THE MAN OF SIN, OR ANTICHRIST.
A GREAT FOURFOLD PROPHECY OF FUNDAMENTAL IMPORTANCE (#DAN 7:7-27, #REV 13:1-9, #REV 17 #2THESS 2).- THE ROMAN POWER.-ITS LAST FORM AS PREDICTED HERE.— INDIVIDUAL AND DYNASTIC USE OF THE WORD "KING."- AN APOSTATE, BLASPHEMOUS, AND PERSECUTING POWER, -EXACTLY ANSWERING TO THE ONE HERE PREDICTED, HAS BEEN IN EXISTENCE FOR MORE THAN TWELVE CENTURIES, IN THE SUCCESSION OF THE POPES OF ROME-ORIGIN OF THIS POWER.-ITS MORAL CHARACTER.- ITS SELF-EXALTING UTTERANCES.-ITS SELF- EXALTING ACTS. -ITS SUBTLETIES; —-FALSE DOCTRINES, AND LYING WONDERS.-ITS IDOLATRIES. -ITS DOMINION.-ITS PERSECUTION OF THE SAINTS.-ITS DURATION.-ITS DOOM.
INTIMATELY associated with the Apocalyptic prophecy of Babylon the Great, which foretold, as we have seen, the existence, character, career, and doom, of the apostate church of Rome, is another prophecy so closely related to it, that the one cannot fairly he considered apart from the other. The woman which symbolises the corrupt church, is seen seated on a "scarlet-coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns." As the angelic interpretation connects the woman with ROME, by the words:"the woman which thou sawest is that great city which ruleth over the kings of the earth," so it also connects this "beast" with ROME; for, interpreting its seven heads as seven successive forms of government, the angel says of them, "five are fallen, and ONE IS." Under one of its seven forms, then, the power here intended was the ruling power in the days when the Apocalypse was granted. That power was, as we know, the Roman Empire; it was by the tyrant Domitian that the Apostle John was exiled to Patmos, and it was under the Pagan persecutions of the Roman Emperors, that the saints of that age were suffering martyrdom.
The past as well as the future history of this power, is sketched by the angel. Five of its forms of government had, at that time, already passed away. The sixth was then in existence, a seventh was to follow and last a short time, and then should come the eighth and last; and it was on the beast as governed by this eighth and last head, that the woman was seen seated. Speaking of the "heads," or forms of government, the angel says, "Five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come, and when he cometh he must continue a short space; and the beast which thou sawest . he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition."
This scarlet-coloured beast is then a symbol of the final form of the Roman power, the last phase of that power whose entire course is represented by the fourth great beast of Daniel. (Dan. vii.) A careful perusal of these prophecies, leaves no room to doubt, that the same power is symbolised a third time in the "beast from the abyss," described in the thirteenth chapter of Revelation. These scriptures present a threefold prophetic history, of one and the same power; and that power, beyond all question, is the great, the terrible, the exceeding strong, ROMAN-Empire, the fourth universal monarchy from that of Babylon, the one which, both in Daniel s vision of the four beasts, and in Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of the image, is represented as continuing, till the establishment of the everlasting kingdom of the God of heaven.
In common with the three preceding empires this power is represented as a beast, that is as degraded, ignorant, and ferocious. Daniel, in the days of Belshazzar, long before the first Advent, saw it as a one-headed beast, John in the days of Domitian, when it had already been more than eight centuries in existence, saw it as a seven-headed beast, fuller detail being naturally revealed to the later seer.
As a matter of fact, the great Roman power, did actually exist under seven distinct and constantly recognised forms of government, enumerated by Livy, Tacitus, and historians in general, as such. Rome was ruled successively by kings, consuls, dictators, decemvirs, military tribunes, military emperors, and despotic emperors; the form of government being entirely dissimilar under these two last, though the name Emperor was common to both.
This empire is represented as existing first in an undivided state, and secondly in a divided tenfold state. As a matter of history, it is notorious that the Roman power has done this. From its rise to the fourth century it was one and undivided; since its decline and fall as an empire, it has been broken up into many independent sovereignties, held together by a common submission to the Popes of Rome. The number of distinct kingdoms into which the Roman Empire in Europe has been divided, has always been about ten, at times exactly ten, sinking at other times to eight or nine, and rising occasionally to twelve or thirteen, but averaging on the whole ten.
("It seems unnecessary," says Wordsworth, present Bishop of Lincoln, "to specify ten particular kingdoms into which the Roman Empire was divided; or even to demonstrate that it was divided into precisely ten kingdoms. The most ancient passage of Scripture in which the prophecy of the future division of the Roman Empire is found, is the vision of the image (#Dan 2:42), where these kingdoms are represented by the toes of the image. Being toes they must he ten. Hence, when this dismemberment is described in other successive prophecies this denary number is retained: and thus the number ten connects all these prophecies together, and serves to show that they all point to the same object." Wordsworth on the Apocalypse, p. 524.)
This is generally admitted, and indeed cannot be denied; the fact lies on the surface of the history of Europe since the break-up of the Roman Empire, and serves as an important clue to the true scope and fulfilment of these predictions.
The point of supreme importance, in connection with this thrice-symbolised Roman Empire, is (to judge from the great prominence given to it by the inspiring Spirit), its connection in its second stage with a peculiar and diabolical power of evil; the rise, character, and actings of which, are delineated with greater fulness, than are those of the Empire itself. It is evident that the "little horn" of Dan. vii., and the "eighth head" of the beast in Rev. xiii. and xvii. represent some important and mysterious power of evil; distinct from, and yet connected with, the Roman Empire, in its second or divided stage. How important this power is in the Divine estimation, may be gathered from the fact, that more than ten times as much space devoted to a description of it; than is occupied by the whole course and continuance, of either of the first three universal monarchies. These are each dismissed in a single verse; the little horn occupies ten or eleven, as if ten times more importance were attached to this strange power destined to arise in the second stage of the Roman dominion, than to any one of the vast and mighty empires of antiquity. Moreover, it is evidently the character and actings of this horn, or head, or power, that determine the doom of the beast.
Before we inquire what this power is, we must associate a fourth prophecy with these three, and consider very briefly St. Paul s prediction of the man of sin.
"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or he troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor hy letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come A FALLING AWAY first, and that MAN OF SIN he revealed, the SON OF PERDITION; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing him. self that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now YE KNOW what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth, already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall THAT WICKED be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie" (#2Thess 2:1-11).
In this passage, Paul, -in his endeavour to remove from the minds of the Thessalonians, the erroneous expectation of the immediate advent of Christ, which they were entertaining, and which they had perhaps derived from the expression in his previous epistle, "we who are alive and remain,"-reminds them of something he had before told them, that certain events had to intervene, that an apostasy had to take place in the church, whose incipient workings might already be detected. It was to issue in the development of a terrible power of evil, which he proceeds to describe, but which he tells them, could not be fully manifested, till a certain hindrance, (and what that is, he adds, "you know ") should be removed.
The very earliest traditions tell us, that the hindrance here alluded to was the Roman Empire as then existing, and that Paul having previously by word of mouth made known that fact to the church, avoided, from prudential reasons, more explicit reference to it in this written communication. He did not wish to expose the persecuted Christians to fresh dangers, by putting into the hand of their enemies, proof of what would by them have been considered, a seditious creed.
Tradition is often an unsafe guide; but in this case it seems peculiarly entitled to respect. The point was both an important; and a simple one; those who received the information from the apostle were not likely to forget it, and could scarcely err in repeating it; and from no other source than tradition, could the church of later ages learn, a fact, communicated by word of mouth only, and purposely omitted from the inspired letter of the apostle. We may therefore be thankful, that the tradition as to what this hindrance was, is of a very early date, is explicit, and agrees with what we learn from other scriptures; as well as that there is no counter-tradition on the point. From Ireneus, the disciple of Polycarp, the contemporary of St. John, we first hear, that the hindrance mentioned by Paul when he was with the Thessalonians, and alluded to in his second epistle, was THE ROMAN EMPIRE; and from him downwards the fathers are unanimous in this assertion. Paul says to the early church, "ye know;" the early church, (though not the identical generation,) tell us what they knew, and who are we, that we should say they are mistaken? How can we be in a position to correct their error?
Besides, there is the strongest presumption that they were right, for how should Ireneus and the fathers invent such an improbable notion? They were far more likely to imagine the Roman Emperor to be Antichrist, than to imagine him to be the great obstacle to Antichrist s development! ITS truth alone can account for the existence of this tradition, at the date at which we first meet it.
The point is important, because his connection with THE ROMAN EMPIRE, is one of the links in the chain of evidence, which proves, that the "man of sin" and "son of perdition" here foretold, is identical with the power described in the three prophecies we have just considered. He was to reign at ROME, else why would the then regnant power be a hindrance to his development? He was to succeed soon after the fall of the Roman Emperors, "then shall that wicked be revealed ;" he was to emanate from Satan, "whose coming is after the working of Satan;" he was to wield an ecclesiastical power, though succeeding purely secular rulers, "the temple of God," or Christian church, being the special scene of his ostentation and pride; he was to be an opposer of Christ and his laws; and he was to be consumed like the "little horn," by the brightness of Christ s coming. In all these respects, the power here foretold by Paul exactly resembles that predicted by Daniel and John, and as two such powers could not co-exist, it must be the same power. ITS rise, actings, character, and doom, are here foretold in plain words, while in the other prophecies, they are veiled in symbolic language.
In seeking the fulfilment of this fourfold prediction, we must therefore combine the features given in each separate prophecy, and, recognising the principle of progressive revelation, we must modify the views derived from the earlier, by the later prophecies, and those derived from the later by the latest.
The particulars revealed about this great and peculiar power of evil, or "man of sin," are neither few nor vague; but, like those given by the spirit of prophecy respecting the Lord Jesus Christ before his advent, -they are numerous, full, and most definite. They comprise explicit information as to the time, place, and mode of his origin, and as to the attendant circumstances; they assign to him various and deeply significant names; they describe his character and his actings toward God and toward man; his official position; his pride; his idolatries; his blasphemies; his lying wonders and false miracles the extent of his dominion; his coadjutors; his persecutions of the saints of God; his opposition to the Lamb of God; the duration of his prosperity and power; the causes of his decay and fall; his end, and his eternal portion. There is added, besides, a mysterious numerical mark, designed to secure his recognition by the wise. This is indeed the object for which this prophetic portrait is given to the church, that she might recognise her great enemy when he should appear, be sustained in her sufferings under him, and be encouraged to resist him even to blood. It is not a portrait easily to be mistaken: the features are too terrible and too peculiar, to belong to more than one incarnation of evil.
Interpreting, then, by the help of Scripture itself the symbols under which realities are veiled, and blending in our minds the scattered intimations of this fourfold prophecy of the man of sin, and son of perdition, we will endeavour to point out the power, that in every respect answers to the portrait, sketched by the pen of inspiration. That power we are fully persuaded, and hope to be able to prove to the satisfaction of every unprejudiced reader, is, the succession of the Roman Pontiffs, the line of tiara-crowned monarchs, who for more than twelve centuries governed Papal Europe, who ranked as temporal sovereigns, and muted under their sway the kingdoms of western Christendom.
As the Futurist school of interpreters hold a contrary view to this, and maintain that the fourfold prophecy in question refers to a single individual; and not to a succession of rulers, we must examine the symbols employed, and the statements made in these predictions, to see which view has most Scripture authority.
In Daniel s vision, the power in question is represented as a horn of the Roman beast-" a little horn." Now a horn in these symbolical prophecies signifies sometimes an individual king, and sometimes a dynasty or race of rulers. In the "notable horn" of the he-goat, or Grecian Empire, universally admitted to have prefigured Alexander the Great, we have an instance of the use of the symbol in the former sense; and in the "four horns," which came up in the place of that notable horn, and represented the dynasties of the Ptolemies, the Seleucids, etc., we have an instance of its use in the latter sense.
It is an exceedingly important inquiry, in which sense is the symbol used in the prophecy we are considering. Are the ten horns and their cotemporary the "little horn" individual rulers, or are they races of rulers? We turn to the angelic interpretation of the vision for additional light. "The ten horns are the ten kings which shall arise, and another shall rise after them." If the word "king" here, necessarily signifies an individual monarch, the question is answered the ten horns must be ten individual kings, and their cotemporary, the "little horn," must in that case be an individual also. If this be so, the Futurists are right; for since we know the "man of sin" is to be in existence at the coming of Christ, it follows, that his career is future; since an individual can live only the ordinary life of mortals. If we say again, a "king" must signify one man, and not a race of men, then the whole Protestant system of interpretation is erroneous; then the innumerable multitude of martyrs, confessors, and commentators, who have deemed that they recognised Antichrist, and heard his voice, and felt his oppressions, were deluded, and betrayed into gross perversion of the word of God; then the Waldenses, and the Wickliffites, .and John Huss, and Jerome of Prague, and all their fellow-sufferers were deceived on this most important subject; and then, moreover, the event, which the church of the 19th century has to expect, is not the speedy coming of Christ, but, as the Futurists assert, the very same that the Thessalonians of the first century were directed to look a prior advent and revelation of Antichrist.
It is therefore a momentous inquiry, which must not be lightly passed over, Does the word "king," in common and in Scripture usage necessarily mean an individual? On the answer to this question, depends in great measure our judgment, as to whether the long-predicted Antichrist is a past and present power, or whether we are still to look forward to his reign as a future event.
It is a maxim of the English Constitution that "the king cannot die." Does that maxim assert the immortality of an individual? or does is not rather assert the perpetuity of the Royal Office? "The king of England is a constitutional monarch," is a statement, which as much includes Queen Victoria as George III., though she is not a king at all, because it asserts what is characteristic of the whole line of English monarchs. If we read "the king of Prussia was at war with the emperor of France," we do not imagine that the two men were fighting a duel, but perceive that the word is used in a representative sense, the "king" including his kingdom, and the emperor representing his empire. In ordinary language, then, the word "king" may have a personal, an official, or a representative force; the context must in each case determine its signification. In treating of brief periods, and trivial events, the word is generally used in the personal sense; but in treating of long stretches of history, and great abstract principles, in the official or representative sense.
As far as ordinary usage can be a guide, the extended sense of the word, is therefore most likely to be the true one in the passage under consideration, which treats of the succession of empires, and gives an outline of the world s history to the end of time.
But we are not left to this presumption; the prophecy itself uses the expression in the extended official sense, immediately before the sentence in question. (#Dan 7:17) "These great beasts which are four, are four kings which shall arise out of the earth." Did this mean four individuals? Nay! but four great universal empires, each of which endured for centuries, under a succession of monarchs.
