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pillar of fire, wherever it rested ? but because, in the providence and grace of God, the sacred scriptures were then opened or translated, even as the mighty angel that came down from heaven-held, and held only, in his hand a little open book. Before closed, it was then brought open to the earth. And so significant and expressive is the simile, that it has actually been adopted as the most significant of the event, in a manner that, as denoting the very fact, cannot be misunderstood ; for the common picture of the heads of the reformers, has, as their symbol, an open Bible* beside them, of which scarcely a child needs ask the meaning. The Bible literally means the book. And the translation or, by the simplest figure, the opening of it, especially of the New Testament unfolding the precepts of Jesus and the doctrines of the gospel, gave a character to the time, which, in respect to the wide extended diffusion of the scriptures by the then recent art of printing, the days of the apostles scarcely equalled. The gospel, as a book, may be said to have been for the first time open to the world. And coming, as every good and perfect gift cometh from on high, it may well be said to have come down from heaven, and to have been brought open to the earth by the hand of an angel, one of the ministering spirits to them that believe in that very book.
And he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth. The face of the mighty angel was it were as the sun; but though the light came from heaven and was the gospel of Jesus, yet it did not at that time shine with equal and unobscured brightness, from the one end of heaven to the other. The radiance was yet chiefly local, as that of light round pillars of fire. But though partial, it was extensive; and the place of the angels
* See frontispiece of Mosheim's Eccles. Hist. Glas. ed.
feet—the regions on which the Reformation settled, were specially marked. The Reformation was not like the spungy stalk of a mushroom rising from the earth in a night and fixed to an inch of ground, but like pillars of fire, resting on separate portions of Europe--and occupying a portion of the globe. The right foot of the angel was set upon
the In the downfall of Rome, the ravages of Genseric along the coast of Africa, and the shores of Italy and Spain, as well as over the island of Sardinia, were like unto a burning mountain cast into the sea.
Maritime regions, and islands, were the scene of the desolation. And the shores of the Baltic, or the northern coasts of Europe, and an island of the German Ocean, distinguished in like manner from inland territories, or the earth, by the name of sea, became the chief seat of Protestantism, when it first settled down, and was most firmly fixed.
The Baltic sea is imbayed by Sweden, which is separated by it from the rest of Europe ; and the Gulf of Finland, the large lakes of Ladoga and Onega, with the rivers and marshes in the narrow intervening space, almost cut off Sweden from the continent, till the White Sea, which mingles with the northern ocean, divides the great peninsula from the government of Archangel. The capital of Denmark, situated, like that of Sweden on the sea, lies in an island ; and that kingdom may be said to have its place in the bosom of the ocean. Maritime Holland, insular Britain, need not be described. Although the Reformation originated in the interior of Europe, it is universally known that these, from first to last, have been the chief settlements of Protestantism ; and that these kingdoms have mainly contributed to its establishment. But a few illustrations may not, in respect to the former, be deemed superfluous, as drawn from the same page of ecclesiastical history.
“ The reformed religion was propagated in Sweden, soon after Luther's rupture with Rome, by one of his disciples whose name was Olaus Petri; and who was the first herald of religious liberty in that kingdom. The zealous efforts of the missionary were powerfully secouded by that valiant and public-spirited prince, Gustavus Vassa Erickson, whom the Swedes had raised to the throne. This generous and patriotic hero had been in exile and prison,—but having escaped from his confinement, and taken refuge at Lubec, he was there instructed in the principles of the Reformation, and looked upon the doctrine of Luther, not only as agreeable to the genius and spirit of the gospel, but also as favourable to the temporal state and political constitution of the Swe'lish dominions. The prudence, however, of this excellent prince was equal to his zeal, and accompanied it always. And as the religious opinions of the Swedes were in a fluctuating state, and their minds divided between their ancient superstitions, recommended by custom, and the doctrine of Luther, which attracted their assent by the power of conviction and truth, Gustavus wisely avoided all vehemence and precipitation in spreading the new doctrine, and proceeded in the important undertaking with circumspection, and by degrees in a manner suitable to the principles of the Reformation, which are diametrically opposite to compulsion and violence. Accordingly, the first object of his attention was the instruction of his people in the sacred doctrine of the Holy Scriptures ; for which purpose he invited into his dominions several learned Germans, and spread abroad through the kingdom the Swedish translation of the Bible, that had been made by Olaus Petri. Some time after this, in the year 1526, he appointed a conference at Upsal between this eminent reformer and Peter Gallius, a gallant defender of the ancient superstition, in which these two champions were to plead publicly in behalf of their respective opinions, that it might thus be seen on which side the truth lay. This dispute, in which Olaus obtained a signal victory, contributed much to confirm Gustavus in his persuasion of the truth of Luther's doctrine, and to promote the progress of that doctrine in Sweden. In the year following, another event gave the finishing stroke to its propagation and success, and this was the assembly of the states of Westwaas, where Gustavus recommended the doctrine of the reformers with such zeal, wisdom and piety, that after warm debates, fomented by the clergy in general, and much opposition on the part of the bishops in particular, it was unanimously resolved, that the plan of reformation proposed by Luther should have free admittance among the Swedes. This resolution was principally owing to the firmness and magnanimity of Gustavus, who declared publicly that he would lay down his sceptre and retire from his kingdom, rather than rule a people enslaved to the power and authority of the pope, and more controlled by the tyranny of their bishops than by the law of their monarch. From this time the papal empire in Sweden was entirely overturned.
