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The exiled French Reformer, John Calvin, became the most influential man of his age and his teachings have proven to be some of the most influential in the shaping of Great Britain and the United States of America.
Some of the greatest philosophers, writers, Reformers and Christian leaders in history have described themselves as Calvinists. Some of Calvin’s influential disciples include: John Knox, William the Silent, Oliver Cromwell, John Owen, John Milton, Richard Baxter, Jonathan Edwards, David Brainerd, George Whitefield, William Carey, William Wilberforce, Sir Isaac Newton, Lord Shaftesbury, Charles Spurgeon, David Livingstone, The Covenanters in Scotland, The Huguenots of France, and the Pilgrim Fathers who emigrated to New England.
Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) was one of the greatest leaders ever to rule England. He was a dedicated Puritan, deeply and fervently devoted to carrying out the will of God. He was relentless in battle, brilliant in organization and had a genius for cavalry warfare. With a Psalm on his lips and a sword in his hand he led his Ironsides to victory after victory, first against the Royalists in England, then against the Catholics of Ireland, and finally against the rebellious Scots.
Oliver Cromwell pursued religious toleration which helped to stabilize the fragile country after the King was executed. His foreign policy in support of beleaguered Protestants in Europe and against Muslim pirates in the Mediterranean was successful and he restored the supremacy of the seas to England.
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The Huguenots have left us a tremendous legacy of heroic faith, Christian endurance and sacrifice. Their contributions to our culture, spiritual life and prosperity have been out of all proportion to their small numbers.
There are many Huguenot surnames amongst us to this day: Blignaut, De Klerk, De Villiers, Du Preez, Du Toit, Fourie, Hugo, Joubert, Le Roux, Malan, Nel, Pienaar, Retief, Rossouw, Theron, Viljoen, Visagie, and many others. The first Huguenot to arrive at the Cape, on 6 April 1652, was Maria de la Quellerie, the wife of the first governor of the Cape, Jan Van Riebeeck. Maria's grandfather had been a French Huguenot pastor.
Dynamic Christian Movement
The Huguenots were Protestants, members of the Reformed Church of France. Their forerunners were the Waldensians, a dynamic Bible study movement which arose in the 12th century, led by Peter Waldo, a merchant of Lyons. The Waldensians desired to study the Scriptures and be faithful to Biblical principles in all areas of life. These poor men of Lyons went out in twos and boldly proclaimed the Word of God throughout Southern France, Northern Italy and Switzerland.