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Europe by the famous John Wickliff, rector of Lutterworth.
In the fifteenth century, Sawtre, parish-priest of St Ofith in London, was the first burnt for heresy in England, in the reign of Henry IV, A few years afterwards, Thomas Badby was convicted of heresy, and burnt in Smithfield, In the next reign, Sir John Oldcastle, Baron of Cobham, was charged with being an abettor of the Lollards, and examined before the Archbi. shop of Canterbury. He declared against transubstantiation, penances, the worshipping of the cross, the power of the keys, and asserted that the Pope was Antichrist. He was denounced a heretic, and delivered over to the secular power, Before the day appointed for his execution, he escaped out of prison, but was afterwards taken, hanged as a traitor, and burnt hanging as a heretic. In this age too, John Hufs and Jerom of Prague maintained and propagated the doctrines of Wickliff, for which they were burnt as here. tics by the council of Constance, and suffered death with heroic fortitude.
In the sixteenth century began the Reformation; and from that period the united voice of the Protestant world bears witness to the corruptions of the church of Rome. Nor is it unworthy of remark, that the name of Protestants was given without any reference to the prophecy; yet it
is of much the same import with that of wits nesses, the term applied in the prophecy to Christ's faithful followers during the reign of Antichrist. Besides the general voice of the Protestant world, certain persons have, in the present and the preceding century, directed the attention of mankind to the scripture prophecies, concerning the Antichriftianism of the Papacy, and church of Rome, which became the more necessary, as the indolence of some and the artifice of others had almost lulled Protestants asleep: and the influence of fashion had drawn a veil over these prophecies, in the seventeenth century, almost as impenetrable to the generality, as the ignorance which obscured them in former ages. Of these, in the preceding century, were Joseph Mede, a fellow of Christ's College, in Cambridge, a man who seems to have understood the prophecies better than any who appeared before him since the days of the apostles, Peter Jurieu, one of the ministers of Rotterdam, a French refugee, James Durham, one of the ministers of Glasgow. I might also mention the famous Lord Napier, the discoverer of the logarithms, who wrote a treatise on the Apocalypse, published at Edinburgh, in the year 1645.
In the present century, the celebrated Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Daubuz, vicar of Bro
therton, in Yorkshire, and Moses Lowman, each of whom has written a treatise on the Apocalypse; and still nearer our own times, Thomas Newton, late bishop of Bristol, in his Differtations on Prophecies, published in 1767 ; Samuel Halifax, late Bishop of Glocester, and Richard Hurd, present Bishop of Worcester, in their Sermons at Lincoln's Inn Lectures.
Of the Woman bid in the Ililderness.
A third view of Christ's faithful followers is given us in Rev. xii. 6. and 14. “ And the wo“ man fled into the wilderness, where she hath “ a place prepared of God, that they should “ feed her there a thousand two hundred and " threescore days.”_" And to the woman were “ given two wings of a great eagle, that she “ might fly into the wilderness, into her place ; " where she is nourished for a time, and times, 6 and half a time, from the face of the serpent." The woman represents the Church of Christ, considered as a community or collective body; as the feed of the woman represents the individual members of that community. Her flight to the wilderness is an allusion to the departure of Israel out of Egypt. When they were delivered from the oppression of Pharaoh, called the great dragon, they were led into the wilderness, of which God says, “ I have carried thee 6 as on eagles wings, to myself.” So the church, after her deliverance from the perfecu. tion of the Pagan Raman empire, called the red dragon, set out for the wilderness; that is, as the visible church declined from the doctrines and precepts of Christianity, the true church of Christ gradually retired from the view of men, till at length, when the visible church had avow. edly submitted to the government of Antichrist, the true church of Christ, considered as a community, wholly disappeared. She remains in that state 1260 days, and these are the same in which the witnesses prophecy, and the beast reigns.
The state of the church in the wilderness conveys this idea, “ That the church as a community « or body politic, during the period mention66 ed, shall be invisible in the world,” just as Israel, during their abode in the wilderness, had no manner of intercourse with other nations, and therefore as a people were unknown. The church is formed into a community, by ties external and internal, “ there is one body and one “ Spirit,” Eph. iv. 4. The external ties are government, doctrine, and ordinances; " there is “ one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” The internal tie is the Spirit of God, which animates the great Head of the church, and every real member of his mystical body; so that “ one « God and Father of all, who is above all, is 6 likewise through all, and in all.” Now, in the state of the church in the wilderness, the former tie is diffolved, the latter only subsists. She is. visible in that state as a community, only to the eyes of that God who is “through all, and in “ all.” This state of the church may be confidered on the one hand as a calamity, in as far as she appears no longer with that spiritual beauty which adorned her during the perfecution she experienced from pagan Rome, nor with that outward prosperity which she enjoyed upon her deliverance. But on the other hand, it may be considered as a blessing, on account of the advantages that result from it ; for “ her place " is prepared of God,” that is, he has appointed and foretold this state; so that the event cor. responding with the prediction, ought to strengthen the faith of men, which might otherwise be Thaken by her low condition. Again, she is there “ fed of God.” As Ifrael, fed in the wilderness by the immediate hand of God, without the ordinary means, learned “ that man liveth not by “ bread alone, but by every word that proceed. " eth out of the mouth of God;" so the indi.