Page images
PDF
EPUB

Emperor nor any other prince should, upon any pretext whatever, offer injury or violence to such as adhered to the confession of Augsburg, but allow them to enjoy the free and undisturbed exercise of their religion; that the Imperial chamber should adıninister justice impartially to persons of both parties, and Protestants be admitted indiscriminately with Papists to sit as judges in that court; and that, if the next diet should not be able to terminate the disputes with regard to religion, the stipulations in the present treaty in behalf of the Protestants should continue for ever in full force and vigour *. Afterwards, for the yet further security of the reformed religion, a diet was held at Augsburg; in which, on the 25th of September 1555, a recess was framed, approved of, and published with the usual formalities. The following are the chief articles, which it contained : that such princes and cities, as have declared their approbation of the confession of Augsburg, shall be permitted to profess the doctrine and exercise the worship which it authorizes, without interruption or molestation from the Emperor, the King of the Romans, or any power or person whatsoever; that for the future no attempt shall be made towards terminating religious differences, but by the gentle and pacific methods of persuasion and conference; that the Popish ecclesiastics shall claim no spiritual jurisdiction

* Hist, of Charles V. vol. iii, p. 247.

in such states as receive the confession of Augsburg; and that the supreme civil power in every state shall have right to establish what form of doctrine and worship it shall deem proper, and, if any of its subjects refuse to conform to these, shall permit them to remove with all their effects whithersoever they shall please *.

“ Such,” to adopt the words of the historian, was the memorable treaty of Passau, that over

turned the vast fabric, in erecting which Charles " had employed so many years and had exerted “ the utmost efforts of his power and policy; " that annulled all his regulations with regard to

religion ; defeated all his hopes of rendering “ the imperial authority absolute and hereditary “ in his family; and established the Protestant “ church, which had hitherto subsisted precarious

ly in Germany through connivance or by expe“ dients, upon a firm and secure basis t."

5. The various other interpretations, which have been given of this remarkable prophecy, appear to me to have failed, partly froin the paying too. exclusive an attention to the allotted period of three days and a half ; partly from not taking into the account those other parts of the prediction, which point out both the time when, the place where, and the imperial head under which, it was to receive its completion; and almost univer

* Hist. Charles V. vol. iii.

+ Ibid. p. 247.

p.

314.

sally

[ocr errors]

sally * from not stating rightly the peculiar nature of the death of the witnesses. This last I hold to bę of the very first importance, because it seems necessarily to fix the application of the prophecy to the history of the Smalcaldic league. The slaying of the witnesses is not merely a religious persecution, but the causing them to cease to be witnesses, the compelling them to lay aside their distinguishing character of witnesses. In all other persecutions they still continued to erist, they lost not their character of witnesses, they ceased not to prophesy although it might be secretly and in sackcloth; but by receiving the Interim they became prophetically dead, they no longer bore their testimony, they ceased to be what they had formerly been.

Several of these interpretations are mentioned

* I ought to observe, that, although Mr. Mede does not attempt to explain the death of the witnesses, believing it to be yet future ; his idea of their death, if not perfectly accurate, is at least very nearly so. He supposes it to denote the silencing of protestant ministers, the causing them to cease to be public witnesses of the truth. « Testium in bello occubitus videbitur

esse illorum ab oflicio et statione, quam in ecclesia vi præm " dicationis suæ reformata aliquantisper consecuti sunt, de“ turbatio et dejectio; sive ca cum morti corporali conjuncta is sit, sive secus : adeo ut vitam, qualem tum viserant, pro“ pheticam deinceps non vivant, muniave ejus exerceant " amplius.” Bp. Newton nearly follows Mr. Mede; and, like him, esteems the prophecy yet unaccomplished. Their view of the death of the witnesses seems to me defective, as not including the idea of apostasy. Mr. Butt's idea of that death is strictly aceurate.

by

by Bp. Newton-The prophecy in question fras been applied, for instance, to the council of Constance ; which sat about three years and a half; enacted many laws against pretended heretics, and condemned to the flames John Huss and Jerome of Prague. But these two martyrs were only indiviuuals : they cannot with any propriety be termed two candlesticks or two churches : they did not prophesy 1260 years : their death, being a literal one, does not answer to the definition of the death of the witnesses, which is an allegorical one: and, even if bodily death by persecution were intended (which certainly is not intended), still, when once literally slain, they were incapable of revivification; for it is a mere evasion of the plain words of St. John, to say, that they revived in their followers : consequently they cannot be the two apocalyptic witnesses~ It has also been applied to the French massacre of the protestants on the eve of St. Bartholomew in the year 1572, and the treaty of Henry the third with the Huguenots concluded on the 14th of May 1576; whereby the Protestants about three years and a half after the massacre, were admitted to the free and open exercise of their religion. But this exposition will in no respect accord with the prophecy, except in the coincidence of the three years and a half: for the protestants, massacred as they were, did not die in the sense of the prophecy; their persecution did not make them cease to be witnesses : and, even if it had done so, still the war would

[ocr errors]

!

be

have been made upon' them, not by the beast be the case, but only by one of his ten horns or the French sovereign-It has likewise been applied by Jurieu to the persecution of the French protestants after the révocation of the edict of Nantz. But this pious author's exposition is not only liable to the same objections as the preceding one, but has since shared the fate of most human prophecies founded upon a divine prophecy. He ventured to foretell, that that should be the last persecution of the Church; that the witnesses should lie dead three years and a half from the year 1685, when the edict was revoked that the Reformation should then be established by royal authority throughout the kingdom; and that the whole country should renounce Popery, and embrace Protestantism. cluded the necessity of any other confutation *

It

Events have pre

* This opinion of Jurieu's has, with some variations, been recently revived by Mr. Bicheno: He asserts, that the two witnesses represent the adrocates for religious truth and cirit liberty; that the beast, which slays them, is the second apocalyptic beast; that that second beast is the French monarchy from the time of Louis XIV'; that the witnesses were slain in the year 1685 by the revocation of the edict of Nantz; that the three days and a half, during which they lay dead, are what he styles three lunar days and a half, in other words, three prophetic months and a half or 105 natural years; and that at the end of these 105 years they revived and stood upon their feet by means' of the French revolution in the

year 1789. I think him mistaken, for the following reasons--1. The

witnesses,

« PreviousContinue »