Knox, John by Faye Huntington
I want to take you back to the sixteenth
century, into rugged Scotland, and into the
rugged times of that period of its history. I
want to introduce to you a man of whom it was
said, "No grander figure can be found in the
history of the Reformation in this island, than
that of Knox."
John Knox was a boy when the Reformation
movement began in Germany; indeed it was ten
years after that when he was ordained a priest.
It was twelve years later that he avowed himself
a Protestant, and thus incurred the wrath of
the Cardinal. He was of course obliged to withdraw
from St. Andrew's, where he held the position
of teacher, and seek a place of refuge. This
he found with a friend named Hugh Douglass.
And the old ruins of the chapel at that place are
still called "Knox's Kirk." One of his beloved
friends was tried and condemned to the stake
for heresy. The Cardinal whose anger he had
roused was killed about that time, and Knox
was suspected of having a hand in it; and, having
been tried, was condemned to the galleys.
For about a year he suffered as a prisoner and
from illness. After he was set free he went to
a town on the borders of England, were he succeeded
in turning the hearts of many to the views
of the Reformers. Always as he had opportunity
he defended the cause of the Reformation.
He was raised to a post of honor by King Edward,
receiving the appointment of King's Chaplain.
He was offered a bishopric, but declined
that honor. At Edward's death he was again in
danger. Because the new sovereign was not in
sympathy with the views which he was advocating,
and not thinking it wise to throw away his
life, he went to the Continent; he was for a time
pastor of a church in Geneva, he became a friend
of Calvin and spent two or three peaceful years.
When he returned to England the Scottish
clergy burned him in effigy, and he was not well
received even in England. Elizabeth was now
upon the throne, but this did not seem to make
matters much better for Knox.
Now I cannot tell you in the little space given
me about the stormy times that followed his return
to Scotland. He believed that the time had
come when the Reformation in Scotland must be
established, and he fought bravely with tongue
and pen for its success. The young and beautiful
queen of Scotland tried her powers of pleasing
upon the heroic man who had dared to speak
plainly of the sins even of the court. "But the
faces of angry men could not move him, neither
could the beauty of the young queen charm him,
nor her tears melt him." He continued to preach
according to his convictions, and kept it up with
no lessening of power until a short time before
his death. But about 1570 his strength declined;
but though growing weaker physically, he seemed
to lose none of his intellectual and spiritual vigor.
He spoke in public for the last time November
9, 1572, and died on the twenty-fourth of the same
month, holding up his hand to testify of his adherence
to the faith for which he had lived and
preached and toiled, and in which he was now
dying. I think the more you study the character
of this man, the more you will admire it. If he
seemed rough, remember he lived in rough times.
If he was intolerant, it was an age of intolerance,
and his intolerance was exercised only where he
felt that the truth was assailed.
Carlyle says: "Nothing hypocritical, foolish
or untrue can find harbor in this man; a pure
and manly, silent tenderness of affection is in
him; touches of genial humor are not wanting
under his severe austerity. A most clear-cut,
hardy, distinct and effective man; fearing God
without any other fear. There is in Knox
throughout the spirit of an old Hebrew prophet-spirit
almost altogether unique among modern