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the true temple or church of God, which is further intimated by their number, formed of twelve multiplied by twelve, or “the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone, And they are mutually giving and receiving edification from the diligent and pious searching of the scriptures, despised and put down by their adversaries, but recovered and carefully preserved by them. This is intimated by the new song, called afterwards (Rev. xv. 3) the song of Moses and the Lamb, which they are singing to the glory of the true God; which none of the opposite party are able to learn, because of the pains taken to conceal it from them, and to make it appear odious, and full of danger to the souls of true catholics; and also by reason of the
; strong delusion sent in judgment upon such irrational and wicked bigotry, and unpardonable ignorance. It is it were, a new song :” which strongly expresses the general ignorance on which the foundations of poPERY had been laid, and the the new world which opened upon mankind, in respect of
religious ideas, at the reformation, to which period this scene principally refers. *
The purity, which (in the figurative language of prophecy) is here ascribed to the reformers, or followers of the Lainb, intimates their entire exemption from the idolatrous taint of of popery ; idolatry being called a spiritual whoredom and adultery. And this characteristic forms a striking contrast to both the practical impiety, and “spiritual wickedness in high places,”ť so justly charged upon their persecutors. For a state of persecution has been ever most favorable to virtue and religion. These are the first fruits of the reformation, and the symptoms of the ripening harvest that was soon to follow. The angel Äying in the midst of heaven, (which here represents the church in its state of corrup tion, and proclaiming “the everlasting gos
* Burnet (Hist. of Reformation) says that the novelty of the scriptures, of which so little had been generally known, as well as the new and interesting views of religion therein laid open, drew vast crowds to hear them read with the greatest avidity, when Henry VIII. (in the progress of his reformation,) had chained a translation of the Bible to the reading desk, with permission to any that were able to read therein,
† Ephes. vi. 12.
) pel to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,” is by some thought to allude to John Wickliff, rector of Lutterworth, in the reign of Edward III. about the year 1371. A very learned and pious man, who translated the whole Bible into the vulgar tongue; and by his doctrines laid the foundation of the reformation, which became general about 150 years after his time.
He had the good fortune to die in peace, but had made so many disciples, not only in England, but in Germany and other countries, that by the COUNCIL OF CONSTANCE, 41 years after his death, an order was made to have his bones taken up and burnt.
When Wickliff appeared, the christiani world was “ sitting in darkness and the shadow of death,"* but his preaching of the
* Wickliff was not the first that had protested against the errors and corruptions of the church of Rome. The witnesses of Jesus had at no time been totally silent. The AlbIGENSES
everlasting gospel had made such an impresa sion, that the effect of it reached down to the days of Luther; and his writings were of prodigious service to the reformation begun by Luther, in consequence of his quarrel with pope Leo Xin 1517, about the scandalous sale of indulgencies. *
were very ancient in their testimony and protest, and several of the popish prelates themselves, particularly Robert Grost. HEAD, bishop of Lincoln, had openly pronounced the pope to be Antichrist. Abelard, Bertram, and others, had written against the errors of the sacrament ;-Occham, and Marsilius, of the pope's usurpations and encroachments ;-Guido de S. Amore, and Armachanus, had pointed out the abuses of the monks in upholding the papal authority.
“ Wickliff asserted the one true sacrifice of Christ, and opposed the sacrifice of the mass, transubstantiation, the adoration of the host, the seven sacraments, purgatory, prayers for the dead, the worship of saints, and images, &c. --He was faa vored by the princes, the people, the university of Oxford, and even many of the clergy themselves."--Newton, vol. iii.p.185. Hist. of Popery, vol. iv. p. 1,
* In Bohemia John Huss, and Jerome of Prague, having received Wickliff's books, advanced and propagated the same doctrines,--for which they were both condemned to the famesy contrary to all faith, and the solemn engagement of a safe conduct. --The COUNCIL OF Constance having determined that “ faith was to be kept with heretics."
Luther himself may probably be the second angel, as there are three mentioned, which followed each other at intervals : and the sharp and caustic stile of Luther's writings against the corruptions of the church of Rome, seem well to correspond with the preaching of the second angel.
* For as the first had only in more general and mild terms detected the corruptions of christian faith and practice in the church, and republished the gospel so long and totally withdrawn from the knowledge of the people ; calling upon mankind to search the scriptures, the only fountains of living waters, and to turn from the beatbenish service of the creature, to the worship of the Creator himself, so the second angel advanced
* The severity of Luther's language was extreme, His sharp reply to our king Henry VIII. in his defence of the popish faith, could never afterwards be forgiven, though he made great apologies. In one place he has these words :--" Papa ille est Antichristus, cum sit specialis procurator diaboli : non solum simplex illa persona, sed multitudo paparum, &c." “ The pope is Antichrist himself, and the special factor of the devil. I mean not one individual pope, but the mob of popes, cardinals, bishops, and the hierarchy all in all, make up the compound and monstrous body of Antichrist."