Prophecies of the Reformation?
FREDERICK GEORGE SMITH
An Excerpt from The Revelation Explained (Anderson, Indiana: Gospel Trumpet Company, 1908).
Says D’Aubigne: “John Huss preached in Bohemia a century before Luther preached in Saxony. He seems to have penetrated deeper than his predecessors into the essence of Christian truth. He prayed to Christ for grace to glory only in his cross, and in the inestimable humiliation of his sufferings.... He was, if we may be allowed the expression, the John Baptist of the reformation. The flames of his pile kindled a fire in the church that cast a brilliant light into the surrounding darkness, and whose glimmerings were not to be so readily extinguished. John Huss did more: prophetic words issued from the depths of his dungeon. He foresaw that a real reformation of the church was at hand. When driven out of Prague and compelled to wander through the fields of Bohemia, where an immense crowd followed his steps and hung upon his words, he had cried out: ‘The wicked have begun by preparing a treacherous snare for a goose. But if even the goose, which is only a domestic bird, a peaceful animal, and whose flight is not very far in the air, has nevertheless broken through their toils, other birds, soaring more boldly towards the sky, will break through them with still greater force. Instead of a feeble goose, the truth will send forth eagles and keen-eyed vultures.’ This prediction was fulfilled by the reformers.
“When the venerable priest had been summoned by Sigismund’s order before the Council of Constance, and had been thrown into prison, the chapel of Bethlehem, in which he had proclaimed the gospel and the future triumphs of Christ, occupied his mind much more than his own defence. One night the holy martyr saw in imagination, from the depths of his dungeon, the pictures of Christ which he had painted on the walls of his oratory, effaced by the Pope and his bishops. This vision distressed him; but on the next day he saw many painters occupied in restoring these figures in greater number and in brighter colors. As soon as the task was ended, the painters, who were surrounded by an immense crowd, exclaimed, ‘Now let the popes and bishops come! they shall never efface them more!’ And many people rejoiced in Bethlehem, and I with them, adds John Huss. ‘Busy yourself with your defence rather than with your dreams,’ said his faithful friend, the Knight of Chlum, to whom he had communicated this vision. ‘I am no dreamer,’ replied Huss, ‘but I maintain this for certain, that the image of Christ will never be effaced. They have wished to destroy it, but it shall be painted afresh in all hearts by much better preachers than myself. The nation that loves Christ will rejoice at this. And I, awaking from the dead, and rising so to speak, from my grave, shall leap with great joy.’” History of the Reformation, Book I, Chap. 6.
This bold witness for Christ was burned at the stake July 6, 1415, by order of the General Council of Constance. When the fagots were piled up around him ready for the torch, he said to the executioner, “You are now going to burn a goose [Huss signifying goose in the Bohemian language]; but in a century you will have a swan whom you can neither roast nor boil.” Fox’s Book of Martyrs. This was fulfilled in Martin Luther.
Henry Institorus, an inquisitor, uttered these remarkable words: “‘All the world cries out and demands a council, but there is no human power that can reform the church by a council. The Most High will find other means, which are at present unknown to us, although they may be at our very doors, to bring back the church to its pristine condition.’ This remarkable prophecy, delivered by an inquisitor at the very period of Luther’s birth, is the best apology for the reformation.”
Andrew Proles, provincial of the Augustinians, used often to say: “Whence, then, proceeds so much darkness and such horrible superstitions? O my brethren! Christianity needs a bold and a great reform, and methinks I see it already approaching.... I am bent with the weight of years, and weak in body, and I have not the learning, the ability, and eloquence, that so great an undertaking requires. But God will raise up a hero, who by his age, strength, talents, learning, genius and eloquence, shall hold the foremost place. He will begin the reformation; he will oppose error, and God will give him boldness to resist the mighty ones of the earth.”
John Hilten censured the most flagrant abuses of the monastic life, and the exasperated monks threw him into prison and treated him shamefully. “The Franciscan, forgetting his malady and groaning heavily, replied: ‘I bear your insults calmly for the love of Christ; for I have said nothing that can injure the monastic state: I have only censured its most crying abuses.’ ‘But,’ continued he (according to what Melancthon records in his Apology for the Augsburg Confession of Faith), ‘another man will rise in the year of our Lord 1516: he will destroy you, and you shall not be able to resist him.’”
In 1516 Luther held a public discussion with Feldkirchen, in which he upheld certain doctrines of truth that made a great stir among the Romanists. Says D’Aubigne: “The disputation took place in 1516. This was Luther’s first attack upon the dominion of the sophists and upon the Papacy, as he himself characterizes it.” And again, “This disputation made a great noise, and it has been considered as the beginning of the reformation.” Book I, Chap. 9. The next year, however, he entered publicly upon the actual work of reformation.
Frederick of Saxony, surnamed the Wise, was the most powerful elector of the German empire at the period of the reformation. A dream he had and related just before the world was startled by the first great act of reformation is so striking that I feel justified in repeating it in this connection. It was as follows:
“Having gone to bed last night, tired and dispirited, I soon fell asleep after saying my prayers, and slept calmly for about two hours and a half. I then awoke, and all kinds of thoughts occupied me until midnight.... I then fell asleep again, and dreamed the Almighty sent me a monk, who was a true son of Paul the apostle. He was accompanied by all the saints, in obedience to God’s command, to bear him testimony, and to assure me that he did not come with any fraudulent design, but that all he should do was conformable to the will of God. They asked my gracious permission to let him write something on the doors of the palace-chapel at Wittenberg, which I conceded through my chancellor. Upon this, the monk retired thither and began to write; so large were the characters that I could read from Schweinitz what he was writing [about 18 miles]. The pen he used was so long that its extremity reached as far as Rome, where it pierced the ears of a lion which lay there, and shook the triple crown on the Pope’s head. All the cardinals and princes ran up hastily and endeavored to support it.... I stretched out my arm: that moment I awoke with my arm extended, in great alarm and very angry with this monk, who could not guide his pen better. I recovered myself a little.... It was only a dream. I was still half asleep, and once more closed my eyes. The dream came again. The lion, still disturbed by the pen, began to roar with all his might, until the whole city of Rome, and all the States of the holy empire, ran up to know what was the matter. The Pope called upon us to oppose this monk, and addressed himself particularly to me, because the friar was living in my dominions. I again awoke, repeated the Lord’s prayer, entreated God to preserve his Holiness, and fell asleep.... I then dreamt that all the princes of the empire, and we along with them, hastened to Rome, and endeavored one after another to break this pen; but the greater our exertions the stronger it became: it crackled as if it had been made of iron: we gave it up as hopeless. I then asked the monk (for I was now at Rome, now at Wittenberg) where he had got that pen, and how it came to be so strong. [In those days they used goosequills for pens.] ‘This pen,’ replied he, ‘belonged to a Bohemian goose [Huss] a hundred years old. I had it from one of my old schoolmasters. It is so strong because no one can take the pith out of it, and I am myself quite astonished at it.’ On a sudden I heard a loud cry; from the monk’s long pen had issued a host of other pens. I awoke a third time; it was day light.” History of the Reformation, Book III, Chap. 4.
Frederick related the foregoing to his brother John...on the morning of Oct. 31, 1517, stating that he had dreamed it during the previous night. The same day at noon Martin Luther advanced boldly to the chapel at Wittenberg and posted upon the door ninety-five theses, or propositions, against the Papal doctrine of indulgences. This was his public entrance upon the great work of reformation.
Elector Frederick’s Dream
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