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James Guthrie Arrested for Treason, 1661

2020-02-17T09:34:38-06:00February 17, 2020|HH 2020|

“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” —Ephesians 6:13

James Guthrie Arrested for Treason,
February 19, 1661

By the 17th century, every country in Europe possessed a state church to which everyone in their respective jurisdictions, theoretically, belonged. France, half the Germanic states, Austria, Spain, Poland, half of Switzerland, and Italy all remained in the fold of the Roman Catholic Church, and acknowledged the Pope in Rome as Christ’s vicar on earth. About half of the German states identified as Lutheran, as did most of Scandinavia. England recognized their monarch as the head of the Church, following the disruption caused by King Henry VIII, a hundred years earlier. Scotland adhered to a presbyterian form of Church government, and boldly declared that Jesus Christ was the head of the Kirk. With the uniting of the crowns of England and Scotland in 1603, an 85-year struggle ensued over the ecclesiastical power of the English monarch and the Church of Scotland.

Scottish Presbyterian minister James Guthrie (c. 1612-1661)

James Guthrie was born into an ancient and noble Scottish family of Episcopal convictions, about 1612. King James I sat on the throne of England, and the Guthries recognized his authority over the Church. Young Mr. Guthrie was a brilliant scholar and those who knew him expected that he would acquire a bishop’s mitre in the Anglican Church someday. King James was able to keep a relative peace with the Scottish Presbyterians by bringing changes slowly and exiling the most vocal preachers in the Kirk. His son Charles ascended the throne in 1625, but had a different temperament and a more high-handed way of forcing his demands on the Scottish Church, trying to force them into adopting the English “Anglican” way of worship and subordination to the King’s bishops.

St. Leonard’s College, St. Andrews University where James Guthrie attended and became a regent, lecturing on philosophy

King James I of England (1566-1625)

King Charles I of England (1600-1649)

During his college years, Guthrie became close friends with a great preacher and professor named Samuel Rutherford, who convinced him that the biblical form of Church government and worship was more clearly practiced in the Presbyterian Kirk. Guthrie, a conscientious student of the Word of God, a gifted preacher and debater, and a man for whom compromise would always be a stranger, pursued Gospel ministry, and accepted his first pastorate in Lauder.

Samuel Rutherford (c. 1600-1661) Scottish pastor, theologian, author, and Commissioner to the Westminster Assembly

In 1638, Alexander Henderson and Archibald Johnston, Lord Wariston, drew up a National Covenant on behalf of the Church of Scotland, proclaiming both their loyalty to King Charles in the civil realm and allegiance to King Jesus in the ecclesiastical realm. It was signed by multiple thousands of Scottish people of every sort, including Mr. Guthrie. The King believed that it was treasonous to deny him the right to rule the Church, and he went to war with Scotland to force their compliance with Anglican government through royally appointed bishops, and worship liturgy. Within a short time, the King declared war on his own English Parliament, with whom the Scots then joined in the “English Civil Wars.”

The Signing of the National Covenant in Greyfriars Churchyard in 1638

Throughout the 1640s and 50s, James Guthrie and many other ministers of the Gospel in Scotland continued to embrace the National Covenant to which they had sworn themselves, to keep Scotland a Christian nation, honoring and obeying the Word of God, including their allegiance to Christ as King of the Church. The English Parliament executed the King for treason against England, established Oliver Cromwell as “Lord Protector,” and went to war with Scotland for refusing to recognize the new political order. James Guthrie remained faithful to his calling as a preacher of the Gospel and as a stalwart presbyter calling the nation to repentance, now as pastor of the church in Stirling, through all the political turmoil and pressures to compromise on his oath.

Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), Lord Protector of England, Ireland and Scotland

In 1660, the English Parliament invited Charles II to abandon exile and accept the crown of England, struck from his father’s head some 11 years earlier. Once returned, he began rounding up the men in England and Scotland he deemed his most powerful or important enemies. The pastor of Stirling—whom Cromwell had labelled “the little man who couldn’t bow,” and whom his friends called “sickerfoot,” (sure-foot) because he always stood his ground on principle—was arrested on February 19, 1661 and put on trial before the Scottish Parliament for treason against the new King. He defended himself so ably, that some of the nobles of Parliament walked out rather than agree to the pre-arranged judgement of guilty demanded by the Crown. Ever loyal to the King of England as head of state and to Jesus Christ as head of the Church, Guthrie was condemned to be hanged and beheaded. From the scaffold he delivered a powerful sermon to the onlookers. After forgiving his persecutors, confessing his own shortcomings, affirming his innocence of the charges, and praying for the salvation of Scotland, the little preacher’s last words rang out:

The coronation of King Charles II of England (1630-1685) on April 23, 1661 after his return from exile

“Jesus Christ is my light and my life, my righteousness, my strength and my salvation, and all my desire; Him, oh, Him, I do with all the strength of my soul commend unto you. . . Oh visit me with Thy salvation, that I may see the good of Thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the good of Thy nation, that I may glory with Thine inheritance. Now let Thy servant depart in peace, since mine eyes have seen thy salvation.”

