Iris' Archives, Easter 2020
THE REFORMATION WALL
The Reformation Wall, known officially as the International Monument of the Reformation, is located in Geneva, Switzerland, and was erected in 1917, from funds collected in Protestant countries. On the face of the wall are arranged statues in high relief of outstanding Protestant Church Reformers. The main or central group is a series of four figures: Calvin, Farel, Beza and Knox. On either side of the central group are other champions of the Reformation. To the left are: Frederick William of Brandenburg, William of Orange, and Admiral Coligny. To the right are: Roger Williams, Oliver Cromwell and Stephen Bocskay. Luther and Zwingli have individual memorials apart from the wall
(kal'vin) 1509-1564 French scholar who, though only a layman, became the leading preacher and the dominant force in the newly Protestantized city of Geneva in the Alps. He is the chief builder of the Presbyterian way of thought and church-life, with his "Institutes of the Christian Religion" and his commentaries on the Bible. He has been long criticized for his stern theology and discipline, but today he is winning new appreciation. Yet, his rigid doctrine of election or predestination is rarely held today. Invariably named with Luther as a chief builder of Protestantism.
Standing with the Banner of Victory. No longer wounded by standing with the banner of victory, suggesting the victorious nature of His sacrifice.
The head that once was crowned with thorns
Is crowned with glory now;
A royal diadem adorns
The mighty Victor's brow...
The cross He bore is l(fe and health,
Though shame and death to Him;
His people's hope, His people's wealth,
Their everlasting theme.
It has been said that Thomas Kelly was the hymnist of Ireland as William Williams (Pantycelyn) was of Wales and Michael Bruce was of Scotland. Julian, in his Dictionary of Hymnology, says that several of his hymns rank with the finest hymns of the English language. The one we have already quoted certainly belongs to this category, as also does:
Look, ye saints! the sight is glorious,
See the Man of Sorrows now,
From the fight returned victorious,
Every knee to Him shall bow:
Crown Him! Crown Him!
Crowns become the Victor's brow...
Hark, those bursts of acclamation!
Hark, those loud triumphant chords!
Jesus takes the highest station:
0 what joy the sight affords!
Crown Him! Crown Him!
King of kings and Lord of lords!
Most of Kelly's hymns dwell directly on the work of Christ on the cross for us, the benefits which flow to us through that work, and the glories of heaven. They are the simple and natural expression of the overflowing love of his heart for the One who had died for him and meant so much to him.
Most of Kelly's hymns appear in Hymns on Various Passages o Scripture. The first edition in 1804 contained only 96 hymns but the tenth edition in 1853 contained 765 hymns. In the preface the author says,
It will be perceived by those who have read these hymns that, though there is an interval between the first and last of nearly 50 years, bot speak of the same great truths and in the same way. In the course of that long time the author has seen much and heard much, but nothing ha made the least change of his mind . . . as to the grand truths of the gospel. What pacified the conscience then does so now. What gave hop then does so now.
Thomas Kelly was the only son of Judge Kelly of Kellyville near Athy in Queen's County, Ireland. From school he entered Trinity College, Dublin, and after graduation, being designed for the bar, he entered the Temple in London. Before he was called to the bar the study of Hebrew had led him to the use of Romaine's edition of Calasio's Hebrew Concordance. Subsequently he began to enquirr about Romaine's evangelical doctrines. While studying these hr became convinced of sin and was filled with great anxiety about his state before God. In attempts to remove his distress he tried self-reformation, practised asceticism, and put his life in jeopard by fasting. At length he had peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ by that way of 'justification by faith' of which he afterward became so firm and faithful an advocate. With several other evangelicals he was ordained a minister of the Established Church in 1792.
Kelly met with great opposition from his family, not so much because he became a minister but because he preached the doctrine of justification by faith alone and not by works. He is reported to have said that to have gone to the stake would have been less a trial to him than to have so set himself against those he loved. When Kelly was 30 he married Miss Tighe of Rosanna in Count Wicklow, a member of a family remarkable for its wealth and Christian witness.
The gospel was preached in few churches in Ireland in the lat 18th century and Kelly was greatly encouraged in his evangelistic purposes by the visit of Rowland Hill to Ireland in 1793. For a time some young evangelical clergymen gave a Sunday afternoon lecture at St. Luke's Church in Dublin till their success awakened the opposition of the rector. They then preached in another church every Sunday morning, but the Archbishop of Dublin, on hearing of the new doctrine, summoned Kelly and his companions beforr him. He reproved them and issued a decree closing Dublin pulpit to them. In consequence of this they then preached in two non-episcopal churches in the city.
Soon after ordination Kelly had felt scruples about his connection with the Established Church. These scruples increased as he studied the Scriptures until he became a Dissenter, from conviction, not because he had been persecuted by the Established Church. He possessed ample means and built churches in a numbe of places. They were independent churches, conducted on congregational basis. He preached in other places but served a pastor at Athy and Dublin. It has been said of him that during the 63 years of his ministry he did not seem ever to waste an hour. 'His language, his temper, his recreations, as well as his serious studies, were all regulated by the same rule, to "do all to the glory o God".'
Kelly was a man of great and varied learning. He was skilled in Oriental languages and possessed real musical talent which, together with his other talents, was consecrated to the glory of God. He became the friend of many good men and the advocate of every worthy cause. His liberality found ample scope in Ireland, especially during the years of famine in the 1840s. In 1854 while preaching, at the age of 85, he suffered a stroke which resulted in his death the following year. His last words were, 'Not my will but Thine be done.'
Years earlier he had written an evening hymn of two verses which fittingly mark the close of a life spent to the glory of God: Through the day Thy love hath spared us;
Now we lay us down to rest;
Through the silent watches guard us,
Let no foe our peace molest:
Jesus, Thou our Guardian be;
Sweet it is to trust in Thee.
Pilgrims here on earth and strangers,
Dwelling in the midst of foes,
Us and ours preserve from dangers;
In Thine arms may we repose!
And when life's sad day is past,
Rest with Thee in heaven at last.
A recently arrived incumbent informed his flock in his first piece in the parish newsletter, 'The vicar wishes it to be known that as the parish is very scattered it will be some time before he is able to visit all his new parishioners, and this no doubt will be appreciated by them.'
It was a literal interpretation of the word 'flock' that must have caused a few double-takes at a notice from Hampshire that informed readers, 'In an effort to enlist volunteers to help with maintaining the churchyard it has been divided into five areas. One will be grazed by the vicar's sheep and it is hoped that at least three or four human volunteers will be found to take care of the others.'
Confusion may have reigned over another church-yard following this announcement: 'On the dedication Sunday the procession to the churchyard will take place in the afternoon. If it rains in the afternoon, the procession will be held in the morning.'
This issue of Iris' Archives was first published in May 2019 - fresh extracts from Iris' Archives will be included in subsequent editions of Trinity Life.