« VorigeDoorgaan »
and his name that sat on him was Death, and hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over a fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth." The finishing stroke to the establishment of that power which brought such desolation and calamities upon the Roman empire, and introduced that spiritual "death," and those temporal evils, which from this time, for a THOUSAND YEARS Onward, darkened the face of society, was formally given by the celebrated Edict of the Emperor Justinian, in A.D. 533. This individual, whom God raised up to perform so important a part in the world, was of a character totally different from the generality of the weak, voluptuous, and effeminate emperors of this period.
He was a great conqueror, legislator, and theologian; and his reign is characterized by events far out of the common order of things. The empire of the West being extinguished, he, as sole remaining emperor of the Roman world-as conqueror (by means of his generals Belisarius and Narses) of the Arian nations of the West; as champion of the professedly orthodox faith; and as the promulgator of that celebrated code of laws, which is, up to the present time, the basis of European jurisprudence; he was undoubtedly the legitimate authority for regulating the ecclesiastical con
cerns of the whole empire; and any decree, therefore, with his seal, was proportionably influential, effective, and binding.
The edict, therefore, which in the month of March, A.D. 533, was issued by this Emperor, acknowledging the Pope HEAD OF ALL THE CHURCHES, and of all the holy priests; and giving the saints, and the times, and the laws of the church, into his hands; was all that could be required to give life and efficiency to the Papal power, and fully to establish its ecclesiastical dominion. It has been said, that only commentators of the present age have noticed this edict, to which so much importance is now attached. But this is a mistake; for, although it is true that public attention had not particularly been directed to it, previous to the French Revolution; yet, besides Dr. Cressener, and Mr. Mann of the Charter-house (as noticed by other writers), Dr. Gill, above eighty years ago, alludes to the circumstance of "Justinian the Emperor, in the sixth century, ordaining the prerogative of honour to the Pope of Rome, and confirming that he should have the FIRST SEAT, and after him, the Archbishop of Constantinople." (Vol. I. p. 6,of Sermons and Tracts.)
The promulgation of this important edict appears, in fact, beyond all contradiction, to form the real and true commencement of the Papal power; and as such, in allusion to the
dreadful state of things which it introduced, the hieroglyphical representation of this seal, to use the language of Mr. Cuninghame, "is of the most horrid and terrific nature, and points out to us a period when the rulers of the visible church should seem to lose the characters of men, and to assume that of malignant demons and savage beasts, and should extirpate, by fire and sword, all who dared to prefer death to the sacrifice of a good conscience. This seal," he adds, "evidently represents the state of the church during those ages, when the FLAMES OF PERSECUTION Were kindled by the Papal power, to destroy all who refused obedience to its tyrannical authority, and who pretended to judge for themselves in matters of religion." "The word used to express the colour of the horse, signifies a grassy green hue, which, though beautiful in the clothing of the trees and fields, is very unseemly, disgusting, and even horrible, when it appears upon flesh; it is there the livid colour of corruption." "The character of the rider corresponds with this idea: his name is called Death, the KING OF TERRORS. He is followed by Hell-not the place of punishment for the wicked, but the general receptacle of departed souls;" shewing, in a very lively point of view, the havock which death would make, and that in its most terrific forms, under the operation of this seal.
As this is one of the great occasions when both symbolical and chronological prophecy point to the same event, it will consequently become more particularly the subject of future consideration in this work, as forming the commencement of the ALLOTED DURATION of this awful imposture, which will be found under the head of the "Seventh Period, or the GREAT PERIOD of 1260 Years," to which the reader is referred.
THE FIFTH SEAL.
"I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held; and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth ? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow-servants also, and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled."
After the full establishment of Popery, by means of the four preceding homogeneous seals, no event occurred, either in the Eastern or Western Empire, having the seal of government, and bearing the characters of a prophetical æra, for above a THOUSAND YEARS. And in a prophetical period, whose duration was to consist of a thousand two hundred and sixty years, such an in
terval must of necessity occur, if we consider that, according to the analogy of other prophecies, these eras have respect only to the RISE and FALL of great ruling powers, and not to events which happen in the intermediate spaces of time. And it is evident, that, by the observance of such a rule, one great end of prophecy must be more fully answered, in turning the attention of mankind more especially to the most IMPORTANT CHANGES, which God in his providence has determined to bring about in the world; and that they are thereby more directly led to perceive that it is His hand, and His ALONE, that rules all the affairs of nations..
In the whole of this long interval of a thousand years, during which Popery reigned triumphant over the Western world, the remnant of the true church, which God had reserved to himself uncorrupted in doctrine and practice, fled into the fastnesses, which in Rev. xii. it is declared He had prepared for her in "the wilderness," where she was "nourished" until the glorious era of the REFORMATION. At this time the Roman Pontiffs were slumbering in a state of the most perfect fancied security, little apprehensive of any approaching storm; and still less so, that one, which was to shake their throne to its very base, would arise from the preaching of an obscure monk.
But so it was and the unexampled success