Page images
PDF
EPUB

found any thing like a healing. The total filthiness of their system stands exposed before the nations, as in the light of the meridian sun. And this event was the first fatal stroke toward their destruction!

[blocks in formation]

And the second Angel poured out his vial upon

the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea. (Rev. xvi, 3.)

As by the earth, on which the contents of the first vial were discharged, is to be understood the corrupt system of the Papal hierarchy; by the sea, in the second vial, we are to understand the multitudes of people in the most central parts of the Papal dominions. I will show thee the judgment of the great whore, that sitteth upon many waters

The waters, which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are people and multitudes, and nations and tongues. * Here probably, we are present. ed both with the sea in the second vial; and the rivers. and fountains of water, in the third. The two vials (the second and third) divide them into sea, and rivers and fountains of water. By the sea then, in this second vial, we are naturally led to understand the most central parts of the Papal delusion. Italy first presents itself, as entitled to this symbolic appellation. And probably the great Papal nations bordering upon it, Gerinany, France, and possibly Spain, are to be viewed in a sense included in this sca, as the instruments of the judgment of this vial. There appears a fitness in symbolizing Italy by the sea. At the commencement of the sixteenth century it was a great collection of different states and governments, of jarring and conuending interests. This remark indeed held true of the great Papal nations bordering upon Italy, which were in a sense included in the sea in this vial, as the instruments of the judgment. Those great Papal nations, locally uniied, may be viewed as being at that time a

* Rev. xvii, 1, 15.

".

Vast collection of contending interests, both as great nations, in relation to each other; and as containing partial, discordant interests, in each nation, which grew out of the peculiar circumstances of the feudal times. These jarring, internal interests, without any common principle of strength sufficient to unite them, much resembled the tempestuous sea.

"In the German em. pire (says a noted author) which was a confederacy of princes, of ecclesiastics, and of free cities, it was im. possible that they should incorporate thoroughly. In Germany and Italy the education of ecclesiastics, and their genius and connexion with the court of Rome, rendered them so different from the other princes, that it was a source of jealousy and discord.

and discord. Consult the hundred articies of grievance, presented to the Pope by the diet of Nuremburg, and the discordant nature of these national materials strikingly appears. There is then, a fitness in their being symbolized by the sea. And another more general reason why they should be thus represented, was the tumultuous state into which they were thrown, in consequence of the judgments of this viɔl. Great nations in the effervescence occasioned by wars and judgments, are abundantly represented in sacred Writ, by the sea. *

It has been supposed that the turning of this sea to blood, by the contents of the second vial, and the turning of the rivers and fountains of water to blood by the third vial, are expressed in allusion to that plague on Egypt, in which the rivers and fountains of water were turned to blood; so that every thing in them died. And the events were to be fulfilled, no doubt, by desolating wars.

I: has already been s:ated, that a long train of provi. dential circumstances had been preparing the way for the sixteenth century to commence with the certain prospect of its abounding with most interesting events.

* Whether in the symbols, which represent Italy by the sea; and the distant Papal nations by rivers and fountains of wutur, any reference may be had to the geographical fact, that Italy Jies, like the shape of a boot in the Mediterrancan, and is mostly surrounded by the seas;—and that the inland Papal nations do abound with fountains, and are intersected with vast rivers; readers will judge for themselves.

The invention of gunpowder, and of fire-arms; the keeping of regular standing armies; and extending the prerogatives of the crown, or the better organization of national governments, so that the force of a nation might be brought into action at the pleasure of an ambitious sovereign; these things, together with a number of the most powerful and ambitious potentates coming to the thrones of the great nations, bordering upon Italy, indicated the most bloody and dismal events as about to commence.

