In the Discovery First of Christ the Savior, then of Antichrist the Usurper.
The origin and commencement of the blessed Reformation is now our subject. It may be best to expound the apocalyptic vision which prefigured it by tracing its development in the mind and history of Luther. In no case, perhaps, is the principle of studying history in biography applied with such advantage as in this. Luther was both the master spirit of that great revolution of the 16th century; and also the type, in the inward experience of soul that made him a reformer, of what afterwards influenced the soul of many others. The Reformation passed, it has been said by a learned professor of Modern History, from the mind of Luther into the mind of Western Europe: and the different phases of the reformation succeeded each other in the soul of Luther, its instrumental originator before their accomplishment in the world.
Of these phases the two first, and those from which the rest proceeded, are figured to us, as distinctly as beautifully, in that portion of the Apocalyptic vision (already in part discussed) that stands referred to at the head of this chapter. Let us consider the two separately. They will exhibit to us the secret origin, the first public acts, and so the opening epoch of the Reformation.
- 1. The Discovery of Christ the Savior.
And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices. (Rev 10:1-3)
It was Luther, we said, that was God’s chosen instrument to effect this great revolution:— Luther, the son of a poor miner in Mansfield: one who when at school in his early boyhood, both at Magdeburgh and then at Eisenach, had to beg his bread under the pinchings of want, with the pitiful cry of “Bread for the love of God;” and was indebted to the charity of a burgher’s wife in Eisenach, afterwards spoken of as the pious Shunamite, for the power of pursuing his studies, and almost for his preservation. “Not many mighty, not many noble: but God hath chosen the weak things of the world, to confound the things which are mighty: and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen: that no flesh should glory in his presence.”
Let us hasten to that crisis in his history to which our subject directs us: that wherein he was prepared for, and then began to act out, the great part assigned him, in the reformation and revivification of Christ’s fallen church.
He had grown at this time into manhood: and, having passed from the schools to the University of Erfurt, had there, in the course of the usual four years of study, displayed intellectual powers and an extent of learning, that excited the admiration of the University, and seemed to open to his attainment both the honors and the emoluments of the world: when behold, on a sudden, to the dismay as well as astonishment of his friends, he renounced the world and all its brilliant prospects, and withdrew himself to the solitude and gloom of an Augustine monastery.— Wherefore so strange a step? — We find that thoughts deeper and mightier than those that agitate the surface of a vain world were then pressing on his soul: the thoughts of death, judgment, eternity, and God Almighty!— There had combined together different causes to induce this state of mind. He had found a Bible. It was a copy of the Vulgate hid in the shelves of the University Library. Till then he had known nothing more of the New Testament gospels or epistles, than what were given in the Breviary or the Sermonaries. The discovery amazed him. He was at once riveted by what he read therein. It increased, even to intenseness, the desire already awakened in his heart to know God. At the same time there was that in its descriptions of mans sinfulness, and God’s Holiness and wrath against sin, which awed and alarmed him.— Providential occurrences, following soon after, confirmed and deepened the work on his conscience. He was brought by a dangerous illness into the near view of death. He saw a beloved friend and fellow student suddenly cut off with scarce a moments warning. He was overtaken while journeying by a lightning storm, terrific to him, from his associating it with an angry God, as the lightnings of Sinai to Israel. He felt unprepared to meet him. How shall I stand justified before God? This was now the absorbing thought with Luther. Thenceforth the world, its riches and its honors, were to him as nothing. What would he profit, were he to gain the whole world and lose his own soul? — In the pursuit, however, of this great object, no success seemed to attend him. He longed to know God: but neither his own understanding, nor the philosophy and learning of the University, yielded him the light he needed for it. He longed to propitiate Him: but his conscience itself was dissatisfied with the inadequacy of his performances. It was the long established notion among the more serious, that the convent was the place, and its prayers penances and mortification the means, whereby most surely to attain to the knowledge and favor of God. There, then, he determined to pursue his absorbing object. He gathered his friends around him: ate his farewell meal with them: then sought the monastery. Its gate opened and closed on him. He had become an Augustine Monk.
But was his object attained? Did he find the holiness, or the peace with God, that he longed for? Alas, no! In vain he practiced all the strictest rules of the monkish life. In vain he gave himself, night and day, to the repetition of prayers, penances, fasting, and every kind of self mortification. He found that in changing his dress he had not changed his heart. The consciousness of sin remained with him: of its indwelling power, its guilt, its danger, “Oh, my sin! my sin!” was the exclamation heard at times to burst from him. Pale, emaciated, behold him moving along the corridors like a shadow! Behold him on one occasion fallen down in his cell, and, when found, lying in appearance dead: from the exhaustion of the mental conflict, yet more than of sleeplessness and fasting. He is a wonder to all in the convent. A wounded spirit who can bear?
There was a copy of the Vulgate chained in the monastery. With eagerness still undiminished he renewed his intense study of it. But it gave him, no more than before, the consolation that he sought for. Rather those awful attributes of God, his justice and holiness, appeared to him, as there represented, more terrible than ever. Above all for this reason, because even in the gospel (that which professed to be the gospel of mercy to fallen man), there seemed to be intimated a fresh exercise and manifestation of God’s justice. Such appeared to him the point of that saying of St. Paul to the Romans, the justice of God is revealed in it. Was it not adding grief to grief, to make even the gospel an occasion for threatening mankind with God’s justice and wrath? 
It was at this time that Staupitz, Vicar-general of the Augustine, was sent by God as his messenger, to assist in shedding light on the darkness of this wounded soul, and opening to him the Scriptures. On his visitation of the convent at Erfurt he at once distinguished from among the rest the young monk of Mansfield. He beheld him with his eyes sunk in their sockets, his countenance stamped with melancholy, his body emaciated by study, watching, and fasting, so that they might have counted his bones. It needed not an interpreter to tell him what was pressing on that sorrowful soul. For Staupitz was one who, in secret and unknown to the world, had gone through somewhat of the same conflicts as Luther: until in the gospel, rightly understood, he found a Savior. In the experience of his own heart he had both a key by which to understand, and a spring of sympathy to feel for what was passing in Luther. He sought and gained his confidence. He entered with him on the solemn subjects of his anxiety.
The Bible lay open before them. He expounded from it, to the poor tremble, God’s love and mercy to man, as exhibited in Christ crucified. He spoke of his death as the expiation for penitent sinners: his righteousness and perfect justice of life as their plea, their trust. These were views as comforting as new to Luther. He began to see that the justice, of which St. Paul spoke as manifested in the gospel, was not the active vindictive justice that he had supposed, but passive justice, as the school men might say, inherent righteousness: that which, being the characteristic in perfection of the life of the Lord Jesus, was accepted by God vicariously (being in this sense called God’s righteousness) in place of the imperfect and defiled performance of penitent sinners: just as his death was also vicarious, and expiatory of the guilt of their sins. Oh godlike scheme for saving sinners! Oh how unlike that of the convent and the schools, which through penances and works of merit directed men to accomplish their salvation!— When Luther still objected his sinfulness, it was answered by Staupitz, “Would you have merely the semblance of a sinner, and the semblance of a Savior?” And when he objected again that it was to penitent sinners only that Christ’s salvation belonged, and that how to obtain the true spirit of penitence,— that which included, as he now learned from the Bible, both the love of holiness and love of God, he had with all his self-mortification and penitential observances sought in vain,— it was answered by the Vicar general “It is from the love of God that true repentance has alone its origin. Seek it not in these maceration and mortification of the body! Seek it in contemplation of God’s love in Christ Jesus! Love him who has thus first loved you!”
He heard the words: he received them: received them not as the voice of his Vicar-general, but as the voice of the Divine Spirit speaking through him. It was the opening to him of the gospel: the setting forth to him of the two things he had been so intently seeking, and which he now saw to be clearly expressed in the gospel record:— the principle of justification before God, and the principle of godly penitence and sanctification within. How the glory of Jehovah-Jesus, even of Him that furnishes both to the believing penitent, did begin now to shine before him! Was it not just as in the emblems of the Apocalyptic vision under consideration? With the eye of faith he beheld Him beaming upon this lost world,— yea, and upon his own lost soul,— as the Sun of Righteousness: and the dark thunder clouds of the mental storm that had past over him only served to throw out more strikingly the beauty of the rainbow of covenant mercy, as reflected from them: that characteristic and constant accompaniment of the Sun of Righteousness, when shining on a penitent. “He beheld his glory, as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth!”— In the sunshine of this forgiving love, the former overwhelming bitterness of his sense of sin yielded to sweeter sensations. “O happy sin,” was his very heart’s language, “which hast found such a Redeemer” The subject of repentance too was now as sweet as once it had been bitter to him. He sought out in the Bible (that precious volume with a copy of which the Vicar-general had personally enriched him), all that related to it: and the Scriptures that spoke upon the subject seemed, he tells us, as if they danced in joy round his emancipated soul.— Nor, in the delight of these perceptions of the Divine forgiving love and mercy, did he rest content and inactive. He found in them, as his evangelist and friend had assured him he would, a spring and a power for the pursuit of holiness altogether unfelt before. The love of Christ constrained him. From the view of Jesus he drew strength, as well as righteousness. In the course of two or three years next following, the variations both internal and external with which the lot of man is ever affected, and not these alone, but dangerous illnesses also, tested the truth and power of the new views he had received of gospel salvation:— one illness in the convent at Erfurt: Another afterwards at Bologna, in his way on a mission entrusted to him from the Wittenberg Augustinians to Rome. The result was his confirmation in their truth and preciousness. For a little while indeed, while at Rome on the occasion last mentioned, the ideas so long cherished of its local sanctity, and the influence of early associations, induced his momentary return, in regard of outward observances, to the old superstition. With a devoutness which astonished, and drew ridicule on him from the Romish clergy, he made the round of its churches: celebrating masses in them, as that which might yield a blessing to the devotee. He even climbed on his knees the Pilate staircase near the Lateran, brought, it was said, from Jerusalem: on hearing that to the so climbing it there attached a papal indulgence, and remission of sin. But, while in the act of climbing, a voice as from heaven sounded in his ears, “The justified by faith shall live:” they, and they only. He started up in horror at himself, on the heavenly monition: and the superstitions he had been educated in had never anymore influence, or power, to obscure or to distract his vision of the Sun of Righteousness.
