for God. On this page, I will share some of the more notable – and a few of the obscure – events in Christian history. I pray that you will be educated, encouraged and challenged. __________________________________________________________________
February 9 –
1542 – Germany. The Third Imperial Diet of Spires (Speyers) is opened by King Ferdinand. The purpose is to secure aid against the Turks who are threatening Austria.
1555 – England. Bishop John Hooper has preached so vigorously against the use of clerical vestments describing them as Aaronical and superstitious he has been sent to the Fleet. Thomas Cranmer and Nicholas Ridley have tried in vain to relieve his conscience, while
Martin Bucer and Peter Martyr have recommended he submit.
On August 29, 1553, Mr. Hooper was thrown into prison where his harsh treatment caused him to utter he was used “worse and more vilely than the veriest slave.” He and John Rogers are the first to be cited under Mary Tudor, who will come to be known as “Bloody Mary” on account of her spirit of persecution.
Last month, Mr. Hooper was condemned for maintaining the lawfulness of clerical marriage, and divorce, and for denying the doctrine of transubstantiation. When a friend lamented his sentence, he said, “Death is bitter and Life is sweet, but alas! Consider that Death to Come is more bitter and Life to Come is more sweet!” And when another asked his health, he responded, “I am well, thank God; and death to me for Christ’s sake is welcome.”
Today, as he is led to the stake, he is forbidden to address the crowd, but is offered a pardon on condition he will recant. He replies, “If you love my soul, away with it.” He is burned within sight of his own cathedral.
1812 – America. Pioneer missionary Samuel Newell marries fellow Congregationalist Harriet Atwood. They afterward sailed for India with Adoniram and Ann Hasseltine Judson. (Harriet Newell and Ann Judson thereby became the first American women commissioned for missionary work abroad.)
1819 – America. Birth of William True Sleeper, New England Congregational clergyman and author of the hymns “Jesus, I Come” and “Ye Must Be Born again.”
1839 – Scoland. Scottish clergyman Robert Murray McCheyne writes in a letter: “In spiritual things, this world is all wintertime so long as the Savior is away.”
1930 – America. Pioneer linguist and missionary Frank Laubach writes in a letter: “The sense of being led by an unseen hand which takes mine, while another hand reaches ahead and prepares the way, grows upon me daily.”
1948 – America. U.S. Senate Chaplain Peter Marshall prays: “We are tempted to despair of our world. Remind us, O Lord, that Thou hast been facing the same thing in all the world since time began.”
February 8 –
356 – Turkey. After a long series of intrigues against him, Athanasius discovers the Duke Syrianus has surrounded the church of St. Thomas with five thousand soldiers intending to arrest him this night. He escapes into Egypt.
1523 – Germany. In a letter to Frederick, Martin Luther, Philip Melancthon, Amsdorff, Bugenhagen, and Linck consult together because of a philippic their prince has received from the Pope. “No prince,” they write, “can undertake a war without the consent of the people from whose hands he received the government . . .. ”
On another occasion, he observed, “God lets rogues rule for the people’s sin.” He denied that priests and bishops had the right to make laws governing how men should believe and said, “Man’s authority stretches neither to Heaven nor to the soul.” “The Gospel is every man’s right; and it is not to be endured that anyone should be kept therefrom. The Evangel is an open doctrine: it is bound to no place, and moves along freely under Heaven, like the star which ran in the sky to show the wizards from the East where Christ was born. Do not dispute with the prince for peace. Let the community choose their own pastor, and support him out of their own estates. If the prince will not suffer it, let the pastor flee into another land and let those go with him who will, as Christ eaches.”
Hutten said of Luther, “There is no man in Germany who more utterly despises death than does Luther.”
1587 – England. The army of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, has been defeated at Carberry Hills and she was taken prisoner on that same June day in 1567. She was led through Edinburgh, her clothes torn, her hair disheveled, amidst the jeers and taunts of a multitude. And on June 16, she was confined in Loch Leven Castle where she signed her abdication of the throne in favor of her son, James VI. On May 2, the following year, she escaped. Everywhere she has been she has fascinated men, and George Douglas, brother of the lord of Lock Leven Castle, was one who fell under her spell and planned her escape. Willie Douglas, his nephew, has secured the castle keys and has rowed the Queen ashore. She soon gathered another army of six thousand men.
The Regent of Moray met her outside Glasgow at Langside on May 13th, 1568, and though his army has been much smaller, he has decisively defeated her. The Queen fled the battle-field and traveled sixty miles before resting. On May 16th she crossed the Solway and sought refuge in England from her cousin Queen Elizabeth, and has spent the last nineteen years here.
But her intrigues have not abated. The Romanists still long to see Elizabeth deposed and the Catholic Mary on the English throne. After repeated plots have been discovered, Queen Elizabeth has finally yielded to sign her death warrant. Today, Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, is beheaded at Fotheringay.
1693 – America. The College of William and Mary is founded in Williamsburg, Virginia for the purpose of educating Anglican clergyman. After Harvard, it is the second oldest institution of higher learning in America.
1744 – America. Colonial missionary to the American Indians, David Brainerd wrote in his journal: “I find that both mind and body are quickly tired with intenseness and fervor in the things of God. Oh that I could be as incessant as angels in devotion and spiritual fervor.”
1851 – England. James Haldane dies this Saturday morning. About an hour ago, his wife remarked, “You are going to Jesus. How happy you will be soon!” A vivid smile was seen to lighten his countenance as he said emphatically, “0, yes!” He and his brother Robert have worked successfully to have the Apocrypha excluded from the Bible issued by the British and Foreign Bible Society. He also founded the Society for Propagating the Gospel at Home, after discovering that the Church of Scotland was as little interested in home missions as it was in foreign missions.
1865 – America. Birth of YMCA Director, Lewis E. Jones. Jones was also a writer of hymns, and his most enduring contribution (which he both wrote and composed) was “Power in the Blood.”
1950 – America. Missionary and martyr Jim Elliot writes in his journal: “Sin in a Christian makes God seem distant, deaf. In the body, sin saps animation, as cancer. In the soul, sin stifles the affections; as corrosion in the spirit, sin solidifies the attitudes, as a callous.”
February 7 –
1478 – England. On Mill Street, Cheapside, London, Sir Thomas More is born. His father is a lawyer. Sir Thomas will become an opponent of the Protestant reformation. In 1497, he will meet Erasmus who will be visiting England. When Sir Thomas argues in favor of the doctrine of transubstantiation, Erasmus will object contending it is absurd to believe that when the priest utters “Hoc est corpus meum”, the host becomes the actual body of Christ. Mr. More will instruct him, “Believe you have it and indeed you have.” When Erasmus leaves England bound for the continent, he will take Sir Thomas’ horse, who when he discovers his loss will hastily send a letter to the theologian accusing him of stealing. Erasmus will respond by letter, “Believe you have it and indeed you have.”
On another visit to the home of Sir Thomas in 1508, Erasmus will complete his book, Praise of Folly, and will dedicate it to Sir Thomas.
1528 – Switzerland. The Disputation of Bern has ended and by the edict passed today, the Reformation is established here. Chief among the thirteen articles are — 1.) that they approve and confirm the “Ten Propositions” which have been debated and which are declarations of Protestant doctrine. These have been so drawn as to comprehend all points of controversy between the two ecclesiastical systems. They call God to witness that they believe them to be agreeable to the Word of God. 2.) They release their subjects from the jurisdiction of the Bishops of Basle, Constance, Sion and Lausanne. 3.) They discharge their deans and chapters from their “oath of obedience” and the clergy from their vow of celibacy, and the people from the law of meats and festivals. 4.) The ecclesiastical goods they have apportioned to the payment of annuities to monks and nuns they designate to the founding of schools and hospitals, and the relief of the poor. 5.) Games of Chance they prohibit; the taverns are ordered closed by nine o’clock; houses of prostitution are suppressed and the wretched inmates are banished from the city. Next, they will pass a law forbidding Foreign Service. No Bernese will be at liberty to sell his sword to a foreign ruler or shed blood in a quarrel not his own.
1546 – Germany. Eleven days before his death, German reformer Martin Luther writes in a letter to his wife Kate: “I have a better Caretaker than you and all the angels. He it is who lies in a manger …but at the same time sits at the right hand of God, the almighty Father. Therefore be at rest.”
1633 – England. William Prynne has acquired great notoriety by his scholarly work, Histriomastrix, which he has written condemning plays, masks, dancing, etc. But the work is alleged to be seditious, and today he is tried in the Star Chamber and is condemned to be deprived of his ears, sentenced to perpetual imprisonment and to pay a fine of five thousand pounds. Archbishop Laud whose animosity has been fired by his writings against Arminianism has instigated the punishment.
On June 30, 1637, the same court will condemn him to be branded, fined another five thousand pounds, and to be imprisoned in remoter prisons. He will be released by the Long Parliament and be received in London, November 28, 1640 with great ovation. When the Archbishop is himself tried in 1644, Mr. Prynne will act as solicitor and will arrange the whole proceedings.
