Reformation History

1517-1703

burnedTHE DUTY OF ALL CHRISTIANS

For one thing, I advise you to resist manfully the efforts now being made to un-Protestantize England, and to bring her once more into subjection to Popery. Let us not go back to ignorance, superstition. priestcraft, and irrunorality. Our forefathers tried Popery long ago, and threw it off with disgust and indignation.

Let us have no peace with Rome till Rome abjures her errors and is at peace with Christ. When Rome does that, and not till then, it will be time to talk of re-union with her. But till then the vaunted movement for a "Reunion of Western Churches" is an insult to Christianity. Read your Bibles and be armed with Scriptural arguments. A Bible-reading laity is a nation's surest defense against error.

Read history, and see what Rome did in days gone by. Read how she trampled on your country's liberties, plundered your forefather's pockets, and kept the whole nation ignorant and immoral.

JESUS CHRIST - THE WAY OF SALVATION

"Come unto Me", says the Savior, "all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" - "He that believed' on the Son shall not perish, but have eternal life" - "He that believed' on Him is not condemned." - "He that corned' unto Me I will in no wise cast out." Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man, and He mites you to come to Him personally for Salvation.

To be saved, is to be delivered in this present life from the guilt of sin, by faith in Jesus Christ, the Savior. It is to be pardoned, justified, and freed from every. charge of sin, by faith in Christ's blood and mediation. Whosoever with his heart believes on the Lord Jesus Christ. is a saved soul. He shall not perish.

THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH'S TEACHING

ABOUT THE WAY OF SALVATION

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that no one can be Saved outside the Roman Catholic Church. Between the sinner who is seeking Salvation, and the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, the Roman Catholic Church has put Mary-worship, saint-worship, image-worship, relic-worship, confessions, pilgrimages, almsgivings, baptism, ceremonialism, processions, penances, absolutions, masses, blind obedience to the priests, and the fires of purgatory Let us proclaim to Roman Catholics everywhere the Good News that the GIFT OF GOD is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

BISHOP J.0 RYLE.

WHY WERE OUR REFORMERS BURNED?

It is fashionable in some quarters to deny that there is any such thing as certainty about religious truth. or any opinions for which it is worth while to be burned. Yet, 300 years ago, there were men who were certain they had found out truth, and were content to die for their opinions. - It is fashionable in other quarters to leave out all the unpleasant things in history, and to paint every-thing with a rose-colored hue A very popular history of our English Queens hardly mentions the martyrdoms of Queen Mary's days! Yet Mary was not called "Bloody Mary" without reason, and scores of Protestants were burned in her reign. - Last, but not least, it is thought very bad taste in many quarters to say anything which throws discredit on the Church of Rome Yet it is as certain that the Romish Church burned our English Reformers as it is that William the Conqueror won the battle of Hastings.

The broad facts of the martyrdom of our Reformers are a story. well known and soon told. But it may be useful to give a brief outline of these facts, in order to supply a framework to our subject.

Edward VI, "that incomparable young prince," as Bishop Burnet justly calls him, died on the 6th July., 1553. Never, perhaps, did any, royal personage in this land die more truly lamented, or leave behind him a fairer reputation. Never, perhaps, to man's poor fallible judgment, did the cause of God's truth in England receive a heavier blow. His last prayer before death ought not to be forgotten, - "0 Lord God, defend this realm from Papistry., and maintain Thy true religion." It was a prayer, I believe, not offered in vain.

After a foolish and deplorable effort to obtain the crown for Lady Jane Grey, Edward was succeeded by his eldest sister, Mary, daughter of Henry. VIII and his first Queen, Catherine of Aragon, and best known in English history. by. the ill-omened name of

-Bloody Mary." Mary had been brought up from her infancy as a rigid adherent of the Romish Church. She was, in fact, a ver) Papist of Papists, conscientious, zealous, bigoted. and narrow-minded in the extreme.

She began at once to pull down her brother's work in every possible way, and to restore Popery in its worst and most offensive forms. Step by step she and her councillors marched back to Rome, trampling down one by one every obstacle, and as thorough as Lord Strafford in going straight forward to their mark. The Mass was restored; the English service was taken away; the works of Luther, Zwingle, Calvin, Tyndale, Bucer, Latimer, Hooper, and Cranmer were proscribed. Cardinal Pole was invited to England. The foreign Protestants resident in England were banished.

RETURN TO ROME OR BURN

The leading divines of the Protestant Church of England were deprived of their offices, and, while some escaped to the Continent, many were put in prison. 'The old statutes against heresy were once more brought forward, primed and loaded. And thus by the beginning of 1555 the stage was cleared, and that bloody tragedy, in which Bishops Bonner and Gardiner played so prominent a part was ready to begin.

For, unhappily for the credit of human nature, Mary's advisers were not content with depriving and imprisoning the leading English Reformers. It was resolved to make them adjure their principles, or to put them to death. One by one they were called before special Commissions, examined about their religious opinions, and called upon to recant, on pain of death if they refused, No third course, or alternative was left to them.

They were either to give up Protestantism and receive Popery or else they were to be burned alive. Refusing to recant, they were one by one handed over to the secular power, publicly brought out and chained to stakes, publicly surrounded with faggots, and publicly sent out of the world that most cruel and painful of deaths, - death by. fire All these are broad facts which all the apologists of Rome can never gainsay or deny.

It is a broad fact that during the four last years of Queen Mary's reign no less than 288 persons were burnt at the stake for their adhesion to the Protestant faith. Indeed, the faggots never ceased to blaze whilst Mary was alive, and five martyrs were burnt in Canterbury only a week before her death. Out of these 288 sufferers, be it remembered, one was an archbishop, four were bishops, twenty-one were clergymen, fifty-five were women, and four were children.

It is a broad fact that these 288 sufferers were not put to death for any offense against property or person. They were not rebels against the Queen's authority, caught red-handed in arms. They were not thieves, or murderers, or drunlcards, or unbelievers, or men and women of immoral lives. On the contrary, they were, some of the holiest, purest, and best Christians in England, and several of them the most learned men of their day.

THE CHURCH OF ROME RESPONSIBLE.

For one thing, I ask my readers never to forget that for the burning of our Reformers the Church of Rome is wholly and entirely responsible.

For another thing, I wish my readers to remember that the burning of the Marian martyrs is an act that the Church of Rome has never repudiated, apologized for, or repented of, down to the present day. There stands the huge blot in her escutcheon; and there stands the huge fact side by side, that she has never made any attempt to wipe it away. Never has she repented of her treatment of the Vaudois and the Albigenses: - never has she

repented of the wholesale murders of the Spanish Inquisition. never has she repented of the massacre of St Bartholomew; - never has she repented of the burning of the English Reformers.

We should make a note of that fact, and let it sink down into our minds. Rome never changes. Rome will never admit that she has made mistakes. She burned our English Reformers 300 years ago. She tried hard to stamp out by violence the Protestantism which she could not prevent spreading by. arguments. If Rome had only. the power, I am not sure that she would not attempt to play the whole game over again.

The question may now arise in our minds, Who were the leading English Reformers that were burned? What were their names, and what were the circumstances attending their deaths? These are questions which may very properly be asked. and questions to which I proceed at once to give an answer

JOHN ROGERS BURNED

The first leading English Reformer who broke the ice and crossed the river, as a martyr in Mary's reign, was John Rogers, a London Minister, Vicar of St. Sepulchre's and Prebendary and Reader of Divinity at St. Paul's. He was burned in Smithfield on Monday, the 4th February, 1555. Rogers was born at Deritend, in the parish of Aston, near Birmingham.

He was a man who, in one respect, had done more for the cause of Protestantism than any of his fellow-sufferers. In saying this I refer to the fact that he had assisted Tyndale and Coverdale in bringing out a most important version of the English Bible, a version commonly known as Matthews' Bible Indeed, he was condemned as "Rogers, alias Matthews." This circumstance, in all human probability, made him a marked man, and was one cause why he was the first who was brought to the stake.

On the morning of his martyrdom he was roused hastily in his

cell in Newgate, and hardly allowed time to dress himself. He was then led forth to Smithfield on foot, within sight of the Church of St. Sepulchre, where he had preached, and through the streets of the parish where he had done the work of a pastor.

By the wayside stood his wife and ten children (one a baby) whom the diabolical cruelty of Bishop Bonnor had flatly refused him leave to see in prison. He just saw them, but was hardly allowed to stop, and then walked on calmly to the stake, repeating the 51st Psalm. An immense crowd lined the street, and filled every available spot in Smithfield.

