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lution; nor did they usually wash or change the garments they had put on. Thus St. Anthony [the founder of this order] bequeathed to Athanasius a skin in which his sacred person had been wrapped for half a century. They also allowed their beards and nails to grow, and sometimes became so hirsute as to be actually mistaken for hyenas or bears." —History of Romanism, pp. 88, 89. Reader, what was the condition of the church in A. D. 270, that the introduction of such abominations was possible?
Although many more examples of this might be added, I will conclude with two extracts from Joseph Milner:
“We shall, for the present, leave Anthony propagating the dispensation, and extending its influence not only into the next century, but for many ages afterwards, and conclude this view of the state of the third century, with expressing our regret that the faith and love of the gospel received towards the close of it a dreadful blow from the encroachment of this unchristian practise.”—Cen. III, chap. 20.
“Moral, and philosophical, and monastic instructions will not effect for men what is to be
expected from evangelical doctrine. And if the faith of Christ was so much declined (and its decayed state ought to be dated from about the year 270), we need not wonder that such sins as you see Eusebius hints at without any circumstantial details took place in the Christian world.”_Cen. IV, chap 1.
I have thus quoted at considerable length to show the reader that the real decline of the church and its rapid drift into the apostasy took place about the middle or during the third century. Taking this century as our startingpoint, the 1,260 years would reach into the sixteenth century somewhere; and when we come to consider the statements of history, as Milner puts it, it is not hard to place a definite date-the year 270 A. D. Measuring forward from this date, the 1,260 years brings us to the exact date of the first Protestant creed-the Augsburg Confession in A. D. 1530. To this date we must point both for the end of Rome's universal supremacy and for the rise of Protestantism. True, the work of reformation began before this time, but the adopting and the forming of the Augsburg Confession marks a clear dividing-line between the age of Romanism and the real rise of Protestantism. And this is the date and period at which God's people who had been held captive in the darkness of the papacy came out into clear light. Thus unmistakably inspiration has marked out the exact time that God's people were held fast during the dark night of popery.
The sixteenth-century work under Martin Luther has been pointed to as the date of the Reformation; but it may be well to observe that prior to Luther's time the Lord raised up certain reformers and that these prepared the way for the work that was consummated under Luther. Among them was John Wyclif, who was born in 1324. He was one of the greatest of the reformers before the Reformation. He was a man of great learning, and by his writings he fearlessly and successfully exposed the wicked and unchristian pretensions of popes, prelates, and Roman officers and the corruption of the Romish church. He was professor of divinity at Oxford, which university he defended against the insolent pretensions of the mendicant friars. He boldly remonstrated with the pope. Wyclif rendered to the church the greatest service that was possible in the order of instrumentality. Besides restoring the true doctrine of justification by faith in the atonement and righteousness of Christ, he translated the whole Bible into English. By the circulation of the Word of God, especially of the New Testament, a permanent foundation was laid for the future destruction of Romish idolatry and superstition. The principles of this reformer did not perish with the death of their advocate. Though his doctrines were condemned in popish counsel and his books destroyed, his bones dug up and burned to ashes, yet he had kindled a flame that continued to grow brighter and brighter until it became the blazing light of the Sixteenth Century Reformation.
Among the other reformers who preceded the Reformation was John Huss. He was converted by reading the writings of Wyclif. Huss raised his voice in Bohemia a hundred years before Luther offered to speak in Saxony. He seemed to have been able to penetrate deep into the real essence of Christian truth. The flames which rose from his funeral pile kindled a fire that spread through dense darkness a distinct light, the glimmerings of which were not readily extinguished. From his dungeon he sent forth to the world words of pathetic import. He foresaw the needs of the Reformation. Among the prophetic declarations of Huss are the following: “The wicked have begun by preparing a treacherous snare for a goose; but if even