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in Germany, France, Britain, and other countries; as historians demonstrate, and mention them by name, and give an account of the testimony which they held. Many of them were private persons, and many of them ministers, and some magistrates, and persons of great distinction. And there were numbers in every age who were persecuted and put to death for this testimony.
(3) Besides these particular persons dispersed here and there, there was a certain people, called the Waldenses, who lived separate from all the rest of the world, who kept themselves pure, and constantly bore a testimony against the church of Rome through all this dark time. The place where they dwelt was the Vaudois, or the five valleys of Piedmont, a very mountainous country, between Italy and France. The place where they lived was compassed about with those ex. ceeding high mountains called the Alps, which were almost impassable. The passage over these mountainous desert countries, was so difficult, that the valleys where this people dwelt were almost inaccessible. There this people lived for many ages, as it were, alone, in a state of separation from all the world, having very little to do with any other people. And there they served God in the ancient purity of his worship, and never submitted to the church of Rome. This place in this desert mountainous country, probably was the place especially meant in the 12th chapter of Revelation, 6th verse, as the place prepared of God for the woman, that they should feed her there during the reign of Antichrist.
Some of the Popish writers themselves own, that that people never submitted to the church of Rome. One of the Popish writers, speaking of the Waldenses, says, the heresy of the Waldenses is the oldest heresy in the world. It is supposed that this people first betook themselves to this desert, secret place among the mountains, to hide themselves from the severity of the Heathen persecutions which were before Constantine the Great. And thus the woman fled into the wilderness from the face of the serpent, Rev. xii. 6. And so, verse 14. “ And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place :
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 afterwards : And being, as it were, by natural walls, as well as by God's grace, separated from the rest of the world, never partook 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 husband, 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 remarkable for the strictness of their lives, for charity and other 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 cruelty, barbarously massacring and putting to death men, women, and children, with all imaginable tortures ; and so continued persecuting them with bụt little intermission for several hundred years ; by which means many of them were drive en out of their old habitations in the valleys of Piedmont, and fled into all parts of Europe, carrying with them their doctrine, to which many were brought over. So their persecutors 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.
(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
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
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 purohase.
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 after 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 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 kingdonis 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, and 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
« 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 kingdom 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 Ihrone is often used in scripture ; so 1 Kings i. 37. “ As the Lord hath been with my lord the king, even so be be 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 terribly shaken and diminished. The Pope's authority and dominion was greatly diminished, both as to the extent and degree. He loșt, 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, Şo, 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 policy, which was wont to serve them so well, failed; and they found their kingdom full of darkness, so that they could do 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. 1.1, &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 VOL. II.