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HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
stars, and locusts are come
heresies, and invented many
has arisen which has darkened the heavens and the mų locusts are come out with stings, a numerous race ries and heretics, who have renewed all the ancient
and invented many monstrous opinions of their own.
nave filled our cities, villages, camps, houses, nay our pulpits too, and load the door deluded
Its too, and lead the poor deluded people with them to the pit of perdition."
e short sketches we have given from the general history è reformation for the illustration of the text, we hope be deemed sufficient, especially considering the limits of work. It would be endless to attempt a narrative of all
herent parties into which the reformation has been split. hey are not even to be enumerated. But one may in general observe, that its case is the same with that of all the heresies m preceding ages. Variation was always their character.
hus it was with the Arians, with the Pelagians, with the Kutychians, &c. They never remained steady to their first, plan of religion, nor could they keep their proselytes within the boundaries they first prescribed to them. St. Hilary, writing to the Emperor Constantius, thus speaks of the Arians: “Your case is the same with that of unskilful architects, who are never pleased with their own work; you do nothing but build up and pull down. There are now as many models of faith as men, as great a variety of doctrines as manners; We have yearly and monthly creeds; we repent of our old creeds, we frame new ones, and those again we condemn.” Such was the confusion among the Arians. The number of different confessions of faith made by the Lutherans and the other reformed churches, demonstrates in like manner the instability of their doctrine. They never could agree among themselves, nor could they ever settle their tenets; as is fully shown and related in the “ History of the Variations" by the celebrated Bishop of Meaux. Not content with what they pretended to have reformed, they would still go on reforming, without knowing where to stop. But indeed what wonder that people are bewildered, when they have no sure guide to direct them? The Church which Christ had commanded every body to hear,* they had left, and thus became solitary, they wandered in unknown paths into which the spirit of seduction led them. Faith is one, but error easily multiplies, having the devil for its parent, who hates truth and concord. Abaddon, who contrived and conducted the reformation, was also the author of its divisions and contradictions, and the
* Matt. xviii. 17. and Luke x. 16.
"lying spirit in the mouth of all its prophets.” 3 Kings xxxii 22. He still continues to actuate it in the same manner; and hence we see rise up every day new teachers, who, dissatisfied with what they find established, are ever proposing amendments and innovations. What idea can we form of a religion or an institution composed of such a number of dissonant parts; and, cameleon like, varying its colours every day? What idea, I say, can we form of it, but of a monster, such as St. John describes it under the type of a frightful deformed locust, which has a man's face, a woman's hair, a lion's teeth, an iron breast, and a scorpion for its tail ? In fine, the license of judging for himself being the claim of every member of the new religion, what could it produce, but what experience shows to have really happened, a defection from all religion ? Some, uneasy under any restraint, declare themselves in different to every form of doctrine and worship, and are styled “ Latitudinarians ;” others, contenting themselves with the simple belief of a God, renounce all divine revelation, and are denominated “ Deists” or “Free-thinkers ;' and some are even said to be sunk into mere materialism, that is, to believe no future state at all. “ T'hey who have made bold with one article of faith,” said St. Vincent of Lerins in the fifth century, “ will proceed on to others; and what will be the consequence of this reforming of religion, but only that these refiners will never have done, till they have reformed it quite away ?" Common. c. 29.
How different is the government and proceeding of the Catholic Church! Founded on the rock which is Christ, and governed by him according to his promise, she is always uniform and unanimous in her doctrine. Her faith is always the same. She received it from her divine Founder, and she preserves the sacred depositum inviolable. No jarring opinions, no innovations are allowed on that head. When a dogmatical point is to be determined, she speaks but once, and her decree is irrevocable. The first general council of Nice declared her faith against the Arians; the council of Constantinople against the Macedonians; the council of Ephesus against the Nestorians; that of Chalcedon against the Eutychians; the second of Nice against the Iconoclasts: and so through the whole period of the Christian æra. These solemn determinations have remained unalterable, and will ever be so. Pursuing invariably the same course, she assembled in a general council at T'rent in 1545, where, having examined the principal articles of the new reformed doctrine,
she pronounced them heretical, and condemned them as such: w; and this decision will stand an unperishable monument of
the true faith against the protestant religion to the end of the world.
