HotFreeBooks.com
Of Antichrist, and his Ruin: And of the Slaying the Witnesses
by John Bunyan
Previous Part     1  2  3
Home - Random Browse

FOURTH CAUSE.

Fourthly, Antichrist must be destroyed, for the horrid outrage, and villainous murders that she hath committed upon the bodies of the saints. For there is none, as to these things, for cruelty, to be compared with the church of Antichrist, and her followers: For upon whom hath not her cruelty been shewed; have they never so little stood in her way, though never so innocently and honestly by so doing, stood to the truth and verity of God? Yea, the promoting of her own superstition, idolatry, and blasphemous rites and ceremonies, have been so pursued by her, that she has waded through a sea of innocent blood for the accomplishment thereof.

The poor church of God is a sensible bleeding witness of this, and so has been for hundreds of years together; witness the chronicles of all nations where she hath had to do; yea, and the sackcloth and ashes, and tears, and widows, and fatherless children, and their cries, of all which the holy word of God is a sufficient confirmation; 'And in her,' when God shall come to make inquisition for blood, 'will be found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth' (Rev 18:24). And yet has she such a whore's forehead, such a blindness in her judgment, and such an hard and obdurate heart, that it is not possible she should ever repent. Murders have been so natural to her, and in them her hand has been so exercised, that it is now become a custom, a trade, a pastime to her, to be either in the act, or laying some foundation for murders: Witness those plots, designs conspiracies, and frequent attempts that are, one or other of them, continually on foot in the world for the commission of murders.

Nay, the text last mentioned seems to import, that blood is so natural to her, that she sticketh not at any condition, sex, age, or degree, so she may imbrue her hands in blood. In her was found the blood of saints and prophets, and of all other carnal, natural, ignorant, graceless men that have been slain upon the earth. It is she that sets kings and kingdoms at variance: It is she that sets parents and children at variance, by her abuse of the word of our Lord and Christ. And besides, is it not easy, if we do but consider those bloody massacres that have been committed by her hand, both in France, Ireland, Piedmont, and in several places besides, without wronging of her, to conclude, that the blood of thousands, that have not known their right hand from their left in religion, hath been shed, to quench, if it might have been, her insatiate thirst after blood. Therefore, for these things shall she be judged, as women that shed blood are judged; because she is an adulteress, and blood is in her hands (Eze 23:45). She hath been as a beast of prey: Nay, worse; for they do but kill and tear for the hunger of themselves, and of their whelps: but she, to satisfy her wanton and beastly lusts. 'They have cast lots for my people; [saith God] and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink' (Joel 3:3): and therefore must Antichrist be destroyed. Forbearance is no payment, God's patience is not a sign that he forgetteth to take vengeance; but rather, that he waiteth till his own are come out of her, and until her iniquity is filled up: For then he will execute the judgment written, and will remember, as has been said, the Babylonians, and all their ways. 17

FIFTH CAUSE.

Fifthly, Antichrist must be destroyed, because she hath put out of order, and confounded the rule and government that God has set up in the world. I say, she has put it out of order, and confounded it in all places where she rules; so that it cannot accomplish the design of him that ordained it, To wit, To be a terror to evil works, and a praise to them that do well. Wherefore we read, That those horns or kings where Mystery Babylon sitteth, are upon the heads of that beast that carrieth her, which beast is her protector. Magistracy is God's ordinance, appointed for the good of society, and for the peace and safety of those that are good. But this Antichrist has, where she rules, put all out of order; and no wonder, for she has bepuddled the word of God; no wonder, then, I say, if the foundations of the world be out of course. 'Tis she that hath turned the sword of the magistrate against those that keep God's law: 'Tis she that has made it the ruin of the good and virtuous, and a protection to the vile and base. Wherefore, when the Holy Ghost tells us, that the time is coming in which God will count with the bloody-minded, for the murders that they have committed; he in a manner doth quite excuse the magistrate, saying, 'Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not: The noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and of the prancing horses, and of the jumping chariots. The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword, and the glittering spear: and there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcases; and there is no end of their corpses; they stumble upon their corpses' (Nahum 3:1-3). But what is the cause of all this slaying, and the reason of this abundance of corpses? Why, it is because of the unsatiable thirst of the bloody city after blood: and, 'Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the well-favoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts' (verse 4). But doth this bloody city spill this blood by herself simply, as she is the adulterated whore? No, this church has found out a trick; that is to say, to quarrel with Christ in his members; and to persuade the powers where she rules to set ensnaring laws to catch them, and to execute the same upon them.