This proves that the ten horns and the little horn may be dynasties and not individuals; it does not prove that they must. It shows that Scripture uses the word in both senses, and many confirmatory instances of this official use of it, might be quoted. (Compare #Jer 25:9-12; #Jer 27:6-7)
The great question is, How is it used in the symbolic prophecies of Daniel? A little investigation will show that out of six instances in which it occurs, five require the extended official sense, and in the other, the two meanings of the word coincide. The probability, therefore, is, that governments, and not individual men, are intended by the ten horns and the little horn.
A further argument for the same view is found in the fact that these prophecies are evidently continuous. There are no gaps, between the parts of the image seen by Nebuchadnezzar; the ten toes, (which are evidently identical with these ten horns,) are joined on to the legs of iron. The interpretation links the history in the same way. Every subsequent stage follows immediately on the preceding one. There was no interval between the fall of Belshazzar and the rise of Darius the Mede. "In that night he took the kingdom." So in each case. How contrary then to all analogy to suppose an interval of over 1200 years, between the close of the undivided state of the Roman Empire, and the commencement of the divided state, which is presented as immediately succeeding! And this, when it is an undeniable and notorious fact; that a tenfold division did take place immediately after the dissolution of the old Roman Empire, and has continued more or less definitely from that day to this!
Prophecy foretells that the Roman Empire, when it ceased to exist as one kingdom, should begin to exist as ten; history tells us that it did so; and as we adoringly admire this correspondence, between the prediction and the fact, Futurist interpreters try to persuade us, that the prophecy does not predict this fact at all, that the ten horns do not symbolise the ten kingdoms into which the old Roman Empire was broken up; but that, leaping over the twelve centuries marked by this fact; to a period still future, it predicts the rise, of ten individual men, whose brief career of a few years, is to be terminated by the Epiphany of Christ!
Is not this to make the prophecy of God of none effect through their interpretation?
And further, as we shall hereafter prove, the chronology of these visions, is as symbolic as their other features, and is expressed on the year-day scale. The duration assigned to this great power of evil, is therefore 1260 years (time, times, and half a time); and this alone decides the question. The ten horns, and their cotemporary the little horn, represent dynasties, like the four horns of the Grecian he-goat and the two horns of the Medo-Persian ram.
The symbol employed in the Apocalyptic prophecy to prefigure this evil power equally demands its dynastic character, and forbids the thought that an individual man is intended. It is represented as an eighth head of the Roman beast, an eighth form of government, having its seat at Rome. Now none of the previous "heads" of the Roman world, were individual rulers; but each consisted of a series of rulers. Seven kings formed the first head, and lasted 220 years; consuls, tribunes, decemvirs, and dictators, were the next four heads, and governed Rome in turn for nearly 500 years; sixty-five emperors followed, and ruled the Roman world for 500 years more. Now the man of sin, Antichrist, is to be the last, and the most important "head" of this same Roman beast. If he be a race of rulers enthroned at Rome, and governing thence the Roman world for more than twelve centuries, it is in harmony with all the rest. But if the eighth head represent one individual, man, who exercises authority for only three years and a half, there is an utter violation of all symmetry and proportion in the symbol. Analogy demands that the last head, be like all the previous ones, a race or succession of rulers.
The Thessalonian prophecy leads us to the same conclusion. The mystery of iniquity was already working in the apostle s day; that mystery which was to result in the development of the man of sin. Now, if he be not yet come, and if when he comes he is to reign only three and a half years, we have this extraordinary fact; that it has taken Satan eighteen or nineteen centuries to produce this single, short-lived enemy of the church. Reductio ad absurdum.
If, on the other hand, Antichrist rose on the fall of the Roman Empire, all is reasonable and natural. Satan worked secretly for three or four centuries, corrupting the church by false doctrine, worldliness, etc., and at last, having gradually prepared the world and the church to receive him, he enthroned the Antichrist at Rome, in a race of rulers, who, combining temporal and spiritual power, and using both to hinder the spread of the truth, were to be for more than twelve centuries, his principal agents upon earth.
It is not denied that the Thessalonian prophecy gives the impression, on a cursory perusal; that it predicts a single individual. This is exactly in harmony with the style of prophetic chronology, with that mysterious year-day system which was selected by God to keep alive the hope and expectation of the doming of Christ, throughout the whole course of the dispensation. Had the dynastic character and real period of the son of perdition been revealed clearly, the return of Christ would to the early Christians, have been postponed to a hopelessly distant future. But, though the early church knew (after the publication of second Thessalonians) that the advent of Antichrist was to precede the advent of Christ, they supposed he would be an individual, whose period would be brief; and the expectation formed no hindrance to their watching and waiting for the Lord s return.
Many other arguments in favour of the dynastic character of the power answering to the "little horn" and "eighth head," might be adduced; but these must suffice. The fulfilment is the great proof. Such a power as is here predicted, has existed, has done the things this power was to do, has borne the character and undergone the experiences here described; it rose at the crisis here indicated, lasted the period here assigned, answered in every point with the most marvellous exactitude to these prophetic prefigurations, and was recognised by those who suffered under it, as the power here intended. If a singularly complex lock is opened by a key equally complex in its structure, who doubts that the one was made to fit the other?
So copious is the evidence, of the fulfilment in the history of the Popedom of this remarkable four fold prophecy, that it is almost impossible fairly to present it in a brief compass. Learned and able writers have filled volumes without number, with proofs, that the Papacy has accomplished every clause of these predictions. Every history of the middle ages, every description of the monastic orders, and of the Jesuits, every narrative of the Papacy and its proceedings, every bull, and every decretal, issued by the, sovereign Pontiffs, many a monument, and many a medal, and many a mournful martyrology, lend their witness to the fact. Space oblige us to confine ourselves here, to the merest outline of the overwhelming mass of historic testimony, that might be adduced on the subject. We append a list of works from which fuller information may be obtained.
The "little horn," in Daniel, is a horn of the ROMAN beast, that is a political power, which rules over part of the territory formerly governed by the Caesars. The eighth head in Revelation is similarly a head of the ROMAN beast, the same beast that was in power when the Apocalypse was written, and had been for centuries previously. Two intimations exist that ROME ITSELF was to be the seat of this ruling power: it is an eighth head; and the seven previous ones had all ruled at ROME; and Paul says that the removal of the Imperial power from Rome, was a needful preliminary to its rise.
As a horn, this power was to be little-" a little horn ;" its dominions were never to be territorially large, nor its mere political influence great; and yet it was to be more influential and important than all the rest. It was to displace three horns, as it grew up among the ten, but these were apparently to be replaced, for the horns are always spoken of as "ten." Though only a horn, this power has some of the attributes of a head, for its "eyes and mouth" impart to it an incontestable superiority over the rest. In the later vision of John, the same power is
represented as a head; an "eighth head," representing a former seventh head, which had received a deadly wound. By both emblems it is presented, as in some important sense a prolongation of the power of the old Roman Empire. The immediately preceding head, or form of government, was to receive a deadly wound, so that the beast should seem to be for a time destroyed; but under this eighth head it should revive, and become as strong as ever. The one original Empire was to be broken up; in its stead a number of smaller kingdoms were to arise; and contemporaneously with their rise, was to spring up also this mysterious, peculiar, "little horn," this unique and singularly evil power, territorially small, but yet so all-influential, that it would take the lead of the rest, become their head, and so reunite, by a new bond, the recently dissevered and independent portions of the Western Empire of Rome.
Now to any one familiar with the history of Europe from the division of the Roman Empire, into Eastern and Western under Valens and Valentinian, to the time of the Reformation, this prophecy reads like history. So exact, so singularly descriptive is the figuration, that if it were proposed as a problem, to present the phenomena attending the rise of the Papacy, in a single symbol, it would be impossible to discover one more appropriate.
What are the notorious facts of the case, facts attested by historians of unquestionable accuracy and impartiality, admitted by Roman Catholic writers, and confirmed by redundant evidence? Briefly these, -After the reception of Christianity by Constantine, and its establishment as the religion of the Empire, corruption and worldliness, which had long been rife in the Church, increased with fearful rapidity. At the close of the fourth century, the bishopric of Rome was already deeply sunk in these and other vices, and full of earthly ambition; rival bishops contended for the episcopal authority with the carnal weapons and fierce passions of secular rulers, and indulged in luxury and pomp that imitated those of the Emperors themselves.
When the Empire expired under Augustulus, (the hindrance mentioned in Thessalonians, being at last removed,) the mystery of iniquity so long working, began to develop itself. rapidly. The spiritual power and pretensions of the Papacy were great, though some time still elapsed ere it became a temporal power. When the dismemberment of the Roman world by the barbarian invasions began, Italy fell first to the share of Odoacer and the Heruli. But theirs was never a firm or strong kingdom. The bishops of Rome hated the authority to which they were obliged to submit, and desired its overthrow. In about twenty years from its establishment, this was accomplished, and the first "horn" that had sprung up in Italy and hindered (like the defunct Empire) the development of the little horn, was rooted up before it.
A new power, however, succeeded, and for two generations held dominion over Rome and her bishops. Theodoric, the Ostrogoth, became master of Italy, and the Popes for sixty years had to own him and his successors as superiors and rulers. But their own pretensions and claims were rapidly increasing, and keeping pace with the growing corruption of the Church. The Gothic yoke became unbearable to them, and, mainly through the influence of the Popes, Belisarius, the great general of the Eastern Emperor Justinian, expelled the Ostrogoths from Italy. A second horn had now fallen before the rising power; the Exarchate of Ravenna was established, and very shortly a third barbarian power obtained the greater part of Italy. Alboin and his Lombard followers held sway over its fairest territories, though they avoided making Rome their capital. Degraded to the rank of a second city, Rome was left to the care of her bishops, whose authority began to assume a mixed temporal and spiritual character. They had as yet no temporal dominions, but they were striving to take their place among earthly sovereigns, and even already asserting a superiority to them in certain respects. The ancient metropolis of the world had at this time sunk very low in political influence and power.
"The lofty tree under whose shade the nations of the earth had reposed, was deprived of its leaves and branches, and the sapless trunk was left to wither on the ground. The ministers of command, and the messengers of victory, no longer met on the Appian Way, and the hostile approach of the Lombards was often felt, and continually feared. . . . The Campagna of Rome was speedily reduced to the state of a dreary wilderness, in which the land is barren, the waters impure, and the air infectious. . . . Like Thebes, or Babylon, or Carthage, the name of Rome might have been erased from the earth, if the city had not been animated by a vital principle, which again restored her to honour and dominion. A vague tradition was embraced, that two Jewish teachers, a tent-maker and a fisherman, had formerly been executed in the circus of Nero; and at the end of 100 years their genuine or fictitious relics, were adored as the Palladium of Christian Rome. . . The temporal power of the Popes insensibly arose from the calamities of the times, and the Roman bishops who have (since) deluged Europe and Asia with blood, were compelled to reign as the ministers of charity and peace. . . . The misfortunes of Rome involved the apostolical pastor in the business of peace and war."* (* Gibbon, "Decline and Fall" chap. xlv., p. 791.)
The Lombard sway, in its turn, became intolerable to the ambitious Popes of Rome; and at last, through their earnest entreaties, and awful threats, Pepin and Charlemagne came to their rescue, uprooted the Lombards from Italy, overthrew their power, and Presented their dominions as a free gift to the Pope.
The third horn had fallen before the rising power of the Papacy, and st stood forth at last firmly settled in its place on the head of the Roman beast. "The ancient patrimony of the Roman Church, consisting of houses and farms, was transformed by the bounty of these kings, into the temporal dominions of cities, and provinces; and the donation of the Exarchate to the Pope was the first-fruits of the victories of Pepin. . . . The splendid donation was granted in supreme and absolute dominion, and the world beheld for the first time, a Christian Bishop, invested with the prerogatives of a temporal prince: the choice of magistrates, the exercise of justice, the imposition of taxes, the wealth of the Palace of Ravenna."* (* * Gibbon, "Decline and Fail," chap. xlix., p. 885.)
Thus as to the time, place, and manner of its origin, the power of the Popes of Rome fulfilled the symbolic predictions: "I considered the horns; and behold there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots." "The ten horns out of this (fourth) kingdom, are ten kings that shall arise; and another shall rise after them, and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings."
The following extract, is from a recent work by a Roman Catholic writer who has given a description of the rise of the Papacy, which could hardly have been differently worded, had he intended to point out its fulfilment of the prophecy of the "little horn."
"The rise of the temporal power of the Popes, presents to the mind one of the most extraordinary phenomena, which the annals of the human race, offer to our wonder and admiration. By a singular combination of concurring circumstances, a new Power and a new dominion, grew up, silently but steadily, on the ruins of that Roman empire; which had extended its sway over, or made itself respected by, nearly all the nations, peoples, . and races, that lived in the period of its strength and glory; and that new power, of lowly origin, struck a deeper root, and soon exercised a wider authority, than the empire whose gigantic ruins, it saw shivered into fragments, and mouldering in dust. In Rome itself, the power of the successor of Peter, grew side by side with and under the protecting shadow of that of the Emperor; and such was the increasing influence of the Popes, that the majesty of the supreme Pontiff was likely ere long, to dim the splendour of the purple. The removal by Constantine of the seat of empire from the West, to the East, from the historic banks of the Tiber to the beautiful shores of the Bosphorus, laid the first broad foundation, of a sovereignty, which in reality commences from that momentous change practically, almost from that day, Rome which had witnessed the birth, the youth, the splendour, and the decay, of the mighty race by whom her name had been carried with her eagles, to the remotest regions of the then known world, was gradually abandoned by the inheritors of her renown; and its people, deserted by the Emperors, and an easy prey to the ravages of the barbarians, whom they had no longer the courage to resist, beheld in the bishop of Rome, their guardian, their protector, their father. Year by year the temporal authority of the Popes, grew into shape and hardened into strength; without violence, without bloodshed, without fraud, by the force of overwhelming circumstances, fashioned, as if visibly, by the hand of God."
The circumstances connected with the origin of the Papacy fulfil then the indications of the prophecy. Has the character of this power, answered to that attributed to the predicted Antichrist? Certain definite phases of evil, expressly noted in the prophetic word, will be considered further on; but we ask now, What has been the general character of the Papal power? If the question were proposed, Do the prophecies of the Messiah of Israel, find a fulfilment in Jesus of Nazareth? it might be answered, not only by an appeal to definite predictions exactly fulfilled, but by a comprehensive glance at the general scope of the mass of Messianic prophecy. The coming Messiah was to be a wondrous supernatural being, endued with heavenly power and wisdom, marked by matchless meekness, pure and holy, just and merciful, great yet lowly, a sufferer and yet a king, a victim and yet a judge, a servant of God, and yet Lord of all. By these general features, Jesus Christ was demonstrated to be the hope of Israel, as well as by his being born at Bethlehem, and brought up at Nazareth.
