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hundred and sixty years between the most remarkable steps by which he rose, and as great and remarkable steps by which he is to fall and go into perdition."
The corruption and apostasy of the church had early beginnings, and the usurped, tyrannical, and worldly power of the bishops, especially of the bishops of Rome, soon began to take place. The apostle Paul, speaking of the grand apostasy which has actually taken place in the church of Rome, under the influence and power of the man of sin, that is, the pope, says, that the seeds of all this were then sown, and this mystery of iniquity did then begin to work with power and energy, everyeitai, which was to be kept under powerful restraints for a while, but should openly appear and be acted out when these restraints should be taken off. (2 Thess. ii. 3–8.) In the third century, “the bishops assumed in many places a princely authority, particularly those who had the greatest number of churches under their inspection, and who presided over the most opulent assemblies. They appropriated to their evangelical function the splendid ensigns of temporal majesty; a throne surrounded with ministers, exalted above their equals the servants of the meek and humble Jesus, and sumptuous garments dazzled the eyes and the minds of the multitude into an ignorant veneration for their arrogated authority." † And about the middle of that century, Stephen, the bishop of Rome, a haughty, ambitious man, aspired to a superiority and power over all the other bishops and churches, and his preëminence in the church universal was acknowledged. From this time to the reformation from popery in the sixteenth century, when the pope began to fall in a remarkable degree, and lost a great part of his power and influence, which he is never like to regain, are one thousand two hundred and sixty years. Luther, the first reformer, arose in the year of Christ 1517. If we
The time of the captivity of the Jews by the Babylonians was fixed in the prophecy of Jeremiah to seventy years. But this prediction had reference to different beginnings and endings. It was just seventy years from the first captivity, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, when Daniel and many other Jews were carried to Babylon to the decree of Cyrus giving leave to the Jews to return, and ordering that the temple and Jerusalem should be rebuilt. And it was seventy years from the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple to the publishing of the decree of Darius, by which the building of the temple was completed and the Jews restored to their former state.
So the one thousand two hundred and sixty years of the captivity of the church of Christ in spiritual Babylon will doubtless have different beginnings, and, consequently, different endings. As the power and tyranny of the bishop and church of Rome rose from less beginnings to their full height, so the fall is to be gradual, till it is completed. And from each remarkable advance, there are one thousand two hundred and sixty years to as remarkable successive events, by which the kingdom and the power of the beast shall decline, and be utterly destroyed. + Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History, third century, chap. ii.
reckon back from that time, one thousand two hundred and sixty years will carry us to the year 257, which is the very time in which Stephen, bishop of Rome, claimed and usurped the power and preëminence above mentioned, and which was, in some measure at least, granted to him.
And as this man of sin rose higher and higher, and became more conspicuous by one remarkable step after another, in the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh centuries, until he was publicly invested with temporal dominion about the middle of the eighth century, viz., in the year 756, when he became a complete beast, and assumed the greatest authority both in civil and religious matters in the Christian world, and, in fact, had more power and influence over alỊ persons and things in the church and state than any other man, so there is good reason to conclude he will gradually fall, by one remarkable event after another, from the time of the reformation in the sixteenth century, when his power and influence in the Christian world were so greatly eclipsed, until this son of perdition shall be utterly destroyed, not far from the end of the twentieth century, or the beginning of the seventh thousand years of the world. And with the fall of this son of Satan, the kingdom of Satan, which has been so great and strong in this world for so long a time, will come to an end, and he will be cast out of the earth, and chained down in the bottomless pit; which event will be succeeded by the kingdom of heaven, which shall comprehend all the men then on earth, in which the saints shall reign a thousand years.
The facts and events which have taken place since that time, especially in the present century, coincide with such a conclusion, and serve to strengthen and confirm it. and the hierarchy of the church of Rome are sinking with a rapid descent. The kings and nations who once wandered after this beast, and joined to support and exalt this antiChristian power, now pay little regard to him; they neither love nor fear him much, but are rather disposed to pull him down and strip him of his riches and power. The dissolution of the society of the Jesuits, the banishing them and confiscating their riches, who were a great support of that church and the pope; the kings' taking from the pope the power, which he claimed as his right, to nominate and appoint all the bishops to vacant sees, and actually taking it upon themselves to do this, by which a vast stream of money, which used to be poured into the coffers of the pope, is taken from him, and falls into the hands of these kings; the increase and spread of light, by which the tyranny, superstition, and idolatry of the church of Rome and its hierarchy are more clearly discerned
The pope and exposed to the abhorrence and contempt of men; and especially the great increase of the knowledge of the nature, reasonableness, and importance of religious and civil liberty, and the rapid spread of zeal among the nations to promote these, - all these are remarkable events, which, among others not mentioned, serve to confirm the above conclusion that the pope is falling with increasing rapidity; and there is reason to expect, from what has come to pass and is now taking place, and from Scripture prophecy, that yet greater and more remarkable events will soon take place, and come on in a swift and surprising succession, which will hasten on the utter overthrow of the beast and all his adherents, and that the time predicted will soon come when the ten horns, or kings, who have agreed in time past, and given their kingdom unto the beast, shall change their minds, and hate the whore, and make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. (Rev. xvii. 16, 17.)
