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Francis I Bans the Publishing of Books, 1535

2020-01-17T16:23:05+00:00January 13, 2020|HH 2020|

The University of Paris, commonly known as the Collège de Sorbonne, led the way intellectually in France during the period of history known as the Renaissance. In the 16th Century, the learned doctors of the Sorbonne became the established defenders of Roman Catholic orthodoxy, defining the theological boundaries of reform. The Protestant Reformation, that began in Germany when Martin Luther stood up to the prelates and princes affirming a return to Apostolic doctrine and practice, spread to France, especially among the clergy and universities. The Sorbonne alerted King Francis I that the “Lutheran heresy” was spreading in the universities. On January 13, 1535, he declared an edict prohibiting the publishing of books, hoping that measure would prevent the Protestant views from spreading any further.

View of the Collège de Sorbonne in 1550

King Francis I of France (1494-1547)

Until that proclamation, Francis had shown some sympathy with the reformers. His tutors during his impressionable younger years had been intellectual products of the Italian Renaissance and taught him to appreciate knowledge on a wide scope. His own sister, Marguerite de Navarre, supported the Protestants, and Francis himself was known to be open to the intellectual challenges of the Renaissance—“an enlightened prince” who was known as “The Father of Letters” and a patron of the arts. He even likely rescued a few men who were being tracked down and targeted for heresy. The charges of heresy, however, continued unabated. On top of that, some of the reformers presented their case in obnoxious and contentious ways, further alienating the Crown. The posting of broadsides across Paris, attacking the Catholic Mass, brought deadly royal reprisals. The “Lutheran doctrines” continued to proliferate, however, especially through books, pamphlets and broadsides. The Reformed French Churchmen became known as Huguenots.

Marguerite dr Navarre (1492-1549) older sister of Francis I of France

Francis I and his sister Marguerite de Navarre

Although the reign of Francis I would be characterized by foreign policy disputes and wars with the Italians, Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire, Spain and England, his preoccupation with wars gave room for the spread of the Gospel in France. His banning of the printing of books had almost no effect on the spread of the Protestant Reformation, for Reformed literature flowed into France from Germany and Switzerland. John Calvin, a former student in Paris, now in exile to Geneva, trained young men to return to France to preach. Bibles travelled across the country with merchants who distributed Protestant literature everywhere.

John Calvin (1509-1564) trained men in Geneva to return to France to preach

The Massacre of Mérindol took place in 1545, when Francis I of France ordered that the Waldensians of the village of Mérindol be punished for dissident religious activities

The Protestant doctrinal assault on the Mass, especially rankled Francis, and the crackdown on Protestants brought burnings and other types of murder in many places. Francis I may have wanted an enlightened kingdom, united against foreign enemies, but his resistance to ecclesiastical reform brought only continued internal disruption and religious intolerance. In some provinces, the majority of people became Protestants, known hereafter as Huguenots. Most historians estimate that eventually about 10% of France became firmly Protestant, primarily of the Genevan/Calvinist camp, more than a million strong. Nonetheless, Francis began a precedent of persecution of Huguenots, and resistance to biblical Protestantism that was followed by his royal descendants for the next two centuries.

The Death of Timothy Dwight, 1817

2020-01-17T16:22:14+00:00January 7, 2020|HH 2020|

“And suddenly there came from Heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.” —Acts 2:2

The Death of Timothy Dwight, January 11, 1817

Timothy Dwight IV was the oldest of thirteen children whose maternal grandfather, Jonathan Edwards, was destined to be regarded as one of the most brilliant men produced in American history, and a leader in the “Great Awakening.” His paternal grandfather, Colonel Timothy Dwight and his father Major Timothy Dwight fought in colonial wars, the Major in the War for Independence, along with his son, who served as a chaplain. He was destined to become the president of Yale College, with which his family before and after him were closely associated. Several historians believe he was the most influential leader of the “Second Great Awakening.”