1801 – India. William Carey completes his New Testament in Bengalee. It is the first of its kind, and Mr. Carey will print two thousand copies with an additional five hundred Gospels of Matthew. Within the next fifty years, Mr. Carey’s enterprise will dispatch forty missionaries to Africa.
1832 – America. Birth of Hannah Whitall Smith, American Quaker evangelist and devotional author. Her best-known writing was “The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life” (1875). It’s still in print!
1947 – America. U.S. Senate Chaplain Peter Marshall rays: “We want to do right, and to be right; so start us in the right way, for hou knowest that we are very hard to turn.”
February 6 –
679 – Belgium. Death of Amandus, the founder of Belgian monasticism. During his 95 years, he established eight abbeys, five in the Southern Netherlands.
1557 – England. At the instigation of Queen Mary, the bones of Paul Fagius and Martin Bucer are exhumed and burned, and their university honors are taken away. But Queen Elizabeth will order the University to formally restore them their honors.
1564 – Switzerland. John Calvin preaches with difficulty his last sermon. He has brought the Reformation to France and to Switzerland. Since he has re-entered the city of Geneva, he has preached every day, every other week; but his asthmatic condition has caused him to preach slowly. Each Friday he has called his congregation together to answer their questions as well as to carry on debate.
1736 – Georgia. Three hundred people conducted by General James Oglethorpe land near Tybee Island, where they all kneel and humbly thank God for having safely arrived. Among them is a group of Moravians to reinforce the group already in the colony, and the brothers, John and Charles Wesley.
John Wesley, an Anglican, is made the spiritual leader of the Georgia colony, along with his brother Charles. He preaches in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and confesses, “My heart’s desire for this place is not that it should be a famous or a rich, but that it may be a religious colony: and then I am sure it cannot fail of the blessing of God.”
Finding his toil unwelcomed, he will return to England December 2, 1737 only to find that he himself is not yet converted.
1754 – England. At Wicken, Cambridgeshire, Andrew Fuller is born. As a young man he will experience conversion and six months later will be baptized into a Baptist church. He will study the writings of John Gill and will be especially influenced by the writings of John Owen as well as by Jonathan Edwards.
1839 – Scotland. Scottish clergyman Robert Murray McCheyne writes in a letter: “Even in the wildest storms the sky is not all dark; and so in the darkest dealings of God with His children, there are always some bright tokens for good.”
1875 – Germany. The Marriage Ceremony is recognized only as performed by civil authorities. It is based upon the principle of Separation of Church and State.
1931 – America. Pioneer linguist and missionary Frank Laubach writes in a letter: “There is a deep peace that grows out of illness and loneliness and a sense of failure. God cannot get close when everything is delightful. He seems to need these darker hours, these empty-hearted hours, to mean the most to people.”
1952 – America. Missionary and martyr Jim Elliot writes in his journal: “Christianity, disruptive in nature, has nonetheless integrating powers for the individual in the culture, though both he and it may expect revolution.”
February 4 –
1441 – Italy. Pope Eugene IV publishes the encyclical “Cantante domino.” It asserted that the biblical canon of the Roman Catholic Church contains both the 66 protocanonical books (i.e., the complete Protestant Bible) and 12 deuterocanonical (aka “apocryphal”) books 78 writings in all.
1555 – England. John Rogers goes to the stake “as if he was walking to his wedding.” He became a Protestant through the acquaintance of William Tyndale, and afterwards, under the pseudonym of “Thomas Matthew”, he translated the Scriptures using the translations of William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale, adding a preface and notes. It is known as “Matthew’s Bible.” Today he becomes England’s first “Marian” martyr, the first martyr to suffer at the hands of Queen Mary.
1794 – France. The French Convention decrees slavery should be abolished in all French colonies. This is the first act of any nation to decree the abolition of slavery.
1810 – America. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church is organized in Tennessee as an outgrowth of the Great Revival of 1800. Standing between Calvinism and Arminianism, the denomination holds a “medium theology” which affirms unlimited atonement, universal grace, conditional election, eternal security of the believer and salvation of all children dying in infancy.
1862 – New Hebrides. John Paten is driven from the island of Tanna by savage attacks. The natives have proved to be intractable.
1873 – America. Birth of George Bennard, Methodist evangelist. He penned over 300 Gospel songs during his lifetime, but is primarily remembered today for one: “The Old Rugged Cross.”
1874 – England. Poet and devotional writer Frances Ridley Havergal, 37, pens the words to the popular hymn of commitment, “Take My Life and Let It Be [Consecrated, Lord, to Thee].”
February 3 –
1468 – Germany. John Gutenberg dies. He was born as John Gensfleish which translates “gooseflesh” and which for embarrassment he has changed to the name on his mother’s side of the family –“Gutenberg.” He will be buried in the Franciscan Church at Mainz. As a young man he was a goldsmith, but today he dies leaving behind him his 42 line Bible –the first book he has printed on his printing press, the first one with move-able type in the western world.
1518 – Italy. Pope Leo X imposes silence on the Augustinian monks.
1744 – America. Colonial missionary to the American Indians David Brainerd explains in a tract: ‘God designs that those whom He sanctifies…shall tarry awhile in this present evil world, that their own experience of temptations may teach them how great the deliverance is, which God has wrought for them.’
1799 – England. This Lord’s Day, James Haldane is ordained to the Gospel ministry. He has been asked four questions:
1.) As an unconverted ministry is allowed to be a great evil, will you, sir, be pleased to favor us with some account of the dealing of God with your soul?
2.) Will you inform us what are the circumstances and motives which have ledyou to preach the Gospel and to desire to engage in the work of the ministry?
3.) Will you favor us with your views of the leading truths of the Gospel?
4.) Will you explain your views and purposes respecting the duties and trials before you in the pastoral office?
In 1848, he will publish An Exposition of The Epistle To the Galatians; and later, his Exposition To the Hebrews.
1779 – America. Pioneer Methodist bishop Francis Asbury reflected in his journal: “God is gracious beyond the power of language to describe.”
1832 – Scotland. “Not a trait worth remembering! and yet these four and twenty hours must be accounted for.” – from the Diary of Robert Murray M’Cheyne.
1881 – Maine. Rev. Francis E Clark founds the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor in the Williston Congregational Church in the city of Portland. It will be an interdenominational organization, which during the Boer War will form societies in the prison camps of St. Helena, Ceylon, and the Bermudas. As a result, hundreds of Boers will be converted and two hundred of them will be sent to the African mission field upon their release.
Its principles include, 1.) Open confession of Christ, 2.) Active service for Him, 3.) Loyalty to one’s church, and 4.) Fellowship with His people.
1943 – Russia. The German army, which has invaded Russia last year, has been besieged in the city of Stalingrad by the Russian counter-offensive. Today the German army surrenders after weeks of temperatures dropping to forty-nine degrees below zero on the Fahrenheit scale. The army of 330,000 men has dwindled to a mere 95,000 men. The last message sent by the Germans over their wireless was, “Send us Bibles.” Their request will be granted and German planes will drop copies of God’s Word behind enemy lines.
1907 – Russia. In a letter written to American statesman William Jennings Bryan, Christian Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy counsels: “The most important thing is to know the will of God concerning one’s life, i.e., to know what he wishes us to do and fulfill it.”
1944 – Germany. Theologian and Nazi martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes in a letter from prison: “There is a kind of weakness that Christianity does not hold with, but which people insist on claiming as Christian, and then sling mud at it.”
1955 – England. Novelist and Apologist C.S. Lewis writes in a letter: “It is right…that we should be much concerned about the salvation of those we love. But we must be careful not to…demand that their salvation should conform to some ready-made pattern of our own.”
February 1 –
1656 – New York. Peter Stuyvesant, recently the Vice-Director of Curacao, was wounded in the West Indies in the attack made on St. Martin. With an army of one hundred twenty men he has become the protector of the Dutch settlement of New Netherlands.
Today, Director General Stuyvesant and the Council issue an ordinance repeating the prohibition of conventicles and of preaching by unauthorized persons. Only Reformed worship conformable to the Canons of Dort of 1619 are to be allowed. Public worship by settlers from New England and family worship by Dissenters will continue to be permitted.
In 1653, a convention met which was composed of two deputies from each village in New Netherlands. It was an assembly which Mr. Stuyvesant was unwilling to sanction, but one that he could not prevent. At this convention a petition was drafted by Mr. George Baxter and was unanimously adopted by the convention. It read, “The States-General of the United Provinces are our liege lords; we submit to the laws of the United Provinces; and our rights and privileges ought to be in harmony with those of the fatherland, for we are a member of the state, and not subjugated people. We, who have come together from various parts of the world, and are a blended community of various lineage; we, who have at our own expense, exchanged our native lands for the protection of the United Provinces; we who have transformed the wilderness into fruitful farms, – demand that no new laws shall be enacted but with the consent of the people, that none shall be appointed to office but with the approbation of the people, that obscure and obsolete laws shall never be revived.”
Mr. Stuyvesant was amazed. He had never had faith in what he called “the wavering multitude.” Because he doubted man’s ability for self-government, he replied, “Will you set your names to the visionary notions of an Englishman? Is there no one of the Netherlands’ nation able to draft your petition? And your prayer is extravagant; you might as well claim to send delegates to the assembly of their high mightinesses themselves.
