John Knox

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None have I corrupted, none have I defrauded; merchandise have I not made — to God's glory I write...

John Knox (c. 151024 November 1572) was a Scottish minister, Reformed theologian, and writer who was a leader of the country's Reformation. He was the founder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.


Madam, in God's presence I speak: I never delighted in the weeping of any of God's creatures…
  • None have I corrupted. None have I defrauded. Merchandise have I not made — to God's glory I write — of the glorious Evangel of Jesus Christ; but, according to the measure of the grace granted unto me, I have divided the Sermon of Truth in just parts, beating down the rebellion of the proud against God, and raising up the consciences troubled with the knowledge of their sins, by declaring Jesus Christ, the strength of His Death, and the mighty operation of His Resurrection, in the hearts of the Faithful. Of this, I say, I have a testimony this day in my conscience, before God, however the world rage.
    • "Last Will and Testament" (May 1572); published in John Knox and John Knox's House (1905) by Charles John Guthrie
  • As touching nature I am a worm of this earth, and yet a subject of this commonwealth; but as touching the office wherein it has pleased God to place me [head of the Reformed church in Scotland], I am a watchman...For that reason I am bound in conscience to blow the trumpet publicly.
    • As quoted in World Studies for Christian Schools (2000) by Terri Koontz, Mark Sidwell & S. M. Bunker, ISBN 1-59166-431-4
  • Madam, in God's presence I speak: I never delighted in the weeping of any of God's creatures; yea I can scarcely well abide the tears of my own boys whom my own hand corrects, much less can I rejoice in your Majesty's weeping.
    • As quoted in The Thundering Scot (1957) by Geddes MacGregor
  • But hereof be assured, that all is not lawful nor just that is statute by civil laws; neither yet is everything sin before God, which ungodly persons allege to be treason.
    • John Knox pastoral, as quoted in The Breakers of the Yoke: Sketches and Studies of the Men ... by J. S. MacIntosh, p. 303
  • The Mass is Idolatry. All worshipping, honouring, or service invented by the brain of man in the religion of God, without his own express commandment, is idolatry. The Mass is invented by the brain of man, without any commandment of God; therefore it is idolatry.
  • First, I say, that woman in her greatest perfection was made to serve and obey man, not to rule and command him. As St. Paul does reason in these words: "Man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man. And man was not created for the cause of the woman, but the woman for the cause of man; and therefore ought the woman to have a power upon her head" [1 Cor. 11:8-10] (that is, a cover in sign of subjection). Of which words it is plain that the apostle means, that woman in her greatest perfection should have known that man was lord above her; and therefore that she should never have pretended any kind of superiority above him, no more than do the angels above God the Creator, or above Christ their head.[38] So I say, that in her greatest perfection, woman was created to be subject to man.
  • Against God can nothing be more manifest than that a woman shall be exalted to reign above man; for the contrary sentence he has pronounced in these words: "Thy will shall be subject to thy husband, and he shall bear dominion over thee" (Gen. 3:16). As [though] God should say, "Forasmuch as you have abused your former condition, and because your free will has brought yourself and mankind into the bondage of Satan, I therefore will bring you in bondage to man. For where before your obedience should have been voluntary, now it shall be by constraint and by necessity; and that because you have deceived your man, you shall therefore be no longer mistress over your own appetites, over your own will or desires. For in you there is neither reason nor discretion which are able to moderate your affections, and therefore they shall be subject to the desire of your man. He shall be lord and governor, not only over your body, but even over your appetites and will." This sentence, I say, did God pronounce against Eve and her daughters, as the rest of the scriptures do evidently witness. So that no woman can ever presume to reign above man, but the same she must needs do in despite of God, and in contempt of his punishment and malediction.
  • To the question how she can be the image of God, [Augustine] answers as follows: "Woman," says he, "compared to other creatures, is the image of God, for she bears dominion over them. But compared unto man, she may not be called the image of God, for she bears not rule and lordship over man, but ought to obey him," etc.[57] And how that woman ought to obey man, he speaks yet more clearly in these words, "The woman shall be subject to man as unto Christ. For woman," says he, "has not her example from the body and from the flesh, that so she shall be subject to man, as the flesh is unto the Spirit, because that the flesh in the weakness and mortality of this life lusts and strives against the Spirit, and therefore would not the Holy Ghost give example of subjection to the woman of any such thing," etc. This sentence of Augustine ought to be noted of all women, for in it he plainly affirms, that woman ought to be subject to man, that she never ought more to desire preeminence [over] him, than that she ought to desire above Christ Jesus
    • The First Blast to Awaken Women Degenerate
  • To promote a woman to beare rule, superioritie, dominion or empire above any realme, nation, or citie, is repugnant to nature, contumelie to God, a thing most contrarious to his reveled will and approved ordinance, and finalie it is the subversion of good order, of all equitie and justice.
  • To the verteuus and godlie Elizabeht by the grace of GOD quen of England etc John Knox desireht the perpetuall Encrease of the Holie Spiritt. etc.
    As your graces displeasur against me most Iniustlie conceaned, hath be[en] and is to my wretched hart a burthen grevous and almost intollerabill, so is the testimonye of a clean conscience to me a stay and vphold that in desperation I sink not, how vehement that ever the temptations appear, for in GODD is presence my conscience beareht me reacord that maliciouslie nor of purpose I inoffended your grace, nor your realme. And therfor how so ever I be ludged by man, I am assured to be absolued by him who onlie knoweht the secreatis of hartes.
  • If their princes exceed their bounds, Madam, no doubt they may be resisted, even by power. For there is neither greater honor, nor greater obedience, to be given to kings or princes, than God hath commanded to be given unto father and mother. But the father may be stricken with a frenzy, in which he would slay his children. If the children arise, join themselves together, apprehend the father, take the sword from him, bind his hands, and keep him in prison till his frenzy be overpast: think ye, Madam, that the children do any wrong? It is even so, Madam, with princes that would murder the children of God that are subjects unto them. Their blind zeal is nothing but a very mad frenzy, and therefore, to take the sword from them, to bind their hands, and to cast them into prison, till they be brought to a more sober mind, is no disobedience against princes, but just obedience, because it agreeth with the will of God.
  • Trouble me not; such an idol is accursed, and therefore I will not touch it.' The patron and the arguesyn (i.e. sergeant who commanded the forcats) with two officers, having the chief charge of all such matters, said, 'Thou shalt handle it,' and so they violently thrust it to his face, and put it betwixt his hands, who seeing the extremity, taking the idol and advisedly looking about, he cast it into the river, and said, 'Let our lady now save herself; she is light enough; let her learn to swim.' After that was no Scotchman urged with that idolatry.
    • John Knox letter December 1559 as quoted in John Knox by William Mackergo Taylor, 1885, p.25-26

Quotes about Knox[edit]

  • John Knox had been a topical preacher, i.e., preaching on the cultural circumstances and political occurrences of the time. For Knox in the mid-1500s this meant that his sermons were typically anti-Catholic, and especially they were anti-Mary Queen of Scots sermons! Since Knox was a typical model for these Scots-Irish preachers on the Virginia frontier, that might have indicated that their worship services included the congregation's recitation of both the Apostles' Creed and the Lord's Prayer, but their sermons were probably scriptural exhortations against the demonic powers of this world... which was the main reason that those powers in Williamsburg were suspicious of such traveling dissenters!
    • William E. Thompson, Her Walls Before Thee Stand: The 235-Year History of the Presbyterian Congregation at Hampden-Sydney, Virginia (2010), revised 2011 edition, p. 30

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