Now we must add another observation. Let us take notice that the angel of the bottomless pit, who was the author of the reformation, is by our prophet named in Hebrew, Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon.* Now, though the Greek word Apollyon means the same as the Hebrew word Abaddon, viz. destroyer, nevertheless, from the extraordinary conciseness used throughout the whole Apocalypse, one may certainly conclude that St. John means something particular in giving the name of that hellish fiend in two languages. Let us now observe, that the Hebrew language preceded the Greek. That fiend therefore acted his part, first, under his name Abaddon, in setting up the reformation. Let us now take a view of the second of his mischievous operations under the name of Apollyon, or destroyer. To see this we need only cast our eyes upon what has lately happened in several countries, as in Germany, and especially in France, where Apollyon has raised such a spirit of licentious liberty, wild independence, and intruduced such a decay of religion, that immense evils have followed. What excesses! What extravagances have thence originated! What blasphemies against the Almighty! What contempt of his worship! both divine and human laws' trampelled under foot. What Luciferian pride and arrogance in rebelling against their Creator and their God, and even denying his existence. What impious and inhuman proceedings against his vicegerent! Combinations and conspiracies against sovereign princes and governments! Persecutions against the ministers of religion ! Cruelty in despoiling their fellow-creatures of their property,
and spilling their blood by murders and massacres! ? These are the horrible devastations operated by that inferA nal fiend under his character of Apollyon, destroyer, which
make up the second part of his agency.-In the primitive pages of Christianity, Satan upheld idolatry, and opposed with
all his might the establishment of the Christian religion. He raised cruel persecutions against the Christian proselytes: but finding himself foiled and defeated in all his efforts, he then turned his hellish malice another way, and set to work
*His Latin name. Exterminans, there subjoined, is not in the original
^;" has been added merely by way of interpreting the meaning of the The words, Abaddon and Apollyon.
to divide the Christians among themselves, to suscitate intes tine quarrels, heresies, flames of mutual hatred, and exciting them to persecute one another with furious violence. In a similar manner that angel of the abyss, which Satan has employed as his agent in this fifth period of the Christian Church, in his character of Abaddon, effected his first destructive work of the reformation. When stopped and not allowed to make further progress in that pursuit, he then in the latter part of his agency has machinated and contrived to throw division among the Catholics themselves in different countries, particularly in that ancient and once flourishing Catholic kingdom of France; and it is well known throughout the whole world, what pernicious effects have been the consequence
v. 12. “ One wo is past.” The period of 300 years assigned to the power of the locusts, being expired, St. John then adds: “one wo is past." Before the angel sounded the fifth trumpet, see p. 141, three woes were pronounced to follow the sounding of the three last trumpets, namely, fifth, sixth, and seventh. And now the prophet tells us, that the first of these woes, which was announced by the fifth trumpet, is past. This wo therefore is the calamity occasioned by the swarm of locusts. I leave it to the reader to determine, whether the breaches and desolation niade in the Church of Christ, as we have seen, by the reformation, be not truly a dis. mal woe, and worse than any that has happened in the foregoing ages. Some part of this wo must also be referred to the convulsions that happened in different countries, particularly in France, and the impious attacks made there upon religion, as explained above.
When one reflects that, of the three hundred years allowed to the reign of the locusts, there remain only fifty or fifty-five to run,* one cannot but wish with an earnest heart that the people represented by those insects would enter into a serious consideration of that circumstance. What a happiness! if, during this short remaining interval, some part of them at least would submit to see their errors, and the great mischief that has been done to the Church by their revolt against it. It is full time to lay down all animosity against their ancient mother, think of a reconciliation, and ask to be received again into her bosom. She is an indulgent parent, and her arms are always open, even to her rebellious children, when they come in tears to implore her forgiveness. They should be
*This work was first printed in the year 1771.
sensible, that Christ is not only the protector of his beloved spouse, the Church, but also the avenger of the injuries done to her. This power he has frequently exerted. The four preceding ages furnish us with the most evident proofs of it, under the respective four vials of the wrath of God. She was revenged in the punishment of her persecutors, the Roman emperors, in the first age. The Arians, who impugned her faith and harassed her cruelly in the second age, felt also the avenging hand of the Son of God, whom with his Church they had blasphemed: after sore calamities, they were doomed to sink into annihilation. The third age exhibited to us a most conspicuous exertion of a two-edged sword of Christ, in the destruction of the cruel idolatrous Romans, for their having spilt the blood of his and his spouses children. The fourth age was distinguished by the punishment of the Greeks for their rebellion against the same Church, and the world still sees them groaning under slavery for their inflexible obstinacy. Such having been the conduct of the supreme guardian of his Church through the course of all the Christ. ian ages, is it not an object of consideration highly interesting to the protestants, lest some such disaster should also be their fate? The Saviour of mankind waits with patience for the return of his strayed sheep, but their obstinacy at last forces his hand to strike. Unhappy children of the reformation! refuse not to hear the wholesome advice of the prophet Isaiah: “ Seek ye the Lord, while he may be found; call upon bim, while he is near," lv. 6. Hear the voice of God speaking of Israel, and make the application : “Return, O virgin of Israel, return to thy cities," Jerem. xxxi. 21. And again: “Be converted, 0 house of Israel, and do penance for all your iniquities; and iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, by which you have transgressed, and make to yourselves a new heart, and a new spirit: and why will you die, ( house of Israel ? For I desire not the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God; return ye, and live." Ezech. xviii. 30, 31, 32. But if, deaf to all admonitions, they continue hardened in their own ways, what remains to be done but to lament their misfortune, and in bitterness of soul turn our eyes from the pouring out of the following vial:
The pouring out of the fifth Vial of the Wrath of God.