by J. C. Ryle
The history of the middle ages is one of ignorance and superstition! Darkness covered the whole professing Church — even a darkness that might be felt. The doctrines of the Gospel lay buried under a dense mass of human traditions!
worship of the Virgin Mary
— formed the sum and substance of most people's religion!
The church was made an idol!
The priests usurped the place of Christ!
And by what means was all this miserable darkness cleared away? The grand lever which overthrew the Pope's power, was the translation of the Bible into the native languages!
By the reading of the Bible, the public mind became gradually pervaded with the principles of true religion.
Men's eyes became thoroughly open.
Their spiritual understandings became thoroughly enlarged.
The abominations of popery became distinctly visible.
The excellence of the pure Gospel became a rooted idea in their hearts.
It was then in vain for Popes to thunder forth excommunications. It was then useless for Kings to attempt to stop the course of Protestantism by fire and sword. It was all too late! The people knew too much! They had seen the light. They had heard the joyful sound. They had tasted the truth. The sun had risen on their minds. The scales had fallen from their eyes. The Bible had done its appointed work within them — and that work was not to be overthrown. The clock could not be turned back. A mental and moral revolution had been effected by God's Word!
Excerpt from Practical Religion by J. C. Ryle (free eBook)