Thus was Luther inwardly prepared for the work that Providence intended him. It remained that he should act as God’s chosen minister, to set before others, in all its glory and its power, what he had himself seen and felt. Already a fit sphere of action had been provided for the purpose. A University had been just recently founded at Wittenberg by the Elector of Saxony. Of the arrangements a principal part had devolved on Staupitz. Impressed with a sense of Luther’s intellectual powers and piety he summoned him AD. 1509, to a professorship in the university. The call of his Vicar- General was obeyed, as in duty bound, by the young Augustine monk: and being appointed first Bachelor, then in 1512, Doctor of Divinity ad Biblia, and having to vow on his appointment to defend the Bible doctrines, he received therein, as it has been said, his vocation as a reformer. It was another epoch in his history. Forth with in his lectures to the students, and in his sermons too, in the old church of the Augustines to the people (for, ordained as he had already been to the priests office, he neglected not like others the priests duty of evangelic preaching), he opened to them the gospel that had been opened to him, and set before them the glory of Jesus, mighty to save. His letters and private ministrations still dwelt on the same favorite theme. “Learn, my brother,” was the tenor of his perpetual exhortation, “to know Christ:— Christ crucified,— Christ come down from heaven to dwell with sinners. Learn to sing the new song: Thou, Jesus, art my righteousness: I am thy sin: Thou hast taken on thyself what was mine: Thou hast given me what is thine!— Against the school men, and their scholastic doctrine of mans ability and strength to attain to righteousness in religion, he published theses, and offered to sustain them: his text being, Christ is our strength and our righteousness. Thus did he attack rationalism, as it has been well said, before he attacked superstition: and proclaimed the righteousness of God before he retrenched the additions of man. Multitudes crowded from different parts to the University, to hear a doctrine so new, and expounded with eloquence so convincing. “It seemed,” says Melancthon, “as if a new day had risen on Christian doctrine, after a long and dark night.” The eyes of men were directed to the true Sun of Righteousness, as risen upon them with healing in his wings, and many saw and felt it.
Thus far the manifestation of gospel light, however glorious, had been comparatively noiseless and tranquil. There had been simply a revelation of Himself by the Lord Jesus to the favored ones at Wittenberg, in his character of the Sun of Righteousness, and the rainbow vested Angel of the Covenant, mighty to save. But now the calm was to end. There was to be added his roaring, like as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, against the usurping enemy: and so the fiery conflict to commence between those two mighty antagonistic principles and powers, between Christ and Antichrist. The infamous Tetzel precipitated the conflict. Approaching in prosecution of his commission to the near neighborhood of Wittenberg (it was some eight or nine years after Luther’s removal thither from Erfurt), he there proclaimed, as elsewhere, the Papal Bulls of grace and indulgence: in other words, set forth the Pope as the heaven sent dispenser of mercy, Sun of Righteousness, and source of all divine light, grace, and salvation. Then was the spirit of the Reformer kindled within him. His Lord’s honor was assailed, his Lord’s little flock troubled by the impostor. Little thinking of the effect they were to produce, he published his celebrated 95 Theses against indulgences: affixing them, according to the custom of the times, to the door of the chief church at Wittenberg: and offering to maintain them against all impugners. The truths most prominently asserted in them were the Pope’s utter insufficiency to confer forgiveness of sin or salvation,— Christ’s all sufficiency,— and the true spiritual penitent’s participation, by God’s free gift, independently altogether of Papal indulgence or absolution, not merely in the blessing of forgiveness, but in all the riches of Christ. There were added other declarations, also very notable, as to the gospel of the glory and grace of God, not the merits of saints, “being the true and precious treasure of the Church;”— a denunciation of the avarice and soul deceiving of the priestly traffickers in indulgences:— and a closing exhortation to Christians to follow Christ as their chief, even through crosses and tribulation, thereby at length to attain to his heavenly kingdom.—
Bold indeed were the words thus published: and the effect such, that the evening of their publication (All-Hallow-e’en, Oct. 31) has been remembered ever afterwards, and is ever memorable, as the epoch of the Reformation. With a rapidity, power, and effect unparalleled, unexpected, unintended, even as if it had been the voice of one mightier than Luther, speaking through him,— and so Luther himself felt it,— the voice echoed through continental Christendom, and through insular England also. It was felt by both friends and foes to be a mortal shock, not merely against indulgences, but against the whole system of penances, self-mortification, will-worship, and every means of justification from sin devised by superstition, ignorance, or priestly cunning, and accumulated in the continued apostasy of above ten centuries:— a mortal shock too, though Luther as yet knew it not, against the Papal supremacy in Christendom. For there had been implanted in the minds of men, both on the main land and the island, a view of Christ’s glory, rights, and headship in the Church, which, notwithstanding the support of the Papacy by most of the powers of this world, was not to be obliterated. The result was soon seen both in the one, and in certain countries of the other (including specially some of the Swiss Cantons, as I must now add, brought through the independent but contemporary teaching of Zuingle and other Reformers to the recognition very similarly first of Christ then afterwards of Antichrist). I say the result was there seen in the national erection of the gospel standard, the overthrow of the Papal dominion, and the establishment of churches pure and reformed, that acknowledged Christ alone as in spiritual things their Master. Adopting the symbols of the Apocalyptic vision, we may say that the Angel’s fixing of his right foot on the sea, and his left on the main land, was thus fulfilled, in sequence to the uttering of his voice as when a lion roars. Nor did He quit either ground, or remove the marked stamp of his interference, till the political overthrow had been accomplished, both in the one locality and the other, of a part of the mystic Babylon: in short until, as stated in the conclusion of this vision, “a tenth part of the city had fallen, and there had been slain in it names of men seven chilads:” a pledge of its total ultimate overthrow, and of the establishment, upon its ruins, of Christ’s universal kingdom.— But in this last observation I anticipate.
- 2. The Discovery of Antichrist the Usurper.
And when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices. And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not. (Rev 10:3-4)
We have traced the first great step in the Reformation, as prefigured in the opening verses of the vision under consideration. It remains to trace the next, as prefigured in the two verses that follow, and prefixed to the present Section.
In order to this, however, there will be needed in the first instance, a very careful sifting of the prophetic enunciation that develops it: What mean the seven thunders? This is the question that meets us at the outset of our inquiry. The careful attention needed to solve it will appear the more strikingly from the perplexity that it has occasioned to commentators, and the evident inadequacy of all their solutions. Many, because of the charge to St. John, “Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not,” have passed it over as a point never to be revealed, and therefore presumptuous to inquire into. But, if such be the meaning, wherefore the description of John’s hearing, and being about to write them, here given: and its handing down too in the Apocalyptic Book, as if for the benefit of the church, and as a part of the inspired prophecy?— Others have supposed it a preintimation of the septenary division of the seventh Trumpet: a supposed preintimation altogether unmeaning, as well as out of place.— Three commentators only, of those I am acquainted with, interpret the thunders as significant of actual events; viz. Vitringa, who explains them of the seven crusades: Daubuz, who makes them the echo of laws, affirmative of the Protestant doctrines of seven kingdoms that embraced the Reformation: and Keith, whose explanation refers them to the seven continental wars, characterized by the roar of “the modern artillery,” which intervened, he says, to fill up the period between the Reformation as begun by Luther, and the sounding of the seventh Trumpet at the French Revolution. These solutions seem to me to carry their own refutation with them. Vitringa’s is quite out of place, as referring to events long preceding the Reformation. And, as to those of Mr. Daubuz and Dr. Keith, without entering into other particulars, who can believe that the injunction, “Seal up what the thunders have uttered, and write them not,” could mean, either, as the one says, a prophetic check to the multiplication and progress of Protestant institutions, beyond the original seven Protestant kingdoms:— or, as the other, a mysterious concealment of the seven great wars that followed the Reformation: because the minds of men, being then inclined to hold to Scripture prophecies as rules of action, would, in case of those wars having been clearly predicted, have thrown themselves into them as with Scripture warrant?
Proceed we then to a careful analysis of this most remarkable passage: well assured, even a priori, of what some of the expositors noticed by us seem really to have almost forgotten: viz. That it must needs have been meant to signify something, indeed something of importance, for the information and instruction of Christ’s Church, as to things to come: accordantly with the professed object of the whole revelation.— And in it five several points will be found to call for consideration:—1st, the vocality of the thunders spoken of (vocality, albeit still as of thunders): for they are said to have voices:— 2nd, the pointed definition of the voices of the thunders, as voices proper and peculiar to themselves, “their own voices:”— 3rd, the absoluteness of the prohibition, “Seal up and write them not:”— 4th, the further definition of the thunders by the septenary numeral:— 5th, the definite article prefixed to them, “the seven thunders.” To which five phraseological characteristics of the thunders there must be added further a consideration of St. Johns symbolic character on the Apocalyptic scene. Which done, all will appear clear, if I mistake not, as to the signification of the prophecy: and nothing more needed than a reference to history, to also make its fulfillment clear.
1 . There is to be observed the vocality attributed to the thunders; the thunders being said to have voices, and to speak, evidently in a manner intelligible to St. John. By this they are distinguished from the thunders elsewhere mentioned in the Apocalyptic visions, as proceeding from the throne: the which were known indeed to be sounds of wrath and judgment from on high, echoed in the judgments forthwith following on earth: but still sounds not articulate, or intelligibly vocal. Such being the case, the thunder mentioned in the 12th chapter of St. John’s Gospel offers itself to our remembrance as a nearer Scripture parallel to those before us. For we read that there was heard in it also an articulate voice from heaven: which the people around thought to be the voice of an angel, and of which the words are actually given us. This, says Mede, was by the Jews called Bath Kol, filia vocis: and, coming whence it did, was considered, as he adds, a voice from heaven, or oracle.— It might seem probably inferable, respecting the thunders here spoken of, that they too, as they fell on St. John’s ear, fell not only intelligibly, but also as an oracle, or voice from heaven.
2 . Next up for consideration, that singular definition of the voices as “the seven thunders own voices:” for so, I think, we may fitly here render the reflective pronoun in the phrase (τας έαυτων φωνας) as often elsewhere: in order to mark with emphasis, what it was evidently meant markedly to imply, that these thunders had a voice distinctively and peculiarly their own. Remarkable in itself, this distinctiveness and peculiarity became the more remarkable from its direct contrast to, and distinction from, those other two voices that were mentioned in the context:— the one the voice of the Covenant Angel, as of a lion roaring, which immediately preceded: the other that from heaven, which followed immediately afterwards. Was there then accordance between it and those other two: or discordance and opposition? This is the next point for inquiry, and a preeminently important one.