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

Timothy Dwight IV (1752-1817)

Timothy showed signs of genius at an early age, memorizing the alphabet in a single lesson and reading the Bible through at the age of four. He taught himself Latin at six. Graduating from Yale at the age of 17, he taught school for two years, then served at Yale as a tutor for six years. During that time he made a profession of his faith in Christ and began preparation for Gospel ministry. He was licensed by the Congregationalists of Connecticut to preach, in 1777. As a teacher at Yale, Dwight supported the War for Independence in no uncertain terms. Many of his students entered the army until the college decided to close. Dwight offered himself as a chaplain during one of the darkest times of the American cause, and was swiftly brought into the army. George Washington had called for chaplains to serve the soldiers of America, and devout, eloquent preachers responded. His powerful preaching and patriotic faithfulness was noted by a number of fellow soldiers, especially General Putnam. Upon the death of his father, Dwight resigned and returned home to take care of his mother and siblings; besides running the farm, he filled vacant pulpits in various churches around Northampton, started a school for boys and girls, and served two terms in the state legislature.

George Washington issued a call for chaplains and Timothy Dwight served as chaplain in General Samuel Holden Parsons’s Connecticut Continental Brigade

A view of the buildings of Yale College in 1807

For twelve years after the war, Timothy Dwight pastored a church in Fairfield, Connecticut. Always active and full of ideas, he started an academy which drew young scholars from far and wide. He believed that the Bible spoke to every area of life and practice, and thus he remained active in politics as a supporter of the Federalists. He wrote on theological topics, especially apologetics, defending the Christian faith against the revolutionary atheism and infidelity spawned by the French Philosophes, that appealed to many students at Yale and Harvard.

Timothy Dwight pastored Greenfield Hill Congregational Church in Fairfield, Connecticut, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Upon the death of President Ezra Stiles of Yale, the Reverend Timothy Dwight was elected eighth president of Yale College in 1795. God had prepared him for twenty years of preaching, teaching, counseling, study, and leadership to take the helm of his beloved alma mater, currently under the heavy influence of European enlightenment rationalism. The libertine student body, whose lives were filled with “intemperance, profanity, gambling, and licentiousness,” issued a challenge to the new president, expecting the usual evasion of confrontation. They challenged the wrong man. Choosing the subject, “Is the Bible the Word of God?” Dwight invited the agnostic students to present their best case in the negative before the student body, without any threat of personal penalties. He listened carefully, then delivered a series of lectures on the divine inspiration of the Scriptures, addressing point for point every argument the students had offered against the Word of God. One student later recorded that after that, “infidelity skulked and hid its head.” One historian states that from 1795 to 1802, Dwight’s presence placed a moral restraint on the wayward students.

Ezra Stiles (1727-1795) was the seventh president of Yale College and among the founders of Brown University

While some of the immorality of the campus receded, few of the young scholars yet claimed to be Christians. One observed that most of the students had merely academic interests and that he himself was the only member of the freshman class that actually professed Christ. The real change at Yale came in the spring of 1802:

“…with such power as had never been witnessed within those walls before . . . it was like a mighty rushing wind. The whole college was shaken. It seemed for a time that the whole mass of students would press into the Kingdom of God.” —Dr. Heman Humphrey

Heman Humphrey (1779-1861), Yale graduate, author, clergyman and second president of Amherst College

About seventy-five of Yale’s two hundred fifty students were converted and united to churches. The number of men coming forward for Gospel ministry multiplied. The supply of godly ministers had been dwindling and infidelity had been carried into the pulpits by graduates. With Timothy Dwight at the helm, Yale had been at least partially restored to its previous allegiance to Christ, through the Holy Spirit using his preaching to truly advance the kingdom, including the calling of new shepherds for the Church.

Mary Woolsey Dwight (1754-1854), wife of Timothy Dwight

A Methodist camp meeting in 1819 during the Second Great Awakening

The Second Great Awakening is often portrayed as only a revival of biblical faith among the uneducated frontiersmen and the lower classes of the urban northeast. Three separate years in the first two decades of the 19th Century at Yale, the intellectual attractions of infidelity and agnosticism were overwhelmed by the power of the Gospel. Timothy Dwight died in office there in 1817. Two of his eight sons entered the ministry. It has been true throughout history that God prepares his people, sometimes for many years, for their greatest usefulness in the waning years of life.