Thus when the synagogue of Satan, of old, had taken Christ, and accused him, they made Pontius Pilate to condemn and hang him. But God has begun to shew to some of the kings this wickedness, and has prevailed with them to PROTEST against her. And in the mean time, for those that are yet in the bed of love with her, the Holy Ghost doth, in the text last mentioned, and in Revelation 18:24 much excuse them for the blood that they have shed, and for the injuries that they have done to his people; because they have not done it of their mere inclinations, nor in the prosecution of their office, but through the whoredoms and witchcrafts of this well-favoured harlot, who hath with false doctrines, false promises, and causeless curses, prevailed on them to do it. And they have done it, rather of fear than favour. Some indeed have more doted upon her beauty, and have more thoroughly been devoted to her service: But they also had not that aptness to do so of themselves, but have been forced to it by the power of her enchantments: Therefore, I say, the main guilt shall be laid at her door, for that she in chief has deserved it. 'Son of man [says God] take up a lamentation for the princes of Israel.' Why? Because their mother, the church, was at that time adulterated, and become a lioness, had lain down with the heathen, and so brought forth young lions, that is, rulers: 'And she brought up one of her whelps: it became a young lion, and it learned to catch the prey; it devoured men' (Eze 19:1-3). It learnt, It learnt: But of who but of its dam, or of the lioness to whom she had put it to learn to do such things? Therefore they are to be lamented and pitied, rather than condemned, and their mother made to bear the blame. Wherefore it follows, 'She was plucked up in fury, she was cast down to the ground, and the east wind dried up her fruit: her strong rods were broken and withered; the fire consumed them. And now she is planted in the wilderness, (in the provinces of Babylon,) in a dry and thirsty ground. And fire is gone out of a rod of her branches, which hath devoured her fruit, so that he hath no strong rod to be a sceptre to rule. This is a lamentation, and shall be for a lamentation' (Eze 19:12-14).

SIXTH CAUSE.

Sixthly, Antichrist must be destroyed, because of her exceeding covetousness. Religion, such as it is, is the thing pretended to: But the great things of this world, are the things really intended by her in all her seeming self-denials and devotions. And for this covetousness also it is that this destruction is to fall upon her: 'Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, (to his church) that he may set his nest on high' (Hab 2:9); (for he could not do the one, before he had obtained the other:) for then indeed they began to be high, when they had so inveigled Constantine, that he bestowed upon them much riches and honour; and then it was cried by an angel, and the cry was heard in the city, Constantinople! 'Woe! woe! woe! this day is venom poured into the church of God!' (as both my Lord Cobham and Mr. Fox witness in the book of Acts and Monuments).18

Nor has any generation since the world began, been so insatiably greedy of gain, as these poor people have been: They have got kingdoms, they have got crowns, they have got,—What have they not got? They have got everything but grace and pardon. Did I say before, that religion is their pretence? Doth not the whole course of their way declare it to their face? Every one of them, from the least even to the greatest, is given to covetousness, from the prophet even to the priest, every one dealeth falsely (Jer 6:13, 8:10): Money, money, as the peddlar cries,19 broken or whole, is the sinews of their religion: And it is for that they set kingdoms, crowns, principalities, places, preferments, sacraments, pardons, prayers, indulgences, liberty; yea, and souls and bodies of men, women and children, to sale. Yea, it is for this that they have invented so many places, offices, names, titles, orders, vows, &c. It is to get money, to rob countries, that they may make their nests on high. And indeed they have done it, to the amazement of all the world. They are clambered up above kings and princes, and emperors:20 They wear the triple-crown: They have made kings bow at their feet, and emperors, stand barefoot at their gates: They have kicked the crowns of princes from their heads, and set them on again with their toes.21 Thus their covetousness has set them high, even above the suns, moons and stars of this world: but to what end? That they may be cast down to hell.

