CHRIST AND ANTICHRIST: PART 2
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ANTICHRIST OR THE PAPACY PROVED TO BE THE ANTICHRIST PREDICTED IN THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
WE have already remarked upon the importance of ascertaining the personal identity of Christ. Of corresponding importance is it, to discover the personal identity of Antichrist. Antichrist is the enemy of Christ. As therefore, our salvation is secured through personal union by faith with Christ, so our destruction is made certain, if at last we are found on the side of Antichrist. Here, we cannot serve two masters. If we adhere to the cause of Christ, we cannot promote that of Antichrist; and if we maintain the cause of Antichrist, we cannot promote that of Christ.
Christ and Antichrist are in open hostility. The struggle is great, and has been of long continuance. It is going on around us; and we cannot be idle spectators of the scene. Our views, our feelings, our conduct, must favour the one or the other of these contending parties. Let every man, therefore, select his position, and gird on his armor. Let him choose the one or the other of these two masters. Which will he serve? With which does he seek his destiny?
But how is Antichrist to be ascertained? The same way that we ascertain Christ. Search the Scriptures; examine facts. The Jews were condemned, because, with the Scriptures in their hands, they did not recognize, but rejected Christ. And so shall we be condemned and punished, if, with the same Scriptures in our hands, we do not recognize, but blindly follow Antichrist.
The times also require this investigation. Throughout Europe, throughout the world, there is a revival of the Papal system. True, this revival is not to be considered as indicative of any very great triumphs. The best days of Popery have been numbered. The notions which men now entertain of popular liberty, and of the rights of conscience, the general intelligence that prevails, the recorded history of Papal oppression, the circulation of the Holy Scriptures, and above all, the word of God, all lead to the belief, that no efforts of the crafty agents of this crafty system, can ever give it the influence it has once exerted. “Tekel” is inscribed upon it; and some Cyrus will, ere long, be raised up, who shall dry up its waters, break down its gates of brass, and let oppressed humanity go free. No; it is not the ultimate triumph of this system we fear; it is the harm it may do in its death-struggle; it is the unnatural energies of its spasmodic dissolution, that we dread.
In America, particularly, is this investigation important. In all the countries over which it has triumphed, Popery, like the anaconda, has wound around its folds of art, of cunning, of superstition and of power, until, enclosing everything in its too friendly embraces, it has, with one tremendous effort, crushed the nation to death. It sends forth its missionaries; it gathers its schools and colleges; it erects its cathedrals and builds its churches; it is patriotic, benevolent, charitable. Its alms and offerings attract the vulgar, its austerities and penances convince the sceptical. It is at first tolerated; then approved; next obeyed! But now come the dread realities of the system, taxation, passive submission, excommunications, interdicts, crusades, the inquisition, destruction. Yes, Popery has well nigh destroyed every country in which it has been predominant. The liberties and national prosperity of a people cannot coexist with such a system.
Let then, Americans — Americans, who have never witnessed a Court of Inquisition, or an Auto-da-fe, on their virgin soil; Americans, whose national liberties are still fragrant with the blood of revolutionary forefathers; Americans, whose proud eminence in the civilized world, gives them more to lose than other nations; let Americans especially examine this subject well. And if, in such an examination, the following pages shall contribute but a mite to the discovery of the truth, the author will feel himself more than compensated for the labor they have cost him.
THE SEAT OF ANTICHRIST
In Daniel’s vision of the four beasts, is the following language — “I considered the horns, and there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and behold in this horn were eyes, like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.” Daniel 7:8.
The beast upon whose head Daniel saw the ten horns, is generally supposed by commentators to symbolize the Roman government; the ten horns, the ten kingdoms by which that government was succeeded; and the little horn, the Papacy. The reasons, upon which this interpretation is founded, are the following:
The scope of the vision requires it. This vision was given to Daniel, to portray before his mind, those great empires, or governments, which were to precede the everlasting kingdom of the Messiah. These governments were four. The first, under the symbol of a lion, was the Assyrian. The second, under the symbol of a bear, was the Persian. The third, under the symbol of a leopard, was the Macedonian or Grecian. The fourth, which was represented by “a beast dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly” must, of course, be the Roman.
To apply this last symbol as some have done, to the kingdom of the Seleucidae, is to commit two fatal errors. That kingdom is represented in tile vision, by one of the heads of the third beast, the symbol of the Grecian empire; for it is expressly said, “the beast had four heads.” These four heads were, the Egyptian, Syrian, Thracian, and Macedonian divisions of the great Alexandrian empire. If, then, the kingdom of the Seleucidae, or Syria, were included under the third symbol, it certainly would not be also exhibited by the fourth.
The other fatal mistake is, that this hypothesis makes Syria a greater and more notable kingdom, not only than the Assyrian, the Persian, and the Grecian; but than even the Roman empire itself! It is expressly said, by the angelic interpreter of the vision, that this fourth beast “shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.” This was never true of Syria, nor has it been of any other kingdom since, but that established by Romulus.
The ultimate dismemberment of the Roman empire, and the formation from its fragments, of ten separate states, also agree with this interpretation. 1 “The ten horns out of this kingdom,” says the angel, “are ten kings (i.e. kingdoms) that shall arise.” Now it is a notorious fact, that when the Roman empire was overrun and subverted by the northern nations of Europe, ten kingdoms arose out of its fragments. The following are the names of those kingdoms, as given by Machiavel, himself a Roman Catholic. “The Ostrogoths in Moesia; the Visigoths in Pannonia; the Sueves and Alans in Gaseoigne and Spain; the Vandals in Africa; the Franks in France; the Burgundians in Burgundy; the Heruli and Turingi in Italy; the Saxons and Angles in Britain; the Huns in Hungary; the Lombards, at first upon the Danube, but afterwards in Italy.” This interpretation is also supported by the very extraordinary agreement between “the little horn” and the Papacy. This little horn “came up among” the other horns; “it was diverse from the rest;” “it plucked up three of them by the roots;” “its look was more stout than its fellows;” “it had eyes like the eyes of man;” it had also “a mouth that spake very great things;” it made war with the saints, and prevailed against them, till the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints.” The length of time, too, during which this “little horn” should oppress the saints, is expressly stated to be, “a time, times, and the dividing of time;” that is, twelve hundred and sixty years.
All these marks indicate the Papacy so strongly, that it is difficult to conceive how they could ever have had a different application. The Papacy arose among the ten Gothic kingdoms of Europe: it was, however, diverse from all those kingdoms, being an ecclesiastical sovereignty; in its rise, it subverted three of those kingdoms, those of the Heruli, Ostrogoths, and Lombards; its “look” too, has always been more “stout,” than that of any other European kingdom; it is distinguished for craft and cunning; it is more ambitious and boastful than its neighbors, pretending to exercise absolute sovereignty over them; it has ever been a persecuting power; and it is long-lived; having not even yet exhausted the twelve hundred and sixty years of its predicted existence. What a remarkable agreement between prophecies and facts! What a perfect symbol is the “little horn,” of the Papal power! Probably, no one Messianic type in the Old Testament scriptures, is more perfectly fulfilled in Jesus, than is this little horn in the Papacy.
The commentator on the Doway Bible admits that “the little horn” is a symbol of Antichrist. “This,” says he, “is commonly understood of Antichrist. It may also be applied to that great persecutor Antiochus Epiphanes, as a figure of Antichrist.” But who is Antichrist? According to Romanists, some great enemy of Christianity, who is to arise at some future period, who will dreadfully oppress the Church, and whose duration will be very brief. Upon the expression in this vision, “a time, times, and half a time,” the same commentator says, “this means three years and a half, which is supposed to be the length of the duration of the persecution of Antichrist.”
That this papal interpretation of the symbol is incorrect, is evident. The fourth beast is admitted, even by this same authority, to be the “empire.”
The ten horns are also said to represent “ten kingdoms, among which the empire of the fourth beast shall be parodied.” Now, the Roman empire has ceased to exist for many centuries past. If, then, it ever could be divided into ten kingdoms, such division must already have taken place. The “little horn,” then, or Antichrist, must, of course, have been in existence long since; for it was to “spring out of the midst” of the other horns, or kingdoms. And, here, I cannot but remark upon the unfairness of this papistical commentary. The beast, it states, represents the Roman empire; the ten horns, the ten kingdoms, into which that empire was divided. And yet, the “little horn,” which is admitted to be a symbol of Antichrist, and which was to exist among the ten horns, or kingdoms, is said to be a figure of some malignant power not yet in existence!
We have not, however, located Antichrist at Rome. Daniel places him among the ten horns; that is, among the nations of Southern Europe. He does not, however, inform us of his precise locality. This is done by the Apostle John. “And I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet-colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls; having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations, and filthiness of her fornication. And upon her forehead was a name written — ‘Mystery, Babylon the great the mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth.” And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” In explaining these remarkable symbols, the angel said to John, “The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sitteth.” And, as if this were not sufficiently distinct, he adds: “The woman which thou sawest is that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth.” Revelation 17.
This passage may be considered both as a commentary upon, and an enlargement of, the vision of Daniel. Here, as there, is “a beast having ten horns.” The beast, in the vision of John, as in that of Daniel, symbolizes Rome; the ten horns, the ten kingdoms which succeeded the Roman empire. Revelation 17:12. While, however, Daniel’s beast is represented as “dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly” John’s is said to be “scarlet-colored and full of names of blasphemy.” The reason for this is, that Daniel referred principally to Rome Republican and Imperial, while John, as we shall see hereafter, describes chiefly Rome Papal. In Daniel’s vision there is no mention made of “the seven heads” of the beast. This figure is employed in the latter vision to identify the beast. “The seven heads” says the angel, “are seven mountains.” This refers to the seven hills on which Rome is built. The grand distinction, however, between the two visions is, that while Daniel speaks of “a little horn” rising up among the ten horns, John omits this figure, but introduces another of a different kind. He sees “a woman arrayed in purple and scarlet-color, and decked with gold and precious stones,” sitting upon the beast. The reason for this difference is, that Daniel represents Antichrist as a political, while John exhibits him as an ecclesiastical power.
Nor will it appear upon examination, that “the little horn” is a more significant type of the Papal state, than the “woman arrayed in purple and scarlet” is of the Papal church. This woman was seen “sitting upon the scarlet-colored beast.” This denotes that union of church and state, which has so long existed between the Papacy and the Civil governments of Europe. It also indicates the authority which the Roman church has so absolutely wielded over these governments. The woman was also “arrayed in purple and scarlet-color” The Pope of Rome has for ages pretended to be emperor of the whole world. As such, he not only dresses himself in purple and scarlet, but adorns with the same costly materials all around him — “Even the mules and horses,” says Bishop Newton, “which carry the popes and cardinals, are covered with scarlet cloth; so that they may be said, literally, to ride upon a scarlet-colored beast.” 3 This woman was also “decked with gold and precious stones, and pearls.” This indicates the very great wealth and splendor of papal establishments. The following is an extract from a letter written by a traveler in Mexico: “In the cathedral of Puebla hangs a chandelier of massive gold and silver, of whole tons in weight. On the right of the altar stands a carved figure of the Virgin, dressed in beautiful embossed satin, executed by the nuns of the place.
Around her neck is suspended a row of pearls of precious value; a coronet of pure gold encircles her brow; and her waist is bound with a zone of pure diamonds and enormous brilliants. The candelabras in the cathedral are of silver and gold, too massive to be raised by even the strongest hand, and the Host is one mass of splendid jewels of the richest kind. In the cathedral at Mexico, there is a railing of exquisite workmanship, five feet in height, and two hundred feet in length, of gold and silver; on which stands a figure of the Virgin, with three petticoats — one of pearls, one of emeralds, and one of diamonds; the figure alone is valued at three millions of dollars.” If such be papal worship in Mexico, what is it among the splendid capitals of Europe? What must it be at Rome?
This woman is also represented as a harlot; yea, as the greatest of harlots.
This refers to the idolatries of papal Rome. That the fornication here alluded to is spiritual, that is, idolatry, is admitted by even Romanists themselves. “By Babylon,” says the commentator on the Doway Bible, “is meant either the city of the devil in general, or pagan Rome, which was the principal seat of empire and idolatry.” Here, however, a great mistake is committed, in supposing, that the prophecy alludes to pagan Rome.
This harlot, or adulterous woman, is evidently the type of a false church.
But when was any church whatever in alliance with pagan Rome? In the days of pagan Rome, the church, so far from riding on the beast, was trampled under foot, and almost destroyed by him. Evidently the reference is to papal Rome. And are there no such idolatries practiced in this apostate church, as correspond with the figure so graphically drawn by the Apostle? Is not the Pope himself worshipped? Is not the Virgin worshipped? Do not churches and altars, relics and crucifixes, pictures and statues, saints and angels, all receive divine honors? Never did pagan Rome excel professedly Christian Rome in these particulars. The papacy is the fountainhead, the source of these abominations, which from the Roman metropolis, extend almost to the whole world. This woman was also “drunk with the blood of saints and of the martyrs of Jesus.” It is said of the “little horn,” in Daniel’s vision, that “he made war upon the saints and prevailed against them.” We have already mentioned, that this “little horn” was a type of the papal state, while this woman is a type of the papal church. In popery, however, both church and state are employed, in the work of persecution. The spiritual court first tries and condemns the criminal; he is then delivered over to the civil authority to be executed, the venerable council first determines upon a crusade; the next step is, the enlistment in the enterprise, of the kings and potentates of the earth. In this way has the papal church been “drunken with the blood of saints.” And has not this prediction been fulfilled, to the very letter fulfilled? “Not to mention,” says Bishop Newton, “other outrageous slaughters and barbarities, the crusades against the Waldenses and Albigenses, the murders committed by the duke of Alva in the Netherlands, the massacres in France and Ireland, will probably amount to ten times the number of all the Christians slain, in all the ten persecutions of the Roman emperors put together.” 5 The same sentiment is expressed by Gibbon as we shall see hereafter in his history of the Roman empire.
Such are the correspondences between “the woman arrayed in purple and scarlet,” and the papal church. Evidently then, the one is the type of the other. But if so, the city of Rome itself was to be the spot where that antichristian power was to be enthroned upon the nations of Europe.
That Rome is the head of the papal world, and that a great autocrat has been presiding there for many centuries past, are facts of general notoriety; indeed it is fundamental in the whole papal scheme, that the seven-hilled city should be the metropolis of this strange and wonderful empire. Should Rome be displaced, the whole fabric would fall. Hence the seventy years, during which, through the influence of the French kings, the popes were made to reside at Avignon, are considered by all good Catholics, as a Babylonish captivity.
The radical doctrine of this system, as expressed by the Florentine Synod is, “That the Apostolic chair and the Roman high priest doth hold a primacy over the universal church; and that the Roman high priest is the successor of St. Peter, the prince of the Apostles; the true Lieutenant of Christ, and the Head of the Church; that he is the Father and Doctor of Christians; and that unto him in St. Peter, full power is committed to feed, and direct and govern the Catholic church.” Daunou, in his Court of Rome, represents this as “a controverted point” among Roman Catholics. — “Not one word,” says he, “in the gospel, nor even in the writings of the Apostles, indicates the city of Rome as the indispensable capital of Christendom.” 7 This is very true; but it is neither the doctrine nor the practice of the Romish Church. “That the primacy of the Church is of divine right,” says Dens, “and that this primacy should continue in the Roman bishop, or pope, are points that are considered settled in the faith.” 8 This doctrine may be briefly expressed thus: Christ delegated his authority to Peter; Peter established his seat at Rome; upon his decease, he transferred his office to a Roman successor: hence these Roman successors of the Apostle, are, to the end of the world, the vicegerents of Christ, and the head of his Church. In all this, locality at Rome is essential. Withdraw that idea, and the primacy falls.
It need not be mentioned here, upon how many false premises this doctrine is based. It need not be affirmed, that Peter held no office higher than the other Apostles. It need not be asserted that the very peculiar offices of Christ, could not be conferred on Peter, or on any other. It need not be maintained, that Peter’s office, as Apostle, could not be transferred to Linus. It need not be stated, that the New Testament does not even allude to the fact, that Peter ever saw Rome. It need not be suggested, that Eusebius, when mentioning the visit of Peter to Rome, although he refers to his labors and martyrdom, says not a word about his primacy in that city. It is not necessary to assume the ground, that for three or four centuries after the martyrdom of Peter, the Roman See exercised no special sovereignty over the general Church. These things need not here be affirmed. It is enough to fulfill the prophecy under consideration, that the reverse of all this has been maintained; and that upon these false premises, a potentate of extra-ordinary character, wearing at once miter and crown, wielding together sword and Bible, presiding alike over politics and religion; it is enough, we say, that such a potentate has for ages, and in the face of the whole world, occupied his seat upon the ashes of old Rome.
Had the supreme pontiff of Christendom been located any where else; had he lived at Alexandria, Jerusalem, Paris, or London; had he been further removed from the power-spot of the old empire — there had at least, been one argument less in establishing his antichristian character. But, by an awful infatuation, and with a pertinacity bordering on madness, the great father of Christians has taken his seat, just where it was predicted beforehand that Antichrist should reign!
We employ then the very seat and chair of St. Peter, the ashes of old Rome, and the superstitions of the new, the Vatican, the Roman tiara, and the Roman crown, Roman bulls and Roman interdicts, Roman bibles and Roman prayers; we urge all this Romanism as evidence conclusive, as proof irrefragable, that the Papacy is the Antichrist predicted in the Holy Scriptures. The seat of the Pope condemns him, and the very walls of the “eternal city,” proclaim his anti-christian character.
THE TIME OF ANTICHRIST
NOT only the seat, but the time of Antichrist is foretold in the word of God. True, there are several events which strongly indicate the rise of this power, and which have therefore occasioned a variety of opinions among the learned, as to the precise epoch of its commencement. Like the various edicts, however, of the Persian kings, from which the seventy weeks of Daniel have been calculated, these events are, for the most part, so near to each other, as to leave but little, if any doubt, as to the proper application of the prophecies.
Those portions of Scripture which most clearly designate the rise of Antichrist, are the following. “I considered the horns,” says Daniel, “and behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots.” Daniel 7:8.
In explaining the vision to the prophet, the angel said: “The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth. And the ten horns out of this kingdom, are ten kings that shall arise; and another shall arise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first; and he shall subdue three kingdoms.” Daniel 7:24.
The Apostle Paul also says concerning the same power, “And now ye know what withholdeth, that he might be revealed in his time. Only he who now letteth will let, till 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.” 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8.
In explaining the symbol of the scarlet-colored beast on which the woman was sitting, the angel said to John: “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not, and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sitteth. And these are seven kings, 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 that was and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven; and goeth into perdition. And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but received power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast until the words of God shall be fulfilled.” Revelation 17.
The following passage is also believed by some writers on prophecy to mark more definitely than any of the preceding, the precise period of the rise of Antichrist. “And they (the saints) shall be given unto his hand, until a time, times and the dividing of time.” Daniel 7:25.
That the eleventh, or little horn of Daniel, the wicked power, or man of sin of Paul, and the eighth king or the beast of John, all refer to the same thing, is generally conceded by commentators, and must appear evident to any one who carefully considers these prophetic symbols. Daniel’s little horn arose among the ten horns upon the head of the fourth beast, the symbol of the Roman empire. Paul’s man of sin was to arise when that empire ceased to “let;” or, when “it was taken out of the way.” And John’s eighth king or beast, was that peculiar power which should succeed the seventh form of government at Rome. As, therefore, the little horn, the man of sin, and the eighth king, were all predicted to arise about the same time; as they were all to succeed imperial Rome, and as similar characteristics are ascribed to them all, they must mean the same thing.
But there is another reason for this conclusion, equally strong. Each of these symbols denoted a power, which was to continue the same length of time. The little horn of Daniel was to continue until “the judgment was set, and his dominion was taken away to be consumed and destroyed to the end.” Daniel 7:26.
The man of sin was to exist until he should become the son of perdition, that is, until he should be “consumed by the Lord, and destroyed by the brightness of his coming.” 2 Thessalonians 2:8.
And the eighth king, or the beast of John, was that which was to tyrannize “until the words of God should be fulfilled;” that is, until the twelve hundred and sixty years, so often alluded to, should end; and then it was to “go into perdition.” Revelation 17. The “little horn,” therefore, “the man of sin,” and “the beast,” were not only to begin, but they were to end at the same time; viz. at some future coming of Christ. This also proves that they are the same.
Irenaeus says: “Daniel, respecting the end of the last kingdom, that is, the last ten kings, among whom that kingdom should be divided, upon whom the son of perdition shall come, saith, that ten horns shall grow on the beast, and another little horn shall grow up among them, and three of the first horns shall be rooted out before him.” Of whom also, Paul the Apostle speaketh in his second Epistle to the Thessalonians, calling him the son of perdition, and ‘the wicked one.’ St. John, our Lord’s disciple, hath in the Apocalypse still more plainly signified of the last time, and of these ten kings, among whom the empire that now reigneth shall be divided; explaining what the ten horns shall be which were seen by Daniel.” The following is the statement of Cyril of Jerusalem in the fourth century: “The first kingdom that was made famous was the kingdom of the Assyrians: and the second was that of the Medes and Persians together; and after these the third was that of the Macedonians; and the fourth kingdom is now that of the Romans. Afterwards, Gabriel interpreting, saith, Its ten horns are ten kings that shall arise; and after them shall arise another king, who shall exceed in wickedness all before him: not only the ten, he saith, but all who were before him. And he shall depress three kings. But it is manifest that of the first ten he shall depress three, that he himself might reign the eighth.” 2 These quotations will show that the interpretation above given is neither modern nor protestant, but ancient and patristic.
Admitting, then, that these various symbols designate the same power, there are several strong marks furnished in these prophecies for ascertaining the period when that power should arise. 1. The first of these is, the dissolution of the western Roman empire. The propriety of restricting these prophecies to the western empire will appear from the following judicious remarks of Sir Isaac Newton: “All the four beasts are still alive, though the dominion of the three first be taken away. The nations of Chaldea and Assyria are still the first beast. Those of Media and Persia are still the second beast. Those of Macedon, Greece, and Thrace, Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt, are still the third. And those of Europe on this side Greece, are still the fourth. 3 As therefore the prophecies refer to the fourth, and not to the other three beasts, our business is with the Latin and not with the Greek empire. Now it was some time after this Latin or western empire was subverted, that the man of sin, according to Paul, was to make his appearance. When he that was then letting (katecwn ) should be taken out of the way, “then shall that wicked be revealed.”
The western empire was overthrown by those northern barbarians, whose ravages are so significantly exhibited in the 8th chapter of the Apocalypse, under the sounding of the first four trumpets. Alaric and his Goths besieged and plundered Rome about the year 410. Attila and his Huns devastated a great part of the empire and invaded Italy about the year 452.
In 455, Genseric, king of the Vandals, not only captured but pillaged Roam, for the space of fourteen days. And about the year 476, Odoacer, king of the Ostrogoths, terminated the imperial authority at Rome, by the conquest of the city, and the banishment of Augustulus to the castle of Lucullus, on an annuity of six thousand pieces of gold. 4 Now it was, that “the third part of the Roman sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars.” Revelation 8:12.
Antichrist then, according to Paul, was not to arise till some time after the year 476 or 479, as the event above alluded to is differently estimated. 2. A second epoch, furnished us in the prophecy, is the time when the western empire was succeeded by ten new kingdoms. The beast had ten horns, and these horns were the symbols of ten kingdoms. Antichrist, however, was not to arise at the same time precisely with these kingdoms, but shortly afterwards “and another shall arise after them.”
The following is a list of these ten European kingdoms, given by Bishop Lloyd, together with the dates of each: Huns, about 356; Ostrogoths, 377; Visigoths, 378; Franks, 407; Vandals, 407; Sueves and Alans, 407; Burgundians, 407; Herules and Rugians, 476; Saxons, 476; Lombards in Hungary, 526; in Germany, 483.” 5 According to these calculations, the rise of Antichrist cannot precede the year 483 or 526. 3. Another mark by which the time of Antichrist is designated, is when Rome should be under its eighth form of government. “And there are seven kings: 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 that was and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.”
