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"Will not God revenge," says Christ, "his elect who cry to him day and night, and will he have patience in their regard 1 I say to you, that he will quickly revenge them." Luke xviiL 7, 8. The martyrs therefore prefer their complaint to the throne of God, requesting the judgment of their cause, not in a spirit of revenge, hut that the justice and sanctity of God, who is holy and true, may be vindicated.
And white robes were given, to every one of them; a symbol of the heavenly beatitude, into which they are received in coming from their conflicts. And it was said to them, that they should rest yet for a little time, till their fellow-servants and their brethren, who are to be slain, even as they, should be filled up. They are told here to wait a little while, till the number be completed of their fellow-servants, that is, of the bishops, priests, and other clergy, and of their brethren, that is, of the laity; who are to suffer martyrdom, as they have done. Thus they are told to wait a little while, that is, to the time of the persecution raised in France in 1791, &c. and the horrible massacres then committed of the clergy and others, in hatred to religion: to which may perhaps be added other persecutions that may happen in that or other countries during this fifth period of the Church. When thus the number of these victims immolated to religion shall be filled up, then the Almighty will revenge the blood of them all.
What human oblation can be more grateful and glorious to the divine Author of the Christian religion, than the sacrifice of holy victims slain for his sake 1 And this is the honour which the Damb was entitled to receive, and here actually receives. Apoc. v. 12. See p. 29.
Before we proceed to the prophecy of the fifth trumpet, it is proper to take notice of what St. John prefixes to it.
Apoc. chap. viii. 13. "And I beheld," says he, "and heard the voice of one eagle* flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice: Wo, wo, wo, to the inhabitants of the earth, by reason of the rest of the voices of the three angels, who are yet to sound the trumpet."
Behold an eagle, a suitable bird on this occasion on account of its swiftness, flies through the midst of the sky, announcing with a loud voice a wo on each of the three succeeding ages, namely, the fifth, sixth, and seventh: by which we may understand, that greater disasters remain to be sustained by the Church of Christ in these three last than in the preceding ages.
* In the Greek text, "an angel."
The Sounding of the Fifth Trumpet.
Apoc. chap. ix. 1. "And the fifth angel sounded the trumpet, and I saw," says St. John, "a star fall from heaven unto the earth, and there was given to him the key of the bottomless pit.
V. 2. "And he opened the bottomless pit: and the smoke of the pit arose, as the smoke of a great furnace: and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke of the pit.
V. 3. "And from the smoke of the pit there came out locusts upon the earth: and power was given to them, as the scorpions of the earth have power:
V. 4. "And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree; but only the men who have not the sign of God on their foreheads.
V. 5. "And it was given unto them that they should not kill them; but that they should torment them five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion when he striketh a man.
V. 6. "And in those days men shall seek death, and shall not find it; and they shall desire to die, and death shall fly from them.
V. 7. "And the shapes of the locusts, were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold; and their faces were as the faces of men.
V. 8. "And they had hair as the hair of women; and their teeth were as of lions.
V. 9. "And they had breast plates as breast plates of iron; and the noise of their wings was as the noise of chariots of many horses running to battle.
V. 10. "And they had tails like to scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months. And they had over them,
V. 11. "A king, the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek Apollyon: in Latin Exterminans, that is, Destroyer."
Here is a description of the rise and progress of the reformation. This trumpet begins with announcing to us the fall of a star from heaven; a very just emblem of the apostacy of Luther, who, in quality of a priest and religious man, is styled a star, but renouncing his faith and vows, in which he had hitherto virtuously lived, may truly be said to have fallen from heaven. This star fell upon the earth, that is, upon the Church, compared to the fixed solid earth, because she was then in a state of peace.
Martin Luther, an Augustinian friar, a bold man and a vehement declaimer, having imbibed erroneous sentiments from the heretical writings of John Huss of Bohemia, took occasion from the publication of indulgences promulgated by pope Leo X. to break with the Catholic Church, and to propagate his new errors in 1517, at Wirtemburg in Saxony. He first inveighed against the abuse of indulgences; then he called in question their efficacy; and at last totally rejected them. He proceeded to broach new opinions, contrary to the Catholic doctrine; as, that remission of sins was not founded on contrition, but on faith alone; that good works were not necessary for salvation; and other tenets, which will occur in the sequel. He threw off his religious habit, renounced the solemn vows he had made to God, abandoned his cloister, and returned to the world. He declaimed against the supremacy of the see of Rome, and condemned the whole Church, pretending that Christ had abandoned it, and that it wanted reforming, as well in faith as discipline. Thus this new "evangelist commenced that fatal defection from the ancient faith, which was styled " Reformation," and which afterwards overspread so large a part of western Christendom. Such was the dismal alarm sounded to the Church by the fifth trumpet.
The fifth seal exhibited to us only a particular interesting circumstance of the reformation, but now we shall see that the trumpet unfolds its whole history.