On June 1, 1661 James Guthrie was executed for opposing Charles II’s reintroduction of episcopacy after the Restoration of 1660. He is reported to have lifted the handkerchief from his face and shouted to the crowd, “The covenants, the covenants, shall yet be Scotland’s reviving!”

Athanasius Escapes Attack on Church, 356 AD

2020-02-17T09:34:21-06:00February 10, 2020|HH 2020|

“Defend the faith that God has once for all given to his people.” —Jude 1:3

Athanasius Escapes Attack on Church, February 9, 356 AD

Athanasius, the pastor of the Church in Alexandria, Egypt, was a Post-Apostolic Christian Church Father of immense importance. His bold and uncompromising stand for truth extended far beyond the borders of his parish, and believers today, of every Christian communion, ought to know his name and accomplishments. By the Grace of God, Athanasius helped define Trinitarian biblical Christology in a time when the nature of God in Christ had been cast in doubt by heretics who, in fact, probably numbered more than orthodox Christians of that era!

Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 296-373 AD)

The future bishop and Patriarch was born into a Christian family in Alexandria at the end of the third Century. His parents saw to a good education for him; he was fluent in both Greek and Coptic, and wrote and preached in both languages. Athanasius knew the works of Greek philosophers and history and was a master of biblical exegesis. The Patriarch of Alexandria ordained him as a deacon, and he became the logical successor of that most important see. Already recognized as a theologian and a scribe, Athanasius preached against the Arian heresy that became popular in the Middle East and spread across the Church.

Alexandria, Egypt founded c. 331 BC by Alexander the Great

Arius was likely of Berber descent in Libya, but studied in the exegetical school in Antioch. Ordained as a deacon in the Church, he lived a morally clean life as an ascetic and teacher. The singularity of God the Father was at the heart of his preaching, but he denied that Jesus Christ was God incarnate, (the Son of God, but not God the Son), thus his followers became known as Arians and deniers of the Trinity. So successful was Arius in promulgating his doctrines, and they proved so disruptive in the Church, that the emperor called for the first great Church Council at Nicaea to define the Christology of the Christian Church as taught in Scripture. Athanasius championed the Doctrine of the Trinity as understood by the Church since that day. Arius was anathematized.

Arius (256-336 AD)

The Council of Nicaea— a convention of bishops in the city of Nicaea (modern-day İznik, Turkey) called together by the Emperor Constantine in 325 AD

The Arians did not go away quietly; they continued proselytizing for their peculiar faith, winning over large segments of the Church, and among pagans. They were able to gain the ear of the Emperor, who wanted peace in his kingdom. Emperor Constantine ordered Athanasius to allow Arians to join the Church. The Alexandrian Bishop refused to allow the heretical troublemakers into the churches of his see and thus ran afoul of the emperor on several occasions. So much so that Athanasius was exiled from Alexandria five separate times, all of them for his defense of the Deity of Christ and his apologetical defense of biblical orthodoxy. The first time he was ordered to compromise, Athanasius travelled to Constantinople (the city named after the Emperor himself) and waylaid Constantine’s horse by seizing the bridle and demanding he recall his order. The Emperor deposed the bishop. Entire armies of Arians marched against the Trinitarian Christians of the East.

Roman Emperor Constantine I (AD 272-337)

The deposed bishop travelled to Rome, where he received total approval from the Western Church for his stand on the Deity of Christ, and was allowed to preach there before returning to his Church after the death of the Emperor. On February 9th, 356 A.D. five thousand Arian soldiers stormed the Church in Alexandria while Athanasius was leading a midnight service. The doors were barred, but the soldiers heaved against them to break them down and kill Athanasius once and for all. He calmly turned to the precentor and asked him to lead the congregation in singing the “Great Hallel” — Psalm 136 — which begins “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for his lovingkindness is everlasting . . .”

Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 296-373 AD)

Athanasius slipped out a side door and into the Egyptian desert. The enemy did not catch him, though he was forced into his fourth exile at that time.