1.) “Laws will be made by the Director and Council. Evil manners produce good laws for their restraint; and therefore the laws of New Netherlands are good.
2.) “Shall the people elect their own officers? If this rule become our cynosure, and the election of magistrates be left to the rabble, every man will vote for one of his own stamp. The thief will vote for a thief; the smuggler for a smuggler; and fraud and vice will become privileged.
3.) “The old laws remain in force; Directors will never make themselves responsible to subjects.”
On December 13, 1653, the delegates responded: “We do but design the general good of the country and the maintenance of freedom; nature permits all men to constitute society and assemble for the protection of liberty and property.”
Enraged, and devoid of power to argue, Mr. Stuyvesant dissolved the Assembly and threatened its members with “arbitrary” punishment, saying, “We derive our authority from God and the West India Company, not from the pleasure of a few ignorant subjects.”
1750 – England. Anglican clergyman and hymnwriter John Newton (author of “Amazing Grace”), 24, marries Mary Catlett. Their marriage lasted 40 years, before her death in 1790. John lived another 17 years, and died in 1807.
1791 – England. Founder of Methodism, John Wesley writes in a letter: “Probably I should not be able to do so much did not many of you assist me by your prayers.”
1845 – Texas. The Texas Baptist Education Society receives a charter from the Republic of Texas for a college at Independence. This will merge with the University of Waco in 1886, when it will become known as Baylor University.
1949 – Israel. The modern state of Israel formally annexes West Jerusalem.
January 31 –
1686 – France. The Duke of Savoy declares amnesty is at an end, and the Waldensians are ordered to become members of the Church of Rome. An Edict is issued forbidding the exercise by the Vaudois of their religion, and their places of worship are ordered demolished. Pastors and schoolteachers refusing to be converted are ordered to quit the country within fifteen days upon pain of death, and the confiscation of all their property. All Protestant refugees from France are ordered to leave under the same terms. All children born of Protestant parents are to be compulsorily educated as Roman Catholics.
1834 – Burma. Adoniram Judson, who read Buchanan’s Star in the East and became sensible of God’s calling him to leave New England for Burma, today completes his translation of the Word of God into Burmese.
1839 – Scotland. Two months before his premature death at age 39, Church of Scotland clergyman Robert Murray McCheyne writes in a letter: “Is not a Christian’s darkest hour calmer than the world’s brightest?”
1892 – France. At 11:00 this Sunday evening, Mr. Charles Haddon Spurgeon dies in the Hotel Beau Rivage in Mentone, France. On his tomb can be found the words, “Here lies the body of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, waiting for the appearing of his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.” This Baptist preacher has been called the greatest preacher since the days of the Apostle Paul.
His pastorate at Park Street Church has grown from one hundred people to a crowd of ten thousand when he preached at the Surrey Gardens Music Hall. He has established the Pastor’s College, the Stockwell Orphanage and has edited the monthly magazine, the Sword and Trowel. He leaves behind nineteen hundred sermons including various books among which is Our Own Hymn Book, the Treasury of David –which is a three thousand page commentary on the Psalms, and the Gospel of the Kingdom –which is a series of expositions of the book of Matthew.
1933 – Germany. Adolph Hitler is named Chancellor of Germany. In four weeks, Communist saboteurs will burn the Reichstag, which is the parliament building. The following day he will discard the constitution and create a dictatorship by forbidding freedom of speech and of the press, as well as invading the privacy of the mails, and by calling an end to public meetings. Search and seizure, originally illegal is put into force.
1949 – America. Missionary and Auca Indian martyr Jim Elliot writes in his journal: “One does not surrender a life in an instant – that which is lifelong can only be surrendered in a lifetime.”
January 30 –
435 – Italy. Rome recognizes the Vandal territories in Northwest Africa as “federati,” in an effort to stave off their invasion of Italy. (The invasion was successfully postponed for 20 years.)
1164 – England. Henry II calls an assembly at Clarendon at which he presents sixteen principles later called the “Constitutions of Clarendon.” In them he demands the clergy abandon their connection with Rome. Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury,
is the only one to refuse.
1649 – England. Charles I has aroused tremendous opposition on account of his persecution of the Puritans by Archbishop William Laud. His two sons have had to flee to Holland to escape the wrath of the populace when the Scotch army and the Scotch Presbyterians sought to overthrow the king. His thrust has been to stop the mouths of the Puritans and to grant complete liberty to the tongues and pens of the Arminians.
In January, the House of Commons passed three memorable votes which swept away the king, the lords, the law and liberties, the fundamental government and property of the nation: 1.) That the people are, under God, the original of al just power; 2.) That the Commons of England in parliament assembled, being chosen and representing the people, have the supreme power of the nation; 3.) That whatsoever is enacted or declared for law by the House of commons assembled in parliament has the force of law.
An ordinance followed calling for the trial of Charles Stuart on the charge of high treason. The Lords refused any share in such violent proceedings. One Republican, Algernon Sidney, sternly opposed the measure. “No one will stir!” demanded Cromwell. “I tell you we will cut off his head with the crown upon it.” “I cannot prevent you,” Mr. Sidney remonstrated, “but I certainly will have nothing to do with this affair.”
On January 27th, the court condemned the king “to be put to death by the severing of his head from his body. Of all the puritan clergy, Mr. John Owen alone dares to applaud the action taken by the army. In a sermon he will preach on January 31st, 1649, he will declare before parliament, “When kings ommand unrighteous things, and the people suit them with willing compliance, none doubts but that the destruction of both is just and righteous.”
This morning, King Charles is brought to the scaffold. Here he utters his last words, then kneeling down, he submits himself to the executioner who is asked with crepe. With one stroke he severs the king’s head from his body. “The king who conspires against the liberties of the people,” declares Mr. Bancroft, conspires to subvert the most precious bequest of past ages, the clearest hope of future time; he would destroy genius in its birth and enterprise in its sources and sacrifice; the prolific causes of intelligence and virtue to his avarice or his vanity, his caprices or his ambition; …would deprive common life of its sweets, by depriving it of its security, and religion of its power to solace, by subjecting it to supervision and control. His aim would not only enslave a present race of men, but forge chains for unborn generations. There can be no fouler deed.”
1750 – America. Rev. Jonathan Mayhew of Boston delivered a sermon entitled, “Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission.” The sermon attacked both the divine right of kings and ecclesiastical absolutism.
1788 – America. Pioneer Methodist bishop Francis Asbury writes in his journal: “Alas for the rich! They are so soon offended.”
1839 – Scotland. Robert Murray McCheyne writes in a letter: God feeds the wild flowers on the lonely mountain side without the help of man…. So God can feed his own planted ones without the help of man, by the sweetly falling dew of his Spirit.”
1877 – Uganda. Henry Stanley, converted through his contact with David Livingstone has been the first Christian to enter this country. Touching the northern shore of Lake Victoria, he is greeted by a welcoming party of Bugundans. Two servants of the royal court usher him into the presence of King Mutesa, an emperor, who claims the power of life and death over his subjects.
When Mr. Stanley announces he has a book telling of the Saviour, King Mutesa counters by saying he has already been approached by Moslem traders who have affirmed their book is the best. When Mr. Stanley defends the Christian faith, the king responds, he is “as a man sitting in darkness.” and he asks to be taught. Mr. Stanley will write a letter, which will be printed in the London Daily Telegraph. Immediately, the Church Missionary Society responds by sending a Scottish engineer, Mr. Alexander Mackay, to head a party of eight. Two will become ill and will return home. Another, will become ill and have to wait behind in Zanzibar. One will be murdered crossing into Bugundan country; one will remain behind to repair the boats; and Mr. Mackay himself will be injure when a wagon falls on his leg.
Today, Mr. C. T. Wilson and Mr. Shergold Smith reach the court of King Mutesa, and are greeted by great celebration. When the festival dies down, the king asks, “Did you bring the book?” When Mr. Shergold Smith goes to aid Mr. O’Neil who is left to repair the boats, both will be killed attempting to rescue an Arab who has angered a tribal chief. King Mutesa will show interest in the Gospel and will soon dismiss his Moslem teacher in order to concentrate on Christianity; but when French Catholic priests arrive, the king begins to vacillate declaring all white men seem to have their own religion. He refuses to commit himself to the Gospel.
Every day, according to the king’s whims, he will single out victims for torture and execution. Some will have noses, ears, lips or sections of their arms and legs sliced for roasting before being murdered. As the king greatly respects Mr. Mackay, the engineer begs the king to show mercy and will plead the Fifth Commandment. Each time, the killings will subside only to be resumed as soon as Mr. Mackay ceases his pleadings.
In 1884, King Mutesa will suddenly die and will be placed in a coffin built by Mr. Mackay. To the very last, the king will vacillate between Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism.
His son will keep a harem not only of women as his father did, but will also include young men. When he is convinced by Arabs that the missionaries are agents of France and England plotting his overthrow, he will move to unleash persecution against the Christian Church.