Up to that day men could not tell how English Reformers would behave in the face of death, and could hardly believe that Prebendaries and Dignitaries would actually give their bodies to be burned for their religion. But when they saw John Rogers, the first martyr, walking steadily, and unflinchingly into a fiery grave, the enthusiasm of the crowd lcnew no bounds. They rent the air with thunders of applause. Even Noailles, the French Ambassador, wrote home a description of the scene, and said that Rogers went to death "as if he was walking to his wedding." By God's great mercy he died with comparative ease. And so the first Marian martyr passed away.

BISHOP HOOPER, BURNED

The second leading Reformer who died for Christ's truth in Mary's reign was John Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester. He was burned at Gloucester on Friday, the 9th February, 1555.

Hooper was a Somersetshire man by birth. In many respects he was, perhaps, the noblest martyr of them all. Of all Edward the Sixth's bishops, none has left behind him a higher reputation for personal holiness, and diligent preaching and working in his diocese

A man like Hooper, firm, stern, not naturally genial,

unbending and unsparing in his denunciation of sin, was sure to have many enemies. He was one of the first marked for destruction as soon as Popery was restored. He was summoned to London at a very,' early stage of the Marian persecution, and, after lingering eighteen months in prison, and going through the form of examination by Bonner, Gardiner, Tunstall, and Day., was degraded from his office, and sentenced to be burned as a heretic.

At first it was fully. expected that he would suffer in Smithfield with Rogers. This plan, for some unknown reason, was given up, and to his great satisfaction Hooper was sent down to Gloucester, and burnt in his own diocese, and in sight of his Mil cathedral. On his arrival there, he was received with every. sign of sorrow and respect by. a vast multitude, who went out on the Cirencester Road to meet him.

THE BISHOP'S DYING AGONIES

On the morning of his martyrdom he was led forth, walking, to the place of execution, where an immense crowd awaited him. It was market day, and it was reckoned that nearly 7,000 people were present. The stake was planted directly. in front of the western gate of the Cathedral-close, and within 100 yards of the deanery and the east front of the Cathedral. The exact spot is marked now by a beautiful memorial at the east end of the churchyard of St. Mary-de-Lode. The window over the gate, where Popish friars watched the Bishop's dying agonies, stands unaltered to this day.

When Hooper arrived at this spot, he was allowed to pray., though strictly, forbidden to speak to the people. And there he knelt down, and prayed a prayer which has been preserved and recorded by Fox, arid is of exquisitely touching character. Even then a box was put before him containing a full pardon, if he

would only recant. His onl) answer was "Away with it; if you love my soul, away with it!- He was then fastened to the stake by an iron round his waist, and fought his last fight with the king of terrors.

Of all the martyrs, none perhaps, except Ridley, suffered more than Hooper did. Three times the faggots had to be lighted, because they would not burn properly) Three quarters of an hour the noble sufferer endured the mortal agony, as Fox says, "neither moving backward, forward, nor to any side," but only praying, "Lord Jesus, have mercy on me; Lord Jesus, receive my spirit;" and beating his breast with one hand till it was burned to a stump And so the good Bishop of Gloucester passed away.

ROWLAND TAYLOR BURNED

'The third leading Reformer who suffered in Mary's reign was Rowland Taylor, Rector of Hadleigh, in Suffolk. He was burned on Aldham Common, close to his own parish, the same day that Hooper died at Gloucester, on Friday, the 9th February, 1555.

Striking was the reply which he made to his friends at Hadleigh, who urged him to flee, as he might have done, when he was first summoned to appear in London before Gardiner: - "What will ye have me to do? I am old, and have already lived too long to see these terrible and most wicked days. Fly you, and do as your conscience leaded, you. I am fully determined, with God's grace, to go to this Bishop, and tell him to his beard that he doth naught. I believe before God that I shall never be able to do for my God such good service as I may do now." - Fox's "Acts and Monuments," vol. III. p. 138.

Striking were the replies which he made to Gardiner and his other examiners. None spoke more pithily, weightily, and powerfully than did this Suffolk incumbent.

When he was stripped to his shirt and ready for the stake, he

said, with a loud voice, - -Good people. I have taught you nothing but God's Holy Word, and those lessons that I have taken out of the Bible; and I am come hither to seal it with my blood." He would probably have said more. but, like all the other martyrs, he was strictly forbidden to speak, and even now was stuck violently on the head for saying these few words.

He then knelt down and prayed, a poor woman of the parish insisting, in spite of every effort to prevent her, in kneeling down with him. After this, he was chained to the stake, and repeating the 51st Psalm, and crying to God, "Merciful Father, for Jesus Christ's sake, receive my soul into Thy hands," stood quietly amidst the flames without crying or moving, till one of the guards dashed out his brains with a halberd. And so this good old Suffolk incumbent passed away.

OTHER MARTYRS BURNED

The fourth leading Reformer who suffered in Mary's reign was Robert Ferrar, Bishop of St. David's in Wales. He was burned at Carmarthen on Friday, the 30th March, 1555.

The fifth leading Reformer who suffered in Mary's reign was John Bradford, Prebendary of St. Paul's and Chaplain to Bishop Ridley. He was burned in Smithfield on Monday, July the 1st, 1555, at the early. age of thirty-five.

The sixth and seventh leading Reformers who suffered in Mary's reign were two whose names are familiar to even Englishman, - Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London, and Hugh Latimer, once Bishop of Worcester. The) were both burned at Oxford, back to back, at one stake, on the 16th of October, 1555.

Ridley's last words before the fire was lighted were these, "Heavenly Father, I give Thee most hearty thanks that Thou hast called me to a profession of Thee even unto death. I beseech Thee, Lord God, have mercy on this realm of England, and deliver the

same from all her enemies." Latimer's last words were like the blast of a trumpet, which rings even to this day, - -Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man, we shall this day., by. God's grace, light such a candle in England as I trust never be put out."

The eighth leading English Reformer who suffered in Mary's reign was John Philpot, Archdeacon of Winchester. He was burned in Smithfield on Wednesday, December the 18th, 1555.

The ninth and last leading Reformer who suffered in Mary's reign was Thomas Crawler, Archbishop of Canterbury. He was burned at Oxford, on the 21st of March, 1556. Cranmer was born at Aslacton, in Nottinghamshire. There is no name among the English martyrs so well known in history as his. There is none certainly in the list of our Reformers to whom the Church of England, on the whole, is so much indebted.

WHY WERE THEY BURNED

But I pass on to a point which I hold to be one of cardinal importance in the present day.. The point I refer to is the special reason why our Reformers were burned. The principal reason why they were burned was because they refused one of the peculiar doctrines of the Romish Church. On that doctrine, in almost every case, hinged their life or death. If they admitted it, they might live; if they refused it, they must die.

The question was the real presence of the body and blood of Christ in the consecrated elements of bread and wine in the Lord's Supper Did they, or did they, not believe that the body and blood of Christ were really, that is corporally., literally, locally, and materially, present under the forms of bread and wine after the words of consecration were pronounced? Did they or did they not believe that the real body of Christ, which was born of the virgin

Mary , was present on the so-called altar so soon as the mystical words had passed the lips of the priest? Did they or did they not? That was the simple question. If they did not believe and admit it, they were bumed.

Hear what Rogers said:- "I was asked whether I believed in the sacrament to be the very body and blood of our Savior Christ that was born of the Virgin Mary, and hanged on the cross, really and substantially? I answered think it to be false. I cannot understand really and substantially to signify' otherwise than corporally. But corporally Christ is only. in heaven, and so Christ cannot be corporally in your sacrament.'" - Fox in loco, vol p.101, edition, 1684. And therefore he was condemned and burned.

Hear what Rowland Taylor said:- "The second cause why I was condemned as a heretic was that I denied transubstantiation, and concomitation, two juggling words whereby the Papists believe that Christ's natural body is made of bread, and the Godhead by and by to be joined thereto, so that immediately after the words of consecration, there is no more bread and wine in the sacrament, but the substance only of the body. and blood of Christ."

"Because I denied the aforesaid Papistical doctrine (yea, rattier plain, wicked idolatry, blasphemy, and heresy) I am judged a heretic." - Fox in loco, vol p.141. And therefore he was condemned and burned.