  • Revival and Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism 1750-1858, by Iain Murray
  • God Sent Revival: The Story of Asahel Nettleton and the Second Great Awakening, by J. F. Thornbury

Image Credits:Jonathan Edwards (Wikipedia.org)Timothy Dwight IV (Wikipedia.org)General George Washington (Wikipedia.org)Yale College, 1807 (Wikipedia.org)Greenfield Hill Congregational Church (Wikipedia.org)Ezra Stiles (Wikipedia.org)Heman Humphrey (Wikipedia.org)Mary Woolsey Dwight (Wikipedia.org)Second Great Awakening Methodist Camp Meeting (LOC.gov)

The Birth of Roman Emperor Titus, AD 39

2019-12-31T15:04:02+00:00December 31, 2019|HH 2019|

“As he went out of the Temple, one of his disciples said unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! And Jesus answering said unto him, seest thou these great buildings? There shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” —Mark 13:1,2

The Birth of Roman Emperor Titus, December 30, AD 39

The lives of the Roman Emperors have always been of interest to historians of Western Civilization. They remain a cornerstone in classical education and of certain interest to Christians in the study of Church history, especially as it relates to the martyrs. Although not mentioned by name in the Bible, Titus should be accorded a special place in history for fulfilling many biblical prophecies which came to fruition in the capture and destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. He rode his military conquest to succession of his father as the Roman Caesar. The record of his triumphs figures prominently in the great historical work by one of his generals and close advisor, the Jewish-born Titus Flavius Josephus.

An unknown artist’s depiction of what is thought to be historian Titus Flavius Josephus (AD 37 – c. AD 100)

Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus (AD 39-81)

Titus was born to an upper class family. His grandfather had married strategically for wealth and position, eventually rising to the patrician class. His son, Vespasian became a consul in AD 51, when his son Titus was just eleven. The family barely managed to dodge being caught up in the intrigues and assassinations that accompanied the ambitious rulers of Rome.

In AD 66, a Jewish rebellion in the Middle East broke out over a number of issues, from taxes to profaning the Temple. Vespasian was dispatched by Nero to Judea to quell the “Great Revolt.” The Jews had been troublesome from the beginning of Roman rule and the empire had to keep two legions in the area on a regular basis. The Roman XII Legion was virtually destroyed by the Jewish rebels and more than 6,000 massacred. Romans always responded in kind and to greater measure. The V, X, and XV Legions—the first two led by Vespasian and the third by his son Titus, a total of 60,000 men—laid siege to Jerusalem after a bitter two-year campaign across the region.

Emperor Vespasian (AD 9-79), father of Titus

The destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem

Jerusalem was no ordinary citadel. It had served as the religious center and political capital of the nation of Israel for centuries. Seventeen times it has been sacked or destroyed, the most terrible being the overthrow of the “City of David” by General Titus in AD 70. Josephus left a detailed record of its apparently impregnable heights and walls situated on four major hills, the highest being Mount Moriah on which the Temple stood. Jesus himself had predicted the utter destruction of the Temple, and that people living in his time would be there to witness it: “This generation shall not pass away until all be fulfilled.” And so they were. Matthew 24 and a significant number of Old Testament prophecies presented a harrowing account of what could be expected. Titus was given overall command and in AD 70 he took the city.

The destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70

Titus offered peace to the inhabitants several times and was ambushed and attacked for his efforts. The succession of walls were attacked with battering rams and siege engines. The Roman army raised banks and towers. The Jews sallied out from the gates a number of times to destroy the siege weapons, and did score some limited successes. The desperate defenders repaired breaches and built new defensive lines as the legionnaires penetrated the suburbs then broke into the city proper. They razed the Temple, leaving no stone standing on another. Josephus claims there were over a million defenders, Tacitus says 600,000, with women joining the men in the barricades to fight to the death. There were many different factions among the Jews, but they all perished alike. Hundreds of thousands were killed, prisoners were crucified or enslaved, and many tortured and killed later. The multiple prophecies of this historic event were fulfilled in bloody massacre.

Map indicating progress of the Roman army during the siege

The Arch of Titus in Rome can be seen today with the triumphal parade of captives and loot from the Temple carved in relief. They were marched in chains through the streets of Rome. Titus’s father Vespasian ruled the Roman Empire from AD 69-79, founding the “Flavian Dynasty.” He built the Coliseum and expanded the territory of the Empire. Titus was the first natural son to succeed his father as Roman Emperor, but served only two years before dying of a fever. Mount Vesuvius erupted, destroying Pompeii in the first year of his reign. Titus likely never knew he was the instrument of Providence to bring about the fulfillment of biblical prophecies that had forewarned the Christians of the early church, helping their survival in the time of greatest danger in Judea.

