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true sense of the sacred writings, and to model their lives and manners after the precepts and example of the divine Saviour, was extremely small, and such had some difficulty in escaping the gibbet, in an age when virtue and sense were looked upon as heretical."'*
« This miserable state of things, this enormous perversion of religion and morality, throughout almost all the western provinces, were observed and deplored by many wise and good men, who all endeavoured, though in different ways, to stem the torrent of superstition, and to reform a corrupt church. The Waldenses, though persecuted and oppressed on all sides, and from every quarter, raised their voices even in their remote vallies and lurking places, where they were driven by the violence of their enemies, and called aloud for succour to the expiring cause of religion and virtue. Even in Italy, many, and among others the famous Savanavola, had the courage to declare, that Rome was become the image of Babylon; and this notion was adopted by multitudes of all ranks and conditions. But the greatest part of the clergy and monks, persuaded that their honours, influence, and riches would diminish in proportion to the increase of kuowledge among the people, and would receive inexpressi. ble detriment from the downfall of superstition, opposed, with all their might, every thing that had the remotest aspect of a reformation, and imposed silence upon these unfortunate censors by the formidable authority of fire and sword.”+
« The additions that were made to the Roman ritual, relating to the worship of the Virgin Mary, public and private prayers, the traffic of indulgences, and other things of that nature, are of too little importance to deserve an exact and circumstantial enumeration. We need not such a particular detail to convince us, that, in this century, religion was reduced to a mere show, to a show composed of pompous absurdities and splended trifles." *
The rest of the men, i. 1.-" throughout almost all the western provinces," repented not of the works of their hands ; each new pontificate added to the superstitious rites of the church, and the greatest part of the clergy opposed reformation with all their might.
They repented not of their MURDERS-heresy, or the pure worship of God, was repressed with of fire and sword ;” and any virtuous man who dared to confess Christ before men, and to hold to the simplicity of the faith, could scarcely escape the gibbet ; and the vallies of Piedmont continued to be stained with the blood of the Waldenses, the purest in Christendom. They repented not of their SORCERIES. The grossest fictions and the most extravagant inventions continued to be practised. The power of miracles was as needful as ever in the Catholic church, to vindicate its assumptions, sustain its power, and supply the lack of virtue. And to palm on the world a belief in the efficacy of indulgences, and in a thousand other superstitious fooleries,—to warp the minds of men in such 6 strong delusion” and belief of lieswere such acts of sorcery as were never surpassed by all the artifice of mortals.—They repented not of their FORNICATION. - The licentiousness and sen. suality” of the monks towards the close of the fifteenth century, were aggravated rather than abated ; and if the papal chair could have admitted of a deeper stain, the 6 debaucheries” of Alexander VI. would have tinged it. Neither repented they of their THEFTS. “ The rights and privileges of others were encroached on” by greedy mendicant monks. The sale of indulgences ; the purchased sentence of absolution; masses said for the dead, when paid for by the living; hundreds of monasteries held in commendam, given to those who were not regularly invested with office, and by whom no duty was done; and all manner of gifts and precious things extorted from the people in honour of the saints,—were all augmented rather than diminished during the fifteenth century, and grew still more and more numerous towards its close : and, in moral estimation, these are all mere modes of robbery and acts of theft,
from which neither the first nor yet the second woe deterred the church of Rome. None of their corruptions were cured; none of their iniquities were abandoned. The men that were not killed, continued in their sins and other judgments had yet to arise, before the world would learn righteousness.
“ Constantinople,” says Gibbon, after having described its fall, “ no longer appertains to the Roman historian ; and it is before the sepulchre of the martyr that the new sultans are girded with the swORD of empire.— The remaining fragments of the Greek kingdom in Europe and Asia I shall abandon to the Turkish arms; but the final extinction of the two last dynasties which have reigned in Constantinople, should terminate the decline and fall of the Roman empire in the east.”
A false philosophy, often a mere idolizing of the works of nature, and sometimes, as if copying dark superstition, of the memories of the dead, might have wisdom to receive a warning and to bear a rebuke, from the palpable manifestation of the punishment of idolatry and vice. They who reject 6 the everlasting covenant” need not look unprofitably to the fate of those who broke it.
And before passing from the observation of the second woe and closing the volumes of Gibbon, it may not be superfluous to remark, how all his industry and genius were unconsciously devoted to the task of showing the form in which a portion of the revelation of Jesus Christ was developed. He who, by a strange speculation, which demonstrates nothing but the aberrations of a vigorous mind, strove to show how the gospel was propagated by secondary causes, when all the powers of the world and all the passions of men were arrayed against it, has himself proved, by the toil of twenty years, and thousands of accu
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mulated facts, that such causes hold but a subordipate rank even in the revolutions of earthly kingdoms, and that there is a first Great Cause which controls them all, and overrules them with supreme dominion. To the purposes of the Most High, the labours of sceptics, as well as the ravages of heathens, may all be made alike subservient. And they who, following in the wake of Gibbon, would consign the work that was of God to the sole agency of secondary causes, and think that the gospel of his Son was the device of human wisdom, and its propagation through the world the mere effect of human means, may look to the result of all their master's labours, which fix him for ever as a commentator on the apocalypse; and, witnessing the suicidal act, they may gird on that sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, before - the sepulchre of the martyr” to a vain philosophy, which, instead of a crown of glory, can at best requite its self-immolated victims with nothing but the poisonous breath of human praise, while it shuts them out from that kingdom, compared to which the throne of the Cæsars was a bauble, their sceptre a straw, and all the history of their empire, like a dream when one awaketh. Empires and men may each have their day : but the word of God abideth for ever.
From the first founder of the Persian empire to the last of the Cæsars, we have seen the truth of that word traced down from point to point, and the character and order of all the successive eras marked, as a " local habitation," was given them in the Scriptures, before they had a name on earth. And now. at last, bordering again on modern times, and looking on dominions that still exist, little else but one grand moral revolution remains to be seen ; and, in the direct line of prophetic history, nothing but the connecting link between it and another revolution