SEVENTH CAUSE.

Seventhly, Antichrist must be destroyed, because he standeth in the way of the setting up of the kingdom of Christ in the world. Many princes were in Edom before there was a king in Israel; and Christ has suffered Antichrist to set up before him. And he standeth in his way, and has so overspread the world in all places, with that which is directly contrary to him, that he cannot set up his kingdom, until that which is Antichrist's is tumbled down to the ground; even as a man whose ground is full of thorns, and briars, and weeds, cannot sow in expectation of a crop, until he hath removed them. And these seeds has Antichrist sown where the kingdom of Christ should stand: 'Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briars; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city: Because the palaces shall be forsaken; the multitude of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be for dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks, [this is to happen to the church of God,] Until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest' (Isa 32:13-15). And the antichristian synagogue be turned into a wilderness.

When God came from Egypt with his people, to set up his kingdom in Canaan, he cast out the heathen before them in order thereunto; 'Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it' (Psa 80:8). Wherefore, Antichrist must be removed and destroyed for this: For Antichrist is in flat opposition to Christ, as Tibni was to Omri (1 Kings 16:21,22): Wherefore Antichrist must die. The reason is, because Christ's kingdom shall be peaceable, without molestation; and glorious, without the fumes and fogs of antichristian darkness: Because also, as the world hath seen the manner of the reign of Antichrist, and how tyrannical and outrageous a kingdom his is: so they shall see the reign of Christ, by his word and spirit in his people, how peaceable, how fruitful in blessedness and prosperity his kingdom is. And hence it is that God purposeth to bury Antichrist, before he sets 'glory in the land of the living' (Eze 26:20,21). As also you read in the book of Revelations; for there you find the kingdom of Antichrist was destroyed before the new Jerusalem was set up. When men intend to build a new house, if in the place where the old one stood, they first pull down the old one, raze the foundation, and then they begin their new. Now God, as I said, will have his primitive church-state set up in this world, (even where Antichrist has set up his;) wherefore, in order to this, Antichrist must be pulled down, down stick and stone; and then they that live to see it, will behold the new Jerusalem come down from heaven, as a bride adorned for her husband.

New wine is not put into old bottles, nor a new piece into an old garment; nor shall any of the old anti-scriptural ordinances, ceremonies, rites, or vessels of the man of sin, be made use of, or accounted anything worth, in this day of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. And thus I have shewed you something of Antichrist, of his ruin, and of the manner and signs of the approach thereof; together with the means and causes of his ruin. All which I leave to the judgment of the godly, and beg their instruction where they see me to be out; and shall conclude, after a short word of application.

First, Must Antichrist be destroyed? Then this informs us, that a time is coming wherein there shall be no Antichrist to afflict God's church any more. 'Tis Antichrist, antichristians, and antichristianism, that is the cause of the troubles of Christians, for being Christians. And therefore 'tis from the consideration of this that it is said, men 'shall beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks,' and that they 'shall learn war no more' (Isa 2:4): Yea it is from the consideration of this, that it is said the child shall play with venomous and destroying beasts, and that a little child shall lead the wolf, the leopard, and the young lion, and that the weaned child shall put his hand into the cockatrice's den, and catch no hurt thereby (Isa 11:6-9). For as was said before, 'tis through the instigation of this spirit of error, that the governors of the world have heretofore done hurt to Zion, and I say now again, all things shall turn to their right course, and occupy their places, as do the bodies in the higher orbs.