The Arch of Titus in Rome

Detail of the Arch of Titus depicting the spoils of the Jerusalem Temple

John C. Calhoun Resigns as Vice President, 1832

2019-12-23T21:21:59+00:00December 23, 2019|HH 2019|

“It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding.” —Daniel 2:21

John C. Calhoun Resigns as Vice President, December 28, 1832

Few U.S. Presidents have been more controversial than Andrew Jackson. He still stimulates debate, anger, and admiration, as he did in his own day, although today primarily among academic historians, rather than members of Congress, his own cabinet, and the movers and shakers of the D.C. social set. Along with the President of “the Jacksonian Era,” the political power brokers of the nation featured three of the most renowned senators in American history, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and John C. Calhoun—the “Great Triumvirate.”

John C. Calhoun (1782-1850), seventh Vice President of the United States

Calhoun served as Vice President under both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson from 1825-1832, and was a legitimate candidate for President, until his break with Jackson. He served in the House of Representatives beginning in 1810, and built a reputation as the “most elegant and stately orator in the House.” He later served as Secretary of War, Secretary of State, and United States Senator from South Carolina. Calhoun was a man of iron clad principles and patriotism, as well as a constitutionalist of the deepest dye. One modern historian, (and he is not the only one), describes Calhoun as the “most important thinker to follow the Founders on matters of the Constitution and the Union.”

Men like Calhoun create dedicated and ambitious enemies as well. Unfortunately, the President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, said he would like to “hang him as high as Haman,” and he was not kidding. Henry Clay described Calhoun as “a rigid, fanatic, ambitious, selfish partisan and sectional turncoat with too much genius and too little common sense, who will either die a traitor or a madman.” (He did neither, of course.)

Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), seventh President of the United States

Henry Clay (1777-1852), U.S. Senator from Kentucky

Martin Van Buren (1782-1862), eighth President of the United States

In 1832, a number of personal, social, and political kerfuffles came together over the head of Calhoun, resulting in his resignation from the Vice-Presidency, return to the Senate, and ascension to foremost Southern champion and defender of the Constitution, in the swirl of legislative controversy inspired by the War with Mexico. He and Jackson were never close friends. People commented that they looked alike, were both of the Southern planter class, and were similar in political philosophy on many occasions. Nonetheless, they differed strongly on several political points. Another politician, Martin Van Buren, also in Jackson’s cabinet, manipulated the circumstances of disagreement to his own advantage and to the detriment of Calhoun.

The incident that finally severed relations between the President and Vice-President occurred when Jackson reacted to Calhoun’s wife’s social snubbing of Peggy Eaton, the new spouse of another cabinet member. Jackson’s beloved wife Rachel had recently died, and he blamed her demise on scandalous treatment in the press. Jackson chose to defend the Eatons and made it known that the Calhouns were persona non grata, as far as the President was concerned. This “Petticoat Affair” coupled with Calhoun’s opposition to the huge tariff increase passed by Congress and signed by the President, the South Carolina statesman resigned from the Vice Presidency, only to be appointed Senator and return to Washington to carry on the fight against Jackson.

Peggy Eaton (1799-1879), wife of U.S. Senator from Tennessee John Henry Eaton

Calhoun in 1849, the year before his death

Calhoun is best known as the defender of the Tenth Amendment, the doctrine of the “concurrent majority” and the belief in “interposition”—that lesser magistrates of a state had the right to disobey or nullify national law when those laws were proven unconstitutional—that they could interpose themselves between the people and tyranny. When South Carolina threatened secession, Jackson breathed out threatenings of invasion and of hanging Calhoun for treason. Eventual compromise in the Congress tempered the tempers and war was averted. Because of Jackson’s popularity, Calhoun could never succeed to the presidency, but he continued to make his mark in Constitutional expertise in the Senate. Some call him the Father of the Confederacy, though he died some ten years before secession became a reality.

