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V.

WHY AM I REFORMED?

BY REV. C. CLEVER, D.D.

Ir is sometimes necessary to climb a mountain height, that we may get the lay of the land, the course of the rivers or the direction of the highways. If we desire a more definite knowledge, we must go down from our commanding position and select some circumscribed portion for more careful investigation. It is in the latter spirit that we approach our subject at this time. If we can get a clear conception of the name belonging to the honored Church of which I am a member, we will at once have a position from which, as an integral part of Protestantism, its whole field of practice and theology will be evident, at least in its general outline. A rose might siell as sweet if called by any other name, but no other word in the whole range of language, home or foreign, would be as fragrant with historic meaning as Reformed. Some Churches are called after a man.

His towering strength, powerful courage and unwavering constancy and devotion so impressed themselves upon his followers, that they were proud to be called by his name. Others have been so livingly identified with certain forms of government, that this has been the central idea around which the thought and devotion of their followers crystallized. Others have selected some prominent doctrine, and called themselves by that name.

With this inscribed upon their banner, they have appealed to their fellow-men, and determined to win their share in the crowning glory of the consummated kingdom of God. Others have determined that a certain form of worship possesses significance enough to form a rallying-point around which its sacred memories can cluster, and definiteness enough to make it intelligently appreciated by those who ask a reason for its being. Our Church was simply called Reformed. It is not Reformed Presbyterian, Reformed Episcopalian nor Reformed Lutheran. The question put to us so often, Reformed what? shows at once a lack of historical information. If an old Israelite would have said, I belong to the tribe of Judah or to Dan, it would have been senseless to have asked him Judab what? or Dan what? If he would have belonged to one of the smallest tribes, the question would have been meaningless. The air of historical consequence would not have redeemed it from the disgust which it would have provoked.

Dr. Schaff says Reformed, as used in all continental works on church history and symbolics, means originally, the Catholic Church reformed of abuses or regenerated by the word of God. The name originally was applied to that whole movement of the XVIth Century, which liberated Christianity from the burdens which ages of superstition and idolatry had piled upon it. Afterwards, when the unseemly controversy waxed so hot between Luther and the rest of the Reformers, the name Lutheran was assumed by those who took such extreme sacramentarian views. Our name then belonged to the oldest Protestant body.

Like the great priest that Abraham met when returning from the slaughter of the kings, we are without earthly father or mother.

No king had power enough to lay our cornerstone. No single theologian had wisdom enough to construct our theology. We claim no man as leader, and we acknowledge no man as Lord. There is a sense in which Zwingli, Melancthon and Calvin are our heroes. But one, or all of these, could not have laid the broad foundations on which we have builded.

If it be needful to designate one man as our Reformer, it would be Ulric Zwingli, born A.D. 1484, who preached the pure gospel in Switzerland some years before Luther in Germany. The movement of which he was the head was wholly independent of Luther--that is to say, Luther was in no way whatever, directly or indirectly, the cause or the occasion of Zwingli making a breach with the Church of Rome and adopting the course which he pursued. “ Zwingli had been led to embrace the leading principles of Protestant truth, and to preach them in 1516, the year before the publication of Luther's Theses ; and it is quite certain that all along he continued to think and act for himself, on his own judgment and responsibility, deriving his views from his own personal and independent study of the word of God." *

He began with the fundamental thought, that the pure teaching of God's holy word, was the only and sufficient rule of faith and practice. He left a powerful impression upon his followers, and gave the cardinal points for subsequent Reformed theologians to develop. The foreign theologians, whom the advisors of Edward the Sixth invited to their aid, either belonged to the Reformed Church or were largely under its influence. “The Marian exiles breathed the air and imbibed the principles of Zurich; while the same spiritual succession has been continued in Puritanism, in English dissent in the prevailing character of American religion.”In speaking of Zwingli, Beard says: “There is an admirable and cheerful good sense about him, a keen apprehension of the simplicities of piety, a firm grasp of religion on the ethical and practical side. But the sense of mystery does not weigh upon him; the contemplation of divine things neither excites him to paradox nor awakens him to rapture.” This is the spirit that was impressed on the Reformed Church in the beginning, and it has been its ruling characteristic till the present, and must be in all the future. We are members of the Reformed Church on account of

(1) ITS UNWAVERING LOYALTY TO CHRIST. The Reformed Church has made current some of the most important watch-words that distinguish the theological thinking of these latter days.

Cunningham's Reformers and Theology of the Reformation, page 213. † Beard's Hibbert Lectures, page 226.

Christological and Christocentric—Christ the periphery and Christ the centre—are familiar terms to us, and are fast becoming 80 to all those who are in the fore-front of the great battle for truth. Forty or fifty years ago these would have been pronounced senseless jargon, the users of which should be banished from the company of earnest thinkers. Our theology has been made to revolve around Christ. As little as the movements of the stars and planets can be explained by making the earth the centre, so little can redemption be understood by making any. thing but Christ the beginning, the middle and the end. He is the all and in all. By Him were all things made, and He is before all things. In Him all things stand together. One of the old confessions of the Reformed Church will be found to contain these words.

The sum of the gospel is that our Lord Jesus Christ, the true Son of God, has made known to us the will of His heavenly Father, and redeemed us by His innocence from eternal death, and reconciled us to God.

Therefore Christ is the only way to salvation for all who were, who are and who shall be.

Christ is the Head of all believers.
Christ is the one eternal High Priest.

Christ who offered Himself once on the cross, is the sufficient and perpetual sacrifice for the sins of all believers. Therefore the mass is no sacrifice, but a commemoration of the one sacrifice of the cross and a seal of the redemption through Christ.

Christ is the only Mediator between God and us.

Christ is our righteousness. From this it follows that our works are good so far as they are Christ's, but not good so far as they are our own.

Christians are not bound to any works which Christ has not commanded.

God alone forgives sins through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Here already we have the first fruits of that grand, living, Christological theology which has made it worth while for us to struggle on, and, though least among the tribes, to furnish the

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king who can save the Church from a heartless rationalism. Dr. George P. Fisher says, in his "Church History,” p. 576: “Into the Heidelberg Catechism, the creed of the German Reformed Church, there had flowed influences from the school of Melancthon, the character of which may be described in somewhat vague terms as churchly and sacramental, in conjunction with influences from a more defined, yet not rigid type of Calvinism. In the writings of the Mercersburg school, the former of these two elements, that which emanated from Melancthon, was once more brought into the foreground. A central position in the system was given to the divine-human person of Christ, by whom, it was taught, not only reconciliation

, but a new spiritual life is introduced into the race which in the first Adam fell from God.”

It is a well-known fact that whole ages of Christian effort have been wasted in trying to overcome the hosts of sin and unbelief

, and bring peace to the jaded spirits of struggling men with some great doctrine as central. "There are times when the atonement, for instance, is made the article of a standing or falling Church. At other times a refined humanitarianism enlists the whole current of effort in the Church. Men think and act as though the humanities of life, tinctured with a mild favor of the heavenly and divine, will bring the relief for

This is the astronomer studying the course of a planet and its influence among the stars without catching the rays or beat or attractive power of the sun.

It is the bearer of the healing salt, scattering it upon the stream of human life hurrying on its way, charged with death, rather than pressing on

“ To find the true, original, essential principle of Christianity, we must go back of all these schemes -back of all that man can think, will or do, back of the Church, which is Christ's body, back of His words and works -to His divine-hunan Person, to His divine-human life.” * The Reformed Church has always insisted that this is the

* Harbaugh's Christological Theology, p. 36.

which men groan and die.

up to the fountain.

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