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lightning. This the Sybil has mentioned in these verses :
“ When he doth come, the fire will send its glare
Through the black midnight of the dark profound.”
This is the night which is celebrated in our vigils. We thus commemorate the future arrival of our King and God. In this celebration there is a double reference, namely, to his resurrection from the dead when he suffered, and to his future investment with the sovereignty of the earth. He is our liberator and our judge, our avenger, our king, and our God. We will call him Christ. Before his coming he will give this sign. A sword will suddenly fall from heaven that the righteous may know that the leader of the holy army is about to descend. He will come down into the midst of the earth attended by a train of angels, an unquenchable fire will go before him. The power of the angels will deliver into the hands of the just the multitudes which beset the mountain. From the third hour to the evening thev will be cut to pieces-blood will flow like a torrent, all the forces of the impious will be destroyed, he himself alone will escape, and his power shall perish with him. This is . he who is called Antichrist. He will falsely pretend himself to be Christ; he will fight against the true Christ. Being conquered he will escape. He will often renew the war; often be conquered, until in the fourth battle, subdued with the total rout of all his impious forces, he will at length suffer the punishment of his crimes. But also the rest of those kings and tyrants who crush the earth, bound along with him will be led to the king. He will rebuke them and chide them. He will convict them of their evil deeds, condemn them, and deliver them to merited punishment. Thus, wickedness being extinguished, and impiety suppressed, the earth will obtain repose. That earth which subjected to wickedness and error for so many ages endured unutterable servitude. Gods made with hands shall no longer be worshipped. Their statues flung from their temples and cushions will be committed to the flames. They with their treasures will be consumed. Which also the Sybil agreeing with the prophets thus foretold :
“ The idols men shall break and all their wealth." Erythrea asserted the same thing:
“Gods made with hands in fire will be consumed.” After this the low regions will be opened and the dead shall arise, concerning whom the king, and God himself, will make a great judgment. To him the highest Father will give the greatest power of judging and of ruling.*
Nor, however, will all at that time be judged by God, but those only who have professed the religion of God. For they who have not known God, since the sentence concerning them cannot be an acquittal, have been already judged and condemned. The Scriptures testify that the wicked will not rise to the judgment. Therefore, it is they that have known God who shall be judged according to their deeds—they who have done good will be received into a happy life, they who have done evil will be condemned to punishment.
The Son of the Most High and Almighty God will therefore come that he may judge the living and the dead. When he shall have destroyed unrighteousness, and accomplished that great judgment, and restored to life the just who were from the beginning, he will be conversant among men a thousand years, and will rule them with most righteous dominion. Even the Sybil in her prophecies foretold this : “ Hear me, ye mortal men, th’Eternal King shall reign.”
Then they who will be alive and in the body will not die, but through the same thousand years they will generate an infinite number, and their offspring will be holy
* I omit testimonies from the Sybils.
and dear to God. But they who will be raised from the dead, will preside over the living as judges. The unrighteous will not be altogether cut off, but certain will be left an evidence of victory, that they may exalt the triumph of the just and be subjugated to perpetual slavery. At the same time also, the Prince of Demons, who is the contriver of all evil, will be bound with chains, and he will be in custody the thousand years of the celestial rule. Then justice will reign in the earth ; no evil will be attempted against the people of God, after whose coming the righteous will be collected from every land, and when the judgment is finished a holy city will be established in the midst of the earth, in which God himself the founder, will dwell with the just.
Then that darkness will be taken from the world, by which the heaven will be covered and obscured. The moon will receive the brightness of the sun; the sun will shine seven times as brightly as it does at present. The earth will disclose its fecundity, and generate the richest fruit of its own accord. The cliffs of the mountains will drop with honey, wine will run in streams, and rivers will flow with milk. In fine, the world itself will rejoice. Universal nature will exult, rescued and delivered as it then will be from the dominion of evil, impiety and error. The wild beasts will no longer be fed with blood, nor the birds with spoil; but all things will be in quietness and peace. Lions and calves will stand at the same stall. The wolf will not devour the sheep. Dogs will not hunt. Hawks and eagles will be harmless. The infant will sport in the midst of serpents. Men will live a tranquil and most abundant life : they will reign with God. The kings of the nations will come from the ends of the earth with gifts, that they may adore and honour the great king, whose name will be renowned and venerable to all the people which shall be under heaven, and to the kings who shall reign in the earth.
EXTRACT FROM LUTHER. “ On the same year was held the disputation at Leipsic, to which Eccius challenged me and Carlostadius. But I could not obtain a protection from Duke George, to enter the town as a disputant; I therefore went as a spectator, under the protection given to Carlostadius. I do not know who hindered me from getting the protec.. tion for myself, for I was well aware that the Duke was not as yet my enemy.
“ When I was in Leipsic, Eccius came to me to my lodgings, and said that he had heard that I shrunk from the controversy. I answered, “How can I engage in it, when I cannot obtain a protection from Duke George ? Eccius then said, 'If I may not dispute with thee, I will not with Carlostadius : it is on your account I came here. Suppose I procure you a protection ? Will you then dispute with me?' Get it, and I will,' said I. He went; and presently a protection was given me, to engage in the disputation. Eccius did this, because he imagined certain glory before him, on account of my assertion, that the Pope was not, by Divine right, head of the Church. Here he had a fine field-an occasion of plausibly flattering the Pope, and currying favour with him; and at the same time of loading me with abuse. This he did strenuously through the whole controversy. And yet he neither proved his point, nor refuted my arguments. So that the Duke said to us as we sat at dinner, “Whether the Pope is Pope by right human or by right divine, one thing is certain, Pope he is :' which he never would have said unless he were moved with my arguments, but would have solely approved of Eccius.
“And here, behold, even in my case, how difficult it is to disentangle one's self from errors, confirmed by the example of the whole world, and changed by long custom as it were into nature. How true is the proverb, Custom is second nature. How truly does Augustine say, Custom, if not resisted, becomes necessity. I, who at that time had been some years most diligently, publicly and privately, reading and teaching the Sacred Scriptures, so that I almost had them all by heart—who had become grounded in the grand principles of the knowledge and of the faith of Christ, to wit that we are justified and saved not by works but by faith of Christ-who was then publicly arguing that the Pope was not head of the Church by right divine;-I say, I did not perceive that which followed by the clearest consequence from this truth, to wit—THAT THE POPE WAS NECESSARILY FROM THE DEVIL For WHATEVER IS NOT OF GOD IS NECESSARILY FROM THE DEVIL. I say, I was so bewildered both by example and the title of the 'Holy Church,' as also by my own habits of thinking, that I was conceding to the Pope a human right !-although human right, if not supported by Divine authority, is FALSE AND DEVILISH. For we obey parents and magistrates, not because they command us, but because such is the will of God. 1 Peter, 3."-Lutheri Opera, in Pref. tom. 1. Wittemberg, 1532.