January 28 –
1547 – England. Henry VIII dies and along with him the bitterness of nearly unrelenting persecution against those who have stood opposed to his “Six Articles.” These Articles have reaffirmed six basic Catholic doctrines: 1.) Transubstantiation, 2.) Withholding the cup from the laity, 3.) Celibacy of the clergy, 4.) The Inviolability of monastic vows, 5.) The Saying of private masses, and 6.) The importance of Oral Confession. Denial of the first article has brought the penalty of Death, while the denial of one of the others has constituted imprisonment and forfeiture of property; but for an additional denial, the penalty is Death.
1561 – France. The royal “Ordinance of Orleans” suspends persecution of the Huguenots.
1581- Scotland. King James VI, who in 1603 would become England’s James I, signs the Second Scottish Confession of Faith.
1822 – England. William D. Longstaff, English philanthropist is born. A close acquaintance of Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey, Longstaff is better remembered today as author of the hymn, “Take Time to Be Holy.”
1834 – England. Sabine Baring-Gould, Anglican clergyman and author is born. A man of widely diverging interests, he published numerous books on history, biography, poetry and fiction. He also penned the enduring hymns, “Onward, Christian Soldiers” and “Now the Day is Over.”
January 27 –
98 – Italy. Domitian, the Roman Emperor whose pastime was spent in catching flies, is credited with boiling the Apostle John in oil, and when the man God survived, banished him to the Isle of Patmos. Nerva, who succeeded him as emperor, recalled him. Today at Rome, Emperor Nerva dies, and is succeeded by Marcus Ulpius Trajan.
Trajan is a Spaniard by birth and a soldier by profession, and after subjugating the province of Bythinia Pontus, he will send Pliny, the Younger to restore order there. Pliny will immediately perceive himself face to face with a wide extension of Christianity in town and country involving both men and women of all ages and ranks. Consequently, the worship of the gods will be in neglect. Pliny will feel his responsibility embraces the maintenance of the state religion, and thus he will interfere by virtue of his office. People admitting to the charge against them of being Christians will be tried in court and sentenced to death. Roman citizens, however, will be confined to the city.
“They affirmed,” says Pliny, “the whole of their guilt or their error was that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft, or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor to deny a trust when they should be called on to deliver it up …”
Trajan will regard the Christian confession as an offense worthy of capital sentence. Those, however, who renounced their adherence to Christianity by sacrificing to the gods, will go free.
438 –Turkey. Schism has rent the Church of Constantinople for thirty years. Today it is terminated by Pulcheria, Empress of the Eastern empire, who brings the bones of Chrysostom and solemnly buries them in the Church of the Apostles.
1302 – Italy. Dante is pronounced guilty of resisting the Pope and of assisting to expel the rival faction, the “Neri,” or the “Blacks,” whom the Pope declares to be the servants of the Church. Dante is a member of the “Bianchi,” or the “Whites” that represent democracy. In his De Monarchia he has advocated separation of spiritual and civil power, and declared the temporal power of the Pope is usurpation. By order of the Papal legate, the book was publicly burned at Bologna, and placed on the list of prohibited books.
1343 – Italy. Clement VI’s bull “Unigenitus” officially ratified the belief that Indulgences owed their potency to the Pope’s dispensation of the accumulated merit of the Church. (In 1518 Cardinal Thomas Cajetan accused German reformer Martin Luther, 32, of challenging the validity of this Catholic doctrine.)
1774 – America. Pioneer Methodist bishop Francis Asbury writes in his journal: “If my labours should be in vain for the people, the Lord gives me a gracious reward in my own soul.”
1839 – England. Birth of John Julian, famed English authority on sacred music. His undoubted masterwork is the monumental “Dictionary of Hymnology” which he published in 1892 (later revised, updated and reissued in 1957).
1842 – Scottland. Robert Murray McCheyne writes in a letter: ‘Call upon the name of the Lord. Your time may be short… The longest lifetime is short enough. It is all that is given you to be converted in. They are the happiest who are brought soonest to the bosom of Jesus.”
1844 – England. William Gadsby, Stockinger, Hosier, Preacher dies today. Mr. J.C. Philpot has called him the greatest preacher of his day. He has been instrumental in founding some forty churches, and has asked the following be put upon his stone:
“Here rests the body of a sinner base,
Who had no hope but in electing grace;
The Love, Blood, Righteousness of God
Was his sweet theme, and this he spread abroad.”
1972 – America. In Columbia, the white and black United Methodist conferences of South Carolina – separated since the Civil War – vote in their respective meetings to adopt a plan of union.
January 26 –
1564 – Italy. The Council of Trent has asked the Pope to ratify its decrees and definitions. Today, Pope Pius IV enjoins strict obedience upon all Roman Catholics, and forbids, under pain of excommunication, all unauthorized interpretations, reserving this to the Pope alone, and threatening the disobedient with “the indignation of Almighty God, and of His blessed apostles, Peter and Paul.
1779 – America. Pioneer Methodist bishop Francis Asbury writes in his journal: ‘We should so work as if we were to be saved by our works; and so rely on Jesus Christ, as if we did no works.’
1883 – New York. William Gottlief Schauffler dies. He has labored as a missionary to the people of Turkey, and especially to the Jews. His magnum opus is the translation of the entire Bible into Osmandi -Turkish, the language of the educated Turks. It has taken him eighteen years to complete.
1885 – Sudan. Muhammed Ahmad, a Moslem, has proclaimed himself “Al-Mahdi”, “The Divinely Guided One,” and has led a revolt against the Egyptians. Raging against Europeans, he has enslaved women while brutally murdering the men. The throat of one Austrian was cut simply because he made the sign of the cross. While mutilating European men by cutting off their hands, women have been prodded into corals to be selected as concubines by the Mahdi and his top officers. Such has been the treatment of the “Christian dogs.”
The Mahdi has advanced on the city of Khartoum where the British General Charles Gordon represents Egypt in the governor’s palace. General Gordon is a devout Christian. He has advised his aides to search the Scriptures and has abhorred the traffic in slaves. He has rescued children left abandoned along the caravan routes by slave traders, and is respected by most Sudanese who affectionately call him, “the father and saviour of the Sudan.”
Though resident in the governor’s palace, he has nevertheless turned aside from wealth and luxuries. Though the Egyptians have set his salary at fifty thousand dollars a year, He has accepted only ten thousand dollars per year. Mr. Gordon has requested reinforcements from the British garrison in Egypt to bolster his forces, but today, before help can arrive, the Mahdi enters the city of Khartoum. When they enter the governor’s house, the General dresses in his uniform and goes downstairs to meet them, and asks, “Where is your leader?” A spear is thrown into his chest. As he falls forward he suffers other blows.
In two days, British relief will steam up the Nile, but finding the city has already fallen, they will beat a hasty retreat. In six months, the Mahdi himself will be taken ill and will die at the age of forty-one years. And in seven years, the British will return to put down the rule of the Mahdi’s successors.
1906 – America. The first General Assembly of the Church of God convenes. Headquartered today in Cleveland, TN, the Church of God is the oldest Pentecostal Church denomination in the U.S., with roots going back to 1886.
1967 – Switzerland. Swiss Reformed theologian Karl Barth writes in a letter: “What God has done is well done.”
January 25 –
1077 – Italy. This morning, the excommunicated king, Henry IV, climbs the hill to the Castle of Canossa and knocks at its outer gate. The gate is opened to and he is led through the first and second wall. The third gate remains closed, however, He stands all day in the courtyard fasting and wearing the course woolen garb of a penitent; bareheaded and barefooted he stands in the snow. Night falls, and the gate remains closed.
The third day, Henry is again found standing in the courtyard. It is late afternoon on the 27th day of January when the inner gate slowly opens and Henry is told to enter. In tears, the Emperor prostrates himself on the ground and kissing the Pope’s foot implores his forgiveness. Gregory lifts the ban of excommunication from Henry.
1534 – Germany. German Reformer Martin Luther gives his understanding of “conversion” in a sermon: ‘To be converted to God means to believe in Christ, to believe that He is our Mediator and that we have eternal life through Him.”
1596 – England. Sir Francis Drake dies. His father, Edmund Drake, a lay preacher of the Reformed faith, was forced to flee Devon in 1549 where he found refuge on the East Coast. His son, Francis early served as apprentice on a small lugger. When the skipper died he bequeathed it to Francis. On a voyage with Admiral Hawkins, he risked his savings, and was captured by the Spanish. Narrowly escaping with his life, he regained his ship. He has enforced regular religious services aboard his ship. He has figured in a large measure in the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. All his ships carry Bibles, Prayer Books, and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.
1627 – Ireland. Robert Boyle, who will become known as the “Father of Modern Chemistry” is born in Lismore Castle, in Munster, Ireland. He is the ourteenth child. In his early teens, he will be converted, and will study in Geneva, Switzerland, where he will come under powerful Calvinistic preaching. At his own expense, he will have the Bible printed in Irish and Gaelic, and will support missionary endeavors in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, India, and North America. His love for the Word of God will be evidenced by his regular morning readings, and he will translate the Gospels and Acts into Turkish, Arabic, and Malayan.
1841 – England. The Oxford Movement in England reaches its apex with the appearance of John Henry Newman’s Tract No. 90. The storm of controversy which ensued brought the series (begun in 1833) to an end. Later, Newman resigned his Anglican parish and in 1845 converted to Roman Catholicism.
