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the 'False Prophet' of persecuting pagan philosophy. The first is already wounded by the power of the cross, whereby it is finally to be destroyed. Its final overthrow is set forth in the fall and ruin of the mystical Babylon. This is described in terms derived partly from the overthrow of the city of Rome by the barbarian tribes, and partly from that irremediable destruction of the power of heathenism, which so nearly synchronized with it. That the city of Home should rise anew from its ashes, under the patronage of the Christian Church, is no real difficulty, considering that it is in truth a new city; and moreover that Babylon continued to exist for centuries, and was the seat of a flourishing Jewish synagogue, after that overthrow by Cyrus which had been described by the prophets. la these cases it was the fall from power, and not the absolute annihilation of the place, which was contemplated. And if this was not fully understood by the contemporary Fathers, it must be remembered that they could not as yet be sure that the overthrow of Borne by Attila would be the final close of its imperial greatness; though, indeed, the Scriptural statements respecting the fall of Babylon were applied to this event by various writers. It is sufficient to refer to S. Jerome's Commentary on Ezekiel, and to his 97th and 98th letters, or to the statements of S. Augustin in his 'De Civitate Dei,' and his • Retractationes,' as showing that they looked upon that which had already taken place, as the destruction of Borne. 'So
* interesting a contrast of greatness and ruin,' says Gibbon, 'disposed the fond credulity of the people to deplore, and even 'to exaggerate the afflictions of the queen of cities. The clergy,
* who applied to recent events the lofty metaphors of oriental
* prophecy, were sometimes tempted to confound the destruction
* of the capital and the dissolution of the globe.'
We have seen, then, in what way Satan opposed Christ, in those first three regions in which his power was severally exerted. But what is to be the nature of that opposition which is to arise from the fourth region—the abyss? The Beast, it seems, is to emerge from the abyss, as the enemy of the Church of God, as he has done from the sea. And when does the vision teach us to expect this, but when Satan, who has been cast into the abyss, is released from it? As the Beast rose from the sea, when Satan came down upon it, so may he be expected to rise out of the abyss when Satan comes out of it. So that this first opposition to the Church of God, for which Gog and Magog are to collect their hosts, implies the rising of a Beast from the abyss, in whom the old Pagan principle of antipathy to the Christian Church is to be repeated. The ascendancy which the Church has possessed since the era of Constantine, and the position which it has occupied in relation to the worldly power, is to give place again to some such state of things as prevailed previously to the destruction of the Pagan empire. As it was a principle of Paganism that the civil power was in every case to prescribe the national religion—as her opposition to this was the exact ground on which ancient Rome persecuted the Church, so may we expect something like a revival of this principle—a new attempt on the part of the worldly power to become the legislator in things sacred. For it was the very rule of heathenism in its opposition to the Church, that religion did not depend on any supernatural law, but was a part of that public policy which had its sanction in the will of nations; so that the heathen principle would be restored whensoever the law of grace was superseded, either in practice or theory, by the law of nature. Such, of course, must be the case wherever princes are allowed to decide questions of doctrine, or where the test of religious truth is sought for in the common sense of mankind.
If the slaughter of the witnesses, then, be indeed future, it must be in opposing some attempt of this kind that they will incur the enmity of the Beast, and for their opposition to it will they be called upon to suffer. Whether they are to be personal leaders of the Church, or whether they are merely an expression of the fact, that the Church, as personified in Zechariah's prophecy, was shadowed forth by the olive-trees which grew on each side of the altar—in any case they are to make head against the Beast, and to testify by prophecy and miracle. And this Beast is not, as many have represented, the Beast from the sea, but the Beast from the abyss—the revived form of the worldly power, subsequently to the thousand years of the Church's greatness. Nor is it to be overlooked, as S. Hippoly tus has observed, that the Beast reappears without his crowns, as though, in this last stage, he would rather express the violence of popular rage than the prescriptive sanctity of monarchical supremacy.
Such is the general outline which Revelation exhibits of the dark forms of the future. It is not our business to interpret the vision, or to apply it to that which may seem probable and imminent; this is a matter which we leave to the judgment of our readers. If there are any who think that the world and the Church are parting company, that the former is not indisposed to exact conditions which the latter cannot accept, that relations which have existed for ten centuries can exist no more, and that Erastianism is only a modified Gentilism, they will be disposed to look to prophecy with interest; nor will they altogether despise the labours of those who, in the words of the great Christian poet—
are thronging round to gaze
On the dread vision of the latter days.'
Art. VI.—History of England and France, under the House of Lancaster. With an Introductory View of the Early Reformation. London: Murray. 1852.1
Having briefly noticed, in a former number, that part of this interesting book which relates to secular matters, we proceed, according to the intention which we then expressed, to the consideration of the opinions herein contained respecting the Early Reformation. And if we are not able in these points always to coincide with the author, we must, nevertheless, give him credit for impartiality and research, and for a statesmanlike view of the events of which he treats. We think it sufficiently apparent that such is the character in which he writes; and that he regards these events rather as a statesman than as a divine.
There are three principal subjects contained in the brief sketch before us of the Early Reformation: the character and opinions of Wycliffe, the conduct of his followers, and the history of Lord Cobham. In examining what is said on each of these points, we shall now have the opportunity of comparing the opinions of our author with those of another writer of much celebrity. We do not pretend here to review the fifth volume of M. Merle dAubigue's History, but we shall avail ourselves pf the appearance of the book, in order to glance at what he also says on these particular points. And if we should succeed in showing that the character of the great movement under Wycliffe has been in some degree misunderstood, it may afford us an opportunity to draw some conclusions having reference to our own times.
