The Story of Redemption


The Reformation Spreads

It was through the writings of Wycliffe that John Huss of Bohemia was led to renounce many of the errors of Romanism and to enter upon the work of reform. Like Wycliffe, Huss was a noble Christian, a man of learning and of unswerving devotion to the truth. His appeals to the Scriptures and his bold denunciations of the scandalous and immoral lives of the clergy awakened widespread interest, and thousands gladly accepted a purer faith. This excited the ire of pope and prelates, priests and friars, and Huss was summoned to appear before the Council of Constance to answer to the charge of heresy. A safe conduct was granted him by the German emperor, and upon his arrival at Constance he was personally assured by the pope that no injustice should be done him. SR 337.3

After a long trial, in which he maintained the truth, Huss was required to choose whether he would recant his doctrines or suffer death. He chose the martyr's fate, and after seeing his books given to the flames, he was himself burned at the stake. In the presence of the assembled dignitaries of church and state, the servant of God had uttered a solemn and faithful protest against the corruptions of the papal hierarchy. His execution, in shameless violation of the most solemn and public promise of protection, exhibited to the whole world the perfidious cruelty of Rome. The enemies of truth, though they knew it not, were furthering the cause which they sought vainly to destroy. SR 338.1

Notwithstanding the rage of persecution, a calm, devout, earnest, patient protest against the prevailing corruption of religious faith continued to be uttered after the death of Wycliffe. Like the believers in apostolic days, many freely sacrificed their worldly possessions for the cause of Christ. SR 338.2

Strenuous efforts were made to strengthen and extend the power of the papacy, but while the popes still claimed to be Christ's representatives, their lives were so corrupt as to disgust the people. By the aid of the invention of printing the Scriptures were more widely circulated, and many were led to see that the papal doctrines were not sustained by the Word of God. SR 338.3

When one witness was forced to let fall the torch of truth, another seized it from his hand and with undaunted courage held it aloft. The struggle had opened that was to result in the emancipation, not only of individuals and churches, but of nations. Across the gulf of a hundred years men stretched their hands to grasp the hands of the Lollards of the time of Wycliffe. Under Luther began the Reformation in Germany; Calvin preached the gospel in France, Zwingle in Switzerland. The world was awakened from the slumber of ages, as from land to land were sounded the magic words, “Religious Liberty.” SR 338.4