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the book of Revelation were to commence. Thus it was when St. John was commanded to write the book of Revelation.-See Rev. 1. Also when he was commanded not to write what the seven thunders or religious sects uttered at the Reformation.-See Rev. 10:4. Again, at the return of the Jews, previous to the millennium, when true Christianity will be raised from its ruins, he was commanded to write, because these were the true sayings or determinations of God. But in this remarkable verse, he was commanded to write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth plainly intimating that now the man of sin was established in power, that now the great apostacy is become manifest, and that it was almost impossible to escape the dangerous errors and contagious principles of the Romish hierarchy. Peter, who foresaw this apostacy, says it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they had known it to turn from the holy commandments delivered unto them ;-2 Peter, 2: 21: and from the general tenor of his epistle it is plain that it was better to have remained pagans than to embrace this new fashioned Christianity. Paul, in his description of the man of sin, considers them under a strong delusion, and in a state of damnation.-See at large 2 Thess. 2: 3—12. St. John calls this apostate church the mother of harlots and the abomination of the earth.-Rev. 17: 5. Thus it appears, that from the apostacy of the Romish hierarchy, armed with such extraordinary power, their enmity to the true worshippers of God, the gross darkness and ignorance in which they kept the laity, their superstitious rites and ceremonies, were all so flagrant and notorious, that holy St. John was commanded to write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; or in plainer language, Their reward shall be great who have courage and fortitude to withstand these adversaries and opposers of the truth; they rest in peace in death from their labors and tribulations in this life, and their
works shall follow them and be manifested in the next, before their Judge, angels and men.
Verse 14: "And I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle." This verse presents to our reason the first dawn of the Reformation. Here the Redeemer is not represented in the glorious, powerful and triumphant manner, reigning over his church and people, as he is in the first and nineteenth chapters of this divine and holy book; the portrait is quite different. Here he is painted out only as one like unto him, seated on a white cloud, which implies purity, and, at the same time, obscurity. - emblematic of the first reformers just emerging out of Romish darkness and superstitious blindness. In the next place, he had on his head a golden crown, figurative of dominion and earthly power. Lastly, he had in his hand a sharp sickle, expressive of his gospel power to cut down and separate mankind from Romish, or antichristian tyranny, idolatry, error and superstition.
Verse 15: "And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe."
Verse 16: "And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped."
In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the Waldenses and Albigenses may be considered as the first who attempted the Reformation. But these were suppressed by the papal and regal powers in conjunction. A spark, however, lay concealed, which was again lighted up in the fourteenth century, by John Wickliffe, John Huss, and Jerome of Prague, which was also nearly extinguished by the papal power. In the sixteenth century, Martin Luther once more kindled up the little spark, by publicly writing and preaching against the pope's shameful sale of indulgences, pardons, purga
tory, transubstantiation, and many other errors of the Romish church, prevalent at that time; all which prove that this angel or spirit of Lutheranism came out of the temple, or in other words, the gospel came from heaven, and cried with a loud voice, or earnestly implored the aid of him who sat on the cloud, to thrust in his sickle and reap, for the time is come for him to reap; the harvest of the earth is ripe; and time has proved that Europe was ripe for that reform which then manifested itself.
It has been proved, by the gradual unfolding of events, that Luther's party were gratified in the accomplishment of their hopes, and the earth was reaped. By reaping, we understand cutting down and separating from the soil, and gathering together the productions of the earth for the emolument and comfort of man. Thus it was with the first reformers; they cut off from popery what they could; they gathered their converts together, and formed them into societies, which are to this day called protestant churches. But they became, in time, so fond of the good things of this life, that even the tythes and other church dues claimed by the Romish priests, they carefully secured for themselves, by getting human laws enacted in favor thereof. It is further to be observed, that the Lutheran angel, or spiritual government, consists of archbishops, bishops, deans, archdeacons, deacons, and priests, and the people are obliged to support the same expensive tribe of church officers as they did when governed by the pope, that destroying angel. These officers wore nearly the same habits, and the superior ones have the same titles that they enjoyed when his pretended holiness the pope reigned over them. In all their ways, it is not the true Son whom they imitate, but one which they liken unto him, or have formed in their own imaginations. The true Savior recommends love, good will, and universal charity to all men. He recommends his disciples not to suffer themselves to be called master, for one was their master, even
Christ; but he that is greatest among them, that is, possessed of most heavenly wisdom, should be their servant. Matt. 23: 10, 11. Christ also taught his disciples to call no man father, upon earth, for one is their Father, which is in heaven.-Matt. 23: 9. But prelacy has something in it very different from this.
Verse 17" And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle." Here Calvinism made its appearance, armed also with a sharp sickle, which he brought out of the temple or gospel precepts. As Luther led the van against popery, Calvin brought up the rear, and these are the two main pillars of the reform, which in a short time opposed each other.
Verse 18: "And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe." Here Presbyterianism appears, at variance with the established Church of England. As the Reformation took deep root in Germany, it soon extended into Britian, and particularly into that part called Scotland, under the conduct of John Knox. In a little time the major part of the people were in favor of Calvinism, and would admit no kirk government but that composed of presbyters and elders; from whence comes the name Presbyterian, which is the angel or spiritual power alluded to in this verse. The Presbyterian party soon became clamorous, and loudly complained that prelacy was too nearly allied to popery — that bishops arrayed in robes of state, and acting in officers of state, were contrary to gospel rules · - that the introduction of any rites and ceremonies not ordained by Christ and his apostles, is sinful that saint's days, holy days, the forty days of lent, the consecration of churches and church-yards, the sign of the cross in baptism and confirmation, had no gospel authority for their support; that the book of common
prayer, with its injunctions and the surplice or vestments of its priest, differ but very little from the mass service; and thus this angel, or spirit of Presbyterianism, came out from and abandoned the altar on these grounds. It had also power over fire, or that bigoted zeal which prelacy manifested for the altar service. On this the prelates became enraged, and having the then king of England, Charles I, in their interest, furiously persecuted the others for non-conformity. The Presbyterians, in return, entered into a solemn league and covenant to extirpate popery and prelacy from their land; and after a hard struggle got it ejected. In those days there were fourteen bishops' sees in Scotland; the Romish party were also numerous. Thus the stubborn Scotch concluded that the grapes, or the fruit of this earthly vine of popery and prelacy, were fully ripe, and fit to be cut off.
Verse 19: "And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great wine-press of the wrath of God." Jesus Christ calls himself the true vine, and his disciples and faithful adherents, the branches; and his heavenly Father he compares to a husbandman who cultivates and invigorates the whole.-John 15: 18. Consequently, this heavenly vine must be the stem or stock from which true Christianity proceeds, and without it we can do nothing. This the Presbyterians firmly believed. On the contrary, popery and prelacy must have a pope or king as supreme or visible head over their churches, and for that reason are frequently termed by the prophet, the vine of the earth: because they abide not in the true vine. This form of church government, prelacy maintained with all its might; and would impose it and its doctrines, in these days, on all other sects. To this the Presbyterians would not yield. They zealously supported their own cause, and, by degrees, gathered together and banished all popish and prelaticle establishments from