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throne of Germany; and that then the drama, tremendous to the Papal see, opened. It has already been ob. seryed, that the commencement of the vials must have been the opening of a new and fatal series of judgments on the Papal system. But no such event took place till the above period; notwithstanding the judgment of the second woe, and other calamities.
The fanatical crusades to the Holy land, in the elev. enth and twelfth centuries, in which it has been supposed the second vial was poured out, though they were in themselves bloody and dismal, yet tended to the confirming of the Papal domination. Upon those crusades, Dr. Lowman has the following sentence; "In effect no policy could have so well served the Pope's ambition, nor any mean be better suited to render his authority supreme and absolute.•'* Was this then a vial of wrath upon the Papacy? Those events gave the Pope the management of the alms, legacies and revenues, poured in, in vast profusion, for the support of those wars. He had in effect the supreme control of all those operations; which vastly established his influ. ence. At the same time those wild expeditions laid a foundation to meliorate the state of Europe; and to cause light to dawn upon the barbarous ages. The travelling of such multitudes of ignorant beings abroad from their own cells, into other regions, and particularly through Constantinople, that ciiy of knowledge and refinement, gave them new ideas of the world, of what man is capable, and of the benefits of civilization. This had a beneficial effect upon those, who lived to return; and they communicated it to others. The crusades tended to the establishment of civilized governments, instead of the anarchy of the feudal times, by drawing away contentious barons, who perished in the expeditions, and whose fiefs reverted to their kings. And the kings of the west of Europe had been enabled to purchase vast tracts of territory from the chiefs of the wild adventurers, who calculated on new possessions: in the east. This did considerable towards retrieving
* On Rev. p. 181.
the miseries of the dark and feudal ages. Commerce also received a spring from the crusades. The procuring of supplies for the thousands, and hundreds of thousands, who embarked in those expeditions, suggested the idea of barter and trade, especially in Italy. And rapid advances were made in this most gainful and civilizing art, by the Lombards and others; till the spirit of commerce spread through most of Europe. Light in the art of civil governojent soon increased; and Charters of Communities under the crown; or towns, with_incorporate privileges, were established in Italy and France, and finally through Europe, and took the place of the wretched petty baronies of the feudal ages.* Chivalry, or the order of knighthood, which followed, and aided the melioration of those days;-—having “valor, humanity, courtesy, justice, and honor,” for its professed characteristics; and the redress of the oppressed, under the feudal barons, for its professed object-operated as a favorable mean of refinement and civilization from the barbarity of the dark ages. Men were trained to this order by an appropriate discipline, and admitted with solemn forms. Its honors were sought as of high importance; and monarchs were proud to receive them from the hands of private gentlemen. And on the taking of Constantinople by the Turks, in 1453, many of its inhabitants fled, with their books and literature, to the more western parts of Europe; and happily aided there the revival of learning.
These things fast prepared the way to overtàrn the impositions of Popery; and to strip from the eyes of men, the bandages of delusion and superstition. At the same time these approaches toward light and civilization, brought forward a system of preparations for the most desolating scenes of Divine judgment on Papal nations; as will appear under the succeeding vials. Standing armies, disciplined troops, were not known in Europe, after the days of the Cæsars, and the northern invasions, till this period. Charles II, king of France, now introduced the practice. This, while it confounded the aris:
Robertson's Hist. Ch. V, vol. i, p. 31-40.
tocracies of the feudal barons, opened the door for new scenes of extensive and desolating wars. The idea of the balance of power, for the mutual interest of the European nations, was conceived at this period; a principle, which however necessary, often, in after days, involved the nations of Europe in a general blaze of war.* Tactics and the arts of war were from this period studied. Gunpowder and firearms had not long before been invented: -Refined instruments for a new period of judgments! The art of printing also, to facil. itate their progress in the arts of war, as well as in arts more beneficial to society, was now considerably im. proved; having been invented about a century before. Every thing had been conspiring to prepare the way for a new and inost interesting era of events. And every thing indicated that, with all its rich advantages of increasing light and civilization, that era was to open a period of terror and devastation to the Papal see. Great generals were raised up. Most ambitious rivals came to the thrones of the most powerful nations. Charles V, king of Spain, was elected to fill the Imperial throne of Germany. And he was formed with powers and ámbition, and accommodated with dominions and opportunity, to be a scourge to man! Francis I, who had been a violent competitor with Charles for the Imperial crown, and was his powerful rival, was on the throne of France. Henry VIII, ready to unite in any object of enterprise and ambition, was king of England. And Solyman, formed for war and enterprise, was emperor of the Turks. Such a preparation of executioners of the Divine judgments, could not have risen, and been placed in their posts, without vast design in Providence. And it is allowed that a new era of most important affairs commenced with the sixteenth century, after the long reign of darkness and Papal superstition. Dr. Robertson remarks, “Accordingly the sixteenih century opened with the certain prospect of its abounding with great and interesting events.”+ And such events
Robertson's Hist. Ch. V, vol. i, p. 107.