The expression here used, “the beast that was and is not” is thus interpreted by Bishop Newton: “A beast in a prophetic style is a tyrannical idolatrous empire. The Roman empire was idolatrous under the heathen emperors; it then ceased to be so for some time under the Christian emperors; it then became idolatrous again under the Roman pontiffs, and so hath continued ever since.” 6 The beast then “that was and is not,” denotes Rome imperial in its three successive conditions of Rome pagan, Rome Christian, and Rome papal. Rome papal is that which the angel terms the eighth, and which he says, “is of the seven” — ek twn eJpta asti . This last expression is rendered by Doddridge thus, “he ariseth out of the remainders of this people.” The correct interpretation, however, seems to be, that he is to succeed the seven in a regular line; he is to arise from them. But where shall we find the eight successive Roman sovereignties, referred to by the Apostle? According to most commentators, in the kings, consuls, dictators, decemvirs, military tribunes, emperors,7 exarchs, and popes, by which Rome has been governed. Rome was originally governed by kings for more than two hundred years. It was then under the control of consuls, dictators, decemvirs, and military tribunes, about the space of five hundred and thirty years. The reign of the emperors lasted about five hundred, and that of the exarchs about two hundred. There are some writers, who prefer to substitute the Italian Gothic kingdom, which lasted over sixty years, in the place of the exarchate; considering the latter as the instrument merely of the sixth or imperial government. It is quite certain, however, from history, that the Pope did not begin to exercise political power, until the overthrow its Italy of the exarchate.
This event occurred under very peculiar circumstances. The emperor Leo the Third, usually termed the iconoclast, had ordered all sacred images and figures to be removed from Christian churches. Gregory the second, who then filled the papal chair, wrote him a letter of severe remonstrance.
Among other things, we find the following sentiments in this papal epistle.
Advocating the use of pictures and images, he says, “The idols of antiquity were the fanciful representations of phantoms or demons, at a time, when the true God had not manifested his person, in any visible likeness. The latter are the genuine forms of Christ, his mother and his saints, who have approved, by a crowd of miracles, the innocence and merit of this relative worship.” In censuring Leo for rebelling against papal authority, he says: “Are you ignorant that the popes are the bond of union, the mediators of peace between the east and the west? The eyes of the nations are fixed upon our humility, and they revere as a God upon earth the Apostle St. Peter, whose image you threaten to destroy. The remote and interior regions of the west present their homage to Christ and his vicegerent. Abandon your rash and fatal enterprise, reflect, tremble, repent. If you persist, we are innocent of the blood that will be spilt in the contest, may it fall on your own head.” Matters soon came to a crisis. By the counsel and authority of Gregory, the Exarchate was armed against the emperor; the exarch who espoused the cause of Leo, was killed by popular fury. A battle was soon fought between the army of the emperor and that of the pope. The latter was victorious. “The strangers,” says Gibbon, “retreated to their ships; but the populous sea-coast poured forth a multitude of boats; the waters of the Po were so deeply infected with blood, that during six years the public prejudice abstained from the fish of the river; and the institution of an annual feast perpetuated the worship of images, and the abhorrence of the Greek tyrant. Amidst the triumph of the catholic arms, the Roman pontiff Gregory III., convened a synod of ninety-three bishops against the heresy of the iconoclasts. With their consent, he pronounced a general excommunication against all, who by word or deed, should attack the traditions of the fathers, and the images of the saints.” Surely here are events, which seem almost precisely to fulfill the predictions of John. A Roman bishop, not only reprimanding an emperor, and acknowledging, that he receives through St. Peter, coordinately with Christ, the homage of the nations; not only considering himself as the bond of union between the east and the west but actually arming his subjects for battle, fighting, conquering! And for what? To establish the worship of images! To declare as heretics, all who should renounce such worship!
Does not this look like the literal revival of the sixth or idolatrous beast?
Does it not occur, too, at the proper period? The seven preceding administrations had all passed away. The imperial arm was broken; the exarchate subverted. Surely then, this was the time, this the occasion for the rise of the eighth Roman power, or “the beast.”
The author above quoted, gives the following account of the new organization, which succeeded the Exarchate. “By the necessity of their situation, the inhabitants of Rome were cast into the rough model of a republican government: they were compelled to elect some judges in peace and some leaders in war. The style of the Roman senate and people was revived, but the spirit was fled. The want of laws could only be supplied by the influence of religion, and their foreign and domestic counsels were moderated by the authority of the bishop. His alms, his sermons, his correspondence with the kings and prelates of the west, his recent services, their gratitude and oath, accustomed the Romans to consider him as the first magistrate or prince of the city. The Christian humility of the popes too, was not offended by the name of Dominus, or Lord; and their face and inscription are still apparent on the most ancient coins.” The termination of the Exarchate and the establishment of political power in the hands of the Popes, occurred about the year 730. True, the exercise of such power was disturbed by the Lombards, their former allies. The interference however, of the French kings soon subdued these troublesome neighbors, and secured the popes in the privileges, which by rebellion and war, they had obtained. 11 4. A fourth sign of the rise of Antichrist is, the subjugation or rooting up of three of the ten kingdoms, in the midst of which he was to arise — “before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots.” The following extract from Professor Gaussen, will sufficiently illustrate this point. “Take now,” says he, “the map of Italy, and look for the dominions of the Pope; and see of how many of the ten first kingdoms, the pontifical territory occupies the site at this day. You will see that it has supplanted these three; the Herules, the Ostrogoths, and the Lombards. And go to Rome itself, and see the Pontiff on the banks of the Tyber in all his sovereign pomp, trampling under foot the ashes of Romulus in the Basilica of St. Peter’s, or in his own palace of the Vatican.
You will see on his brow that Babylonish tiara, surmounted by the three crowns of the three horns, “plucked up by the roots before him;” those of Odoacer, Theodoric, and of Alboin, he the only king in the world who wears this prophetic headdress.” These three kingdoms virtually fell into the hands of the Pope, when the Exarchate was wrested from the eastern emperor. The northern portion of this Exarchate however, being invaded by the Lombards, a fit occasion was furnished, for the interposition of some foreign prince. This prince was Pepin, king of the French. The Pope had confirmed a doubtful sovereignty on Pepin and his descendants. To reward him for this service, as well as to atone for his personal sins, the son of Martel invaded Lombardy, and compelled Astolphus to transfer his territory to the occupant of the chair of St. Peter. This event occurred in the year 754. “The Pontiff,” says Daunou, “Stephen II., enters France, and there as minister of the Greek emperor, gives in 753 to Pepin and to his sons the title of Roman Patrician, which Charles Martel had borne before him; and receives, it is said, in exchange, the gift of the provinces which Astolphus occupied and which the Emperor claimed. In 754, Pepin crossed the Alps, besieged Pavia, and forced Astolphus, to promise the restoration of the Exarchate and the Pentapolis, not to the emperor of Constantinople, but to St. Peter, to the church, and the Roman republic.” 13 Gibbon speaks of this grant in the following language: — “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, and the wealth of the palace of Ravenna.” It is wonderful how ingeniously, and how gradually the successor of St. Peter became possessed of his temporal estates and influence. When the Exarchate fell, deference was still paid to the eastern emperor; the new government, too, was made to assume a sort of republican aspect, and was controlled at first only indirectly by the Pope. Even after the grant, too, of the French kings, those kings held the title of Patricians of Rome! “Such a course” says Daunou, “was in fact a method of entering furtively into the number of independent states, and of attenuating more and more the thread by which the Popes were connected with the Byzantine empire.
Commonly the Pope did not fill the first magistracy of this republic. He abandoned the insignia of power to a prefect, a duke, or to a patrician; and prepared himself to substantiate soon, for undecisive forms, a definite and pontifical form of government.” 15 This mode of obtaining political power, is what some understand by the little horn’s rising “after,” that is behind, or unobserved by, the other ten kingdoms. 5. A fifth sign of the rise of Antichrist is, the deliverance into his hand of the saints of the Most High. “And they shall be given into his hand, until a time, times and the dividing of time.” “For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.”
There are two methods in which the saints may be delivered into the hand of Antichrist. The one is, by constituting him the sole head of the church; the other is, by subjecting political governments to his will, so that they shall execute the anathemas which he from time to time may pronounce. In both of these ways have the people of God been delivered into the hand of the Papacy.
The following is the statement of Baronius on that subject. “Hinc igitur, anne Christi 606, in Cyriacum Phocas exacerbatus in ejus odium imperiali edicto sancivito nomen universalis decere Romanam tantummodo ecclesiam, tanquam quae caput esset omnium ecclesiarum; solique convenire Pontifici.” 16 “Hence therefore, in the year 606, Phocas provoked with Cyriacus, through hatred to him confirmed by an imperial edict, that the name universal became the Roman church only, as that which was the head of all the churches; and could only be properly ascribed to the Pontiff.”
Hallam, in a note appended to his Middle Ages, for several reasons which he specifies, gives it as his opinion, that too much importance has been ascribed by many writers to this testimony of Baronius. He believes, that the edict of Valentinian III. in 455, can be better authenticated, and is more to the point than this of Phocas. It may, however, be questioned, whether either Phocas, or Valentinian, or any other emperor, had either the right or the power to deliver the saints into the hands of the Papacy. Though joined to the state, still the church had, even in those ages, much power of her own. Such, too, was the influence of bishops and of ecclesiastical institutions, that we doubt, whether the will of any one emperor could have brought the church into absolute subjection. Nor could the edict of one emperor be perpetual: it might be abrogated even in the next reign. The prophecy evidently requires, that this subjection should be the result of many and conspiring providential causes. The spirit of the age must be such, the instruction of the people such, their passive submission such, and even their apparent necessities such, as to lead to a result of this kind.
The bishop of Rome was to be constituted the sole head of the church, not by any one arbitrary act, but by the general consent of Christendom, arising from the existing state of the world. The matter of inquiry then becomes, not who did it, but when have we evidence, that the Church became subject to the Roman bishop as its supreme head?
The prophecies require, that the spiritual and temporal power of Antichrist should begin at the same time. The “beast” was to rule the nations, during the same period that he was to oppress the church. Nor is there any distinction made in the vision of Daniel, between the duration of the temporal and spiritual power of the “little horn.” They appear to be contemporaneous. If, too, the spiritual power of Antichrist should be dated from one period, and his temporal power from another, then would there be two periods of twelve hundred and sixty years, during which he was to exist! It is evident, however, that this prophetic age of the beast and little horn, is to extend over but one such period. The spiritual and temporal power, therefore, of Antichrist, must begin and end at the same time.
We have already noticed, that the temporal and. political power of the popes, began at the time when these pontiffs cast off their allegiance to the eastern emperors. The cause of this rebellion was image-worship. The emperor prohibited the worship of images as idolatry; the popes maintained the propriety of such worship as sanctioned by tradition and miracles. This was the point at issue between them; and it was the means of severing for ever the tie which bound the bishops of Rome to the court of Byzantium.
The result in this case, however, was not simply political; it was also religious. If the bishop of Rome was bound as a subject to obey the court of Constantinople, much more was he bound as a Christian to keep the commandments of God. These commandments, however, forbid imageworship in every form. The law is express, and often repeated. At the same time, therefore, that the Pope set up a political supremacy for himself, did he erect also, an independent spiritual dominion.
We invite particular attention to this remarkable coincidence. In the Apocalypse it is said, “And the beast is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.” The easiest and most natural construction of this passage is the following: “The beast will be the eighth power at Rome; he will immediately succeed the seven preceding powers; and he will continue till Rome shall have no government at all: the power-line, the Roman succession, will end in him. When, then, did the Roman pastor or bishop become the “beast”? Precisely then, when he began to wield a political and an idolatrous scepter. Now, this event took place, when the popes, by rebellion against the eastern court, set up virtually a kingdom of their own upon the basis of idolatry. Then were the foundations of the Apocalyptic Babylon laid; then did Rome become “the mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth.” This event occurred near the middle of the eighth century.
But to place the saints effectually in the hands of Antichrist, it was necessary, that the political governments of Europe should also be under his control. Without this he could not enforce his will as law throughout the Christian world. As a local prince, he might rule his own Italian subjects. As the accredited head of ecclesiastical polity, he might have influence in the church. But to render his authority absolute and universal, the independence of states must bow to his will, and the kings of the earth stand ready to execute his pleasure.
And here again, we are called upon to notice the extraordinary fact, that just about the time that the popes became independent princes, and began also to exercise superior spiritual control, a sort of imperial power felt into their hands. The crown was transferred from Childeric to Pepin, but a year or two before the Pope was made supreme proprietor of Lombardy!
At some period then, between the rupture of the Pope with Leo III., and his decision in the case of Pepin, that is, somewhere between the year and 753, we may safely locate the rise of the political, imperial, and supreme spiritual power of the popes.
As further proof of this, it may be proper here to notice the decisions of two ecclesiastical councils, which sat within or near this period. By the council of Frankfort, A.D. 742, it was decreed, “that as a token of their willing subjection to the See of Rome, all Metropolitans should request the pallium at the hands of the Pope, and obey his lawful commands.” 17 “In the second Nicene council, says Mosheim, held in the year 786, “the imperial laws against the new idolatry were abrogated, the decrees of the council of Constantinople reversed, the worship of images and the cross restored, and severe punishments denounced against such as maintained that God was the only object of religious adoration.” 18 The object of this council was, to suppress in the east, as had already’ been done in the west, all opposition to image-worship. Surely this looks as if the saints, all who abhorred idolatry, had now been given into the hand of the beast. The universal law was, image-worship or punishment, idolatry or death.
Thus have we noticed five prophetic marks or evidences of the rise of Antichrist. This malignant power was to arise, after the dissolution of the western Roman empire. It was to arise among the ten new kingdoms, by which that empire was to be succeeded. It was immediately to succeed that brief administration, whatever it was, Exarchate or Gothic kingdom, which was to constitute the seventh form of government at Rome. In its rise, it was to root up three of the ten kingdoms around it. The saints were also to be put in its power, for a period of twelve hundred and sixty years.
Now, these events as above shown, all fall within the compass of two hundred and seventy-eight years; this being the space of time from the dethronement of Augustulus to the grant of Pepin. Within this period then, are we to find the rise of Antichrist. According to prophecy, his rise could not take place earlier, nor was it to be later. We are then limited to this period; and within it somewhere, are we to find the origin of that great enemy to the church, which so filled the minds of Daniel, of Paul, and of John.
But this period may be reduced to still narrower limits. The dissolution of the western empire was to be succeeded by another political power, which was “to continue a short space.” This political power must be, either the kingdom of Odoacer, or the Exarchate. If the former, then are sixty years to be deducted from this period; if the latter, two hundred and sixty. We have already assigned reasons why we suppose the latter to be meant.
This period then, will be narrowed down to the space of twenty-four years, within which we are to find the rise of Antichrist. This short period extends from the year 730 to 754.
What power, then we ask, arose within this period to which the characteristics of Antichrist may be established? Not the Mohammedan surely. Mohammed arose in Asia, not in Europe; he was too, an enemy to idolatry, not its patron; he appeared also in the seventh century, not in the eighth. Nor call Antichrist be Pepin, Charlemagne or any of the French kings. France was one of the ten horns of the beast; it could not therefore be another power rising among them. Nor have we any evidence, that even one of the traits of Antichrist was ever developed in the character of these kings! Who then we ask is Antichrist? Let history, let universal history reply. He is the Pope. No other answer can be given. It was at this very period, that the Papacy arose, as an independent and sovereign power in Europe. It was at this very time, that the Pontifical miter began to be seen among the crowns of European kings. It was precisely here, that idolatry was set up again, as the religion of the Roman world.
If then, Jacob’s prediction concerning Shiloh, and the seventy weeks of Daniel, are evidence conclusive, that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, so also are the predictions, concerning the time of the “little horn,” of “the man of sin” and of “the beast,” proofs irrefragable, that the Papacy is Antichrist. And as it may be proved, that any one hereafter pretending to be the Messiah, is not such, because he appears out of time, so may it be demonstrated, that any one hereafter who may be thought to be Antichrist is not, for the very same reason. The time, then, as well as the place, determines the antichristian character of the papal throne. The Pope is Antichrist, so says prophecy; so says history; so says his own fully developed character.
ANTICHRIST A PECULIAR POWER
IN designating the person of Christ, the Holy Scriptures have specified, not only the place and time of his birth, but have also furnished certain traits of character, by which he might be distinguished from all others. The same course has been pursued in this holy volume in its description of Antichrist. Not only are the place and time of this extroardinary power given, but certain peculiar and characteristic marks are furnished, by which he may be distinguished from all other powers. In the present chapter, it is our design to consider the peculiarity of the power of Antichrist; or, some of those things in which he differs from all other political governments.
In explaining to Daniel the symbol of the “little horn,” the angel said, “he shall be diverse from the rest.” Daniel 7:24. As the word which is here rendered diverse is variously translated, it will be proper, first to settle its import. The original is — Aˆm ançy awjw aymdq — and he shall be hated more than the first. So the word is literally translated, and so it is uniformly rendered in almost every instance in our English version. The seventy have rendered the passage thus, “oJv uJperoisei kakoiv pantav touv emprosqen ” — who shall excel in wickedness all that were before him. The Apostle Paul seems to refer to this version, where he calls the same power, oJ anqrwpov thv aJmartiav and oJ anomov “that man of sin” and “that wicked.” The Vulgate renders the phrase in the following Latin: “Et ipse potentior erit prioribus” — “and he shall be more powerful than his predecessors.” This version is followed by the Doway Bible; “and he shall be mightier than the former.” Luther also adopts the same sense — “der wird maichtiger seyn denn der vorigen keiner” — “he will be more powerful than any that were before him.” The French agrees with our English version — “qui sera different des premiers;” — “who shall be diverse from the first.”
Probably the context will furnish us with a clue to the right meaning. The little horn is represented as having “eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things;” as being “more stout than his fellows,” and as “subduing three kings.” A horn is a scriptural symbol for a king or kingdom. Eyes denote cunning and craft, and a mouth speaking great things, indicates boastful pretensions and ambitious designs. Certainly a kingdom of this sort, growing up among other kingdoms, must be very dissimilar to its neighbors; it is likely to be more powerful, and in the end it must be hated. All these translations therefore substantially agree; and they all indicate certain peculiarities in which the power foretold, differs, not only from those around it, but from all preceding forms of government. This power we have already asserted to be the Papacy, which differs from other European governments in several respects.
The Papacy is a spiritual power. Other European governments profess to be spiritual only in the sense, in which Paul asserts that “the powers that be are ordained of God;” that is, they are providentially appointed. Not so the Papacy. Its authority is professedly derived immediately from heaven. “The Pope receives power and jurisdiction,” says Dens, “immediately from Christ.” (Theol. xxiv.) “The authority given to St. Peter and his successors,” says the bull of Sixtus V., “excels all the powers of earthly kings and princes.” 1 “One sword,” says Pope Boniface VIII., “must be under another, and the temporal authority must be subject to the spiritual power.” 2 Again, Dens, in his Moral Theology, in answer to the question, “Has the supreme Pontiff a certain temporal and civil power?” gives the following answers: “There have been those, who ascribed to the Pontiff by divine right the most plenary and direct power over the whole world, as well in temporal as in spiritual things.” Others, he says, maintain that, “when the spiritual power cannot be freely exercised, nor the Pope’s object be obtained by spiritual, then he may have recourse to temporal means; and thus it has been done by Pontiffs more than once.” Here, according both to popes and doctors, the papacy is supreme in one way or another, and that by divine right, over all the kingdoms of the earth. This is certainly, one point of diversity, between this power and all others. No European kingdom, no kingdom that has ever existed, has assumed so much as this.
Another peculiarity of this power is, its awfully despotic character. In other governments there are privileges, there are checks upon power. But what privileges have Papists? What checks are there to papal tyranny?
None, whatever. The supreme pontiff domineers over all. Having on his head Christ’s crown, and in his hand his rod of iron, he sets absolute defiance to all inferior orders and ranks of men. “Go and contemplate him in the Vatican,” says Gaussen, “as I have done; you will there see the painting which represents the Emperor Henry the Fourth, stripped before Gregory the Seventh, placed in the royal saloon, through which the ambassadors of all the powers of Europe pass; and in another, the heroic and powerful Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, on his knees before Pope Alexander the Third, in the public square at Venice. The Pope’s foot is on his shoulder; his scepter is thrown upon the ground, and underneath are these words, Fredericus supplex adorat, fidem et obedientiam pollicitus — “Frederic, having promised faith and obedience, as a suppliant adores,” (the Pope!) Where is the king of the west, who is carried on men’s shoulders, and surrounded by peacock’s feathers? Incense is burnt before him as an idol; he is knelt to on both knees; his slipper is kissed on his foot; and he is adored. Venite, adoremus — “Come, let us worship,” exclaim the cardinals, when they go to him. The following are extracts from the bishops’ and archbishops’ oath. “I.N., of the church of N., from henceforth will be faithful and obedient to St. Peter the Apostle, and to the Holy Roman Church, and to our Lord, the lord N., Pope N., and to his successors, canonically coming in. Heretics, schismatics and rebels to our said lord, or his aforesaid successors, I will to my power persecute, and oppress. The possession belonging to my table, I will neither sell, nor give away, nor mortgage, nor grant anew in fee, nor any wise alienate, no not even with the consent of the chapter of my church, without consulting the Roman Pontiff.” 4 Surely, if kings and emperors, cardinals, archbishops and bishops, are thus miserably enslaved, the people cannot know what freedom is. A tyranny like this, has positively never existed besides it, on the earth. And the only wonder is, that men can be found so blinded by priestcraft, so passively tame in their tempers, as to submit to such an arbitrary and unnatural domination. And yet for ages on ages, not only the ignorant and the ignoble, but the proud and the great in Europe, have lain submissively under this galling yoke of bondage. The will of the Pope has been the fiat of the Almighty, and kings and emperors have trembled before him, as they would beneath the thunders of Jehovah.
The government of the Pope is also diverse from all other governments in the extent of its domination. Most governments have been satisfied with comparatively contracted territorial limits. Even those which have been the greatest and the most ambitious, have ruled over but a part of mankind.
Neither the Assyrian, the Persian, the Grecian, nor the Roman empire filled the world. The pretensions, however, of the successors of St. Peter, have uniformly extended to the entire globe. That Christ possessed “all power on earth,” none can deny who receive the New Testament as of divine authority. But Christ gave his power to St. Peter. and St. Peter left it to his successors in the papal chair at Rome. Whatever of power therefore, Jesus Christ has over the nations, the same has the Pope. Nor has this result of the papal system been denied by the abettors of popery. On the contrary, they constantly maintain it. The following is the established doctrine on this point as derived from their own divines. Prima sententia est, summum Pontificem jure divine habere plenissimam potestatem in universum orbem terrarum, tam in rebus ecclesiasticis quam civilibus. 6 “The primary doctrine is, that the chief pontiff possesses by divine right, plenary power throughout the whole world both in ecclesiastical and civil matters.” 7 In one of the canon laws of popery, it is affirmed that, ”The Roman Pontiff bears the authority, not of a mere man, but of the true God upon earth.” (Veri Dei vicem gerit in terris. 8) “Under the Pope’s nose,” says Barrow, “and in his ear, one bishop styled him, ‘prince of the world;’ another orator called him, ‘king of kings and monarch of the earth;’ another great prelate said of him, that ‘he had all power above, all power in heaven and earth!” Presumption like this, we hesitate not to say, has not a parallel in the history of our race. No government has aspired to a dominion so great as this, nor has the most ambitious conqueror ever conceived, that a domain so vast, was to lie beneath his victorious sword. No; such ambition, such claims were left alone for the bishops of Rome to exhibit.
Another grand peculiarity of the papal power is to be found in the nature of the sanctions by which its laws are enforced. In all other human governments, offenses are punished by ordinary and temporal punishments. A man is fined, is deprived of certain privileges, is imprisoned, or is executed. In this case, a civil offense is followed by a civil punishment. But the Papacy is a spiritual, as well as a temporal power. It draws out offenses from the conscience and the heart. Its inquisitorial confessions and courts, employ their interrogatories and their irons, as a sort of priestly omniscience, to survey all the secret chambers of the soul. When, too, the crime is ascertained, it is visited not simply with confiscation and burning, but with anathema. The temporal power of the ecclesiastical monarch enkindles the fires of the auto-da-fe, while his spiritual power consigns him to those of hell.
