James A. Wylie (1808-1890AD)
Rev. James Wylie was born at Kirriemuir, Scotland, and became one of the leading Protestant authorities against Roman Catholicism throughout English-speaking world in the latter part of the 19th century.
His outstanding 3 volume “History of Protestantism” as well as his book on “The Papacy” are still inspiring witnesses to the essential truths against the Roman Catholic Church.
In 1846, he accepted the joint-editorship of “The Witness”. This involved his moving to Edinburgh and he wrote some 800 of the leading articles for that excellent journal during the rest of his life there.
His first most notable book appeared in 1851, “The Papacy: its History, Dogmas, Genius, and Prospects.” This treatise won the Evangelical Alliance prize of a 100 guineas. The judges were none other than the eminent Doctors, Rev. Wardlaw, Rev. Cunningham, and Rev. Eadie. This work also won for him a European reputation as published attacks by Roman Catholics at home and on the Continent brought increased fame to it.
In 1860, mainly through the instrumentality of Dr. James Begg, the Protestant Institute was established, and Dr. Wylie was invited to be the lecturer. The appointment lasted for the next 30 years. Also, during that period, over 2,000 students were taught by him. Dr. Wylie’s writings and teaching against Popery had a far-reaching influence throughout Christendom.
Only those who had no strong convictions, except to despise those who did, spoke of him as a “fanatic”. But if his utterances on the Papacy were always strong, they were always scrupulously researched and truthful and very easy to read. But it must always be remembered that his detestation of the Roman Catholic system was counter-balanced by his prayerful concern for its members. He really cared that Roman Catholics should read his writings to find out why the Reformation was necessary, and what Protestantism stood for.
He lived as a Christian ought to live. As was said by Rev. C. A. Salmond (1890AD) just after his death, “James Wylie was one of the best informed, most genial, and sympathetic of men, and his deep, unaffected humility was one of his greatest charms. It has been said that you could not be long with him without perceiving in him a lover of Christ and of all good men, and his unostentatious piety gave an unmistakable savour to all his life.”