OBSCURING THE GOSPEL

Whatever men please to think or say , the Romish doctrine of the real presence, if pursued to its legitimate consequences, obscures every leading doctrine of the Gospel, and damages and interferes with the whole system of Christ's truth. Grant for a moment that the Lord's Supper is a sacrifice, and not a sacrament

- grant that every time the words of consecration are used the natural body. and blood of Christ are present on the Communion Table under the forms of bread and wine - grant that every one who eats that consecrated bread and drinks that consecrated wine does really,' eat and odrink the natural body. and blood of Christ.

Grant for a moment these things, and then see what momentous consequences result from the premises. You spoil the blessed doctrine of Christ's finished work when He died on the cross. A sacrifice that needs to be repeater! is not a perfect and complete thing. - You spoil the priestly office of Christ. If there are priests that can offer an acceptable sacrifice to God besides Him, the great High Priest is robbed of His glory. - You spoil the Scriptural doctrine of the Christian ministry You exalt sinful men into the position of mediators between God and man. - You give to the sacramental elements of bread and wine an honor and veneration they were never meant to receive, and produce an idolatry to be abhorred of faithful Christians.

WHAT WE OWE TO THE REFORMATION

The Reformation delivered England from gross religious ignorance and spiritual darlaiess. No doubt there was a professing Church of Christ in the land when Henry. VIII ascended the throne, a Church abounding in wealth, and garrisoned by a whole army of Bishops, Abbots Friars, Priests, Monks and Nuns. But money and clergymen do not make a Church of Christ, any more than "men with muskets" make up an army. For any useful and soul-saving purposes the English Church was practically dead. and if St. Paul had come out of his grave and visited it, I doubt if he would have called it a Church at all.

The plain truth is, that it was a Church without a Bible; and such a Church is as useless as a lighthouse without a light - a candlestick without a candle - or a steam-engine without a fire. Except a few scattered copies of Wycliffe's translation of the Vulgate, there were no English Bibles in the land, and the natural consequence was, that priests and people knew scarcely anything about God's truth, and the way to be saved.

The immense majority of the clergy, did little more than say masses and offer up pretended sacrifices - repeat Latin prayers and chant Latin hymns, which of course the people could not understand - hear confessions, grant absolutions, give extreme unction, and talce money. to get dead people out of Purgatory. Preaching was utterly at a discount. As Bishop Latimer truly remarked, "When the devil gets influence in a church, up go candles and down goes preaching."

Quarterly sermons were indeed prescribed to the Clergy, but not insisted on. Latimer says that while mass was never left unsaid for a single Sunday., sermons might be omitted for twenty Sundays in succession, and nobody was blamed. After all, when sermons were preached they were utterly unprofitable; and latterly., to preach much was to incur the suspicion of being a heretic.

A RELIGION WITHOUT THE BIBLE

To cap all, the return that Bishop Hooper got from the rich diocese of Gloucester, no barbarous and uncivilized corner of England, when he was first appointed Bishop in 1551, will give a pretty clear idea of the ignorance of the pre-Reformation times. He found that out of 311 clergy in his diocese, 168 were unable to repeat the Ten Commandments-, 31 of the 168 could not say in what part of the Scripture they were to be found; 40 could not tell where the Lord's prayer was written, and 31 of the 40 did not know who was the author of the Lord's Prayer.

To sum up all in a few words, the religion of our English forefathers before the Reformation was a religion without knowledge, without faith, and without lively hope - a religion without justification, regeneration, and sanctification - a religion without any clear views of Christ and the Holy. Ghost.

Except in rare instances it was little better than an organized system of Mary-worship, saint-worship, image-worship, relic-worship, pilgrimages, alms-givings, formalism, ceremonial-ism, processions, penances, absolutions, masses and blind obedience to priests. It was a huge higgledy-piggledy of ignorance and idolatry, and serving an unknown God by deputy.

The only practical result was that the priests took the people's money, and undertook to secure their salvation, and the people flattered themselves that the more they gave to the priests, the more sure they were to go to heaven. As to the grand cardinal question "What must I do to be saved?" probably not one Englishman in fifty could have given you half as good an answer as an ordinary Sunday School child would give in our own day. Such was the IGNORANCE which was scattered to the winds by the English Reformation.

THE WORSHIP OF RELICS

For another thing, the Reformation delivered England from the most grovelling, childish and superstitious practices in religion. I allude especially to the worship of relics. Destitute of the slightest Scriptural 'knowledge, our forefathers were taught by the priests to seek spiritual benefit from the so-called relics of dead saints, and to treat them with divine honor. The accounts which those trustworthy old historians, Strype, and Fuller, and Burnet, have handed down to us about these wretched relics, up to Henry VIII's reign are extraordinary.

At Reading Abbey, in Berkshire, the following things among many others were exhibited by. the monks on great occasions, and most religiously honored by. the people An angel with one wing - the spear-head which pierced our Savior's side - two pieces of the Holy Cross - St. James' hand - St. Philip's stole - a bone of Mary Magdalene, and a bone of Salome.

At bury St. Edmund's in Suffolk, the priests exhibited the coals that roasted St. Laurence, the parings of St. Edmund's toe-nails, Thomas a Becket's penknife and boots, and as many pieces of our Savior's cross as would have made, if joined together, one large whole cross. They had also relics whose help was invoked at times when there was an excessive growth of weeds, or heavy falls of rain!

At Maiden Bradley Priory, in Somersetshire, the worshipers were privileged to see the Virgin Mary's smock, a piece of the stone upon which our Lord was born at Bethlehem, and a part of the bread used I)) Christ and the Apostles at the first Lord's Supper.

Records like these are so amazingly silly, as well as painful, that one hardly knows whether to laugh or to cry over them. But it is positively necessary to bring them forward, in order that men may know what was the religion of our forefathers, in the days

when Rome ruled the land, before the Reformation. Wonderful as these things may seem, we must never forget that Englishmen at that time had no Bibles and knew no better. A famishing man in sieges and blockades has been known to eat rats and mice, and all manner of garbage, rather than die of hunger. A conscience-stricken soul, famishing for lack of God's Word, must not be judged too hardly., if it struggles to find comfort in the most debasing superstition . Only let us never forget that this was the SUPERSTITION which was shattered to pieces by the Reformation.

THE TYRANNY OF THE PRIESTS

For another thing, the Reformation delivered England from the degrading tyranny and swindling impostures of the Roman priesthood. In the last days of the Pope's supremacy in this land, the laity were thoroughly "sat upon" by the clergy, and could hardly call their souls their own. The power of the priests was practically. despotic, and was used for every purpose except the advancement of true religion. Like the frogs in the plague of Egypt, they made their way everywhere, both in the palace and the cottage, met you at every turn of life, and had a finger in every. transaction. They interfered by the confessional between husbands and wives - between parents and children - between masters and servants - between land-lords and tenants - between subjects and sovereigns - between souls and God. Obey them and you might do anything. Resist, and you had no safety either for property or life.

One great object, which they. steadily kept in view, was to enrich the Church and fill the pockets of their own order. To accomplish this end they employed many devices. Sometimes they persuaded tender-hearted affectionate persons to give money. to get the souls of their relatives out of purgatory by procuring masses to be said for them. Sometimes they advised weak people go give

huge stuns to the shrine of some favorite saint, such as 'Thomas a Becket at Canterbury, in order to merit Heaven by. good works.

Sometimes they induced dying sinners to give vast tracts of land to abbeys and monasteries, in order to atone for their bad lives. In one way or another they were continually. drawing money' out of the laity, and accumulating property. in their own hands. "In fact," says Burnet, "if some laws had not restrained them, the greater part of all estates in England had been given to religious houses."

THE BLOOD OF A DUCK

As to the gross and ridiculous impostures which the priests practiced on our ignorant forefathers before the Reformation, the catalog would fill a volume. At the Abbey. of Hales, in Gloucestershire, a vial was shown by the priests on great occasions to those who offered alms, which was said to contain the blood of Christ. This notable vial was examined by the Royal Commissioners in Henry VII's time, and was found to contain the blood of a duck, renewed every week.

In the city of Worcester there was an image of the Virgin Mary in one of the churches, which was held in special reverence. This was also examined by. the same Royal Commissioners, in order to ascertain what it really was. But when it was stripped of certain veils which covered it, it turned out to be no image of the Virgin, but of some old Bishop.

At Boxley, in Kent, a great crucifix was exhibited, which received peculiar honor and large offerings, because of a continual miracle which was said to attend its exhibition. When the worshipers before it offered copper coin, the face of the figure on the cross looked grave; when they offered silver it relaxed its severity; when they offered gold it openly smiled. In Henry, VIII's time this famous crucifix was also examined, and wires were

found within it, by which the attendant priests could move the face of the image, and make it assume any expression they pleased.