As the power of Christ was supreme, not only on earth, but also “in heaven,” the legal heir of his power is not satisfied with a divided patrimony; he must have all. Hence his keys, his masses, his prayers, open and shut the invisible world at pleasure. “He openeth and no man shutteth, he shutteth and no man openeth.” Leo X., one of the best of the Roman pontiffs, uses this language: “The Roman pontiff, the successor of Peter, in regard to the keys, and the vicar of Jesus Christ on earth, possessing the power of the keys, may, for reasonable causes, by his apostolic authority, grant indulgences out of the superabundant merits of Christ and the saints, to the faithful, who are united to Christ by charity, as well for the living as for the dead. Wherefore, all persons, whether living or dead, who really obtain any indulgences of this kind, are delivered from so much temporal punishment, due according to divine justice for actual sins, as is equivalent to the value of the indulgence bestowed and received.” 10 “You may buy,” says Dr. Sturtevant, “as many masses as will free your souls from purgatory for twenty-nine thousand years, at the church of St. John’s Lateran, on the festa of that saint. Those that have interest with the Pope may obtain an absolution in full, from his holiness, for all the sins they ever have committed or may choose to commit.” “Because private believers,” says Dens, “may apply their own satisfactions to souls in purgatory, therefore the Pope may apply to them the satisfaction of Christ and the saints from the treasury of the church.” How long, therefore, a soul shall remain in purgatory, or whether it shall ever get out, depends upon the will of the Pope, exercised either by himself, or by some of his viceregents. And when we remember, that purgatory is one of the four divisions of hell, and that Bellarmine and others maintain, that its fires are of the same nature as those of hell, the power of the keys must surely give to the successors of St. Peter no ordinary influence over the fears, the purses, and the persons of his widely extended flock.
Now, all other kings and sovereigns have left the infliction of such punishment with God only. They have punished men but as the subjects of civil law, and as amenable to civil penalties. They have not followed the departed spirit to eternity, and there also haunted it with their chains and instruments of torture. They have usually supposed that their work was ended at death. Not so the Pope and his priesthood. The iron grasp of their tyranny is not broken even by the power of the grave. They hold their subjects amenable even beyond time. They torture or bless them even in eternity itself. Surely, a government like this, cannot be found besides it, in the history of the world.
The possession of absolute infallibility is another peculiarity of the Papacy. The old Latin adage, “humanum est errare” — it is human to err — has so commended itself to the experience of mankind, that it has been converted into a sort of moral axiom, which no one doubts, and every one believes. Nor is it human for individuals simply to err; governments also err. Hence, in every wise civil constitution, there is always an article provided against the mistakes which may have crept into such constitution, even despite the wisdom of its framers. And in all courts of law, even in those from which there is no appeal, it is yet believed, that there may be erroneous decisions and that the condemned must sometimes look, not to the tribunals of man, but to the judgments of God for ultimate justice. Nor can there be found in the history of the world, a solitary king, sovereign, or saint, in whom there have not been either the ebullitions of passion; or the mistakes of the understanding. One perfect or infallible man has never yet existed, save the Lord Jesus Christ, and he was more than man. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Paul, and Peter, plead no exemption from universal human frailty. Yet, this is the boast of the Roman Pontiff! As a man, it is allowed, even he may err; but as the vicar of Christ, like Christ himself, his judgments, are infallible. “The supreme Pontiff,” says Dens, “determining from the throne, matters relating to faith or customs, is infallible: which infallibility proceeds from the especial assistance of the Holy Ghost.” 13 Blessed Spirit of the living God! one is ready to exclaim — are all the blunders, the errors, the follies, the madness, the persecutions, the bloodshed, of the Roman Pontiffs, many of which have disgraced mankind, are all these to be ascribed to thy direction and counsel! Yet, such are the pretensions of the Pope, such is the creed of Romanists! Poor pitiable sovereigns of Europe! How unfortunate is your condition! Ye are guilty of errors. Your blunders are on the page of history. But your venerable father, your endeared brother, the Pope, has none of your frailties, none of your human weaknesses! Why, then, do ye not all seek wisdom from him; take counsel from him? Why debate so long in your national legislatures? Why not send an express to Rome to gain infallible decisions?
Thus stands the Roman pontificate — a sui generis in fact, as well as a sui generis in vision. Well might Daniel gaze in astonishment, “because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake!” It is worthy of notice here, that this ancient seer expresses no astonishment whatever at the appearance of the other horns. Each one of them was the symbol of a kingdom as well as “the little horn.” Yet the attention of the prophet is wholly turned to the contemplation of the little horn.” This horn was to him a matter of the greatest wonder. Unlike the other horns, it had “eyes and a mouth speaking great things.” Though little, “its look was more stout than its fellows.” It seemed, too, to be filled with the most inveterate hatred to the saints. The prophet gazed and wondered when he contemplated this horn; because, while the other horns were the symbols of ordinary, political kingdoms, the little horn, in which so many contraries met, was the symbol of a kingdom, the like to which had never existed, either in the heaven above or on the earth beneath. It was to be diverse from all kingdoms.
Now, where is the king or kingdom, in which the peculiarities of the little horn are to be found? Not in Antiochus. Not in Julius Caesar. Not in Mohammed. None of these men were so peculiarly distinguished from their fellow men; nor did any of them, save Caesar, have any connection with the Roman beast. Where then shall we find the reality of which “the little horn” is the symbol? In Antichrist, says the Romanist; but Antichrist has not yet come. In Antichrist, we say; but Antichrist has already been in the world for more than a thousand years.
Thus does the anomalous character of the Papacy prove it to be the antitype of “the little horn.” This power is unlike all others; is uncongenial with all others. It is a usurper, a supplanter. We can readily conceive, how a spiritual power, either associated with the state, or entirely independent of the state, may exist without discord or collision. If the church be entirely distinct from the political institutions of a people, there can of course be no disturbance, as there is no contact. And if a church be established by law, as the operations of the religious and the political systems are kept in distinct spheres, there may be but occasional evils growing out of such union. But for a government that claims its existence jure divino , that sets up a universal empire, that arrogates to itself supremacy in all civil, as well as ecclesiastical matters — for a government that considers itself infallible, and which requires absolute submission in all its subjects — for such a government to exist in the midst of other governments; in its very principles trampling upon their rights and privileges; wielding both a temporal and a spiritual sword; punishing offenders both in this world and the next — for such a government to exist in harmony with other governments, is impossible, absolutely impossible.
The papal system can harmonize with no other, whether religious or political. To the religious world, it exhibits one supreme pontiff of Christendom, and requires for him universal obedience. To the political world, it presents one great monarch, whose throne is above every throne, and whose will is law throughout the globe. No the Papacy is a unit, and presents the front of positive hostility to every thing that is not consolidated in itself. It may not be able to carry out its principles and wishes, but this is its nature. It is “diverse from all other governments; it is the adversary of all other governments.
ANTICHRIST AN APOSTATE FROM THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
ANOTHER mark of Antichrist as given in the Scriptures is apostasy from the Christian faith. “For that day shall not come, except there come a falling away (hJ apostasia ) first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
Several distinguished commentators, as Grotius, Whitby, Le Clerc, and Wetstein, have interpreted “the day of Christ,” — (hJ hJmera tou Cristou ) in this passage as applicable to the destruction of Jerusalem, and have consequently referred the term — hJ apostasia — ”the apostasy,” to the revolt of the Jews against the Romans, previously to the destruction of that city. This opinion, however, will appear, from even a brief reflection upon this passage, to be wholly untenable. It is evident from the whole scope of the passage, that the future coming of Christ is meant; and that the apostasy referred to, is of a religious, and not of a political character. Indeed the Apostle explains his own meaning, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith.” 2 Timothy 2:1 — aposthsontai tinev thv pistewv.
Other commentators, who understand by “the day of Christ” the future coming of the Savior, yet apply the term apostasia , “apostasy,” to something which has not as yet occurred. Roman Catholic writers are generally of this opinion. Bloomfield, too, in his notes on the New Testament, has maintained the same sentiment. “Upon the whole,” says he,” there seems good reason to suppose, with many eminent expositors for the last half century, that what is here spoken of, has not yet taken place. “The man of sin,” says the commentator on the Doway Bible, “agrees to the wicked and great Antichrist, who will come before the end of the world.”
If it were meant by this, that the Papacy, the real Antichrist, will assume a more malignant and desperate character anterior to the coming of Christ, we would freely yield to this interpretation. This fact appears to be definitely and clearly revealed in the 16th chapter of the book of Revelation, verses 13,14.: But if such interpreters mean, that Antichrist is yet to arise, that he is but one person, that his dominion is to be brief, and that he is immediately to precede the coming of Christ, then do we differ from them toto caelo. The Roman Catholic comment on this passage is strangely inconsistent with itself. “This revolt (apostasy) is generally understood by the ancient fathers, of a revolt from the Roman empire, which was first to be destroyed before the coming of Antichrist.”
According to this statement, if Antichrist be not already come, the prophecy must be false; for the Roman empire was subverted in the year 476. Antichrist was to succeed that empire; and yet, although more than thirteen centuries have passed, he has not appeared! The error here consists, in making Antichrist one person. It is certain, that Antichrist is to continue to some future coming of Christ. It is equally certain, that he was to arise directly after the fall of the Roman empire. He cannot therefore be one person; but must be a succession of persons filling the same office.
Our Roman Catholic annotator has also another opinion. “This revolt (apostasy) may perhaps be understood also, of a revolt of many nations from the catholic church; which has in part happened already, by the means of Mahomet, Luther, etc., and it may be supposed, will be more general in the days of Antichrist.” Mohammedanism is certainly neither an apostasy from the faith, nor a revolt from the Romish church. The Arabians were not professing Christians, nor was Mohammed a member of any Christian society whatever. It is absurd therefore, to suppose, that Mohammed, or Mohammedanism is the subject of these prophecies.
Besides, where this delusion is evidently predicted under the fifth and sixth trumpets, it is not described as a departure from the faith, or a revolt from Christendom, but as an invasion of the faith, and an assault upon Christendom.
As to the reference of these predictions to the Reformers and their adherents, it is enough to answer in the language of Bishop Newton: “Who, then, is the man of sin? Luther and his followers, or Calvin and his followers? Or, who? for the Protestants are far from being united under one head. Which of the Protestant churches exalts herself above every God and magistrate? Which of them arrogates to herself divine honors and titles? Which of them pretends to establish her doctrine and discipline by miracles? These things would be ridiculously and absurdly objected to the Protestant churches, and more ridiculously and absurdly still by the members of the church of Rome.” 1 If, too, Christian faith be contained in the Holy Scriptures, it certainly must be most preposterous to imagine, that those men who are doing all in their power to scatter the Holy Scriptures throughout the earth, have departed from the faith.
There is a power, however, already existing, and which is destined to exist until the coming of Christ, which this prophetic description does suit, and it suits no other. “The usurpation of the Papacy in divine things is so unparalleled,” says Doddridge, “that if these words are not applicable to it, it is difficult to say, who there ever has been or can be to whom they should belong.”
If Romanism be not the apostasy (hJ apostasia ) here mentioned, and the papacy “the man of sin” (oJ anqrwpov thv aJmartiav ), then may we conclude certainly, that no parade of facts whatever, can prove a prophecy to have been fulfilled. With a mode of interpretation which would lead to the denial of such an application of these predictions, it would be impossible to demonstrate the Messiahship of Jesus, or the truth of the Christian dispensation. This will appear more evident, however, when we shall have shown, that the Papacy, including the whole system of Romanism, is not only an apostasy, but the apostasy, from the Christian faith. And here we lay it down as self-evident, that any body of men denying that the Holy Scriptures are the only standard of faith and practice; or, that Jesus Christ is the sole Head of the Church, and of each believer; or, that there is but one Mediator between God and man; or, that sinners are justified by faith, and solely on account of the righteousness of Christ — any set of men, we say, denying these things, must be, and are apostate.
Romanists deny that the Holy Scriptures are the only rule of faith and practice. The Council of Trent, in determining the proper standard of faith and practice, uses the following language: “That this truth and discipline are contained in the written word, and in the unwritten traditions, which were received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ himself, or from the Apostles themselves as the dictate of the Holy Ghost to them, and delivered as it were from hand to hand, have come down to us.” 2 In Dens’ Moral Theology, are these statements: “Divine tradition has equal authority with Holy Scripture; for both are truly the word of God!” “The church, however, has not framed a catalogue of divine traditions, but sets forth, sometimes one, and sometimes another, as occasions demand.” “Divine tradition is truly a rule of faith, as it is the word of God, not less than Holy Scripture.” “There is more need of divine tradition than of Sacred Scripture, as Scripture cannot be known without tradition.” Then under the question, “Are there any special rules for ascertaining traditions?” The following answers are given: “Whatever the Roman Church holds as tradition is to be regarded as rich. Whatever the Catholic Church holds or declares as such, is to be regarded as tradition.” 3 These extracts are sufficient to show, that the Romish church feels herself fully competent to give a rule of faith, not only equal, but superior to the word of God! Well has an Apostle said, “Beware, lest any man spoil you, after the tradition of men.” Colossians 2:8. And well has the Savior declared concerning such, “Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” Mark 7:9.
Romanists have also exalted over the church, and over the consciences of men, another head than Christ. The Scriptural doctrine on this subject is, that “Christ is the head over all to his church;” Ephesians 1:22; and that “the head of every man is Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:3. Jesus Christ, speaking to every individual congregation of believers, and to each individual believer, through the Holy Scriptures, is alone Lord of conscience, and Head and Umpire of faith. A congregation or individual may be instructed and reasoned with, as to what Christ in the Scriptures has made known. But every attempt to interpose another authority between the congregation of the Lord, or any individual believer, and Christ, his supreme Judge, supplants the authority of Christ, and substitutes that of man in its stead. This the Romanists do, over the general church, over each congregation, and over each individual member.
Over the general church, there is the Pope, deciding, determining, settling all things. Over the congregations, there is the Bishop, exercising a similar, but subordinate authority. And over each member, there is the Priest, controlling the consciences of men, and occupying a place between each member and Christ. The authority of Christ is thus removed from the church and its members, and the authority of the priesthood substituted.
No better evidence need be adduced on this point than the fact, that the Romish church is so extremely unwilling that either churches or individuals should either hear, or read the Holy Scriptures. The following is a decree of the Council of Trent, in full force at the present time — “As it is manifest by experience, if the Holy Bible in the vulgar tongue [the only way in which the people can read it] be everywhere indiscriminately permitted, more injury than advantage would accrue, on account of the temerity of the people, let it abide in this point by the judgment of the bishop or inquisitor, that with the advice of the priest or confessor, the reading of the Bible in the vulgar tongue, translated by Catholic authors, may be conceded to those, who, they apprehend, can derive no injury, but an increase of faith and piety from such reading which permission they must have in writing. But whosoever shall presume, without, such permission to have, or to read it, cannot obtain absolution of his sins, unless the Bible be first returned to the ordinary. But regulars may neither purchase nor read it, except by permission obtained from their prelates.” Commenting on this decree, Dens says: “This law has been received and hitherto kept, in the whole purely Catholic world: more indulgence has been granted only when it was necessary to live among heretics.” Again he says: “Observe, the power of granting permission to read the Sacred Scripture in the vernacular tongue, belongs to the bishop, or inquisitor, not to the priest, or confessor, unless this power has been conceded to them.”
Again, he says: “It must be said, that in this point the discipline of the church has been changed; just as communion under both kinds, and daily communion have been changed. For formerly the faithful, more submissive to their pastors, humbly and faithfully derived the sense of Scripture from them, without danger of perverse translations; but now, through the example of the heretics, the lust of dissenting from the pastors has arisen; and it is manifest from experience, that by the promiscuous reading of the Sacred Scripture, men are made more proud, more discontented, and universally more conceited.” 5 Probably, no language could more certainly express the fact, that the Holy Scriptures and the Romish priesthood are at variance, than this above quoted. Everyone who prayerfully searches the Scriptures to learn the mind and will of Christ, as a necessary consequence, perceives and forsakes these “doctrines of men” by which he was previously held. Hence the law to prohibit, except in very peculiar cases, and under a written permission, the perusal of the sacred word!
This fact alone proclaims, as in letters of fire, that Christ’s Headship has been supplanted in the Romish church.
Romanists also deny the sole mediatorship of Christ. The Apostle teaches, that “there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 2:5. And Jesus himself says — “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father but by me.” John 14:6.
It is also said of Christ — “Because he continueth ever he hath an unchangeable priesthood; wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:24,25.
The Scriptures universally represent Christ’s mediation, as one, alone, and all-sufficient. The Romish doctrine, however, represents it as insufficient, and as needing auxiliary intercession.
The annotator on the Doway Bible admits that “Christ is the only mediator of redemption;” and that “he stands in need of no other to recommend his petitions to the Father.” At the same time however, he asserts “that this is not against our seeking the prayers and intercessions of the saints and angels in heaven, for obtaining mercy, grace and salvation through Jesus Christ!” The Council of Trent passed the following decree on this subject — “The holy council commands all bishops and others who have the care and charge of teaching, that they labor with diligent assiduity to instruct the faithful, concerning the invocation and intercession of the saints, teaching them that the saints, who reign together with Christ, offer their prayers to God for men; that it is a good and useful thing suppliantly to invoke them, and to flee to their prayers, help, and assistance.” 7 In reference to the nature of this worship, Dens says: “It is absolute, because it is exhibited on account of the excellence, intrinsic and peculiar to the saints; yet, it may also be called respective, inasmuch as God is honored in the saints.”
Again he says: “But that we implore the clemency of God through the saints, is not through the defect of the power or mercy of God; but because God is willing to grant certain blessings only through the saints.” The practical effect of such a tenet may be learned from the following extract taken from the Catholic Manual used in the United States. “Holy Mary, pray for us. All ye holy angels and archangels, pray for us. St. Abel, all ye choirs of just souls, St. Abraham, St. John the Baptist, pray for us: St. Peter, St. Paul, St. John, pray for us. All ye holy disciples of our Lord, pray for us. St. Sylvester, St. Gregory, all ye holy monks and hermits, pray for us. All ye holy virgins and widows; all ye saints of God, make intercession for us.” These extracts are enough to show that, in the doctrine and worship of Romanists, the creature is associated with the Creator, and the sole mediation of Christ is subverted through the invocation of saints.
Papists are also in error on the subject of a sinner’s justification before God. The following are decrees of the Council of Trent. “Whosoever shall affirm that the ungodly is justified by faith only, (sola fide impium justificari,) so that it is to be understood that nothing else is to be required, to cooperate therewith in order to obtain justification; and that it is on no account necessary that he should prepare and dispose himself by the effort of his own will, (suae voluntatis motu) let him be accursed, (anathema sit.) Again, “Whosoever shall affirm, that men are justified solely by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, (sola imputatione justitiae Christi;) or, that the grace by which we are justified is only the favor of God (esse tantum favorem Dei,) let him be accursed.” “Whosoever shall affirm, that justification received is not preserved, and even increased in the sight of God, by good works, (per bona opera;) let him be accursed,” “Whosoever shall affirm, that he who has fallen after baptism, cannot by the grace of God rise again; or, that if he can, it is possible for him to recover his lost righteousness by faith only, without the sacrament of penance, let him be accursed.” “Whosoever shall affirm, that when the grace of justification is received, the offense of the penitent sinner is so forgiven, and the sentence of eternal punishment reversed, that there remains no temporal punishment to be endured before his entrance into the kingdom of heaven, either in this world, or in the future state in purgatory, (vel in hoc seculo, vel in futuro, in purgatorio,) let him be accursed.” “Whosoever shall affirm, that the good works of a justified man, are in such sense the gifts of God, that they are not also the worthy merits of the justified person, (ut non sint etiam bona ipsius jus-tificati merita;) or, that he being justified by his good works, which are wrought by him through the grace of God, and the merits of Jesus Christ, of whom he is a living member, does not really deserve, (non vere mereri,) increase of grace, eternal life, the enjoyment of that eternal life if he dies in a state of grace, and even an increase of glory; let him be accursed.” Any one acquainted with the Scriptures will readily perceive that these anathemas of the celebrated Council of Trent fall primarily upon the head of Christ and his Apostles! The doctrine of Paul is, that “a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” 11 And Christ has taught us to say, after we have done all commanded us: “We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do.” Luke 17:10.
All ideas of human merit are entirely excluded by the teachings both of Christ and his Apostles. “Where is boasting then?” asks an Apostle, “It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay, but by the law of faith.” Romans 3.
The anathema of Paul, then, and those of the Romanists, are hurled at precisely opposite persons. Romanists affirm, “If any man exclude works in our justification, let him be accursed.” Paul declares, If any man put them in, let him be accursed. “If any man preach any other gospel unto you, than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:9.
Whose anathema, then, are we most to dread, that of the Council, or that of Paul? Whose doctrine are we to receive, that of Christ? or, that of the Pope?
Romanism, then, denies that the word of God is the sole rule of faith and practice. It denies that Jesus Christ is the sole Head of the Church. It denies that the mediation of Christ is one and exclusive. It also denies the justification of a sinner by faith only, and wholly on account of the righteousness of Christ. For these its denials of fundamental scriptural doctrines, it is, and must be apostate. Its teachings and those of Christ are at variance; its doctrines and those of the Apostles are directly opposite.
Nor is this all. We hesitate not to affirm, that the papal system is the apostasy, predicted by Paul; and that in it we will find all the facts, which the Apostle to the Gentiles so graphically places upon the inspired page.
Here, then, is another mark by which the Papacy and Antichrist are proved to be identical. Antichrist was to be a great apostate; he was also to preside over a great apostasy. The Pope is an apostate and he presides over an apostate church. His system excludes that of Christ, his doctrines subvert the doctrines of Christ. He is emphatically Antichrist, the opponent of Christ; and his system of doctrine is antichristianity, displacing absolutely and entirely, those doctrines of grace of which Jesus was the Herald and the Author.
ANTICHRIST AN IDOLATER
ANOTHER mark of Antichrist, is idolatry. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” 1 Timothy 4:1. (didaskaliaiv daimoniwn. ) That this passage is to be applied to Antichrist, or the Papacy, is evident from two facts. The persons, who are here represented as giving heed to “seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils,” are those who have departed from the faith; that is, they are those who constitute the great apostasy already alluded to. The species, too, of idolatry here spoken of, is precisely that which Romanists practice; it is “the doctrines of demons;” that is, it is worship rendered to the souls of departed men.
A more explicit account, however, of this Romish idolatry, is given in the following text: “And the rest of men, which were not killed by these plagues, yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils (demons, i.e. departed souls) and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood; which neither can see, nor hear nor walk.” Revelation 9:20.
That the reference here is also to Rome, is evident. The fifth trumpet describes the rise and progress of Mohammedanism. The sixth, the incursions of the Turks upon countries nominally Christian. “The rest of the men, therefore, which were not killed by these plagues,” must refer to those portions of nominal Christendom, which were not subdued by the followers of the Arabian prophet. These countries were precisely those occupied by the Papacy.
Other passages of Scripture, charging idolatry upon the Papacy, may be found in the 17th and 18th chapters of the book of Revelation. In these chapters, this apostate church is called, in reference to these idolatries, “The great whore,” “The mother of harlots;” and it is said of her, that “all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” That whoredom and fornication refer to idolatry, any one, at all acquainted with the writings of the ancient prophets, must know. If, then, as we have already proven, these passages refer to modern Babylon, that is, to Rome, then is the sin of idolatry predicted, as one of the strongest marks by which Antichrist may be distinguished.
It is well known, that no charge brought against Papists, is more offensive, than that of idolatry. Gregory the Second, in his letter to the emperor Leo, in which he undertakes to repel the charge of idolatry, says, “The former idols were the fanciful representations of phantoms, or demons, at a time when the true God had not manifested his person in any visible likeness.