3 . And the next indicatory particular that we have to consider gives, as it seems to me, to the question an answer quite clear and decisive. For, the absoluteness of the Heavenly prohibition respecting them could not escape notice: “Seal up the things which the seven thunders have uttered, and write them not!”— Now had there been simply the first injunction, “Seal them up,” instead of indicating the same thing as the temporary sealing spoken of in Daniel 12:4 and 9, (Seal up till the time of the end) with which not a few expositors have unadvisedly compared it, we might even then rather have inferred a permanent consignment of these oracular voices to oblivion: seeing that no period, however distant, was assigned for their unsealing. But, besides this, there was added, as if by way of explanation, the further and yet more emphatic prohibitory clause, of which the absoluteness could not be mistaken, “Write them not!”— And what the reason of the prohibition? Surely it was as simply as satisfactorily to be inferred from the reasons of the contrary injunction, “Write them,” given three times elsewhere to St. John, on occasion of his hearing other voices as from heaven. First that in Rev. 14:13; “1 heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write! Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord. Even so saith the Spirit.’’ Next in 19:9: “He saith unto me, Write! Blessed are they which are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said. These are the true sayings of God.” Once more in 21:5: “He said. Behold I make all things new. And he said to me. Write! For these words are true and faithful.” These are all the examples of the kind that occur, from the beginning of the prediction of things future in chapter 4 to the end of the Book. And in every case the reason given for the Apostle writing was of one and the same character: Because the voice that was to be written was true and faithful:— because it was the voice of the Spirit:— because it was the true saying of God. The natural, indeed almost necessary inference, as to the reason of the prohibition, “Write not!” is this:— that what the seven thunders uttered, although with semblance to a Bath Kol, or oracular voice from heaven, it was not true and faithful, not the voice of the Spirit, not the true saying of God:— but, instead thereof, false and an imposture.
But, if so, what then were these voices: voices not really from heaven, yet with a certain semblance and pretension, as if they were? — Towards a solution of this question it will be not a little helpful, I think, to borrow an illustration from the times of St. John himself. For even then there were two voices that in a measure answered to the description.
First, the Jewish Rabbis had been wont to palm upon the people their own false religious decrees and dogmas, as if bath-kols, or oracles from heaven: at least till the fall of Jerusalem might seem to have set aside the idea of any influential deceiving power, as if from heaven, attaching to him. Further, from the world’s mighty capital the voices of the imperial head of heathenism there reigning, as those of one deified in the view of the Roman people, were similarly recognized and feared as thunders from heaven.— Now, with the light of these illustrations applied to the times here prefigured in the Apocalyptic drama, does not the thought suggest itself presumptive that the Christ-opposing voice of that great Antichrist may be the thunders here meant: especially as being the head of an apostasy prefigured as Judaeo-heathen in character, and one whose empire both by Daniel and Paul had been mysteriously connected with Rome? Certainly this notion will be found to gather strength not a little, on proceeding to consider the fourth characteristic of the Apocalyptic thunders in question.
4 . There being in number seven thunders cannot be ignored.— There are but two senses in which the septenary number can well be regarded as symbolic: the one its general and more abstract significance, as the sacred number: the other its particular significance, as referring to some septiform local source, such as might give to the voices thence issuing a kind of septenary force and value. And while, expounding the numeral as meant in the former sense, its applicability to the voice of the Papal Antichrist is obvious from the fact of its claiming and being supposed to have a Divine origin, still more, if expounded in the latter sense, would it answer perfectly and strikingly. For, in regard of a voice from the seven hilled city, so natural was it in poetic or prophetic figure to depict it as a septenary of voices, that with Roman poets themselves such was the actual form of expression: and similarly thunders thence issuing would answer to the designation of seven thunders.
5 . And then, as to the prefixed article, “the seven thunders,”— that which to Bishop Middleton appeared strange and unaccountable,— all would seem easily explicable: seeing that no seven hilled city could be the seven hilled city but Rome: no septenary of voice, or thunder, “the seven thunders,” but those from the seven hilled city of Rome.
All which considered, I cannot but believe that even to St. John himself, quite irrespective of any peculiar intelligence that may have attached to him in his representative character in the extasis of the vision, the thought can scarcely but have occurred of the voice of the predicted Antichrist as the seven thunders presignified. For, as to his rule taking place of the imperial rule, and so his seat being probably in the same seven hilled Rome, which Daniel and Paul had hinted,’ it was afterwards expressly signified to John in the Apocalyptic visions. It was there therefore that he was unsurprisingly to sit in the temple of God: and to utter voices with his mouth, and speak great things, as if God.
Yet more with ourselves the conclusion may have seemed obvious that the seven thunders did indeed figure the voices of Christ’s counterfeit, the Papal Antichrist, because of our having seen, and known, the striking fulfillment in him of all these prophetic indications. For do we not know that the voices of the Roman Pope, as expressed in his decrees and bulls, profess to be, and were regarded throughout Christendom as, oracles from heaven: indeed that the name commonly given to them, when condemnatory was that of Papal thunders?— Again, as to another point, does it need to suggest to any one well acquainted with Papal writings and ceremonials, the Pope’s affectation of the septenary numeral, in its primary sense of the sacred number? And, as regards the other probable intent of the numeral in the Apocalyptic symbol, do we not know how the prophecy was fulfilled of his See being the seven hilled site of ancient Rome: (The seven heads are seven hills whereon the woman sitteth) in so much that occasion was thus given to the designation of the Papal See as that of “the seven thrones of the supreme Pontificate:” whence, of course, as each one of these would furnish its own echo in Papal as well as Pagan Rome, the voice thence issuing might still fitly be designated in prophetic figure as a septenary voice, or seven voices. Indeed the truth is that, so applied, the allusion to the seven hilled Roman site has in it a point and propriety quite peculiar. For so it was, that the locale of Rome seemed necessary to give the Papal thunders their full sacredness and authority in the estimation of Christendom. During the 70 years secession of the Popes to Avignon, this became notorious. It is remarked on by Mosheim. It is remarked on again by Le Bas. The language of the latter, more especially, is quite illustrative of the phrase we are discussing. “The thunders” he says, “which shook the world when they issued from the seven hills, sent forth an uncertain sound, comparatively faint and powerless, when launched from a region of less elevated sanctity.” Thus the seven hills seemed, like Olympus of old, to be an almost necessary earthly adjunct to the mock ideal heaven of the Papal Antichrist’s Apostolic supremacy. And accordingly, a century before the times of Leo and Luther, the Popes saw it to be their policy to return to the seven hilled capital.
Finally, as to the definite article prefixed to the thunders, had the learned prelate Bishop Middleton advanced thus far with us in the historical exposition of the Apocalypse, he would have seen the solution of his critical difficulty on the point, in the very fact that he suspected of the notoriety and preeminence of the seven thunders: a notoriety of those from Imperial Rome known in St. John’s time: but much more of those from Papal Rome, afterwards known in Western Christendom, at that time to which the prophetic vision had reference.— For does it need anything more than the mere mention of them to satisfy us as to the notoriety of the seven thunders of the Papal Antichrist? In its full mystical sense the septenary attribute could indeed only attach to them. In a subordinate sense each synod, each primate, indeed each bishop, might issue ecclesiastical thunders, within his or its sphere and diocese. But the Papal bulls and anathemas were emphatically the thunders,— the Pope the thunderer. Regarded as he was in the light of God’s Vicar on earth, there was supposed to be God’s own condemning voice in the thunderbolts of his wrath: and with a range and extent to their efficacy universal as the universe itself. Invested with which terrors by the prevailing superstition, throughout the long middle ages, where was the kingdom in Western Europe that did not tremble,— where the heart so stout, of noble or of prince, that did not quail before them?
And now then do I presume too much on my proof if I express a persuasion that the meaning of the seven thunders here spoken of is clear? Surely the five Apocalyptic distinctives answer completely, one and all, to the thunders of the Vatican. In fact (not to speak just at present of his so understanding the symbol whom I suppose St. John at this point to have specially impersonated, the great reformer Martin Luther) certain eminent Papal expositors of the Apocalypse, as I have learned since my first publication, have been led by the singular propriety of the symbol to a very similar conclusion: though without any analysis of it like my own, and withal taking good care not to give its proper Apocalyptic sense to the connected charge, “Seal up the thunders, Write them not.” Says Silveira, “The seven thunders are the decrees of [Papal] Ecumenic Councils, God’s Spirit dictating them, and thunders of their anathemas against heretics.” And moreover, quite in our own times, an eloquent modern Romanist has adopted the precise symbolic phraseology of the Apocalypse, in designation of the Papal voice from Rome, as if a designation conventionally understood, or otherwise obviously appropriate: “From Romes seven hills seven thunders have uttered their voices.”— So natural is the sense that I give to the symbol. And certainly, in my opinion, there is nothing else whatsoever, to which the seven Apocalyptic thunders ever have been, or can be, with the slightest semblance of plausibility, made to answer.
And when, their signification being thus made clear, as I trust, we next inquire whether what was prefigured of the seven thunders uttering their voices of opposition, immediately after the Covenant Angel’s lion like cry, had its fulfillment in the utterance of Papal thunders against Christ’s voice by Luther, it needs only that we look into the historic page to see it. Scarce had Luther published his Theses, when the attack on them by Sylvester Prierias, the official Censor at Rome, and which was dedicated to Pope Leo, showed what was to be expected from the Pope himself: and, ere a year had elapsed, a solemn Papal Bull condemnatory of Luther’s Theses, and in defense of the whole system of indulgences, was committed to Cardinal Cajetan, and by him soon after published.
