Rev. 14:8. And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
V. 8. -- "There followed another angel." Some expositors (Faber) interpret this angel of Luther, some of Calvin; but no individual is sufficiently prominent in history to justify the application to him of so striking a symbol in so concise a prophecy. Such restriction of a symbol to an individual results from prelactic habits of thought. In the mind of a prelate the idea of a gospel ministry includes that of a metropolitan. This angel is, in fact, as usual, simply the emblem of the ministry, not excluding the social body of which they are the official guides.
This second angel carries forward the reformation effected by his predecessor, reviving that cause when it began to languish under the violence of Antichrist. "While the Roman pontiff," says Mosheim, "slumbered in security at the head of the church, and saw nothing throughout the vast extent of his domain but tranquility and submission, and while the worthy and pious professors of genuine Christianity almost despaired of seeing that Reformation on which their most ardent desires and expectations were bent, an obscure and inconsiderable person arose on a sudden, in the year 1517, and laid the foundation of the long expected change, by opposing with undaunted resolution his single force to the torrent of papal ambition and despotism." That individual was the heroic Luther, whose praise is in all the churches till the present day. No individual is so famous in the history of that eventful period as Martin Luther, for recovering the doctrine of justification by the righteousness of Christ, to the exclusion of all creature merit. This fundamental principle in the economy of man's salvation he justly denominated articulus stantis vel cadentis ecclesiae -- "the hinge of a standing of falling church."
By the defence and propagation of this doctrine especially, the priestly office of Christ was vindicated against the dogmas of penance, indulgence and supererogation, inculcated by the "Man of Sin;" and by consequence, one of the bulwarks of mystical Babylon effectually demolished. At the famous Diet of Worms, which, like the Council of Constance, combined the imperial power of Rome, civil and ecclesiastic, that indomitable servant of Christ gave a visible demonstration that "the Spirit of the Father" animated and "spake in him," (Matt. x. 20.)
Not less explicit was Luther on the fundamental doctrine of the divine decrees; which, with other Arminian dogmas of creature merit, had been almost universally propagated and stamped with the pretended infallible authority of Rome (see Luther's most important book, The Bondage of the Will-ed.). By the translation and circulation of the Holy Scriptures among the people, the idolatries, impositions and profligacy of the priesthood were extensively discovered. And after years, of deference to ecclesiastical authority, conditional proposals of submission to the Pope upon conviction of error in his theses, or conscientious belief, Luther in time arrived at the conclusion that the church of Rome was irreclaimable, giving publicity to his deep convictions in a treatise De Captivitate Babylonica, -- "The Captivity of Babylon." In the 18th chapter of this book, he discovered that Babylon is doomed to destruction. He considered the church of Rome as answering to the prophetic symbol, and of course not to be reformed. It was an obvious inference -- he ought to obey Christ rather than the Pope, -- "Come out of her, my people." -- This call was indeed a sufficient warrant to separate from the Church of Rome; and, acting on it, protestant churches have ever since been organized.