1861 – America. Missouri Synod Lutheran founder C.F.W. Walther wrote in a letter: “The church, as a fellowship…of those who are born again…corresponds to the nature of living Christianity, whereas…the church as a fellowship of the orthodox, whether converted or unconverted, will necessarily lead to a dead Christianity.
January 24 –
1076 – Germany. The Emperor, Henry IV, has called a council of bishops, which today meets at Worms and declares it no longer recognizes Gregory VII as Pope. The following letter is sent to him: “Henry, king not through usurpation but through the ordination of God, to Hildebrand, at present not pope but false monk . . . Thou therefore, condemned by the judgment of all our bishops and by our own, descend and relinquish the apostolic chair which thou hast usurped. Let another ascend the throne of St. Peter who shall not practice violence under the cloak of religion, but shall teach the sound doctrine of St. Peter.”
On February 14th, the Pope will excommunicate Henry saying, “Blessed Peter, prince of the apostles, lend me, I pray thee, a favoring ear. It is because I am thy representative that thy grace has descended upon me, and this grace is the power granted by God to bind and loose in Heaven and in earth. Strong in this faith, for the honor and defense of thy church, on behalf of Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, by virtue of Thy power and authority I deprive Henry son of the Emperor Henry (III), who has opposed Thy church with unheard of insolence, of the government of the whole kingdom of Germany and of Italy; I release all Christians from the oath which they have made to him or that they shall make to him. I forbid everyone to obey him as a king.”
1722 – America. In Cambridge, Mass., Edward Wigglesworth is named to fill the newly created Thomas Hollis chair at Harvard College. Mr. Wigglesworth thereby became the first divinity professor commissioned in the American colonies.
1738 – America. Four months before his celebrated Christian conversion, Anglican missionary John Wesley writes in his journal: “I went to America to convert the Indians. But oh! who shall convert me? I have a fair summer religion… But let death look me in the face, and my spirit is troubled.”
1818 – England. Anglican clergyman John Mason Neale is born in London. He was one of the first to translate ancient Greek and Latin hymns into English. Neale thus rendered the hymns known today as “All Glory, Laud, and Honor,” “Good Christian Men, Rejoice” and “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”
1975 – England. Rev. F. Donald Coggan, 66, is consecrated the 101st Archbishop of Canterbury (primate of Anglicanism). In the audience was Johannes Cardinal Willebrands – the first Vatican representative to attend this Anglican ceremony since the time of the Reformation.
January 23 –
386 – France. Emperor Valentinian II, at the instigation of his mother, has taken the Arians under his protective care. Today he issues an edict insuring toleration for the Arian adherents at the Synod of Ariminum. Other acts will be passed which will benefit them. But Theodosius will successfully halt this policy changing the entire government policy.
In his twentieth year at Vienne, he will be murdered by Arbogastes, his general, and will die unbaptized. His body will be brought to Milan where Ambrose will preach his funeral.
1248 – Russia. Pope Innocent IV addresses a letter to Alexander Nevski, Grand Duke of Novgorod, urging him to submit to the See of Rome. Another such letter will be sent on September 15th. Mr. Nevski will respond, “We know what the Old and New Testaments say, and we are also acquainted with the Church of Constantine and from the first to the seventh council; but your teaching we do not accept.”
1546 – Germany. Martin Luther leaves Wittemberg for Eisleben to settle a mining dispute between the counts of Mansfield. He will be successful, but he will neglect his health and will contract a severe cold from which he will die on February 18th.
1570 – Scotland. The Protestant Regent, the Earl of Moray, is assassinated, and Morton Regent from 1572-1578, will attempt to remove the freedom of the Church of Scotland.
1579 – Holland. On January 6th, a secret alliance known as the Union of Atrecht was formed to defend the Roman Catholic Church and the Authority of the king. Today the Union of Utrecht is formed to oppose it.
1656 – France. French scientist Blaise Pascal, 33, publishes the first of his 18 “Provincial Lettres,” the majority of which attacked the Jesuit theories of grace and moral theology.
1755 – England. Under the influence of the Methodist movement, English clergyman John Fletcher, 26, is converted to a living faith. He will remain in the Anglican church but afterward he will become a chief defender of evangelical Arminianism.
1789 – America. Georgetown College is founded by Father John Carroll, 54, in Washington, D.C. Ä the first Roman Catholic college established in America.
1890 – Japan. Neesima, commonly called Joseph Hardy Neesima, dies. When Commodore Matthew Perry arrived in Yedo in 1853, his curiosity was awakened about the western world. Later, he came in contact with Dutch traders and learned their language. He next read in Chinese Elijah Coleman Bridgman’s Church History and William Alexander Parsons Martin’s Evidences of Christianity, and determined to visit the lands where these people had come from, and to learn the way of truth more perfectly. By the connivance of friends, he was smuggled into an American brig lying in harbor at Hakodate in July 1864 and reached Boston in August 1865. He became the interpreter of the Japanese embassy in 1871 and thereby received a pardon for the capital crime of leaving his country without permission. He was absorbed with the desire of promoting Christian education in Japan. At Kyoto, on November 29, 1875, he opened a college with eight students. It was given the name “Doshisha University”—which means “One counsel.”
1918 – Russia. Communists attack the Russian Orthodox Petchersky Monastery and kill hundreds of priests. The Orthodox Church will declare that in this month alone, over two thousand priests, along with fifty bishops have been killed or deported as the Communists attack their churches in the Ukraine. This month the new government will also decree all church treasures belong to the state and that all gold and precious stones are to be sold to relieve the starving. When the Orthodox patriarch instructs priests and bishops to surrender all “unconsecrated” items, the anti-Christian party leaders will condemn the church as being too greedy to care for the starving. This will result in turning much public opinion against it in the form of assaults upon churches, monasteries and the taking of human life.
1935 – England. British biblical expositor Arthur W. Pink writes in a letter: “Growth in grace is like the growth of a cow’s tail. The more it truly grows, the closer to the ground it is brought.”
1943 – America. The New Tribes Mission is incorporated in Los Angeles by founder Paul W. Fleming. NTM works today primarily in missionary aviation, Bible translation, church planting and the production and distribution of Christian literature.
January 21 –
1525 – Switzerland. At Zurich, those opposing infant baptism (anti-pedobaptists) are forbidden to conduct religious services. Conrad Grebel has baptized Mr. George Blaurock. It is the first adult baptism here. Mr. Grebel is called the founder of the sixteenth century Anabaptist movement calling for 1.) Separation of Church and State, 2.) Believer’s Baptism, and 3.) Church Membership composed only of converted persons. He will die of the plague as a harried fugitive in Switzerland.
1549 – England. The Act of Uniformity, the first of its kind to be passed, today sets forth the penalties to be exacted for refusing to implement the Prayer Book of Edward VI. The first offence will constitute the loss of a benefice for a year, and imprisonment for six months. The second offence will involve the loss of all benefices and imprisonment for one year. The third offence will invoke the sentence of imprisonment for life. It will be repealed by Queen Mary in October, 1553.
1621 – Massachusetts. The Pilgrims erect the first homes at Plymouth, and today being Sunday, the first public worship service is held in a rough, square blockhouse. As they have no pastor, they are led by William Brewster, the oldest in the company and an elder of the church.
1738 – England. English revivalist George Whitefield writes in his journal: “I desire to have no greater portion than the prayers of the poor.”
1772 – America. Pioneer Methodist bishop Frances Asbury wrote in his journal: “Though a stranger in a strange land, God has taken care of me.”
1802 – Denmark. At Copenhagen, Adolphe Monod is born. He is a brother to Frederic who will found the Free Church. In 1851, Adolphe will be dismissed from his church when he preaches a sermon in which he seeks to limit participation in the Lord’s Supper to those only who are worthy recipients.
1824 – West Virginia. Thomas Jonathan Jackson is born in Clarksburg. Better known during the dark days of the Civil War as General “Stonewall” Jackson, he, like General Lee, will distinguish himself as a Christian.
For several years before the Civil War, he will conduct a Sunday school for slaves. He will invite his servants to join in family prayers and will organize a special meeting for them each Sunday afternoon to teach them the Gospel.
As a General, he will wrestle with the question of attacking on the Lord’s Day, since he even refuses to mail a letter on Sunday. He even writes the Confederate government suggesting mail not be carried on Sunday. He will pray all night before a battle and sometimes during the battle. The first chapel of
logs will be built in his brigade.
A Presbyterian, he will write his pastor, “You suggest I give my views and wishes in such form and extent as I am willing should be made public. This I shrink from doing, because it looks presumptuous of me to come before the public and even intimate what course I think would be pursued by the people of God . . . . My views are summed up in these words: Each Christian branch of the Church should send into the Army some of its most prominent ministers, who are distinguished for their piety, talents, and zeal; and such ministers should labor to produce concert of action among the chaplains and Christians in the Army… and as a general rule, I do not think that a chaplain who would preach denominational sermons should be in the Army … but let the question be: ‘Does he preach the Gospel?’”
