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did so partially, as some states only of Germany; while the example was soon followed by Denmark; and numbers in France, Poland, and Hungary, embraced the reformed religion. At the same time in Spain, Portugal, and even in Italy, the very throne of papacy, demonstrations were not wanting of a disposition to revolt from this spiritual tyranny; but here the terrors of the inquisition succeeded in checking the progress of reform, and terrified the people back into popery. From this time however, the power of the popes was greatly restricted, and the majesty of the Romish church lost much of its former splendour; and although they did not altogether expire at this time, yet was the death-blow given to papal supremacy.
This memorable event took place in the year 1555, in which the protestants secured to themselves the free enjoyment of their religion, by the peace of Augsburg.
The prophetic duration of Antichristian tyranny is stated to be 1260 years; a period which evidently admits of two modes of computation; one from the beginning of its rise, to the beginning of its downfal; and the other from its complete establishment, to its entire demolition. The beginning of its rise must clearly be dated from the accession of Christianity to the imperial throne, by the conversion of Constantine; when its professors, to use the words of Archdeacon Woodhouse, instead of washing their robes white in the blood of the Lamb, assumed the hue of another leader, the fire-colour
ed dragon.' This was in the year 312, to which must be added 1260; but the prophetic year consists of twelve months, of thirty days each, or 360 days; consequently 1260 of such years will be only 1243 solar years, and these added to 312, make precisely 1555, the year in which papal supremacy received its death-blow.
The other mode of computation must begin from the year 606, making a difference of three centuries; for, like the figurative birth of the Man-child, so the birth and the death, the rise and the fall of Antichrist, appear to have each engrossed the same period. But his last convulsive struggle being not yet over, we may leave it to the event to mark the precise date of its termination.
The immediate cause of the reformation was the infamous sale of indulgencies, the iniquity of which was successfully exposed by Luther, Calvin, Zuingle, and others; but the benefits of this revolution were not confined to the abolition of such abuses, and the exposure of the pious frauds practised by the clergy; a still more essential service, rendered to the cause of true religion, was the revival of the use of the scriptures, and their dissemination among the people; from whom they had long been withheld, or communicated only in a garbled and imperfect manner, and disfigured with writings of doubtful authority. This state in which the testimony of truth had long been held, appears to be prophetically and aptly expressed by the witnesses prophecying in sackcloth,' the garb of mourning.
This garb was at length thrown off when the scriptures were translated by Luther into the vulgar tongue, and freely disseminated among the people; to whom this blessing was thenceforward secured by the art of printing, then recently discovered: this occurred in 1521 or 22.
While the reformation was attended with the happiest effects to those who escaped from papal thraldom, it was necessarily productive of an aggravation of their sufferings, to those who continued in subjection to this spiritual tyranny. Stripped of a large portion of its grandeur, limited in the extent of its power, and despoiled of much of its wealth, the Romish church had no means of securing what remained to it, but by riveting more closely the chains of those, still held in subjection, who might betray any signs of impatience under its sway. For this purpose, as before stated, the terrors of the inquisition were successfully employed in Spain, Portugal, and Italy, to check the further progress of revolt; but the same measures, resorted to in the Belgic provinces, were followed by a different result, and caused them, after a long and bloody war, to throw off at once the papal yoke, and their allegiance to Spain.
Other means were however not neglected by the See of Rome, to support its declining influence. The mendicant orders, who had hitherto been the main pillar of the hierarchy, having lost their credit, and fallen into disrepute, were replaced by others, amongst which the Jesuits held by far the
most conspicuous place. This order, different from any before instituted, was released from the usual restraints of the monastic life, that more leisure might be left to its members, actively to engage in the affairs of the world; where, by insinuating themselves into the confidence of the princes and rulers, they might influence their measures, and thus render essential service to the cause of the church.
The wisdom of such a measure soon became apparent; for this zealous order in a short time acquired more extensive influence than all the others, and was thereby enabled more effectually to serve the cause of popery. From their unrivalled skill in all the arts and sciences, they were generally entrusted with the education of youth; while the suavity of their manners, and their consummate prudence in civil transactions, obtained for them the favour of the great, and the protection of crowned heads. 'Nor did any thing contribute more to give them a general ascendancy, than the cunning and dexterity with which they relaxed and modified their system of morality; accommodating it artfully to the propensities of mankind, and depriving it on certain occasions, of the severity that rendered it burdensome to the sensual and voluptuous.' While we are constrained to admire the zeal and ability with which these faithful servants discharged their duty towards the church, we must at the same time maintain that it frequently was at the expence of true religion and morality. And considering the authority they exercised in the education of youth,
there is reason to conclude, that in the hands of such teachers, the pure doctrines of the gospel could not fail to be polluted at their very source, and the foun dations of morality to be undermined. This cause alone may not be esteemed adequate to account for the alarming growth of infidelity, which forms a a leading feature in the history of this and the suc¬ ceding century, but there can be no doubt that it contributed largely towards it; for it is perfectly manifest that among those of the rising generation, whose education was intrusted to the Jesuits, and whose faith was not yet firmly established, any religious doubts, that might arise, would be greatly strengthened by observing the laxity of the moral system inculcated; and the casuistry with which the doctrines of scripture were accommodated to the occasion. This would not fail to prepare their minds for the reception of that false philosophy, which spread so rapidly in the 17th century; and which amongst the calamitous effects it produced in the 18th, presented the frightful spectacle, of a whole nation renouncing their God, denying the existence of a future state, and proclaiming death an eternal sleep.
To account for the portentous growth of irreligion and immorality, along with the hatred towards the priesthood, that arose from the time of the reformation, we have another and a more efficient cause, than the casuistry of the Jesuits, in the detection and full exposure of the frauds and iniquities of the sacred orders; the knowledge of which