It is added, “And when the seven thunders had uttered their own voices, I was about to write: &c.” We have here a statement which will be found to lead us forward another step, and a most important one, in the history of the Reformation. In order however to our drawing this inference from it, it will be necessary that we recall and apply that important exegetic principle, to the which I alluded already earlier in this Section,— namely, of St. Johns symbolic character on the Apocalyptic scene. For I trust that the reader will by this time have become not only familiarized with, but convinced of the truth of, this most important view of the Evangelist’s character, in the figurations of the Apocalyptic drama: it having been not only illustrated by me alike from parallel prophetic Scriptures, and patristic authorities, but also again and again confirmed from history, in the preceding volume.— It will be remembered generally that what was seen and heard by John on the Apocalyptic scene, appeared to be that which would be seen and heard by the faithful, at each successive epoch in the advancing drama, whom he presignified: whether the desolation of war, mutations of empire, or persecutions, sufferings, impressions, and worshiping, of Christ’s people themselves. More especially he will remember that memorable sealing vision, just before the bursting of the Trumpet judgments, wherein was exhibited to St. John a manifestation of Christ, as rising with light from the East, and selecting and sealing his own people from amidst the professing Israel (a revelation evidently such as the world in general would not have perception of); and then the prospective vision appended, of the ultimate salvation and glory of the sealed ones, wherein he actually held colloquy with some of the twenty-four presbyters round the throne:— all which, otherwise enigmatically and most obscure, seemed to be explained, as simply as satisfactorily, by reference to Christ’s doctrinal revelation respecting his own true Church of the election of grace, and the final assured salvation of his elect, to one that was St. John’s truest successor in spirit at the chronological epoch corresponding, just before the Gothic invasions: I mean Augustine.
And now behold the apostle in personal association with a yet brighter vision of Christ, and more glorious manifestation of Himself on the Apocalyptic mundane scene, than even in the Sealing Vision: and moreover yet more prominently, varied, and remarkably acting out his own part in the dramatic vision. For we read of his rising up to meet the revelation, and, notwithstanding the cloud that mantled the Covenant Angel, realizing the glory and the divinity of his aspect and his voice:— then, on occasion of the seven thunders sounding, preparing to write, until deterred by a warning from heaven against it:— then hearing a solemn declaration from the Covenant Angel respecting the chronological place of this intervention in the great mundane drama, as separated by but one Trumpet more from the consummation:— then, under the same heavenly impulse as before, going and taking the book out of the hand of the Covenant Angel, and eating it, and tasting its sweetness and its bitterness:— then receiving the Angel’s solemn charge to prophesy again:— then being presented with a reed, like unto a rod, wherewith to measure the temple and them that worshiped in it:— then, finally, having the history of Christ’s Witnesses through the dark ages preceding, even up to the time then present, retrospectively set before him. Which being so, supposing we are satisfied that St. John is to be viewed as a symbolic character, not merely will the general inference follow that there must have been prefigured hereby some singular reawakening at that time in the Church of ministerial apostolic spirit, in all its energy of action,— such as in fact we know to have been the case, in measure unprecedented since apostolic times, with the Fathers of the Reformation, insomuch that historians can scarce speak of Luther more especially, and his first acting in the Reformation, without noticing the parallel;— but also, as to details, that each particular thing heard or done by the Evangelist in vision, must have been meant to symbolize something correspondent in the views, history, and actions of these reforming Fathers, his successors in office and in spirit. To show this is now my duty, as an Apocalyptic expositor: and it will occupy us both in what remains of the present chapter, and also in the three chapters following.
For the present it is the meaning of the first particular statement, viz. “When the seven thunders had uttered their own voices I was about to write,” together with that of the clause following, “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me. Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not,” that claims our attention.
“And when the seven thunders uttered their own voices I was about to write.” Applying the principle of interpretation just laid down to this statement, the fact presignified seems clearly to be this:— that those members of Christ’s true Church whom we suppose St. John to have symbolized, Luther most of all, even after witnessing the glory and beauty of Christ’s revelation of Himself as the Sun of Righteousness, would yet, on hearing the hostile Papal thunders, be ready to receive and publish them, as if they were what they professed to be, a voice from heaven. An intimation strange indeed! Was it possible that such could have been the case with Luther?— We look into history: and behold! We find this to have been the very case. Indeed it forms a feature so prominent and interesting, in the history both of the progress of Luther’s own mind, and of the Reformation, that no ecclesiastical historian can properly develop the advance of that eventful history, without making a distinct reference to it.
The truth was that Luther formed acquaintance with the character of Christ some years before he formed it with that of Antichrist. The cry of the Pope being Antichrist, raised long previously by the followers of Waldo, Wicliff, and Huss, had almost died away in Christendom: and, if heard of by Luther at Erfurt, or at Wittenberg, had been heard of only as a blasphemous heresy. With a conscience very tender, and tremblingly afraid of offending God, the supposed sacredness and authority of the Pope, as head of the Church and Christ’s Vicar (for such, in accordance with the long received superstition, he as yet regarded him), induced in his mind a predisposition to bow with implicit deference to the Papal decision, alike in other things, and in the controversy about indulgences that he had engaged in. In his Theses nothing appeared against the authority of the Pope, but the contrary. Listen to his own account of his feelings at this time, as given many years after wards. “When I began the affair of the indulgences… I was a monk, and a most mad Papist. So intoxicated was I, and drenched in Papal dogmas, that I would have been most ready to murder, or assist others in murdering, any person who should have uttered a syllable against the duty of obedience to the Pope.” And again: “Certainly at that time I adored him in earnest.” He adds: “How distressed my heart was in that year 1517, and the following, how submissive to the hierarchy, not feigned but really, …those little know who at this day insult the majesty of the Pope with much pride and arrogance … I was ignorant of many things which now, by the grace of God, I understand. 1 disputed: I was open to conviction. Not finding satisfaction in the works of theologians and canonists, I wished to consult the living members of the Church itself. There were some godly souls that entirely approved my propositions. But I did not consider their authority as of weight with me in spiritual concerns. The popes, cardinals, bishops, monks, priests, were the objects of my confidence… It was from them I looked for the voice of the Spirit… After being enabled to answer every objection that could be brought against me from the Scriptures, one difficulty still remained, and only one:— that the Church [the Roman Church] ought to be obeyed.” “If I had then braved the Pope as I now do, I should have expected every hour that the earth would have opened to swallow me up alive, like Korah and Abiram.”— It was in this frame of mind that in the summer of 1518, a few months after the affair with Tetzel, he wrote that memorable letter to the Pope, of which the tenor may be judged of from the clause following: and what can more admirably illustrate the passage we are considering? “Most blessed Father! Prostrate at the feet of thy Blessedness, I offer myself to thee, with all I am and all I have. Kill me or make me live, call or recall, approve or reprove, as shall please thee. I will acknowledge thy voice as the voice of Christ, presiding and speaking in thee.” Thus, “when the seven thunders had uttered their own voices, he was about to write:’’ Ie. as the phrase means, to recognize, publish, act on them: even as if they had been, what they pretended to be, an oracle from heaven.
But so it was that just at this critical point of temptation and danger a real voice from heaven, the voice of God’s Spirit, saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders have uttered, and write them not,” was his preservation. Already in the October of that year, on being summoned and appearing, as we have intimated, before the Papal Legate Cardinal Cajetan, when the Pope’s judgment was affirmed by the Legate to be in favor of indulgences, and also of the efficacy of the sacraments ex opere operato, independently of faith in the recipient,— seeing its contradistinctions both to the word and spirit of the Gospel, he would not receive it. The Spirit’s whisper began, “Write not!” Still however for a while he remained partially in suspense. He doubted, indeed discredited, the fact of the Papal sanction. But soon after, when the publication of the Pope’s Bull, in direct sanction of indulgences, had forced him to identify the Pope himself with those anti-christian abuses,— and yet more when in the year next following, on occasion of the approaching disputation with Eck, he was brought by Eck’s theses into the positive necessity of examining into the origin, foundation, and character of the Papal supremacy, then the true anti-christian character of the Papacy began increasingly to open to his view. Near the end of 1518 we find him thus writing to his friend Link, on sending him a copy of the acts just published of the conference at Augsburg. “My pen is ready to give birth to things much greater. I know not myself whence these thoughts come to me. I will send you what I write, that you may see if I have well conjectured in believing that the Antichrist, of whom St. Paul speaks, now reigns in the court of Rome.”
For a while, however, he combated the thought, to him so fearful. Some three or four months after, in answer to the request from the Elector of Saxony to be in all things reverential to the Pope, he wrote to Spalatinus, “To separate myself from the Apostolic See of Rome, has not entered my mind.” (April, 1519). But still the views hinted to Link recurred: and pressed upon him with greater and greater force. The Elector was startled with hearing (March 13, 1519), “I have been turning over the Decretals of the Popes, with a view to the ensuing debate at Leipsic: and would whisper it into thine ears that I begin to entertain doubt, (so is Christ dishonored and crucified in them), whether the Pope be not the very Antichrist of Scripture.”— Further study of Scripture, and further teaching of the Holy Spirit, concurred with the Pope’s reckless support of all the anti-christian errors and abominations against which he had protested (and well did the reminiscences too of his visit to Rome help on the conviction), to make what was for a while a suspicion only, an awful and certain reality to him. And when at length, near the close of 1520, the Pope’s final Bull of anathema and excommunication came out against him, when the seven thunders pealed against the voice that the Covenant Angel had uttered by him, fraught with the collected fury of all the artillery of the Papal heaven,— accordantly with that monitory voice from heaven which bade his Apocalyptic representative St. John long before to “seal them up” (almost a phrase of the times, I may observe, for rejecting Papal Bulls, and consigning them to oblivion), he did an action by which all Europe was electrified. He summoned a vast concourse of all ranks outside the walls of Wittenberg, students and professors inclusive: and himself kindled a fire in a vast pile of wood previously prepared for the purpose: then committed the Bull, together with the Papal Decretals, Canons, &c., accompanying, to the flames. Perhaps the impression was even then resting influentially on his mind, of which he told not very long afterwards, that the Papal Decretals, Canons, and condemnatory Bull, thus consigned by him to oblivion, were the realization of the selfsame “seven thunders,” that St. John was bid not to write, but to seal up, when they uttered their own voices on the Apocalyptic scene. Moreover, in his published Answer to the Bull, he rejected and poured contempt on those Papal thunders, as “the infernal voices of Antichrist.”