January 20 –
1156 – Finland. Henry of Upsala has come to Finland with Eric, king of Sweden to convert and baptize the Finns. When Eric returned, Henry remained. Today a peasant named Lalli murders him. Lalli has already been punished for a previous murder. Henry will become known as the “Apostle of Finland.”
1529 – Germany. Luther is preparing his Larger Catechism in the form of two tables: the first table, intended for children, includes the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed as well as other prayers. It is published today. The Second Table will appear the middle of March and is intended for adults and deals with the doctrines of baptism, and the Lord’s Supper.
1561 – Germany. The Naumburg Convention opens today, and in twenty-one sittings lasting until February 8, the Assembly attempts to unite the protestant estates by their subscribing to the Augsburg Confession, and against the Council of Trent soon to be re-opened. It is a common protest against Pope and Council.
Two Papal legates together with an imperial embassy will arrive to invite the Protestant princes to participate in the Council of Trent. The Papal briefs will begin, “Dilecto filio”, “(to my) beloved son,” and will be sent back unopened with the remark, that Protestant princes were not, and would never be, the sons of the Pope.
1669 – England. Susannah Annesley, “Mother of Methodism” is born. She’s the 25th child in her family, married Samuel Wesley in 1689 and bore him 19 children, the last two being John (1703) and Charles (1707) Wesley.
1758 – England. English founder of Methodism John Wesley writes in a letter: “I cannot think of you, without thinking of God. Others often lead me to Him, as it were, going round about. You bring me straight into His presence.”
1879 – America. Birth of Albert S. Reitz, American Baptist evangelist and clergyman. He published over 100 hymns during his lifetime. Of these, the one best remembered today is “Teach Me to Pray, Lord.”
1918 – Russia. Following the Bolshevik Revolution, all church property is confiscated and all religious instruction in the schools was abolished.
January 19 –
1563 – Germany. The Elector Frederick III of the Palatinate has caused the Heidelberg Catechism to be written by Ursinus and Olevianus. Today, it is published at Heidelberg.
1568 – England. Miles Coverdale, 80, publisher of the first printed English Bible dies in London. He completed the translation of the Old Testament which William Tyndale had left unfinished at his death in 1536.
1637 – Massachusetts. At Braintree, a general fast is observed.
1684 – England. Having been driven from his pulpit by the Ejection of 1662 because of his refusal to conform to the Act of Uniformity demanding all ministers in the English realm to conform with the Episcopal liturgy found in the Church of England, William Jenkyn dies today in the foul Newgate Prison. He has been denied the mercy of praying with his daughter. In Whitehall Palace, Charles II, jestingly falls upon his musicians to play a tune known as “Jenkyn’s Farewell” when a nobleman courageously addresses him, “Your Majesty, Jenkyn has got his liberty.” “Aye,” says the King in surprise, “who gave it him?” “A greater than your Majesty: Jenkyn is dead.” One hundred fifty coaches will accompany his body to the grave. He leaves behind him a Commentary on Jude.
1774 – America. Pioneer Methodist bishop Francis Asbury writes in his journal: “Lord, ever draw my heart after thee! May I see no beauty in any other object, nor desire anything but thee!”
1804 – India. Anglican missionary to Persia Henry Martyn writes in his journal: “To be made fit for the work of a missionary I resigned the comforts of a married life, …and that was a severe struggle. Now again will I put forth the hand of faith, though the struggle will be far more severe.”
1889 – America. The Salvation Army splits, as one faction within the denomination renounces allegiance to founder William Booth. Booth’s son Ballington and his wife Maud led the American splinter group, which in 1896 incorporated itself as a separate denomination known as the Volunteers of America.
January 18 –
1525 – Switzerland. The first independent church within the general Anabaptist movement was formed here at Zurich in 1523. Today, the church begins to baptize on profession of faith, in spite of the fact the authorities have tried by force to suppress it. The city magistrates counter it by demanding the anti-paedobaptists present their children for baptism or be banished.
1562 – Italy. The Council of Trent Ä called by the popes to deal with the monumental problems caused by the Reformation Ä reconvened, following a suspension of ten years.
1782 – New Hampshire. In Salisbury, now known as Franklin, Daniel Webster is born. In 1807, he will write his pastor, “I believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God. The miracles which He wrought establish in my mind His personal authority and render it proper for me to believe whatever He asserts. “I believe, therefore, all His declarations, as well when He declares Himself to be the Son of God as when He declares any other proposition. I believe there is no other way of salvation than through the merits of His atonement. I believe that the Bible is to be understood and received in the plain, obvious meaning of its passages, since I cannot persuade myself that a book intended for the instruction and conversion of the whole world should cover its meaning in any such mystery and doubt that none but critics and philosophers can discover it.”
1815 – Germany. Birth of L.F.K. Tischendorf, German biblical and textual scholar. In 1844 he discovered one of the oldest and most valuable manuscripts of the Greek Bible, the Codex Sinaiticus, which dates back to the 4th century.
1843 – Massachusetts. At Boston, the Methodist anti-slavery convention meets.
1888 – England. When, at the request of his friend S. H. Booth, acting Secretary of the Baptist Union, Charles Haddon Spurgeon refuses to name those in the Baptist Union whom he has referred to as being lax toward the faith, the Council passes a vote of “censure” upon him explaining that his charges of doctrinal laxity, being unsupported with the names of the offending parties, ought not to have been made.
January 17 –
395 – Rome. With the death of Emperor Theodosius I (the Great), this is the last day the (Christian) Roman Empire is ontrolled by a single leader. In his wisdom, Theodosius had divided the empire into western and eastern portions.
1377 – Rome. The Papal See is moved back to Rome by Gregory XI. Located in France for 72 years, it had been moved to Avignon by French pope Clement V in 1305, originally to escape the political turmoil rampant within Italy at the time.
1562 – France. An edict formulated today allows Protestants the right to conduct services outside city walls under the protection of the law. They are still forbidden, however, to build churches.
1745 – America. Colonial missionary to the American Indians David Brainerd writes in his journal: ‘Oh, how comfortable and sweet it is, to feel the assistance of divine grace in the performance of the duties which God has enjoined on us!’
1865 – Australia. John Paten, Presbyterian missionary, arrives at Sydney after having returned to Scotland for assistance. He brings seven others with him as missionaries to the New Hebrides, and returns with his second wife, Margaret Whitecross. His former wife, Mary Ann Robson has died in
1872 – France. In a small shop in Belleville, the Communistic quarter of Paris, Mr. Robert Whitaker McAll founds the first city mission in modern times. The McAll missions as they are called are French, non-denominational missions and will be set up in Algeria, Tunis, and Corsica. The first adult Bible class in France will be established in a McAll mission, and the first industrial school in France will also be established in a McAll Hall in 1874. The halls are
centers of temperance, and dispensary work, lending libraries, Bible and Tract distribution and extensive visitation programs. Christian Endeavor will be introduced into France by C. E. Grief who will be in charge of the work among the young in the mission halls.
1899 – Canada. In Montreal, Charles Paschal Telesphore Chiniquy dies. In 1858, he led the congregation he was pastoring in St. Anne, Kankakee County, Illinois to leave the Church of Rome and join the Canadian Presbyterian Church.
1901 – Turkey. At Constantinople, Elias Riggs dies. He is an American missionary here who has translated the Word of God into the Armenian language, and was commissioned by the American and British Foreign Bible Societies.
1963 – America. The Baptist World Mission is incorporated in Chicago. This independent organization of Baptist tradition is engaged primarily in evangelism, church planting and education in
17 overseas countries.
January 16 –
1545 – Germany. Georg Spalatin, 61, dies. He was a German reformer and friend of Martin Luther. Spalatin’s court life allowed him to give secular government a better understanding of Luther’s ideas.
1580 – England. The English Parliament imposes a tax of twenty pounds for absence from church – the Church of England. This is a move to heavily burden all who refuse to conform to the state church.
1604 – England. Dr. John Reynolds, President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, will raise the issue for one uniform translation of the Bible. This conference on ecclesiastical affairs is held at Hampton Court, and has been duly called by James I who has only recently ascended the throne. Parliament is still waiting to recognize him as king. This conference will prove to be the springboard from which the “Authorized Version” of Scripture will come. It is commonly known as the “King James Version.”
1684 – England. Jeremiah Marsden, who to avoid detection has adopted his father’s Christian name of Ralphson, and Francis Bamfield, a Baptist, are to be tried today. Their crime lies in their refusing to conform to the liturgy of the Church of England.
1740 – England. English revivalist George Whitefield writes in a letter: “If I see a man who loves the Lord Jesus in sincerity, I am not very solicitous to what … communion he belongs. The Kingdom of God, I think, does not consist in any such thing.”
January 14 –
1529 – Spain. Juan Valdes publishes his Dialogue on Christian Doctrine. Almost immediately, the inquisition will be aroused and will summon him to answer for his “heretical” teaching. As a result of the hearings, Mr. Valdes will flee to Italy. His book will appear on every list of books forbidden by the Spanish Index, and will be burned with such zeal, that only one is known to exist.
In Naples, he will become leader of the evangelical movement in the city conducting regular Sunday services in his home.