“ The light of the Reformation was also received in Denmark, and that so early as the year 1521, in consequence of the ardent desire by Christiern, or Christian II., of having his subjects instructed in the principles and doctrines of Luther.- His successor Frederick, permitted the Protestant doctors to preach publicly the opinions of Luther. He contributed greatly to the progress of the Reformation, by his successful attempts in favour of religious liberty, at the assembly of the states that was held at Odensee in the year 1527. But it was here that he procured the publication of that famous edict which declared every subject of Denmark free, either to adhere to the tenets of the church of Rome, or to embrace the doctrine of Luther. Encouraged by this resolution, the Protestant divines exercised the functions of their ministry with such zeal and success, that the greatest part of the Danes opened their eyes upon THE AUSPICIOUS BEAMS OF SACRED LIBERTY, and abandoned gradually both the doctrines and jurisdiction of the church of Rome. But the honour of finishing this glorious work, of destroying entirely the reign of superstition, and breaking asunder the bonds of papal tyranny, was reserved for Christiern III., a prince equally distinguished by his piety and prudence. He began by suppressing the despotic authority of the bishop, and by restoring to their lawful owners a great part of the wealth and possessions which the church had acquired by the artful stratagems of the artful and designing clergy. This step was followed by a wise and well-judged settlement of religious doctrine, discipline, and worship, throughout the kingdom.
The assembly of the states at Odensee, in the year 1539, gave a solemn sanction to all their transactions, and thus the work of Reformation was brought to perfection in Denmark.'
In the year 1534 the doctrines of the Reformation made great progress in Britain, in consequence of the publication of English books against the corruptions of the church of Rome—but it was a translation of the Scriptures by Tindal that was esteemed the most
• Mosheim's Eccl. Hist. Cent. xvi. chap. ii. § 30, 32.
dangerous to the established faith."* Queen Elizabeth, A.D. 1558, “ broke anew the despotic yoke of papal authority and superstition, and delivering her people from the bondage of Rome, established that form of religious doctrine and ecclesiastical government which still subsists in England."
« The seeds of the Reformation were very early sown in Scotland, by several noblemen of that nation, who had resided in Germany during the religious disputes that divided the empire.— The first and most eminent opposer of the papal jurisdiction was John Knox, a disciple of Calvin, whose eloquence was persuasive, and whose fortitude was invincible. This resolute Reformer set out from Geneva for Scotland, in the year 1559, and in a very short space of time inspired the people, by his private exhortations and his public discourses, with such a violent aversion to the superstitions of Rome, that the greatest part of the Scottish nation abandoned them entirely, and aimed at nothing less than the total extirpation of popery.+
“ The Reformation had not been long established in Britain, when the Belgic provinces, united by a respectable confederacy, withdrew from their spiritual allegiance to the Roman pontiff.”
The Reformation spread partially into Italy, Spain and Portugal; but these kingdoms were not ripe for freedom from dark superstition and the papal yoke. The darkness did not comprehend the light; and the watchful clergy of Rome, aided by the civil authorities, and armed with inquisitorial powers, suppressed the Reformation-and the angel who had winged his flight over them set not his foot, as a pillar of fire, on any of these kingdoms, where darkness still maintained its reign for a season.
The edict of Nantz gave freedom to Protestants, which its revocation disannulled. The paleness of death, in respect to religion, has recently passed over these countries, and rests upon them still, which would not then receive, or were shut out from the light of the gospel. Neither
* Hume's Hist. of England, chap. 31. † Mosheim. Ibid. chap. iv. 9, 10.
Ibid. § 12.