Such was the memorable act that marked the completion of the first epoch of the Reformation. Once convinced by the heavenly teaching of this awful and so long unsuspected truth, no earthly terrors or power could induce from Luther its recantation. When summoned before the Emperor, Legate, and Germanic Princes and Nobles at the Diet of Worms, the momentous cause entrusted to him was only strengthened by his intrepid confession. Moreover he was now no longer alone, as once, in the undertaking. A goodly company,— Melancthon, Carolstadt, Bugenhagen, Justus Jonas, and many others, since known as Fathers of the Reformation,— had already joined themselves to him. In many too, perhaps in most, of the German universities and towns, by students and by people, and by not a few even of priests and monks also, the new doctrine had been embraced with enthusiasm: besides that in Switzerland the work was fast progressing. It is the remark of his biographer, when arrived at this epoch of the Reformation, that at various times the world has seen the power of an idea, even of common and earthly origin, to penetrate society and rouse nations: how much more, he adds, when, as now, it was an idea originating from heaven. In this observation he is speaking of the new views at this time spread abroad of Christ and Antichrist. And have we not a comment in it on the Apocalyptic statement, “I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, Write not!” The effect was seen and confessed by the Pope’s astonished Legate, when, in traveling through Germany to Worms, instead of the wonted honors and reverence to his high office, he found himself disregarded and shunned as an agent of Antichrist. A mighty revolution, it was evident, had begun: and who could foresee its issue?
Smythe, Lectures on Modern History I. 265.He observes at the same time; Milner’s is the best account of the more intellectual part of the history of the Reformation in other words, of the progress of the Reformation in Luther;s own mind;- a very interesting subject. In M. Merle D Aubigne’s lately published History we have a development of the same subject still more full, and still more interesting.
Merle D’Aubigne. i. 130.
The following chronological epochs occur in Luther’s early life. He was born, A.D. 1483: entered the University of Erfurt in 1501, the Augustinian monastery 1505: was ordained priest 1507, called to Wittemberg 1508, made B.D. 1509: in 1511 visited Italy and Rome; in 1512 was made Doctor of Divinity ad Biblia: in 1517 posted up his Theses against Indulgences, and so began the Reformation.
“Panem propter Deum!” Michelet i. 4.
1 Cor. i. 26, 27. The Italics that close the English authorized Translation of verse 26,—” Not many mighty are called,” seem to be incorrect. The apostle is speaking of the persons made use of by God in the Christian ministry, for the calling of men to the knowledge of Himself, not of the converts called. Compare verse 21.
The following abstract of Luther’s early history is taken chiefly from M. Merle D’Aubigne. With this Milner, Waddington, and Michelet agree in main things. Indeed all the four histories are drawn very much from materials of Luther’s own furnishing: so as to be alike a kind of autobiography.
Luther tells us that it was when he was 20 years old, and consequently in 1503, after he had been two out of his four years at the Erfurt University, that he first discovered this copy of the Bible. So Merle i. 143: Waddington, Reform, i. 36. — Seckendorf, p. 19, ‘and after him Milner, (p. 667, Ed. in one Vol. 1838,) have made a mistake, in supposing that it was in the Monastery of Erfurt that he first found the copy.
M. Merle, I. 143, in stronger language than I have used, describes Luther’s wonder at finding in the Bible (”a Book at that time unknown “) more than the fragments of gospels and epistles read in the Sunday Church-services. “ II avait cru jusqu’alors que c’etait la toute la Parole de Dieu.” On which Dr. Maitland, in his Dark Ages, p. 468, expresses somewhat scornfully his disbelief of the statement. Had he then “ never heard of the psalms “? And, in his study of Occam, Scot, Bonaventure, T. Aquinas, &c, had he not learnt something about the Bible .’ Then, as to its being a book at that time unknown, had there not been some 20 editions of the Latin Bible printed in Germany before Luther’s birth .’—I presume that M. Merle did not mean to represent Luther as ignorant of the Psalter: but that of the gospels and epistles, which make up the New Testament, he knew no more than what was in the Church-services: and no more of the Bible, generally, than what was in those services. M. Merle, in a letter published in the Record of Dec. 12, 1844, cites Mathesius and Melchior Adam, in proof of the general correctness of his statement. To which I beg to add Luther’s own testimony, given by Michelet (I. 292), from the Tischreden, or Table-talk: “ J’avais vingt ans que je n’avois pas encore vu de Bible. Je croyois qu’il n’existait d’autres evangiles ni epitres que celles des sermonaires.” With regard to the then general ignorance of the Bible, not withstanding the many editions of the Latin Bible, and some German versions too, printed in the half-century preceding, M. Merle cites a passage from Trithemius, the learned Abbot of Spanheim, who lived till the Reformation: speaking in strong terms of it, as characterizing even priests and prelates. How much more lay-students in a University!— Even now, as Sign. Ciocci informs us, (Narrative, p. 67,) the same ignorance of the Scripture exists still among University students at Rome itself. “ At the age of eighteen,” he writes, and I have myself heard him repeat the statement, “ I had never read the Bible, except in small portions inserted in the Breviary, or sung during mass.” Michelet adds what follows from Luther. “ Sous la Papaute la Bible fetoit inconiiue aux geus. Carlostadt commeiKja a la lire lorsqu’il etoit deja Docteur depuit huit ans. Le Docteiir Usingen, moine Aiigustin, qui tut raon precepteur au convent d’Erfurdt, me disait, quand il me voyait lire la Bible avec taut d’ardeur: Ah, frere Martin, qu’est ce que la Bible I On doit lire les anciens docteurs, qui en out suce le miel de la verite: la Bible est la cause de tons les troubles.” Further, in illustration of the general ignorance of the Bible among Papists, even some years later, Michelet gives the two following anecdotes. “ A la diete d’Augsburg (1530) I’Eveque de Mayence jeta un jour les yeux sur une Bible. Survint par hasard im de ses conseillers qui lui dit, ‘ Graeieux Seigneur, que fait de ce liTe votre Gi’ace Electorale }’ A quoi il repondit, Je ne sais quel livre c’est: seulement tout ce que j’y trouve est contra nous.” All this from Luther’s Tischreden. (My Ed. I. 19, 20.) The other is from Sismondi’s Hist, de France. “En 1530 un moine Franc^ais disait en chaire: On a trouve une nouvelle langue que Ton appelle Grecque: il faut s’en garantir avec soin. Cette langue enfante toutes les heresies. Je vols dans les mains d’un grand nombre de personnes un livre ecrit en cette langue. On le nomme Nouveau Testament: c’est un livi’e plein de rouces et de viperes.” As regards the German versions previously published, Michelet observes from Seckendorf, that they were neither suited for, nor allowed to the people: ‘’Nee legi permittebantur, nee ob styli et typorum horriditatem satisfacere poterant.”—Further, till Erasmus’ publication of it in 1516, a Greek Testament could not be procured at any price in all Germany. So Pellicanus ap. Milner, p. 661,—Says Dean Waddington, “ She (the Church of Rome) had locked up the SS., and substituted herself m their place.” Hist, of Reform, I. 58. How little of the essence of the Gospel Luther could have learnt from his study of the scholastic doctors he need hardly to have told us: as he has in the Tischr. I. 5, &c.
Michelet i. 9.
Merle D’Aiib. i. 160.
Michelet i. 11. The Vulgate reads, ” Justitia Dei revelatur in illo: ” scil. evangelico.
Merle d’Aub. i. 163.
Mich. i. 292.
lb. p 12; Table-talk, p. 341
Popery, says Luther in his Commentary on Genesis, never spoke of the promises in Scripture.
Merle, i. 166
Merle, i. 165.
This beautiful symbol was first appointed as a token to Noah, and men after him, of God’s covenant-promise that the earth should ever after be preserved fr-om destruction by a flood of waters. (See Gen. ix. 12—17.) In Isaiah liv. 9 it was transferred, as it were, to be a token of the sureness of the gospel promises, and of God’s covenant to remember, preserve, and ultimately save his Church (both Jewish and Gentile) with an everlasting salvation. ” In a little wrath I hid my face ft-om thee tor a moment: but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on’ thee, saith the Lord the Redeemer. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me. For as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. (i. e. for perpetuity.) For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed: but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.” The hint having been thus given as to its new and yet more beautiful appropriation, the symbol was afterward exhibited to Ezekiel (i. 28), in accompaniment of the visions that fore showed to him indeed Judas’s temporary abandonment to judgment, but with everlasting redemption as the final issue. And so again to St. John, as we have seen, in the Apocalyptic visions: both here, and in the standing scenery of the throne in the inner heavenly temple, described Apoc. iv. 3.
In 1620, just before the execution of the 47 Protestant martyrs of Prague, it is related that, as day broke, a rainbow described its radiant curve athwart the dark storm-clouds. On which they fell on their knees, and praised their Savior: one of them exclaiming, as in accents of inspiration, ” It is the symbol of the covenant God made with the human family: it is the arch on which his glorious throne reposes: in the words of the Apocalypse, Jesus is opening the heavens to us.” So Michiel, ” Secret History of the Austrian Government, and its persecutions of Protestants.”
“O beata culpa qua3 talem meruisti Redemptorem.” Merle d’Aub. i. 170. — This was after the suggestion by an aged monk, who visited Luther on occasion of his falling ill in the convent, of that article in the creed, ” I believe in the remission of sins:”—a suggestion applied by God’s Spirit, with great power, to the strengthening of his mind in its peace in believing.
lb. i. 166.—Michelet (i. 12) quotes a passage from Luther of similar effect: ” II me sembla que j’eutrais a portes ouvertes dans le paradis.”.
This illness occurred in the second year passed by him in the Convent at Erfurt and is the one to which I refer in the Note last but one preceding.
Merle, i. 187.
Just before his death Luther reverted to the early crisis of his religious life above described by me: and to the opening to his mind of the meaning of that text in Habakkuk ii. 4, “The just shall live by faith.” ” By it,” he said, ” all Scripture, and heaven itself, was opened to me.”
Merle, 174, 193.
lb. 171, 176.
lb. i. 203.—Similarly Zuingle, the Swass Reformer: ” Mon esprit se ranime a I’ouie de cette joyeuse uouvelle: Christ est ton innocence: Christ est ta justice: Christ est ton salut: tu n’es rien: tu ne peux rieu: Christ est 1’Alpha et 1′ Omega…Christ est tout.” Merle d’Aub. ii. 348. I wish again to impress on the reader that it is not simply Luther, but the reforming Fathers generally, that I conceive St. John to have impersonated at this epoch:—though Luther most prominently of course, as being the chief leader of the Reformation.
Merle, i. 209, 225.
lb. 201.—So Scultetus, on A.D. 1-517: “As once from Zion, so now from Wittenberg, the light of Gospel-truth was diffused into the remotest realms.” Seckendorf, p. 59.
See Is. xxxi. 4, cited Supra.
The Elector of Saxony, at the request of Staupitz, had interdicted Tetzel from entering his territories on the indulgence-selling commission. Hence he was unable to approach Wittenberg nearer than Jiiterbock: the last town of the Archbishop of Magdeburg, his patron, and about four miles distant. Merle D’Aub. ib. 253.