1604 – England. The Puritans have presented a petition to James I as he was on his way to London. Though unsigned, it represents the wishes of about one thousand pastors. For this reason it is called the “Millenary Petition.” Today, at Hampton Court, a conference opens professedly to consider these desires. After the third day of discussion, the king will summon four Puritans and will tell them he expects their party to humble themselves and obey. He adds, however, “If this be all that they have to say, I shall make them conform themselves, or I will harry them out of the land, or else do worse.”
1697 – Massachusetts. This day has been set aside as a day of prayer and fasting. The General Court of Massachusetts has felt the need for the colony to ask forgiveness of Almighty God for the crimes committed in putting innocent people to death during the days of the Salem witch trials.
1739 – England. George Whitefield is ordained a preacher of the Church of England.
1966 – America. French-born American tappist monk Thomas Merton writes in a letter: “The best way to solve the problem of rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s is to have nothing that is Ceasar’s.”
1972 – America. Presbyterian apologist Francis Schaeffer writes in a letter, “I have come to the conclusion that none of us in our generation feels as guilty about our sin as we should or as our forefather’s did.”
January 13 –
845 – Czechoslovakia. Fourteen Bohemian lords receive baptism from Louis the Fat as the country first becomes aware of the Gospel of Christ.
1501 – Prague. The world’s first hymnbook printed in the vernacular is published. It containes 89 hymns in the Czech language. (The name of the hymnal is no longer known, since the only surviving copy lacks the title page.)
1559 – Germany. Menno Simons dies. Though the Mennonites bear his name, he is not their founder; for they have existed in Holland seven years prior to his being converted. He is an Anabaptist. He wrote in 1544, “Up to this time, I have not been able to secure a little hut or a room in all the surrounding countries where my sick wife and our little children would have been able to live unmolested for a year, or even half a year.”
1635 – Germany. Philip Jacob Spener, founder of German pietism is born. The name for the Bible studies (called “collegia pietatis”) held in his home came to be associated with his followers, who were afterward called Pietists.
1691 – England. In London, George Foxe dies. He founded the “Society of Friends,” commonly known as the “Quakers,” in 1660 at the age of 36.
1836 – Scotland. Alexander Whyte is born in the Southmuir of Kirriemuir. “In God’s providence I was born in a poor rank of life,” he will say looking back on his life. At seven years of age, he will be handed a Gospel tract by Robert Murray McCheyne three months before McCheyne’s death by typhoid fever at the age of twenty-nine years. As a young man, he will sit under the teaching of Mr. Thomas Chalmers.
1936 – America. Baptist clergyman B.B. McKinney, 50, writes the words and tune to the gospel song, “Wherever He Leads, I’ll Go,” a few days before the opening of a Sunday School convention in Alabama.
January 12 –
1661 – France. A peace has been arranged with the Waldensians restoring to them certain rights but refusing them to be instructed in their religion. Jean Leger has refused to obey this partial treaty and is today condemned to death. At Turin, he will be re-sentenced on September 17th, but will flee, and will settle in Leyden, Holland where he will pastor.
1779 – America. Pioneer Methodist bishop Francis Asbury records in his journal: “If the Lord is pleased to work, who or what can hinder?”
1825 – England. Brooke Foss Westcott, British N.T. scholar, is born in Birmingham. In 1881, he and F. J. A. Hort co-edited a famous critical text of the Greek New Testament – one which is still used today.
1837 – Austria. An Imperial edict issued today requires declaration within 14 days of the desire by evangelicals of the Zillerthal, the inhabitants of the valley of the Ziller River, to leave the Roman Catholic Church. After that time, all not so indicating their intention will be treated as Roman Catholics. Those who declare themselves to be Protestants are ordered to leave the Tyrol within 4 months. Three hundred eighty-five people, later increased to four hundred thirty-seven people, will declare their intention to emigrate.
January 11 –
1414 – England. A hundred friends of Sir John Oldcastle (Lord Cobham), ignorant of his escape from the Tower last October 10th, gather to effect his liberation from St. Giles, where he has been imprisoned for his Lollardism. The band is dispersed without blood, but some of the leaders will be captured and put to death. The government now issues two edicts: the first forbidding the reading of the Scriptures under penalty of death, and the other, declaring the Lollards, that is the followers of John Wycliffe, to be heretics. Friends of Sir John Oldcastle will hide him for four years.
1523 – Germany. Martin Luther writes in a letter: “It is unchristian, even unnatural, to derive benefit and protection from the community and not also to share in the common burden and expense; to let other people work but to harvest the fruit of their labors.”
1688 – Scotland. At Carriden, Linlithgowshire, James Gardiner is born. He will become a colonel in the Scottish dragoons and will lead a dissolute life until July, 1719 when waiting for an appointment with a debauched woman, he will pick up a Christian book. He will be so moved by it he will forsake his old life and henceforth be an example of piety. Philip Doddridge says the book was Thomas Watson’s Christian Soldier, while Thomas Carlyle says it was William Gurnall’s Christian in Complete Armor.
1777 – England. Anglican hymnwriter John Newton writes in a letter: ‘A soul may be in as thriving a state when thirsting, seeking and mourning after the Lord as when actually rejoicing in Him; as much in earnest when fighting in the valley as when singing upon the mount.’
1787 – Norway. Nils Joachin Christian Vibe Stockfleth is born. When his father dies in 1794, his mother will be left with three children of whom Nils will be the oldest. His mother will die in 1805, and the two boys overcome by sickness, grief, and overwork will be brought into a hospital in great destitution.
In 1825, Nils will be ordained a missionary to Finmark, northernmost Norway, in spite of his weak lungs and his paralyzed right arm. Accompanied by his wife, he will go to Vadso on the Arctic Ocean. He will invent a new phonic alphabet for the inhabitants there.
1791 – Wales. William Williams dies. He has written some eight hundred hymns among which is his “Guide Me, O, Thou Great Jehovah.” He sang and played this song for the first time at the opening of a college founded in 1785 by Selina, the Countess of Huntingdon to train “godly and pious young men” for the ministry. The “Sweet Singer of Wales” like his father is a Welch Calvinistic Methodist. His father intended his son to enter the field of medicine, but in the providence of God, William heard Mr. Howell Harris preach; and he was converted.
1817 – Connecticut. Timothy Dwight, President of Yale College, dies. God has used him to bring about revival at this school in an age of French infidelity. His literary works include Conquest of Canaan, Theology Defended, and the Triumph of Infidelity. Perhaps he isbest known for his hymn, “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord.”
He dies without a struggle or a groan. His funeral will be conducted on Tuesday, the 14th and will be attended by a large concourse of people from New Haven. In respect for the Doctor, shops will be shut and businesses suspended.
1933 – Germany. In Hamburg, the Altona Confession is issued by area pastors, offering Scriptural guidelines for the Christian life, in light of the confusing political situation and the developing Nazi influence on the State Church.
January 10 –
1514 – Spain. The first section of the Complutensian Polyglot (the world’s first multi-language Bible) is printed at Alcala. (The complete translation was published in 6 volumes in 1517.)
1538 – Germany. Regarding the doctrine of purgatory, German Reformer Martin Luther states in a “Table Talk” that ‘”God has placed two ways before us in His Word: salvation by faith, damnation by unbelief (Mark 16:16). He does not mention purgatory at all. Nor is purgatory to be admitted, for it obscures the benefits and grace of Christ.”
1772 – America. Pioneer Methodist bishop and circuit rider Francis Asbury pens this prayer in his journal: “Let me sooner choose to die than sin against thee, in thought, word, or deed.”
1863 – America. In New York, Lyman Beecher dies. He was a student of Timothy Dwight while at Yale. His seven sons have become preachers while his daughters are chiefly known for literary and philanthropic work, best known of his three daughters being Harriet Beecher Stowe.
1947 – America. U.S. Senate Chaplain, Peter Marshall, prays, “May we resolve, God helping us, to be part of the answer, and not of the problem.”
January 9 –
1700 – Connecticut. Miss Sarah Pierrepoint, who will become the distinguished wife of Jonathan Edwards, is born in New Haven. Her early conversion at the age of five years will draw much attention.
1724 – Massachusetts. Isaac Backus is born. He will long be remembered for his ride by horseback from Middleboro, Massachusetts to Philadelphia to petition the First Continental Congress for Baptist freedom.
1825 – Germany. The first Sunday School is opened in the city of Hamburg by Mr. Johann Oncken, a Baptist.
January 8 –
1650 – England. Parliament has appointed Thomas Goodwin as President of Magdalene College, Oxford. It will become widely known for its strict adherence to the Word of God.
1800 – England. In London, the frist soup kitchens are opened for the relief of the poor.
1856 – England. Charles Spurgeon and Miss Susannah Thompson are united in marriage in the New Park Street chapel. Nearly two thousand people have to be turned away.
1954 – America. The State Convention of Baptists in Ohio is formed, representing 39 Southern Baptist Churches in that state.
1956 – Ecuador. Ten Auca Indians approach five missionaries – Jim Elliot, Peter Fleming, Edward McCully, Roger Youderian and Nate Saint. An older man ominously approaches Mr. Saint, the pilot, who raises his hands and implores mercy. The Indian, however, spears him. Then the other missionaries shoot into the air, the frightened Aucas begin to run. The older man calls after them and they return to kill the remaining missionaries.”