The latter are the genuine forms of Christ, his mother, and his saints, who had approved, by a crowd of miracles, the innocence and merit of this relative worship.” 1 Here, this kind of worship is called relative; and is said to be both innocent and meritorious. The opponent, also, of McGavin, uses the following language: “No one is ignorant, that the heathens worshipped Diana and Venus with divine honors, as deities; but, to say that the Church of Rome pays the same adoration to the blessed Virgin Mary, is contrary to truth.” Such statements as these, however, can deceive no one acquainted with either pagan or Jewish antiquity. It is entirely certain, that the ancient pagan idolaters uniformly recognized one Supreme Being. The gods, therefore, which they worshipped, were subordinate deities; indeed, they were, for the most part, the souls of departed sages and heroes. In speaking of the idolatry of the ancient Egyptians, from whom the Greeks borrowed most of their mythology, Shuckford says: “In time, they looked over the catalogue of their ancestors, and appointed a worship for such as had been more eminently famous in their generation; and having before this made pillars, statues, or images in memory of them, they paid their worship before these, and so introduced this sort of idolatry.” 3 The following is the language of that ancient Greek poet Hesiod: “After this generation (the primitive fathers of the human race) were dead, they were, by the will of great Jupiter, promoted to be demons, keepers of mortal men, observers of their good and evil works, clothed in air, always walking about the earth, givers of riches,” etc. 4 Plato also says, that “Hesiod and many other poets speak excellently, who affirm, that when good men die, they attain great honor and dignity, and become demons;” (objects of worship and veneration.) This philosopher also teaches, that “all those who die valiantly in war, are of Hesiod’s golden generation, and are made demons (gods) and that we ought for ever after to serve and adore their sepulchers as the sepulchers of demons.” The following is Plato’s explanation of what he means by demons: “Every demon is a middle being between God and mortals. God is not approached immediately by man, but all the commerce and intercourse between God and men is performed by the mediation of demons. Demons are reporters and carriers from men to the gods, and again from the gods to men, of the supplications and prayers of the one, and of the injunctions and rewards of devotion from the other.” It is just as true, then, that the demons and idols of ancient paganism have a foundation in truth and reason, as that the saints (demons) and images of modern Rome have. The demons of Hesiod and Plato, and of the ancient world generally, were the souls of departed worthies. The images and statues, too, by which they were worshipped, were also the representations of these deceased heroes and sages. Their worship was also maintained to be respective — i.e. they were worshipped as mediators between the supreme God and mortal men. Pagan idolatry, therefore, can be defended upon the very same ground which is advocated for modern Romish idolatry. If, therefore, the one be condemned, the other cannot be justified.
Is it true then, that modern Rome maintains a worship of this kind? The following are some of the decrees of Trent on this subject. All Catholic bishops and priests are required to “instruct the faithful concerning the intercession and invocation of saints, the honor due to relics, and the lawful use of images, teaching that it is a good and useful thing suppliantly to invoke them, and to flee to their help, prayers and assistance.” “Let them teach also, that the holy bodies of the holy martyrs and others living with Christ are to be venerated by the faithful, since by them God bestows many benefits upon men.” “Moreover, let them teach, that the images of Christ, of the Virgin, mother of God, and of other saints, are to be had and retained, especially in churches, and due honor and veneration rendered to them. The honor, however, with which they are regarded, is referred to those, who are represented by them; so that we adore Christ, and venerate the saints, whose likenesses these images bear, when we kiss them, and uncover our heads in their presence, and prostrate ourselves.” “Quas osculamur, et coram quibus, caput aperimus, et procumbimus.” This council proceeds however still farther; it authorizes representations or images of the invisible God! It gives however this caution, “that when the Deity is thus represented, it is not to be supposed, that the same can be seen by our bodily eyes, or that a likeness of God can be given in color or figure;” “non propterea Divinitatem figurari, quasi coloribus aut figuris exprimi possit.” Strictly in accordance with this permission of the council, papists frequently represent God the Father as an old man, God the Son as a young man, on his right, and God the Spirit, as a dove hovering over them!!
The following is the language of Dens. “What is meant by an image?” “A similitude or representation of some existing thing, expressed for that thing as a copy.” “How does it differ from an idol?” “Because an idol is a likeness representing that, which either simply does not exist, or certainly is not such as that which is worshipped; but an image is a similitude of a thing which really exists, as of a man.” “Prove that the images of Christ and of the saints are to be worshipped.” “It is proven in the first place from the council of Trent.” He afterwards asserts, “however this may be, it is sufficient for us against sectarians to state, that all Catholics teach and prove that the images of the saints are to be worshipped.”
In speaking of the kind of worship to be rendered the saints, etc., Dens says, “the images of the saints are worshipped with the respective veneration of dulia; of the Divine Virgin, with the relative worship of hyperdulia, of Christ and of God, with the respective worship of latria.” Besides, then, the decrees of Trent, which are binding upon all Catholics, here is one of their distinguished theologians, as composedly defending and illustrating the duty of image and saint-worship, as the sincerest Protestant would illustrate and enforce the duties of faith and repentance!
The late Pope Gregory the XVI. in one of his encyclical letters uses the following language. “Now, that all these events may come to pass happily and successfully, let us lift up our eyes and our hands to the most holy Virgin Mary, who alone has destroyed all heresies, and is our greatest confidence, even the whole foundation of our hope!” When such sentiments are advocated and published by councils, doctors, and popes, it is not wonderful that the same idolatry should pervade the mass of the people. In the Ursuline Manual, designed “for forming youth to the practice of solid piety,” and having the sanction of the “Right Rev. Bishop Hughes,” among others are the following prayers, “A prayer to St. Augustine” — “O glorious St. Augustine! the light and oracle of the faithful! penetrated with veneration for thy virtues, I choose thee for my Father, my Protector, and my Advocate. I most humbly beseech thee to have compassion on my youth, and to protect me in those dangers which thou well knowest, are attendant on my inexperienced age,” etc. Next follows, “A prayer to St. Angela, Foundress of the Ursuline order.” “Most blessed St. Angela, who art now in possession of that eternal crown which is promised to those who instruct others unto justice, permit me to have recourse to thee, as to my glorious patroness, and to choose thee for my special advocate before the throne of God. In union with all those happy souls, who, under God, are indebted to thee, for the glory they now enjoy in heaven, I thank God for having raised thee up, to provide for millions the great blessings of religious instruction. O glorious patroness and mother of the weakest portion of Christ’s flock, do not abandon thy charge, now, that thou seest more clearly than ever the dangers to which youth is exposed.” The following are prayers extracted from the Catholic Manual, having the sanction of Archbishop Whitfield, and designed “for the use of Christians in every state of life.” “Holy Mary, Virgin, Mother of God! I this day choose thee for my Mother, queen, Patroness and Advocate; and I firmly resolve never to depart, either by word or action from the duty I owe thee, or suffer those committed to my charge to say or do anything against thy honor. Receive me therefore as thy servant forever, assist me in all the actions of my whole life, and forsake me not at the hour of my death.” The following prayer is addressed to “the Monthly Patron.” 10 “O thou blessed inhabitant of the heavenly Jerusalem, who hast been appointed by the divine Goodness to be my patron during this month; defend me by thy intercession from all dangers of soul and body; obtain, that I may be a faithful imitator of thy virtues, and that the fire of divine love may be more and more kindled in my heart.” Here then are manuals and prayer-books, putting into the lips of youth and Christians, direct addresses and supplications to mere creatures. The knee is bent, the lips opened, and petitions expressed to absent and distant saints! What is this? All, except papists, can see that it is not only idolatry, but idolatry in one of its worst forms.
It is sometimes attempted to justify this creature-worship, by comparing it with the petitions which believers offer for each other on earth. But nothing is more unlike. We may ask our friends to pray for us without idolatry, but we cannot pray to the saints without idolatry. In the former case we commune with creatures as creatures. In the latter, we ascribe to them divine attributes, and render to them divine homage. Hence, the opponent of McGavin does not hesitate to say: “I know that the saints in heaven are in a state of perfection and glory, and that they know what passes in the hearts of men upon earth; but how is not for me to inquire or explain.” 12 Here the attribute of Divine omniscence is affirmed as the property of creatures. And if such creatures possess one such perfection, of course they possess others. Hence they are even in the highest sense deified!
If then there ever has been, or can be, a system of idolatry or creatureworship on earth, the Romish system is such. True, we are to expect those men who are engaged in such practices to defend and maintain them. And inasmuch as they profess to be Christians, we must, of course, expect them so to alter, change, and interpret Scripture, as to make it consist in their view, with such modes of devotion and worship. In all this, however, Rome gives to the world the strongest possible proof of her judicial blindness, and only works out and proves the theorem, that she is “Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.”
Another feature, therefore, of Antichrist is established upon Papal Rome.
Antichrist was to be idolatrous. Papal Rome both is idolatrous, and has been for ages. Her system, of angel, saint, image, and relic-worship, exceeds even the grossest superstitions of ancient Greece or Rome.
ANTICHRIST A BLASPHEMER
ANOTHER mark of Antichrist is blasphemy. Blasphemy refers both to the speech and actions of men. Thus the reproaches, cast by the Gentiles upon the name and character of God, are termed by the Apostle Paul, “blasphemy.” Romans 2:24. And so also Christ’s assertion, that he was the Son of God, was considered by the Jews as blasphemy. “For a good work,” say they, “we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou being a man makest thyself God.” John 10:33.
Blasphemy is predicted of Antichrist in several passages of Scripture. It is said of the little horn, which is the symbol of Antichrist, “and he shall speak great words against the Most High.” Daniel 7:25. The beast also which John saw, and which is also a symbol of Antichrist, had upon his seven heads “the names of blasphemy.” Revelation 13:1. It is also said of this same beast — “And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.” Revelation 13:5,6.
The Apostle Paul also gives us the following description of the same evil power: “For that day shall not come except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be 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 himself that he is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4.
Is there anything then in the actual state of the Papacy, corresponding to these predictions concerning the blasphemous character of Antichrist? To this I reply, first, that the very office of the Pope is blasphemous. What that office is, may be learned from the following Romish authorities. One of the canons of the papal Church says: “The Pope, by the Lord’s appointment, is the successor of the blessed Apostle Peter, and holds the place of the Redeemer himself upon the earth.” (Ipsius Redemptoris locum in terris tenet.) Again, “The Roman pontiff bears the authority not of a mere man, but of the true God upon the earth:” (sed veri Dei vicem gerit in terris.) “Christ, the King of Kings, ‘and Lord of Lords, gave to the Roman pontiff, in the person of Peter, the plenitude of power;” (plenitudinem potestatis.) Again; the Doway catechism asserts, that “he who is not in due connection and subordination to the Pope and general councils, must needs be dead, and cannot be accounted a member of the church, since from the Pope and general councils, under Christ, we have our spiritual life and motion as Christians.” The following language is also used: “It was becoming, since the chief pontiff represents the person of Christ, that as, during Christ’s earthly ministry, the Apostles stood around him, so the assembly of the cardinals, representing the apostolic college, should stand before the Pope.” Again: “Whenever there is any question concerning the privileges of the apostolic chair, they are not to be judged of by others.
The Pope alone knows how to determine doubts concerning the privileges of the apostolic seat.” And who is the Pope? A man, a mere man; an uninspired man; often, an immoral and wicked man! And yet, such is his office, such his prerogatives, such his pretensions! Well has the Apostle said — “He, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” Here is blasphemy, blasphemy of the blackest die.
The attributes ascribed to the Pope in this office are also blasphemous.
Among others, the Pope is considered as invested with the three following powers’ inspiration, infallibility, and absolute authority. “The supreme pontiff,” says Dells, “determining from the throne matters relating to faith or customs, is infallible; which infallibility proceeds from the special assistance of the Holy Spirit.” 2 He also thus describes the authority of the Pope: “Hence it follows, that all the faithful, even bishops, and patriarchs, are obliged to obey the Roman pontiff; also that he must be obeyed in all things, which concern the Christian religion, and therefore, in faith and customs, in rites, ecclesiastical discipline, etc. Hence, the perverse device of the Quesnelites falls to the ground; namely, that the Pope is not to be obeyed, except in those things which he enjoins conformably to Scripture!” 3 Strictly in accordance with this teaching of the theologian, is the published doctrine of the late Pope Gregory XVI. — “Let all remember,” says he, “that the principle of sound doctrine, with which the people are to be imbued, must emanate from, and that the rule and administration of the universal church belongs to, the Roman pontiff, to whom was given the full power of feeding, ruling, and governing the universal church by Christ our Lord.” Here then is a frail, erring mortal, arrogating to himself, and that by virtue of office only, the attributes of the Deity! The Spirit of God is with him, infallibility is his; and he is to be obeyed, even where he enacts laws, and teaches doctrine contrary to Scripture! Surely this is blasphemy — this is “to speak great words against the Most High.”
The homage rendered to the Pope is of the same blasphemous character.
The following is the description of a scene, which took place a few years since at Rome, and which was witnessed by an American citizen. “A most superb procession took place on the morning of the festa of the annunciation, which I with thousands of others, ran to see. The Pope, riding on a white mule, (I suppose to imitate our Savior’s entry into Jerusalem,) came, attended by his horse-guards, who rode before to clear the way, mounted on prancing black horses; and accompanied by such a flourish of trumpets and kettle-drums, as to wear far more the appearance of a martial parade, than of a religious ceremony. All were dressed in splendid full uniform, and in every cap waved a myrtle sprig, the sign of rejoicing. The cardinals followed, and the rear was brought up by a bareheaded priest on a mule, with the host in a golden cup, the sight of which operated like a talisman on every soul around me, for every knee bent. The Pope himself was clothed in robes of white and silver, and as he passed along the crowds of gazing people that lined the streets and filled the windows, he forgot not incessantly to repeat his benediction, a twirl of three fingers, typical of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; the little finger representing the latter. Many tiresome ceremonies followed his entry into the church. He was seated on his throne; all the cardinals successively approached, kissed his hand, retired a step or two, gave three low nods, one to him in front, as personifying God the Father; one to the right, intended for the Son; and one to the left for the Holy Ghost!” Speaking of another procession on Palm Sunday, the same writer says: — “The Pope was clothed this time in scarlet and gold, and a most sumptuous figure he made. The cardinals were dressed in their morning robes, of a violet color, richly trimmed with antique lace, with mantles of ermine, and scarlet trains, but these were soon changed for garments of gold. The same round of ceremonies were performed as I related, on the festa of the annunciation. Two palm branches received the benediction of the Pope, after having passed through a cloud of incense. The procession then began to move off, two and two, beginning with the lowest clerical monk; and at last the Pope himself in his chair of state, under a crimson canopy, and borne on the shoulders of four men. Great pomp and splendor marked this parade. The crowns and miters of the bishops and patriarchs, white and crimson, glittering with jewels, and set with precious stones; their long, rich dresses, the slow and uniform march of the procession, and the gay crowds surrounding, presented quite an imposing appearance.” And this is the vicar of Jesus Christ! this the successor of the laborious and self-denying Peter! One would think that the Pope much more resembles some image of the ancient Jupiter, than either Christ or his Apostle. But look at the worship rendered to the Pope on his throne! He is adored as the personification of the Holy Trinity! And this too, not by ignorant fanatics, but by illustrious cardinals! Nor does it occur privately, or occasionally; but in the most public assemblies, indeed before the world; and on all great and solemn occasions! And is not this blasphemy?
What! shall a mortal, a sinner, thus receive the worship of Jehovah? Does a man pretend to be the representation of the Trinity? All this, however, but fulfills the extraordinary predictions of Paul, concerning this same wicked power: — “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped.”
The acts of the pontificate are of the same blasphemous character. Exalted as he is to the very acme of both temporal and spiritual jurisdiction, the Pope of Rome imagines himself to be a very god on earth. Bishops and kings are but his footstool, while even heaven and hell are locked or unlocked at his pleasure. The following are a few of the papal maxims ascribed originally to Gregory VII. “The Roman Church is the only one that God has founded, The title of universal, belongs to the Roman pontiff alone. He alone can depose and absolve bishops. He has a right to depose emperors. All princes must kiss his feet. No chapter, no book can be reputed canonical without his authority. His name is the only one to be uttered in the churches. It is the only name in the world. He alone has the right to assume the attributes of empire.” 6 And in the exercise of these fearful prerogatives, see the Roman Pontiff, from his lofty balcony, pronouncing from year to year, the awful anathemas of the bull “In coena Domini.” The following is one of these thundering curses: “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, Wickliffites, Lutherans, Zuinglians, Calvinists, Huguenots, Anabaptists, Trinitarians and apostates from the Christian faith, and all other heretics, by whatsoever name they are called, and of whatsoever sect they be; as also their adherents, receivers, favorers, and generally any defenders of them; together with all, who without our authority, as that of the apostolic see, knowingly read, keep, print, or in any wise, for any cause whatever, publicly or privately, on any pretext or color, defend their books, containing heresy or treating of religion; as also schismatics, and those who withdraw themselves, or recede obstinately from the obedience of us, or of the bishop of Rome for the time being.”
An Apostle has said, “judge nothing before the time:” and again — “vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.” Here, however, we see the Pope of Rome thundering his curses upon his enemies with a liberal hand; yea, “cursing, whom the Lord has not cursed.” This, however, has been predicted of this blasphemous power. “And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell therein.”
Here, then, is the antitype of the beast which John saw rising out of the sea, “having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads, the names of blasphemy.” Here is another deep and prophetic mark of the great Antichrist. The very chair of the Pope, his high pretensions, his arrogance and pride, his anathemas and curses, the worship he requires from his subjects, and the false doctrines and rules, which in the name of God, and as God, he enforces upon men, all these things prove him to be the blaspheming king, of which Daniel and Paul, and John, severally speak; all proclaim him Antichrist.
ANTICHRIST AN INNOVATOR
THE introduction of changes in divine institutions and laws, is another prophetic feature in Antichrist. Thus Daniel predicts of him; “and he shall think to change times and laws” — tdw ˆynmz hynçwhl rbsyw .
The Seventy render the passage into Greek thus — kai uJponohsei tou alloiwsai kairouv kai nomouv . The Vulgate translates it into the following Latin: “Et putabit mutare tempera et legem.” The following is the English of the Doway Bible — “And he shall think himself able to change times and laws.” Daniel 7:25.
The character of these times and laws is not only to be inferred from the context, but is distinctly taught us by the Apostle Paul. “He, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:4.
The meaning of this passage is, that Antichrist, arrogating to himself divine authority and honors, hesitates not to make those changes and alterations in the institutions of heaven, which God alone has the exclusive right either to establish or annul. Some of these changes are definitely expressed by the same Apostle — “forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.” 1 Timothy 4:3.
These passages refer to Antichrist; and the latter teaches most clearly, who that Antichrist is. Who is it that forbids to marry? Who is it that commands a great variety of fasts and abstinences? It is the Church of Rome. While God has left both marrying and fasting as voluntary things to his people, and while the New Testament teaches that many of the Apostles, the brethren of the Lord, and even Peter (1 Corinthians 9:4,) had wives, the Papacy dares to step in between God and the consciences of men, and to interpose its authority as absolute and imperative! The following are some among the many changes which the Papacy has introduced in divine ordinances and laws. We have already noticed its denial of the Scriptures as the sole rule of faith, its perversion of the doctrine of justification by faith, its virtual subversion of the sole mediatorship of Christ, and its utter destruction of the Christian liberties of God’s people; we now proceed to increase the catalogue of alterations in the divine economy and law, which this wicked power has made, during the lapse of past centuries.
The Papacy has virtually abolished the obligation of the moral law. Not only is the second commandment made a part of the first, in the more systematic arrangement of doctrines in the Romish Church, and the tenth divided into two, to complete the number; but in their catechisms for the young, the second is entirely omitted! 1 Their system too, of saint and image-worship, even where the literal law is retained, completely subverts its authority. The fourth commandment has shared a similar fate. True, it is retained verbally, but then its force and obligation are entirely destroyed. The multiplication of other holy days by this church, has caused the Sabbath as a divine institution, proportionably to sink in the estimation of all Catholic communities. Dens, in his treatise on theology, on the fourth commandment asks this question — “What is taught by this third (4th) precept in the new law?” The answer given is, “Principally these three things — 1. That certain specified days are to be kept holy. 2. That they are to be kept holy by external divine worship, by hearing masses. 3. That the same are to be kept holy by abstaining from servile labors.”
He next asks, “Which days are those appointed to be kept holy?” The answer is, “In the first place, are the Lord’s days; next, festival days!”
Here, saints’ days and other set days appointed by the Church of Rome, are actually placed in the Decalogue as of Divine appointment! More than one hundred of these human Sabbaths are imposed upon the dupes of Rome, under the authority of Him who spake from Sinai, and who said, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” Hence the ever occurring interruptions to weekly labor in Catholic countries, hence the declension in national prosperity of all those countries. God’s economy has been abolished, and man’s substituted. But this evil also operates against the sanctity of the weekly Sabbath. This day is put on a footing with the other holy days; it is devoted to plays and sports, by those who should be taught, “not to think their own thoughts, or to speak their own words on God’s holy day.” “As to hunting, says Dens, and fishing, unless accompanied with great noise or fatigue, they are lawful recreations on the Lord’s day! Many suppose that it is not unlawful to fish with a reed, hook, or small nets, for the purpose of recreation; and they think the same of hunting on a small scale.” — He also introduces two other authorities as advocating the selling of clothes, shoes, and. other things, to servants and laborers, on the Sabbath, and represents it as doubtful whether painting is not lawful on that day! If such be the teachings of sound Roman Catholic divines on the sanctity of the Sabbath, what shall be said of the practices of the people generally? Hence in all Catholic countries, after morning mass, and certain external forms of worship, the Sabbath is spent as a day of recreation and sport. The fifth commandment has been set aside by the Papacy in all those numerous cases in which children have been compelled by the church to inform against heretical parents, and in which parents have been constrained to turn the accusers of their own offspring. The following is tile testimony of one who was born a Roman Catholic, and long continued such. 3 “Every year there is publicly read (in Spain) at church, a proclamation or bull from the Pope, commanding parents to accuse their children, children their parents, husbands their wives, and wives their husbands, of any words or actions against the Roman Catholic religion.
They are told that whoever disobeys this command not only incurs damnation for his own soul, but is the cause of the same to those whom he wishes to spare. So that many have had for their accusers, their fathers and mothers, without knowing to whom they owed their sufferings under the Inquisitors; for the name of the informer is kept a most profound secret, and the accused is tried without ever seeing the witnesses against him.” Here, then, according to papistical policy, the obligations of the fifth commandment are subverted by the tyrannical and interposed authority of the priesthood.
It need scarcely be affirmed, here, what effects the imposition of celibacy upon the clergy is likely to produce in reference to the seventh commandment. When such celibacy is voluntary, there is but little danger; where, however, it is forced, there is always danger to the party upon whom it is thus laid. Even Christ said on this subject, “he that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” Matthew 19:12. The Apostle Paul also gives the following advice: — “to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife.” 1 Corinthians 7:2. A single life, according to Scripture, should be voluntary, wherever adopted. Every man, in this particular, is to judge, for himself. But the Church of Rome forces celibacy upon her priesthood. Can any one believe, that this arbitrary law can extinguish the propensities of nature? or, that all who have professedly submitted to it, have really led chaste and virtuous lives? Impossible! And if the seventh commandment be violated by the priesthood, is it likely that it can have its proper influence among all the multitudes who constitute the entire Catholic community? At any rate, any one can see, that the tendency of this rule is to subvert the pure morality of the church.
The sixth and eighth commandments have both been trampled under foot by the Holy Inquisition. The great object of this court seems to be to enrich the church by murdering its enemies, or suspected friends. In Spain, this Holy Court directed its energies at first, principally against the Jews. “In one year,” says McCrie, “five thousand Jews fell a sacrifice to popular fury.” 5 These Jews were immensely rich, and their property became the possession of their malignant persecutors. In the very year in which Luther made his appearance (1517), in Spain alone, there were 13,000 persons burnt alive, 8700 burnt in effigy, and 169,723 condemned to various penances. 6 Is it possible to imagine that a body of men, who can, on slight pretexts, accuse, condemn, and burn worthy and industrious citizens, and then take possession of their property, can have any regard for either the sixth or the eighth commandment?
But this whole law is virtually abolished by the Tax-book of the Roman Chancery. Here crimes are reduced to a regular scale of pecuniary valuation. Of course, the idea that a transgressor has of the character of his sin, is the amount of money he has to pay for its pardon. The following are a few items from this Tax-Book: “Robbing a church, $2.50. Perjury, forgery, and lying, $2. Robbery, $3. Burning a house, $2.75. Eating meat in Lent, $2.75. Killing a layman, $1.75. Striking a priest, $2.75. Procuring abortion, $1.50. Priest to keep a concubine, $2.25. Ravishing a virgin, $2.
