I have named the illustrious GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS as the man, above all, who first conceived, sketched, and propounded the grand idea of such a state. What other colonies reached only through varied experiments and gradual developments, Pennsylvania had clear and mature, in ideal and in fact, from the very earliest beginning; and the royal heart and brain of Sweden were its source.
Gustavus Adolphus was born a prince in the regular line of Sweden’s ancient kings. His grandfather, Gustavus Vasa, was a man of thorough culture, excellent ability, and sterling moral qualities. When in Germany he was an earnest listener to Luther’s preaching, became his friend and correspondent, a devout confessor and patron of the evangelic faith, and the wise establisher of the Reformation in his kingdom.
Adolphus inherited all his grandfather’s high qualities. He was the idol of his father, Charles IX., and was devoutly trained from earliest childhood in the evangelic faith, educated in thorough princely style, familiarized with governmental affairs from the time he was a boy, and developed into an exemplary, wise, brave, and devoted Christian man and illustrious king.
He ascended the throne when but seventeen years of age, extricated his country from many internal and external troubles, organized for it a new system, and became the hero-sovereign of his age. He was one of the greatest of men, in cabinet and in field as well as in faith and humble devotion. He was a broad-minded statesman and patriot, one of the most beloved of rulers, and a philanthropist of the purest order and most comprehensive views. That evangelical Christianity which Luther and his coadjutors exhumed from the superincumbent rubbish of the Middle Ages was dearer to him than his throne or his life. The pure Gospel of Christ was to him the most precious of human possessions. For it he lived, and for it he died. One of his deep-souled hymns, sung along with Luther’s Ein Feste Burg at the head of his armies in his campaigns for Christian liberty, has its place in our Church-Book to-day. And the bright peculiar star which appeared in the heavens at the time he was born fitly heralded his royal career.
Cut off in the midst of a succession of victories in the thirty-eighth year of his age, the influence of his mind nevertheless served to give another constitution to the Germanic peoples, established the right and power of evangelical Christianity to be and to be unmolested on the earth, and confirmed a new element in the development and progress of the European races and of mankind. With the loftiest conceptions of human life, a thorough acquaintance with the agencies which govern the world, a mind in all respects in thorough subjection to an enlightened Christian conscience, a magnanimity and liberality of sentiment far in advance of his age, and an untarnished devotion which marked his history to its very end, his name stands at the head of the list of illustrious Christian kings and human benefactors.