Thus in the following sentences, as given by Merle, i. 263, &e: 1. “Loi-sque..Jesus Christ dit, Repeutez vous, il veut que toute la vie de ses fideles soit une . . eontinuelle repentance. 2. Cette parole ne pent etre entendue du sacrement de la penitence, ainsi qu’il est administre par le pretre. 5. La Pape ne pent (ni ne veut) remettre aucune autre peine que ceUe qu’il a imposee. 6. Le Pape ne peut remettre aucune condamnation, mais seulement declarer et confirmer la remission que Dieu lui meme en a faite: a moins qu’il ne le fasse dans les cas qui lui appartiennent. (i. e. of ecclesiastical censures.) S’il fait autrement, la condamnation reste entierement la meme. 8. Les lois de la penitence ecclesiastique ne regardent nullement les morts. 32. Ceux qui s’imagincnt etre surs de leur salut par les indulgences, iront au diable avec ceux qui le leur enseigneut. 52. Esperer etre sauve par les indulgences est une esperance de mensonge et de nennt, quand meme le commissaire d’indulgences, et (que dis je?) le pape luimeme, voudi’oit, pour 1′ assurer, mettre son ame en gage. 37. Chaque vrai Chretien, mort ou vivant, a part de tous les biens de Christ, ou de I’eglise, par le don de Dieu, et sans lettre d’indulgence. 62. Le veritable et precieux tresor de I’eglise est le saint Evangile de la gloire et de la grace de Dieu. 79. Dire que la croix ornee des armes du Pape est aussi puissante que la croix de Christ, est lui blaspheme. 94. II faut exhorter les Chretiens a s’appliquer a suivre Christ, leur chef, a travers les croix, la mort, et I’enfer: 95. Car il vaut mieux qu’Qs entrent par beaucoup de tribulations dans le royaume des cieux, que d’acquerir rme securite charnellepar les consolations d’une fausse paix.” The Leader will observe the saving clause for the Pope in Prop. 5, “ni ne veut.” Others occur elsewhere. So Prop. 50. ” Si le Pape connaissait les exactions des predicateurs d’indulgences, il aimerait mieux que la metropole de St. Pierre fut brulee, que de la voir edifice avec la peau, la chair, et les os de ses brebis.” As yet Luther knew not the Pope.
“Deus rapuit, pellit, nedum ducit me. Non sum compos niei. Volo esse quietus, et rapior in medios tumultus.” So Luther Epist. i. 231: written on Eck’s challenging him, in 1519. (Merle ii. 18.) So again, after the 2nd Diet of Nuremberg, 1524, to Spalatine: ” I wish our simple Princes and Bishops would at length open their eyes: and see that the present revolution in religion is not brought about by Luther, who is nobody, but by the omnipotence of Christ himself.” Milner p. 824. And to Erasmus: “What am I What but, as the wolf said to the nightingale, A voice and nothing else.” Vox et pratered nihil. Mich. i. 56.—Indeed his sense of having been but the mouth to a Higher One than himself in the matter, appeared continually. So (Milner 964) to Melancthon one writes of Luther: “Three of his best hours each day he spends in prayer. Once I happened to hear him…It is entirely, he said, thine own concern. We, by thy Providence, have been compelled to take a part.” Again, after receiving the Pope’s Bull; ” Christus ista coepit; ipse perficiet;” &c. Merle, ii. 141. Similarly Zwingle. “To whom are we indebted as the cause of all this new light and new doctrine To God, or to Luther? Ask Luther himself. I know that he will answer that the work is of God.” — Luther was absolutely troubled in conscience, when he saw an effect so much beyond what he had intended, produced by his Theses. See Merle, i. 274, 283: also my next Chapter. Thus we see reason for the voice as of a lion roaring being ascribed to the Angel. What Luther and the Reformers did after wards, on deliberation, and with their own full consciousness, is attributed to their representative St. John.—Compare! Matt. X. 20: “It is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your father that speaketh in you.” Also 2 Peter i. 21: “Holy men spake, vύπο ΙΙνευματος άγιου φερομενοι” 1. e. borne out of themselves, and beyond their own intentions, as it were, in what they said.
See p. 98 Note 3 supra.
Compare Jacob’s placing his right hand on Ephraim, his left on Manasseh, Gen. xlviii. 14.
My reason for so translating the έπτα χιλιαδες will appear in chap. ix. Infra.
So Mede (see the next note): also Bishop Newton, Wood house, Lowman. This, I believe, is a comparatively modern idea. Of earlier commentators I may notice that both Primasius and Ambrosius Ansbertus explain the seven thunders of gospel-preaching, such as the septi-form Spirit of God might indite: though terribly puzzled, as well they might be on any such hypothesis, to explain the prohibition, Write it not! ” Valde nodosissima, atque ad solvcndum perplexa nobis quapstio,” says Ansbert, B. P. M. xiii. 516. His solution is that it should be sealed and hid from unfit recipients.—A curious quotation from Origen occurs in Eusebius, (H. E. vi. 25,) on the same subject. In his list of the canonical writers of the sacred Scriptures, on coming to St. John, Origen thus briefly and enigmatically notices the passage under consideration:Εγραψε δε και την Αποκαλυψιν κελευθεις σιωπησαι και μη γραψαι τας των έπτα βροντων φωνας
So first Mede: at the same time that he intimates the vanity of inquiring into what God has chosen to make secret, as stated in the note preceding. ” Vox tonitrui quid? Num £ath Kol? Si hoc, erunt septera Touitrua oracula totidem quibus septirape Tubfe intervallum quasi periodis quibusdam distinguctur: sed ignorandae omnino rei, nee, nisi suis temporibus percipiendae. Quod innuit, Joanni voces tonitruum scripturo, caBlitiis facta prohibitio, Obsigna quae locuta sunt septem tonitrua, et ne ea scribas. Frustra igitur nos inquirendo erimus quae Deus occulta esse voluit, et suis temporibus reservanda.” After Mede, Messrs Cuninghame and (I think) Bickersteth have offered explanations somewhat similar: supposing the Thunders to be emblems or warnings of the seven Vials of the seventh Trumpet. And so too Faber, S. C. i. 264—270: and Hales iii. 607.
It is to be noted however that Vitringa does not explain the vision of the Covenant- Angel’s descent, or the little book opened in his hand, of the Reformation: so that this interpretation does not involve that chronological inconsistency with itself.
Daubuz, p. 472.
Vol. ii. p. 17; ” Never perhaps in the whole history of man was there a time when the prophecies of Scripture would have been so readily held as rules of action, rather than reasons of faith: and the perfection of wisdom in respect to them (so. The prophetic Thunders) may have been even that they were not written.”*(In Dr. K.’s 8th Edition, published since my 2nd Edition, he has slightly altered his language. But his explanation, ii. 75, remains substantially the same as before.) It may be satisfactory to the reader to know the views of some chief expositors of the German school. I therefore give those subjoined. 1. Eichhorn.—The seven thunders were symbols of coming woe to Jerusalem: John not to write it, because the triumph of Christianity was much more worthy of description than the fall of Jerusalem. 2. Hienrichs.—Much the same as Eichhorn, whom he refers to. 3. M. Stuart.—The seven thunders as the seven angels, the seven spirits, &c. Ewald supposes that the thunders of the seven heavens are meant. But not a trace of this opinion can we find in the Old Testament or Apocalypse: though the Jews of the first century so thought of the heavens. Therefore we take the septenary number to indicate very loud thunder.
Apoc. i. 1: ” The revelation which God gave to him, to signify to his servants what must shortly come to pass.” In truth, for as much as the injunctions at the beginning and tlie end of the Apocalypse,—the one, (i. 19,) “write what thou hast seen,” (fee, the other, (xxii. 10,) ” Seal not up the sayings of the prophecy of this book,”—necessarily include this vision and the thunders, just as all the rest, among what was to be written and revealed, they seem of themselves sufficient to refute such interpretations as those I speak of.
John xii. 28: ” There came a voice from heaven saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered. Others said, An angel spoke to him.”
With this last idea both the noun φωναι, and the verb ελαλησαν, well suit; they being alike used, the one and the other, in sacred Scripture, for the voices of prophetic inspiration. So Acts xiii. 27, ” the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath day.” On which Kuinoel observes:φωναι των προφητων sunt prophetarum oracula, Uteris conunissa. Eteuim φωναι dicuutui’ etfata, dicta: cum ore prolata, turn Uteris tradita.” Also Acts iii. 24: ” All the prophets from Samuel, και των καθεξης όσαι ε αλαλησαν have foretold these days.” On which Kuinoel: “Verbum λαλειν de prophetarum oraciilis ft-equenter occiurit: ita ut sit oracula edere, vaticinari. Vid. Acts xxvi. 22, Heb. i. 1, 2 Pet. i. 21.”
So e. g. Matt, xxvii. 60: Εθηκεν αυτο εν τψ καινψ αύτου μνημειψ ” he laid it in his own new tomb: ” Luke xiv. 26: ” If he hate not την έαυτου ψυχην his own life also: ” Rom. Viii. 3: ό Θεος τον έαυτου ύιον πεμψας” God having sent his own Son.” Also Matt. xiii. 57, Mark vi. 4, Acts vii. 41, Rom. iv. 19, 1 Cor. Vii. 2, (where it is in apposition with τον ιδιον,) Eph. v. 28, Phil. ii. 4, 12, Jude 13, 18: and in the Apocalypse itself i. 5: ” who washed us from our sins εν τψ αιματι αύτου in his own blood.
So T. C. C. in the Investigator, Vol. iii. p. 146.
Sealing has two very different meanings: the one that of authenticating, as in John iii. 33: the other of concealing from public view. The latter is here evidently the meaning intended. So Vitringa p. 571: ” Obsignare, stylo Scripturae Veteris Testament!, est recondere, non publicare.” Compare Is. xxix. 11, and Matt, xxvii. 66. In De Maistre’s ” Pope,” (Dawson’s Transl. p. 92,) speaking of the French word cachet (a seal) fitly suggesting the verb cacher, to hide, the author is strangely incorrect in saying that among the ancients sealing was only for authentication.
