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and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things that are therein, that there should be time no longer: "
Verse 7: "But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets."
In these three verses observe that the prophet once more calls the attention to the same angel or spiritual government, with his right foot on the sea which signifies that the first and principal support was on the restless ocean of mankind, and on the wavering and tottering help of regal authority. Its left foot was placed on a firmer foundation, for it had earthly gain, power, and other sensual and temporal gratifications for its support. And thus it stands to this day, and is on a very different basis from that founded by the first pioneers of Christianity.
He sware swearing cannot here be taken in its literal It only implies the faith and firm belief of the reformers concerning the gospel promises and threatenings. Again, in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, the mystery of God should be finished. Is not this the firm belief of all the reformed churches? for they are now blowing the seventh trumpet.
Verse 8: "And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go, and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth."
In this and the following verse, the doctrinal effect and defect of the reformers are shown for by divine inspiration the prophet was ordered to go and take the little book out of the hand of the angel. Here we may perceive that the book was always open to inspection, and certain it is that every sect showed its doctrine to mankind in the best outward appearance it could. Take notice here that John is
conversing with the reformers. This is plainly shown by
Verse 9: "And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth as sweet as honey." From this we may learn, what was really the case, that the reformers did not pretend to attain to apostolic purity and perfection. What they did would be sweet to the taste of John, by so far departing from Romish error and idolatry; but on eating and digesting it, it would cause bitter reflections in him, to see them fall so far short of genuine, apostolic perfection.
Verse 10: "And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey, and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter." When John had found these things so, the reformers said to him,
Verse 11: "Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings." This implies that a new reformation must arise, that the present is defective, and that out of the sayings of John, mankind must receive further instructions, before they attain to that knowledge which the gospel requires.
We will here quote and remark upon, a little at length, the opinions of the Reverend Catholic Bishop Charles Walmesley, of London and Berlin, which he gives on this chapter. He strives to bend it to support the anti-christian beast, or papal power, which still exists, and which at that early period had sounded the fifth and sixth trumpets, which produced the first and second woes. It is sweet in this man's mouth, as it was in that of St. John, to see any departure from the errors and other evils produced by those who blow the sixth trumpet. The words of the eleventh verse, on which the bishop comments, are "And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and tongues, and kings." The
learned impostor, after having poured out the sixth vial of wrath on the earth, after having built on that foundation that has so long supported the beast, after having acted as one of the field generals of the beast, as far as in him lay as one of the six hundred and sixty-six bishops, after having clothed the two witnesses with sackcloth, or vain traditions of sinful men, thus concealing from generations the law of God, and the gospel of Jesus Christ, after having endeavored to kill the witnesses, and in this very book, introducing Henoch and Elias instead of them, (these names in this connection are entirely unmeaning-employed by the bishop to obscure the truth, and keep from sight those true witnesses which his predecessors killed at the council of Trent,) after subserving all his powers in aid of the most hideous errors, flies to the seventh trumpet and, unwittingly, sounds the general alarm given by the reformed churches of Europe. Thus out of his own mouth proceeds the condemnation and everlasting damnation of the seventh and eight heads, or the imperial and papal government, composed of six hundred and sixtysix bishops, together with two hundred millions of his inferior brethren. These, unconsciously, he condemns as murderers, gross idolators, and says, with St. John, they will not repent. He says of the reformed ministers, spoken of in the eleventh verse, that their preaching implies a gift of prophecy. "After having received their commission, they are told to enter upon their work of preaching. Thou must prophesy again," etc., sounds the bishop. "We must observe," he continues, "that St. John is told he must prophesy again the meaning of which is, that as John himself, and the other apostles and preachers had carried the gospel through the world in the first age of Christianity, in the same manner the [reformed!] ministers of Jesus Christ must announce it in the last age. In this general preaching, John's gospel and his other writings will be chiefly made use of," Might he not as well speak the truth plainly, and say,
the holy Scriptures will yet become the fundamental law of mankind when prejudice and priestcraft shall be laid aside. He still continues to blow the seventh or protestant trumpet, and his notes are these:
"In this manner will the Almighty display the riches of his mercy for the conversion of mankind, by sending them zealous preachers, endued with miraculous powers, and by such an abundant effusion of his graces, as will be proportioned to conquer the influence of the then prevailing wickedness, [of popery,] though the greater part of men will remain in their iniquity. And now the holy work will be in some measure advanced, and a select number of people will be prepared for the afflictions and calamities that the Almighty is upon the point of permitting in his anger to break out and burst upon mankind."
The bishop draws these reflections, in which unintentionally he gives an accurate picture of the Reformation, from the eleventh verse. He talks of the future, though his words apply to the past and present, and that too closely for his own safety. He recognizes the Spirit of God as influencing these new preachers of the word, though he shuts his eyes to the fact that these preachers are now, and have long been attempting to conquer the prevailing wickedness" and damning influences of his apostate church.
In page 182 of his Reflections, the Romish bishop writes thus on the twelfth verse: "One wo is past.' The period of 300 years assigned to the power of the locusts, being expired, St. John then adds, One wo is past; there come two woes hereafter.' Three woes were pronounced to follow the sounding of the three last trumpets, namely, fifth, sixth, and seventh. And now the prophet tells us, that the first of these woes, which was announced by the fifth trumpet, is past. This wo therefore is the calamity occasioned by the swarm of locusts," [or inferior clergy, as he, their head, should call them, as they are so obedient to him, their
superior.] "I leave it to the reader to determine, whether the breaches and desolation made in the church of Christ, as we have seen, by the Reformation, be not truly a dismal wo, and worse than any that has happened in the foregoing ages. Some part of this wo must also be referred to the convulsions that happened in different countries, particularly in France, and also the impious attacks made there upon religion," [as the learned scorpion explains above.] "But if, deaf to all admonitions, they continue hardened in their own ways, what remains to be done, but to lament their misfortune, and in bitterness of soul turn our eyes from the pouring out of the fifth vial of the wrath of God," [which, as the learned locust explains, was poured out on the throne of the beast, or papal Rome, at the Reformation, which caused them to gnaw their tongues for pain; and that grievous affliction is not yet healed, because reformers still exist, and still continue to sound the fatal notes of the fifth and sixth trumpets.
While remarking upon this bishop's writings, I will notice one of the glaring inconsistences in which he misleads himself and others. In remarking on the tenth verse of the ninth chapter, he rightly estimates the five months of prophetic time to be one hundred and fifty years: or, one day to a year. But in the third verse of the eleventh chapter, he renders the thousand, two hundred, sixty days of prophetic time into three hundred years. By this means he contrives to avoid the conclusion which a legitimate rendering of the time would force him to that it embraced the period intervening between the councils of Nice and Trent, and that, consequently, the crimes ascribed to the actors in that period, attach to the apostate church.
I shall conclude this chapter with a few observations on the leading points contained in it.
First, this book of the Reformation is four times called a "little book," because it contained little of that vital knowl.