Imagini ale paginilor
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time,
from the face of the serpent.
And the people being settled
there, their posterity continued there from age to age after-
wards: And being, as it were, by natural walls, as well as by
God's grace, separated from the rest of the world, never par-
took of the overflowing corruption.

These especially were those virgins who were not defiled
with the rest of women, or when other women prostituted
themselves and were defiled; but they kept themselves pure
for Christ. alone: They followed the Lamb, their spiritual
Busband, whithersoever he went: They followed him into
this hideous wilderness, Rev. xiv. 4, 5.......Their doctrine and
their worship, as there still remain accounts of them, appear
to be the same with the Protestant doctrine and worship; and
By the confession of Popish writers, they were a people re-
markable for the strictness of their lives, for charity and oth-
er Christian virtues. They lived in external poverty in this
hideous country; but they chose this rather than to comply
with the great corruptions of the rest of the world.

They living in so secret a place, it was a long time before
they seem to have been much taken notice of by the Romanists;
but at last falling under observation, they went out in mighty
armies against them, and fell upon them with insatiable cru-
elty, barbarously massacring and putting to death men, wo-
men, and children, with all imaginable tortures; and so con-
tinued persecuting them with but little intermission for sever-
al hundred years; by which means many of them were driv-
en out of their old habitations in the valleys of Piedmont, and
fled into all parts of Europe, carrying with them their doc-
trine, to which many were brought over.
So their persecu-
tors could not by all their cruelties extirpate the church of
God; so fulfilling his word, "that the gates of hell should
not prevail against it.

[ocr errors]

(4) Towards the latter part of this dark time, several noted divines openly appeared to defend the truth, and bear testimony against the corruptions of the church of Rome, and had many followers. The first and principal of these was a certain English divine, whose name was John Wickliff, who ap

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

peared about 140 years before the Reformation, and strenuously opposed the Popish religion, and taught the same doctrine that the Reformers afterwards did, and had many followers in England. He was hotly persecuted in his life time, yet died in peace; and after he was buried, his bones were dug up by his persecutors, and burnt. His followers remained in considerable numbers in England till the Reformation, and were cruelly persecuted, and multitudes put to death for their religion.

Wickliff had many disciples and followers, not only in England, but in other parts of Europe, whither his books were carried and particularly in Bohemia, among whom were two eminent divines, the name of one was John Huss, the other's name was Jerom, a divine belonging to Prague, the chief city of Bohemia. These strenuously opposed the church of Rome, and had many who adhered to them. They were both burnt by the Papists for their doctrine; and their followers in Bohemia were cruelly persecuted, but never extirpated till the Reformation.

Thus having gone through this dark time of the church, which is the second part of the space from Constantine the Great to the destruction of Antichrist, I come now,

3dly. To the third part, viz. that which begins with the Reformation, and reaches to the present time. And here I would, 1. Speak of the Reformation itself; 2. The opposition which the devil has made to the Reformed church; 3. What success there has lately been of the gospel in one place and another; 4. What the state of things is now in the world with regard to the church of Christ, and the success of his purchase.

1. Here the first thing to be taken notice of is the Reformation. This was begun about 220 years ago: First in Saxony in Germany, by the preaching of Martin Luther, who, being stirred in his spirit, to see the horrid practices of the Popish clergy, and having set himself diligently to inquire af ter truth, by the study of the holy scriptures, and the writings of the ancient fathers of the church, very openly and boldly decried the corruptions and usurpations of the Romish church


[ocr errors]

in his preaching and writings, and had soon a great number that fell in with him; among whom was the Elector of Saxony, the sovereign prince of the country to which he belonged. This greatly alarmed the church of Rome; and it did as it were rally all its force to oppose him and his doctrine, and fierce wars and persecutions were raised against it: But yet it went on, by the labors of Luther, and Melancthon in Germany, and Zuinglius in Switzerland, and other eminent divines, who were cotemporary with Luther, and fell in with him; and particularly Calvin, who appeared something after the beginning of the Reformation, but was one of the most. eminent Reformers.

Many of the princes of Germany soon fell in with the Reformed religion, and many other states and kingdoms in Europe; as England, Scotland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, great part of France, Poland, Lithuania, Switzerland, and the Low Countries. So that it is thought, that heretofore about half Christendom were of the Protestant religion; though, since, the Papists have gained ground: So that the Protestants now have not so great a proportion.