He that desires to pursue this disgraceful subject any further will find it truly handled in Calvin's Inventory of Relics and Hobart Seymour's Pilgrimage of Rome. He will learn there, that all over Europe things were shown as holy relics, so manifestly false and fictitious, that the priests who showed them can only be regarded as cheats and rogues, who in this day would be sent to the treadmill or obliged to pick oalcum.

Wood of the true cross, enough to load a ship though we know that one person alone could carry it - thorns professing to be part of the Saviour's crown of thorns, enough to make a large faggot - at least fourteen nails, said to have been used at the crucifixion, though we know four must have been sufficient - four spearheads, said to be points of the spear which pierced our Lord's side - though of course it had only one - at least three seamless coats of Christ for which the soldiers cast lots, though there could only have been one - all these are only select specimens of the profane and vile inventions with which Romish priests imposed on people before the Reformation. They must have known that they were telling lies, and yet they persisted in telling them, and required the ignorant laity to believe them. I remind you that for deliverance from this miserable system of PRIESTLY TYRANNY AND PRIESTLY IMPOSITION we are indebted to the Reformation.

THE BLACKEST SPOT

The Reformation delivered England from the worst plague that can afflict a nation, I mean the plague of unholiness and immorality among the clergy. The lives of the clergy, as a general rule, were simply scandalous, and the moral tone of the laity was naturally at the lowest ebb. Of course, grapes will never grow on thorns, nor figs on thistles. To expect the huge roots of

ignorance and superstition which filled our land to bear any but corrupt fruit would be unreasonable and absurd. But a more thoroughly corrupt set than the English clergy. were in the palm) days of undisturbed Romanism, with a few brilliant exceptions, it would be impossible to imagine.

But the blackest spot on the character of our pre-Reformation clergy in England is one of which it is painful to speak. I mean the impurity of their lives and their horrible contempt of the Seventh Commandment. The results of auricular confession, carried on by men bound b) their vow never to marry, were such that I dare not enter into them. The consequences of shutting up herds of men and women in the prime of life, in monasteries and nunneries, were such that I will not defile my paper by dwelling upon them. The details will be found in Strype, Burnet, and Fuller, by those who care to look them up

Suffice it to say., that the discoveries made by. Henry \ill's Commissioners, of the goings-on in many of the so-called religious houses, were such as it is impossible to describe. It is a shame even to speak of them. Anything less "holy" than the practice of many of the "holy" men and women in the professedly. "holy" retreats from sin and the world the imagination cannot conceive. If ever there was a plausible theory weighed in the balance and found utterly wanting, it is the favorite theory that celibacy and monasticism promote holiness.

I make no apology for dwelling on these things. Painful and humbling as the picture is, it is one that in these times ought to be carefully looked at, and not thrown aside I do not want men to pass severe judgment on our poor ancestors, and say they were all lost. We are not their Judge. To whom little light has been given, of them little will be required. But I do want modern Churchmen to understand from what the Reformation delivered us Before we make up our minds to give up Protestantism and receive back Monasticism and the "Catholic system," let us thoroughly under-

stand what the state of England was when Popery had its own way unchecked and uncontrolled. My own belief is, that there never was a change so imperatively needed as the Reformation, and that no Englishmen ever did such good service to their country as the Reformers.

THE REFORMATION CONFERRED POSITIVE BLESSINGS

UPON THIS COUNTRY

First and foremost we owe to the Reformation an English Bible, and liberty' for every. man, woman and child in the land to read it. With an English Bible came in the right and duty of private judgment, and the assertion of the great principle of our VIth Article, that "Holy Scripture contains all things needful to salvation," and the only rule of faith and practice. Of all the agencies which brought about the overthrow of Popery in this country, the translation of the Bible was the earliest and most powerful. It struck a blow at the root of the whole Romish system. Before a free Bible, and fair play for all who used it, the Pope's champions could not long stand. The huge fabric of Popery cracked, shivered, and came to the ground like a pack of cards. With a Bible in every- parish church, every. thoughtful man soon saw that the religion of the priests had no warrant of Holy Scripture.

It is a striking and instructive fact, that of all the agencies which combined to win the English Reformation, hardly any called forth such bitter opposition as the translation and circulation of the Scriptures. Even in 1519, long before Cramer began his good work, Fox records that six men and a woman were burned at Coventry, for teaching their children the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments. And the charge against the accused persons was, not the possession of a Bible, but of an English Bible, or "book of the new law in England."

Afterwords, when the Reformation fairly began, nothing seems to have alarmed and enraged the Romish priesthood so much as the spread of English Bibles. It was this which cost the martyred Reformer Tyndale his life. He was burned because he would translate and circulate the Scriptures The relentless enmity with which he was persecuted and finally hunted to death, by Sir Thomas More and others, tells a tale which he who runs may read.

For another thing, we owe to the Reformation an open road to the throne of grace and the great fountain of peace with God. That blessed road had been long blocked up and made impassable by heaps of rubbish of man's invention. Under pretense of mending and improving the road, the divines of Rome had spoiled it altogether. He who desired to obtain forgiveness had to seek it through a jungle of priests, saints, Mary-worship, masses, penances, confession, absolution, and the like, so that there might as well have been no Throne of Grace at all.

THE WAY TO GOD OPENED

The huge mass of rubbish was shoveled out of the way by the Reformers. The doctrine of our glorious XIth Article was everywhere preached, published, and proclaimed. People were taught that justification was by faith without the deeds of the law, and that every heavy-laden sinner on earth had a fight to go straight to the Lord Jesus Christ for remission of sins, without waiting for Pope or priest, confession or absolution, masses or extreme unction. From that time the backbone of English Popery was broken. You that are walking by faith and enjoying peace with God, by simple trust in the precious blood of Atonement, never forget that you owe this priceless privilege to the Reformation.

For ever let us thank God for the Reformation. It lighted a candle which ought never to be extinguished or allowed to grow

dim. And for ever let us remember that the Reformation was won for us by the blood of the martyrs, quite as much as by their preaching and praying, and writing and legislation. It was forged in the fires of Oxford, and Smithfield. It cost the lives of one Archbishop, four Bishops, and 280 other men and women, who died rather than give place to Popery.

Shall we in this century talk lightly. of the great work which they did? Shall we entertain for a moment the idea of forsaking Reformation principles and going back to Rome? Once more I say, God forbid! The man who counsels such base apostasy and suicidal folly must be judicially blind. The iron collar has been broken; let us not put it on again. The prison has been thrown open; let us not resume the yoke and return to our chains.

by JOHN CHARLES (J. C.) RYLE (1816-1900)

Bishop of Liverpool. Born at Macclefield and educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, the son of a wealthy banker, he was destined for a career in politics. A fine athlete, he rowed and played cricket for Oxford and also took a first class degree in Modern Greats, but declined offers of a college fellowship. He was spiritually awakened in 1838 on hearing Ephesians 2 read in church, and was ordained by Bishop Sumner at Winchester in 1842. He pastored lesser known churches, until at the age of sixty-four he was appointed in 1880 at Disraeli's recommendation as first bishop of Liverpool.

Bishop Ryle wrote more than one hundred tracts and pamphlets on doctrinal and practical subjects which enjoyed a wide circulation in English and foreign languages. He was thoroughly evangelical in doctrine and one of the most prominent ministers in the denomination. As a churchman, he had no doubts about the essentiality of the Protestant Reformation for the people of Great Britain for their freedom to worship and to preach the 'faith once delivered to the saints.'

In his article "Why Were Our Reformers Burned?" Bishop Ryle squarely lays the responsibility for the martyrdom of the English Reformers at the door of the Church of Rome.

95_thesesThis is a vital question for all who stand for Truth. For some time now we have been hearing references to "the so-called Reformation"; "the tragedy of the Reformation", "the schisms of the sixteenth century." These terms are so often used by Protestants who are trying desperately to justify the Romeward trend of so-called 'Christian Unity'. Roman Catholic Apologists and propagandists have gone from strength to strength, aided and abetted by Protestants.

Was this great Spiritual event of the sixteenth century a tragedy? Were the Reformers Deceived?