Charles V was born in 1500. Upon the death of his father Philip, archduke of Austria, he became heir to the crown of Spain. And upon the death of his grandfather Maximilian, emperor of Germany, Charles and Francis I, the powerful monarch of France, became competitors for the Imperial crown. Upon which Dr. Robertson remarks; "Pope Leo X trembled at the prospect of beholding the Imperial crown placed on the head of the king of Spain and of Na• ples; and foretold, that the election of either Charlos or Francis, would be fatal to the independence of the holy see, to the peace of Italy, and perhaps to the liberties of Europe."* The Pope himself saw an appar atus of fatal judgments; and he irembled! And events soon showed, that he did not tremble in vain. Charles was elected to the Imperial dignity; at which Francis felt all the chagrin and rage of a haughty, disappointed rival. These two haughty potentates soon commenced tremendous preparations for war; and “Italy soon became the theatre, on which the greatest powers of Europe contended for superiority:" And, till about the year 1559, its fairest provinces were turned into fields of carnage and blood. In but little short of twenty successive campaigns in Italy, (contending for Milan, Naples, and for one Italian state and another,) Charles and Francis, those mightiest potentates of Europe, exerted themselves to the utmost for victory. Sometimes success crowned the arms of one; and sometimes of the other. The Pope was found intriguing between them, sometimes in alliance with the one; sometimes with the other; but generally between two fires; and in danger, vexation and distress!

* Hist. Ch. V, vol. I, p. 70, 71.

Here it may be proper to remark, that the second vial was not deferred till the first was foished. The events of the first had but fairly commenced, when the second began to be poured out. A celebrated modern author observes; "Ii is no where said, that each vial is emptied, before its successor begins to be poured out. Hence it is not unreasonable to conclude, that two or mcre of the vials may be pouring out at the saine time; though the effusion of one commences before that of the other.”* Although the two first vials be of natures. wholly different; yet the second soon commenced, to aid the effects of the first. Here the wisdom and mercy of God appeared. By the events of the second vial, God furnished employment for the powerful enemies of the reformation; and thus prevented their being able to withstand the effects of the first vial. Although the first vial began to be poured out for a course of years before the second; yet the two were to be poured out for the most part collaterally. The disco'ery of the surprising impositions of the Papal sce, was to be made, and was to progress.

While at the same time a train of sore judgments, from causes entirely foreign for the most part, from those of the reformation, were to attend; both to exhibit the wrath of Heaven against the man of sin; and to protect the reformers and the reformed from his fury, till their cause should be es. tablished. There can be no rational objection against this opinion, of the two vials being poured out at the same time. The reformation was not of a nature to come to a close, before the effusion of the succeeding vial should commence. It was to progress

for centu ries, till Popery should be no more. Other vials then, if they are poured out at all, must be poured out colla:erally with it. And if so, what objection can be made to the effusion of its successor commencing soon after

* Faber vol. ii, p. 199.

the effusion of the first? The nature of the case shows the necessity of such an event, and the goodness of God in it. Were a man to order his son to throw off the cover from a nest of vipers; would he not be ready, at the same time, with his proper implements, to begin their destruction; and thus to prevent their destroying his son? We find the times of the seals; and of the trumpets. But we do not think it necessary to find all the effects of one to have ceased, before the succeeding one commences; nor to find equal distances of time between them. Their distances were unequal; and their effects often collateral.

We find in history, that after Charles V was elected to the Imperial crown, he was urged to repair speedily to Germany, on account of the innovations in religion, which were progressing there. “Unknown opinions concerning religion (says the historian) had been published, such as had thrown the minds of men into an universal agitation, and threatened the most violent effects." Änd “the new opinions concerning religion made such rapid progress, as required the most serious consideration.” Accordingly, as soon as Charles arrived at Germany, he called a diet of the princes at Worms, we are informed, "to concert the most proper measures for checking the progress of those new and dangerous opinions, which threatened to disturb the peace of Germany, and to overturn the religion of their ancestors.” Now, had not Charles and the Pope been diverted from this object, by the tremendous scenes of war, which soon opened upon them in Italy, and kept them employed, till the work of the reformation became established; the reformers must soon have been crushed. Humanly speaking, the events of the first vial could not have produced their designed effect, without the concurring aid of the judgment of the second. For which reason, as we may believe, the second vial was not de: ferred for that proportionable length of time, which might otherwise have been expected, when the whole seven were to occupy the space of several centuries. When these things are considered, I trust no objection

« PreviousContinue »