DECEMBER 12, Sweden will celebrate the three hundredth anniversary of the birth of Gustavus Adolphus, “The Lion of the North.” “Every Protestant nation,” it is stated, “has been invited to take part in the celebration, and whether officially or not, will be represented.”
And announcement of the coming celebration recently sent out from Stockholm, says:—
Up to the time that the great Swede marched into Germany there had not been a strong arm raised for the Protestant cause. Always their leaders had been weak men and their soldiers divided into small bodies by petty jealousies. Then came a soldier whose reputation lives to this day as superior to that of any man of his century. He picked up the defeat-stained banner of Protestantism and bore it steadily forward, achieving even in his death a victory which for all time established the Protestant religion on a basis of equality with that of Roman Catholicism.
The last sentence, especially the last clause, is literally true: that victory did establish “the Protestant religion on a basis of equality with that of Roman Catholicism,” and it has never in those countries risen above it from that day to this.
“The spirit of Luther,” says the writer which we quote, “was abroad in the North, and the man and the time had come to demonstrate that the men of the North would no longer be held in bondage by Austria and the Church of Rome.” But was it the “spirit of Luther”?
Luther’s only weapon was the “sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.” By that he conquered, and he would have no other. “The pope and the emperor,” said he, “combined against me; but the more they blustered the more did the gospel gain ground…. And why was this? Because I never drew the sword or called  for vengeance; because I never had recourse to tumult or insurrection: I relied wholly upon God, and placed everything in his almighty hands. Christians fight not with swords and muskets, but with sufferings and with the cross. Christ, their captain, handled not the sword; … he hung upon the tree.”
But the Reformation did not remain true to its own principles. Faith in God gave place to faith in kings, and the “sword of the Spirit” was exchanged for carnal weapons; and the Church of Christ in Switzerland, in Germany, in Norway, in Sweden, in Denmark and in Scotland, became the Church of the State. Says D’Aubigné:—
If the Reformation, having attained a certain point, because untrue to its nature, began to parley and temporize with the world, and ceased thus to follow up the spiritual principle that it had so loudly proclaimed, it was faithless to God and to itself.
Henceforth its decline was at hand.
It is impossible for a society to prosper if it be unfaithful to the principles it lays down. Having abandoned what constituted its life, it can find naught but death….
One portion of the reform was to seek the alliance of the world, and in this alliance find a destruction full of desolation.
Another portion, looking up to God, was haughtily [unhesitatingly] to reject the arm of the flesh, and by this very act of faith secure a noble victory.
As a man and a soldier Gustavus Adolphus is to be honored. From the human standpoint his was a noble service to the cause of freedom. But he rendered no service to true Protestantism. The State churches of Sweden and Norway, of Denmark and of Germany, are little better and scarcely less intolerant than the Roman Catholic Church of Portugal and Belgium, or even of Spain. Protestants may honor Gustavus Adolphus for his human bravery, but they must weep for the lack of living faith in God which made his career possible and substituted for the papacy other human systems instead of the pure gospel of the Son of God.