Secondly, Is Antichrist to be destroyed, and must she have an end? Then this gives us to understand, that a day is coming when Antichrist shall be unknown, not seen, nor felt by the church of God. There are men to be born who shall not know Antichrist, but as they read in the word that such a thing has been. These shall talk of her, as Israel's childrens' children were to talk of Pharaoh, of his cruelty; of his tasks, of his pride, of the Red Sea, and how he was drowned there: They shall talk of them, as of those that have been long dead; as of those who for their horrible wickedness, are laid in the pit's mouth. This will be some of that sweet chat that the saints shall, at their spare hours, have in time to come. When God has pulled this dragon out of the sea, this leviathan out of his river, and cast his dead carcase upon the open field, then shall those whose ancestors have been put into terrors by him, come flocking to see the monster; and shall rejoice for all the mercy. In that day, the church of God shall say, 'O Lord I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortest me.—In that day shall ye say, Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people,' &c. (Isa 12:1,4). O how sweetly did David, and the church in his day, sing of the ruins of the Egyptians, and the deliverances of their fathers, which had been in times of old! (Psa 68). to wit, what God did in Egypt, what he did at the Red Sea; what he did to Sihon, to Og, and to the remnant of the giants: How he divided the waters of Jordan, and gave the land of Canaan in its fruitfulness among his people (Psa 105): How that though Pharaoh and his horsemen and chariots were terrible then, yet now there is nothing left but their souls, their feet, and the palms of their hands; nothing but that which can do no hurt; nothing but what may minister an occasion of joyful remembrance of them (Psa 106; 132).

Thirdly, Is Antichrist to be destroyed? Then this calls aloud to God's people to make haste to come out of her. 'Ho, ho,' says the prophet: He cries out as if the people were asleep: 'Come forth, and flee from the land of the north' (Zech 2:6). The people of God in the latter days will want a heart to come out of her, with that fear of her plagues as they should: Wherefore another says, 'Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not of her plagues' (Rev 18:4). When Israel was carried into Babylon, 'twas not that they should dwell there for ever: Though they were bid to build them houses, and beget them children there. But when they had built, planted vineyards, and got wives and children there, 'twas hard getting them from thence again: For now they were as it were naturalized to the country, and to the manners of it (Jer 29:4-7). But God will have them out, (but they must not think to carry thence their houses and vineyards on their backs,) or he will destroy them with those destructions wherewith he hath threatened to destroy Babylon itself. Flesh will hang behind, because it favoureth the things of the flesh, plenty of which there is in that country: But they that will live after the flesh must die. 'Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate,—and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty' (2 Cor 6:17,18). But why (some may say) must we come out? I answer, because God has temple-work to do, temple-worship to do, temple-sacrifices to offer, and none of these things can by any means be done, but at Jerusalem. But if you still object and say, 'The Lord has raised us up prophets in Babylon,' and we will not come out; you must not murmur if you feel what is to follow. And that such may know upon what bottom they stand, let them read the 29th chapter of Jeremiah 15-19.

Fourthly, Must Antichrist be destroyed? Then what mean they, who were to appearance once come out, but now are going thither again? If it cost Lot's wife dear for but looking back, shall not it cost them much dearer, that are going back, that are gone back again? and that, AFTER the angel had fled through the midst of heaven, preaching the gospel to those that dwell on the earth? (Rev 14:6-10). They that received the mark of the beast at first, before this angel came forth, are when compared with these, excusable (Rev 13:16,17): Wherefore, they are not threatened with that smoking wrath, as are these which are here under consideration.

You dread, that which is like to become of them that will be so mad to run into an house, when fire is putting to the gunpowder barrel, in order to its blowing up: Why thus do they, let their pretended cause be what it will, that are returning again to Babel. Are her plagues pleasant or easy to be borne? Or dost thou think that God is at play with thee, and that he threateneth but in jest? Her plagues are death, and mourning, and famine, and fire (Rev 18:8); are these things to be overlooked? And they that, as before is hinted, shall receive the mark of the beast in their forehead, or in their hand, and shall worship him, they, 'the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God' (Rev 14:10): And will this be a delightsome draught? Remember how ill God took it, that his people of old, in their hearts, though but in their hearts, went back again into Egypt. You may say, but I have friends, relations, and concerns in Babylon. And, I answer, so had Lot in Sodom (Gen 19:14-16); but for all that, he must either quickly come out, or run the hazard of being burned there with them. But methinks, a people that belong to God, should be willing to leave all to follow him: Besides, his presence is promised at Jerusalem, there also will he accept thy offerings.