Murder of father, mother, brother, sister or wife, $2.50. Marrying on a forbidden day, $10. All incest, rapes, adultery, and fornication, committed by a priest, with the joint pardon of the other parties concerned, $10.
Absolution of all crimes together, $12.” 7 According to this scale of the Roman Chancery, not only are human laws made equal, and even superior to the divine, but crimes the most atrocious are represented as venial; a few dollars and cents cancel the account, and turn the transgressor forth to commit new depredations upon the law of God, and upon human society!
Thus does the Papacy virtually abolish and set aside the moral law itself. 2. We notice next the interference of the Papacy with marriage; an institution appointed directly by God, older than any other, and one which lies at the basis of society, and which is essential to the purity of any community whatever. Every reader of church history will perceive an early tendency in the church to discountenance marriage in her clergy. This tendency was farther increased by the monastic life. It was afterwards converted into an ecclesiastical law, and marriage in a priest was considered a more heinous crime, than adultery in a layman.
That such an unnatural statute has no countenance in Scripture, is certain.
Even the high-priest among the Jews was expected to marry, “and he shall take a wife in her virginity.” Leviticus 21:13. The Apostle Paul also says, “a bishop must be the husband of one wife.” 1 Timothy 3:2. It is also manifest that Peter and several of the Apostles were married men. Corinthians 9:4. True, Christ and Paul intimate, that under given circumstances it would be better for ministers not to marry. Neither, however, makes any law on the subject; but leaves it to the choice of ministers themselves; the Papacy, however, “forbids to marry.”
Pope Gregory VII. assembled an ecclesiastical council at Rome, in the year 1074. In this council “it was decreed,” says Mosheim, “that the sacerdotal orders should abstain from marriage; and that such of them as had already wives or concubines, should immediately dismiss them, or quit the priestly office. These decrees were accompanied with circular letters, written by the pontiff to all European bishops, enjoining the strictest obedience to this solemn council, under the severest penalties.” — “No sooner was the law concerning the celibacy of the clergy published,” remarks the same historian, “than the priests in the several provinces of Europe, who lived in the bonds of marriage with lawful wives, complained loudly of the severity of this council, and excited the most dreadful tumults in the greatest part of the European provinces. Many of these ecclesiastics chose rather to abandon their spiritual dignities, and to quit their benefices, that they might cleave to their wives.” He also remarks: “The proceedings of Gregory appeared to the wiser part, even of those who approved of the celibacy of the clergy, unjust and criminal in two respects: first, in that his severity fell indiscriminately and with equal fury upon the virtuous husband and the licentious rake. Secondly, that instead of chastising the married priests with wisdom and moderation, he gave them over to the civil magistrate, to be punished as disobedient and unworthy subjects, with the loss of their substance, and with the most shocking marks of undeserved infamy and disgrace!” 8 How powerless must have fallen upon the ear of such a Pope, the words of Christ — “Whom God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
Here then we see the Papacy, true to the prophecy concerning it, but in direct violation of the laws of God and of society, among a large class of persons, annulling an institution, of which it is said, “marriage is honorable in all.” The object of such a law is evident enough — it is to create the tools of papal power. By destroying all conjugal ties in her priesthood, by withering in the heart all domestic loves and affections, Rome seeks to ally to the chair of St. Peter, a vast number of willing minions, who will go at her bidding, and who shall seek in despite of all opposition, to establish her dominion over the nations of the earth. While, however, she thus seeks to increase her authority, she but exhibits her real character, and demonstrates to the world, that she is the Antichrist, predicted in the Holy Scriptures.
It has already been shown, in speaking of the apostasy of Rome, how the gospel, as a system of grace and salvation, has been corrupted by the Papacy. Rome has also perverted and changed every institution and ordinance connected with the gospel. 3. She has changed and corrupted the sacraments of the new dispensation.
Any reader of the New Testament will readily perceive, that Christ appointed but two such sacraments, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper.
Rome, however, has ordained seven — Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Orders, and Matrimony. The authority in such sacraments is thus expressed by Dens: “The primary reason of this, is the Will of Christ, as made known by divine tradition!
This number of seven is also insinuated in various passages of Scripture.
Thus, Proverbs 9:1, it is said, ‘Wisdom, which is Christ, has built a house for herself, that is the church, and she hath hewn out seven pillars,’ doubtless the seven sacraments, which, like so many pillars sustain the church! So in like manner, (Exodus 25,) by the seven lamps, which were on one candlestick, this is implied, for there are seven sacraments, just so many as there are lamps, which illumine the church.” 9 Such is the miserable foundation on which Rome rests her doctrine of seven sacraments!
But she has changed the design and character of a sacrament. The sacraments of the New Testament are but the external signs and seals of internal and spiritual grace. Rome, however, makes them the material causes of grace. The council of Florence uses the following language: “These our sacraments both contain and confer grace, upon such as worthily receive them.” The council of Trent speaks in a similar manner — “If any one shall say, that grace is not conferred by the sacraments of the new law themselves by their own power — (per ipsa novae legis Sacramenta ex opere operato non conferri gratiam) — but that mere belief of the divine promise is sufficient to obtain grace; let him be accursed.” Dens explains the mode in which grace is conferred by these sacraments. “Sacraments act in the manner of natural agents, whose effect is more or less, according to the greater or less capacity or disposition of the subject which disposition still has no efficiency; as it is plain in fire, which burns dry wood more effectually than green, although the dryness is merely the remover of a hindrance, or an indispensable requisite, and not the efficient cause of combustion.” 11 Here, it is distinctly stated, that upon the same principle that fire burns wood, sacraments confer grace! Grace is inherent in the sacrament; consequently, the application of the sacrament to the subject, as naturally sanctifies, as the application of fire to wood burns!
Hence the same author says. “The power of regeneration is attributed not less to the water, than to the Holy Ghost! 12 From the view thus taken by Rome, of the design of a sacrament, it is not wonderful that she considers the administration of her sacraments as essential to salvation. When his Jewish brethren placed the same false view upon circumcision, the Apostle to the gentiles exclaimed. “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.” 1 Corinthians 7:19.
The plain and constant teaching of the New Testament is, that men are saved “by grace,” and that the gift of this grace is not dependent upon human work or merit in any sense whatever. “The wind bloweth where it listeth,” says Christ; and believers are said to be born, “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John chapter three and chapter one. Rome, however, places the gift of grace in the hands of her priesthood, and not in the hands of a sovereign God. Nor is this all; the administration of her sacraments must be accompanied with the intention of the priest, otherwise the sacrament itself becomes inefficacious. “The intention in the minister,” says Dens, “consists in an act of his will, by which he wills the external performance of the sacraments, with the intention of doing what the church does.” And Trent has decreed — “If any one shall say that the intention is not required in ministers, when they perform and confer sacraments, at least of doing what the church does, let him be accursed.” 13 This of course places salvation in the intention of a priest. Who can ascertain that intention?
And yet this sort of sacrament is essential to salvation! “The effect of this sacrament,” (baptism,) says the Council of Florence, “is the remission of all original and actual guilt; also, of all punishment which is due for that guilt.” Trent decrees, that, “Whosoever shall say that baptism is optional, that is, not necessary to salvation, let him be accursed.” 14 Hence the practice of this church, to allow midwives and others to baptize children in cases of emergency. Hence the directions given about baptizing children in the womb, and of opening mothers, who die in child-birth, in order to baptize the living offspring! Hence, too, that heathenish practice of excluding from consecrated burying places, not only heretics and others, but the children of Roman Catholic parents, provided, they die before baptism can be administered! The same necessity is held as to the other sacraments. “Whether confirmation,” says Dens, “is necessary to salvation, is a disputed point; but the more probable opinion is the affirmative.” 16 It is rather wonderful that an infallible church should be held in doubt as to a matter of this kind.
As to the necessity of the eucharist, however, there is no doubt. “While the other sacraments,” say the Decrees of Trent, “then first possess the power of sanctifying, when they are used by any one, the very Author of sanctity is in the eucharist before it is used.” 17 This sacrament, thus changed into Christ himself, “is not,” says the Roman Catholic catechism, “like bread and wine, changed into our substance, but in some measure changes us into its own nature.” The same catechism affirms, that “it is an antidote against the contagion of sin;” and that “invigorated by the strengthening influence of this heavenly food, the recipient at death wings his way to the mansions of everlasting glory and never-ending bliss.” “The sin of its omission,” says Dens, “is mortal.” The same necessity is placed upon penance and extreme unction. “Whosoever shall deny,” says the Council of Florence, “that sacramental confession is necessary to salvation, let him be accursed.” 20 “Whosoever,” says the same Council, “shall say that the sacred anointing of the sick does not confer grace, nor remit sins, nor raise up the sick, but that it has now ceased, let him be accursed.” 21 Thus, these Romish sacraments are considered, all of them, and in every’ case, essential to salvation; a position contrary to Scripture, and which has no authority but the word of Rome.
The corruption which Rome has introduced into the simple, but significant ceremony of the Lord’s Supper, deserves particular attention. Any plain and honest reader of the New Testament, must perceive at once, that the object of the Lord’s Supper was to erect in the Church a memorial of that greatest of all events, the death of Christ upon the cross. That, as the feast of the passover was a memorial of the deliverance of the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt, when the first-born were slain, so this institution was designed to be a perpetual memento, or commemorative ordinance, pointing to Calvary and Christ. This simple view of the subject however, has not suited the genius of Rome. To magnify her priesthood, (for this is the object,) she has converted it into something very different, and given to her priests a power in this ordinance, which is actually higher, so far as we know, than that possessed by God himself; certainly, a power so absurd that he never employed it. This power is, the conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the literal body of Christ, and of the whole substance of the wine into the literal blood of Christ; the accidents, that is, the shape, color, taste, etc., of the bread and wine remaining; not however inhering in their own substance, but in the substance of the body and blood of Christ! — ”Whosoever shall deny,” is the doctrine of Trent, “that in the most holy sacrament of the eucharist, there are truly, really, and substantially contained the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, together with his soul and divinity, and consequently Christ entire; but shall affirm that he is present therein only in a sign or figure, or by his power, let him be accursed.” — “Whoever shall deny that Christ entire, (totum Christum,) is contained in the venerable sacrament, under each species (sub unaquaque specie,) and under every part of each species, (et sub singulis cujusque speciei partibus,) when they are separated, (separatione facta,) let him be accursed.” 22 This is plain; it was designed to be plain. The whole Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of men, of whom it is said, “let all the angels of God worship him;” this glorious personage is actually converted by the words of a Roman priest, into the form and appearance of bread and wine! “Credat Judaeus Apella, non ego.” Nor does the priest himself really believe it; for if poison be introduced into the wine, he will refuse to drink it. The first effect of this monstrous dogma, is what is called the adoration of the host, that is, the worship of the consecrated and transubstantiated bread and wine: “Whosoever shall affirm, that Christ the only begotten Son of God is not to be adored in the holy Eucharist with the external signs of that worship which is due to God, (cultu latrine) and, therefore, that the Eucharist is not to be honored with extraordinary festive celebration, nor solemnly carried about in processions, nor publicly presented to the people for their adoration, (populo proponendum ut adorerut,) and that those who worship the same are idolaters; let him be accursed.” 24 Here, a God is not only made out of bread and wine, but actually received and worshipped as such!
Nor is this all — the wheaten and vinous Christ is next converted into a sacrifice, and offered by the blaspheming priest, as an atonement for the sins of the living and the dead! “Whoever shall affirm, that a true and proper sacrifice (rerum et proprium sacrificium) is not offered to God in the mass; or, that the offering is nothing else than giving Christ to us to eat; let him be accursed,” — “Whosoever shall affirm, that the sacrifice of the mass is only a service of praise and thanksgiving, or a bare commemoration of the sacrifice made on the cross, and not a propitiatory offering; (non autem propitiatorium) or, that it only benefits him who receives it, and ought not to be offered for the living and the dead, (pro vivis et defunctis,) for sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities, (pro peccatis, poenis, satisfactionibus, et aliis necessitatibus,) let him be accursed.” 25 On the same subject, Dens teaches that, “The sacrifice on the cross is altogether the same as to substance with the sacrifice of the mass; because the priest in both instances is the same! and the victim, Christ the Lord is the same!” Again he says, “Next to Christ, every priest legitimately ordained, is the true and proper minister of the sacrifice, because they only can perform this sacrifice, who have received supernatural power for this purpose.” Again he says: “The value of the mass is infinite” and again, “The mass is infallibly efficacious.” “It is proper,” he says, “to receive pay for the celebration of the mass.” “Baptized heretics, he continues, are entirely excluded from all the direct benefits of the sacrifice of the mass.” Still, however, “It is certain that the sacrifice of the mass, is infallibly of advantage to souls in purgatory, for the remission of the punishments remaining from guilt, at least as to a part.”
Thus is the simple and sublime ordinance of the Holy Supper, converted from a purely commemorative ordinance, from being the means of cherishing the believer’s faith in Christ, into a ceremony of superstition, absurdity and idolatry. Well might Christ say of such, “Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.” Matthew 23:24. 4. Upon all the changes which Rome has introduced into the church and kingdom of God, it is not necessary to dwell. Suffice it to say, that every doctrine, every ordinance, every institution, every mode of worship, every thing, has undergone, in one form or another, some change in passing through the hands of omnipotent Rome. The church has become a temporal kingdom, the ministry not only a priesthood, but a set of earthly princes; the Bible, not a revelation from God to man, but a revelation from the priest to man; baptism, not an obligation to Christ, but an obligation to the church; confession to man, has taken the place of confession to God; obedience is no longer the evidence of faith, but the meritorious cause of salvation. Purgatory has been invented to terrify the credulous; and contributions and fasts, instead of being left voluntary to individual believers, are matters of ecclesiastical law, and of positive requirement. A system of tyranny has been erected on the ruins of freedom; and error and superstition have risen up in the place of truth and simplicity. If Peter or Paul were sent back from the world of glory, to contemplate the church of Rome; and if they were told, that the Roman church was held as the model of the system, which they originally advocated, these holy men would scarcely recognize a principle or a thing in all Romanism, identical with the church and the Christianity which they left in the world. Yea, Paul would see his “man of sin,” in all the perfection of maturity, in the awful spectacle presented before him, and misnamed The Church. Thus has Rome, lifting her hand. higher than that of the Almighty, and speaking with a voice more terrific than that of the Holy One, dared to pull down what God has erected, and to erect what God has forbidden. In all this, however, she demonstrates her true character, proves herself to be Antichrist, and awakens in the bosom of the true believer the hope, that her destruction is advancing, and that “according as she hath glorified herself, so much torment and sorrow” will an avenging God give her.
ANTICHRIST A PERSECUTOR
ANOTHER mark of Antichrist, furnished in the Scriptures, is his persecuting spirit. “I beheld,” says Daniel, “and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them.” Daniel 7:21. The same is expressed by John — “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints and to overcome them.” Revelation 13:7.
But John is yet more explicit: “And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints; and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” Revelation 17:6.
Again, “In her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.” Revelation 18:24.
Persecution refers to those civil and temporal punishments which are inflicted upon men for opinion’s sake. That such punishments were employed among the ancient Israelites, especially in relation to idolatry, is certain. Deuteronomy chapters thirteen, seventeen and eighteen. Was it designed by Christ, that they should also be used in the propagation of the Christian faith? Certainly not. 1. He has prescribed a different punishment for the rejecters of his gospel. “He that believeth not shall be damned.” Mark 16:16. Eternal perdition is here denounced upon all who receive not Christ, after they shall have heard his gospel. Nor is this sentence to be executed by the minister; but simply proclaimed by him. Now if this is the punishment to be denounced against the rejecters of Christ’s gospel, the substitution of temporal or civil penalties is both inappropriate and unlawful. Error is better removed by argument, and fear excited by the threatened vengeance of the Lord. 1 Christ instituted no union between church and state. For the most part, persecution has been the offspring of the union here alluded to.
Ecclesiastical censure has been enforced by the civil magistrate. The doctrine of Jesus, however, on this subject is, “My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight; but now is my kingdom not from hence.” Here all connection between church and state is expressly denied; and consequently persecution, as growing out of that connection. 3. The practice, too, both of Christ and his Apostles, utterly condemns all such methods of promoting the truth. When twelve legions of angels were ready at the call of Christ to execute vengeance upon his crucifiers, he invoked not their assistance. Matthew 26:53. And when John and James desired permission to call down fire from heaven upon a certain Samaritan village, the only response their Master gave them was, in the language of rebuke, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of; for the Son of Man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” Luke 9:55.
The rule, too, which he prescribes to Timothy, in all such cases, is of similar import. “The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God, peradventure, will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” 2 Timothy 2:24,25.
It is true, that daring offenders were excluded from the communion of the church; and being so excluded, they were said to be “delivered unto Satan,” 1 Timothy 1:20; or, “delivered unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh;” 1 Corinthians 5:5; but the church proceeded no farther. Exclusion from her communion was her ultima poena; the rest she left in the hands of God. It is true, that in that age of miracles, the sentence of the Apostles was sometimes followed by divine and miraculous interposition, as in the cases of Ananias and Sapphira; but there were no physical punishments inflicted either by the church or the civil power. No such case can be found. If, then, Christ and his Apostles are to govern the Christian church, persecution, especially persecution followed by civil and executive punishments, so far from being agreeable to Christianity, is in direct violation both of its letter and spirit. Hence, during the first three centuries no such persecution existed in the Christian church. Christians then were persecuted, but did not persecute.
No sooner, however, was the unnatural alliance formed of church and state, than persecution began. “The administration of the church was divided,” says Mosheim, “by Constantine himself, into an external and internal inspection. The latter was committed to bishops and councils; the former the emperor assumed to himself.” 1 Here the evil began. Church power being placed in the hands, or rather assumed by the hands of a civil officer, was exercised as all other civil prerogatives; and the emperor soon began to punish heretics as he would rebels and insurgents. “Two monstrous errors,” says Mosheim, “were almost universally adopted in this century; first, that it was an act of virtue to deceive and lie, when by that means the interests of the church might be promoted; and second, that errors in religion, when maintained and adhered to, after proper admonition, were punishable with civil penalties and corporal tortures.” These are truly a monstrous pair of twins; and if such was the first offspring of the connection between church and state, is it wonderful, that bloodier and more dreadful things have resulted from this unnatural alliance?
The Donatists were the first to realize the effects of this civil administration of church affairs. The Numidians, and Donatus at their head, opposed the consecration of Coecilianus as bishop of Carthage. For this they were opposed by the rest of the church, and ultimately by Constantine. And so far did the latter carry his opposition, that he not only deprived the Donatists of their churches, and sent their leaders into banishment, but actually put many of them to death! Here we have the lamentable example of a Christian prince, yea, the first Christian prince, putting his own Christian subjects to death for matters of conscience and religion! Nor did matters assume a quiet aspect until the battle of Bagnia, under the reign of Constans, gave victory, the victory of the sword, to the imperial troops.
In the year 357, when the contest about Arianism was raging throughout the Roman empire, this same civil power in the administration of church affairs, interfered with the liberty of conscience in the Roman pontiff himself. Liberius was compelled by Constantius to embrace the Arian heresy. 3 Here, then, we see an instance in which the civil ruler makes the creed of one of the predecessors of those illustrious popes, who afterwards made emperors hold their stirrups, and bow in their presence.
So generally did the sentiment prevail in this and the following century, that religious errors were to be removed by the authority of the state, that even Augustine coolly and deliberately advocates it. The following is his language: “If you suppose we ought to be moved because so many thousands die in this way, how much consolation do you suppose we ought to have, because far and incomparably more thousands are freed from such great madness of the Donatist party, where not only the error of the nefarious division, but even madness itself was the law.” The same principle which began to produce such pernicious effects in the Roman empire, diffused itself also among those northern nations which subverted that empire. “The kings of the Vandals,” says Mosheim, “particularly Genseric, and Huneric his son, pulled down the churches of those Christians who, acknowledged the divinity of Christ, sent their bishops into exile, and maimed and tormented in various ways such as were nobly firm and inflexible in the profession of their faith. They, however, declared that in using these severe and violent methods, they were authorized by the example of the emperors, who had enacted laws of the same rigorous nature against the Donatists, the Arians and other sects, who differed in opinion from the Christians of Constantinople.” Charlemagne, too, in the eighth century, did not hesitate to wage a most determined war against the Saxons, principally with the design of converting them to Christianity.
Such where some of the early fruits of the pernicious principle, introduced under the reign of Constantine. Religion and the sword, the bishop and the sovereign, went hand in hand; and when piety could not attract, or argument convince, power was made to determine the controversy. No wonder that slavery was the result; and that Europe for centuries was made to exhibit the humiliating spectacle of enslaved millions, under the tyrannical rule of domineering and despotic ecclesiastics.
It was left however, for Rome, the Babylon of the middle ages, and the seeds of whose existence had been sowing for centuries — it was left for Rome to finish the tragedy, and to show to the world the cruelty of man to man, when bigotry rules in his bosom, and charity has forsaken his heart, and the sword stands ready at his bidding. Other powers may have slain the saints, but Rome alone “has been drunk with their blood.” It is this awful spectacle that we now proceed to unveil.
It may not be improper here to remark, that persecution, so far from being a mere accident upon the Romish system, is the direct result of the system itself. If Jesus Christ is “Lord of lords” and the Pope is his vicegerent on earth; if the spiritual power is either superior to the temporal, or in necessary union with it; if the Pope is the infallible interpreter of the word of God, and all men are bound to adopt his interpretations; if submission and not liberty is the duty of Christians; and if there is no salvation but in the Romish church — if these premises are admitted, then is persecution not only a result of Romanism, but a necessary result: it is the duty of the church to persecute; it would be unkind and disloyal to act otherwise.
It is sometimes alleged, that other Christian bodies besides Romanists, have persecuted. This is true. But these persecutions, few in number, and feeble for the most part in their effect have been excrescences upon such Christian bodies. They have been their deformities, not their glories. — their injury, not their advancement. The fundamental principles of Protestant Christianity are, that the Bible is the only infallible rule of faith, and that in examining the Scriptures and forming his conclusions, every man must be left to his own conscience. True, any particular body of men who substantially agree in these conclusions, may adopt the same symbol of faith, and may, if they deem it necessary, refuse communion with others, whom they may consider as putting an interpretation upon the word of God, radically erroneous and essentially different from their own.
But here, save as to argument and moral influence, the matter ends; the former having no more right to force the latter to their conclusions, than the latter have to force the former to theirs. This leads of course to a separation between the two bodies; not, however, to a religious war, where the sword is made the umpire of Christian faith. It produces, if you please sects, not however crusades. It distributes the Christian Church into social combinations, formed upon the voluntary principle; it does not, however, drench Christian soil with Christian blood.
That this system, admitting as it does, of so many external varieties, is better, far better than the opposite one, no thinking man can deny. It places not only religion, but human nature itself upon the right basis. The acceptance of the gospel here, is what it always must be to be real, voluntary; and no one man, or set of men, are here allowed to lord it over others. We proceed, however, to consider the development of the contrary system — the system of oneness and of absolutism.
It will not be amiss to notice here the war of the Holy Crusades, as involving the general principle of persecution. In the latter part of the eleventh century, the Turks had taken possession of Jerusalem, and subjected Christian pilgrims to various oppressions. To repel these bitter enemies to Christians, Peter, a native of Amiens in France, and usually called the Hermit, aroused all Europe to engage in a holy war. Pope Urban the Second gave the scheme his most earnest support; the Council of Clermont decreed it. These crusades, therefore, had their origin in the church. Indeed, the Pope granted indulgences and dispensations to those who would engage in this enterprise. Of these crusades there were seven.
Millions of lives were lost by them; the resources of nations were exhausted, and the greatest evils followed in their train. To justify them upon Christian principles is impossible. When Peter drew his sword in defense of his Master, the reply of that master was, “Put up again thy sword into his place; for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Matthew 26:52.
If then, it was not lawful to defend Christ himself with the sword, it certainly was not lawful to defend his sepulcher with the sword.