Let us look at the facts of history for the answers to these important questions:

1. Fact number one is to be found tucked away in Hosea 4:17.

"Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone"

Ephraim-Britain has been joined to idols for a very long time. When the Northern House of Israel set out on the long migratory journey, which eventually brought the main body to these north western isles (in fulfillment of Psalm 48:2, Psalm 51:5, and Psalm 60:9), a great many idolatrous habits were absorbed on the way. For 1,260 years gross darkness covered the land. The lack of Biblical knowledge caused a build-up of a most pernicious superstition. Faith and morals were non-existent, except for the few who refused to bow the knee to Baal.

Many of the doctrines were of pagan origin, and the people, out of fear, had no other choice but to obey the priests. After 18 years deliberation, between 1537 and 1555, the Council of Trent drew up the foul doctrines of Rome. The tenets of the Roman Church are to be found in many Anglican Churches today.

2. Fact number two is that the Roman Catholic Church had to initiate the counter reformation, which gave rise to the notorious Jesuits. The avowed intention was the overthrow of the Protestant Reformation.

Hostile propaganda declares that the Reformation was against the Will of God and that Protestantism was a new religion, which did not exist until the 16th century.

3. Fact number three disproves this statement.

The basic doctrines of Protestantism are to be found in the three ancient Catholic Creeds embraced by the early Christian Church, namely, The Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed. The embracing of these three Creeds by true Protestants proves that they were not the instigators of a new religion. The Roman Catholic Church, in fact, formed a new religion in 1564 by publishing a completely new creed, that of Pope Pius IV with fifteen totally unscriptural articles. This creed which was eighteen years in the making, had never existed in any form before 1564. Many blasphemies have been added down the years.

The next line of propaganda declares that the Protestant religion was started by the wicked King Henry VIII because the Pope refused him permission to marry Anne Boleyn, after divorcing his wife, Catherine of Aragon. Any person who accepts this is deceived and does not know the facts of history. To think of a whole nation throwing

domination simply because a king quarreled with a Pope is not

off Papal

worthy of consideration.

Henry VIII, no friend of Protestants, lived and died a Roman Catholic and received the Title "Defender of the Faith", for writing a book against Martin Luther. The reader will, no doubt, want proof of this statement and the following extract is from "Civitas Dei. The Commonwealth of God" by Lionel Curtis - (All Soul's College, Oxford 1938).

"In England the flame kindled by Wycliffe, had never been quenched, even by the terrible laws which Lancastrian kings had enacted against the Lollards. Luther's appeal from the Church to Scripture quickly revived it. In 1524 Tyndale visited Luther in Wittenburg and started to print in Germany his translation of the New Testament. The Church was now alive to the danger of encouraging laymen to read the Scriptures.

When Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, found he could not prevent copies of Tyndale's Bible from reaching England, he commissioned agents to buy up the whole issue in Germany. Henry VIII himself published a book against Luther, earning thereby from the Pope, the title of "Fidei Defensor" which the crown to this day quaintly preserves."

Further evidence is obtained from "A Short History of the English People" by Johm Richard Green and the following is found on Page 321

"The young king himself, a trained theologian and proud of his theological knowledge, entered the lists against Luther with "An Assertion of the Seven Sacraments", for which he was awarded by Leo, with the title "Defender of the Faith". He also left a large sum of money to the church in order to have Masses said for the repose of his soul".

In Germany God raised Martin Luther, the Monk who shook the world. As a monk he had access to the Bible and when reading from Romans 5:1, he found peace with God.

The Church however, taught that salvation could not be found outside of her, but here, written plainly, it clearly states:

"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God".

Luther was a professor of theology at Wittenburg when he was informed that Tetzel, a Dominican and the papal Legate, was selling indulgences in the market place. Luther's anger was aroused because of this. He reasoned that if a man was justified by faith, then Romans 8:1 applied:

"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus."

He stirred up a hornet's nest because of the corruption in the church and in the form of his 95 Theses it was clearly stated:

la) That an Indulgence can never remit guilt: God alone has kept that in His own hand.

lb) It cannot remit Divine punishment for sin - God has also kept that in His own hand.

(c) The Christian who truly repented has already received pardon from God, and needs no Indulgence.

Tens of thousands of copies of Luther's Theses were printed and sent all over Germany. This proved to be the spark that started the fire of the Reformation in Europe.

Luther did not realize the issue that he had raised. The Pope thought it was a squabble between two monks, but he

found he was mistaken and ordered Luther to Rome in 1518. Luther refused to go, as he realized to do so meant a certain death. The Papal legate in Germany was asked to deal with the situation. He met Luther at Augsburg, and objected to statements in the Theses such as that the merits of Christ free the sinner without Papal intervention.

Luther refused to recant and returned to Wittenburg. In 1519 Luther caused a sensation at Leipzig by emphatically declaring that the supremacy of Rome was unknown in the Scriptures, and that it had grown up over the previous 400 years. The Reformer realized that he had gone too far to be able to return to the Papal fold, and broke free, taking the Word of God as his only rule of faith. On 15th June, 1520, a Papal Bull was issued excommunicating Martin Luther and ordering all his works to be burned. The fiery Reformer replied by consigning the Papal Bull, along with the Canon Law, into a bonfire in the presence of a huge crowd.

The real Doctrinal Reformation commenced in England in the reign of the boy King Edward VI. This was marked by the issue of two prayer books, the 1549 and the 1552 editions of the Book of Common Prayer. The first was a poor compromise but the second was a Service Book free from error. This was in the language of the people as opposed to the Latin mass which held the populace in bondage to superstitious heresy. The 1552 Prayer Book was significant in that the word "altar" was omitted from the Communion Service and "table" substituted. This was a severe blow against the Sacerdotelist element and was plain denial that the minister was a sacrificing priest. It was also laid down that the minister was to face the congregation in contrast to the Latin custom of the priest turning his back to the people. The 1552 Prayer Book also omitted prayers for the dead and secret auricular confession.

wide and the eyes of the world were opened to the marvels of the Scriptures. The way was open for all to accept Christ.

The martyrs laid down their lives for the sake of truth and millions died at the hand of the papacy with the name of the Lord Jesus Christ on their lips and a smile of satisfaction on their faces which indicated that their suffering was not fruitless nor had they died in vain.

Spiritual Principles of the Reformation.

There are four main principles which brought about the Protestant Reformation, the first of which is:

1. The Sufficiency of the Scriptures.

"But these are vvntten that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His Name." St. John 20:31.

The sufficiency of the Scriptures for salvation is the bulwark of the Protestant Faith. This truth emerged during the dark days of persecution as the servants of God were driven to their Bibles. The empire of the antichrist was shaken to its foundation when the lie was exposed, yet so many thousands in our own land are still held in the grip of papal bondage to look to relics, prayers to the saints, a long recital of confessions and performance of penances in an endeavor to be saved. The Scriptures contain all that is necessary for us to know regarding the way of salvation and freedom from corruption and superstition which emanates from Pagan religion. The Bible became for the Reformers the rule of faith by which everything was measured.

The Roman Church teaches that men are saved only by the Sacraments instituted by the Church and by good works. The Scripture declares:

"For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:8-10.

In the light of these words, inspired of the Holy Spirit, it is easy to understand why the papacy forbade the people to read the Bible for themselves; such declarations would surely undermine the foundations of the Roman Church.

3. The Blasphemous Fable.

The Roman Church has long taught the doctrine of what is called "the real Presence" and allege that by virtue of the words of consecration uttered by the priest the bread becomes the substance of our Lord's body and the wine becomes the blood of the Lord. This doctrine was first advocated by Paschasius Radbertus in the 9th Century, was taught again in the 1 1 th Century by Lanfranc and was confirmed in 1215 by the Fourth Lateran Council under Pope Innocent III. The Council of Trent in its thirteenth session 11 1 th October 1551) finalized the doctrine - in opposition to Protestant denial - in the following terms:

"This holy Synod do now declare it anew, that by the consecration of the bread and of the wine a conversion is made of the whole substance of the body of Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His blood; which conversion is, by the Holy Catholic Church, suitably and properly called "transubstantiation."

The struggle against this doctrine took place mainly in England. The Holy Spirit brought to remembrance the fact that the Memorial Feast instituted by our Lord in the upper room was only a memorial. During the supper of the Passover our Lord took bread and brake it and He took also the cup of wine and told His disciples that as He had broken the loaf of bread and as the wine had been poured out into the cup so would His body be broken and His blood be poured out. He further instructed them to remember His death and anticipate His Coming, in this Memorial Feast.

Romish superstition changed all this from Christian simplicity to idolatrous mass. the Reformation restored to the Christian remnant in Britain the real message of the Lord's Supper.