Fifthly, Is Antichrist to be destroyed? Then let them that love God, his Son, and his Zion, cry to God, that it may be hastened in its time. One of the songs of Zion is, that Babylon shall be destroyed. The cries of the souls of them that were slain for the witness of Jesus is, that Babylon may be counted with, and that their blood may be revenged upon her. The promise is, that Babylon shall be destroyed: And do we hold our tongues? The church of God will not flourish as it should, until Babylon is destroyed: The world will never be in its right wits, until Babylon is destroyed: The kingdom of Christ will never be set up, in and by his church, as it ought, and shall, until Antichrist is destroyed: There will never be peace upon earth till Antichrist is destroyed: And God has promised that there shall be peace and truth, and glory, when Babylon is destroyed: And do we hold our peace? Besides, your innocency in suffering; your honesty towards God, in your testimony for his truth; the substantial ground which you have for the bottom of your faith, as to things controverted betwixt Antichrist and you, will never be manifested as it will then; and so consequently, you never so brought out to the light, and your enemies never so put to shame as then. 'Then shame shall cover her that said unto thee, Where is the Lord thy God?' Wherefore, as I said, cry unto the Lord, keep not silence, give him no rest, let him not alone, until he has delivered his miserable people out of the mouth of this lion, and from the paw of this bear.

Sixthly, Is Antichrist to be destroyed? Then let us live in the expectation of it; and let this be one of our songs in the house of our pilgrimage. God bids his people, while in Babylon, to let Jerusalem come into their mind (Jer 51:50), and writes to them that then were in her, to acquaint them that he remembered them still, and would assuredly deliver them from that place and state. And wherefore doth he thus, but to beget an expectation in them of their salvation and deliverance? (Jer 29:13,14). The Lord is so pleased with the faith and expectation of his people, as to this, that they seldom are herein concerned as they should, but he steps in with them, and warms their hearts. The reason is, because the faith of God's people, as to the downfall of Babylon, stands upon as sure a foundation as doth the salvation of their souls; and that next to that, God is as much delighted in what he has purposed to do against Babylon, as in anything else in the earth: And therefore, if you consider it well, the great and glorious promises that are to be fulfilled on earth, are to be fulfilled when Antichrist is dead and buried: These bits are too good even for his children to have, so long as this dog is by, lest he should snatch at the crumbs thereof; wherefore they are reserved until he is gone: For thus saith the Lord, 'That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon, I will visit you, and perform my good word towards you, in causing you to return to this place: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord; thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.' This is in Jeremiah the 29th chapter, verses 10, 11 and in the 31st chapter he adds, 'Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and of the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all. Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow. And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the Lord' (verse 12-14). Again, in the 32nd chapter, still speaking of the same thing, he saith, 'Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul' (verse 41).

I conclude this with that which I find in the 33rd chapter: 'And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me. And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise, and an honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them: and they shall fear and tremble, for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it' (verse 8,9).

Seventhly, Must Antichrist be destroyed? Then this should make us glad, when we see the signs of his fall presenting themselves to our view. Indeed, the signs of his fall, or those that forerun it, are terrible, and amazing to behold. But what of that, since the wrinkles that are in their faces threaten not us but them? A man is angry, and will punish; yea, and whets his sword, makes his rod, and he speaks not a word, but blood, blood, is in it. Indeed, this should make them that are concerned in this anger, be afraid; (but the judgment is, they are fast asleep,) but what is in all this of terror to them, for the pleading whose cause he is so angry with the other? Nothing whereat the innocent should be afraid. Cold blasts in November are not received with that gentleness as are colder in March and April; for that these last cold ones are but the farewell notes of a piercing winter; they also bring with them the signs and tokens of a comfortable summer. Why, the church is now at the rising of the year; let then the blasts at present, or to come, be what they will, Antichrist is assuredly drawing towards his downfall: And though the devil, knowing what is to be done to him, and to his kingdom, shall so blind his disciples, and fright the godly, do something like it upon the church of Christ; yet we should look through these paper-winkers,22 and espy in all this, that fear, yea, certain terrible judgments are following of him at the heels, by which not only the soul, spirit, and life of Antichrist, but the body thereof; yea, body, and soul, and head, are quickly to go down thither; from whence they, as such, shall not arise again. Amen.