  • The Great Triumvirate: Webster, Clay, and Calhoun, by Merrill D. Peterson
  • Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Freedom, 1822-1832, Vol. II, by Robert V. Remini

Image Credits:John C. Calhoun (Wikipedia.org)Andrew Jackson (Wikipedia.org)Henry Clay (Wikipedia.org)Martin Van Buren (Wikipedia.org)Peggy Eaton (Wikipedia.org)Calhoun in 1849 (Wikipedia.org)

Antiochus Epiphanes Profanes the Temple, 156 BC

2019-12-16T18:47:51+00:00December 16, 2019|HH 2019|

“Then the king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done.” —Daniel 11:36

Antiochus Epiphanes Profanes the Temple, December 16, 156 BC

A number of important historical events occurred in the period between the Old Testament and the New Testament (c. 420 B.C.—1 A.D.), called by Protestants the “intertestamental” period and by Roman Catholics the “deuterocanonical” era. During those four centuries, one of the greatest warrior kings of history arose—Alexander the Great, and his Not-So-Great successors, the Diadoche—four of Alexander’s generals who divided up his empire for themselves, after his death in 323 BC. One of the most aggressive and successful leaders, Seleucus I Nicator, ruled over a province that would eventually contain the area of the modern nations of Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, central Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan, which collectively became known as the Seleucid Empire, which lasted to 63 BC. The Seleucids (pronounced Sel-oo-sids) brought Hellenistic (ie. Greek) culture to the Middle East, maintaining and expanding the cultural continuity of Alexander’s conquests. One of the most brutal of the post-Alexandrian rulers acquired the name of Antiochus Epiphanes, and in his reign fulfilled a prophecy made centuries earlier in the Book of Daniel of the Hebrew Scriptures.

Antiochus Epiphanes (c. 215 BC -164 BC), Hellenistic king of the Seleucid Empire

For most of their rule, the Seleucids followed Alexander’s policy of using local satraps and princes to help rule the vastly diverse tribes of the Levant. Jews were permitted to maintain their religious ways and culture as long as they paid the required tributes. In 187 B.C. Antiochus III was succeeded by his eldest son, Seleucus IV Philopater, and then by his youngest son Antiochus IV Epinphenes. The kingdom he inherited contained resistance and rebellion in enough measure to warrant a crackdown, and Epiphanes was just the man to crush dissent.

Antiochus determined to unify the religions of the region by compelling everyone to worship him as the paramount god—the Greek god Zeus—in human form. For the first time, his image appeared on the coinage to remind the people he was “Theos Epiphanes” the “manifest god.” Wise guys live in every culture, and someone changed one letter in his name for it to read Epimanes—the “madman,” a most popular public joke.

Approximate geographical area of the Levant, a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia

Coin depicting Antiochus IV Epiphanes

A dispute over who should be the high priest of the Jews in Jerusalem resulted in a war of bribery, won by the pro-Greek Jason over his traditionalist brother Onias. A couple years later one Menaleus, not a descendant of Aaron, paid a higher bribe to Antiochus and was installed as the new high priest. Menaleus plundered the temple, causing riots in Jerusalem, and Jason returned to lead the revolt. Antiochus took it all personally and entered the city with an army, finished the temple plundering, and established martial law. Always suspicious of Ptolemaic Egypt, he converted Jerusalem into a fortress city and announced that it would be Greek in religion, abolishing Jewish rites, burning all the Torahs, and requiring the worship of “the manifest god.”

Model of the Second Temple in Jerusalem

The Triumph of Judas Maccabeus
, by Sir Peter Paul Rubens

The ultimate breaking point came when Antiochus erected an altar to Zeus on top of the altar of burnt offerings, and sacrificed a pig on December 16, 167 BC. The events of the raging Antiochus Epiphanes are foretold—many Bible scholars believe—by the accounts recorded in Daniel 11, including the military strikes on Egypt and the outrages perpetrated in Jerusalem. The details of the Jewish revolt are recorded in the books of the Maccabees found in the Apocrypha, the non-canonical, mostly history, books placed between the Old and New Testaments in most Bibles, up to and including Luther’s Bible and the original King James Version.

The Punishment of Antiochus
, as recounted in 2 Maccabees Chapter 9, by Gustav Doré

The perpetrator of the profanation of the Second Temple, Antiochus Epiphanes, contracted a most painful wasting disease while on a military campaign in the east, and died in agony. God’s preservation of His people from that particular period is remembered in a Jewish holy day known as Hanukah. The state and its leaders down through history have demanded worship, but The True and Living God will only be truly worshipped in the ways He has specified in the Scriptures, and will ultimately put a painful end to idolatrous usurpers.