To understand however, in what spirit these mis-called holy wars were carried on, let us notice the conduct of the crusaders, upon the first conquest of Jerusalem. “On a Friday,” says Gibbon, “at three in the afternoon, the day and hour of the passion, Godfrey of Bouillon, stood victorious on the walls of Jerusalem. A bloody sacrifice was offered by these mistaken votaries to the God of the Christians: resistance might provoke, but neither age nor sex could mollify their implacable rage; they indulged themselves three days in a promiscuous massacre. After seventy thousand Moslems had been put to the sword, and the harmless Jews had been burnt in their synagogues, they could still reserve a multitude of captives whom interest or lassitude persuaded them to spare. Of these savage heroes of the cross, Tancred alone betrayed some sentiments of compassion. The holy sepulcher was now free; and the bloody victors prepared to accomplish their vow. Bareheaded and barefoot, with contrite hearts, and an humble posture, they ascended the hill of Calvary, amidst the loud anthems of the clergy; kissed the stone which had covered the Savior of the world, and bedewed with tears of joy and penitence the monument of their redemption.” Can any one imagine, that the Apostles Paul and Peter would have promoted, as Pope Urban did, an enterprise of this kind? Can any one suppose, that Timothy, or Titus, or Luke, would have preached as the Hermit did, a war of such exterminating vengeance against the enemies of Christianity? Can any one conceive, that the primitive church would have mixed in a scene of blood like this, with anthems and praises? Is it even possible to suppose that the Prince of peace, the author and founder of the Christian system, could sanction such conduct in his professed disciples?
This spirit of persecution, however, in the papal church, did not confine itself to Turks and Moslems, and to the rescue merely of the holy sepulcher. Professing Christians were also made to feel its severity.
In the middle ages, there lived in the south of France, a people distinguished for their civilization, refinement and elegant language. The Catholic priesthood in this country was at the time exceedingly corrupt and ignorant. So much was this the case, that no situation in life was considered meaner than that of a priest. No wonder then, that a purer faith should be acceptable to the inhabitants of Languedoc, Provence, and Catalonia. This faith was preached among them, by a people usually called Albigenses. These Albigenses, who derived their name from Albigeois, a district in France, of which the town Albi was the capital, were a set of dissentients from the Church of Rome. “They considered,” says Shoberl, “the Scriptures as the only source of faith and religion, without regard to the authority of the Fathers and of tradition. They held the entire faith according to the doctrines of the Apostles’ creed. They rejected all the external rites of the dominant church, excepting baptism and the Lord’s supper — as temples, vestures, images, crosses, the worship of holy relics, and the rest of the sacraments. They rejected purgatory, and masses and prayers for the dead. They admitted no indulgences, or confessions of sin, with any of their consequences. They denied the corporeal presence of Christ in the sacrament. They held that monasticism was a putrid carcass, and vows the invention of men, and that the marriage of the clergy was lawful and necessary. Finally, they declared the Roman Church to be the whore of Babylon, refused obedience to the Pope and the bishops, and denied that the former had any authority over other churches, or the power of either the civil or the ecclesiastical sword.” As to their lives, the Albigenses were above reproach. Even their enemies admitted, that “they observed irreproachable chastity, that in their zeal for truth, they never on any occasion resorted to a lie; and that such was their charity, that they were always ready to sacrifice themselves for others.” When their Catholic neighbors were exhorted by the missionaries of Pope Innocent, to expel and exterminate them, their reply was, “We cannot, we have been brought up with them; we have relations among them; and we see what virtuous lives they lead.”
It was to this class of heretics, that Pope Innocent III. turned his sacerdotal attention. At first he sent missionaries among them. Finding this measure too tardy and ineffectual, he next published a bull, requiring their princes and sovereigns to persecute them. These princes and sovereigns being rather tardy in executing such a bloody edict upon their own subjects, the Pope next excommunicates the princes, releases their subjects from allegiance to them, and even proceeded so far as to call for a general crusade against both princes and people. To induce other European powers and Christians to enter upon so bloody an enterprise, he publishes plenary indulgences to all soldiers and others, who would engage in this war, and offers to the princes of other countries, the vanquished territories of these heretical princes. Such offers coming from such a source, were not likely to be despised. Consequently, in the early part of the thirteenth century, a general crusade was raised against the Count of Thoulouse, the Viscount of Beziers, Alby and Carcassonne, and the other princes, who had not, in every iota, complied with the bull of Pope Innocent. The Abbot of Citeaux, who was the Pope’s Legate, was placed at the head of the crusade. The number of these crusaders is variously estimated from 50,000 to 500,000. They were actuated with the greatest fanaticism; and spread ruin and slaughter wherever they went.
Raymond VI., the Count of Thoulouse, who had previously patronized the Albigenses, upon the approach of this vast multitude, attempted by concessions and penances to obtain the forgiveness of the church. He was required to surrender seven of his strongest castles, to abide the decision of his judges as to the charges preferred against him, and to be scourged upon his naked back around the altar of St. Gilles, with a rope around his neck.
Roger, Viscount of Beziers, resolved to defend his territories against the fanatical hordes of the invaders. Beziers, one of his strongest fortresses, was first taken. The terrified inhabitants took refuge in the churches.
These however proved but poor refuges to the fury of the crusaders.
When the knights consulted the Legate, as to the proper mode of distinguishing between the heretics and catholics, his reply was, “kill them all, the Lord will know his own.” This sentence was rigidly executed; men, women, children, heretics and catholics, all being mixed in one general slaughter. In the church of the Magdalen seven thousand corpses were found; in the cathedral a greater number. “When the crusaders had slaughtered all, to the very last living creature, in Beziers,” says Shoberl, “and had plundered the houses of every thing worth carrying away, they set fire to all the quarters at once; the city was but one vast conflagration; not an edifice remained standing, not a human being was left alive.” When Carcassonne was captured, although the inhabitants generally escaped through a subterranean passage, yet four hundred persons were burnt alive, and fifty were hung upon gibbets. The same fate awaited the inhabitants of Lauraguais and Menerbais. When Brom was taken, Monfort “selected more than a hundred of the wretched inhabitants, and having torn out their eyes, and cut off their noses, sent them under the guidance of a one-eyed man to the castle of Cabaret, to intimate to the garrison of that fortress the fate which awaited them.” 10 At the capture of Menerbe, one hundred and forty persons were burnt alive; at that of Lavaur eighty were hanged on the gallows; and when Cassero was taken, sixty more were committed to the flames.
Such was the general character of this eight years’ war against these unoffending disciples of Jesus. Princes were humbled, their cities were burnt, their fortresses destroyed, their subjects butchered, and their country wasted, to eradicate from the earth, doctrines which Apostles preached, and which the primitive church held with the strongest faith. “No calculation,” says the same writer, “can ascertain with any precision, the waste of property, and the destruction of human life, which were the consequences of the crusade against the Albigenses.” Nor let it be forgotten, that this crusade was summoned by the Pope, was conducted by his Legate, and was afterwards approved in the council of Lateran by an Assembly of Catholic divines.
In allusion to this crusade against the Albigenses, Daunou, himself a Catholic, remarks: ”We do not intend to exculpate the Albigenses from all error. But to exterminate thousands of good men, because they have committed a self-delusion, and to dethrone him who governed them, because he did not persecute them enough, is rigor to excess, and reveals he character and manifests the power of Innocent III.” 11 Hallam also remarks concerning this religious war — “It was prosecuted with every atrocious barbarity which superstition, the mother of crimes, could inspire, Languedoc, a country, for that age, flourishing and civilized, was laid waste by these desolaters, her cities burnt, her inhabitants swept away by fire and sword. And this was to punish a fanaticism ten thousand times more innocent than their own.” 12 Such was one of the first efforts of Rome to fill herself with the blood of the saints.
The holy wars against the Waldenses will next claim our attention. Some writers suppose that the Waldenses took their name and origin from Peter Waldo, a wealthy merchant of Lyons. Others, however, place their origin in a much more remote antiquity. The opinion of Beza was, that Peter of Lyons derived his name Waldo, or Valdo, from the Waldenses. “According to other writers,” says Hallam, “the original Waldenses were a race of uncorrupted shepherds, who, in the valleys of the Alps, had shaken off, or perhaps never learned, the system of superstition on which the Catholic church depended for its ascendency.” 13 Shoberl traces their origin to Claude, Bishop of Turin, who, when image-worship was introduced, in the beginning of the eighth century, made a bold stand against both this and several other corruptions of the Romish church. Here, amid the valleys of Piedmont, had these truly primitive and Christian people lived for centuries, separated by their locality from the rest of the world, and unobserved by even the eye of popish jealousy.
The character of the Waldenses and their doctrines may be learned from the following quotations. “All they aimed at,” says Mosheim, “was, to reduce the form of ecclesiastical government, and the lives and manners both of the clergy and people, to that amiable simplicity, and that primitive sanctity, which characterized the apostolic ages, and which appear so strongly recommended in the precepts and injunctions of the divine Author of our holy religion.” 14 “These pious and innocent sectaries,” says Hallam,” of whom the very monkish historians speak well, appear to have nearly resembled the modern Moravians. They had ministers of their own appointment, and denied the lawfulness of oaths and of capital punishment. In other respects their opinions were not far removed from those usually called Protestant.” 15 Reinerus Sacco, an Italian Inquisitor, writes thus of them: “While all other sects disgust the public by their gross blasphemies against God, this, on the other hand, has a great appearance of piety. For those who belong to it, live justly among men, have a sound doctrine in all points respecting God, and believe in all the articles of the Apostles’ creed, but they blaspheme the Romish church.” Cassini, a Franciscan, thus speaks of them: “The errors of the Vaudois consist in their denial that the Romish is the holy mother church, and in their refusal to obey her traditions. In other points they recognize the church of Christ; and for my part, I cannot deny that they have always been members of his church.” 17 When Pope Innocent VIII. had urged Louis XII., king of France, to extirpate this sect from his kingdom, the monarch sent two commissioners, one of them a Dominican, and the royal confessor, to inquire into their character and views. These commissioners deposed upon oath, that “having visited the parishes and churches of the Vaudois, we find no images, no trace of the service of the mass, nor any paraphernalia, used in the ceremonies observed by Catholics. But having also made a strict inquiry into their manner of living, we cannot discover the least shadow of the crimes imputed to them. On the contrary, it appears that they piously observe the Sabbath, baptize their children after the manner of the primitive church, and are thoroughly instructed in the doctrine of the Apostles’ creed and in the law of God.” Notwithstanding, however, the purity of the doctrines and lives of the Waldenses, they erred in the vital point, they denied the supremacy of Rome, and rejected her numerous superstitions. This was enough, this alone, to render them obnoxious to papal wrath.
Besides some previous oppressions and slaughters to which this people were subject, in 1487, Innocent VIII. published a bull against them, “denouncing them as heretics, calling upon all the authorities, spiritual and temporal, to join in their extermination, threatening with extreme vengeance such as should refuse to take part in the crusade, promising remission of sins to those who engaged in it, and dissolving all contracts made with the offenders. Even the inquisitors and monks were exhorted to take arms against them, to crush them like poisonous adders, and to make all possible efforts for their holy extermination. This bull also granted to each true believer a right to seize the property of the victims without form or process.” 19 The result of this bull was, that the Vaudois were overrun and butchered for several months by a body of eighteen thousand troops, and a vast host of undisciplined attendants.
In 1540 an edict was published in France against a portion of the Waldenses to the following purport: “That every dissentient from the holy mother church should acknowledge his errors, and obtain reconciliation within a stated period, under the severest penalties in case of disobedience; and because Merindal was considered as the principal seat of the heresy, that devoted town was ordered to be razed to the ground; all the caverns, hiding-places, cellars, and vaults, in the vicinity of the town, were to be carefully examined and destroyed; the woods were to be cut down, the gardens and orchards laid waste, and none who had ever possessed a house or property in the town, should ever occupy it again, either in his own person or in that of any of his name or family, in order that the memory of the excommunicated sect, might be utterly wiped away from the province, and the place be made a desert.” 20 In what manner this decree was executed, is related by Anquetil, a Catholic writer: — “Twenty-two towns or villages were burned or pillaged with an inhumanity of which the history of the most barbarous nations scarcely affords an example. The wretched inhabitants, surprised in the night, and hunted from rock to rock by the light of the flames which consumed their habitations, frequently escaped one snare only to fall into another. The pitiful cries of the aged, the women, and the children, instead of softening the hearts of the soldiers, maddened with rage like their leaders, only served to guide them in pursuit of the fugitives. Voluntary surrender did not exempt the men from slaughter, nor the women from brutal outrages at which nature revolts. It was forbidden under pain of death to afford them harbor or succor. At Cabrieres, more than seven hundred men were butchered in cold blood; and the women, who had remained in their houses, were shut up in a barn containing a great quantity of straw, which was set on fire, and those who endeavored to escape by the windows were driven back with swords and pikes.”
In 1655, Charles Emanuel, Duke of Savoy, issued what is called “the bloody ordinance of Gastaldo.” This ordinance decreed, “that such of the Vaudois as would not embrace the Catholic faith, or sell their possessions to those who professed it, must within a few days quit their native valleys.” To enforce this decree, the Marquis of Pianezza entered the valleys with an army of fifteen thousand men. One of the commanders in that expedition gives the following as a specimen of its general character: — “I was witness,” says he, “to many great violences and cruelties exercised by the banditti and soldiers of Piedmont, upon all of every age, sex and condition, whom I myself saw massacred, dismembered, and ravished, with many horrid circumstances of barbarity.” Such was the cruelty of this holy war, that all Protestant Europe was excited by it. The following are extracts of a letter written by the immortal Milton, then secretary to Cromwell, to the Duke of Savoy, remonstrating with him for such barbarities. “His serene Highness, the Protector, has been informed that part of these most miserable people have been cruelly massacred by your forces, part driven out by violence, and so without house or shelter, poor and destitute of all relief, to wander up and down with their wives and children, in craggy and uninhabitable places, and mountains covered with snow. Oh the fired houses which are yet smoking, the torn limbs and ground defiled with blood! Some men decrepit with age and bedridden, have been burned in their beds. Some infants have been dashed against the rocks; others have had their throats cut, whose brains have, with more than Cyclopean cruelty, been boiled and eaten by the murderers. If all the tyrants of all times and ages were alive again, certainly they would be ashamed, when they should find that they had contrived nothing in comparison with these things, that might be reputed barbarous and inhuman.”
Such has been the character of this unnatural war, which Popery has been waging for centuries upon these inoffensive and feeble disciples of the Savior. But for the interference of Protestant states, the very name of the Waldenses had been long since blotted out from the face of the earth. And even to the present time are they persecuted and oppressed by the same unrelenting foe; their privileges being curtailed, and their territory rendered smaller and smaller by the constant aggressions of their enemies.
Let us now turn to the persecutions waged by Popery upon the French Protestants, or Huguenots. D’Aubigne not only affirms, that the Reformation in France was independent, in a measure, of that in Germany and Switzerland, but also that it was antecedent to both. “The Reformation was not, therefore, in France, an importation from strangers; it took its birth on the French territory. Its seed germinated in Paris; its earliest shoots were struck in the university itself, that ranked second in power in Romanized Christendom. God deposited the first principles of the work in the kindly hearts of some inhabitants of Picardy and Dauphiny, before it had begun in any other country of the globe.” 21 The means by which the gospel made its early progress in the French kingdom were principally these three: the translation of the Scriptures into French by Olivetan, the uncle of Calvin; the conversion of the Psalms into meter by a popular poet; and the earnest and constant preaching of the reformed pastors. “The holy word of God,” says Quick, “is duly, truly, and powerfully preached in churches and fields, in ships and houses, in vaults and cellars, in all places where the gospel ministers can have admission and conveniency, and with singular success. Multitudes are convinced and converted, established and edified. The Popish churches are drained, the Protestant temples are filled. The priests complain that their altars are neglected, their masses are now indeed solitary. Dagon cannot stand before God’s ark.” These reformers also made great use of singing, employing it not only in their churches, but also in family worship, and even at their tables.
Such a state of things was not likely to exist long without opposition from the priesthood. Hence, of all Protestant churches, that in France has been chiefly drenched in blood. “No where,” says D’Aubigne, “did the reformed religion so often have its dwelling in dungeons, or bear so marked a resemblance to the Christianity of the first ages, in faith and love, and in the number of its martyrs. If elsewhere it might point to more thrones and council-chambers, here it could appeal to more scaffolds and hill-side meetings.” The reason why the French church has suffered more than others, is to be found in the degree to which the reformed opinions spread in France.
These opinions were not extensive enough to be universal, nor were they limited enough to be inconsiderable. In England, Scotland, Germany, and some other kingdoms, the Reformation became the dominant religion. In Spain, Italy, Portugal, and some other states, it was too feeble to endanger many lives. But France occupied a middle ground. Though whole provinces became Protestant, yet the kingdom was Catholic; and though many of the princes and nobility were numbered among the reformed, yet the government was popish. This state of things placed the French church in a situation peculiarly critical, and caused her to suffer far more than sister churches of more favored countries.
The term Huguenot, usually applied to these French Protestants, is supposed to have been derived from the circumstance, that under their persecutions many of: these godly people used to meet at night for religious worship in private places, near the town of Hugon, in Tours.
From these few, the whole class were called, by way of derision, Huguenots.
Persecution to blood, commenced against the Huguenots, as early as the year 1524, and it lasted, in one form or another, till 1815. Napoleon granted them toleration and equal privileges with the Catholics. But, upon the restoration of the Bourbons, popular frenzy rose so high in the province of Gard, that several hundred Protestants lost their lives. Thus, for a period of two hundred and ninety-one years, has France dyed herself in the blood of some of her best and most loyal subjects, simply because they rejected the religion of the Pope. Indeed, even to the present time, there is a species of persecution kept up against the religion of Protestants in that country.
Previously to the year 1559, when a French General Assembly was organized, there had been one hundred martyrdoms among the French Calvinists. After this event matters became much worse. Troops were sent among them, and not less than forty towns, where Protestantism prevailed, were subject to their ravages. The Protestants were burned or killed in other ways, by the hundred, five hundred, and in one instance twelve hundred are said to have suffered at one time. It was at this period that the Huguenots fled to arms. They resolved to defend their religion and their rights by the sword. This movement, be it remembered, was not ecclesiastical, but civil. Protestants composed a considerable portion of the French population. They had rights as well as others. Many of them were of the nobility and the aristocracy of the country. When, therefore, the French government, instead of defending those rights, sought to invade and overthrow them, was it not the duty of the Protestants to defend them?
How could men see their property confiscated, their wives and daughters insulted, and themselves murdered, and not resist? Self-defense is always lawful; and not even the religion of Jesus was designed to annihilate its impulses. And when a lawful self-defense was impossible, it was the duty of French citizens to protect themselves by the means that Providence had put into their hands. Petitions to the king and parliament were of no avail; the courts gave them no protection; their fellow citizens were seeking their lives and property. What could they do? Resistance was the only alternative — and they did resist. In many battles, too, they were victorious. This course brought the government to pause. Peace was made with the Huguenots, and they were allowed certain rights and privileges.
The fatal doctrine, however, that leagues and promises with heretics, are not binding, caused such treaties to be several times violated and renewed.
Three civil wars preceded the massacre of St. Bartholomew’s. At length, Charles and the Catholic party, instigated by Catharine de Medicis, the queen-mother, plotted the secret destruction of those who had been found too strong upon the field of battle. Margaret, the sister of Charles, was to be married to the young King of Navarre, who was one of the Protestant leaders. For a time the Protestants were loaded with favors and caresses.
To the marriage all their principal men were invited. During the week after that event, they were diverted by various entertainments and shows. The marriage took place on Sabbath, the 17th August, 1572; the massacre was decreed to take place on the following Sabbath, being St. Bartholomew’s day. An attempt was first made to assassinate Coligni, the leader of the Protestant party. He was wounded, but not killed. While this illustrious man lay in bed of his wounds, and while the Protestants were all asleep, the bell of St. Germain, the appointed signal, was rung. The house-doors of the Protestants had all been marked during the night, with a white cross.
Upon the sounding of the bell, the streets were all illuminated with lights from the windows of the Catholics, and the soldiers and citizens rushed forth, sword in hand, to destroy the Protestants. The scene which followed is indescribable. Men, women, children, the noble, the vulgar, were massacred as fast as found. Some were murdered in their beds, some in their parlors, some in their doors, some in the streets, and some on the tops of their houses. Multitudes were drowned or killed in crossing the Seine. “The rising sun,” says Shoberl, “never beheld a scene of more thrilling horror than Paris presented on the morning of Sunday, the 24th of August, 1572. Blood stained the doors of houses, the interior of the apartments, the walls of the churches, the streets, the public gardens. At every step corpses, mangled fragments of human flesh, lamentations and cries of anguish, the last groans of agony, the spoils of the vanquished, traces of the passages of the conquerors, exhibited all the appearances of a town taken by storm.” This terrible scene continued the greater part of the week following. It is estimated that ten thousand Protestants, including the flower of the party, perished on this occasion. The greatest possible barbarity was exhibited in this dreadful massacre. The body of the admiral, who was killed with the rest, was treated with the greatest indignity. Its members were cut off, and the mangled trunk drawn through the streets for three days, amid the mockery and insults of the populace, after which it was suspended from a gallows. The murderers also placed themselves upon piles of the murdered, and auctioned off to their afflicted relatives the bodies of husbands, brothers, and sons!
Nor was it alone at Paris that the massacre occurred. The command of Charles was sent to every part of the kingdom, to destroy in a similar manner and at the same time, all the Protestants. “At Meaux, Orleans, Troyes, Lyons, Bourges, Rouen, Toulouse, and many other places, says a historian, “the cruelty of the Parisians was emulated, and thirty thousand persons were murdered in cold blood.” The question now arises, what part had the Church, or rather the Pope, in these transactions? The proper answer is, every part. Charles was a Catholic, his court were Catholic, and the massacre was designed to defend Catholic principles. But more than this is true. In a letter addressed to Catharine, just after the battle of Jarnac, Pius V. “assures her, that the assistance of God will not be wanting, if she pursues the enemies of the Catholic religion, until they are all massacred, for it is only by the entire extermination of the heretics, that the Catholic worship can be restored.” It also appears, from what M. Daunou affirms, that the Pope furnished money for the destruction of these heretics. His language is, “Catherine de Medicis boasted of the devotion of her son Charles to the holy church; and she asked money, a great deal of money, because the war against heresy could not be waged without money.” 24 In a letter to Charles in 1570, and just after the battle of Montcontour, the Pope urges upon the king the entire destruction of all dissenters from the Catholic faith. “The fruits,” says he, “which your victory ought to produce, are, the extermination of those infamous heretics, our common enemies. If your majesty wishes to restore the ancient splendor, power and dignity of France, you must strive most especially to make all who are subject to your dominion, profess the Catholic faith alone.” Such were the exhortations of Pope Pius V., to the immediate instruments of this massacre, just two years before it occurred.
This Pope, however, died a few months before the event occurred for which he had been preparing the minds of Catharine and Charles. How the consummation of the matter affected Gregory XIII., his successor, may be learned from the following facts. When he heard of the massacre, he exclaimed — “good news, good news, all the Lutherans are massacred except the Vendomets (King of Navarre and Prince of Conde,) whom the king has spared for his sister’s sake.” The same night the event was celebrated by bonfires and the firing of cannon in the Castle of St. Angelo. “Gregory also ordered a jubilee and a solemn procession, which he accompanied himself, to thank God for the glorious success.” 25 “History speaks of a painting,” says Daunou, “which attests the formal approbation which the Pontiff gave to the assassins of Coligni, containing the following inscription: ‘Pontifex Colignii necem probat.’” 26 “To this day (1790)” says Brizard, “the French, who visit Italy, behold not without indignation, this picture, which though half effaced, still portrays but too faithfully our calamities and the excesses of Rome.” Nor was this all; medals were struck at Rome having on one side an image of the Pope; on the other, the destroying angel, holding a cross in one hand, and slaughtering the Huguenots by a sword with the other; bearing also the inscription, “Hugonotorum strages.”
This whole work then of slaughter and death is to be ascribed to the Papacy, to the Roman Pontiff and his colleagues. Roman principles, Roman craft, Roman hate, and Roman instruments, produced this whole scene of woe and desolation. The cry of all this blood is against Rome, against Rome chiefly. And it is a cry, which will in time, be heard; for this city not only has in her “the blood of saints and of all that were slain upon earth;” but we are expressly told, that, in the day of wrath, that blood will be “found.”