It has been usual to represent this Reformer as a man of intemperate zeal,—more of a Dissenter than a Churchman, the violence of whose opinions is rather to be excused than justified, and whose career was like that of a meteor, to clear the air of noxious vapours, rather than of the sun to enlighten with its rays. Adopting the violent invectives of Walsingham, Collier has written of him as a man with whom we ought to have no sympathy, and only wonders that he did not quit the Church. And the present writer, in comparing his character with that of Luther, thus expresses himself:—
1 Errata informer article, vol. xxv. p. 446, Hue 11 -.—for ' if the parliament is said to have chosen,' read 'if the parliament had chosen;' and 1.12, for • had already,' read ' is said to have already.'
'The courage that inspired" bothr Reformers to break loose from the papacy, supported them in sustaining long-continued conflicts with the secular arm. But Wycliffe, though he never made any recantation, yet showed a disposition to reconcile his doctrines with those of orthodox believers, wheu he was abandoned by his patron, Lancaster; whereas Luther never betrayed the least desire to soften the shades of his dissent: a merit of the highest order, though rendered somewhat easier by the advantage which he enjoyed above his predecessor, of steady support from the Elector of Saxony. The temporal lot of the two men differed accordingly. Luther gave up all preferment, and indeed surrendered entirely his station in the church which he opposed. Wycliffe retained both his parochial and cathedral benefices to the end of his life.'—Pp. 26, 27.
Now, this is precisely the point which we desire to discuss; and we desire it so much the more with a view to its possible bearing on the present state of religion on the Continent. The question is, whether members of the Catholic Church in Western Europe who may now be dissatisfied with the state of religion amongst them, ought to be exhorted to set up a new religion for themselves, or to endeavour to reform the system in which they are providentially placed. We are not concerned at this moment with Luther's conduct, but with Wycliffe's; and we would invite attention to the question which we propose, whether there was anything in his opinions which rendered it imperative with him to quit the communion to which he belonged, so that we must impute to him anything of cowardice or time-serving in having retained his preferments, and continued to officiate as a priest of the Catholic Church. And it must be observed, that if such were his duty, it would have been the first instance of such a line of conduct in the history of the Christian Church. The conduct of the Donatists, and other sectaries or heretics, in the earlier ages, is not a case in point, since they had bishops with them; and it was a question between them and the Catholics, which party was the true Church. And this is, at least, alleged to have been the case with the Vaudois, if their claim to antiquity be admitted, which also is a point on which we do not enter here.
And, in the first place, it is not surprising that we should find enumerated by M. Merle d'Aubign£, among the points of Wycliffe's doctrine for which he is to be admired, the assertion that * in the primitive Church there were but two orders, the
• priest and the deacon; the presbyter and the bishop were but
* one.'' He refers to the 4th book of Wycliffe's dialogues, where we find, indeed, words to that effect. And although other words in the same passage might not be so acceptable to this writer, we do not pretend to deny that such was Wycliffe's opinion. He says, indeed, as follows:—' That which is called
'Merle d'Aubignc, v. 121.
'order is the power given to the cleric by God, through the 'ministry of the bishop, in order to his rightly ministering for 'the Church. And this order is commonly given at a holy
* time, with solemn fasting, with masses, and other rites, (by
• him, query) who solemnizes towards or for the Church that 'episcopal ministry.'1 And although he subsequently expresses the opinion that * in the primitive Church, or in the time of Paul, two orders sufficed, viz. priest, "sacerdos," and deacon,' and that in that time 'presbyter' and bishop was the same, it is sufficiently plain from what has been here quoted, that he had no intention to abolish the office of a bishop, but that he contended, as some in our own Church, and some in primitive times have also held, though we believe erroneously, that the divine office of the priesthood is one, the bishop being merely one of the holy function set over his brethren. He elsewhere defended this opinion, as we know, on the authority of Hugh de St. Victor, a doctor of Paris, two centuries before him; and it was held also by the Anglo-Saxon, Elfric. So that, although we believe the opinion to be wrong, we are not, therefore, bound to conclude that it was such an opinion as was inconsistent with his remaining in the Church, still less is it such as to give countenance to those who would dispense with bishops altogether.
There is, however, another accusation very commonly believed against Wycliffe, which would place his conduct, in this respect, in a different light;—we mean that of having himself presumed to confer holy orders on his followers, and of having thus set the first example of presbyterian ordination. It will not seem very probable to any who have read the above extracts from his writings, that he should have committed this presumption; but whether he did so is a question of fact, and as such we propose to deal with it.
The history of his 'Poor Priests' is one of the most interesting connected with his life and his opinions. They are thus described by the author before us:—
'Nor did Wycliffe and his disciples, the "poor priests," neglect the means best suited to win the confidence and command the respect of the people. They affected the most primitive simplicity of manners; they appeared only in a coarse raiment of a russet hue, usually going about barefooted; they fed on the most frugal and homely fare; they partook of no popular amusements, nor assisted at any of the sports and revels in which the vulgar of the times so greatly delighted. Yet their demeanour was not harsh or repulsive—it was not even severe; their speech was rather winning and bland; and it was observed that they all used the same cast of language, expounding or declaiming in one common style. Though
1 J. Widen Dialogorum 1. iv. c. xv. p. 121. Ed. 1525.