It is no wonder that the Alexandrian Bishop has been known ever since as Athanasius Contra Mundum, or Athanasius Against the World. He stated he would believe the Word of God no matter if the entire world was against him, and he proved it in his fearless life in defense of the truth.

The Death of Scottish Historian Thomas Carlyle, 1881

2020-02-03T14:31:11-06:00February 3, 2020|HH 2020|

“It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right. Therefore I say, ‘Listen to me; let me also declare my opinion.’” —Job 32:9-10

The Death of Scottish Historian Thomas Carlyle, February 5, 1881

Thomas Carlyle was one of the most controversial of British historians in the 19th Century. He wrote best-selling books on the role of heroes in history, and on Oliver Cromwell, the French Revolution, Frederick the Great, and others, as well as many essays and satires. He was also known as a philosopher and mathematician and for his curmudgeonly and argumentative, if not misanthropic, nature.

Scottish Historian Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)

He had been born into a pious and devout Christian family but abandoned his inherited faith while in college, an occurrence not unique to his times and epidemic in our own. Carlyle was born in Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire, Scotland in 1795, at the end of the French Revolution, the historic event to which he devoted his most successful book. His parents belonged to a “Secession” Church known as the Burghers. Their denomination rejected the state church, though remaining Presbyterian and strongly Calvinistic, perhaps helping instill in Thomas a somewhat contentious spirit or at least an independent manner. Sickly as a youth and plagued by stomach ailments the rest of his life, he nonetheless became accomplished in Latin and mathematics, entering the University of Edinburgh at fourteen to study for the Gospel ministry, at the urging of his father. He continued his math studies, joined a debate society, where he was appreciated for his wit, and read voraciously, a lifetime habit. He dropped out, however, and taught literature to boys in his home shire. Carlyle returned to Edinburgh at twenty-three, having abandoned all desire to enter the ministry, and began his career as a writer.

The birthplace of Thomas Carlyle in Ecclefechan, Scotland

Carlyle established his reputation as an essayist, writing primarily about German romanticism and in praise of French philosophes like Voltaire and Diderot. He came to the notice of other literary men, especially the transcendentalist, Ralph Waldo Emerson, who published the Scotsman’s first novel Sartor Resartus, in the U.S. The Carlyles moved to London from rural Dumfriesshire, and “began to network in literary circles.” He counted among his friends the aforesaid Emerson and especially philosopher John Stuart Mill, who persuaded him to write a history of the French Revolution.

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) friend of Thomas Carlyle

1879 portrait of Thomas Carlyle

Carlyle was writing in an era of political ferment in Europe and his The French Revolution: A History proved most timely. His first major historical work took seven years to write and what he had envisioned as an epic poem ended up in three exciting and powerfully written volumes. The manuscript of his first book, after completion, was accidently throne into a fire by a maid and he had to start over. Carlyle found dispassionate “objective” history-writing too boring—he wanted to convey the sights, sounds, agonies, and humanity of the stories; his writing was much more like the “creative non-fiction” of today and has often been described as more poetic and didactic than the sterile reconstruction of heavily footnoted Olympian histories. He captured the frenzy, drama, and power of the revolution “in its unforgettable details.” Carlyle’s French Revolution was the go-to book for Charles Dickens in The Tale of Two Cities.

The 1859 novel A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was inspired by Carlyle’s French Revolution

Title page from an 1837 first edition copy of Thomas Carlyle’s French Revolution

Illustration depicting Thomas Carlyle’s horror at the burning of his manuscript

Thomas Carlyle gave a series of lectures in London, which were subsequently published as On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroes in History. He believed that “every advance which humanity had made was due to special individuals supremely gifted in mind and character, whom Providence sent among them at favored epochs . . . the history of the world is but the biography of Great Men.” The prevailing theory of how history is “made,” is today the exact opposite of Carlyle’s idea. He is hated and ignored, for the important and exalted people of history are now assumed to be the underclasses, the poor, inarticulate, women, and marginalized groups who did not write books, but took to the streets in the French Revolution and made the heads roll as the world was refashioned in revolutionary ways. These new theories have thus marginalized “heroes and Great Men,” who need to be “disappeared” from the public eye and the knowledge of the next generation. God does, however, raise up particular individuals to accomplish extraordinary deeds and these men are worthy of honor and study. It is important to view history from every angle we can, since it is the product of God’s good providence to further his Kingdom and rule in history. Thomas Carlyle’s unique style and insightful philosophy brought a perspective that was criticized by some and appreciated by many.