Now the Antichrist has similarly his broad characteristics; his very names imply some of them. He is called "that wicked," or the lawless one, who sets God s revealed will at defiance; his coming is "after the working of Satan ;" he "opposeth and exalteth himself;" against God, and against his people. He is to be the "man of SIN," the outcome of the working of "a mystery of INIQUITY." He is the very opposite of all that is holy and good, the oppressor of all that love God, for Satan animates him. Further, he is called "the son of perdition," and this name, applied by our Lord to Judas Iscariot, the traitor, would prepare us to find the man of sin, the Antichrist, * not in some openly and avowedly infidel power, but in a professedly Christian one.
(*" Antichrist" is a name used only in John, in four passages, as follows, "Children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that the Antichrist cometh, even now are there many Antichrists" (1John ii. 18). "Who is the liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is the Antichrist which denieth the Father and the Son" (ii. 22). "This is the spirit of the Antichrist, respecting which ye have heard that it cometh" (1John iv. 3). "Many deceivers are gone forth into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh; this is the deceiver and the Antichrist." The repeated statements that Christians had heard of the coming of this Antichrist, prove that John alludes under this name to the little horn" of Daniel, and the "man of sin" of Paul. The name itself means, not as is sometimes asserted, an avowed antagonist of Christ, bet one professing to be a Vice-Christ, a rival-Christ, one who would assume the character, occupy the place, and fulfil the functions of Christ. The incipient Antichrists of John s own day, denied the Father and the Son, by their false doctrines about them. Etymologically the word does not mean a person opposed to Christ, but an opposing Christ, a vice-Christ, one assuming to be Christ.
The "son of perdition" was an apostate disciple, who betrayed his Lord with a kiss of seeming reverence and affection. This name would lead us to expect that a Judas character will attach to the great apostasy and its head, and lead us therefore to look for it in the professing Christian Church, the sphere in which Paul indeed distinctly states, that it will be revealed.
So dark is the moral aspect of the power predicted, whatever it be, that many conceive that no power that ever has bad an existence, can approach its enormity of guilt and evil; and they look, in consequence, for some future monster of iniquity who shall better fulfil the predictions of Scripture.
When this impression is not the result of ignorance of history, it illustrates the mournful facility with which familiarity with evil, diminishes its enormity in our sight; for it may be safely asserted that all, not to say more than all, these prophecies foretell, has found its realization in the line of Roman Pontiffs.
It must be remembered that the Popes of Rome are guilty before God, not only for all the sins they have committed, but for all the sins they have connived at, for all the sins they have suggested, for all the sins they have encouraged and sanctioned, and, above all, for the sins they have commanded. When their personal character and the influence of their examples, are considered, when the tendency of the institutions they have invented and maintained are examined, when their bulls and laws are studied, and their effects observed; and when all these results are multiplied, by the extent of their dominion, the length of its duration, and the assumption of infallibility and Divine authority that accompanied it, the impression of unparalleled iniquity produced on the mind, defies all power of expression; language seems too weak to embody it, and the words of inspiration seem to fall short of; rather than to exceed, the reality.
Not only have an appalling number of the Roman Pontiffs been personally, exceedingly wicked men, as reference to any authentic history of the Popedom will show, (so wicked that it were a shame even to speak of the things that were done by them;) not only have they thus abused their high position, by setting examples of sin of the most flagrant kind; but by their laws, exempting their innumerable clergy in all lands from the jurisdiction of the civil power, they have protected others in sinning in the same way: and they have, by their countless sinful and sin-causing enactments and institutions, led others into sin, on a scale that it is positively appalling to contemplate.
Take for instance Papal doctrines and practices on the subject of forgiveness of sin-indulgences. The Pope made a bargain with sinners, and on certain conditions, such as the joining in a crusade, the helping to extirpate so-called heresy, the performance of certain pilgrimages, the repetition of prescribed formulas, or the payment of money, he agreed to give them pardons for sin. Finding this traffic singularly lucrative, -for what will not men do to indulge in sin with impunity, -it was developed into a system of fabulous wickedness. Indulgences for the dead, as well as for the living, were freely sold, and thus the affections as well as the selfishness of men, were turned to account for the replenishment of the papal treasury. Some of these indulgences expressly mentioned the very sins, which the Scriptures declare, exclude from the kingdom of heaven, and bade those who practised them not doubt of eternal salvation, if they bought a papal indulgence.
The number of years by which the torments of purgatory were to be abridged by some of these indulgences, was extravagant to the last degree. John XII. granted "ninety thousand years of pardon for deadly sins," for the devout repetition of three prayers, written in the chapel of the Holy Cross at Rome. Indeed, such has, been the profligate extravagance with which these pardons have been dispensed, and the excessive facility with which they may be procured, that if they had been made available according to the intention of the Church, then must purgatory, again and again, have been swept out, -nay more, it must for ever be kept empty, and the sins of all the sinners that ever lived, must have been forgiven over and over again.
The sale of these indulgences for money, was the proximate cause of the glorious Reformation. The intense disgust, and the utter abhorrence, with which they came to be regarded, in consequence of the unblushing effrontery, and shameless trickery, connected with their sale, roused all Germany to resist their introduction, and stirred up Martin Luther to examine into the rotten foundation on which they rested. The deeply interesting story must not be told here-how Tetzel the indulgence-monger, bearing the bull of Leo X. on a velvet cushion, travelled in state from town to town in a gay equipage, took his station in the thronged church, and proclaimed to the credulous multitudes, "Indulgences are the most precious and sublime of God s gifts; this red cross has as much efficacy as the cross of Jesus Christ. Draw near, and I will give you letters duly sealed, by which even the sins you shall hereafter desire to commit; shall be all forgiven you. There is no sin so great that indulgence cannot remit. Pay, only pay largely, and you shall be forgiven. But more than all this, indulgences save not the living alone, they also save the dead. Ye priests, ye nobles, ye tradesmen, ye wives, ye maidens, ye young men, hearken to your departed parents and friends, who call to you from the bottomless abyss, ‘We are enduring horrible torment, a small alms would deliver us, you can give it, will you not? The moment the money clinks at the bottom of the chest, the soul escapes from purgatory, and flies to heaven. With ten groschen you can deliver your father from purgatory. Our Lord God no longer deals with us as God-he has given all power to the Pope." The indulgences sold were in the following form "Our Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on thee, M. N.; and absolve thee by the merits of his most holy sufferings. I, in virtue of the apostolic power committed to me, absolve thee from all . . excesses, sins, and crimes, that thou mayest have committed, however great and enormous they may be, and of whatever kind. . . . I remit the pains thou wouldest have had to endure in purgatory, . . I restore thee to the innocence and purity of thy baptism, so that at the moment of death, the gates of the place of torment shall be shut against thee, and the gates of Paradise open to thee. And if thou shouldest live long, this grace continueth unchangeable, till the time of thy end. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen. The brother John Tetzel, commissary, hath signed this with his own hand."
For the wonderful and horrible account of the excesses of this abandoned agent of the Popes, we must refer the reader to D Aubignes History of the great Reformation, and similar works.
There was a published scale of the prices for which different sins could be pardoned; and that the gain of money was the only object was clear, from the enormous price charged for indulgences for certain crimes, likely to be committed by the rich, crimes only by the laws of the church, - while the grossest violations of the law of God were excused for a trifle. The royal, and merely conventional crime, of marriage with a first cousin; cost ú1000, while the terrible sins of wife murder or parricide cost only ú4
"The institution of indulgence," says Spanheim, "was the mint which coined money, for the Roman Church; the gold mines for the profligate nephews and natural children of the Popes; the nerves of the Papal wars; the means of liquidating debt; and the inexhaustible fountain of luxury to the Popes." The curse fell on Simon Magus for thinking that the gift of God might be purchased with money; what shall we say of, him, who pretends that he has Divine authority to sell the grace of God for money? Of him, who leads millions of immortal souls to incur the guilt and curse of Simon Magus, under the delusion that they are securing salvation? and who leads them to do this for his own wicked and selfish ends? Is it possible to find guilt of a deeper die, perfidy of a more atrociously cruel and satanic character? Even the Jews could say, "None can forgive sins save God only;" what shall we say of him who professes to blot out guilt, and remove its penalty, from countless thousands who repose unlimited confidence in him, in order to secure his own evil ends?
"Whoso confesseth and forsaketh his sin, shall find mercy;" what shall we say of him who offers boundless mercy, to ‘those who so love and cleave to their sins, as to be willing to pay enormous prices for permission to commit them? of him who, makes plenary pardon dependent on mere outward acts, prayers, pilgrimages, payments, or even on the commission of other gross sins, massacres, extirpation of heretics, etc.? The Psalmist prayed "Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins, O Lord;" what shall we say of him, who encourages to presumptuous sin, by the prospect of plenary pardon at the moment of death, on condition of holding a candle, or kissing a bead? That this practice is a mighty and effective inducement to sin, no one acquainted with human nature, and the operation of moral causes, can question: and, worse still, it misrepresents the atonement of Christ, asserting its insufficiency to put away sin; it denies the boundlessness and freedom of the love of God, and of the Gospel of grace, which offers pardon without money and without price; it gives false impressions of the true nature of sin, the guilt of which is so great that blood- shedding alone can remove it; it separates what God has indissolubly joined, justification and sanctification, providing pardon apart from a change of heart; it conceals from view the tribunal of the righteous Judge, and draws men to a fellow-man, sinners to a fellow-sinner, for pardon. It is opposed to the doctrines of "repentance toward God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ," as well as to all practical godliness, and is a characteristic creation of "that wicked, whose coming is after the working of Satan."
Its institution and patronage of the Order of the Jesuits is another of the exceedingly sinful deeds of the Papacy. This Society, which has dared to appropriate to itself the Name which is above every name, by calling itself "The Order of Jesus," deserves rather, from the nature of its doctrines, and from the work it has done in the world, to be called "The Order of Satan." Founded by Ignatius Loyola, a Spanish officer, cotemporary with Luther, its great object was, to subjugate the whole human race, ‘to the power of the Papacy. From the book of the "Constitutions" of the Jesuits, we obtain the evidence that condemns their Order as a masterpiece of the father of lies.
Expediency, in its most licentious form, is the basis of their whole system of morality. Their doctrine of "probability;" their doctrine of "mental reservation," by which lying and perjury are justified; their doctrine of "intention," which renders the most solemn oath of no power to bind a man; the way in which, by their glosses, they make void the law of God in every one of its precepts, and give licence to every crime, not excepting murder, and even parricide, all these render their whole system of morals a bottomless abyss of iniquity.
This is no mere Protestant account of the Jesuits; their extraordinary viciousness, has led to their suppression, and expulsion, at various times, by different Catholic sovereigns in Europe. In stating their grounds for such action, these monarchs give descriptions of Jesuit morality, which could scarcely be worse. The Catholic king of Portugal says "It cannot be, but that the licentiousness introduced by the Jesuits, of which the three leading features are falsehood, murder, and perjury, should give a new character to morals. Their doctrines render murder innocent, sanctify falsehood, authorize perjury, deprive the laws of their power, destroy the submission of subjects, allow individuals the liberty of killing, calumniating, lying and forswearing themselves, as their advantage may dictate; they remove the fear of Divine and human laws, so that Christian and civil society could not exist; where they are paramount."
In 1767 they were expelled from Spain on similar grounds. They were also expelled from Venice (1606); from Savoy (1729); from France (1764); from Sicily (1767), and from various other States. From 1555 to 1773 they suffered no less than thirty-seven expulsions, all on account of their iniquitous doctrines and evil practices.
The Catholic University of Paris, in 1643, said of them: "The laws of God have been so sophisticated by their unheard of subtleties, that there is no longer any difference between vice and virtue; they promise infinity to the most flagrant crimes; their doctrines are inimical to all order; and if such a pernicious theology were received, deserts and forests would be preferable to cities; and society with wild beasts, who have only their natural arms, would be better than society with men, who, in addition to the violence of their passions, would be instructed by this doctrine of devils, to dissimulate and feign, in order to destroy others with greater impunity. It is a device of the great enemy of souls." The Parliament of Paris, in 1762, used language quite as strong in a memorial to the king, accompanying a collection of extracts from 147 Jesuit authors, which they presented to him, "that he might be acquainted with the wickedness of the doctrine constantly held by the Jesuits, from the institution of their Society to the present moment-a doctrine authorizing robbery, lying, perjury, impurity; all passions, and all crimes; inculcating homicide, parricide, and regicide; overturning religion and sanctioning magic, blasphemy, irreligion, and idolatry."
The book of "secret instructions," generally attributed to Lainez, the second Father-general of the Order, contains-directions so unprincipled, that on the first page it is ordained that, if the book fell into the hands of strangers, it was to be positively denied that these were the rules of the Society! This book gives directions for the attainment of power, influence, and wealth, by means of the vilest intrigues: the vices of the rich and great, were to be pandered to in every way; spies were to be diligently sought and liberally rewarded; animosities were to be fostered and stirred up among enemies, in order to weaken them; the dying were to be watched as if by vultures, and promised canonization by the Pope, if they would bequeath their property to this Order. Women who were found in confession to have bad husbands, were to be instructed to withdraw a sum of money secretly, to be given to the Society, as a sacrifice for their husbands sins. To all classes, but especially to the great and rich, any vicious indulgence they desired might be allowed, in order to soothe and win them, provided public scandal were avoided. These and multitudes of similar injunctions, are based on the doctrine, that we may do evil that good may come, that "the end sanctifies the means." Scripture says of those who hold and teach this doctrine, that their "damnation is just."
The same principle led Jesuit missionaries into the most sinful compromises with heathen superstitions and philosophies in different parts of the world. In India they swore that they were Brahmins of pure descent, sanctioned some of the most abominable habits of idolatry, and practised some of the worst Hindu austerities, to acquire fame. In China, they pretended that there was only a shade of difference between the doctrine of Christ and the teachings of Confucius; and to make proselytes, they taught, instead of pure Christianity; a corrupt system of religion and morality, that was quite consistent with the indulgence of all the passions. Nay, so far did they go, that, finding the Crucifixion was a stumbling-block to the philosophic Chinese, as to the Jews of old, they actually denied that Christ was ever crucified at all; and said it was a base calumny invented by the Jews, to throw contempt on the Gospel! They told the Red Indians that Jesus Christ was a mighty chief; who had scalped more men and women and children than any warrior that had ever lived! Having no real principles, they were willing to make any compromise, no matter how foul, provided ‘they could by it advance the interests of their Order, or swell the roll of recruits. to the Roman army.
Now, when we remember that the teachings of these Jesuits are not only permitted, but received as standard authorities in the Roman Catholic Church, and directly sanctioned by the Popes, what shall we say of the so-called Vicar of Christ? Is not this the deceivableness of unrighteousness? Is not this the doctrine of devils? And is not he who sanctions and patronizes such an "Order" of Satan, "the lawless one"? Is he not, and does he not richly deserve to be, "a son of perdition"? Is he not a "man of sin" who speaks lies in hypocrisy, having his conscience seared with a hot iron? Where, if not here, shall we ever detect the predicted mystery of iniquity?
