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Church History

Calvinist in History:

The following is a reproduction of an article taken from the following link: http://members.aol.com/pilgrimpub/calvhist.htm

I take no credit for this article, but thank Bob Ross for his diligence in providing a list, although not exhaustive by any means, for our encouragement and edification.

Calvinists in History


C. H. Spurgeon: “There is a tendency in this age to throw doctrinal truth into the shade. Too many preachers are offended with that stern truth which the Covenanters held, and to which the Puritans testified in the midst of a licentious age. We are told that the times have changed; that we are to modify these old (so-called) Calvinistic doctrines, and bring them down to the tone of the times; that, in fact, they need dilution, than men have become so intelligent that we must pare off the angles of our religion, and make the square into a circle by rounding off the most prominent edges. Any man who doth this, so far as my judgment goes, does not declare the whole counsel of God. The faithful minister must be plain, simple, pointed, with regard to these doctrines. There must be no dispute about whether he believes them or not. He must so preach them that his hearers will know whether he preaches a scheme of freewill, or a covenant of grace — whether he teaches salvation by works, or salvation by the power and grace of God.”

— Excerpted from C. H. Spurgeon’s sermon #289 THE MINISTER’S FAREWELL

Published in NPSP Vol 6, Year 1860, pg. 25, Acts 20:26-27


The holiest and most Godblessed men who ever lived held to the doctrines which are usually classified “CALVINISTIC,” oftentimes called the “DOCTRINES OF GRACE.” Truly, Calvinists have been so influential for the cause of the Christian faith that it may be said with perfect candor, as it was said of men of old; they have “turned the world upside down.” Seemingly, with God in sovereign control, they have transformed nations, shaken empires, founded colonies, prayed down Godsent revivals, and have been literal SAMSONS in the earth! Their works are testimony to the truthfulness of that passage which says, “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” Calvinist men (and women) have counted themselves and their righteousnesses as dung, being totally depraved sinners, void of any good thing; yet through them God has showered blessings upon the world.

Indeed it would take many volumes to make mention of the great hosts of those who, in doctrinal principles, were Calvinistic. In all phases of life they have exerted a mighty and moving testimony for God. Though I could not begin to know or name all the Calvinists in history, I do want to acknowledge a few.

Poets and Hymnwriters

Christian poetry & hymnology have been well salted by those of Calvinistic principles: John Milton (16081674), author of Paradise Lost & Paradise Restored; William Cowper (17311800), author of the immortal There Is A Fountain,and other great hymns; John Newton (17221807) — who among us hasn’t sung with illustrious voice and thrilling heart his famous Amazing Grace!” And Rock of Ages, that glorious hymn, was from the pen of a great lover and defender of Calvinistic truth, Augustus Toplady (17401778). What joy the saint has felt in singing O Happy Day, by Phillip Doddridge (17021751), a great exponent of grace. And of course, there are others who have given blessings to us through their poems and hymns, including such men as Horatious Bonar (18081889), and Isaac Watts (16741748).


Before the days of the Reformation, the doctrines of grace could not be so freely expounded, though undoubtedly they were certainly there. Roman Catholicism, with its “beggarly elements” kept the masses in the bondage of darkness. But with the Reformation came a greater interest in grace; yea, a love for grace sparked the Reformation.

Reformers such as Martin Luther (14831546), John Calvin (15091564), and John Knox (15051572), all who believed in absolute Sovereignty, followed after the strong believer in divine Predestination, John Wycliffe (13201384), the father of the Reformation. With these men at the forefront, along with others such as Jerome Zanchius (15161590), Theodore Beza (15191605), John Bradford (15101555), Thomas Cranmer (14891556), William Tyndale (14921536), Hugh Latimer (14851555), Nicholas Ridley (15001555), and Martin Bucer (14911551), the Reformation advanced rapidly in Europe and Great Britain. The Reformers, almost EVERYONE of them, were strong believers in the doctrines of grace. These we have named are some outstanding ones, and did so believe. Of course, here and there, there was an Erasmus, but very few.


Augustus Toplady once challenged the Arminians of his time to produce evidence that an Arminian had ever gone to death in martyrdom. But Calvinists and martyrs are quite synonymous terms. The Waldenses, for instance, our Baptist progenitors, are well known for their Calvinistic faith and numerous martyrdoms. John Huss, (13691415), the proselyte of Wycliffe, and a believer of the tenents of grace, was burned to death. Jerome of Prague (13601416), was likewise burned. William Sautre, John Claydon, Thomas Bilvey, Tyndale, James Bainham, John Lambert, and Robert Barnes were all burned to death for the Christian faith. Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer (above), and John Hooper (14951554), also died in flames of fire.  John Foxe (15171587), not a martyr, but martyrhistorian [Foxe’s Book of Martyrs], was also a Calvinist. Outstanding in this field — the Baptists, whose blood marks a trail back hundreds of years [NOT the Old Landmark Trail of Bloodclaim], have with but scant exceptions, held to the doctrines of grace.