Our Reforming Fathers have stated quite plainly that:

"...Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ, but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth that nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstition.s"

Article 28, Book of Common Prayer. The Reformers further taught that:

"...Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said that the Priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead. to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits".

Article 30, Book of Common Prayer.

The fourth great principle of the Reformation is 4. The Supremacy of Christ

This doctrine shows that Papacy to be antichrist. The church of Christ should be more familiar with the Papal Bull "Unam Sanctum", issued by Pope Boniface VIllth in 1302: The Pope stated:

"We declare define and pronounce that it is absolutely essential to salvation for every creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff '

This claim has never been repealed and the present Pope is acting within the sentiments of this declaration. In the light of this fact we may well ask, "What of the World Council of Churches".

The Reformers replied to this fatuous claim in the words of Article 18, of the Book of Common Prayer:

"They are also to be found accursed that presume to say, That every man shall be saved by the Law or Sect, which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that Law, and the Light of Nature.

For holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby we must be saved."

Many long and bitter battles were waged and many lives were lost over the fight for supremacy. The Protestant Reformation decided the issue.

For 1,260 years the priests of Rome were each a law unto themselves and no one dared to condemn them, not even kings. At this moment in time the doctrine of the Roman

Church is established around the dogma of Papacy Supremacy. Here is one of the strong marks of the anti-christian system.

The Identity of the Anti-Christ

The identity of the Papacy as the Man of Sin - The Anti-Christ - was not preached publicly until about the 12th Century. Since that time the Waldenses and the Albigenses in Europe, Huss and Jerome in Prague Wycliffe and his followers in England, have all proclaimed the teaching, basing it entirely upon the historical fulfillment of the Scriptural prophecy. There has not been wanting many to preacah the same truth during the intervening years, nor is there to-dayl

Were the Reformers Deceived7

From the evidence of scriptural prophecy and by the weight of ecclesiastical and secular history the answer must be a resounding "NO". The truth is that the Holy Spirit revealed to God's faithful servants the truth of scripture and they declared it everywhere. Thousands upon thousands heard the message and were gloriously saved without priest or pope.

In our endeavors to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom to His Inheritance, we must keep within the bounds of Scripture and fearlessly preach Christ in all His fulness.

secret_gardenHOSEA'S THIRD DAY:

"Come and let us return unto the Lord: for He hath torn and He will heal us; He hath smitten; and He will bind us up. After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up and we shall live in His sight." (Hosea Ch.6 v.1 & 2).

Now according to the Scriptural symbolism a "prophetic day" can be a period of 1,000 years.

"But beloved be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day". (2 Peter Ch. 3 v.8).

Having established that each of Hosea's days represents a period of one thousand years, we must now look back to find a time in the his-tory of our Israelite forefathers when the Lord 'smote' and 'tore' them. This period is quite clearly the time during which the Almighty permitted the Assyrian Empire, 'the rod of His anger', to conquer the Ten-Tribed Kingdom of Israel, and take them into captivity, never to return to the land of Palestine. These deportations began around 744 B.C. and climaxed in the destruction of the capital city of Samaria in 721 B.C. However the work of deportation, the 'smiting and tearing' of Hosea's prophecy only came to a final end around 676/675 B.C. If we measure 'two prophetic days' or two thousand years from that date we arrive at 1324 A.D., the year of the birth of John Wycliffe — the Morning Star of the Reformation.

Wycliffe was born into the very night of Papal darkness when the Pontiffs ruled supreme. The peoples of Europe and of these British Isles were sunken in the very depths of idolatry and superstition. These were the days of 'bleeding bones' and 'winking images', of superstitious relics, masses and indulgences. Not only was this the situation spiri-tually, but those who dared to oppose were treated in the most cruel manner, e.g. The Waldensians and the Albigenses of France and Italy against whom the Papal armies advanced without mercy. At the siege of the city of Beziers, when protests were made that in slaying the inhabitants indescriminateiy some Romanists would perish with the heretics, the Papal Legate commanded: "kill them all, God will know His own".

In addition the ruthless Inquisition was already commencing its long reign of terror. Man, women and children, rich and poor, high and low were arrested on the slightest suspicion of heresy, and tortured in the most cruel manner before being handed over to the secular authori-ties to be burnt at the stake at the so-called Auto da Fe, or Act of Wycliffe's great work in the midst of superstition and persecution was to translate the Holy Scriptures into the English tongue, so that the people of these islands might read and in reading find Christ, the one Mediator and only way to salvation. So great was the hatred of Papal Rome for John Wycliffe that over forty years after his death they ordered his body to be dug up from the grave and burnt and his ashes to be thrown into the River Swift.

Nevertheless the work of Reformation had begun, the seeds of the Gospel had been sown, as Wycliffe's Lollards or Poor Preachers went around the land distributing hand written copies of Scripture. In spite of the fires of Romish torture which would claim the lives of valiant men like William Sawtyre and Sir John Oldcastle, the ground work had been laid for the events which were to shake these islands a century later. True to the word He had spoken to Hosea the prophet, God had gathered the outcasts of Israel, deported, dispersed and blind to their national identity, into these islands, and then even in the very midst of superstition and idolatry He had sent John Wycliffe the Morning Star of the Reformation after 'two prophetic-days' had run their course.

Furthermore God had promised that during the 'third prophetic day' of Hosea's prophecy He would raise us up to live in His sight as a result of the great spiritual awakening which we call, the Reformation. Sure enough, our people having broken free of the chains of Rome, began from the days of Elizabeth I onwards to expand and spread abroad to become the greatest Christian Empire the world has ever seen. Wherever the British people, the nation of the Reformation and the Open Bible, established colonies, missionaries immediately followed bringing the Good News of Salvation to the heathen, and translating the Word of God into their languages. Truly we had been raised up to live in God's sight in the midst of the 'third prophetic day' and to fulfil our role as God's Witness Nation.

THE LITTLE BOOK:

The next prophecy we want to examine in relation to the Protestant Reformation is that of the 'Little Book':

"And I saw another angel come down from heaven clothed with a cloud; and a rainbow was about his head, and his face was as it were the sun and his feet as pillars of fire, and he had in his hand a little book open; and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, and cried with a loud voice as when a lion roareth. — — — And the voice which I heard from heaven spake to me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. And I went unto the Angel, and said unto him, give me the little book. And he said unto me, take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was to my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it my belly was bitter. And he said unto me, thou must prophesy again before many peoples and nations and tongues and kings'. (Revelation Ch.10 v. 1-3 & 8 -111)

In this prophecy concerning the Reformation there are a number of points we must consider. The first of these is the identity of the mighty angel who holds the 'little book' in his hand. Whilst it is true to say that the word 'angel' can be rendered 'messenger', surely much more is implied in the text under consideration. Some in the past have claimed that the angel represented Luther or one of the other great Reformers or Bible Translators, however, so tremendous was the task of Reformation, that only a divine being was capable of accomplishing it, even our Lord Jesus Christ, the 'messenger' of the new Covenant. The angel is described as being clothed with a cloud, a terminology never used to describe any created angel, but one which reminds us that our Lord is coming 'with clouds' to set up His Kingdom on earth (Rev. Ch.1 v.7) and that He is the one who makes 'the clouds His chariots", (Psalm 104 v.3). We also notice that the angel has a rainbow around his head reminding us that He is the one who has entered into Covenant relationship with Israel, the people of the Reformation. The angel is then described as having his face as the sun and his feet as pillars of fire. Once again these are the symbols of deity and speak to us of the faithfulness and invincibility of our dear Redeemer King.

Having looked at the angel we must no go on to examine the 'little book'. The fact that it is described as a 'little book OPEN' implies that there was a time when the book had been closed. There-fore the prophecy can only apply to one Book, the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, given under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for the guidance and instruction of God's people, and closed to that same people during that period of history when Rome reigned supreme, and which has rightly earned the title the 'Dark Ages'. The apostacy of Christendom that followed on from the days of the Emperor Constantine was largely due to the fact that the Bible was a closed book. Translated from the original Hebrew and Greek into Latin by Jerome, it was of little value to the mass of the people, many of whom could not read and write, and those who could were fluent only in their own native tongue. Not content with this the Papacy saw fit to issue a number of formal decrees forbidding the Scriptures to the people. One such declaration was that of the Council of Toulouse in 1229 which stated:

'We prohibit also the permitting of the laity to have the books of the work of cleansing the sanctuary and seeking to re-establish the Biblical pattern has continued until this very day as truth has been progressively revealed.

