Again the Lord blessed us with a very good congregation and two outstanding lecturers.
Mr Michael Gray, lecturer in History and Politics at Harrow School, gave a most comprehensive and fascinating lecture on ‘John Knox – Reformer and Revolutionary’, putting Knox into the context of his own time, the early years of the Reformation in Scotland. For an English audience, without perhaps the background of Scottish history, Mr Gray joined all the dots, explaining the roles of the infamous Cardinal Beaton, the self-serving James V, Mary of Guise and of course, Mary Queen of Scots.
Their roles were contrasted with the lives of the early reformers, Patrick Hamilton and George Wishart, who laid down their lives in the cause of the Reformation, and had a great influence on John Knox. The relationship of England and Scotland, the proposed marriage between Edward VI and Mary Queen of Scots, the failure of that scheme and the Scottish ‘auld alliance’ with France was explained. Knox’s life as a galley-slave, an exile in Geneva, an Anglican minister in Frankfurt, his argument with Thomas Cranmer over kneeling at Communion, and the insertion of the Black Rubric in the Book of Common Prayer were all touched upon. Few perhaps would have been aware of Knox’s ministry in Berwick-on-Tweed and Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
We heard how Knox moved towards a Presbyterian view of church government and how his life has profoundly affected the Scottish church and Scottish society until this day. Mr Gray painted a picture of Knox, warts and all, and left us thanking God that such a spiritual giant of a man lived and worked in our land and left behind a lasting legacy of immense worth.
Mr Maurice McCaughey, of the Free Presbyterian Church, Bristol, followed with a no less inspiring lecture, on Hugh Latimer. He reminded us of the need to leave behind us a legacy to the next generation. He warned us of the temptation to do nothing, in the selfish belief that the next generation might squander or neglect our hard work. Men like Latimer knew that the generation after them might despise them and their work, but believed that nothing done for God could ever ultimately be lost or wasted.
Latimer’s life illustrated the power of a good home and upbringing. His early life instilled in him the work ethic, which he never lost. Mr McCaughey reminded us that Latimer was at first extremely sceptical of reformation teaching and seemed stubbornly wedded to medieval scholasticism. Whilst at Cambridge University, through the influence and tireless efforts of Thomas Bilney, Latimer came, by grace, to see the truth of the gospel and to trust Christ as his Saviour.
Latimer was pre-eminently a fearless preacher ‘what Tyndale was to England in his writing, Latimer was by his preaching’. He preached the whole counsel of God, though many reviled him. He did not accommodate himself to the religious or political correctness of his day. He was an extremely able but humble man, who never sought position or fame for himself. Much more could be said, but Mr McCaughey concluded by challenging us by harking back to Nelson’s famous signal before the Battle of Trafalgar, reminding us of our responsibility to do our duty towards God.
We are grateful to our lecturers and all who have supported us at the Centre….Please pray for the continuing work and our efforts to remind our sinning nation of the way that God has favoured this land in the past, and to take some of Latimer’s famous words to Ridley, that the ‘light that has shined in our land…. may never go out.’