Despite being offered interment at Westminster Abbey, Thomas Carlyle’s wish to be buried next to his parents at Ecclefechan Churchyard was carried out

Adolf Hitler Becomes German Chancellor, 1933

2020-01-22T23:28:10-06:00January 27, 2020|HH 2020|

“The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!” He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them . . . You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.” —Psalm 2:2,3,9

Adolf Hitler Becomes German Chancellor,
January 30, 1933

Lord High Chancellor of England Sir Thomas More published a book in 1516 entitled Utopia. He created the word out of a Greek language pun meaning “no place.” The idea of creating a perfect society is as old as the Greek philosophers and has been used as a basic idea behind many novels, most of which have been classified in modern times as science fiction. Of course utopian societies are not possible because man is a fallen creature in sin and his heart is wicked above all other factors. That has not stopped men from seeking to build that elusive perfect world without the only redemption for that sin, found in Jesus Christ alone. National Socialism (Nazism in Germany) and International Socialism (Communist Russia) are two historical examples of states seeking a totalitarian but perfect society.

Woodcut illustrating a 1518 edition of Utopia, by Thomas More (1478-1535)

Adolf Hitler based his attempt at the utopian ideal on a pagan nationalistic socialist dream, which required the elimination of whole groups of people defined as unfit for participation in the special utopia he planned for the German people. And he did it with their permission and democratic elections, in the nation that had produced Martin Luther.

Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) in 1938

Hitler saw his first light of day in 1889, the son of a failed farmer and later customs official in Austria. Hitler, like his Russian counterpart, Stalin, considered studying for the priesthood, a pursuit quickly abandoned. He rebelled against his father from an early age, wanting only to go his own way. After a lack-luster schooling, Hitler attempted, without success, to get into art school at the age of sixteen. With both parents dead, he tried his hand at different odd jobs, though his passion was painting, architecture, music, and German culture.

Adolf Hitler as an infant c. 1889-1890

Klara Hitler Adolf’s mother (1860-1907)

Alois Hitler, Adolf’s father (1837-1903)

Hitler enlisted in the Bavarian Army in 1914, while living in Munich. He served in the trenches on the Western Front, participating in several major campaigns, getting wounded twice, and receiving decorations for bravery, including the coveted Iron Cross. Returning to Munich at war’s end, Corporal Hitler joined the German Workers Party, initially as a spy for German intelligence, who were infiltrating subversive parties in the revolutionary war-torn Reich.

Hitler (far right) and comrades from the Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 16 (c. 1914–18)

He got deeply involved in party politics as a true believer in their goal of overthrowing the post-war Weimar government, the onerous Versailles treaty, Marxist subversives and Jews in general. They changed the name of the Party to the Nationalist Socialist German Workers Party and adopted a flag he designed—a black swastika on a white circle on a red field. Adolf Hitler developed a powerful rhetorical speaking style and quickly rose to the leadership of the party. Using populist themes and identifying scapegoats for Germany’s economic hardships, he led an attempted coup of the Bavarian government in 1923, with his army of brown-shirted thugs and supporters. He received a five-year prison sentence for treason, for his pains. The Nazi Party survived his arrest and confinement and were waiting for him when he got out, actually serving only one year. He wrote Mein Kampf (My Struggle) while in prison.

Dust jacket from a 1926-28 edition of Hitler’s 1925 autobiographical manifesto Mein Kampf

Adolf Hitler during a march of the National Socialists in Weimar, 1930

In the Reichstag elections of 1924 and 1928, the Nazi Party won only 14 and 12 seats respectively. Hitler kept up his rhetoric of promises to restore Germany’s economy and respect in the world, holding impressive rallies and building the party among the middle classes, ex-soldiers and industrialists. In July of 1932, with the worldwide economic depression affecting everyone, his party won 37% of the vote and in March of 1933, almost 44%—more than 17 million votes! The Nazi Party was now the second largest in Germany and promised that the state would solve poverty, restore dignity to the nation, and eliminate internal enemies. Party members, and others, persuaded the superannuated eighty-six-year-old President and former General Paul Von Hindenburg to appoint Hitler as Chancellor, a position from which the leader of the Nazis could control the political direction and future of Germany. On January 30, 1933, Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany, and two of his close associates took over the offices that gave the Nazis control over most of the police in Germany.

