2002-08-27 - Electress Palatine
Acts 17:12 Many of them therefore believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men.
I don't know if you like Christian biography, but I love it and the Bible is full of Christian biography, so even if you don't like it, you are stuck with it. There is much written on men, but comparatively little on women in history. The best book I know of on biography of women is the book "Distinguished Women," by Mrs. Hale. It is a huge volume, almost a folio, and has 918 pages. It has been out of print since 1870 and is next to impossible to find, but I found my copy on ebay about two years ago, so it can be secured. It is not distinctly Christian, but rather includes information on women throughout history in general.
One woman who is omitted from the volume is Louisa Juliana of Nassau, who was also known as the Electress Palatine. She was born at Dort in 1576. She had a tough childhood. Her mom died when she was six and her father was killed when she was eight. She wrote to her Uncle, "We have suffered so great a loss, my little sisters and I, that we know not to whom to confide our grief..." Apparently she grew up into quite a woman. History records not only her accomplishments but also how attractive she was. She was even pursued by those in the Royal Courts including Frederick IV and Louis VI.
She married Philip de Marnix who was Seigneur de Sainte Aldegonde. In her position in the German Royal Household she set about, at age 17, to reform the excessive drinking and cursing of the people. She established that the ladies who attended her would read with her, daily, the Bible. Her husband died when she was 34, and Frederick IV, (Emperor Frederick Barbarossa) of Holland set out, again, to win her favor. What is amazing is that all along she seems to have never thought of herself. She focused on her children and giving to those who were less fortunate than her. She married him.
She began to work more behind the scenes for the establishment of Christianity at this point. She became the most trusted advisor of her husband. There are many struggles that she went through, but here is how she summed things up, "Nothing happens fortuitously or by chance. All takes place according to the fixed purpose and foreknowledge of God. The falling of a sparrow is determined by him, much more the fall of states and kingdoms. The hairs of our head are all numbered; all our steps, our affairs, and all that befalls us are equally so.
"Second causes cannot move without the first. The hand which directs all is not only just but good. Calamities have their measure, their termination, and their uses. Unfortunate princes have not always been the worst. Josiases (See 2 Kings) have had untoward conflicts as well as Ahabs (See 1 Kings); Davids (See Bible) have been driven from their thrones as well as Nebuchadnezzars (See 2 Chronicles, Daniel, Jeremiah and Ezekiel). The power and the tyranny of men have their limits; and there are crowns which can be lost neither by the treachery of friends nor by the violence of enemies."
The pathetical Biblical references are mine and the book I am taking the quotes from is "Ladies of the Reformation," which again, is long out of print. It was last published in 1857, but here is what I think we learn from this woman: She had lots of struggles, lots of privileges, and lots of faith. She could have eased through this life without faith in the providence of God, and yet God had hold of her heart. Thus she was different from what she could have been.
She was, as Proverbs 31 puts it, a woman of excellence. When God takes hold of a heart there is a faith that is radical and different from what is common and we see this in Christian biography all the time. Is your faith different from that which is common? Is your faith radical? These questions are those which we must be asking ourselves and Christian biography is a great place to witness radical - uncommon faith. The Bible, of course, is another. Read Hebrews 11 and study the faith of those listed there. That would be an awesome study.
Soli Deo Gloria,