In which is considered what Events are to take place, according
to Scripture Prophecy, before the beginning of the Millennium, and to prepare the Way for it.
By attending to the events predicted, which are to take place before the millennium, and which are to introduce it, further evidence will come into view that it will not commence long before the beginning of the seventh thousand years of the world, nor much later, and, therefore, that it will be in that thousand years, and begin about two hundred years
from the end of the eighteenth century. The seven vials, or cups
which contained the seven last plagues, or remarkable judgments, which are to be executed upon the beast and his adherents, and upon the world of mankind — are to be poured out during the time of the reign of the beast and the existence of the false church of Rome, and which will issue in the destruction of the beast and of that church. This is evident from the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters of the Revelation. The first vial respects the beast and his followers, and brought sore calamities upon them, expressed in the following words : “ And there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them who worshipped his image.” (Rev. xvi. 2.) A number of these vials must have been already poured out, as the beast has existed above a thousand years already; and, therefore, the effects of the last vial, which include his utter destruction, will not reach much more than two hundred years from this time, and, consequently, these effects will soon begin to take place, if they have not already began in some measure; for, as the pouring out, or running, of the seven vials is limited to the one thousand two hundred and sixty years of the continuance of the beast, there are not two hundred years for each vial, and some may run longer, a and others a shorter time of this space.
Some acquaintance with the history of the calamitous events which have taken place, answering to the prophetic description under those vials which have been poured out, is necessary in order to know how and when it has been fulfilled, and how many vials appear to have already run out, and which is now running. Mr. Lowman has taken pains to show, from many credible historians, that the remarkable calamitous events which have taken place, and which have especially affected the beast and his followers and brought great and distressing evils upon them, have answered to the evils and events described in prophetic language under the successive first five vials of wrath; and there appears to be satisfactory evidence that the judgments predicted under these vials have already been executed on antichrist and his supporters and followers, and that the reformation began by Luther, and the remarkable events attending it, was the judg. ment predicted by the pouring out of the fifth vial, to be inflicted on the beast and the church of Rome. This vial was to be poured out on the seat, or, as it is in the original, the throne, of the beast; "and his kingdom was full of darkness, and they gnawed their tongues for pain.” (Rev. xvi. 10.) When the Protestant reformation came on, Protestants had light - had discerning and wisdom, prosperity and joy; but the pope and his followers suffered great vexation and anguish ; every event turned against them; their light was turned into darkness; their policy and counsels, by which they had prospered and obtained their ends before, were turned into foolishness, and they were baffled and confounded; and their attempts to suppress the northern heresy, as they called it, and to crush the Protestants, proved abortive, and turned against themselves in a remarkable manner. And those events proved like a lasting, painful sore to them, from which they have not recovered to this day. “ And they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.” They blasphemed God, by attributing what took place in favor of truth and the cause of Christ to the exertions and obstinacy of wicked men, and
calling the truths of the gospel and holiness, espoused and propagated by the reformers, the delusions and works of Satan, and treating the reformation, and the work of God, as if it were the work of the devil. They also blasphemed the God of heaven, by persisting in their gross idolatry, worshipping saints and images, in the face of the light exhibited by the reformers, which idolatry is called blasphemy in the Bible; and the famous Council of Trent, which was called by the pope at that time, and sat eighteen years, were so far from complying with the reformation, that they anathematized the persons, doctrines, and practices by which it was introduced and supported; and formed decrees in favor of the power and tyranny of the pope, and the superstition and idolatry of the church of Rome, and in some instances went beyond any thing that had ever been decreed by any council before, in favor of these abominations. “ Thus they repented not of their evil deeds."
This vial began to be poured out near the beginning of the sixteenth century, in the year 1517, when Luther began to oppose the wickedness of the church of Rome and the power and evil practices of the pope; and from that time the influence and power, or throne, of this man of sin has been diminishing, and he is in a great measure deposed, and has fallen almost to the ground from that high throne and unlimited power in church and state to which he had, before that, aspired and risen. As it is near three hundred years since the fifth vial was poured out, there is good reason to conclude that the sixth vial began to be poured out and has been running from the latter end of the last century, at least, i. e., for a hundred years or more; that it is near run out, and the seventh and last vial will begin to run early in the next century. Whether this be so or not, may be determined with greater and more satisfactory evidence, by attending to the prophetic description of the events which are to take place under those vials; and as the sixth vial is supposed to be now running, there is reason to pay a more particular and careful attention to the prophetic language by which the events under this vial are expressed, that the meaning may be understood and applied to the events which are pointed out, so as to be clearly discovered, and the signs of these times be discerned by all who will properly attend to this interesting subject.
" And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great River Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared." Ancient Babylon was a type of the anti-Christian church of Rome.