McFetridge on the religious nature of history

When Loraine Boetter wrote his 1932 classic The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, he included a chapter titled “Calvinism in History.” The chapter title and many quotes therein are borrowed from Calvinism in History (1882) by Nathaniel Smyth McFetridge, a book which Boettner describes as “splendid” and “illuminating.”

In McFetridge’s classic work, before giving an historical tour showing the influence and legacy of Calvinism as a moral, political and evangelical force in the world, he takes a moment to remind his readers that all history is essentially religious is nature. “Predestination and an overruling Providence are one and the same thing,” he says elsewhere, emphasizing the hand of God in history as well as salvation.

And here let it be remarked that events follow principles; that mind rules the world; that thought is more powerful than cannon; that “all history is in its inmost nature religious” [The United States as a Nation, p. 30, by Rev. Joseph Thompson, D.D., LL.D.]; and that, as John von Muller says, “Christ is the key to the history of the world,” and, as Carlyle says, “the spiritual will always body itself forth in the temporal history of men.” In the formation of the modern nations religion performed a principal part. The great movements out of which the present civilized nations sprung were religious through and through.

What part, then, had Calvinism in begetting and shaping and controlling those movements? What has it show as the result of its labors? A rich possession indeed. A glorious record belongs to it in the history of modern civilization.