That the line of Roman Pontiffs, have been for the most part personally wicked men, there can be no doubt; that many of their institutions, besides the two just considered, have been fearfully fruitful sources of deep deluges of sin, is also unquestionable; but perhaps nothing more fully warrants the application to them of the distinctive title, "The Man of Sin," than the fact that they have commanded sin. If Aaron was doubly guilty because he led the people to worship the golden calf; if the wickedness of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, is intensified by the fact that he "caused Israel to sin," what must be the dark guilt, and the dreadful doom of those, who have led the professing Church of Christ into the foulest idolatry, and into sin of every conceivable kind, not only by example, not only by false doctrines and evil practice, but also by direct commands- commands delivered in the name of the Lord, and believed by the people to have Divine authority; and this not to a few, not as an occasional thing, or during a brief period, but to all papal Christendom and throughout long ages!
This double dyed guilt, lies at the door of the power we are considering. Did not the Popes of Rome, for their own selfish ends, command, what Scripture forbids, the celibacy of the clergy, and thus lead the whole body, in all lands, into disobedience to God in this respect, a disobedience that was the direct cause of the wide-spread and unfathomable flood of moral corruption, that deluged Europe for ages? Have not the Popes, times without number, commanded idolatries, persecutions, treasons, rebellions, regicides? Any collection of papal bulls, presents a very harvest of commands to sin, commands which were, alas! only too faithfully obeyed by multitudes.
And how often have they prohibited, the very things enjoined by God! Is not this a negative command to sin? Christ bids all men, for instance, "Search the Scriptures," "prove all things, and hold fast that which is good." On no one point, are the Popes more resolved to enforce disobedience to the Divine will; in bull after bull they have forbidden the use of the Scriptures in their own tongue to the people, saying, "Let it be lawful for no man whatever to infringe this declaration of our will and command, or to go against it with bold rashness." When Wickliffe published his translation, Pope Gregory sent a bull to the University of Oxford (1378) condemning the translator as having "run into a detestable kind of wickedness." When Tyndale published his translation, it was condemned. In 1546, when Luther was preparing his German version, Leo X. published a bull, couched in the most vile and opprobrious language. The indignation of Pius VII. (and other Popes) against Bible Societies, knows no bounds. He speaks of the Bible Society as a "crafty device by which the very foundations of religion are undermined," as "a pestilence dangerous to Christianity;" "a defilement of the faith, eminently dangerous to souls;" "a nefarious scheme," etc., and strictly commands, that every version of the Scriptures into a vulgar tongue, without the church s notes, should be placed in the Index among prohibited books. Curses are freely bestowed on those who assert the liberty of the laity to read the Scriptures, and every possible impediment is thrown in the way of their circulation. Bible burning is a favourite ceremony with Papists; and their ignorance of the real contents of the book, is almost incredible. The famous bull "Unigenitus," A.D. 1713, condemns the proposition that "the reading of the Scriptures is for everybody" as "false, shocking, scandalous, impious, and blasphemous."
What must be the guilt, in the eyes of God, of the men who thus withhold the word, by which alone they can be born again, from myriads of perishing sinners, over whose consciences they have perfect sway!
III. SELF-EXALTING UTTERANCES.
One of the leading characteristics of the power symbolised by the "little horn" is "a mouth speaking great things." The destruction of the beast is said to be, "because of the great words which the little horn spake." The same point is noted also in Rev. xiii., where the beast is said to have "a mouth speaking great things, and blasphemies." *
("Blasphemy in Scripture means not so much a speaking against God, as the assumption of Divine attributes or Divine power where no rightful claim to do so exists. Thus, in #Matt 9, the scribes said of Jesus, ‘this man blasphemeth, because He said to the sick of the palsy, ‘thy sins be forgiven thee. Jesus could rightly say so, therefore their charge was false. Rome, through her priesthood, can not rightly say so, therefore our charge against her is true; she blasphemeth. Again, in #Joh 10:30-33, we read that, when Jesus said, ‘I and my Father are one the Jews took up stones to stone Him, saying, ‘for a good work we stone Thee not, but for blasphemy, and because that Thou, being a man, makest Thyself God. Jesus and his Father were one, therefore the charge of blasphemy was vain; the Pope and God are not one, therefore our charge of blasphemy is true. He that says, ‘I am the sole last supreme judge of what is right and wrong, blasphemeth.’ - "Words of the Little Horn,"by Rev. H. E. Brooke.)
Paul similarly predicts of the man of sin, that he will oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped." We must therefore inquire whether self exalting utterances of a peculiarly imp ibus nature; have been a characteristic of the Papacy? We turn to the public documents, issued by various Popes, and find, that they have fulfilled in a marvellous way this prediction; the pretensions they have made are blasphemies, the claims they have put forth, are, to be equal, if not superior to God Himself; no power on earth has ever advanced similar pretensions.
-Fox, in his "Acts and Monuments," gives extracts from two hundred and twenty-three authentic documents, comprising decrees, decretals, extravagants, pontificals, and bulls, all of which are indisputable evidence. Twenty pages of small type in ‘a large volume, are filled with the "great words" of the Popes, taken from these two hundred and twenty-three documents alone. What a crop would a complete collection of Papal publications afford! Space forbids many quotations; let the reader judge of the mass from the following samples, which we blend into one, in order to help the conception. If "he that exalteth himself shall be abased," what degradation can be commensurate with such self-exaltation as this?
"Wherefore, seeing such power is given to Peter, and to me in Peter, being his successor, who is he then in all the world that ought not to be subject to my decrees, which have such power in heaven, in hell, in earth, with the quick, and also the dead. By the jurisdiction of which key the fulness of my power is so great that, whereas all others are subjects -yea, and emperors themselves, ought to subdue their executions to me; only I am a subject to no creature, no, not to myself; so that my papal majesty ever remaineth undiminished; superior to all men; whom all persons ought to obey, and follow, whom no man must judge or accuse of any crime, no man depose but I myself. No man can excommunicate me, yea though I commune with the excommunicated, for no canon hindereth me: whom no man must lie to, for he that lieth to me is a church robber, and who obeyeth not me is a heretic, and an excommunicated person. Thus, then, it appeareth, that the greatness of priesthood began in Melchizedek, was solemnized in Aaron, continued in the children of Aaron; perfectionated in Christ, represented in Peter, exalted in the universal jurisdiction, and manifested in the Pope. So that through this pre-eminence of my priesthood, having all things subject to me, it may seem well verified in me, that was spoken of Christ, ‘Thou hast subdued all things under his feet, sheep and oxen, and all cattle of the field, the birds of heaven, and fish of the sea, etc., where is it to be noted that by oxen, Jews and heretics; by cattle of the field, Pagans be signified. . . By sheep and all cattle, are meant all Christian men, both great and less, whether they be emperors, princes, prelates, or others. By birds of the air you may understand angels and potentates of heaven, who be all subject to me, in that I am greater than the angels, and that in four things, as afore declared; and have power to bind and loose in heaven, and to give heaven to them that fight in my wars. Lastly, by the fishes of the sea, are signified the souls departed, in pain or in purgatory. . . . For, as we read, ‘The earth is the Lord s and the fulness thereof;" and, as Christ saith, ‘All power is given to Him, both in heaven and in earth: so it is to be affirmed, that the Vicar of Christ hath power on things celestial, terrestrial, and infernal, which he took immediately of Christ. I owe to the emperors no due obedience that they can claim, but they owe to me, as to their superior; and, therefore, for a diversity betwixt their degree and mine, in their consecration they take the unction on their arm, I on the head. And as I am superior to them, so am I superior to all laws, and free from all constitutions; who am able of myself, and by my interpretation, to prefer equity not being written, before the law written; having all laws, within the chest of my breast, as is aforesaid. What country soever, kingdom, or province, choosing to themselves bishops and ministers, although they agree with all other Christ s faithful people in the name of Jesu, that is, in faith and charity, believing in the same God. And in Christ, his true Son, and in the Holy Spirit, having also the same creed, the same evangelists, and scriptures of the apostles; yet, notwithstanding, unless their bishops and ministers take their origin and ordination from this apostolic seat, they are to be counted not of the church, so that succession of faith only is not sufficient to make a church, except the ministers take their ordination from them who have their succession from the apostles. And likewise it is to be presumed that the bishop of that church is always good and holy. Yea, though he fall into homicide or adultery, he may sin, but yet he cannot be accused, but rather excused by the murders of Samson, the thefts of the Hebrews, etc. All the earth is my diocese, and I the ordinary of all men, having the authority of the King of all kings upon subjects. I am all in all and above all, so that God Himself, and I, the Vicar of God, have both one consistory, and I am able to do almost all that God can do. In all things that I list, my will is to stand for reason, for I am able by the law to dispense above the law, and of wrong to make justice in correcting laws and changing them. . . . Wherefore, if those things that I do be said not to be done of man, but of God: WHAT CAN YOU MAKE ME BUT God? Again, if prelates of the Church be called and counted of Constantine for gods, I then, being above all prelates, seem by this reason to be ABOVE ALL GODS. Wherefore, no marvel if it be in my power to change time and times, to alter and abrogate laws, to dispense with all things, yea, with the precepts of Christ; for where Christ biddeth Peter put up his sword, and admonishes his disciples not to use any outward force in revenging themselves, do not I, Pope Nicholas, writing to the bishops of France, exhort them to draw out their material swords? And, whereas Christ was present Himself at the marriage in Cam of Galilee, do not I, Pope Martin, in my distinction, inhibit the spiritual clergy to be present at marriage-feasts, and also to marry? Moreover, where Christ biddeth us lend without hope of gain, do not I, Pope Martin, give dispensation for the same? What should I speak of murder, making it to be no murder or homicide to slay them that be excommunicated? Like. wise, against the law of nature, item against the apostles, also against the canons of the apostles, I can and do dispense; for where they, in their canon, command a priest for fornication to be deposed, I, through the authority of Silvester, do alter the rigour of that constitution, considering the minds and bodies also of men now to be weaker than they were then. . . . If ye list briefly to hear the whole number of all such cases as properly do appertain to my Papal dispensation, which come to the number of one-and fifty points, that no man may meddle with but only 1 myself alone, I will recite them
"The Pope doth canonize saints, and none else but he.
"His sentence maketh a law.
"He is able to abolish laws, both civil and canon.
"To erect new religions, to approve or reprove rules or ordinances, and ceremonies in the Church.
"He is able to dispense with all the precepts and statutes of the Church. "The same is also free from all laws, so that he cannot incur any sentence of excommunication, suspension, irregularity, etc., etc.
"After that I have now sufficiently declared my power in earth, in heaven, in purgatory, how great it is, and what is the fulness thereof in binding, loosing, commanding, permitting, electing, confirming, disposing, dispensing, doing and undoing, etc., I will speak now a little of my riches and of my great possessions, that every man may see by my wealth, and abundance of all things, rents, tithes, tributes, my silks, my purple mitres, crowns, gold, silver, pearls and gems, land and lordships. For to me pertaineth first the imperial city of Rome; the palace of Lateran; the kingdom of Sicily is proper to me, Apulia and Capua be mine. Also the kingdom of England and Ireland, be they not, or ought they not to be, tributaries to me? To these I adjoin also, ‘besides other provinces and countries , both in the Occident and Orient, from, the north to the south, these dominions by name (here follows a long list). What should I speak here of my daily revenues, of my first-fruits, annates, pails, indulgences, bulls, confessionals, indults and rescripts, testaments, dispensations, privileges, elections, prebends, religious houses, and such like, which come to no small mass of money? Whereby what vantage cometh to my coffers it may partly be conjectured. But what should I speak of Germany, when the whole world is my diocese, as my canonists do say, and all men are hound to believe; except they will imagine (as the Manichees do) two beginnings, which is false and heretical? For Moses saith, In the beginning God made heaven and earth; and not, In the beginnings. Wherefore, as I began, so I conclude, commanding, declaring, and pronouncing, to stand UPON NECESSITY OF SALVATION, FOR EVERY HUMAN CREATURE TO BE SUBJECT TO ME,"
Add to these utterances, which might be multiplied by the thousand, the usual formula of investiture with the papal tiara: "Receive this triple crown, and know that thou art the father of princes, and the king and ruler of the world." And in proof that the claims here advanced are no obsolete medieval assumptions, abandoned in modern times, but the unchangeable voice of the Papacy, take a few "great words" from a comparatively recent sermon of the principal representative of Rome in England, Cardinal Manning, who puts the following similar language into the mouth of the Pope.
"You say I have no authority over the Christian world, that I am not the Vicar of the Good Shepherd, that I am not the supreme interpreter of the Christian faith. I am all these. You ask me to abdicate, to renounce my supreme authority. You tell me I ought to submit to. the civil power, that I am the subject of the King of Italy, and from him I am to receive instructions as to the way I should exercise the civil power. I say I am liberated from all civil subjection, that my Lord made me the subject of no one on earth, king or otherwise; that in his right I am Sovereign. I acknowledge no civil superior. I am the subject of no prince, and I claim more than this. I claim to be the Supreme Judge and director of the consciences of men; of the peasant that tills the field, and the prince that sits on the throne; of the household that lives in the shade of privacy, and the Legislature that makes laws for kingdoms. I am the sole, last, Supreme Judge of what is right and wrong."
In full harmony with this assumption is the new definition of Papal infallibility: "The Roman Pontiff when he speaks ‘ex cathedra,’ that is, when, in discharge of his office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith and morals, to be held, by the universal church, he envoys infallibility, and that therefore such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the church. And if any one presume to contradict this definition, let him be anathema."
But actions speak louder than words! The Popes have not confined their self-exaltation to empty boastings. They have practically exalted themselves "above all that is called God, or that is worshipped." The following is extracted from the "Ceremoniale Romanum," and describes the first public appearance of the Pope in St. Peter s, on his election to the Pontificate. After the investiture with the scarlet papal robes, the vest covered with pearls, and the mitre studded with precious stones, the new Pope is conducted to the altar, before which he prostrates himself in prayer, bowing as before the seat of God. An awful sequel then follows. We read: "The Pope rises, and, wearing his mitre, is lifted up by the cardinals, and is placed by them upon the altar to sit there. One of the bishops kneels, and begins the Te Deum. In the mean time the cardinals kiss the feet and hands and face of the Pope." This ceremony is commonly called by Roman Catholic writers "The adoration;" it has been observed for many centuries, and was performed at the inauguration of Pius IX. A coin has been struck in the papal mint which represents it, and the legend is, "Quem creant adorant," "whom they create (Pope) they adore." The language in which this adoration is couched is blasphemous to a degree. At the coronation of Pope Innocent X. Cardinal Colonna on his knees, in his own name and that of the clergy of St. Peter s, addressed the following words to the Pope: "Most holy and blessed father, head of the church, ruler of the world, to whom the keys of the kingdom of heaven are committed, whom the angels in heaven revere, and the gates of hell fear, and all the world adores, we specially venerate, worship, and adore thee."