FOOTNOTES:

1 'Paper-winkers,' in every edition, except the first, which was from the author's manuscript, has been altered to 'paper-windows.' Bunyan's allusion is to the winkers, called by many 'blinkers,' put by the side of a horse's eyes, to keep him under the complete control of his driver—and by 'paper-winkers' the flimsy attempt of Antichrist to hoodwink mankind by printed legends, miracles, and absurd assumptions—it is one of the almost innumerable sparks of wit, which render all the writings of Bunyan so entertaining and strikingly instructive.—Ed.

2 The absurd act to compel uniformity in modes of worship, (14) Charles II, had then recently passed; and when this treatise was written, it desolated the country. This paved the way for the glorious Revolution. The wicked fell into the pit which they had dug for the righteous; the hopes of the Papists were crushed; toleration to worship God was established. Let us follow Bunyan's example, and attribute these mercies to a gracious God.—Ed.

3 When seven members of the first protesting church in London were burned, a proclamation was made that no one should pray for them, speak to them, nor once say, 'God help them.' But the church pressed through the officers,—embraced and prayed for and with the martyrs; and all the people with one consent said, Amen; to the astonishment of the officers. And so these godly martyrs, praying and praising God, sweetly ended their lives in the flames at Smithfield.—Clarke's Martyrology, p. 500 and 516.—Ed.

4 Christian, read in these words your duty. Bunyan felt the tusks of the wild boar, even to the peril of his life. He bore with resignation all his sufferings, and was blest. Pity those whose souls are under the yoke. Antichrist, if cruel to the body, is more dangerous to the souls of men. Your prayers and exertions should be redoubled until it is delivered up to the just judgment of the Almighty. Come out, O Christian, and be separate from every system which is stained with the blood and defiled with the soul-harrowing groans of the saints of God.—Ed.

5 No man of the most refined education could have manifested greater delicacy than Bunyan has in treating this subject, leaving his reader to imagine whether the high-sounding titles, such as 'His Holiness,' 'God's Vicegerent upon earth,' which are given to men, are consistent with the simplicity of the gospel or not. If they are not, they belong to Antichrist, and will be consumed with the stubble at the brightness of Christ's coming, when he shall judge the earth.—Ed.

6 Antichristian statists of Antichrist. Those who weigh things to place them in their relative order in the kingdom of Antichrist, as the decree followed by the lions' den, &c.

7 The homilies read in the Church of England prior to the Reformation, called 'The Festival,' contains the pith of these lying legends and pretended miracles. Omitting the obscene parts, it ought to be republished, to exhibit the absurdities of popery as it was then seen in England.—Ed.

8 'The last stroke of the batter,' probably alludes to an engine of war used by the ancients, called a battering-ram.—Ed.

9 Upon the Sunday sports being authorized, and pious ministers persecuted for refusing to wear popish vestments in the reign of James I, that godly Puritan, Mr. Carter, exclaimed, 'I have had a longing desire to see or hear of the fall of Antichrist: but I check myself. I shall go to heaven, and there news will come, thick, thick, thick.'—Life by his Son, p. 13.

10 How remarkably has this come to pass since Bunyan's time; a slow but sure progression. That darling ugly daughter, Intolerance, was executed by the Act of Toleration. The impious Test by the repeal of the Sacramental Test Act, &c., &c.—Ed.

11 There is great difficulty in estimating the weight of a talent. Dr. Gill considers it about sixty pounds; this was the lesser Roman talent. Michaelis estimates the Jewish talent at thirty-two pounds and a half. The attic talent of gold used in Greece in the time of Homer is estimated at less than an ounce. The safest conclusion as to the weight of the hail-stones is, that they were enormous, and fell with a velocity to crush all animals to instant death.—Ed.