The composition of the Reichstag following the 1933 elections, where tan indicates the National Socialist German Workers’ (Nazi) Party occupying 288 seats, or about 44%

Firefighters struggle to put out a fire at the Reichstag Building, home of the German parliament in Berlin, on Monday February 27, 1933, four weeks after Adolf Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany

Not many months passed before the National Socialists possessed the allegiance of the army, police and their own violent paramilitaries. Gun confiscation soon followed, along with stepped up attacks on Jewish businesses and every suspected communist. The churches were poeticized and co-opted by the state, especially the youth groups, and the pastors and priests told what they could or could not preach. By August of 1934, Adolf Hitler and his Socialists had total control of Germany. The rest is history.

Members of the Nazi SA promote Deutsche Christen propaganda during the Church Council elections on July 23, 1933 at St. Mary’s Church in Berlin

“Democratic” socialists in Europe and America today, think their experiment can weed out the violence and create a world-order without sin (their definition of sin) and thus achieve the impossible, without reference or recourse to the Law or Grace of God. Whether they get a single dictator in the end, a Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot or Enver Hoxha, or, try to elect a million little dictators (themselves), failure is guaranteed, judgement from God certain.

Lott Carey Sails for Africa, 1821

2020-01-17T16:24:24-06:00January 20, 2020|HH 2020|

“Listen, my beloved brethren, did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to those who love Him?” —James 2:5

Lott Carey Sails for Africa, January 23, 1821

Lott Carey was born into a Christian family on the plantation of John Bowry, around 1780, five years into the War for American Independence. His grandmother helped raise Lott, and she was a devout Christian woman who taught him history and biblical truth. Lott, however, went his own careless way. His master, a planter and Methodist minister, hired him out on a contract to a Richmond tobacco merchant. While working along the river in the Shokoe area of the capital, Lott Carey came to Christ and was baptized, after hearing a powerful Gospel message about Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night. As a new member of First Baptist of Richmond, and determined to read the Bible for himself, Lott Carey taught himself to read, and attended a night school taught by a member of the church.

Lott Carey (c. 1780-1828)

Lott saved every extra penny he made as he received promotions and preferment at the warehouse, and the right to sell waste tobacco for profit. He was able to purchase his own and his two children’s freedom, in 1807, when he was about the age of thirty-three. He remarried (his first wife had died) and began preaching to a small black congregation, along with his work in the tobacco warehouse. God blessed Lott’s mastery of the Scriptures and his powerful oratory, and his church rose to eight hundred members. Through studies with his white teacher, William Crane, Lott developed an interest in African missions, an interest originally introduced to him by his grandmother! Believing God’s calling, Lott determined to go to the mission field in Africa.

First Baptist Church of Richmond, constructed in 1841

Henry Clay (1777-1852)

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

The American Colonization Society, a diverse group of mostly white Americans from every section of the country, was formed in 1817, to promote the emigration of free Americans of African ancestry to Africa. The originators of the movement, mostly evangelicals and Quakers, were joined by such distinguished supporters as Abraham Lincoln, two other Presidents and Senator Henry Clay. African-American leaders as a rule, many abolitionists and most free black preachers opposed the organization vehemently as a tool to perpetuate slavery, separate African-Americans from their homes and ship them off to areas their ancestors were not originally from. Nonetheless, in the earliest days of the Society, support for a mission effort by a gifted and popular preacher like Lott Carey had great appeal, and with the support of his church, reached fruition.

An 1883 publication of the American Colonization Society

In his final sermon to his beloved congregation Carey said:

“I am about to leave you and I expect to see your faces no more. I long to preach to the poor Africans the way of life and salvation. I don’t know what may befall me, whether I may find a grave in the ocean, or among the savage men, or more savage wild beasts on the coast of Africa, nor am I anxious what may become of me. I feel it my duty to go.”

On January 23, 1821 Carey sailed with his family and some co-workers to Liberia. He was the first black missionary from the United States to Africa.

In Liberia—whose national language is English, their flag red, white, and blue, and their capital city named after President James Monroe—Lott Carey established Providence Baptist Church, schools for both settlers and native children, and the Monrovia Baptist Missionary Society. He even served as provisional governor when the white governor returned home because of illness. He organized a defense force to protect the colony when attacked by hostile tribes. Lott Carey and seven co-workers died in a gun powder explosion during a rescue mission to save negotiators with one of those aggressive enemies. He was forty-nine.

Flag of Liberia

Location of Liberia in Western Africa

Born into slavery during America’s War for Independence, with little to no hope for any other fate, Lott Carey was predestined to be a man of great faith, vision, character, resolve, and perseverance, as well as a preacher of great power. From the field to the tobacco warehouse to the pulpit to a new nation forged on the coast of Africa, Lott Carey did not allow his early difficult social condition determine who he would be in God’s Kingdom.