The very assumption the Pope makes, to be Christ s Vicar involves self-exaltation. How should one representing the Judge, of all be judged by any? He might make laws, but he held himself above all law. Was not Christ King of kings and Lord of lords? How then could he, the representative of Christ, do other than regard all kings, and rulers, and potentates, as his subjects, to be crowned and uncrowned by him at his pleasure? His dominion he likened to that of the sun, all other dominion being like that of the moon and satellites, immeasurably inferior. Pope Celestine III, when crowning Henry VI., expressed in action his sense of his own superiority to all monarchs: "The Lord Pope sat in the pontifical chair, holding the golden imperial crown between his feet; and the Emperor bending his head, and the Empress, received the crown from the feet of the Lord Pope. But the Lord Pope instantly struck with his foot the Emperor s crown, and cast it upon the ground, signifying that he had the power of deposing him, from the empire, if he were undeserving of it. The cardinals lifted up the crown, and placed it upon the Emperor s head."
"Is not the king of England my bond-slave?" said Innocent VI. "Hath not God set me as a prince over all nations, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to build?" asks Boniface VIII. The glorious declarations of the world-wide homage yet to be paid to Messiah the Prince, have been applied by the Popes as descriptive of the respect due by earthly monarchs to them: "All kings shall fall down before Him, all nations shall serve Him;" and since Christ was God, and he was Christ s representative and Vicar, was he not also to be regarded by men as God? Even to this height of blasphemy and folly did Antichrist push his pretensions. Witness the address of Marcellus to the Pope at the Lateran Council: "Thou art another God on earth;" and the oft- accepted title, "Our Lord God the Pope." And since the Pope by his power of transubstantiation can even make God, and by his power of ordination can enable his countless priests to do the same, is he not in a sense the superior of God Himself? What adoration can be too profound for one exalted so high? Such worship is accepted by the Roman Pontiffs.
We read, "great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh," the Most High stooped and made Himself of no reputation. May we not say, m considering the self-exaltation of the Popes of Rome, great is the "mystery of iniquity," man, sinful, mortal man, exalting himself to be as God! And strange to say, men allowed it: "All the world wondered after the beast." It was no empty boast of Gregory II. :"All the kings of the West reverence the Pope as a god on earth." Sismondi describes how Pepin and the Franks received him "as a divinity." The mighty Emperor Charlemagne consented to receive his title and empire as a donation from the Pope; and ere long the coronation oath of Western kings came to include a vow, to be "faithful and submissive to the Pope." Kings and emperors consented, like our own John, and like the Emperor Otho, and many others, to hold their dominions as vassals of the Pope, and to resign them at his bidding: to hold his stirrup, and lead his palfrey, like servants, to kiss his feet and bow in his presence like slaves. In his full fame, and flushed with victory, the great Francis I, of France, in his interview with Leo X. at Bologna, just before the Reformation, "knelt three times in approaching him, and then kissed his feet." The Emperor Henry of Germany, driven to the most abject humiliation by the terror of a papal interdict, sought pardon, barefoot and clothed in sack-cloth, and was kept waiting three wintry days and nights at the doors of the supreme Pontiff, ere he could secure an interview.
It is difficult in this nineteenth century to credit the records which reveal, the unbounded power of the Pope during the dark ages, and the nature and extent of the claims he asserted, to the reverence and subjection of mankind. If kings and emperors yielded him abject homage, the common people regarded him as a deity. His dogmas were received as oracles, his bulls and sentences were to them the voice of God. The Sicilian ambassadors prostrated themselves before Pope Martin, with the thrice-repeated cry, "Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world." "The people think of the Pope as the one God that has power over all things, in earth and in heaven," said Gerston. The fifth Lateran Council subscribed, just before the Reformation, a decree which declared, that "as there was but one body of the church, so there was but one head, viz., Christ s Vicar, and that it was essential to the salvation of every human being to be subject to the Roman Pontiff"
"Every spiritual as well as every ecclesiastical office of Christ, was arrogated to himself by the ‘man of sin." "If Christ was the universal Shepherd of souls, was not he, the Pope, the same? If Christ was the door of the sheep, was not he. the door? If Christ was the truth, was not he the depositary, source, and oracular expounder of the truth, authoritative, infallible, independent of Scripture, and even against it? If Christ was the Holy One, was not he the same, and did not the title, his holiness, distinctively and alone belong to him? If Christ was the husband of the Church, was not he the same? With the marriage ring in the ceremonial of his inauguration he signified it; and with his great voice in his canon law and papal bulls he proclaimed it to the world. The power of the keys of Christ s Church and kingdom, given him, extended into the invisible world. He opened with them, and who might shut? He shut, and who might open? . . . the souls in purgatory and the angels in heaven were subject to him; and it was even his prerogative to add to the celestial choir; by his canonizing edicts he elevated whom he pleased of the dead to form part of heaven s hierarchy, and become objects of adoration to men." * (* * Elliott, "Hore," III., p. 161, condensed.)
IV.SUBTLETIES, FALSE DOCTRINES, AND LYING WONDERS.
The foregoing are not the only characteristics which lead the careful student of Scripture and of history, to recognise in the Papacy, the great predicted power of evil, that was to arise in the latter times of the fourth great empire, and fix its seat at Rome. The coming of the Antichrist was to be "with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness" We must inquire whether this mark has been visibly impressed on the papal dynasty, whether subtleties, false doctrines, and lying wonders, have been an essential part of its policy. Again the abundance of evidence alone makes reply difficult!
Macaulay says: "It is impossible to deny, that the polity of the Church of Rome, is the very masterpiece of human wisdom. In truth nothing but such a polity could, against such assaults, have borne up such doctrines. The experience of twelve hundred eventful years, the ingenuity and patient care of forty generations of statesmen, have improved that polity to such perfection, that among the contrivances which have been devised for deceiving and oppressing mankind; it occupies the highest place. The stronger our conviction that reason and Scripture were decidedly on the side of Protestantism, the greater is the reluctant admiration with which we regard that system of tactics against which reason and Scripture were employed in vain. This wonderful policy of the Papacy may be viewed as an expression of Satanic genius, if we may use the expression, or as a fruit of human genius. Regarded as "the working of Satan," it is in perfect harmony with all the other workings, of him, who has been a liar from the beginning. It has been by means of a counterfeit Christianity that Satan has, through the Papacy, resisted the spread of true Christianity. The Papacy has its. counterfeit high priest, the Pope; its counterfeit sacrifice, the mass; its counterfeit Bible, tradition; its counterfeit mediators, the Virgin, the saints, and angels; the forms have been copied, the realities set aside. Satan inaugurated and developed a system, not antagonistic to Christianity, but a counterfeit of it; and as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so (i.e., by imitation) he has withstood Christ.
But viewed as a fabrication of human ambition and wickedness, the subtlety with which the Papacy has adapted itself to its end is a marvel of genius. That end was, to exalt a man, and a class of men, the Pope and his priesthood, to the supreme and absolute control of the world and all its affairs; to reign, not only over the bodies, but over the minds of men. To attain this object it employed a policy, unmatched in dissimulation and craft, a sagacity distinguished by largeness of conception combined with attention to detail, irresistible energy, indomitable perseverance, and, when art was unavailing, overwhelming physical force.
In the selection of ROME as its seat of empire, the Papacy secured enormous prestige. "In no other spot, would its gigantic schemes of dominion have been formed, or, if formed, realized. Sitting in the seat which the masters of the world had so long occupied, the Papacy appeared the rightful heir of their power. Papal Rome reaped the fruit of the wars and the conquests, the toils and the blood, of Imperial Rome. The one had laboured and gone to her grave, the other arose and entered into her labours. The Pontiffs were perpetually reminding the world, that they were the successors of the Caesars, that the two Romes were linked by an indissoluble bond, and that to the latter had descended the heritage of glory and dominion acquired by the former. . . . The Pontiffs also claimed to be successors of the Apostles: a more masterly stroke of policy still. As the successor of Peter, the Pope was greater, than as the successor of Caesar. The one made him a king, the other made him king of kings; the one gave him the power of the sword, the other invested him with the still more sacred authority of the keys. . ., The Papacy is the ghost of Peter crowned with the shadowy diadem of the old Caesars." (Wylie s "Papacy," p. 414.)
Every doctrine and dogma of the Papacy is framed with a similar design, to exalt the priesthood; at the expense of the intellect, the conscience, and the eternal well-being, of mankind. By the doctrine, the priest becomes the channel of Divine revelation, and by that of inherent efficacy in the sacraments, the channel of Divine grace: men are wholly dependent on the priesthood, for a knowledge of the will of God, and an enjoyment of the salvation of God.
Recognising that no religion enjoining a high morality could ever be a popular one, in a world of sinners, who love sin, the Papacy presented a religion of ritual observance, instead of one of spiritual power: heaven could be secured by outward acts; obedience to the church, not a change of heart, was the great essential of salvation. Men naturally seek to earn heaven; Popery sets them to work to do so, teaching salvation by merit, and denying salvation by faith. "It provides convents for the ascetic and the mystic; carnivals for the gay; mission s for the enthusiast; penances for the man suffering from remorse; sisterhoods of mercy for the benevolent; crusades for the chivalrous; secret missions for the man whose genius lies in intrigue; the Inquisition, with its racks and screws, for the cruel bigot; indulgences for the man of wealth and pleasure; purgatory to awe the refractory, and frighten the vulgar; and a subtle theology for the casuist and the dialectician." * Its marvellous flexibility, its adaptation of its doctrines to all classes and conditions of men, is one phase of the exceeding subtlety of the Papacy. Many others might be adduced, as for instance its encouragement of ignorance, in the people, in order to the production and maintenance of that superstition, which alone makes spiritual imposture easy or even practicable.
The absurd and childish doctrine of Purgatory, unknown in the church till the end of the sixth century, could never have obtained currency, but for the aid of fictitious miracles, -visions of departed persons broiling on gridirons, roasting on spits shivering in water, or burning in fire, etc. Such "lying wonders" were therefore freely invented by the priests, and readily credited by the people; and by their means the doctrine, which was one of the most lucrative ever invented, was soon firmly established. Time would fail us, to speak of the "lying wonders" connected with the relics, shrines of pilgrimage, and false miracles of the Papacy: their name is legion, and their folly is exceeded by their guilt.
We must pass on to note its persecutions of the saints, for in the prophecies of Antichrist under consideration, this feature is prominently conspicuous. Daniel says of the "little horn" that "he shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and they shall be given into his hand." And John says, "It was given him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them," and that he "opened his mouth to blaspheme," or speak evil of them.
Now it is a notorious fact that the Church of Rome considers heresy (i.e., any dissent from her teachings, the worst crime of which a man can be guilty; she asserts that no heretic can be saved. She teaches that no faith is to be kept with heretics, that they are to be cut off from all social intercourse, deprived of all natural, civil, and political rights; that they forfeit all claim and right to their property; that they are to be put to death, and that if they have died a natural death, their very bones and dust are to be taken up and burnt. And who are to be regarded as heretics? Let the bull In Coena Domini (or, "at the supper of the Lord") answer. Every Thursday of Passion Week, that is the day before Good Friday, this bull is read in the presence of the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, and a crowd of people. His Holiness appears with a pair of peacock s feathers, one on each side of his head, and when the bull is finished, flings a lighted torch into the court of the palace, to make the effect of the anathema the more dreadful. The object of the bull, as defined by Pope Paul III., is "to preserve the purity of the Christian religion, and to maintain the unity of the faithful" The following is one of its clauses. "We excommunicate and anathematize in the name of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and by the authority of the blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul, and by our own, all Hussites, Wicklifftes, Lutherans, Zwinglians, Calvinists, Anabaptists, Huguenots, Trinitarians, and apostates from the faith, and all other heretics, by whatsoever name they are called, and of whatsoever sect they be, as also their adherents, receivers, favourers, and generally all defenders of them; together with all who without our authority, or that of the Apostolic See, knowingly read, keep, print, or any way for any cause whatsoever, publicly or privately, on any pretext or colour, defend their books, containing heresy or treating of religion."
These are the principles of Popery, as stated by acknowledged authorities of her church, and pronounced applicable to all times.
As to the practice of this unchangeable church, there is not a statement in the following quotation which history does not abundantly substantiate. "As some luxurious emperors of Rome exhausted the whole art of pleasure, so that a reward was promised to any who should invent a new one; so have Romish persecutors exhausted all the art of pain, so that it will now be difficult to discover or invent a new kind of it, which they have not already practised upon those marked out for heretics. They "have been shot, stabbed, stoned, drowned, beheaded, hanged, drawn, quartered, impaled, burnt, or buried alive, roasted on spits, baked in ovens, thrown into furnaces, tumbled over precipices, cast from the tops of towers, sunk in mire and pits, starved with hunger and cold, hung on tenter hooks, suspended by the hair of the head, by the hands or feet, stuffed and blown up with gunpowder, ripped with swords and sickles, tied to the tails of horses, dragged over streets and sharp flints, broken on the wheel, beaten on anvils with hammers, blown with bellows, bored with hot irons, torn piecemeal by red-hot pincers, slashed with knives, hacked with axes, hewed with chisels, planed with planes, pricked with forks, stuck from head to foot with pins, choked with water, lime, rags, urine, excrements, or mangled pieces of their own bodies crammed down their throats, shut up in caves and dungeons, tied to stakes, nailed to trees, tormented with lighted matches, scalding oil, burning pitch, melted lead, etc. They have been flayed alive, had their flesh scalped and torn from their bones; they have been trampled and danced upon, till their bowels have been forced out, their guts have been tied to trees and pulled forth by degrees; their heads twisted with cords till the blood, or even their eyes started out; strings have been drawn through their noses, and they led about like swine, and butchered like sheep. To dig out eyes, tear off nails, cut off ears, lips, tongues, arms, breasts, etc., has been but ordinary sport with Rome s converters and holy butchers. Persons have been compelled to lay violent hands on their dearest friends, to kill or to cast into the fire their parents, husbands, wives, children, etc., or to look on whilst they have been most cruelly and shamefully abused. Women and young maids have also suffered such barbarities, accompanied with all the imaginable indignities, insults, shame, and pungent pangs, to which their sex could expose them. Tender babes have been whipped, starved, drowned, stabbed, and burnt to death, dashed against trees and stones, torn limb from limb, carried about on the point of spikes and spears; and thrown to the dogs and swine." If such treatment as this, inflicted on successive generations of disciples of Christ, for centuries together, be not "wearing out the saints of the Most High," what could be? History affords no parallel, for the Pagan persecutions were brief in comparison to the Papal.
The following is one of the authorized curses, published in the Romish Pontifical, to be pronounced on heretics .by Romish priests, ." May God Almighty and all his saints curse them, with the curse with which the devil and his angels are cursed. Let them be destroyed out of the land of the living. Let the vilest of deaths come upon them, and let them descend alive into the pit. Let their seed be destroyed from the earth; by hunger, and thirst, and nakedness, and all distress let them perish. May they have all misery, and pestilence, and torment. Let all they have be cursed. Always and everywhere let them be cursed. Speaking and silent let them be cursed. Within and without let them be cursed. By land and by sea let them be cursed. From the crown of the head to the sole of the foot, let them be cursed. Let their eyes become blind, let their ears become deaf, let their mouth become dumb, let their tongue cleave to their jaws, let not their hands handle, let not their feet walk. Let all the members of the body be cursed. Cursed let them. be standing, lying, from this time forth for ever; and thus let their candle be extinguished in the presence of God, at the day of judgment. Let their burial be with dogs and asses. Let hungry wolves devour their corpses. Let the devil and his angels be their companions for ever. Amen, amen; so be it, so let it be."
Entire volumes would be requisite to give an adequate idea of the way in which the Papacy has worn out and overcome the saints of the Most High, by her cruel persecutions. The Apocalypse presents us with two great companies of martyrs ‘(Rev. vi. 9. xv. 2) one slain by Pagan Emperors, on account of their testimony against heathen idolatry; the other slain by Christian Popes, on account of their testimony against Christian idolatry, against the corruptions and false doctrines of the Papacy. The latter company in number enormously exceeds the former; it cannot be numbered by hundreds, or by, thousands, or by tens of thousands, or by hundreds of thousands, or even by millions; we must rise to tens of millions, to express the multitude of the saints of Christ, whose blood has been shed, by the self-styled Vicar of Christ on earth!
The INQUISITION, -a name at which humanity has learned to shudder, -is a long and supremely cruel and wicked history compressed into one word! Instituted for the avowed purpose of suppressing heresy, it was established in every country which submitted to Papal authority. In Spain alone it has been proved by the careful statistical investigations of Llorente, that between the years 1481 and 1808 over three hundred and forty-one thousand persons were condemned by this "Holy Office," of whom 31,912 were burned alive, 17,000 burned in effigy and nearly 300,000 tortured and condemned to severe penances. Every Catholic country in Europe, Asia, and America, had its INQUISITION, and its consequent unexplained arrests, indefinitely long imprisonments of innocent persons, its secret investigations, its horrible torture chambers, and dreadful dungeons, its auto da fe s, or burnings of obstinate heretics, and its thousand nameless cruelties and injustices.
When the French took Toledo, and broke open the Inquisition prison there, we read, "Graves seemed to open, and pale figures like ghosts issued from dungeons which emitted a sepulchral odour. Bushy beards hanging down over the breast, and nails grown like birds claws, disfigured the skeletons, who with labouring bosoms inhaled, for the first time for a long series of years, the fresh air. Many of them were reduced to cripples, the head inclined forward, and the arms and hands hanging down, rigid and helpless: they had been confined in dens so low they could not rise up in them: in spite of all the care of the surgeons, many of them expired the same day. The light of the sun made a particularly painful impression on the optic nerve. On the following day General Lasalle minutely inspected the place, attended by several officers of his staff. The number of machines for torture thrilled even men inured to the battle-field with horror; only one of these, unique in its kind for refined cruelty, seems deserving of more particular notice.
"In a recess in a subterraneous vault, contiguous to the private ball for examinations, stood a wooden figure, made by the hands of monks, and representing the Virgin Mary. A gilded glory encompassed her head, and in her right hand she held a banner. It struck us all, at first sight, as suspicious, that, notwithstanding the silken robe, descending on each side in ample folds from her shoulders, she should wear a sort of cuirass. On closer scrutiny, it appeared that the fore part of the body was stuck full of extremely sharp nails and small narrow knife-blades, with the points of both turned towards the spectator. The arms and hands were jointed; and machinery behind the partition set the figure in motion. One of the servants of the Inquisition was compelled, by command of the General, to work the machine, as he termed it. When the figure extended her arms, as though to press some one most lovingly to her heart, the well-filled knapsack of a Polish grenadier was made to supply the place of a living victim. The statue hugged it closer and closer; and when the attendant, agreeably to orders, made the figure unclasp her arms and return to her former position, the knapsack was perforated to the depth of two or three inches, and remained hanging on the points of the nails and knife-blades. To such an infernal purpose, and in a building erected in honour of the true faith, was the Madonna rendered subservient!"
Gigantic enterprises of EXTERMINATION of Christian confessors were from time to time undertaken by the Popes of Rome. Witness the bloody "crusade," against the Albigenses, described by Sismondi, and the religious wars against the Waldenses, narrated by Monastier and others. Pope Alexander
III. began the persecution against these "saints," whose only crime was, that they held the truth of the Gospel and read the Scriptures; he confined himself to excommunications, anathemas, and decrees, by which they were rendered incapable of holding offices of trust, honour, or profit, and by which their land s were seized, and their goods confiscated. Innocent III., finding that they grew and prospered in spite of this, instigated sterner repressive measures; and the fierce and bloodthirsty cruelty with which his behests were obeyed, has added to history one of its very darkest chapters.
The populous and beautiful Val Louise (Dauphiny) was deserted on the approach of the Papal army, the Waldenses fleeing to the caves of the mountains. They were followed, caught, thrown headlong over the precipices, dashed to pieces; others who took refuge in caves where their persecutors could not follow them, were suffocated with the smoke of huge fires, lit in the cavern’s mouth; 3000 men, women, and children, with 400 infants, were found so smothered in one cave, at one time! At the Lateran Council, A.D. 1179, a decree was issued against all heretics of whatever name, anathematizing them, and forbidding any to harbour them while alive, or give them Christian burial when dead. Lucius III. gave them up to the secular arm, and to the Inquisition, for detection and suppression. Innocent III: charged every bishop to gird himself for the work of extermination and to employ both princes and populace in the cause. Then followed the proclamation of a Crusade, with all its horrors, against the faithful witnesses for the truth. At the siege and sack of Beziers alone, sixty thousand Protestants were slain, and this was a specimen of the whole crusade. Vassals, were by the Pope absolved from. allegiance to their superiors, should these latter refuse to join in the work of extermination; the lands and goods of heretics, were given to their murderers; and plenary indulgence to the day of death, was granted to every one taking part in the persecution.
The dreadful sufferings inflicted on the peaceful and industrious Vaudois, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, are too well known to need repetition. The wretched villagers, surprised in the night, and hunted from rock to rock, by the light of the flames which were consuming their homes, escaped one snare, to fall into another. Surrender did not save the men from slaughter, nor the women from brutal outrage at which nature revolts! All were forbidden to afford succour to the fugitives. At Cabrieres more than 700 men were butchered in cold blood, and the women were burned alive in their houses.
The "bloody ordinance of Gastaldo," issued in 1655, decreed, that all who would not embrace the Catholic faith; must quit the valleys within a few days. Upwards of 1000 families were driven by this edict from their homes, in the depth of winter, to the shelterless recesses of the Alpine heights. The general to whom the execution of the edict was entrusted, fearing the consequences, if the Vaudois should resist in the defiles of their mountain passes, resorted to treachery, persuaded the villages, by fair promises, to receive his 15,000 soldiers in small detachments; and when the simple, unsuspicious people, complied with his desire, he ordered the massacre, which filled Protestant Europe with horror. Four thousand victims suffered death, under cruelties too horrible to relate, and the carnage was repeated in valley after valley.
In 1686, a fresh persecution was organised against the remaining Vaudois, by the Duke of Savoy; terrible devastation was carried again into their quiet vales; unheard-of barbarities committed, on every age and sex; life could be saved only by submission to overwhelming force, and a remnant did submit. The whole Protestant population were consigned to prison, and their lands, houses, and possessions, were divided among the Catholic soldiers of Victor Amadeus. The gaols were so crowded, and the treatment of the prisoners so cruel, that multitudes of the poor captives perished; they slept on bare bricks, in dungeons thronged to suffocation, in the intense heat of summer; and the disease and death engendered were horrible in the extreme, so that in six months only 3000 of the Vaudois survived. Urgent representations from the Protestant powers of Europe, procured the liberation of this remnant; but the wretched exiles were sent out destitute, after having been, in many cases, deprived of their children, and of their pastors. They turned their steps to Switzerland, and had to make their way over the Alps, in the depth of winter; hundreds, perished of cold and hunger on the road. Three years la±er, a little band of eight hundred of these intrepid exiles, made their way back to their valleys, under the leadership of Arnaud, who himself recounts their triumph over apparently insuperable difficulties.* (*" Glorleuse Rentree des Vaudois dans leurs Valkes" :Arnaud.)
Is further proof of the persecuting spirit of the Roman Pontiffs needed? Look at IRELAND in 1641, when the Romanist Bishops proclaimed a "war of religion," and incited the people lay every means in their power, to massacre the Protestants. North, south, east, and west, throughout the island, Protestant blood flowed in rivers; houses were reduced to ashes, villages and towns all but destroyed, in the deadly strife; the very cattle of the Protestants were inhumanly tortured; the only burial allowed to the martyrs was the burial of the living, and their persecutors took a fiendish delight, in hearing their cries and groans, issuing from the earth. Popish children were taught to pluck out the eyes of their Protestant playmates, to hack their little limbs, and, hunt them to death. Some were forced to murder their own relatives, and then butchered themselves over the bleeding remains; the last sounds that reached their dying ears, being the savage assurances of the priests, that these agonies were but the commencement of eternal torment. Dublin alone escaped, and became a refuge for the distressed, but all its Popish inhabitants were forbidden, under pain of the direst curse, to afford the slightest succour to the sufferers. Thousands died of cold and hunger; thousands more emigrated, and perished in the wintry weather from hunger and exposure.
In Armagh, four thousand Protestants were drowned; in Cavan, the road for twelve miles together was stained red with the gory track of the wounded fugitives; sixty children were abandoned in the flight, by parents fiercely hunted by the blood-hounds of the Papacy, who declared that any who helped or even buried these little ones, should be buried by their Sides; seventeen adults were buried alive at Fermanagh, and in Kilkenny seventy-two. In the province of Ulster alone, upwards of one hundred and fifty-four thousand Protestants, were massacred or expelled from Ireland. O Niel, the Romish Primate of all Ireland, declared this rebellion to be "a pious and lawful war;" and Pope Urban VIII., by a bull, dated May, 1643, granted "full and absolute remission of all their sins," to those who had taken part in "gallantly doing what in them lay, to extirpate and wholly root out, the pestiferous leaven of heretical contagion." * (*" History of the Attempts of the Irish Papists to Extirpate the Protestants in the kingdom of Ireland." By Sir John Temple, Master of the Rolls.)
But France was the scene of the greatest national crime which even the Papacy has ever instigated and approved, THE MASSACRE OF ST. BARTHOLOMEW S DAY, planned by the infamous Catherine de Medicis, and ordered by her weak and wretched son, Charles IX. The horrible story of this unparalleled atrocity, is too well known to. need recounting here. In Paris alone the blood of over ten thousand innocent Protestant citizens, deluged the streets, and for a whole week the shouts of "Kill, kill," resounded on every hand. In Rouen from one to two thousand were slaughtered; and a similar number at Lyons, at Orleans five hundred; every town and village became a scene of carnage. Some writers compute that at least one hundred thousand persons fell in this terrible massacre; others put the number lower. At the most moderate calculation, thirty to forty thousand Protestants, perished on account of their faith, in that fatal month of August, 1572. All the Princes of Europe expressed their indignation at the foul treachery, excepting the King of Spain and the Pope. The former wrote to congratulate Charles IX., on the "triumph of the Church militant," which his conduct had secured. The Pope, Gregory XIII., who was privy to the plot, celebrated a TE DEUM on hearing the news, ordered a jubilee, and a solemn procession, which he accompanied himself; to thank God for this glorious success; he sent a nuncio to Paris to congratulate the king, had a medal struck in memory of the happy event, and a picture of the massacre, painted and hung in the Vatican. A scroll at the top contained a Latin inscription to the effect, The Pontiff approves the murder of Coligny.
Tremendous as this blow had been, it did not crush Protestantism in France; a twelfth part of the entire population of the country were still attached to the Reformed religion. Henry IV., on ascending the throne, issued, in 1598, the Edict of Nantes, which placed Protestants on an equal footing with Catholics in regard to civil rights, and the free exercise of their religion. The Huguenots soon began to recover from the effects of past persecutions; but the gleam of prosperity was of short duration. With the murder of Henry IV. it passed away, and by the loss of La Rochelle the political power of the Protestants was extinguished. Oppression and injustice gradually increased, till, on the accession of Louis XIV., they were so galling, that eight hundred thousand of the best Huguenot families of France, emigrated to England and other countries, to find the liberty to worship God denied them in their own. At last, in 1685, the Edict of Nantes, and all the other concessions made to the Reformed, were revoked completely; their churches were demolished; their meetings prohibited; their schools closed; their children, from five to sixteen, taken from them to be educated as Catholics; while at the same time they were forbidden to emigrate. A reward of five thousand five hundred liras was offered, for information leading to the capture of any one of the Huguenot preachers. Persecution waxed hotter and hotter; secret meetings, surprised by the dragoons, were at once turned into scenes of butchery and slaughter. Incredible tortures were invented, and cruelties, the recital of which is almost impossible, were perpetrated by the Romish party, on their unoffending fellow subjects. The Protestants, driven to desperation, rose at last in the Cevennes, and in 1702; the war of the "Camisards" began. A Huguenot historian of this dreadful civil war, says, "Never did hell in the direst persecution, invent or employ means so diabolical and inhuman as the dragoons, and the monks who head them, have used to destroy us. These cruelties were general in France, but most violent in our Cevennes." The Pope, Clement XI., did all in his power to secure the utter extinction of the persecuted Camisards. He promised complete exemption from the pains of purgatory, to all who took up arms to exterminate "the accursed and execrable race." For three years this cruel crusade continued, till the fair and fruitful hills and valleys of the Cevennes, were turned into desolation, and the Protestants completely crushed.
Time and space fail to tell the sickening and similar stories of the papal persecutions in Spain and Portugal, in Savoy, in Poland, in Bohemia, and in the Thirty Years War in Germany; the horrible persecutions of the Emperor Charles V., and above all of the dark deeds of the Papacy, wrought through the infamous Duke of Alva, in the Low Countries. Let the thrillingly interesting story of the holy heroism of hundreds and thousands of Christian martyrs, as told in Motley s "Dutch Republic," add its testimony to the fact, that the Papal power had fulfilled the inspired prediction, "he shall wear out the saints of the Most High," and "make war with the saints and overcome them;" let Foxe’s "Book of Martyrs" do the same; let the records of the Lollard persecution in our own land, and of the reign of "bloody" Mary, do the same; let Mexico, and Abyssinia, and India, tell their tales of the Holy Inquisition and its doings, and of the Jesuits and their proceedings; and let Italy itself unveil the scenes that Ferrara, and Venice, and Parma, and Calabria have witnessed, in confirmation of the fact. In the mouth of many many witnesses, the charge is proved, and one single statement makes all argument on the subject needless. It has been calculated that the Popes of Rome have, directly or indirectly, slain on account of their faith, fifty millions of martyrs; fifty millions of men and women who refused to be parties to Romish idolatries, who held to the Bible as the Word of God, and who loved not their lives unto death, but resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
One of the most marked features of the great power of ‘evil predicted in the four prophecies we are considering, is, ITS WIDE DOMINION.
Of this revived head of the Roman earth we read, (#Rev 13:7) "power was given him, over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations"; and other clauses in the chapter show that so absolute was this power to be, that all, small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, were to be brought into subjection to it, and that it would become almost impossible, for those who refused such subjection, to exist; they would not even be permitted to buy or sell.
A peculiar mark of the nature of this power is also given. The subjection .yielded to it would be a voluntary one. It is said of the ten horns, that they shall "have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the Beast"; that is, it is predicted that the kingdoms into which the Roman earth would be divided, on the fall of the Empire, would voluntarily place themselves, in some sense, under the dominion of this final form of Roman power. Their subjection would not be effected by conquest, but by the arts of persuasion and subtle influence. They would be deceived and cajoled into submission, by fair words, by false miracles, by. lying wonders, by superstitious fears, and by the influence of others, acting on behalf of this power, rather than by its own direct efforts.
This feature is so peculiar, so unlike the analogous features of the three first Beasts or Empires of Daniel, whose dominion was acquired by devouring, pushing, running furiously, smiting, breaking, stamping in pieces, in a word, by exercising physical force, instead of subtle spiritual influence, that it serves at once to indicate the power intended. The Papacy is the only great political power, which has ever held sway over all kindreds, tongues, and nations, without having to fight for it, and with the consent of the subjected kingdoms. The profound ignorance of the dark ages, so zealously fostered by the Papacy, created a degree of superstition, which rendered kings and peoples alike, willingly obedient to this power, which boldly claimed to be supernatural, and to exercise dominion in heaven and in hell, as well as on earth, and over the souls, as well as over the bodies of men; and that both for time and for eternity.
The prophecy further distinctly intimates, that this power will not be universal or all- inclusive, even in the lands where it should prevail. It would be resisted by a certain class:"all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." This foretells that the godly- "the saints" -the chosen and called and faithful, and they alone will refuse to bow to this power; and the vision shows also, that they will do it at the risk, and too often at the cost of the loss of life itself. How literally and fearfully this prediction has been fulfilled in the history of the Papacy, the preceding outline of the persecutions inflicted on so-called "heretics," shows.
The extent and the character of Papal dominion, during the dark ages, is, in our days, little realized. It is not easy, gazing on the rotten stump of an old oak, to picture to one s self what the tree was in the days of its glorious youth, and of its mighty maturity; how its immense branches shot off on every side, overshadowing, a thousand lower growths; how the tempests attacked it in vain, and the hurricanes only rooted it more firmly in the soil. How beautiful it looked in its light green robe in spring; how magnificent in its ruddy autumnal brown; how generation after generation of birds sheltered amid its branches, and of wild boars fed upon its acorns. The centuries that have rolled over the tree have left little trace of what it was, and yet the very size of the stump tells the tale of its bygone might and glory. It is just so with the power of the Roman Pontiffs. The world can smile now at the puerility of the proud and preposterous pretensions, of the poor old man who occupies the chair of St. Peter, in his Vatican prison in Rome. It listens to his loud claim to infallibility with a laugh of contempt, and to his fierce anathemas on science, and literature, and social and religious liberty, with the calm and compassionate scorn, with which the wanderings of a lunatic are regarded. But of yore it was quite another thing. Every utterance of the tiara-crowned monarch was heard with awe, every command was implicitly obeyed. Men trembled under his curse, and gloried in his benediction, as if they had been those of Deity. The thunders of his interdicts shook the nations, and the fires of his excommunications spread death and destruction abroad. The imperial edicts of the Emperors Justinian and Phocas gave the Popes of Rome a legal power in all religious matters; and very early the various Gothic princes of Western Christendom showed a disposition to yield submission to the Roman Pontiff, as children to a father, or inferiors to a superior: Already, in the eighth century, Gregory II. boasted to the Greek Emperor, "’ all the kings of the west reverence the Pope as a God on earth," and facts fully justified the assertion. Pepin, for example, when aspiring to the crown of France, prayed the Pope to authorize his usurpation; and as soon as he had done so, the Franks, and indeed the whole Western World, recognised his title. Even the great Emperor Charlemagne, was willing to receive from the Roman Pontiff his crown and dominion. "The Lord John, apostolic and universal Pope," says the Council of Pavia, "hath at Rome elected and anointed with the holy oil, Charlemagne, as Emperor." The western kings of Europe accepted the position of subserviency to the Sovereign Pontiff, by admitting into their coronation oaths a promise, "to be faithful and submissive to the Popes, and the Roman Church."
In its earlier days the Papacy, restrained by princes from exercising civil dominion, was equally restrained by the independence of bishops, and the authority of councils, from assuming despotic power, even in the church. "From the time of Leo IX.," says Mosheim, "the Popes employed every method which the most artful ambition could suggest, to remove these limits, and to render their dominion both despotic and universal" Hildebrand, one of the most ambitious, sagacious, crafty, and arrogant of men, when he became Pope under the title of Gregory VII., "looked up to the summit of universal empire, with a wistful eye, and laboured up the ascent with uninterrupted ardour and invincible perseverance." He laboured indefatigably to render the universal church, subject to the despotic government of the Pontiff alone, as well as to submit to his jurisdiction the emperors, kings, and princes of the earth, and to render their dominion tributary to the see of Rome. Even when the Pope reclaimed a crown he had conferred, he was often met with the most abject submission. The Emperors Rodolphus and Otho, of Germany, not only received the crown as a Papal grant, on the Pope s deposition of previous emperors, but they resigned, at his bidding, the crowns so received. Peter II. of Arragon, and John, king of England, and other monarchs also, gave up their independence, that they might receive back their realms as vassals of the Pope. "Under the sacerdotal monarchy of St. Peter," says Gibbon, "the nations began to resume the practice of seeking on the banks of the Tiber, their kings, their laws, and the oracles of their fate." And similarly, in speaking of the first Norman king of Sicily, he says, "The nine kings of the Latin world might disclaim their new associate, unless he were consecrated by the authority of the supreme Pontiff."
If kings and emperors bowed thus before the Pope, it will easily be believed that the reverence of the common people for his person and office, and their submission to his arrogant and blasphemous pretensions, was complete. Not in respect of his power in secular things, but in things much higher, who knows not of the universal reverence and faith in his blasphemous pretensions exhibited throughout the long middle ages by Christendom? Look at the thronging multitudes on pilgrimage to Rome, in assurance of the salvation he promises them! Look at their reception of his dogmas in matters of faith, as very oracles from heaven! Look at their purchasing of his indulgences with their often hard earned money, in the belief of delivering thereby the captive souls of departed relatives, as well as their own souls, from the pains of purgatory and of hell"! (Elliott, vol. iii., p. 171.) Look at the way in which thousands of all classes engaged in crusades and religious wars at the bidding of the Popes, and refused aid, even to their nearest and dearest friends, if they came under his ban! From the most private domestic relations of individuals, to the most public national acts of empires, all fell under the rule, direct or indirect, of the Papacy. It was the last solemn united act, before the Reformation of the deputies of Christendom assembled in council, to subscribe the bull Unam Sanctum, which declares that AS THERE IS BUT ONE BODY OF THE CHURCH AND CHRISTENDOM, SO THERE IS BUT ONE HEAD, THE VICAR OF CHRIST-THE POPE; AND THAT IT IS ESSENTIAL TO THE SALVATION OF EVERY HUMAN BEING, TO BE SUBJECT TO THE ROMAN PONTIFF; and no subsequent Council ever revoked this decree.
It is clear, then, that a widespread and all-pervading power, of the most despotic, absolute, and blasphemous character, was wielded for a thousand years by the Popes of Rome, and is claimed by them still; that this power was submitted to by all the nations of Western Christendom for many centuries; and that it is still acknowledged by all Roman Catholics everywhere. The late Pope, in addressing the people of Rome on one occasion, congratulated them, that they had more than two hundred millions of fellow subjects elsewhere, speaking all languages, and dwelling in all nations.
In the Papacy, has therefore been fulfilled to the letter, and in the most marvellous way, the prediction, "Power was given unto him over all kindreds and tongues and nations."
(The application of this prophecy to the Popedom has sometimes been doubted, because of the wide universality of this expression. But comparison with other scriptures removes this difficulty. We read in #Matt 3:5 "Then went out unto him Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized." And again, #Acts 9:35, "And all that dwelt in Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord." "All" in these passages must be taken with limitations, which are not expressed. So in #Dan 3:7, it is said that when Nebuchadnezzar set up his image, "all the people, the nations, and the languages fell down and worshipped." Now, the second verse of the chapter shows, that only the princes and governors of those nations were present; they are regarded as representatives of their people. In the same way all Christendom submitted to the Popes of Rome, through the Councils which represented them. The exception in the text of those whose names are written in the Lamb s book of life shows that-just as all were not Israel that were of Israel-so all were not Papists that were subject to the Papacy This must never be forgotten. At the last the cry goes forth, "Come out of her, my people," a call which implies that-as Lot dwelt in Sodom-so some true believers will be found in the Roman Catholic system, even just prior to its final destruction.)
The growth of this power to these gigantic proportions, was a most singular phenomenon. Tyndale the Reformer speaking of it, says:"To see how the holy father came up, mark the ensample of the ivy! First it springeth up out of the earth, and then awhile creepeth along by the ground, till it find a great tree. Then it joineth itself beneath, unto the body of the tree, and creepeth up a little and a little, fair and softly. At the beginning, while it is yet thin and small, the burden is not ‘perceived; it seemeth glorious to garnish the tree in winter. But. it holdeth fast withal, and ceaseth not to climb up till it be at the top, and even above all. And then it sendeth its branches along by the branches of the tree, and overgroweth all, and waxeth great, heavy, and thick; and it sucketh the moisture so sore out of the tree and his branches, that it choketh and stifleth them. And then the foul, stinking ivy waxeth mighty in the stump of the tree, and becometh a seat and a nest for all unclean birds and for blind owls which hawk in the dark, and dare not come to the light.
Even so the Bishop of Rome, now called Pope, at the beginning crope along upon the earth, and every man trod on him. As soon as there came a Christian emperor, he joined himself to his feet and kissed them, and crope up a little, ‘with begging now this privilege, now that. . . And thus with flattering and feigning and vain superstition, under the name of St. Peter, he crept up, and fastened his roots in the heart of the emperor, and with his sword climbed up above all his fellow bishops, and brought them under his feet. And as he subdued them by the emperor s sword, even so after they were sworn faithful, he, by their means, climbed up above the emperor, and subdued him also, and made him stoop unto his feet and kiss them! —And thus the Pope, the father of all hypocrites, both with falsehood and guile perverted the order of the world, and turned things upside down."
VII Before closing- this chapter, we must notice the doom of the great power of evil predicted in the fourfold prophecy we are considering.
It consists of two parts, gradual consumption, followed by sudden and final destruction. The latter, being still future, affords no opportunity of comparing the prophetic announcement with the historical fulfilment; but the former, being already partially fulfilled, and still in progress of fulfilment; does, and the correspondence between prediction and event is nowhere more clear and unmistakable.
In Daniel, in Thessalonians, and in the Apocalypse; the final destruction of this last form of the Roman power, is connected with the personal appearing of Christ to establish his millennial. kingdom. But in each prophecy it is also intimated that a consuming and destroying process, would go on for some time, previously to the end, so that the once mighty power would be weakened and impoverished, before it is finally destroyed.
"They shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it unto the end" (#Dan 7:26). "Whom the Lord shall consume with the Spirit of his mouth, and destroy with the brightness of his coming" (#2Thess 2:8). "The ten horns shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire" (#Rev 17:16).
The final destruction of the power in question is described in #Rev 19:20, "The beast was taken and cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone." This is his destruction with the brightness of Christ s coming; and the consumption by the spirit of his mouth, must have preceded this final judgment.
Pharaoh and the hosts of Egypt were similarly wasted and consumed by the ten plagues, before they were whelmed in the waters of the Red Sea. The consuming process is figured in the Apocalypse as taking place under the outpouring of certain vials of wrath, on the kingdom of the Beast, and on his followers.
We inquire, then, whether there have been in the history of the Papacy any events answering to this emblem, whether any process of consumption is distinctly traceable, any wasting to decay of its resources, any conspicuous diminution of its dominion, and reduction of its influence and authority.
The facts of the case are so notorious, that it is needless to set them forth in detail. The political power of the Roman Pontiffs, once, as we have seen, a dread reality in Europe, is gone. It is a memory of the past, not an existing fact. The territorial possessions of the Pope are gone; the States of the Church form part of the dominions of the king of Italy, and Rome itself has become his capital. Within the last twenty years all the Concordats made between the Pope and the various countries of Europe, have been brought to an end. The immense landed Property, belonging to the various orders of monks and nuns on whom the Papacy relied as its universal agents, has all been confiscated and secularized in Italy, in France, in England, and in other lands. In 1513, when the great Lateran Council was held, there was not a "heretic" to be found. There are now nearly eighty millions of PROTESTANTS, who abjure Papal doctrines and practices. The dominion of the Popes, over the bodies and minds of men, is therefore marvellously diminished, though the latter is not yet destroyed.
And it is specially worthy of note that the means by which this conspicuous and undeniable "consumption" of Papal power has been accomplished, are precisely the means specified by the Apostle Paul in Thessalonians. He says that the Lord shall consume this evil power by the spirit of his mouth, i.e., by his word.
Holy Scripture is of course the form in which the word or spirit of the Lord s mouth, retains a sensible existence, and influences human society. "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."
Does not the extreme jealousy with which the Papacy has always endeavoured to bury the Bible in an unknown tongue, or to undo its teachings by false interpretations, betray its inveterate antagonism to the power destined to "consume" it? "There is an instinct of apprehension, a consciousness, which, antecedent to experience, divines danger; it seems discernible in the alarm with which Romanism recoils from Holy Scripture." * ( *" The Apostasy": O Sullivan)
The Creed of Pius IV.-that creed, a belief in which is, according to Papal declaration, essential to salvation expressly states that the Bible is not for the people: "Whosoever will be saved," must renounce it. It is a forbidden book. Bible Societies are "Satanic contrivances." Bible burnings are most Catholic demonstrations. All this dread of Scripture, all this violent opposition to its circulation, is a plain proof that the Papacy recognises in the Word of God its worst antagonist. Experience shows it is right.
Wherever the Word of God has free course, the power of the Papacy is at an end. The Reformation sprang from a recovered Bible; and wherever, as in Scotland, the popular mind is imbued with Scripture, Romanism has no chance. It is the absence of Bible knowledge that enables the Papacy to retain its sway, in Spain and other European countries, in Mexico, in Brazil, and in parts of Ireland.
The fact was stated in evidence before the Commissioners of Education, that in 1846, among 400 students attending Maynooth College, only ten had Bibles or Testaments, while every student was required to provide himself with a copy of the works of the Jesuits, Bailly and Delahogue.
The failure of the Hibernian Schools, in which the Bible without note or comment was used, was attributed by Lord Stanley to that fact alone: the priests exerted "themselves, with energy and success, against a system to which they were in principle opposed." The parents were told that it was "mortal sin" to send their children to such schools; and if they persisted, the sacrament was withheld from them, even when dying.
Pius IX., in his Encyclical Letter of 1850, speaks of Bible study as "poisonous reading," and urges all his venerable brethren with vigilance and solicitude to put a stop to it. A clergyman lost his wife in Rome, and wished to put a text on her tombstone. The Pope refused permission, not only on the ground that it was unlawful to express a hope of immortality as to a "heretic," but because it was "contrary to law, to publish in the sight of the Roman people any portion of the Word of God"! "Rome is constrained to do homage to the majesty of the Bible; she has done her best to exile that book from the world, with all the treasures it contains, -its thrilling narratives, its rich poetry, its profound philosophy, its sublime doctrines, its blessed promises, its magnificent prophecies, its glorious and immortal hopes. Were any being so cruel as to extinguish the light of day, and condemn the successive generations of men to pass their lives amid the gloom of an unbroken night, where would words be found strong enough to execrate the enormity? Far greater is the crime of Rome. After the day of Christianity had dawned, she was able to cover Europe with darkness; and by the exclusion of the Bible, to perpetuate that darkness from age to age. The enormity of this wickedness cannot be known on earth. But she cannot conceal from herself that, despite her anathemas, her indices expurgatorii, her tyrannical edicts, by which she still attempts to wall round her territory of darkness, the Bible is destined to overcome in the conflict. Hence her implacable hostility- hostility founded to a large extent on fear. . . To Popery a single Bible is more dreadful than an army ten thousand strong. . . . When she meets the Bible in her path, she is startled, and exclaims with terror, I know thee who thou art! Art thou come to torment me before the time?"
For the last three hundred years, ever since the Reformation, the Papacy has been in process of consumption by the spirit of the Lord s mouth. It will ere long be "destroyed by the brightness of his coming."
VIII. This leads us to the last point we must notice in our brief examination of. this remarkable fourfold prophecy of the Papacy, -ITS DURATION.
The period of the dominion of the little horn, is fixed in Daniel vii. as "time, times, and the dividing of time;" and that of the last head of the Romah beast (which is, as we have seen, only another symbol of the same power), as "forty and two months," the same period under a different designation. This period is identical, and synchronous with, the 1260 days of parallel prophecies. Interpreted according to the year-day system, it has had a most evident fulfilment in the duration, of the power of the Papacy; and it is besides A KEY TO THE WHOLE SYSTEM OF TIMES AND SEASONS, NATURAL AND REVEALED.
The entire system thus opened up, is a confirmation of the interpretation which opens it: its universal range, its exquisite internal harmonies, and its deep underlying connection with the profoundest truths of our faith, make this system a grand witness to the true interpretation of the mystic phrases which furnish the clue for its discovery.
To enter more largely on this point here would be to anticipate subsequent chapters. For the present we must content ourselves with asserting simply that the predicted period of the great power of evil we have been considering, 1260 years, points out the Papacy as the proper fulfilment, as clearly as any of the other features. The Bishops of Rome assumed universal supremacy in the beginning of the seventh century, and have exercised it ever since. It is a solemn fact, that these inspired prophecies, -every other prediction in which has been so marvellously fulfilled, -foretell that it will not last much longer. Its days are numbered. Its end is near.
To conclude. The origin of the Papacy corresponded with every indication furnished by these four prophecies. Its character answers exactly to the singularly wicked and evil character assigned by the inspiring Spirit to the predicted power. Self-exalting utterances, great words, against God and man, have been one of its most distinguishing features; idolatries and false doctrines have been inculcated and promulgated throughout Christendom by its instrumentality; it has made war with the saints and overcome them, fifty millions of evangelical martyrs having been slain by its authority; it has ruled over all the kindreds and nations of Catholic Christendom, and that for, more than twelve centuries; and it has for the last three hundred years been wasting to decay, undermined and exposed by the Reformation movement, which itself was the direct result of the revival of scriptural teachings and the dissemination of Bible truth. The Papacy was never so low, in power, in resources, in prestige, as it is at this moment. According to the Divine programme afforded by these sacred, once mysterious but now clear predictions, the Papal drama is played out. The final scene alone remains, -the destruction of the Papacy by the brightness of Christ s coming.
In the face of such a fulfilment as this, -a fulfilment on so grand a scale, as to the area involved, the events comprised, and the time occupied, -a fulfilment affecting countless myriads of human beings during its course of more than twelve hundred years, -a fulfilment of immense spiritual importance, to thirty or forty generations of professing Christians, throughout the world, -a fulfilment so little to have been expected, "and therefore so peculiarly worthy of being made the subject of prophetic forewarning, -in the face of such a fulfilment, surely candour would admit, this is that which was spoken by the prophet; this is that system of supernatural and soul- destroying error, that dire and dreadful apostasy, revealed by the inspiring Spirit, as the principal power of evil, to arise between the first and second advents of the Lord Jesus Christ.
When the four symbolic beasts were presented to Daniel, it was the fourth that arrested his gaze, and it was the "little horn" of that fourth empire, that mainly attracted his attention, and the angelic interpreter dwells with tenfold fulness on the power represented by this symbol. So when Paul predicted the future of the church on earth, it was the rise, domination and decay of this same evil power that he presented, as the main event to intervene before her rapture to meet the Lord in the air; and so when John received the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, the central symbol of the entire group of hieroglyphs, the one which occupied the most prominent place in the prophecy, was one of this same power, "the beast," the great antagonist of the Lamb and his followers.
How worthy of such conspicuous mention in the sacred oracles, of such solemn denunciation by the Holy Spirit, -how worthy of such pre-eminent fame (or rather infamy!) among the gigantic evils that have afflicted mankind, -how deserving of every dark designation bestowed, and of the dread doom denounced, has THE PAPACY proved itself to be. The self-styled vicar of Christ has been his worst enemy in the world, the crowned priest on the papal throne has been the undoing of the church on earth. The system which asserts salvation impossible beyond its borders, has destroyed the spiritual and temporal well-being of untold multitudes of men: Unutterably disastrous as have been its direct effects, its millions of slaughtered saints, its myriads of deluded disciples, its indirect effects have been hardly less terrible. By its priestly assumptions and pious frauds, by its notorious cupidity and mercenary practices, by its gross perversions of the truth, and unblushing corruptions of morality, by its reason-revolting dogmas, childish superstitions, and endless old wives fables, by its uniform opposition to social progress, and its habitual alliance with political tyranny, it has brought all religion into contempt, and filled Catholic Christendom with scorners, infidels, and atheists.
As to every single particular noted in the sure word of prophecy, the plainest correspondence can be traced between the fourfold prediction and the Papal fulfilment; and we cannot refrain from deprecating most earnestly, the mischievous system of interpretation, which teaches that this clear, undeniable, and grandly terrible accomplishment, is not the fulfilment intended.
Standing face to face with Jesus Christ, the disciples of John inquired in their master s name, "Art Thou He that should come, or look we for another?" They were answered by deeds, not words. The Lord wrought Messianic miracles in their presence, and said, "Go and tell John what thing ye have seen and heard;" that is, He did the deeds which it had been predicted that the Messiah would do, and all were responsible to draw thence the inference that He was the Messiah. So, pointing to the church history of the last twelve centuries, we say, lo! the Papacy has done the deeds which were to be done by the oft-predicted power of evil, foretold in the word of God! And we believe that Christians are responsible to draw from the historical fact, the inference, the Papacy is the power that was thus predicted.
To neglect the evidence which proves this fact, almost to demonstration, and to speculate about possible future literal fulfilments, as the intended and main accomplishment, of these sacred symbolic prophecies, is to denude them of their sanctifying power, and to turn their keen edge of, practical application. If the Papacy is the real fulfilment, if it is THE evil that was foreseen as of supreme importance (as it has certainly proved to be), it is surely no light matter for teachers of the word to mislead others on the point. To do so, is to relieve Popery of the fearful stigma cast on it by the spirit of prophecy, to deprive the church of the Divine estimate of this Anti-christian system, and to substitute instead, wild and unauthorized speculations, about some coming man, who is, in three years and a half; to exhaust these divinely given predictions, which the church has for eighteen centuries been studying.
We entreat our Futurist friends to consider, whether it is more likely that the all-wise God indited these solemn predictions for the benefit of many generations of his saints, or exclusively for the guidance of the last generation of this age? Did He pass by unnoticed, the gigantic and universally influential power, which ruled the whole of Christendom with despotic sway and inconceivably evil results for more than a thousand years, in order to describe in detail, and many times over, the doings of one man, the brief career of a single individual, who has not yet appeared? Was it to warn the church of the nineteenth century against some short-lived Napoleon, that the Holy Ghost unveiled the future to the prophet Daniel, and that the Lord Jesus gave the Apocalypse to the saintly John?
The ample and repeated descriptions of this power of evil, the unparalleled denunciations against it, the solemn adjurations to the people of God, to avoid any connection with it, all forbid the idea. Not for one, but for fifty generations of saints, were these prophecies indited; not to be fulfilled on the petty scale of three years, but on the majestic one of twelve centuries; not to indicate gross material dangers, but subtle spiritual and ecclesiastical evils, of long duration, and world-wide prevalence. The coming of Antichrist is no brief future event, lying between us and our blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our Saviour; he was revealed more than a thousand years ago, he has run his course, and lasted his pre-appointed period; for three hundred years, he has been consuming by the spirit of Christ’s mouth, and of all the momentous series of events connected with his long-predicted career, nothing remains to be fulfilled save his final conflict with the Lamb, and destruction with the brightness of Christ’s coming.
To conclude. The correct interpretation of the prophecy of Babylon the great-that it is the Church of Rome-confirms the above view of this prophecy of "the beast," and is indeed the key to the whole Apocalypse.
There is a vast difference between the Papacy, and the corrupt church, which it founded, governed, and used as its tool; a difference, less in degree, but similar in character, to that existing between the Head of the true church, and that church which He founded, governs, and employs as an instrument to accomplish his will in the world. Many things are true of the Lord Jesus, that are not true of the church which is his body, close and inseparable as is the connection between them. So, many things are true of the Popes of Rome which are not true of the Roman Catholic Church, close as is the connection between them. Widely dissimilar hieroglyphs are selected to prefigure the two, in the Apocalypse, and yet the connection between them is very clearly indicated; they are never confounded, yet never disjoined.
Now the duration of the corrupt church is not mentioned in this prophecy, though long duration is implied; but her name is given, and it demonstrates with all but mathematical certainty, as we have seen, that the church intended is the Church of Rome. That church has, we know, as a matter of history, already lasted in a condition of corruption and apostasy, for more than twelve centuries. Its fall is in the Apocalypse represented as taking place under the seventh vial (#Rev 16), and as synchronizing with the marriage of the Lamb (#Rev 19:1-4). The power of "the beast" (or Papal dynasty) is also represented as being consumed under the outpouring of the vials, while he himself and his armies are destroyed by the advent, which synchronizes with the marriage of the Lamb. That is, "Babylon" and "the beast" are represented as coming to an end at one and the same time.
Their careers are also cotemporaneous, for the woman is represented as seated on the Roman beast- " the beast that was and is not "-that is, not old Pagan Rome, but Rome revived; in a totally new form of domination. This beast "that was and is not" is expressly said to be the eighth (vii), that is the last terrible form of revived Roman power, so fully described in chapter xiii.-the power of which we have been treating.
It follows, that since the Church of Rome has already lasted more than twelve centuries, the last ruling head of the Roman world, the blasphemous, persecuting, self-exalting head or power here predicted, must have been in existence for the very same period; which is indeed the duration assigned to it, in symbolic language by the prophecy-1260 years.
Now what power has actually ruled the nations of Christendom from Rome as its seat during the last twelve centuries?
THERE CAN BE BUT ONE REPLY-THE PAPACY: IT MUST THEREFORE BE THE POWER PREFIGURED BY THE SYMBOL OF ”THE BEAST."
Further, the vials, under which Babylon and "the beast" are represented as being brought to ‘an end, synchronize with the close of the period of the trumpets. The events prefigured under the earlier trumpets must therefore be sought in the previous history of Christendom; i.e., in the time of the undiminished power of the Papacy, and in the events which preceded and accompanied its rise.
The martyrs represented in the fifteenth chapter of the book, standing as victors on the sea of glass, having "gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over the number of his name," must be those slain by Papal Rome. A previous group of martyrs are represented in the sixth chapter, who must therefore be those slain by Pagan Rome in the ten great persecutions of the church by the Caesars.
Now it is under the fifth seal that this earlier company is seen under the altar, and consequently the events figured as taking place under the four previous seals, must be sought in days prior to the last great persecution under Diocletian, that is, in the first three hundred years of church history.
Thus we are led by clear and simple synchronisms, afforded by the book itself; to a conclusion respecting the Apocalypse, similar to that which we reached by other lines of argument; namely, that its fulfilment is to be sought in the events of the Christian era, and that so far from all its visions, from chap. vi. to chap. xix. being still wholly future, they are almost wholly past. Nor can the force of this argument be avoided, save by denying that the Babylon of the Apocalypse represents the Church of Rome.
In the remaining portion of this work we shall find all the conclusions we have reached in its three earlier parts, respecting the second advent and the millennium, the resurrection and the judgment to come, the true scope and nature of the Apocalypse, and the signification of these, its two leading prefigurations, -abundantly confirmed from independent sources, and by arguments drawn from the realms of natural science.
END OF PART III.