The massacre of St. Barthlomew’s, although it destroyed, according to different estimates, from forty to one hundred thousand Protestants, yet did not annihilate the party. Many Catholics, too, shocked with the wickedness of the government and the Pope, united with them. Henry III., the brother of Charles, formed an alliance with them against the Catholic party’, called the Holy League. The successor of Henry III., was Henry IV., the King of Navarre, who had been educated a Protestant. Although Henry became a professed Catholic from political motives, yet, he did not forget the interests of his Protestant subjects. It was this sovereign, who published in their behalf, the famous Edict of Nantes. According to this edict, which was published in 1594, the government allowed to the Reformed “all the favors in which they had been indulged by former princes, and added, a free admission to all employments of trust, profit and honor; also an establishment of chambers of justice in which the members of the two religions were equal in number; and permission to educate their children in any of the universities without restraint.” Under the influence of this edict, which continued in force for ninety-one years, the Protestants enjoyed considerable prosperity. Urged however, by his Catholic subjects, and especially by the Jesuits, Louis XIV., revoked this wise and Christian Edict, on the 8th October, 1685. The removal of this protection exposed the Protestants again to all the evils, losses, insults and persecutions of the Catholic priesthood. Their churches were demolished, their preachers were banished, and their children were taken from them at an early age to be educated as Catholics. It was at this time, that from five hundred to eight hundred thousand Huguenots emigrated from France to other countries, where they could enjoy the free exercise of their religion.
Bishop Burnet, who was at that time traveling in France, gives the following account of this persecution. Writing from Nimmegen he says — “I have a strong inclination to say somewhat concerning the persecution which I saw in its rage and utmost fury, and of which I could give you many instances, that are so much beyond all the common measures of barbarity and cruelty, that I confess they ought not to be believed, unless I could give more positive proofs of them than are fitted now to be brought forth. In short, I do not think that in any age, there ever was such a violation of all that is sacred, either with relation to God or man. Men and women of all ages who would not yield, were not only stripped of all they had, but kept long from sleep, drawn about from place to place, and hunted out of their retirements. The women were carried into nunneries, in many of which they were almost starved, whipped and barbarously treated. I went over a great part of France, from Marseilles to Montpelier, and from thence to Lyons, and so to Geneva. In all the towns through which I passed, I heard the most dismal account of things possible. To complete the cruelty, orders were given that such of the new converts as did not at their death receive the sacrament, should be denied burial, and that their bodies should be left, where other dead carcasses were cast out to be devoured by wolves and dogs. The applauses that the whole clergy give to this fray of proceeding, the many panegyrics that are already writ upon it, and the sermons, that are all flights of flattery upon this subject, are such evident demonstrations of their sense of this matter, that what is now on foot may well be termed the acts of the whole clergy of France, who have yet been esteemed the most moderate part of the Roman communion.”
The above was written but eighteen months after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. But matters became much worse. The following is the account of Quick, the statistical historian of the French church, and whose work was published in London in 1692. “Afterwards,” says he, “they fell upon the persons of the Protestants, and there was no wickedness, though ever so horrid, which they did not put in practice, that they might force them to change their religion. Amidst a thousand hideous cries and blasphemies, they hung up men and women by the hair or feet to the roofs of the chambers, or hooks of chimneys, and smoked them with wisps of wet hay till they were no longer able to bear it; and when they had taken them down, if they would not sign an abjuration of their pretended heresies, they then trussed them up again immediately. Some they threw into great fires, kindled on purpose, and would not take them out till they were half roasted.
They tied ropes under their arms, and plunged them into deep wells, from whence they would not draw them till they had promised to change their religion. They bound them as criminals are when put to the rack, and in that posture, putting a funnel into their mouths, they poured wine down their throats, till its fumes had deprived them of their reason, and they had in that condition made them consent to become Catholics. Some they stripped stark naked, and after they had offered them a thousand indignities, they stuck them with pins from head to foot; they cut them with penknives, tore them by the noses with red hot pincers, and dragged them about the rooms till they promised to become Roman Catholics, or that the doleful cries of these poor tormented creatures, calling upon God for mercy, constrained them to let them go. They beat them with staves, and dragged them all bruised to the Popish churches, where their enforced presence is reputed for an abjuration. They kept them waking seven or eight days together, relieving one another by turns, that they might not get a wink of sleep or rest. In case they began to nod they threw buckets of water in their faces, or holding kettles over their heads, they beat on them with such a continual noise, that those poor wretches lost their senses. If they found any sick who kept their beds, men or women, they were so cruel, as to beat up all alarm with twelve drums about their heads for a whole week together, without intermission, till they had promised to change. In some places they tied fathers and husbands to the bed-posts, and ravished their wives and daughters before their eyes. And in another place rapes were publicly and generally permitted for many hours together.
From others they plucked off the nails from their hands and toes.
They burnt the feet of others. They blew up men and women with bellows till they were ready to burst in pieces. If these horrid usages could not prevail upon them to violate their consciences, and abandon their religion, they did then imprison them in close and noisome dungeons, in which they exercised all manner of inhumanities upon them. They demolished their houses, desolated their lands, cut down their woods, seized upon their wives and children and shut them up in monasteries. When the soldiers had devoured all the goods of a house, then the farmers and tenants of these poor, persecuted wretches, must supply them with new fuels for their lusts, and bring in more substance to them. If any endeavored to flee away, they were pursued and hunted in the fields and woods, and shot at as so many wild beasts.”
The numbers who perished in this persecution will not be known till that day when the “books shall be opened.” Multitudes perished by torture, multitudes in the galleys and in dungeons, and multitudes by the sword.
For the accomplishment of this work of inhumanity and blood, Pope Innocent XI. thus addresses Louis XIV. “The Catholic church shall most assuredly record in her sacred annals a work of such devotion towards her, and celebrate your name with never dying praises; but above all, you may most assuredly promise to yourself, an ample remuneration from the Divine goodness for this most excellent undertaking, and may rest assured, that we shall never cease to pour forth our most earnest prayers to that Divine goodness for this intent and purpose.” We have thus noticed popish persecutions in but one of the many European kingdoms. What if we could give the exact statistics of this persecution in all the rest? What if Germany, if the Netherlands, if Spain, if Italy, if Portugal, if Switzerland, if Scotland, if Ireland, if England, should all exhibit their bloody books? Surely, we might say with John, “the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”
These books, however, would not contain the history of the benevolent deeds of Christ, but accounts of the malignity and blood-thirstiness of Antichrist.
Mede has calculated from good authorities, “that in the war with the Albigenses and Waldenses there perished of these people, in France alone, 1,000,000. From the first institution of the Jesuits to the year 1580, a little more than thirty years, 900,000 orthodox Christians were slain. In the Netherlands alone, the Duke of Alva boasted, that within a few years he had. dispatched to the amount of 36,000 souls, and those all by the hand of the common executioner. In the space of scarce thirty years, the Inquisition destroyed by various kinds of torture, 150,009 Christians.”
Gibbon states it as a fact, though a melancholy one, that Papal Rome has shed immensely more Christian blood, than Pagan Rome had ever done. He gives but one illustration; that, however, a fearful one. “In the Netherlands alone,” says he, “more than 100,000 of the subjects of Charles V., are said to have suffered by the hands of the executioner.” Nor let it be said, that much of this bloodshed is to be ascribed to European princes’ and magistrates. With equal justice might the Jew affirm, that Jesus of Nazareth was condemned by Pilate, and executed by Roman soldiers. God, however, has charged the blood of his Son upon the Jews, by whose malignity and devisings Christ was crucified. Much more then, are the torrents of blood shed in Europe to be ascribed to the Papacy, to the Catholic church. These princes and magistrates were Catholic subjects, and they only executed the mind and will of the church.
They were instigated by priests, yea, by the Pope himself. They were often complained of as being too tardy and too merciful; yea, some of them were involved in ruin, along with their heretical subjects, for their forbearance. Those of them too, who were most ferocious, who effected most brutally the work of ruin, received from Catholic dignitaries, and even from the Pope, the greatest amount of commendation. Thus Monfort, Catharine de Medicis, Charles IX., (whose remorse before death caused the blood to ooze from the pores of his body!) Louis XIV., etc., were congratulated by the Gregories, and innocents of their times, as faithful and zealous sons of the church, and as worthy the peculiar favor of heaven. This alliance, however, or rather identity, between the Papacy and policy of Europe in persecuting the saints, is matter of express and repeated prophecies. “These have one mind,” says John, “and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.” Again, ”For God has put it into their hearts, to fulfill his will, and to agree and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.” Revelation 17.
Whether, then, the Papacy be, or be not the subject of the prophecies alluded to in the first part of this chapter, let each one judge for Himself.
Was the power predicted, “to make war with the saints and overcome them?” This Rome has done. Was it to “be drunken with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus?” No other kingdom nor power has drunken so deeply of this blood, as Papal Rome. Was the blood of all that were slain upon the earth to be found in the subject of these prophecies? Rome has been, either directly the originator, or indirectly the associate, of nearly all the wars which have desolated Europe for a thousand years past. Thus, as streams may be traced to the fountain, and rays of light to the sun, so may these prophecies be traced to the Papacy, and applied only to it. This is the “beast that made war with the saints,” — this “the woman in scarlet, drunk with their blood,” — this is\parANTICHRIST.
ANTICHRIST THE POSSESSOR OF GREAT RICHES
ANOTHER scriptural mark of Antichrist is, the possession of great riches. “And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornications.” Revelation 17:4.
Again in chapter 18, verses 16, 17, John represents her merchants as exclaiming, upon her destruction, “Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold and precious stones, and pearls, for, in one hour, so great riches is come to naught.”
Bloomfield and Stuart apply the symbols in these chapters to pagan Rome; so, also, does the commentator on the Doway Bible. “By Babylon,” says this Roman Catholic interpreter, “is meant, either the city of the devil in general; or, if this place be to be understood of any particular city, pagan Rome, which then, and for three hundred years persecuted the church, and was the principal seat both of empire and idolatry.” Even this popish annotator, however, suggests another meaning: “The beast which supports Babylon,” says he, “may signify the power of the devil, which was and is not, being much limited by the coming of Christ, but shall again exert itself under Antichrist.” This is certainly preferable to the following: “The beast means the Roman emperors, specially Nero, of whom the report spread throughout the empire is, that he will revive, after being apparently slain, and will come as it were from the abyss, or hades.” 1 This is certainly jejune and far-fetched enough! and I am sorry to say, that many of the interpretations of this learned expositor, are of a similar character.
That papal Rome is chiefly intended in each of these chapters, is almost absolutely certain. The whole prophecy is strikingly applicable to papal Rome, while but little of it can have any application to pagan Rome. The prophecy ends with a particular description of the entire destruction of the city spoken of: “The voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers and trumpeters, was to be heard no more at all in her; the light of the candle was to shine no more at all in her; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride was to be heard no more at all in her.” But the city of Rome has never to this day, been thus entirely destroyed. Similar prophecies are used in the Old Testament in reference to Nineveh, Babylon, Tyre, and other cities. But such prophecies have been literally fulfilled. Where is Babylon? where is Nineveh? Their very sites can scarcely be found. But Rome still has music, and dancing, and the light of the candle, and the voice of the bride! These prophecies, then, have not all of them been fulfilled. But, if ever fulfilled, they must be in papal, and not in pagan Rome.
If, then, papal Rome be here meant, she is described as exceedingly rich.
And that this part of the prophecy is as applicable to the Papacy, and has been as literally fulfilled as any other, we shall presently show.
That the ministers of religion should be supported by those for whom they minister, is a dictate of common justice. If religion be without any foundation in truth, if indeed there be “no God,” then should the whole system be abolished as unnecessary and pernicious. If, however, there is a God, and if it is the duty of all men to worship and serve him, then ought the principles of religion to be taught, and its teachers, like all other citizens, should derive their support from the business to which they are devoted. Hence, among all nations, provisions have been made either by the state or by independent societies, for the support of the ministers of religion.
This principle was incorporated into the Jewish law, and has also been sanctioned by Christ and his Apostles. “Even so,” says Paul, “hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” 1 Corinthians 9:14.
The Catholic priesthood, however, have turned the Christian ministry into the means of acquiring wealth. Originally, its object was to instruct and save men; support was only incidental to it. It was so among the Israelites; it was particularly so among the Apostles and ministers of Christ. Who has ever heard, that Peter or Paul, Timothy or Luke, was enriched by preaching the gospel? The first Christians “took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing that they had in heaven a better and an enduring substance.” Hebrews 10:34.
In those days, a profession of Christianity subjected men to the loss of their goods, and its official publication was attended with poverty, persecution, and even death. “At first,” says Neander, “it is highly probable, that those who undertook the church offices in various congregations, continued their former calling, and maintained themselves and their families by it afterwards, as they had done before. But when the members of the churches became more numerous, and the duties of the church officers were increased, it was often no longer possible for them to provide at the same time for their own support. From the church fund, which was formed by the voluntary contributions of every member of the church, at every Sunday service, or, as in the north African church, on the first Sunday of every month, a part was used for the pay of the spiritual order.” 2 Such was the simple and moderate way in which the first ministers of the Christian religion gained their maintenance. Splendid endowments, large estates, vast incomes, were then not even thought of, as a compensation for ministerial labors. A support was all the spiritual teacher asked; it was all that the congregation provided. In after times, However, matters were reversed, and, by the indefinite multiplication of the ceremonies of Christianity, the means of wealth to the clergy became proportionally increased: the people thus became poor, and the clergy rich.
This change in the original economy of the church, began in the third century, when the church was united to the state by Constantine. “The bishops,” says Mosheim, “assumed in many places a princely authority.
They appropriated to their evangelical function the splendid ensigns of temporal majesty. A throne, surrounded with ministers, exalted above their equals the servants of the meek and humble Jesus, and sumptuous garments dazzled the eyes of the multitude into an ignorant veneration for their arrogated authority. ” 3 “From the year 321,” says Daunou, “Constantine permitted the churches to acquire landed property, and he allowed individuals to enrich them by legacies.” 4 Here was the commencement of that wealth which afterwards drained the resources of nations, and was one principal means of both power and corruption in the Christian church.
Monastic establishments were also another source of wealth to the papal church. These institutions were originally designed as sacred retreats from the fashions and pomp of the world; they soon, however, degenerated into the abodes of vice and crime, and became the banking-houses of all Catholic Europe. The novice was required to surrender, not simply himself, but also his possessions to the care of the holy brethren. Great sums were appropriated to them by the wealthy, and even governments assisted in annexing to them rich domains of landed properly. “Time,” says Gibbon, “continually increased, and accidents could seldom diminish, the estates of the popular monasteries; and in the first century of their institution, the infidel Zosimus has maliciously observed, that for the benefit of the poor, the Christian monks had reduced a great part of mankind to a state of beggary.” And yet he adds in a note, “the wealth of the eastern monks (of whom the above remark was made) was far surpassed by the princely greatness of the Benedictines.” State patronage, however, and monasteries, will by no means account for the vast wealth of the Roman Catholic communion. To ascertain this, we must descend into the deep caverns of superstition — we must follow all the windings of papal fraud and imposition — we must dig into her mines of relics — we must descend into purgatory, and look amid its fires; and, as if this were not enough, we must ascend up into heaven, and there, from amid the thrones of saints and intercessors, we must follow the golden streams that issue forth, and which, by means of priestcraft, are poured into the coffers of the Papacy; yes, heaven, earth and hell, are all laid under contributions by the inventions of this tyrannical religion, to sustain the power and increase the wealth of the hierarchy.
The following is the testimony of one who had for years been a Roman Catholic priest. “Look,” says he, “at all the Roman institutions; from its chief tenets, the real presence of God in the eucharist, and the infallibility of the church, down to the holy water and the wax-taper, and there is not one of them which is not either a means of grasping money, or power, or of entrapping the female sex! Ask,” continues he, “of popery, who instituted the belief of the real presence of God in the wafer? He will answer, Christ himself, when he said in the last supper — ‘hoc est corpus meum.’ Popery knows well the falsity of this answer; but in accordance with this creed, it has established the mass, which produces immense sums of money to the whole priesthood. Why has popery established indulgences? In appearance, it is a means of atoning for one’s sins; but in reality, it is to coin money from the sins of men. Why has popery instituted those thousand corporeal mortifications? In appearance, to show a great aversion to earthly pleasures; but in reality, to have an occasion for selling dispensations to many people, who have neither the courage nor desire to practice mortifications. Why has popery established those intimate relations between saints and men upon the earth, through relics, images, adorations, and a thousand other superstitions? In appearance, to help us in the great work of our salvation; but in reality, to place itself as an intermediate between saints and men, and to sell their intercession; to make money with all these practices and beliefs, and root more deeply its power in each mind.” 6 Nor are facts like these supported by the testimony of a single priest — it is the testimony of all history. “Many of the peculiar and prominent characteristics in the faith and discipline of those ages,” says Hallam, “appear to have been either introduced, or sedulously promoted, for the purposes of sordid fraud. To those purposes conspired the veneration for relics, the worship of images, the idolatry of saints and martyrs, the religious inviolability of sanctuaries, the consecration of cemeteries — but above all, the doctrine of purgatory, and masses for the relief of the dead. A creed thus continued, operating upon the minds of barbarians, lavish though rapacious, and devout though dissolute, naturally caused a torrent of opulence to pour in upon the church. Donations of lands were continually made to the bishops, and still, in more ample proportions, to the monastic foundations. Large private estates, or, as they were termed, patrimonies, not only within their dioceses, but sometimes in distant countries, sustained the dignity of the principal sees, and especially that of Rome. The French monarchs of the first dynasty, the Carlovingian family and their great chief, the Saxon line of emperors, the kings of England and Leon, set hardly any bounds to their liberality, as numerous charters still extant in diplomatic collections attest.
Many churches possessed seven or eight thousand mansi: one with only two thousand, passed for only indifferently rich. And, as if all these methods for accumulating what they could not legitimately enjoy, were insufficient, the monks prostituted their knowledge of writing to the purpose of forging charters in their own favor! If it had not been,” says the same author, “for certain drawbacks, the clergy must one would imagine, have almost acquired the exclusive property of the soil. They did enjoy nearly one half of England, and, I believe, a greater proportion in some countries of Europe.” In a note he also states, that “according to a calculation founded on a passage in Knyghton, the revenue of the English church in 1337, amounted to seven hundred and seventy thousand marks per annum;” 7 that is, according to the estimate of the same author, about fifty-three million nine hundred thousand dollars! Nor is this all: the Pope came in for his share of the spoils. Besides tithes, Peter-pence, etc., which he usually received from the English church and government, in his war with the Emperor Frederic, he laid a special tax upon the church of England. “The usurers of Cahors and Lombardy,” says Hallam, “residing in London, took up the trade of agency for the Pope; and in a few years, he is said partly by levies of money, partly by the revenues of benefices, to have plundered the kingdom of nine hundred and fifty thousand marks; a sum, equivalent, I think, to not less than fifteen millions sterling at present.”
But let us adduce other testimony. Hume, in his History of England, states, that “among their other inventions to obtain money, the clergy had inculcated the necessity of penance, as an atonement for sin; and having again introduced the practice of paying them large sums, as a commutation, or species of atonement for the remission of those penances, the sins of the people by these means had become a revenue to the priests; and the king computed, that by this invention alone, they levied more money upon his subjects, than flowed by all the funds and taxes into the royal exchequer.” 8 The same author states, that during the reign of Edward III., A.D., 1253-55, Otho, the Pope’s legate, “carried more money out of the kingdom than he left in it.” About this time, the chief benefices in England were conferred upon Italians, most of whom were non-residents. A complaint was consequently entered by the king and nobility before the Pope, at a general council held at Lyons, “that the benefices of the Italian clergy in England, had been estimated, and were found to amount to sixty thousand marks a year, a sum which exceeded the annual revenue of the crown itself.” Instead, however, of this complaint arresting the rapacity of the Pope, “Innocent exacted the revenues of all vacant benefices; the twentieth of all ecclesiastical revenues without exception, the third of such as exceeded a hundred marks a year, and the half of such as were possessed by non-residents. He claimed the goods of all intestate clergymen; he pretended a title to inherit all money gotten by usury; he levied benevolences upon the people; and when the king prohibited these exactions, he threatened to pronounce upon him the same censures, which he had emitted against the Emperor Frederic.” During the reign of Henry IV., A.D., 1413, “the Commons,” says the same author, “made a calculation of the ecclesiastical revenues, which, by their account, amounted to four hundred and eighty-five thousand marks a year, (about thirty-three millions nine hundred and fifty thousand dollars,) and contained eighteen thousand four hundred ploughs of land. They proposed to divide this property among fifteen new earls, one thousand five hundred knights, six thousand esquires, and a hundred hospitals; besides twenty thousand pounds a year which the king might take for his own use. and they insisted, that the clerical functions would be better performed than at present, by fifteen thousand parish priests, paid at the rate of seven marks a piece of yearly stipend.” According to this estimate of the House of Commons, the Roman Catholic religion taxed the English public in the reign of Henry IV., about twenty-six millions six hundred thousand dollars of our money more than the support of the gospel in that kingdom required! This is also exclusive of the proceeds from the lands! Can any one imagine a greater oppression? Can any one conceive of a wider departure from the simple and unpretending religion of Jesus? And to make the picture still more dark, all this went to a priesthood, who, for the greater part, led vicious and dissolute lives.
The fiscal condition of the Catholic church in England during the reign of Henry VIII., and in the year 1538, when the monasteries and other religious institutions were suppressed, may be learned from a work in the British Museum, published in 1717. This work is termed, “A summary of all the religious houses in England and Wales, with their titles and valuations at the time of their dissolution.” The number of such houses “is stated to be one thousand and forty-one; the aggregate annual valuation of them at the same period was 273,106 pounds, reckoning only the rent of the manors and produce of the demesnes, and excluding fines, heriots, renewals, dividends, etc. This sum would be represented in 1717, a little less than two hundred years afterwards, as stated by the same authority, by 3,277,282 pounds, as a consequence of the decrease in the value of money. Assuming that the decrease has been the same in the last century, it would now be represented by about 20,000,000 pounds; or $96,000,000. “The proportion of the land of the country, held by the church at that time and of which the monks were lords, is stated at fourteen parts in twenty. In 1815, the annual assessed value of the real property of England and Wales, as stated in parliamentary records was 51,874,490 pounds.
Fourteen twentieths of this sum, being the ancient proportion of the church revenues, would be about 34,500,000 pounds, or, $166,987,168! a sum, three fourths as large as the present annual revenue of the government of Great Britain, from all its sources and for all its purposes.
Besides, too, this amazing absorption of the public wealth by the regular orders of the priesthood, there were four orders of mendicant monks, who not only lived on the residue of the property of the country, but abstracted large sums for their pious purposes. It is also stated by the same authority, that the Grand Duke of Tuscany — which is a district of Italy one hundred and fifty miles by one hundred — once ascertained and published, that the Church of Rome absorbed seventeen parts in twenty of the revenue of the land within his jurisdiction”! Here then, is the state of things, at the time of the Reformation. Was ever an event more needed than that Reformation? Here we see the professed ministers of Christ, who himself “had not where to lay his head,” not only lording it over princes in power and authority, but actually undermining their thrones and all national prosperity, by an accumulation of wealth truly fearful.
But it is alleged, that Popery has changed, that it is not now so exorbitant.
Let us see. “In France,” says the same author, “under the old regime in 1789, the annual revenues of the church were 405,000,000 francs; or, 16,200,000 pounds; or, $77,760,000. Under the present system it is but $6,182,400, and divided among Catholics and Protestants according to their numbers.” That is, when the Catholic church in France had full sway, and only as late as 1787, that church levied upon the country, 71,577,600 dollars, beyond the sum which is appropriated at present for the support of religion in France.
The state of things is no better in Spain. “The sum which the church property of Spain would yield, after providing for the decent maintenance of the clergy, was calculated by the Cortes of 1822, when joined to certain royal domains, lying useless to the state, to amount to 92,00,000 pounds; or, $441,600,000! The present entire annual revenue of the Spanish church, is 10,514,000 pounds; that of the state as lately reported by Count de Toreno, is about 5,000,000 pounds;” 11 that is, the Spanish church absorbs twice the income of the kingdom of Spain!
