Faithfulness in the Face of Adversity

Comenius Memorial in Potsdam, Germany

For every larger-than-life personality in Christian history, there are thousands of inconspicuous yet influential figures—figures like John Amos Comenius.

Comenius may be obscure, but this Moravian reformer’s influence has been recognized by such high-profile church leaders as:

  • Herman Bavinck: “[Comenius was] the greatest figure of the second generation of reformers.”
  • Andrew Bonar: “[Comenius was] the truest heir of Hus, the chief inspiration of Chalmers, and the first model of Carey.”
  • J. Hudson Taylor: “[Comenius was] the single greatest innovator of missions, education, and literature during the Protestant Reformation.”
  • Cotton Mather: “[Comenius was a man of] extraordinary accomplishments amidst inordinate adversity.”

Comenius’ overwhelming accomplishments are staggering in and of themselves:

  • He outlined an education system in Didactica Magna that would be adopted in Puritan New England, Holland, Scotland, Prussia, and Sweden.
  • He launched a number of successful missionary outreaches to marginal groups including Turks, Gypsies, and Jews.
  • He introduced plans to translate the Scriptures into the Turkish language.
  • He wrote more than 150 books which included titless on educational theory, history, devotion, cultural criticism, and theology.
  • He served as a chaplain to the king of Sweden.
  • He was pursued as a possible president for both King’s College in Cambridge and Harvard University in Massachusetts.

In Times of Great Sorrow

What’s amazing is that these accomplishments were achieved in the face of great affliction. After the routing of the Protestant armies in the Battle of White Mountain, enemy soldiers torched Comenius’ home. He and his family barely escaped with their lives. Like most Protestant pastors at the time, Comenius (and his entire family) lived as fugitives. During this transient period, his wife and two small children died of the plague.

In 1628, Comenius fled to Poland with a group of Protestants. He eventually married again, but his second wife died, leaving him with four children.

On June 12, 1656, the Comenius’ new home city of Leszno was burned to the ground by enemy Swedes at the end of the Thirty Years’ War. Once again, Comenius lost everything: his treasured library, years’ worth of work in the form of manuscripts, and all his personal belongings. Comenius and his family—now completely penniless— made it to Amsterdam, where he was welcomed as respected scholar. Looking back on his life, Comenius said, “My life was a pilgrimage; I never had a home.”

In spite of numerous setbacks and staggering hardships, Comenius never stopped working for his Lord, leaving behind an exceptional legacy that influenced figures like Wesley and Whitefield.

Moravian Church History Collection

John Amos Comenius is one of 12 volumes available in the Moravian Church History Collection—one of many collections up on Community Pricing right now. Bid now and you’ll get a dozen titles full of moving history, theology, and lectures. This is powerful literature on the some of the lesser-known figures in the second generation of reformers. Get it at the best possible price. Bid now!

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3 Responses to “Faithfulness in the Face of Adversity”

  1. fgh June 18, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    Which king of Sweden is he supposed to have been chaplain to? Judging from Wikipedia he wasn’t in Sweden at any time when we had a king.

    • Jayson Bradley June 18, 2012 at 10:14 am #

      I have multiple sources that say Charles X Gustav in 1655.

      • fgh June 18, 2012 at 11:20 am #

        Interesting. Admittedly, we did have a king in 1655, the queen having abdicated the year before, but neither the English nor the Swedish Wikipedia mentions any visit to Sweden that late. The former does say that he supported the Swedes in the war, though, so maybe he was with the king on the continent, rather than in Sweden? Either way, Karl X Gustav certainly makes a lot more sense than queen Christina would have done, given her Catholic preferences.