Now with regard to the command to 'leave out the Court of the Gentiles', I believe that this refers to the clear cut division of Christen-dom into two irreconcilable parts, Reformed and Roman. True to the command not to measure the Gentile Court, the Reformers did not attempt to reform or reconstitute Rome from within, but rather re-jected the entire system as being Anti-Christ and made a complete and total separation from it. It is of great interest to note that this division saw the Reformation firmly established in Britain, Holland, northern Germany and Scandinavia where the descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel dwelt, whilst the Reformed faith failed to make a lasting impact in such lands as Spain, Portugal and Italy, the nations of the Gentile Court, the territories of the old Roman Empire.

As to the treading down of the Holy City for '42 months', we know that this refers to the period when the Papacy would have un-limited power to persecute the people of God. If we take it that each of the 42 months contained 30 days, this gives us a period of 1260 days, and on the basis of Exekiel Ch. 4 v.6 we can take each day to represent a year, prophetically. So the Papal Beast was to exercise this persecuting power and authority for 42 prophetic months of 1260 years. The following two time measures will illustrate the point.

TIME MEASURE I:

606 A.D — Decree of the Emperor Phocas makes the Pope 'Uni-versal Bishop'.

1260 (42 months)

1866 A.D. — Last two Protestants burned by Papal Decree at Bar letta, Italy.

TIME MEASURE II:

610 A.D. — Death of Emperor Phocas

1260 A.D. (42 months)

1870 A.D. — The city of Rome captured and incorporated into the United Kingdom of Italy. The Pope loses his temporal powers and becomes the "Prisoner of the Vatican". The Decree of Papal Infallibility is issued.

THE TWO WITNESSES:

"And I will give power unto my two witnesses and they shall prophecy one thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two candle-sticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophesy; and these have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues as often as they will. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, Where our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and a half and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put into graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry and send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. And after three days and a half the spirit of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them". (Revelation Ch.11 v.3-12)

The prophecy of the Two Witnesses immediately connects with the prophecy of the Measuring Rod, due to the time factor of 1260 days during which the Witnesses were to carry out their work. As we have already seen this period of 1260 days is the same period as 42 months and both refer to a time span of 1260 prophetic year-days, during which the Papal Antichrist would have the power to persecute and wear out the saints of God. Now let us identify who these Witnesses are, who operate during this period of history. The word 'witness' is used in the Old Testament to describe the nation Israel: "Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord that I am God". (Isaiah Ch. 43 v.12). The word is also used in the New Testament to describe the first Christians:— "Ye shall be witnesses to me", (Acts Ch. 1 v.8). The prophecy must therefore refer to the faithful Christians of Israelite descent gathered in these islands and scattered in various parts of North Western Europe in this New Covenant age, who had kept the truth of God alive by their witness and testimony during the dark night of Papal persecution and superstition. This remnant testimony, this witnessing 'new covenant' church are described as carrying out their work clothed in sackcloth, empowered by the Spirit of God. They had no easy task, standing for truth against error in the midst of the fiercest opposition, and only the power of the Holy Spirit, the same power promised by Jesus to His followers in Luke Ch. 24 v.49 could have sustained them in their struggle with the Papal Beast. However the Witnesses are described as being two in number, and are likened to two olive trees and two candlesticks. This symbolism takes us back to an Old Testament prophecy given in Zechariah Ch.4 v.2-14, where the prophet was given a vision of two olive trees on each side of a candlestick into which they channelled the oil for burning. John the Revelator tells us earlier in his Revelation vision that a candlestick re-presents a church. The two olive trees which supplied the oil and light of illumination to this witnessing remnant of Christian Israelites must surely refer to the Old and NewTestaments for it was these same Scrip-tures of Truth which gave the Witnesses their spiritual knowledge and understanding and which upheld them even in the martyr fires.

Now let us look at the nature and scope of the Witnesses work and ministry. We are told that they have the power to shut heaven, so that there will be no rain, and that they have the power to turn the waters to blood and bring plagues upon the earth. These three characteristics of their work and witness remind us of Moses who in his stand for God had power to afflict Pharaoh's Egypt with plagues including the turning of the waters of the River Nile into blood. We are also reminded of Elijah the prophet who by the word of command withheld the rain from the territories of Ahab and Jezebel. Similarly, because the nations of Europe refused to heed the witness of the Waldensians, Albigenses, Lollards and Hussites, God withheld the spiritual rain of blessing and revival from the lands of the Papal Pharaoh, whilst the rivers and seas of the territory of the Roman Jezebel were drench with blood by way of wars, crusades, revolts and civil commotion. The whole of Europe rejecting the words of the Witnesses was given over to spiritual, moral and political plagues of the worst kind imaginable.

We are told that when the work of the Witnesses was complete, they were to be overcome by the Beast from the abyss or bottomless pit and be dead for a period of three and a half years. History de-clares that the Beast who slays the Witnesses is in fact the Papacy, the eighth system to rule in Rome, that vast politico-religious amalgam of evil which emerged on the ruins of the Rome of the Caesars, following the seven previous types of government which had prevailed in that city; Kings, Consuls, Dictators, Decemvirs, Military Tribunes, Military Emperors and Despotic Emperors. It was Martin Luther the great Reformer who declared on visiting Papal Rome:— "If there is a hell, this city is built upon it". The work of the witnesses was in fact complete, when having grown in proportion to the rising tide of error, they began with one voice to identify the Papacy as the Beast of Prophecy. From that time forth, a war of extermination was waged against them by the Roman Church so successfully that it resulted in their death for a period of three and a half years.

We must now ask ourselves, if there ever was a time in history when the voice of the Witnesses was silent for exactly three and a half years, and the answer is a resounding, Yes! In December 1513, a Papal Bull was issued summoning. the remaining Bohemian Protestants to appear and state their case before the ninth session of the Fifth Lateran Council, which was to be convened on May 5th, 1514. On that day no witnesses appeared in the Lateran Church in Rome, so much so that it was boldly proclaimed by the emissaries of Rome:— "This is an end of resistance to Papal rule and religion, nobody opposes any more". In truth the Witnesses lay dead before their foe the Beast. We are told in the prophecy that their bodies were to be in the street, or more literally, the meeting place of the great city which is called Sodom and Egypt where their Lord also was crucified. This once more enables us to identify the great city as Rome, which until then had reigned supreme over the Kingdoms of the earth, and which the Wit-nesses had referred to as Sodom because of the impurity and immor-ality of the system, and as Egypt on account of the idolatry which characterised it. The reference to our Lord's crucifixion shows us how in persecuting His saints, Rome crucified afresh the Lord of

Glory and how Christ Himself identifies with the sufferings of His martyrs during this Reformation period. The street, or meeting place referred to was the headquarters of the Papacy where the great Church Councils were held.

Furthermore, their enemies did not allow the Witnesses to be buried in that even although they had been silenced, the Church con-tinued to issue Edicts against heresy, even ordering the bones of the martyrs to be exhumed and burnt, and forbidding 'Christian' burial to those accused of heresy. The prophecy also tells us how the enemies of truth celebrated and exchanged gifts because the Witnesses who had tormented them were now silent. How true this was, and once again secular history records how the leaders of apostate Christendom cele-brated with lavish banquets and costly gifts the silencing of those who by their faithful declaration of the Gospel had been a constant torment to them.

Then, true to the prophecy, exactly three and a half years after the failure of the Witnesses to testify on May 5th, 1514, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Church door in Wittenberg, and the Wit-nesses once again stood upon their feet, never to be silenced again until the evil system of Popery is finally destroyed by the Lord Jesus with the "brightness of His coming". Even the Pope of Rome himself declared in 1523 at the Diet of Nuremberg, "the heretics Jerome and Huss seem now alive again in the person of Luther". Luther also stated:— "the old divinely ordained witnesses confirm our doctrine and the bodies of these saints arise as it were amongst us, with the newly vivified Gospel and awaken much confidence". Even the title, 'Protestants' adopted by the Reformers comes from a Latin word meaning, "Witness".

Whilst we do believe the fulfilment of the three and a half years to have been from May 1514 to October 1517, it is of interest to note in a purely British context, that a period of three and a half years in the history of our own land passed from the burning of John Rodgers the first martyr of Bloody Mary's reign in February 1555 until the last martyrs perished in the flames at Canterbury in 1558.

