« ElőzőTovább »
"lution of conforming to it in every particular. "The whole assembly was amazed at a declara"tion so unprecedented and unconstitutional, as "well as at the Elector's presumption in pre
tending to deliver the sense of the diet upon a point which had not hitherto been the subject "of consultation or debate. But not one mem"ber had the courage to contradict what the "Elector had said; some being overawed by fear, others remaining silent through complaisance. The Emperor held the Archbishop's "declaration to be a full constitutional ratification " of the Interim, and prepared to enforce the observance of it as a decree of the empire*."
That such a system could meet with the approbation of the protestants, was not to be expected; such of them therefore as refused to adopt it, were compelled by force. The great protestant princes of the empire, the Elector Palatine, the Elector of Brandenburg, and Maurice, on whom the Emperor had conferred the electorate of Saxony, yielded implicit obedience: the captive Landgrave of Hesse, eager to procure his freedom, offered not only to approve of the Interim, but to submit unreservedly to Charles in every other particular but in the imperial cities he met with a very violent opposition. Force however soon constrained these small commonwealths to acquiesce. The Emperor's first attempt was
*Robertson's Hist. of Charles V. vol. iii. p. 163, 164, 165.
upon Augsburg. Having seized the gates with his troops, he abolished the government of the city, and conferred the future administration of it upon a small number of persons, each of whom took an oath to observe the Interim. "An act of power, so unprecedented as well as arbitrary,
gave general disgust; but, as they durst not "venture upon resistance, they were obliged to "submit in silence. From Augsburg, in which "he left a garrison, he proceeded to Ulm; and, "new modelling its government with the sanie " violent hand; he seized such of their pastors as "refused to subscribe the Interim, committed "them to prison, and at his departure carried "them along with him in chains. By this se"verity he not only secured the reception of "the Interim in two of the most powerful cities, "but gave warning to the rest what such as "continued refractory had to expect. The "effect of the example was as great as he could "have wished; and many towns, in order to
save themselves from the like treatment, found "it necessary to comply with what he enjoined. "This obedience, extorted by the rigour of
authority, produced no change in the senti"ments of the Germans, and extended no far"ther than to make them conform so far to "what he required, as was barely sufficient to
screen them from punishment. The protestant preachers accompanied those religious rites, the observation of which the Interim prescribed,
with such an explication of their tendency, as "served rather to confirm than to remove the
scruples of their hearers, with regard to them. "The people, many of whom had grown up to "mature years since the establishment of the "reformed religion, and had never known any "other form of public worship, beheld the
pompous pageantry of the popish service with ❝contempt or horror; and in most places the "Romish ecclesiastics, who returned to take ·"' possession of their churches, could hardly be <t protected from insult, or their ministrations "from interruption. Thus, notwithstanding the
apparent compliance of so many cities, the "inhabitants, being accustomed to freedom, sub"mitted with reluctance to the power which now oppressed them. Their understanding, as well as inclination, revolted against the doc"trines and ceremonies imposed on them; and, though for the present they concealed their
disgust and resentment, it was evident that "these passions could not always be kept under "restraint, but would break out at last in effects proportional to their violence*."
Such was the manner in which Charles "bent "the stubborn spirit of the Germans to general "submission." Strasburg and Constance experienced the same fate as Augsburg and Ulm; and last of all, after enduring the miseries of a long
* Robertson's Hist. of Charles V. vol. iii. also p. 202, 203, 204.
P. 172, 173. See
protracted siege, Magdeburg was compelled to surrender, and to receive the Interim as a system of faith.
To apply these historical facts to prophecy : Since the death of the witnesses denotes their ceasing to be witnesses, since the instrument of inflicting this death is the Roman beast, under his last or Gothico-imperial head, and since the representative of this head at the era of the reformation (to which the terms of the prophecy seem most naturally to direct us) was Charles the fifth; I conceive, that the death of the witnesses, which took place subsequent to and in consequence of the beast's waging war against them, was effected by their constrained reception of the Interim. For, by receiving such a system, they ceased for a time to be witnesses of the everlasting Gospel; or, in the figured language of prophecy, they were slain. But the diet were compelled to give their sanction to the Interim on the 15th of May 1548: from this time therefore, or rather perhaps from the time when the Emperor, after the dissolution of the diet, ordered the Interim to be published and enforced, which happened somewhat later*, the three days and a half, during which the witnesses were to lie dead, must be computed t.
Robertson's Hist. of Charles V. vol. iii. p. 166.
+ Brightman refers this prophecy to the same period with myself, but with a very important difference in the particular application of it. He thinks, that the witnesses were slain in
The witnesses were now prophetically dead: but they were not long to continue so; their tenets were neither forgotten, nor wholly removed out of sight, as is the case when a dead body is hidden in the grave: hence it is said, that, although slain themselves, their remains were not buried. I have already stated the time when, and the power by which, they were to be slain; it will now be proper to consider the place where their dead bodies were thus exposed. This was the
the battle of Muhlberg, which, as we have seen, was fought on the 24th of April 1547; and that they were raised from the dead, and stood again upon their feet at Magdeburg, when, about three years and a half after the battle of Muhlberg, the Magdeburgers took up arms in opposition to the Interim.
I had once adopted this opinion; but a more mature copsideration convinces me that it is erroneous. Although the protestants were completely routed at Muhlberg, the witnesses cannot, in the prophetic sense of the words, be said to have been slain, because they had not ceased to be witnesses. They did not cease to bear their testimony, until they were constrained to accept the Interim. Then, and not till then, were they slain. So again: the revival of the witnesses, their standing upon their feet, and the great fear of their enemies, certainly describe a complete change in the state of the witnesses, a commencement of prosperity succeeding their former depressed condition. But, when the Magdeburgers took up arms, they took them up unsuccessfully, being compelled, after a long siege, to surrender their city and to receive the Interim..
* Possibly this expression may covertly allude to the Emperor's carrying about with him in triumph those poor remains of the vanquished protestants, the Elector and the Landgrave, and exposing them every where as a spectacle to the Germans. See Hist. of Charles V. vol. iii. p. 135, 173: