Excerpts From E.B. Elliott's
THE 'GREAT EARTHQUAKE' AND THE FALL OF
THE TENTH PART OF THE CITY
The fall of the tenth part of the city. “And the tenth part of the city fell.”—To understand the intent of this prediction, nothing more seems necessary than to remember that the Apocalyptic great city included in its empire, according to the prophecy, just ten kingdoms; and that the word fall is used in prophecy with reference to cities or countries conquered, and transferred to the dominion of a triumphant enemy. It was the conquest and overthrow of the Papal Empire in one of these ten kingdoms, apparently, that was the thing predicted. As to the hostile power by which it was to be overthrown, I think the context indicates that this would not be (so as in the previous judgments on “the third part of men,” noticed in Apoc. 8 and 9) either heathen or Mahometan invaders: but rather the aggression of Protestantism, that most terrible of all enemies to Papal imposture; this being that from which the earthquake, or great political schism that has been spoken of, had its origin. So that we have only to turn to history for the solution of the question: and to ask; Was there any one of the ten kingdoms of Papal Christendom,—and, if so, which,—wherein, about the same time as the great political exaltation of the Protestants in Northern Germany, the Papal Empire fell, overthrown by Protestantism?
And, in answer to the question, does not history, as with a finger-point, direct the inquirer to England? to England, one of the most notable of the ten Papal kingdoms?—The story of the great revolution that now befell it is soon told. By the teaching of certain Lutherans that visited its shores soon after Luther’s return from his Patmos, in fulfilment of the commission given to him and them,—“Thou must prophesy before many kings, nations, and languages,”—by the teaching, I say, of these, and of such few survivors too as might remain of the Wicliffites or Lollards, the minds of not a few of the English had been secretly preparing for the change. But in this case their agency was at first less conspicuous and effective. Ostensibly the political movement had here precedence of the spiritual. God is a wonderful worker; and overrules alike the most opposite principles and characters, to effect his own purposes. The imperious and licentious Henry VIII was, at the time of Luther and the Reformation, king of England. In the year 1521 he had actually come forward to dispute with Luther, as the champion of the Papacy. Ere ten years had past, other motives swayed him. Dissatisfied with his marriage with Queen Catherine, and doubtful of its lawfulness, he sued the Pope for a Divorce. Unsuccessful, and revolted by the chicanery of Rome, he summoned his Parliament. Then the memorable act was passed by which Papal supremacy was renounced in England, and the king declared head (temporal head) of the church. So did Papal England fall in the earthquake; i. e. the Papal dominion in England.—In point of time the event synchronized with the earlier steps of the German Protestants towards ascendancy: the first threatening of separation between Henry and the Pope being in 1529, just when the German reformers united under the name of Protestants; and the Act of Parliament past in 1534, the year of the Treaty of Kadan; a year noted, we saw, as the second great epoch of the rise of the Protestant power in Germany.—As yet, however, Protestantism was not established in England. Through the remainder of the reign of Henry Popery indeed lay in ruins; but no edifice of real evangelical Protestantism was erected in its stead. But in Edward the VIth’s reign, which quickly followed, and which lasted till a little while after the Treaty of Passau, viz. from 1546 to 1553, this blessed consummation was effected. The English Protestant evangelic Church, thanks be to God, was fully organized and established on the ruins of the Papal. The bloody Mary, on succeeding, for a few years threatened its subversion, and the restoration of Popery. But a speedy death terminated her projects. The sufferings and constancy of the Marian martyrs served effectually to endear the Reformation to the hearts of the people; and indeed this was needed for that great purpose.3 The reign of Elizabeth followed. The half-re-constructed tenth of the Papal City fell again. And the Protestant or witness Church of England was then fully fixed in the heaven of political exaltation; where it has ever since remained.