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April 13 , 2009

History of the Reformation of Religion Within the Realm of Scotland


At the time of which I am about to write, you, dear young friends, who are the children of many prayers, and who have been taught from your earliest infancy to lisp the sweet name of Jesus, can have little or no idea of the spiritual darkness that hung over our land. You have been accustomed all your lives to hear the bells ringing out all around you, calling you Sunday after Sunday to hear the Word of God. You have been taught sweet hymns, and sweeter texts, all about the saving love of our tender Saviour and you know that your confession of love to Christ would be received with the deepest joy and thanksgiving by your loving Christian parents.
But if you had lived in the thirteenth century how different would have been your lot. There would have been none then to gently lead you to the feet of Jesus, telling you of His free grace and dying love. If perchance your conscience was troubled about your sins, and you said in trembling tones, "What must I do to be saved?" there would have been none to answer lovingly, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." A shaven priest with austere countenance would perhaps have taken you by the hand and leading you to some dreary cell, would have shewn you a gaunt man, with haggard face and weary eyes, prostrate before a cross, and with the marks of the scourge upon his back. He would have told you that this man was doing his best by prayers and penances to reach at last the kingdom of heaven, and he would have advised you to go and do likewise. If, appalled by the sight, you shrank away, thinking to put off till another day your soul's salvation, a priest of quite another kind would perhaps have taken you under his care, and with a smile on his round red face would have told you of a far easier way to obtain the forgiveness of your sins. He would have whispered to you that the Church required money, and that by the payment of a certain sum he was able to forgive you all you had committed, or even would commit. The youngest of my readers would laugh to scorn such a thought, but in those days, from the king on the throne to the beggar by the wayside, there was scarcely one who would have dared to say, "God alone can forgive sins."
You will say, But how could this be! I will tell you. In all our fair land there was not a Bible written in a language that the people could understand, and so the sweet words of the Lord Jesus were unknown. Thus the people were kept in utter ignorance, under the power of priests and friars, many of them wicked men who kept the truth from the poor souls around them, that by so doing they might enrich themselves, and add to their own power. How early had those who called themselves the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ forgotten His words! He, the gentle lowly One, had said, "Ye are not of the world even as I am not of the world." He had taught them that he who would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven, must be the least.

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