Thus God began gloriously to revive his church again, and advance the kingdom of his Son, after such a dismal night of darkness as had been before from the rise of Antichrist to that time. There had been many endeavors used, by the witnesses for the truth, for a reformation before. But now, when God's appointed time was come, his work was begun, and went on with a swift and wonderful progress; and Antichrist, who had been rising higher and higher from his very first beginning till that time, was swiftly and suddenly brought down, ánd fell half way towards utter ruin, and never has been able to rise again to his former height. A certain very late expositor (Mr. Lowman) who explains the five first vials, in the 16th chapter of Revelation, with greater probability perhaps than any who went before him, explains the fifth vial, which was poured out on the seat of the beast, of what came to pass in the Reformation; explaining the four preceding vials of certain great judgments God brought on the Popish dominions before the Reformation. It is said, Rev. xvi. 10, that

[ocr errors]

"the fifth angel poured out his vial on the seat of the beast ;"
in the original, it is the throne of the beast ;" and his king-
dom was full of darkness, and they gnawed their tongues for
pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their
pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds." "He
poured out his vial upon the throne of the beast, i. e. on the
authority and dominion of the Pope: So the word throne is
often used in scripture; so 1 Kings i. 37. “As the Lord hath
been with my lord the king, even so be he with Solomon, and
make his throne greater than the throne of my lord King
David ;" i. e. make his dominion and authority greater, and
his kingdom more glorious..

But now, in the Reformation, the vials of God's wrath were

poured out on the throne of the beast. His throne was terri-
bly shaken and diminished. The Pope's authority and do-
minion was greatly diminished, both as to the extent and de-
gree. He lost, as was said before, about half his dominions.
And besides, since the Reformation, the Pope has lost great
part of that authority, even in the Popish dominions, which
he had before. He is not regarded, and his power is dreaded
in no measure as it was wont to be. The powers of Europe
have learned not to put their necks under the Pope's feet, as
formerly they were wont to do. So that he is as a lion that
has lost his teeth, in comparison of what he was once. And
when the Pope and his clergy, enraged to see their authority
so diminished at the Reformation, laid their heads together,
and joined their forces to destroy the Reformation; their pol-
icy, which was wont to serve them so well, failed; and they
found their kingdom full of darkness, so that they could dò
nothing, any more than the Egyptians,who rose not from their
seats for three days. The Reformed church was defended as
Lot and the angels were in Sodom by smiting the Sodomites
with darkness or blindness, that they could not find the door.
God then fulfilled that in Job v. 11, &c. “To set up on high
those that be low; that those which mourn may be exalted
to safety. He disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that
their hands cannot perform their enterprise. He taketh the
wise in their own craftiness: And the counsel of the froward
2 Q

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]

is carried headlong. They meet with darkness in the day time, and grope in the noon day as in the night. But he say eth the poor from the sword, from their mouth, and from the hand of the mighty."

Those proud enemies of God's people, being so disappoint ed, and finding themselves so unable to uphold their own do minion and authority, this made them as it were to gnaw their tongues for pain, or bite their tongues for mere rage.

2. I proceed therefore to show what opposition has been made to this success of Christ's purchase by the Reformation by Satan and his adherents; observing, as we go along, how far they have been baffled, and how far they have been suc cessful.

The opposition which Satan has made against the Reformed religion has been principally of the following kinds, viz. that which was made, 1, by a general council of the church of Rome; 2, by secret plots and devices; 3, by open wars and invasions; 4, by cruel oppression and persecution; and 5, by bringing in corrupt opinions.

(1) The first opposition that I shall take notice of is that which was made by the clergy of the church of Rome uniting together in a general council. This was the famous council of Trent, which the Pope called a little while after the Refor mation. In that council, there met together six cardinals, thirtytwo archbishops, two hundred and twentyeight bishops, besides innumerable others of the Romish clergy. This council, in all their sittings, including the times of intermission between their sittings, was held for twentyfive years together. Their main business all this while was to concert measures for establishing the church of Rome against the Reformers, and for destroying the Reformation. But it proved that they were not able to perform their enterprise. The Reformed church, notwithstanding their holding so great a council, and for so long a time together against it, remained, and remains still. So that the counsel of the froward is carried headlong, and their kingdom is full of darkness, and they weary themselves to find the door.

Thus the church of Rome, instead of repenting of their deeds, when such clear light was held forth to them by Lu

[ocr errors]
« ÎnapoiContinuă »