In the Targum, or Chaldee Paraphrase, on Canticles ii. 14, a traditional story is told respecting Israel, when shut in between Pharaoh the sea and the wilderness, how that the congregation “opened her mouth in prayer before the Lord: and Bath Kol went out from the highest heavens: and thus it said: ‘ thou congregation of Israel, who art like to a clean dove, &c.’ ” On which Dr. A. Clarke, in an Appendix to his Commentary ad loc, thus observes. ” Frequent mention is made of this bath kol in the writings of the Jews. It was a voice from heaven which revealed secrets, foretold future events, decided controversies and directed in difficult matters. It was used in the second temple in the room of prophecy, which the Jews say then ceased. . By R. Levi Ben Gerson in 2 Sam. i. s. 27, it is thought to be a more excellent and complete kind of divination. And indeed I am inclined to think that most of those voices which go under this name were mere illusions of Satan: designed to deceive the people, and lessen the credit of those voices which were heard from heaven in the time of Christ. See Matt. iii. 17, x\’ii. 5: John xii. 28.”
Rome’s title Θεα Ρωμη is well known. And hence, says Spanheim, pp. 395, 415, it is not wonderful that her voice was spoken of as thunder: so, e. g. as by Claudian: Sen coelum seu Eoraa tonat. The same as regarded the emperors: especially the emperor Domitian reigning in St. John’s time. So Pliny Paneg. i. 90 of that emperor: ” Utrumque nostrum ille optinii cujusque spoliator et carnifex,..iactofulmine afflaverat.” And again Ep. Iii. 11: “Tot circa me jactis fulminibus quasi ambustus, mihi quoque impendere idem exitium. . augurabar.”—So again Statins, Sylv. Iii. 3. 158; attouitum, et Yentiirifulniinis ictus Horrentem, tonitru tantum lenique procella Contentus monuisse senem. Also Martial, Lib. vi, on the imperial sentence on Hetruscus: Nam tu missa tua revocasti dextra: Hos cuperem mores ignibus esse Jovis. And again of Jove and Domitian: ” Aspice Tarpeium Pallantinumque tonautem.” Spanheim, 395. All these examples refer to the imperial thunders fulminated by Domitian, St. John’s contemporary emperor.*(So Ovid, Tr. iii. 4, earlier of Augustus: “Sajvum priclustri fulmen ab araree venit.”) And it is observable that on some of Domitian’s medals he is depicted as armed with a thunderbolt in hand, or on the head. ” Ad caput imperatorium adpositum ffulmenj summam eorum et poene divinam indicat potentiam.” Rasche. On Pliny Schwartz observes: ” Fulmina vocantur animadversiones et pcenaj magnaruni potestatum: ” adding; ” Hac metaphora fi’equenter utuntur auctores.” These imperial animadversiones were received, enrolled in the archives of their office, and published, by the provincial governors.—The word ” monuisse ” in Statins intimates the intelligibility of those thunders’ voice: and the distinction between the tonitru and the fulmina, seems to be that between a condemnatory sentence uttered, and a condemnatory sentence executed. ” Non affecisse supplicio, sed monuisse errati senem Claudium,” says the Variorum Commentator.
See Vol. i.
From a rabbinical argument, drawn from the circumstance having of God’s thunders been mentioned in Ps. xlix seven times, to the effect that those thunders might properly be called seven thunders, Zullig in loc. supposes them to be what is here meant, referring to Eisenmenger i. 425. And so more recently Hengstenberg —referring to Eisenmenger i. 425. And so more recently Hengstenberg —Which view however, or one very similar to it M Sturat as we have seen, p. 102, rejects.
So Claudian on the Considship of Olybrias:collesque, canoris Plausibus impulsi, septenu voce resultant. On which says the commentator: “Universae urbis acclaniationibus septem Eomae colles resonant, et ideo scjitem remittunt voces.” Does it not seem like a direct Apoealyptic comment.” Compare too Eurip. Phcenissse, 234 Ιω λαμπουσα πετρα ΙΙυρος δικορυφον σελας ύπερ ακρων βακχειων On which the Scholiast thus observes: Λικορυφον αυτον ειπεν επειπερ εν αμφοτεπαις ταις ακραις του ΙΙαρνασσου εισιν ίερα το μεν Αρτεμιδος και Απολλωνος το δε Λιονυσου.
“Why the article is inserted here,” he says, “I am unable to discover:”— asking, as that which might solve the difficulty, ” Were the seven thunders anything well known and pre-eminent V and adding, as his own supposition, that there may probably have been a reference to some Jewish opinion, giving them this notoriety: of which however, he says, he found not a vestige. (Compare on this point, Note I p. 109.)
Indeed in the Apocalypse itself the article is emphatically prefixed, when mention is first made of the great city Rome: “This is the great city, &c.” 8, xii. 18.
e.g. such as of the seven echoes of the porch in the temple of the Olympian Jupiter, την μεν γαρ εν Ολυμπψ ς οαν απο μιας φωνης πολλας αντανακλασεις ποιοσαν έπταφωνον καλοσι at Elis, Called έπταφωνος στοα, described by Lucian, (De Mort. Pereg.) Pausanias, in Eliacis, and Plutarch, De Garrul.
The ”let” in the way of his manifestation being the imperial Roman power then reigning: and of which he needed the removal, in order to fill its place. See my Vol. i. pp. 229, 388—390: also my Vol. iii. Part iv. Ch. iii.
Apoc. xvii. 9.
2 Thess. ii. 4: Dan. vii. 8.
So in the oration of Corvinus of Naples to Pope Julius II: ” Sed me tua jussa, tua divina oracula, quae servare religiosum, detrectare nefas est, ad dicendum impulerunt.” Roscoe’s Leo X: Vol. ii. 377.—This title is still given to the Pope’s decrees. In a debate in the House of Lords, in July 1838, the Bishop of Exeter stated that the Romish Bishop of Malta could not, as he said, take the oath to the Supreme Council, till he had the oraeulum of the Pope permitting it. Again, in the Pope’s address to his Consistory on the erection of the bishop rick of Algiers, there was mention made of the Bishop of Cologne having received the Pope’s oraeulum.
Leo X glorified his predecessor Julius II by speaking of him as ” Jovem Opt- Max. qui, dextra omnipotente tenens ac nbrans trisulcum et inevitabile fulnien, solo nutu faceret quidquid vellet.
So the seven keys and seven seals in olden time depending from the Pope’s girdle, ” Delude ascendens palatium ad duas curules devenit.*(“Queste sono le due sedie porfiretiehe: ” the same that were noticed by me as in the vestibule of the Lateran, p. 60 supra.) Hie baltheo succingitur, cum septem ex eo pendentibus clavibus,†(” Ecco la prima menzione di questo rito misterioso.” Then, after other remarks: “Xon era senza niistero I’uso di attaccare al cingulo del nuovo Papa sette chiavi e sette sigilli. Poiche poterono rappresentare i sette doni dello Spirito Santo, di cui dovea [il Papa] essere rivestito, e i sette sacramenti che dovea amministrare.)septemque sigillis: ‡(“ L’unione de’ sette sigilli alle sette chiavi poteva significar esser egli I’Agnello dell Apocalisse, c. o, con le sette coma e i sette occhi, che sono i sette Spiriti spediti da Dio per tutta la terra, deguo di aprii-e i sette sigilli del libvo misterioso, scritto deutro e fuori.”) ex quo sciat se divinam septiformem Spiritus sancti gratiam, sacrarum ecclesiarum quibus Deo auctore prseest regimini, in claudendo aperiendoque tauta ratione providere debcre, quanta solennitate id quod intenditur operatur.” So the very ancient account of the pontifical inaugiuation of Pope Pascal II, in the year 1099. It is given by Cancellieri, in his Possessi Papal, p. 6: whose notes I subjoin. Again, as I think I saw it myself in the “funzioni” on Palm-Sunday, or Easter Day, Cancellieri notes the Papal practice of seven wax lights being borne before him in the grander ceremonials: “In questa citta (sc. Roma) specialmente molte efan le cose allusive a questo numero. ietfe erano i candelabri che si mandavauo avanti il PoDtefice celebrante, dalle sette rcgioni della citta, a guisa de sette candilabri d’oro descritti nell Apocalisse, i. 12.”
Apoc. xvii. 9.
Defuncto piae recordationis Honorio 3, [A.D. 1227] …. Gregorius IX, ejusimitator, assiimitur apiid sepiem solia summi Pontificis; solium, fratrum instantia devictiis, ascendeus.” Cancellieri p. 16.
xiv. 2.2.5; ” The Europeans in general were far from paying so much regard to the decrees and thunders of the Gallic Popes, as they did to those of Rome.'”
Life of Wicliff; p. 198.
So in Capito’s Elegia ad Elephantem: (Roscoe’s Leo X. App. C.) Sic Latio poteris gratissimus esse Tonanti: i. 6. to the Pope. ” Like another Salmoneus, he is proud to imitate the state and thunders of the Almighty: and is styled, and pleased to be styled, Our Lord God the Pope, another God upon earth, King of Kings and Lord of lords…I devise not this. His own books, his own decretals, his own doctors speak it.” Bishop Jewel’s Apology.
The Roman Casuist Liguori distinguishes between the limited extent of other excommunications, and the universality of those of the Popes. Let me exemplify in one of Leo Xth’s. “Qui contra mandatum hoc nostrum fecerit,..is universee Dei ecclesi e, toto orbe terrariim, expers excommunicatusque esto.” Roscoe iv. 492.
See the extracts from Luther on my pp. 122, 123 infra.
“Septem tonitrua, id est Sacra Concilia generalia Siyna quae locuta sunt septem tonitrua hoc est, deereta, definitiones, ac canones, et fulmina anathematum reiorquenda in hcereticos:—haec, tunc tacita, erant reservanda: ut pro suo tempore coiivocarentur Concilia: in quibus, Spiritu Sancto dictante, Veritas Catholica erat explicanda, haereses que damnandfe.” Silveira in loc. He takes the seven in its abstract symbolic sense, as the sacred universal number: but misses its singular Roman appropriateness.
“The Pope has consecrated by his actions all that is noble, just, and holy in the people’s efforts for freedom. Now Religion, as she ought, leads revolutions: and the Church floats above the ranks of freedom. Rome, the capital of the Christian world, now takes her proper place at the head of universal development: and from her seven hills seven thunders utter their voices, proclaiming that liberty and religion are henceforth inseparable.” So a writer, signed Alba no, in the ” Nation, a Dublin Journal, of March 11, 1848. (A statement and sentiment somewhat curious to read in 1860, as I am passing my 5th Edition through the press!)