As time passes, the Aucas will be evangelized. One of the murderers will baptize Saint’s son and daughter. Another will be martyred himself carrying the gospel to a rival clan.
January 7 –
1921 – Scotland. Alexander Whyte dies. He is best noted for his Bible Characters, but has written other biographies: thirty-seven in all. He has recently preached a sermon entitled, “Study of the ‘Swelling of Jordan” in which he preached on the deaths of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Thief on the Cross, Paul, Augustine, Luther and Butler. After three stanzas of “Just As I Am”, he concluded with “Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;” and “When thou passest through the waters I will be with Thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”
1934 – America. Converted major league baseball player Billy Sunday, at the age of 72, begins a two-week revival at Calvary Baptist Church in New York City.
January 6 –
548 – Israel. This is the last year the Church in Jerusalem observes the birth of Jesus on this date. (Celebrating Christmas on December 25th began in the late 300s in the Western Church.)
1088 – France. On the Island of St. Cosme, Berengar of Tours dies. He has been the first public opponent of the Papist doctrine of Transubstantiation. His opinions have been condemned by the Council of Paris in 1050, the Council of Tours in 1055, the Council of Rome in 1059, the Council of Rouen in 1063, the Council of Poictiers in 1075, and again at the Council of Rome in 1078.
At the councils of Tours and of Rome, he has appeared before Hildebrand. Shrinking from the thought of being burned at the stake, he has three times recanted his opinions but only to begin again preaching them. He stands accused not only of opposing the doctrine of transubstantiation, but of all the “heresies” of the Waldensians. Today he dies in his bed expressing deep sorrow for his vacillations because they have tarnished his testimony for the truth.
1521 – Germany. A second Bull of Excommunication comes from the Pope denouncing Martin Luther and all his adherents.
1740 – England. At Lidget Green, Yorkshire, John Fawcett is born. When he is sixteen years of age, he will be converted under the preaching of George Whitefield and in 1759 he will join the Baptist church. He will be best remembered for his hymn, “Blest Be the Tie That Binds,” which he will compose for his own congregation.
1850 – England. On this snowy, Sunday evening, a fifteen year old boy makes his way into the Primitive Methodist Church on Artillery Street in London. The snow has hindered the pastor and nearly every member from coming tonight, so a deacon will assume the responsibility of preaching. His text will be Isaiah 45:22, “Look unto Me and be ye saved all the ends of the earth; for I am the Lord, and there is none else.” It will be this very sermon that the Holy Spirit of God will use to convert Charles Haddon Spurgeon. He will join the Baptist church a short time later . When his mother expresses her concern that though she has prayed Charles would be converted but not that he would become a Baptist, the young man will reply that like always, God gives us more than we ask. He will become the best known Baptist preacher of all time.
1924 – England. The first worship service heard on radio is aired by the BBC. The service is conducted by H. R. L. Sheppard at St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, in London.
January 5 –
1527 – Switzerland. Anabaptist Felix Manz is executed by drowning in Lake Zurich. He is martyred by this mode for his belief in Believer’s Baptism.
1739 – England. The first Methodist conference meets today in England.
1782 – England. At Buller’s Green, Morpeth, Robert Morrison is born. He will become the father of Protestant missions in China, being appointed the first missionary there in modern times.
1839 – Scotland. Scottish pastor Rober Murry McCheyne writes in a letter: ‘There is nothing like a calm look into the eternal world to teach us the emptiness of human praise.”
1949 – United States. Chaplain Peter Marshall prays: “Our Father in heaven, give us the long view of our work and our world. Help us to see that it is better to fail in a cause that will ultimately succeed than to succeed in a cause that will ultimately fail.”
January 4 –
1528 – Germany. The first imperial mandate against the Anabaptists in the’ time of the Reformation is passed today at Speier, and grounds its required suppression on the Imperial law dating back to the Code of Justinian (529) which made rebaptism one of two heresies punishable by death. It treats them as criminals.
The Anabaptists in Justinian’s day were those who rejected the validity of certain bishops such as those among the Novatians, the Donatists, etc. These of the sixteenth century consider true baptism possible only upon repentance and faith, and thus rejects infant baptism and accepts only adult baptism., They further maintain, 1.) a voluntary church of believers only, 2.) baptism of adults expressing repentance of sin and faith in Christ, 3.) separation of church and state, 4.) complete liberty of conscience, 5.) a life conformable to Biblical holiness, 6.) separation from the world, 7.) a rejection of warfare, 8.) a rejection of swearing of oaths, 9.) simplicity of life and dress, and 10.) obedience to the teachings of Christ.
1581 – Ireland. In Dublin, James Ussher is born. He will be distinguished for his chronology which is still printed in most English Bibles. In addition to his having traced Creation back to 4004 B. C., he will become widely quoted in catechisms for his statement, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”
1866 – Scotland. James Chalmers sails with his wife for New Guinea aboard the “John Williams,” named for the missionary and martyr. He will soon write of natives wearing human jawbones on their arms. On one occasion, Mrs. Chalmers will be offered a gift of part of a man’s chest already cooked. She will remain only two years before going to Australia for a rest. She will die there in 1879.
Chalmers will be invited to preach in human temples lined with human skulls – the remnants of feasts and human sacrifices. He will often preach all night long.
January 3 –
1645 – England. Parliament discards The Book of Common Prayer and establishes The Directory. The latter rejects the Apocrypha, the sign of the cross, saints’ days, vestments, and the marriage ring.
1846 – Washington, D. C. Robert C. Winthrop of Massachusetts uses the phrase “Manifest Destiny.” This is the first time it is mentioned in Congress. It was coined by John L. O’Sullivan in a magazine article that appeared in 1845. The phrase involves the conviction that God intends for the United States to overspread the continent.
1898 – Texas. At Austin, Robert Lewis Dabney dies. He has served as chaplain, chief of staff to General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and leaves behind the first biography of the great General.
Mr. Archibald Alexander of Princeton has said of Mr. Dabney that he is “the best teacher of theology in the United States and perhaps in the world.”
Mr. Dabney also leaves behind his Defence of Virginia and of the South; The Penal Character of the Atonement of Christ; and Theology, Dogmatics, and Polemics.
January 2 –
1884 – Switzerland. Johann Gerhard Oncken dies in Zurich. As a young boy his father fled French persecution to England. He was the founder of the Baptist church in Germany.
When he was imprisoned in Hamburg for four months on account of public disturbances arising over his preaching, his followers were scattered, and wherever they have gone, they have carried their doctrine. As a result, the first Baptist church in Denmark was established in 1839.
January 1 –
1484 – Switzerland. Ulrich Zwingli, a leader in the Swiss Reformation, is born in a humble shepherd’s cottage. He is the third of eight children and is named in honor of his father. As a young man, he will be called of God to preach His Word and will early vow, “I will consecrate my ministry to the glory of God; the praise of His only Son; the real salvation of souls, and their instruction in the true faith.”
1489 – France. Those suspected of “heresy” for not conforming to the Church of Rome have been ordered to wear a cross upon their clothes, both in front and behind, and not to appear at Church without displaying it. Most of those persons who have refused to wear the cross have been reported to the civil and ecclesiastical authorities, and accordingly have fled to the mountains where they will live for the next five years in “dens and caves of the earth.”
Today, those of Freyssinier have been informed no hope remains of bringing them back into the “bosom” of the Church of Rome. They have “relapsed into the infamous heresy,” and have refused to wear the cross on their clothes. They have received their excommunicated and banished brethren, and have refused to deliver them over to the Church. Therefore, all persons are forbidden to hold communication whatsoever with them without first obtaining permission from the Church; and the Inquisitors ordered to proceed without further delay to the “execution of his office” against these Waldensians.
1519 – Switzerland. This Saturday, on his thirty-fifth birthday, Ulrich Zwingli mounts the pulpit of the cathedral of Zurich and thunders, “It is to Christ that I wish to conduct you; to Christ, the true source of salvation. His Divine Word is the only nourishment which I would give to your heart and life.”
1699 – Scotland. “I had more than an ordinary measure of God’s presence and help in preaching. In the morning in secret, I was in earnest in God for it, but had a temptation to think that God would leave me which did perplex me sore . When I was coming home from the sermons, Satan fell to afresh again, the contrary way, tempting me to pride. It came three times remarkably on me, and was as often repelled by that word, “What hast thou that thou has not received?” – from the Diary of Thomas Boston
1743 – Pennsylvania. The magistrates of Philadelphia has ordered Count Nicholas Von Zinzendorf to surrender the records and communion vessels belonging to the Lutherans, and today, after attempting to gather together the various German religious groups, he leaves the city and the country.
1809 – Burma. William Carey opens the chapel at Serampore.
1855 – Scotland. On the first page of the New Testament he begins to use today, Brownlow North writes, “B. North, a man whose sins crucified the Son of God.” He will become a fervent revivalist of the Free Church of Scotland and will be greatly used in the revival in Ireland in 1859 and in that of Scotland the following year.