+ Hist. Ch. V. vol. i, p. 145.
did in fact take place. The Pope himself, (till now unshaken,) in the view of these preparations, trembled, and predicted the approaching ruin of the Papal see! as will be noted under the next vial. To this period then, we must look for the commencement of the vials of Divine wrath on the Papal Beast.
And when this apparatus, which has been hinted, and will more fully appcar under the next vial, was prepared, the first most natural and necessary step would be, to draw the curtain, to expose the wicked delusions of the system now destined to ruin; and that God's elect might be called out of that sinking Sodom. This must have been the design of the first vial.
Accordingly this scene opened. Martin Luther, a pious Augustine monk, a man of prime natural and acquired abilities, remarkably fitted by Providence for the purpose, and a professor of philosophy in the university at Wittemberg, became disgusted and alarmed at the inpious sale of indulgences; and openly preached against it, in 1517. This was a few years before Charles V came to the Imperial throne. This most licentious and abominable practice of Pope Leo X, of vending pardons for all past sins, and liberties to commit any sins in future, for certain sums of money, and conveying official diplomas, sealing the pardon and indulgences in the name of Christ, was the occasion of opening that series of evils to the Papal see, which was to issue in its total ruin. Luther raised his warning voice against this wickedness; and was led on, to discover and expose all the abominations of the Papal system. Others followed him. And their success was astonishing.
I cannot in this short work, and need not, give the history of the reformation. I shall only hint some things, in which it will appear, that the man of sin now received a deadly wound, in the exposure of the abominations of his system, which was now presented to the nations as a noisome, grievous ulcer.
Great attention was soon paid to the preaching of Luther. Some of the first characters in Germany had been inwardly vexed, that such vast sums of property were collected from among their people, for indulgen
ces; that the people were thus drained of their money, at such expense of their morals; and all under the cloak of religion. And the intrigues, oppressions and licentiousness of many of the ecclesiastical German princes, and of the Papal clergy, had been a source of vexation. These things prepared people to listen to the preaching of Luther. And his proselytes became nu
After some fruitless attempts of the Papal party to silence Luther, and to extinguish his light, the Pope published against him a bull of excommunication; and demanded, that the law against heretics should be executed upon him. Upon this Luther declared the Pope to be the man of sin; and publicly burnt the Pope's bull against him, and his own Papal books. At the diet of German princes, at Worms, called to suppress the new religious commotions, the emperor Charles labored to procure the destruction of Luther.
Upon this, Luther retired for a season from public view, and translated the Bible into the German language; which was of infinite service to the reformation. The wars which soon broke out between the emperor and the king of France, of which Italy was the bloody theatre, for a long course of years, (as will be noted in the next vial) prevented both the Pope and the emperor from being able to crush the reformation. Providence de. signed that the Pope should have other business to engage his attention; being placed between two fires; warring and intriguing; sometimes on the one side, and sometimes on the other, of the two great rival champions of Europe, Charles and Francis; and in continual scenes of danger and vexation.
The same cause prevented the emperor from being able to oppose the reformation to any effect. So urgent and precarious were the affairs of Charles abroad, that he viewed it bad policy, if not dangerous, to provoke those German princes, who had favored the cause of the reformation. And indeed Charles himself, being often embroiled with the intrigues and power of the Pope uniting with the king of France against him, as often secretly rejoiced to see the abominations of the Pope exposed, and hiş influence thereby curtailed. And at