12 The reader must not misunderstand the words, 'The king kills her body.' Bunyan does not in the slightest degree concede to kings or nations a right to interfere with 'the soul' or religious principles or practices—these are to be slain, if false, by persecution of the preacher. Kings and nations will restore to the people the immense property and revenue of which they have been plundered, under the hollow knavish pretence of curing souls and forgiving sins. THUS will human laws kill the body of Antichrist. Every motive for professing to believe absurdities and contradictions will be at an end, when neither rule nor honour, nor pelf is to be gained by hypocrisy.—Ed.

13 This is a very expressive term, but better understood by Bunyan the brazier than by many of his readers. It is well known to those who live near a coppersmith's, when three or four athletic men are keeping up, bout and bout, incessant blows upon a rivet, until their object is accomplished.—Ed.

14 Protestant kings.

15 This Christian temper of Bunyan certainly saved him from much suffering while under persecution. It probably saved his invaluable life. But how deeply it increases the guilt of his persecutors, to send such a man to a damp wretched prison, for more than twelve years, because he dared not join in the worship established by law; and after all this, to hear his prayers and good wishes to his persecutors, ought to have cut them to the quick.—Ed.

16 Lord, what is man, to pretend to infallibility! His heart, be he pope or pagan, is 'deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.' Pope Sixtus V in 1589 issued his infallible Bible; but the edition of Clement VIII, in 1592, differs much from that of 1589. Infallibles ought never to differ with each other; but how often it has happened.—Ed.

17 These bloody massacres, to which Bunyan here alludes, were attended with atrocities at which nature shudders. In France, under a Bourbon and a Guise, the murder of hundreds of thousands of pious men and women, with helpless infants, threw down every barrier to the spread of infidelity, and a frightful reaction took place at the Revolution. In Ireland, under a Stuart and a Bourbon, still more frightful atrocities were perpetrated, and which were severely punished by Cromwell and his Roundheads. Under a second Stuart, awful wholesale murders were again committed, and punished by William III; and the voice of the blood that was shed by Antichrist, and the voices of people enslaved by prejudice, and vindictive, ferocious enmity—these voices cry for vengeance, and desolate that unhappy country.—Ed.

18 In the first examination of Lord Cobham (Fox, vi p. 732, edit. 1632) the gallant knight was asked by his bitter persecutor, what he meant by 'the venom shed over the church'; his reply was, 'Your possession and lordships.' For then cried an angel in the air—'Wo! Wo! Wo! this day is venom shed into the church of God.—Rome is the very nest of Antichrist—prelates, priests and monks are the body; and these pild [bald, but query, pillaging] friars are the tail, which covereth his most filthy part.' How peaceful and blessed will be the church when ALL her ministers can glory with Paul, in Acts 20:33,34.—Ed. 19 The principal cry of the traveling peddlars was for broken or light money, to exchange for their wares: now obsolete.—Ed.

20 Such has been the tendency of the antichristian church in all ages; witness the cases of the Emperor Henry IV, Henry II of England, and many others. The spirit and precept of Christianity, on the contrary, is, while fearing God, to honour the king; and that we be subject to principalities and powers, Titus 3:1; see also Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:1-7.—Ed.

21 See Fox's Martyr, folio, vol. i., last leaf.—Ed.

22 'Paper-winkers,' in every edition, except the first, which was from the author's manuscript, has been altered to 'paper-windows.' Bunyan's allusion is to the winkers, called by many 'blinkers,' put by the side of a horse's eyes, to keep him under the complete control of his driver—and by 'paper-winkers' the flimsy attempt of Antichrist to hoodwink mankind by printed legends, miracles, and absurd assumptions—it is one of the almost innumerable sparks of wit, which render all the writings of Bunyan so entertaining and strikingly instructive.—Ed.

THE END

Previous Part     1  2  3
Home - Random Browse