The final verse of the Witnesses prophecy tells how they "ascended up into heaven in a cloud and their enemies beheld them". The "heaven" referred to here is not the dwelling place of God, for their enemies could not have viewed them there, but rather it refers, as on other occasions in the Book of Revelation, to the political heavens, to which the followers of the Reformed faith were now elevated. No longer were they despised, persecuted and downtrodden, their bodies and their precious Bibles burned. Instead, the Reformers and their followers now attained the highest offices of state in Britain, Holland and the Scandanavian nations, whilst the Bible became the guide for conducting the affairs of state in these territories where the yoke of Rome had been broken.

THE GREAT EARTHQUAKE:

"And at the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand; and the remnant were affrightened and gave glory to the God of heaven". (Revelation Ch.11 v.13)

The earthquake here mentioned comes about as the direct result of the resurrection of the Witnesses at the time of Martin Luther. The earthquake therefore takes place subsequent to the events of 1517. In Scriptural symbolism an earthquake always stands for a great religious or political upheaval, and even secular historians tell us that this is exactly what the Reformation proved to be. It was the complete over-throw of the existing religious and political order of the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire, which had held undisputed sway over Western Europe until that time.

The city which suffers as a result of the earthquake is of course the "great city" spoken about throughout the Revelation visions, Papal Rome, the seat of the Beast. The tenth part of the city which fell, no doubt refers to the breaking of the Papal authority both tem-poral and spiritual over the territories of North West Europe which embraced the Reformed faith.

The prophecy then goes on to speak of the slaying of seven thou-sand men in this great earthquake. The number used reminds us of the seven thousand faithful Israelites who in the days of Elijah the prophet refused to bow down and worship the image of Baal or em-brace the idolatrous religion propagated by Ahab and Jezebel. However the word here for thousand in the original is "Chiliads" a sub-division of a people, e.g. provinces, counties, etc., and provides us with the key to the direct fulfilment of the prophecy in Reformation times. In the year 1579 the cruel tyranny of Roman Catholic Spain over the Netherlands resulted in seven sub-divisions or provinces, re-belling and throwing-off the shackles of both Spain and the Roman Church to form the United Provinces. They were:

1. HOLLAND

2. ZEALAND

3. UTRECHT

4. FRIESLAND

5. GRONINGEN

6. OUERYSSEL

7. GUELDERLAND

It was from these same United Provinces, a century later that God sent the deliverer, William III, Prince of Orange who defeated Popery in these islands on the banks of the River Boyne in July 1690, thereby saving us from tyranny and arbitrary power, and preserving the Pro-testant character of our Royal Throne, so that even to this day the sovereign of this United Kingdom must at the Coronation swear to be a "faithful Protestant".

The concluding lines of the prophecy, to the effect that the rest were "affrightened and gave glory unto God", speak to us of the further progress of the Continental Reformation in Scandinavia, Switzerland, and amongst the Huguenots of Frane, in fact everywhere that pockes of Israelites, "the remnant of the woman's seed, were to be found.

THE CONTINUING REVIVALS

"Then shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former lain together unto the earth". (Hosea Ch. 6 v.3)

This prophecy which follows on from that of the raising up of John Wycliffe during the "third day" tells us of the continued revivals that God has promised to send His national people Israel up to, and until, the return of the Lord Jesus.

Sure enough, from the time that Wycliffe opened up the Scrip-tures in their own tongue, the Lord God began to visit His people as rain upon parched ground. Over a century after Wycliffe, William Tyndale produced an even more accurate English translation of the Scriptures from the original Greek and Hebrew texts, whilst in 1611, there came into being our present King James Authorised Version, the work of some forty-seven learned divines. Truly, Israel/Britain had become the people of the book. As that Bible was read by the Anglo-Saxon and kindred people, they began their exit out of the Dark Ages of counterfeit Papal religion and began to come into the blessings, both temporal and spiritual, promised by God through His prophets to Israel.

God now raised up to bless our land the Puritans and Covenanters of the 17th century. Then He sent us those great Revivalists John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards, whose preaching throughout the 18th Century turned Anglo-Saxon Israel back to God, whilst Papal Europe descended into all the horrors of the French Revolution. Throughout the 19th Century as Britain and the United States continued to expand into the "nation and company of nations", promised to the patriarchs, God continued to send great spiritual leaders like General Booth, Moody and Spurgeon. Then in this 20th Century as the return of the Lord drew nearer, God restored the sign/gift ministry to our people by raising up George and Stephen Jeffreys to go across the land proclaiming the Foursquare Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Saviour, Healer, Baptizer and Coming King.

We were now indeed a people blessed by the "former and latter rain", for no other race on the face of the earth could have produced such a list of godly men in both quantity and quality. No other race has enjoyed such a cycle of revival blessings, bringing to multiplied thousands the blessings of salvation and redemption promised long ago to our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. If there was no other way to identify "lost" Israel in the world to-day we have but to look and see which nations accepted the blessings of the Reformation, threw off the yoke of Roman bondage and made the Bible their national guideline. The nations of Celto-Anglo-Saxondom are indeed the nat-ions of the Reformation, the People of the Book, Israel - Redeemed, Regathered and Revived.

CONCLUSION — THE COMING REFORMATION

"The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of a valley which was full of bones — and lo they were very dry — He said unto me prophesy unto the bones and say, 0 ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones: Behold I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinew upon you, and I will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin and put breath in you and ye shall live and know that I am the Lord. So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone; And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then He said unto me: Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, 0 breath and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them and they lived and stood upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Then He said unto me, these bones are the whole House of Israel".

(Ezekiel Ch. 37 v.1-11)

Sad to relate, these same people of the Covenant are found to-day in exactly the state that Ezekiel the prophet was shown them, as a "valley full of dry bones". The enemy has sown tares amongst the wheat whilst we slept, and to-day we are seeing a veritable harvest of modernism, rationalism, ritualism, ecumenism and resurgent Romanism in the lands of Celto-Anglo-Saxondom which God has so richly blessed. The wonderful truths which began to be rediscovered at the Reformation are counted as of no importance to-day, the liberties and freedoms pur-chased with the blood of the martyrs are scorned and despised by the apostate clergy of our main denominations who almost stumble over each other in their unholy haste to return in submission to Popery. The result is that the great mass of our nation is spiritually dead (only 14 % attend a Christian Church of any kind) and the cry of our people might well be, "our bones are dry and our hope is lost", BUT, God has pro-mised in this wonderful prophecy to "breathe upon these slain", to send one more mighty outpouring of His Spirit, the former and latter rain together, the greatest Reformation and Revival since Pentecost, the result of which will be that our people in all their lands will once again "stand upon their feet a mighty army". In that day the true Gospel shall indeed be preached in power and demonstration, the idols and abominable things shall be totally removed from the midst of the "nation and company of nations", the false religious leaders shall be swept aside, and the hearts of our people shall be turned in repentance to a loving, heavenly Father.

It will come to pass that this race divinely chosen, will become a holy nation of priests and kings to rule the world for a thousand years and bless all individuals and peoples, just as God intended them to do under the headship of Christ the King. To those who answer the .11 NOW and make their calling and election sure by faith, repentance and obedience, and who devote their time and talents to proclaiming this Good News of the Kingdom, God has promised blessed positions of rulership and authority in the coming Millenium or Kingdom Age. There is so much to inspire us to stand firm for the Truth and to press on to victory over sin, disease and death toward the ultimate Reformation.

Notice to Readers

In an attempt to provide a wide range of opinions and applications within the bounds of the Historicist interpretation of Bible prophecy, we have utilized the research and writings of a variety of scholars and historians. Being that the material found on this website has been written over a period of several hundred years, there will naturally be a difference of opinions and interpretations on various prophecies. This is due to the experience and knowledge along with the political and religious conditions which existed during the life time of each respective writer. For example; the perspective of John Wycliffe of the 14th century in England as opposed to the perspective of a 21st century writer in North America may somewhat differ on the same prophecy due to their respective vantage points of time, location and development of historical events.

These differences by no means invalidate the truthfulness of the Historicist approach to the all-important subject of Bible prophecy. Even though some teachers and writers may differ on some major beliefs such as the rapture, the nature of the Second Coming of Christ, the identification of Israel, or the modern Zionist state of Israeli, each writer sets forth a traditional Protestant view of Bible prophecy that has been unfolding in fulfillment throughout time extending from the Apostolic age until our present age.

Every opinion and/or interpretation presented on this website may not necessarily be the accepted belief of those who have made this website available.