« FöregåendeFortsätt »
weapons of truth to oppose them, of course the issue must have been very different from that here mentioned by the prophet, that “the dragon and his angels prevailed not.” Besides, the prophet here tells us that this war was in heaven.” that is, in the church, or between powers professing Christianity, and therefore could not be between the church and the heathen emperors. The truth is, that the prophet here refers to and foretels the REFORMATION, that great and blessed contest and war between the Protestants, a remnant of the church of Christ, and the church of Rome; in which the former (after a long serious indeed of wars, both with the pen and with arms) emancipated herself from the ignorance and darkness of Papal idolatry by the Diet at Augsburgh, A. D. 1555, and by the treaty of Westphalia, A. D. 1648. These wars the prophet represents as being “ in heaven,” or in the church, to point out that the parties would originally be of the same church, professing Christianity, as they really were. These he figuratively describes by “ Michael,” formerly the tutelary saint of the Jewish church, but now of the reforming church c? Christ, “and his angels,” on the one part, to represent that original and truly great reformer WICKLIFF (who sowed the seeds of the reformation so early as in the fourteenth century,)“ and his followers: and by the dragon and his angels,” the Pope of Rome, and his adherents on the other.
Having thus described the parties, he farther tells us they should fight ; " and the dragon and
his angels fought, and prevailed not.” Now, whoever is acquainted with history must perceive, that the war here predicted did take place, and that the Pope has made several attempts by open violence, not to dwell upon other means, such as his frauds and inquisitorial cruelties, to crush the reformers. He will find, that it was in the sixteenth century, that the Pope, aided by all the powers of the Emperor of Germany, made a great effort to obtain his end, and that Maurice of Saxony stopped his career, and compelled him to make the religious peace at the Diet at Augsburg; and that he made another attempt of the same kind, assisted by the same power, in the next century, when Adolphus King of Sweden, after a long-continued war, compelled him to make the treaty of Westphalia. And thus “ the dragon and his angels prevailed not :” they did not succeed in crushing the Reformation; which, in a wonderful manner, has been growing into strength and power ever since, notwithstanding some ineffectual attempts to prevent it; while at the same time the power and influence of the church of Rome have been declining, until it is reduced to a shadow. “ Neither was the place « of the dragon and his angels found any more s in heaven," in the reformed church; for the reformers separated themselves from the apostate church, by protesting against its doctrines. They abjured the church of Rome, and the Roman church anathematized them. From this epoch we shall find that the prophet considers the church of Christ as divided into two separate bo
deis : one party reformed, and therefore under the divine protection ; and the other, as remaining in its corrupted state, under the influence of the church of Rome.
Ver. 9.-" And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the Devil, and « Satan, the deceiver of the whole world; he
was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
It is evident from the preceding verse, thať Satan, the enemy of God and man, was cast out of the church at the time of the Reformation ; but it does not seem so clear at first view of the text, to what place, or among what description of mankind, his art and cunning induced him to resort, in order farther to prosecute his plan, of deceiving and destroying the human race. Perhaps a summary of his history may assist in solving the difficulty. He was first " cast out” of Paradise (that original scene of his fraud and deception,) for seducing our first parents, and retired among their posterity; over whom he reigned until he had betrayed them into such extreme sin and wickedness, that “every imagination of the “ thoughts of their hearts was only evil continual“ ly*;” which induced God to destroy them by the floodt. Being again“ cast out,” he ascended from the bottomless pit among the sons of Noah, and seduced them into polytheism, pre
Gen. vi. 5.
+ Ibid. vii: viï. per tot.
vailing on them to believe, that any thing and every thing they should think proper to adopt, was God. Here again foiled and “ cast out, by the prevalence of the word of God over the heathen world, he secretly crept into the kosom of the church; which having divided and distracted, he led it into Mohamedan sensuality and wickedness, and into Papal idolatry and lust. And here we are told, that he should again be “ cast out” from thence by the Reformation. Now, among what class of mankind could he hope to find agents, to assist him in his plan of drawing mankind into perdition ? He could not return to the antediluvian world, for that was no more ; nor to the heathen world, for he had made there a complete experiment with his tricks and frauds without success ;
nor to the Mohamedan church, for his opiates had entirely enervated and lulled them into a state of filthy sensuality and stupor; nor to the church of Rome, for her Jesuits having been banished and dispersed, her Inquisition suppressed, her fire and faggot extinguished, and her people immersed in sensual indolence and abominable vice, she was no longer an active and fit instrument for lis purpose.
Where then could he be " cast out," būt among that reprobate class of inankind described by St. Jude, as "the mockers " in the last time, who should walk after their
own ungodly lusts*; who should separate “ themselves (from all religion,) sensual, not “ having the spirit*; ungodly men, who turn - the word of God into lasciviousness, denying " the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus
* Ver. 18.
Christt;" who, according to St. Paul, per“ suade themselves they can live without God « in the worldf;" and therefore believe, that there is no God. Among this class of men Satan was “cast," as we are told by the prophet. “ He was cast into the earth, and his angels with him;" into a country of people full of irreligion, impiety, and darknessg, whose hearts being hardened and dark like the earth, an opake body, solid, impenetrable, and incapapable of receiving light from the sun, that great luminary of the temporal world, were incapable of receiving the light of the spiritual world, the word of God, the " sun of righteousness.” This country was FRANCE; for no other country upon earth so completely, so perfectly fulfils this figurative description. Ever since the Reformation, while other nations have been improving in moderation in respect to the true church of Christ, in religion, morality, and public faith, France has been increasing in pride and ambition ; aspiring to obtain universal monarchy by public perfidy, holding no treaties to be binding longer than she wanted the power of violating them with impunity; living in extravagance and dissipa
* Ibid. 19.
* Eph. ä. 12.
# Ibid. 4.
Rev. xvi. 10.