« PreviousContinue »
we can understand therefore the import of the prediction relative to the death of the witnesses, which is to take place towards the close of the 1260 years and under the second woe-trumpet, we must learn what form of Roman government is intended by the last head of the beast. This matter however must be reserved for future discussion, when the whole character of the beast is considered at large. For the present then, in order that the thread of the prophecy relative to the witnesses may be preserved unbroken, I must be allowed to assume, that this last head is not the Papacy, as Mr Mede and Bp. Newton suppose, but the line of the Gothic Emperors of the West's the first of whoin was Charlemagne, and whose representative at the time of the Reformation was Charles the fifth.'; 5.2. These matters being premised, let us proceed to consult history.
(1.) In the years 1530, 1531, 1535, and 1537, the protestant German princes associated themselves together, for the defence of their religion, in wljat was called the league of Smalcalde. This formidable combination roused the jealousy of the 'Emperor and the Pope; nor were the proceedings of the council of Trent less calculated to excite the fears of the confederates. The deposition and excominunication of the Archbishop of Cologne, on the avowed ground of the countenance which he had given to the Lutherans, brought affairs however more rapidly to a crisis than Charles had intended.
here, as in the former instance, means the last head of the beast ;
; and the kings of the earth or Roman Empire, those sovereigns who are in communion with the false prophet. This subject will tbe fully discussed hereafter.
By a long series of artifice and “ fallacy, he had gained so much time, that his
measures, though not altogether ripe for exe* cution, were in great forwardness. The Pope,
by his proceedings against the Elector of Co
logne, as well as by the decrees of the council, " had precipitated matters into such a situation,
as rendered a breach between the Emperor and " the protestants almost unavoidable. Charles « had therefore no choice left him, but either to “ take part with them in overturning what the
see of Rome had determined, or to support the " authority of the church openly by force of « arms.
Nor did the Pope think it enough to “ have brought the Emperor under a necessity ss of acting; he pressed him to begin his oper “ rations immediately *, and to carry them ou " with such vigour as could not fail of securing
Both parties had recourse to arms; but the policy of the Emperor prevailed over the disunion of the protestants. At the close of the year 1546, " the confederacy, lately so powerful as to shake " the imperial throne, fell to pieces, and was “ dissolved in the space of a few weeks; hardly
See Rev. xiii. 11.
any member of that formidable combination now remaining in arms, but the Elector of
Saxony aụd the Landgrave 'of Hesse, to whom “ the Emperor, having from
having from the beginning " marked them out as victims of his vengeance,
was at no pains to offer terms of reconcilia
He was prevented however, from attacking them immediately by a dread of the hostile intentions of the French king; but the death of his rival, on the last day of March 1547, shortly left him at liberty to prosecute his scheme of crushing the Reformation. As soon as he heard of Francis's demise, he began his march against the Elector; and, on the 24th of April, totally routed and took hiin prisoner, in the decisive battle of Muhlberg. The Landgrave was now left alone to maintain the protestant cause; but ere łong he likewise was compelled to submit, and by a dishonourable stratagem was seized and confined by the Emperor. 3. Thus was the Smalcaldic league completely broken; but as yet the witnesses were not slain, or compelled to desist from bearing their testimony. Though Charles had signe
signed a treaty with the Pope, in which the extirpation of heresy was
, explicitly declared to be the object of the war, he“ still endeavoured to persuade the Germans
that he had no design to abridge their religious
* Robertson's Hist. of Charles V. vol. iii. p. 101, 102.
liberty, but that he aimed only at vindicating “his own authority, and repressing the insolence “ of such as had encroached upon it. With this
view, he wrote cireular letters, in the same strain “ with his answer to the deputies at Ratisbon,
to most of the free cities, and to several of the
princes who had embraced the protestant doc“trines. In these he complained loudly, but in
general terms, of the contempt into which the imperial dignity had fallen, and of the presumptuous as well as disorderly behaviour of
some members of the empire.' He declared " that he took arms, not in a religious, but in a
civil, quarrel; not to oppress any who continued
to behave as quiet and dutiful subjects, but to “ humble the arrogance of such as had thrown 56 off all sense of that subordination in which
they were placed under him as head of the “ Germanic body *.” And, after the dissolution of the confederacy, previous to his attacking the Elector of Saxony, he still adhered to the same policy. Though the protestant states and princes were constrained to implore mercy in the humble posture of supplicants, were subjected to heavy fines, were obliged to renounce the league of Smalcalde, and were compelled to give up their artillery to the Emperor and to admit garrisons into their principal cities; yet, “ amidst the great
variety of articles dictated by Charles on this
* Robertson's Hist, of Charles V. vol. iii. p, 73, 74.
oceasion, he, in conformity to bis original plan, “ took care that nothing relating to religion " should be inserted *.”
But, when the two heads of the protestants, the Elector and the Landgrave, were become his prisoners, it was not long ere he threw off the mask. He began by holding a diet at Augsburg, " in order to compose finally the controversies “ with regard to religion, which had so long dis“ turbed the empire. He durst not however “ trust the determination of a matter so interest
ing to the free suffrage of the Germans, broken “ as their minds now were to subjection. He “ entered the city at the head of his Spanish
troops, and assigned them quarters there. The “ rest of his soldiers he cantoned in the adjacent
villages; so that the members of the diet, while “ they carried on their deliberations, were sur“ rounded by the same army which had over
come their countrymen. Immediately after " bis public entry, Charles gave a proof of the “ violence with which he intended to proceed. “ He took possession by force of the cathedral,
together with one of the principal churches; " and his priests, having by various ceremonies " purified them from the pollution with which " they supposed the unballowed ministrations of " the protestants to have defiled them, re-estab
* Robertson's Hist. of Charles V. vol. iii. p. 102.