"There was given to him the key of the bottomless pit," v. 1. To St. Peter were given the keys of heaven, but to Luther is given the key of the bottomless pit, or, hell. Alas! what a woful difference, and what disparity is here indicated in the characters and functions of the apostle and the reformer! Christ assured St. Peter, that he and the other apostles, who had quitted all to follow him, should, at the last day, "sit on twelve seats judging the twelve tribes of Israel," Matt. xix. 28. But Luther, instead of meriting such a happy pre-eminence in heaven, by having renounced all temporal enjoyments for Christ, unfortunately retracts the renunciation he had made, returns to the world, and therefore is cast down like a fallen star, from heaven to earth, forfeiting the glorious crown he had seemed before to grasp in his hands. To St. Peter Christ gave a super-eminent power and heavenly function. "To thee will I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shall bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shalt be loosed also in heaven. Matt. xvi. 19. But how opposite is the power and function of Luther! namely, to open the bottomless pit, or infernal abyss, from whence flowed a stream of calamities that fell upon the kingdom of Christ upon earth. Our Saviour said to St. Peter, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it," Matt. xvi. 18. But Luther boldly opened the bottomless pit or the gates of hell, to endeavour to prevail against that Church. St. Peter was constituted by Christ the chief pastor of his whole flock; "feed my lambs, feed my sheep," John xxi. 16, 17, said Christ to him. But our reformer, by his own authority, declared himself head and ring-leader of a multitude of sectaries, who, like devouring wolves, have laid waste the fold of Christ.
"And he opened the bottomless pit: and the smoke of the pit arose, as the smoke of a great furnace," v. 2. Luther therefore opened the door of hell, and there issued out a thick smoke as from a great furnace. What can this thick smoke be, but a strong spirit of seduction, which had been hatched in hell, or had the devil for its parent, and which, at Luther's opening hell's door, immediately burst out. Impregnated with this steam, or spirit of seduction, he brought forth a doctrine, big with delusion and error. And as the steam he imbibed was hot, as coming from a great furnace, he propagated his doctrine with heat, violence, and insolence. "I now declare," says he, speaking to the bishops, " that for the future I will not vouchsafe you so much honour, as to submit myself or doctrine to your judgment, or that of an angel from heaven." (Preface to his book, Adversus falso nominatum ordinem Episcoporum.) He wrote a book which he entitled, " Against the execrable Bull of Antichrist:" meaning the bull of his condemnation by pope Leo X.; this book he concluded in these words: "In the same manner that they excommunicate me, I excommunicate them again." In another book, which he published in defence of the articles condemned by the above-mentioned bull, "Forbear ye," says he, " to make the war against the Turk, until the name of the Pope be taken torn beneath the heavens. I have said it." Nevertheless othci■ instances of his violence and fury might be alleged. Such was his spirit of pride, that he made open profession of contempt for the authority of the Church, councils, and fathers; whilst he arrogated an infallibility to himself, and anathematized all, whether Catholics or Protestants, that dissented from him. The other reformers imbibed the same hot steam, that issued out of the infernal abyss. They in consequence broached new doctrines, which they propagated and defended with such heat and vehemence, as to occasion every where seditions and insurrections, which they seemed to glory in. Their patriarch Luther openly boasted of it. "You complain," said he, " that, by our gospel, the world is become tumultuous; 1 answer, God be thanked for it, these things I would have so to be ; and wo to me, if such things were not."
"And the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke of the pit," v. 2. The spirit of seduction, denoted by the smoke of the pit, produced a multitude of erroneous doctrines, that darkened the light of faith, signified by the sun, and the purity of morals indicated by the air. The light of faith, which is the word of God, may well be represented by the sun, the great luminary of the universe, according to that of Psalm 118, v. 105. "Thy word, O Lord, is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my paths." And as the air is the spring of man's respiration and life, it may be a just type of morality, which gives spiritual life and worth to all human actions. One principal design of the reformation was, to free men from two troublesome restraints, of subjecting their understanding to the mysteries of faith, and of being bound down in their actions to the strict laws of morality. The new teachers preached up a hitherto unheard of " evangelical liberty," as they styled it, by virtue of which they were masters to model their belief and practice as it suited their inclinations. In pursuance of this commodious doctrine, they dissected the Catholic faith till they reduced it to a mere skeleton ; they lopped off the reality of the body and blood of Christ in the holy Eucharist, the divine Christian sacrifice offered in the Mass, confession of sins, most of the sacraments, penitential exercises, several of the canonical books of the scripture, the invocation of saints, celibacy, most of the general councils of the Church, and all present Church authority; they perverted the nature of justification, asserting that faith alone suffices to justify man; they made God the author of sin, and maintained the observance of the commandments to be impossible.
These and other errors were taught by most of the modern reformers; and they all agreed in renouncing all submission to the see of Rome.
In this manner were the sun and air darkened, or faith and morality obscured and perverted. For a few specimens of Luther's doctrine, take the following. "God's commandments