In the Shadow of Grace
In this issue, we deal with the consequences of the religious wars that devastated Europe, and how God used those horrific events to send streams of Protestant immigrants into Russia, Brazil and colonial Pennsylvania.
As always, when telling the stories of God’s faithfulness to His people, it is tempting to tidy up the biographies of those through whom He has chosen to work. The Bible doesn’t do that. Gideon is prominently mentioned in Hebrews’ “Hall of Faith,” yet the Old Testament tells us he fashioned a golden ephod that “became a snare unto Gideon and his house.”
At Leben, we strive to “let the story tell the story.” In other words, we attempt to relate Reformed lives within the context in which they were lived, rather than force them to fit into a pre-conceived notion of how we may think they should have been lived. Again, that’s the way the Bible does it. We see the patriarchs with all their flaws and failings, and we see God perfectly working His will despite those failings.
Princess Elizabeth, whose portrait graces our cover, has long puzzled church historians. One picture is of a young princess who turns down a crown rather than recant her Reformed faith. Another picture is the brilliant student of philosophy who carried on a vigorous correspondence with Descartes. Still another is the champion of religious tolerance, an ally of the Brandenburg Elector, who opened her city to religious refugees of every description. One of those, William Penn, would repay the kindness by opening Pennsylvania to German Reformed refugees.
Later waves of refugees would leave the Palatinate for the vast plains of Russia, and from there journey to the plains of the Dakotas. In this issue, we also meet persecuted Huguenot refugees who set sail for Brazil to become the first Protestant foreign missionaries — and the first martyrs. Each of these stories is part of the wonderful mosaic of history — God’s history — reminding us again that we stand in the shadow of a long line of those who, by His grace, have been granted the gift of faithfulness.
Editor and Publisher
On the Cover
Gracing our cover this issue is a portrait of Princess Elizabeth that has never before appeared in any publication. It is one of two portraits discovered as part of an estate by Mallett’s, the prestigious London auction house, which sent them to the National Portrait Gallery for authentication. The images are not only those of the two Palatine princesses, but we have learned that both were painted by their sister, Louisa. We wish to thank Mallett Antiques, which has graciously granted us permission to present, for the first time ever, the “Princesses Palatine.” While they are now surely headed for a museum, the paintings may currently be viewed in London. For further information, please visit www.mallettantiques.com.
The July-September 2005 issue includes:
- Princess Palatine Elizabeth: Champion of Religious Liberty
- Lady Jane Grey Essay Contest
- The Great Russian Trek
- Harvest of Sorrow
- The Odessa Church Today
- Wolga Gsangbuch: The Volga Hymnal
- The First Protestant Missionaries