Even in unfigurative Scripture, we may observe, this representative principle often holds. Thus when Christ said, ” I am with you always, even to the end of the world,” he evidently regarded the whole succession of faithful ministers as summed up in the apostles before him. And so too in St. Paul, ” Take heed to thyself and to this doctrine; ” and again, “Then we which- are alive, and remain, shall be caught up, &c.”—The same in the Old Testament perpetually. So, for instance, in the precept, ” Thou shalt teach them to thy children: ” a precept intended for Israel’s successive generations. In some passages the pronoun means future generations only. So Dent. xii. 14; “In the place which the Lord shall choose, there shalt thou offer thy burnt-offerings, &c.: ” which could only apply to Israel from the time of Solomon building his temple at Jerusalem.
See Vol. I.—Among ancient Apocalyptic expositors, Tichonius, Primasius, and Ambrosius Ansbertus may be specified as having recognised this principle of interpretation: and the two latter partially carried it into their interpretation of the vision we are discussing. Primasius on Apoc. v. 4, ” I wept much because no one was found to open the Book,” (a passage similarly explained by me. Vol. I. p. 95) thus first announces the principle; “Ecclesia in Johanne flebat: ” and Ambrosius Ansbertus: ” Non in sua persona flevisse creditur: Ecclesiam in sua persona flevisse creditur…cujus hoc in loco figui’am gerit.”—Again on the passage before us Ansbertus observes; “Dicatur igitur Johanni, imo unieuique prcEdicatori in Johanne, Sigua qua3 locuta sunt septem tonitrua, et noli ea scribere.” —I shall in a subsequent chapter quote at large both his and Primasius’ application of the principle, in explaining verses 9—11 of this 10th Chapter. See pp. 153, 154 infra. Among the moderns Vitringa, Daubuz, Cunningham (p. 89), &c., have also (as observed Vol. I. p. 303) stated the principle. But, excepting Daubuz, the use they have made of it is very small; and what they have made seems from its fitfulness and inconsistency almost valueless.
Compare particularly Vol. I.
See Vol. I.
“The commission received by him,” says M. Merle (i. 194), “was like one of those extraordinary ones, received by the prophets under the old dispensation, by the apostles under the new.” Again, p. 204: ” It was thus that Luther joined hands with St. Paul across fifteen centuries:” and, as Michele intimates, (i. 59, 278,) with St. John, as much as with St. Paul.—Among the medals struck at the Reformation we/find one -with this legend round Luther’s portrait, Lutherus Propheta Germanice: others with the legend, Tertius Elias. See Junckner, Vita Lutheri, pp. 24, 402.
This is evident from what he tells us of his original feelings of horror at Huss and Hussite doctrines, and his astonishment on at length finding them to be agreeable to the Gospel.
Merle, i. 269. “Cursed,” it was said in one of them, (the 71st,) “be he that doubts it!” ib. 266. Supra.
The two extracts are from two Prefaces by Luther, the one to an Edition of his Theses, published after the termination of the dispute about indulgences, the other to an Edition of his Works, published in 154-5, i. e. 28 years after the beginning of the dispute.—See Milner pp. 683, 684: also Merle i. 209.
Michelet, i. 58.
“Quare, beatissime Pater, prostratum me pedibus tuae Beatitudinis oiFero, cumomnibus quse sum et habeo. Vivifica, occide, voca, revoca, approba, reproba, ut placuerit. Vocem tuam vocem Christi in te praesidentis et loquentis agnoscam.” This was in Luther’s first Letter to the Pope, written May 30, 1518. Merle i. 343.
“Quod palam scribimus,” says Ansbertus, “ad cunctorum notitiam deducimus.” Compare Hab. ii. 2: ” Write the vision, and make it plain on tables, that he may run that reads it.” Similar to this was the mode of promulgating imperial decrees among the ancient Romans. And the same afterward in regard of Conciliar Decrees and Papal Bulls. It was by writing them that they were published, on reception in any country. So Justinian, after the Constantinopolitan Council in 536. (Hard. ii. 1410.) So again Pope Paul II, A.D. 1469, to the Archbishop of Lyons, in accompaniment of a Bull of Excommunication against George de Pogiebrat and the Hussites. Paul thus directs its promulgation:—that it should be affixed in some public place, that all who -wished might read or transcribe (legere ycI inde exemplum transcribere): also that it should be read in the vulgar tongue before the people, in all city churches, three times in the year, at certain high festivals: and that, in order to all this, he, the Archbishop, was to send an attested copy of the Pope’s original Bull, transcribed literally by a notary public, to all his suffragans: “juxtaidioma unius cujusque loci publican facias; transmittens singulis ipsoruin suffraganeorum uuuin, transumptmn ad litteram originalis ipsius nostri, manu propii notarii, coram testibus, ac tuo pendenti sigillo roboratura.” Harduin ix. 1490. Also ib. 1593, of Pope Julius’ Bull; and x. 7 of that of Paul III for the Convocation of the Council of Trent.
See my Note i, p. 287, Vol. I: where this Papal advocacy in the 16th century of the opus opera turn of sacraments is noticed in my sketch of the earliest development of this first principle of the Apostasy, about the end of the 4th century.—Dean Waddington, Ref. i. 158, shows that Cardinal Cajetan would have compromised on this point, if Luther would have yielded about the indulgences. Luther was alike firm on either point. M. Merle has incorrectly predicated the same of the Cardinal also.
So in the Preface to his works already quoted from; “I felt assured .1 should have the Pope on my side.” Milner 684.
The disputation took place at Leipsic, June 27, 1519, and lasted till July 16. — The challenge had been given by Eck some time previous.
Eck had published thirteen Propositions against the heresies of Lutheranism. Of these his first, and that on which he mainly grounded his confidence, was that the Pope was Christ’s Vicar, and successor to St. Peter. ” Nous nions que I’eglise Romaine n’ait pas et6 elevee audessus des autres eglises avant le tems du pape Sylvestre: et nous reconnaissons en tout tems comme successeur de St. Pierre, et Vicaire de Jesus Christ, celui qui a occupe le siege de St. Pierre, et qui a eu sa foi.” Merle ii. 20.
Dec. 11, 1518. So Waddiiigton i. 201.
It may seem strange that, if in the middle of December of 1518 Luther had begun to have thoughts respecting the Pope being Antichrist, he should in the April of 1519 have written to Spalatinus that he had no thought of separating from Rome. But the following extract will explain it to us. In a letter to the Augiistines of Wittenberg, dated Nov. 1521, he thus recounts all that passed in his mind in the interval, and the manner in which he resisted, and for a time silenced, the thought as sinful. ” Oh! qu’il m’en a coute de peine, quoique j’eusse I’ecriture de mon cote, pour me justifies par devant moi meme de ce que seiil j’osai m’elever centre le Pape, et le tenir pour 1′ Antichrist, &c.!—Ainsi je me debattais avec moimeme: jusqu’a ce que Jesus Christy par sa propre et infallible parole, me fortifiSt, et dressat mon cceur contra cet argument.” Michelet i. 277.
Merle d’Aub. ii. 13. Wadd. i. 201. The passage is one that I shall again have
to refer to, when expounding Apoc. xi. 8.
“I would not for 100,000 florins but have seen Rome.” Merle i. 186.
“Rise up, Lord!…Rise up, Peter!…Let the universal Church of God’s saints and doctors rise up, &c.” See the Bull in Foxe v. 660.
“By the Spaniards, when they receive the Pope’s Bulls, if they like them they are registered and published, i. e. executed accordingly. But if they do not like them, they are set by, being first lapped up, and no more is said about them. This they call plegar la Bulla, to fold up, or seal up, the Bull: i. e. to stop or hinder the execution of it, as being contrary to their customs or rights.” Simon’s Lettres Choisies: ap. Daubuz, 473: who however only quotes it in illustration of his own singular and totally different explanation of the clause, noticed by me p. 103 supra.
Compare Isa. viii. 16; “Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples: ” where the binding up and sealing are, as in the above example, coincident. This passage is cited by Macknight in his comment on Heb. ii. 13: and he explains it to signify’ that the whole Mosaic economy was to be laid aside. He cites also σφραγισαι άμαρτιας , Dan. ix. 24, as used in a similar sense.—Compare my Note S p. 120, on the writing of Papal Bulls by Ecclesiastical functionaries, as a token of recognition of their authority.
Dec. 10, 1520.
“The Pontiff without law, to gratify his own arrogance, has ever lightened and thundered with puffed-out checks. It was all in vain for a man to give credence to the four Gospels, if he did not receive the Decretals of the Romish Church. These are the seven thunders of Papal intimidation in Apoc. x.” So in the Tischreden. And also in his ” Treatise on the Keys,” (Smith’s Transl. p. 44,) published in 1530. It may be well to give the Original German of this remarkable passage. ” Gross ist des Bapst’s Tyraimey gewest: der, ohne gesetz, (ό ανομος ) nach all seinem Muthwillen, geWitzt, und mit vollen auftgeblazenem Backen also gedonnert hat …. Das sind dw sieben Donner des Bapst’s drawunges in der Affenbarung.”
Luther’s Reply (which is given complete in Fox, Vol. v. 671—676) bore date Dec. 1, 1520: and was entitled, An Answer to the execrable Bull of Antichrist. ” I hold,” he says in it, ” the author of this Bull to be Antichrist, and Rome the kingdom of Antichrist.” “Is not thy whorish face ashamed,” he adds, “to set the vanities of thy naked words against the thunderbolts of God’s eternal word?” Again: ” Dost thou not show thyself to be the adversary, extolled above all that is called God? Art thou not that man of sin that denieth God the Redeemer .” ” And then to Christian princes: ” Ye have given your names to Christ in baptism: and can ye now abide these infernal voices (Tartareas voces) such an Antichrist?”
Held from Jan. 6 to May 8, A.D. 1521.—Luther’s arrival at Worms was on the 16th of April, his departure April 27: the former about four months therefore after his burning the Pope’s Bull.
Merle d’Aubigne, ii. 172; ” Si une idee humaine a une telle force, quel pouvoir n’aura pas une| idee deseendue du del, quand Dieu lui ouvre la porte des coeurs! ” He observes that the world has not often seen this: instancing but two examples: the first that of the opening era of Christianity, the second this of the Reformation. He adds, with reference to a yet more glorious coming exemplification, ” Et il le verraen des jours futurs.”
lb. ii. 178.