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From what has been said on this head, it is easy to see what this woe is, and the fatal effects it has produced. What a lamentable state has the Christian church been brought to, when a destroying angel is the king or chief governor over it. To what a deplorable condition are the laity reduced, when they must receive the erroneous doctrines and traditions of men, and remain ignorant of the gospel of truth. Under the fifth sound of the trumpet, what kind of instruction must the poor laity receive, when the prophet compares their teachers to locusts and scorpions! As the first devours ravenously vegetation and man's industry, so the latter is the most poisonous of reptiles.
This woe was mild in its nature, when compared with the next under papacy. During this, though the foundations of error and apostacy were laid broad and deep, the civil power did not permit persecution. We read that the Arian and Athanasian factions frequently used bitter invectives against each other, and even blows, in their councils: but the imperial power prevented them from imbruing their hands in each other's blood.
Verse 13: "And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God."
Verse 14: "Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates."
The sound of this trumpet began with the papal reign, when the power of the clergy was established, after the dissolution of the western empire, being now on a firm basis. The voice which the prophet heard came from the four horns of the golden altar. By this we may see that gold, or earthly gain, was the principal object of those who lived by the altar service.
Second, popery had its altar really, as well as figuratively.
Third, it had four horns, which are the pope, the cardinals, the bishops, and the priests.
Fourth, these four powers from one body, are an antispiritual altar.
Fifth, it was before God, which in prophetic phrase means in opposition to him.
Sixth, it produced a voice, even such a voice as made all Europe tremble, and its inhabitants to quake and fear.
This voice from the four horns gives its commands also, by saying to the sixth angel, who now sounds the papal trumpet Loose the four angels who are bound in the great river Euphrates. These four angels were the numerous hordes of the monastic orders, who were afterwards, in A. D. 1272, formed into four grand divisions. The divisions are, the Franciscans, or Grey Friars; Augustines, or Black Friars; Dominicans, the founders of the Inquisition; Carmelites, or White Friars. The monks had rules peculiar to themselves, before the above date, but they were much limited by the holy see; but it appears that the higher clergy wanted their assistance at this time, and granted them more extensive privileges than they before enjoyed. The monks composing these four orders, were accordingly let loose among mankind.
Verse 15: "And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men."
Verse 16: "And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them."
In these verses we find, first, that those creatures who, at their first institution, lived a life of solitude and poverty, conformable to their vows, were now loosed and called into action.
Second, they were to mix with mankind, and teach them the lessons which they received from their superiors.
Third, they were prepared at all times, were ever ready and active to propagate their doctrines.
Fourth, they were always ready to give information of any whom they suspected of heresy.
Fifth, these creatures made it their business to glide into all consciences, and to spy into the secrets of families.
Sixth, under the pretence of sanctity, they led captive the ignorant multitude into their errors.
Seventh, they were to slay the third part of men.
When we consult the history of the times, we find that not only Europe, but many other parts of the earth became proselyted, by their means, to the doctrines of Rome; and if we could make out the number, there is every reason to believe that the third part of men were slain by their deadly religion.
Eighth, the prophet informs us that the number of these creatures amounted to two hundred millions. I suppose that means the number of them from their first establishment to their non-existence; for all Europe could not support such a number at one time. From some accounts that I have seen, the number of those that lived a monastic life in Portugal, Spain, and the Spanish dominions in America, is truly astonishing.
Ninth, they are called an army of horsemen ; that is, they are guided by one and the same impulse.
Verse 17: "And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breast-plates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire, and smoke, and brimstone." Here the prophet saw the horses, and them that sat thereon - the vision including the whole of the papal powers, from the pope to the meanest monk. The horses which he saw were their evil principles; those that sat on them, the Roman hierarchy. These riders had a breastplate of fire, jacinth, and brimstone-a dreadful com
position: blind zeal, hearts of stony hardness, and infernal
And the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions. In this sentence is shown the amazing power of those who maintained these principles. The heads of the horses represent the councils which gave birth to the principles. When one council decreed any matter of faith, the next confirmed it; and so on to the council of Trent, which confirmed all the diabolical errors that had crept into the apostate church since the days of Constantine.
Out of their mouths issued fire, smoke and brimstone. Strange to relate that out of the mouths of those learned teachers of mankind, should issue blind zeal, wilful ignorance, and hellish cruelty.
Verse 18: " By these three was the third part of mankind killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths." Even to this day, the miserable laity are filled with false zeal for the honor and interest of their religion; they are suffocated by the smoke of ignorance which surrounds them, as they must believe all their church commands. If they should doubt the power of the church for salvation, they are given over to be tormented with fire and brimstone, which is hellish cruelty in the extreme. One of the articles in their catechism is, believe the doctrines of the church, for he that doubteth is damned. As was observed before, it is probable that a third part of mankind had embraced the doctrines of this apostate church, and were slain thereby.
Verse 19: "For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt." This language is easy to be understood; for out of the mouths of the bishops in council issued their canons or decrees. These extended to the tails, or executive power, and whether these canons are agreeable to the gospel or not, the poor laity must believe
them under pain of damnation. These formidable tails are compared to serpents. The prophet John, who was well acquainted with gospel purity, pays the clergy of those dark times the same compliment that his Lord and Master did the scribes and Pharisees: "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell."-Matt. 23: 33. To complete the description, the prophet informs us that this serpent tribe had heads, and with them they do hurt. This is also plain. The pope creates the bishop, the bishop the priest, etc., and all these act in conjunction to do hurt. Moreover, in their bloody persecutions, they drew in the regal power as subordinate heads, to hurt and destroy those whom they call heretics. Thus they all have compounded to do hurt.
Mankind may, if they please, be delighted with church. power and pageantry; but it never was intended by an allwise and bounteous Creator, who delights in the happiness of his creatures, that gain and filthy lucre should be the object of those who undertake their spiritual improvement. Both the Old and New Testament afford undeniable proofs to the contrary. But what is the language of the present day in the established church? Such an one is promoted to the see of Such an one has got a good living. Our friend is raised to the rectorage, or vicarage of he can keep a curate, and live easy. But it is never enquired what any one of those characters has done for the glory of God, and the edification of his fellow creatures.
Verse 20: " And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold and silver, and brass and stone, and of wood: which neither can see nor hear, nor walk."
Verse 21: "Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornications, nor of their thefts."