Next are some of those men whom God has used to stir revival fires. Calvinism and Revival are as synonymous as the Calvinists and the martyrs. In fact, C. H. Spurgeon says that he never heard of a revival apart from Calvinistic truth. Even the Wesleyan Revival had the flaming Calvinist George Whitefield (17141770), and a historian has said that Wesley’s success was due to what Calvinism he had obtained and retained. As England was the chief field for Mr. Whitefield’s labors, so was it for John Bunyan‘s (16281688), the author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, which, except for the Holy Bible, is the most popular book EVER written. Spurgeon admirers should note that his favorite author was Bunyan, claiming of John’s greatest works, he had read this book more than 100 times, often having his wife read it to him. Another Bunyan monumental work The Holy War, is the EQUAL of The Pilgrim’s Progress. Bunyan was totally devoted to God and His Sovereign will.

Also, Rowland Hill (17451833), preached to Englishmen the great truths of grace. Certainly, Charles Haddon Spurgeon (18341892), can be considered under this head; for in a very real way revival characterized his ministry. In Scotland, the preaching of Robert Murray M‘Cheyne (18131842) was annointed with blessings, too. In America, the ardent Calvinist, Jonathan Edwards (17031758), was used of God in a mighty way. So was the missionary to the Indians, David Brainerd (17181747). We might also mention that it was William Carey (17611834), a Calvinist, who labored long on the mission field in India, and became the most wellknown missionary of recent years. And many might not know that the great American evangelist D. L. Moody (18371899) was indeed a Calvinist!

Scholars and Theologians

CALVINISTS have long dominated among these. From LutherCalvin to the present day, a great host of scholars & theologians have adorned the Calvinistic train. We mention such men as Stephen Charnock (16281680), John Owen (16161683), Thomas Chalmers (17801847), John Howe (16301705), John Ryland, Abraham Booth (17341806), Andrew Fuller (17541815), Alexander Carson (17761874), Augustus H. Strong (18361921), Charles Hodge (17971878), A. A. Hodge (18231886), B. B. Warfield (18511921), William G. T. Shedd (1820n/a), John A. Broadus (18271895), James Petigru Boyce (18271888), J. R. Graves (18201893), B. H. Carroll (18431914), J. M. Pendleton (18111891), and Alvah Hovey (18201903).

Commentators and Expositors

Matthew Henry (16621714), whose commentary is probably the most popular ever published, was a Calvinist. John Gill (16971771), who produced one of the greatest commentaries ever, was one of the ablest exponents of the doctrines of grace that ever lived. Thomas Goodwin (16001679), Thomas Manton (16201677), & John Brown (17841858), three Puritans, were great commentators and expositors. And lo! what could not be said in praise of Robert Haldane (17641842), who gave us the greatest commentary ever on the book of Romans [published in paperback by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids MI, and in clothbound by The Banner of Truth, Carlisle PA].

Also, John Trapp (16111669), John Collinges (16231690), Richard Sibbes (15771635), Jeremy Taylor (16131667), Robert Leighton (16111684), Christopher Ness (16211705), Charles Simeon (17591836), Charles Hodge (17971878), James Buchanan (180470), J. C. Ryle (18161900), Arthur Pink (18861952), and the host of others? What would the Christian world be like without the inspiring literature of these giants? Many great sovereign grace books are published by The Banner of Truth, as well as Soli Deo Gloria Ministries [specializing in Puritan books].


These are simply too numerous to mention. To the names that have already been referred to, however, we will add the names of these outstanding Calvinists: John Flavel (16301691), Benjamin Keach (16401704), John Rippon (17511836), Christmas Evans (17661838), John Clifford, Archibald Brown, J. B. Moody, H. B. Taylor (18701932), I. M. Haldeman (1845n/a), Jeremiah Burroughs, George S. Bishop, T. T. Eaton (1845n.a), and Martin LloydJones (18991981).

I know that in this article many noble sovereign grace believers have slipped my memory. But these that are mentioned are certainly representative of the great company of those whose cry was and shall ever be —

Salvation is of the Lord!

May God in His Grace once again give us men who shall exalt our Lord in salvation! We have had enough of Pelagius, Arminius, and Erasmus; let us, oh Lord, again hear the sweet message of Grace from a Whitefield, a Spurgeon, or a Bunyan!

Author: Bob L. Ross