The question naturally rises here, what becomes of so much money? The proper answer, no doubt is, that it requires all this capital to forge the bolts and bars, and to weld the chains, by which 200,000,000 of people are kept subject to a system of priestcraft and superstition, the most monstrous and terrific that has ever existed upon the earth. There is probably not a country on the globe, where the power of such capital is not felt. See at present, even in these United States, what European and priestly-gotten wealth is accomplishing! See the splendid cathedrals, the noble churches, the costly buildings, which these hidden streams of money are starting up among us!
Besides this general use of such funds, it requires vast resources to support Popery. Superstition is always an expensive system. Truth is simple; and requires but small means. Error, however, is complex and involved, and demands the glitter of much gold and silver to sustain it. The number of ecclesiastics in Spain as estimated within a few years past, is 160,043. Besides these, there are lay-assistants to the amount of 90,346; making a total to be provided for of 206,002. When the population of Spain is divided by this sum, it will give one ecclesiastic or lay-assistant, to about every sixty-seven persons. Now, how is it possible for sixtyseven persons, large and small, either to take up the whole time of a religious teacher, or to render him a support? Add to this the princely mode of living among bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and popes, and we shall soon see, that the popish system is and must be, not only the most tyrannical system on the globe, but also, the most expensive.
But let us go to Rome itself. See there the successor of St. Peter occupying the throne of the Caesars — not only the king and sovereign of the States of the Church, but the emperor over far and distant nations. Look at the Vatican, look at St. Peter’s! What wealth, what immense wealth exhibits itself around the very seat of him, who styles himself, the vicegerent of Christ on earth! Nor is this all; all kinds of superstitions are practiced in Rome for the sake of getting money. “I thought,” says, Dr. Sturtevant, writing from Rome, “when I last wrote to you, that I had some faint glimpse of the deceits and delusions practiced on the followers of popery.
I could see depths, frightful and immense, of treasures of gold and silver, which papal imposition had extorted from the ignorant and superstitious, to pamper and uphold the dominion of the prince of darkness; but I had not fathomed the greatest reservoir of all, I mean indulgences. No measures also are untried, that crafty policy suggests, to solicit contributions for the relief of suffering souls in purgatory. Agents bearing lanterns with a painted glass, representing naked persons enveloped in flames, parade the streets and enter houses with tales that alarm, and appeals that excite the compassion of these holy souls. So great is the dread of purgatory, that besides the satisfactions they make in their lifetime, many deluded souls leave large legacies to the church to procure masses daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly, as far as their money will go. Many would rather starve their surviving families, than neglect the souls of the departed. This doctrine is a mine as profitable to the church as the Indies to Spain.” 12 All this takes place under the eye, and by the authority of the Pope; yea, he himself is the chief tradesman in such things. The same writer speaks of the Pope himself, as at one time clothed “in robes of white and silver;” at another as decked “in scarlet and gold.” The crowns and miters of the bishops and cardinals who attended his Holiness, were also “glittering with jewels and set with precious stones.” Surely, we have here almost the exact counterpart of what John predicts — “And the woman was arrayed in purple, and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls.” And if we consider the vast treasures of the Roman Catholic priesthood in all countries, and the wonderful resources of Roman Catholic institutions, the exclamation “so great riches!” used by the inspired writer, will not be found inappropriate.
Thus have we ascertained another coincidence between Antichrist and the Papacy. Antichrist was to revel in wealth, and glitter in jewelry and pearls.
He was to possess the riches of the nations. Rome has enjoyed all these for centuries. Seated as a queen, this idolatrous church has decorated herself for the espousals of all the kings and princes of Europe, and of the world. She has had no mean lovers; for the great and the noble, conquerors and sovereigns, have all bent at her feet and reveled in her smiles. But this very glory in which she arrays herself, these meretricious ornaments in which she displays herself before the nations, only proclaim with the tongue of living thunder, that she is not the spouse of Christ; and that the day of her doom is approaching, when “the voice of the bride will no longer at all be heard in her; and when the light of a candle shall no longer at all shine in her.” Hasten it, O Lord, in its time, and let all the powers of Antichrist fall before thy victorious truth!
ANTICHRIST THE POSSESSOR OF GREAT POWER
A LARGE number of scriptural predictions concerning Antichrist, refer to the extent and greatness of his dominion. Daniel asserts that “his look was more stout than his fellows:” that is, that the evil power spoken of, should be an object of greater notoriety, than the other ten kingdoms, with which it was to be associated. The saints of the Most High were also to be “given into his hand,” for a period of twelve hundred and sixty years; and even then, were to be delivered from his hand only by some remarkable interpositions of God himself. Daniel 7.
The Apostle Paul describes the same wicked king, as “opposing and exalting himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped,” Thessalonians 2:4: that is, as elevating himself to the very pinnacle of power both in church and state. The Apostle John, however, is more explicit in his description. In reference to this same evil king, or Antichrist, represented as a beast rising out of the sea, he says: “And the dragon gave him his power, and his seat and great authority.” The dragon here referred to, is pagan Imperial Rome. Antichrist, therefore, occupying the very metropolis of the old Roman Empire, was to possess both its authority and power. But this is not all; “power was given him,” says John, “over all kingdoms, and tongues and nations.” Since the previous description represented the power of Antichrist, as co-extensive with that of the Roman Empire, it is probable, that the “kindreds, and tongues and nations,” here spoken of, were such as were previously subject to Roman authority. But the direct power of Antichrist was to be as absolute as his dominion was extensive. “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand or in their foreheads; and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” All the offices and privileges of society, were to be interdicted to all, be they sovereigns or subjects, high or low, who should not yield implicit obedience to this tyrannizing power. The means, too, by which this evil king was to exercise such dominion is also foretold. “The ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings; these have one mind, and shall give their power and strength to the beast.”
Antichrist is himself but “a little horn,” — his regal power is small; but, by means of the ten greater horns, or kingdoms, which with himself arose out of the ruins of old Rome, he exercises an absolute sovereignty over the earth. Such are some of the many predictions concerning the power and dominion of Antichrist. Nor can one well avoid exclaiming while reading such prophecies, Surely John must be the historian and not the prophet, of modern Europe! But the infatuation of the human mind, when under the influence of error, is amazing. The Jews, even while crucifying the true Messiah, were looking for a messiah to come and Papists, while exhibiting in their own system, and especially in their head, all the full-drawn features of the scriptural Antichrist, are yet speaking of Antichrist as something future.
We are now prepared to meet the Papist on his own ground. He boasts of antiquity, of universality, of authority, and of unity. All these in a certain sense we grant him. But, then, these very things are the evidences of the antichristian character of his whole system. They are the marks of “the beast,” they are the boastings of the “little horn;” they are the exaltations of “the man of sin;” they are the divinely inspired criteria, by which the people of God are to know and avoid Antichrist.
That Jesus Christ did not lodge either supreme spiritual, or supreme temporal power, in the hands of any one man, must appear evident to every candid reader of the New Testament. It is true, that during the lifetime of our Lord, and for some time afterwards, Peter, because more bold and fervid, and because he was older probably than the other Apostles, acted a more conspicuous part than his brethren. Equally true, however, it is, that the Apostle Paul, because yet bolder and more daring than even Peter, and possibly more endued from heaven, is represented in the later periods of the inspired history, as taking the lead of all the Apostles in the Christian ministry. But neither of these Apostles is spoken of as being the head over the other. Nor were they, or either of them, promoted in the apostolic office, above their fellow Apostles. As witnesses of the life, character, doctrines, death and resurrection of their common Master, the Apostles were all on an exact equality. As publishers of his gospel to mankind, they had all received, not a similar, but the same commission. As sharers in the influences and gifts of the Holy Spirit, they had all partaken of one common baptism. And as planters of churches, and overseers, of the flock of Christ, they were all equally interested, equally esteemed. No disparity is there among them, except in gifts and natural endowments, except in grace and its manifold operations. In office they were one, in honor one, in love one. They were one family, one brotherhood, one Apostolate.
Much less did Jesus entrust to the hands of any one, or even all of his Apostles, supreme temporal authority. He taught them, that “his kingdom was not of this world,” and “to render unto Caesar the things that were Caesar’s.” The Apostles, too, following the instructions of their Master, enjoined it upon their disciples, “to be subject to the higher powers,” assuring them, that “the powers that be are ordained of God,” and were therefore entitled to obedience and respect from all Christians. Romans 13. “Whoever has read the gospel,” says a Catholic writer, “knows, that Jesus Christ founded no temporal government, no political sovereignty. St. Peter and his colleagues were sent, not to govern, but to teach; and the authority with which they were invested, consisted only in the light and benefits which they had to diffuse. Every one knows, he continues, that before Constantine, the Christian churches were only particular associations, too often proscribed, and always strangers to the political system. The popes (bishops) in those times of persecution, and of fervor, certainly did not aspire to the government of provinces. It was enough for them to have the power of being virtuous with impunity. They obtained on earth no crown, but that of martyrdom.” Such was the state of original Christianity. No supreme spiritual, or supreme temporal power, was placed in the hands of any one man. The Apostles, as such, were on a perfect equality. The same equality was maintained among the ministers who succeeded them. The churches were separate associations, each possessing its own local officers, and each independent of the rest. Nor was Christianity united to the state; it was enough, that it was tolerated by the civil authority.
It is a singular phenomenon, however, in the history of the world, that the system of religion which Jesus taught, of which he was himself the pattern, and which he left to mankind as a rich legacy — that a religion so pure, so unostentatious, so separated from the insignia of power, that such a religion should have been so perverted in the hands of wicked men, as to become the greatest engine of power, the world has ever known; that its very doctrines, and promises, and revelations, its officers and organization, its rewards and its hopes — that all these, so full of grace, so redolent of heaven, should be formed into a great system of terror, in which the powers of three worlds are made to rest in fearful suspense upon the consciences of mankind! This transformation, we say, is wonderful, is wonderful indeed. And yet it is a transformation which has actually taken place; yea, upon which the eyes of men for more than ten centuries have been quietly gazing.
The power of the Papacy is three-fold, indicated, as some say, by the triple crown, which the Pope wears as the badge of his dominion. The first of these is regal, or that which he wields over the “states of the church.”
It is not intended to dwell upon the first of these powers. According to most historians, the Pope became a temporal prince in the year 754, by a grant from Pepin, king of France. This temporal dominion, the Pope has possessed ever since. In itself it may be considered a small matter; the prince of a petty state, is not likely to exert any great influence any way, upon the history and destiny of nations. Even this fact, however, has in it a remarkable fulfillment of prophecy. “I considered the horns,” says Daniel, “and behold there came up among them another little horn; before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots.” This prediction accurately describes the Papacy as a temporal sovereignty. It came up among, or as some say, behind, or according to others after, the first ten horns upon the Roman beast. The Pope as a temporal prince, is located on the very apex, if we may so say, of the head of the beast, he is the central power. He came up too, later than the rest; the ten Gothic kingdoms, having been previously formed. He also arose imperceptibly into this condition. Even to this day is it debated, precisely when the Pope became a temporal prince. The fact then, that the chief pontiff of Christendom is the sovereign also of a petty kingdom, though in itself unimportant, yet is essential to the scriptural evidence, that the Papacy is Antichrist. It is one of those personal and smaller matters, which as strongly as any thing else, indicate the fulfillment of a particular prophecy.
It is, however, the possession by the Papacy of the supreme spiritual, and the supreme temporal power, which must chiefly engage our attention. We are to survey the Pope, not as a petty Italian prince, but as the chief pontiff and the august emperor of Christendom. It is in the occupancy and exercise of these two offices, that the Papacy has disturbed, or rather molded, all the political and religious systems of Europe; and it is in its assumption of these fearful powers, that its antichristian character is most discernible.
The spiritual government at Rome may be divided into four periods — the congregational and presbyterial, the episcopal, the patriarchal, and the papal.
The original church government at Rome was congregational and presbyterial. The supreme power was in the church, or body of believers; the officers of the church were presbyters and deacons. The Epistle to the Romans is addressed by Paul “to all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints.” Romans 1:7. Again the Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians is from “the church of God which is at Rome.” 2 If then, Paul wrote not to one man, or to a body of men, but to the church generally; and if Clement wrote not in his own name, but in the name of the church at Rome, it is evident, that at that time, the supreme spiritual power at Rome, was in the Roman church; that is, in the body of believers in that city.
The church at Rome, however, was organized as other apostolic churches, with bishops, or elders, and deacons. First, there is no good reason, why this church should be organized differently, and we know that other churches were so constituted. Philippians 1:1. Acts 20; 1 Timothy 3.
Secondly; we have the testimony of Clement that this was the case. “The Apostles thus preaching,” says he, “through countries and cities, they appointed the first fruits of their conversions to be bishops and ministers (elders and deacons) over such as should afterwards believe, having first proved them by the Spirit.” This however was done by the vote of the brotherhood. “Wherefore,” continues Clement, “we cannot think that those can justly be thrown out of their ministry, who were either appointed by them, (the Apostles) or afterwards chosen by other eminent men, with the consent of the whole church. But we see how you (the Corinthians) have put out some from the ministry, which by their innocence they had adorned.” 3 The original ecclesiastical government then at Rome, as in all the early churches, was congregational and presbyterial; that is, the power was in the people, but was ordinarily exercised by presbyters or elders.
The next form of this government was episcopal. It is evident, that between the close of the first century and the beginning of the fourth, most, if not all, of the early churches assumed the episcopal form. Some one of the congregational presbytery had been made permanent moderator, or sole head over the rest. As proof of this, let the following testimony of Jerome be considered: we quote from Bishop Hopkins’s “Church of Rome in her primitive purity.” “With the ancients,” says this learned father, “presbyters and bishops were the same; but, by degrees, in order that the plants of dissension might be rooted up, the care of government was committed to one. Therefore, as the presbyters know themselves, by the custom of the church, to be subject to him who may be set over them, so should the bishops know, that they are superior to the presbyters, more by custom, than by the truth of out Lord’s disposition; (magis consuetudine quam dispositionis dominicae veritate) and that they ought to govern the church in common:” (et in commune debere ecclesiam regere.) The fourth form of the spiritual government at Rome, was patriarchal.
Constantine, wishing to adapt the ecclesiastical to the civil polity, introduced a new arrangement in ecclesiastical government. This gave rise to the appointment, throughout the Roman empire, of bishops, archbishops, metropolitans, exarchs, and patriarchs. Under this new economy, Antioch, Alexandria, Rome, and afterwards Constantinople, became each the seat of a patriarch. Between these patriarchs, there arose of course some rivalry. The Roman patriarch, however, was generally superior, chiefly because he lived at the capital of the empire. When, however, ancient Byzantium, under the new name of Constantinople, became also the seat of civil authority, the two patriarchates of the two capitals of the empire, soon overshadowed those of Alexandria and Antioch. Rome, then, had but one rival, the patriarch of the eastern empire. As that patriarch was powerfully supported by the eastern court, it was far more difficult to gain ascendency over him, than it had been over other rivals. Power between these two ecclesiastical potentates was well nigh balanced for several centuries. At length, however, in the ninth century, a rupture took place between them, which divided Christendom into the eastern or Greek, and the western or Latin church.
Besides the rivalry here alluded to, the Roman patriarch had other obstructions to his absolute headship over even the western church. These obstructions were found in the rights of metropolitans, and other subordinate presiding church officers. Each bishop and archbishop had his prerogatives: each state claimed for the church established in it, certain privileges. All these must be removed before the Roman bishop could become the absolute autocrat of the Latin church. “Their first encroachment of this kind,” says Hallam, “was in the province of Illyricum, which they annexed in a manner to their own patriarchate, by not permitting any bishops to be consecrated without their consent. This was before the end of the fourth century. Their subsequent advances, however, were very gradual. About the middle of the sixth century, we find them confirming the elections of the archbishops of Milan. They came by degrees to exercise, though not always successfully, and seldom without opposition, an appellate jurisdiction over the causes of bishops, deposed or censured in provincial synods. Valentinian III., influenced by Leo the Great, one of the most ambitious of pontiffs, went a great deal farther, and established almost an absolute judicial supremacy in the Holy See. ‘We decree this,’ says the emperor, ‘by’ a perpetual sanction, that it is lawful for French bishops, as well as for those of other provinces, in violation of an ancient custom, to attempt nothing, without the authority of that venerable man, the Pope of the eternal city; but, let whatever the Apostolic Seat has sanctioned, or may have sanctioned, be to them all for law.’” 5 This occurred in the year 455; and although there was resistance to this imperial decree, yet it shows what the designs both of the Emperor and the Pope were.
Gregory I. greatly increased the power of the Roman See. “He dwelt,” says Hallam, “more than his predecessors, upon the power of the keys, as exclusively, or at least principally, committed to St. Peter. In a letter to the Spanish churches, he uses the following language. — “a sede apostolica, quae omnium ecclesiarum caput est” — “from the apostolic seat, which is the head of all the churches.” This was at the close of the fifth century.
The celebrated edict of Phocas, in 606, constituting the Roman bishop the head of the church, is well known. In that decree it is asserted, that “the name of universal becomes only the Roman church, as that which is the head of all the churches, and is appropriate to none but the Roman pontiff.” It is strange to observe here, that the very supremacy which emperors and popes were pressing upon metropolitans and other bishops, those bishops were themselves inviting, In a synod of French and German bishops held at Frankfort, in 742, it was decreed, that as a token of their subjection to the See of Rome, all metropolitans should receive from the hands of the Pope, the pallium, as a badge of office — “metropolitanos pallia ab illa sede quaerere, et per omnia praecepta S. Petri canonice sequi.”
It was in the latter part of this century, that one Isidore Mercator, or Peccator, who was either a sycophant of the Pope, or the rival, possibly, of some metropolitan or other church dignitary, issued the Decretals of the early popes or bishops of Rome. These Decretals were a summary of the pretended decrees which Anaclet, Clement, Euaristus, and other popes, to the time of St. Sylvester, had passed. They were all fabrications of the grossest kind. In them, however, the greatest possible amount of power was conceded to the popes of Rome. “Every bishop was amenable only to the immediate tribunal of the Pope. Every accused person might appeal directly to the chief pontiff. New sees were not to be erected, nor bishops translated from one see to another, without the sanction of the Pope.” “They also forbid the holding of any council, even a provincial council, without the permission of the Pope.” 7 “Upon the so spurious decretals,” says Hallam, “was built the great fabric of papal supremacy, over the different national churches; a fabric which has stood after its foundations crumbled beneath it.” It is evident, however, that the churches of Europe must have been previously prepared for the yoke, or such gross fabrications never could have been made the means of enforcing such bondage.
But one more step was needed to complete the spiritual ascendency of the Roman hierarch; he needed agents, amenable only to himself, and who should go or come according to his will. These he found in several monastic orders, whom he freed from all subjection to metropolitans and bishops, but held in entire subserviency to himself as sole head of the church. These were his most faithful and devoted allies; and as many of them had great power over the people, and even over kings, the authority of the Roman prelate became supreme throughout Christendom.
Thus did the little church planted in apostolic days beside the throne of the Caesars, struggling itself through centuries for a bare existence, watered by the tears and cemented by the blood of martyrs — thus did this little church, prostrate at first before the imperial throne, climbing up afterwards around that throne, and subsequently occupying the seat of that throne, thus did it become mistress of Christendom, and its pastor, monarch of the world! How little did the first band of Christian disciples at Rome, meeting, it may be, in a garret, or a retired chamber, how little did they anticipate a result like this! How little did they desire it! Their form of government was entirely different. With them, power, (if it deserved the name) was in the hands of the brotherhood. The church as composed of individual members, was supreme. Their discipline was exercised by faithful presbyters; men chosen by themselves, and under whose teachings and control, they enjoyed both liberty and order. With them, there was no pomp, no show. No St. Peter’s excited the wonder of travelers; no Vatican received their humble pastors. The crown was on no head, the sword in the hand of none. Nor did they boast of supremacy over their brethren; they were satisfied to be themselves Christians. Such was the Roman church in her infancy; such in her purest, and really apostolic days. With this church, we claim fraternity; and although Rome to us is no more a veneration, than Ephesus or Antioch, or any other of the early churches; yet, amid all the rubbish of the Papacy, and the solemn mockeries of Antichrist, yea, beneath, it may be, the very chair of St. Peter, there is dust, forgotten dust, that we do esteem. It is the dust of those tried and worthy men, who planted the Roman church; who were living examples of Christian doctrine and practice in that church; who studied the Scriptures daily, and met each night for prayer; who despised tyranny, but rejoiced in the freedom of the gospel; who lived in love and fellowship with Christ; such men, we repeat it, we love; their principles we love; their names we venerate. But, with Rome as she now is, with Rome as she has been for more than a thousand years, we can have no sympathy, no fellowship, no common interest. Our prayer is, that she may be overthrown, and that her arm of iron may be removed from oppressed Christianity.
We are now to consider the imperial, or supreme political power of the Papacy. This power was the result chiefly of the spiritual headship of the Papacy over Christendom. Had the popes been but the temporal lords of their own small territory, or but the metropolitans of a particular district, their authority would have been limited. As temporal princes, they could have claimed obedience only from their own subjects; and as the occupants of an episcopal see their supervision could have extended over none but the churches of their own diocese. But when the Pope was constituted supreme pontiff, especially when he was considered as the Vicar of Christ upon earth, and his decisions regarded as final and infallible, a supremacy over thrones and kings was the inevitable result. Politics and religion cannot be kept entirely separate. There are many points at which the state must touch the church, and there are many moral questions which must relate to princes and cabinets. Even were the church and state entirely distinct in their general administrations, one infallible and supreme head of the church, would be at least liable to interfere with the free and regular exercise of the civil government. In cases, however, where church and state are united, the interference is inevitable, and must be frequent. Now in Europe, from the days of Constantine, there was the closest union between religion and politics. Long before the downfall of the Roman Empire, this system was adopted. And when that empire sunk, and the modern kingdoms of Europe arose on its ruins, neither prince nor bishop thought of a separation between these two systems. A national, or rather an imperial religion, every where existed. The consequence of this was, that while popes and bishops were in a certain sense, held as the subjects of kings and princes, the latter were also considered spiritually as the subjects of the former. Possibly, some might imagine, that such mutual subjection might be maintained without detriment to the peace of society.
Such, however, the history of Europe has proved, is not likely to be the case. Especially is it not likely to succeed on such a magnificent scale, as was attempted in Catholic Europe. There are too many national interests and prejudices, too many kings and bishops, too many passions and motives to ambition, for a scheme like this to exist without agitation, without tyranny and rebellion. Hence, the history of Europe throughout the papal supremacy, exhibits not the smoothness of a lake unruffled by the passing breeze, but the turbidness of a sea, dashed and tossed by conflicting winds. Papal unity in these times was but one perpetual struggle; and papal harmony, but the symphony of uninterrupted discords. The result, however, of such struggles and agitations, at least for centuries, was the gradual but complete ascendency of papal power over the sovereigns of Europe.
Nor was the high political power of the Pope, the result alone of his pontifical station; that station itself was made the abode of certain divine attributes. The popular idea was, that God and St. Peter were ecclesiastically one. The Pope, personally, might be but a man; he might have faults, yea great faults; yet, as Pope, he was God’s representative, Christ’s vicar; he could not err; and his will was supreme in heaven, as well as on earth. His anathema was held in the utmost dread; and his interdict subjected even the greatest princes to the deepest humiliations.
At his command all the services of religion were arrested; marriages, masses, and even burials were prevented. Subjects were freed from their allegiance to their lawful sovereigns, and even the assassination of the prince was considered a virtue.
Among the proximate causes which advanced the power of the Pope, Daunou, mentions the following. “The political revolutions which followed the dethronement of Augustulus, the accession of Pepin to the throne of France, and of Charlemagne to the Empire; the weakness of Louis le Debonnaire, the division of his states among his children, the imprudence of some of the kings who invoked the thunders of the Holy See against each other; the fabrication of the Decretals, the propagation of a canonical jurisprudence, quite contrary to the ancient laws of the church; the rivalries between the two houses of Germany, the projects of independence conceived by several of the Italian cities, the crusades, the inquisition, and the innumerable multitude of monastic establishments; these,” says this Catholic authority, “are the causes which brought on, established, aggrandized, and so long sustained the temporal power of the Popes, and facilitated the abuse of their spiritual functions.” 8 Thus did the state of things both without and within the church, the agitations of the political system, and the doctrines of the religious, unite in the elevation of the Papal See above the capitals of Europe. Nor should we omit in this catalogue of causes, the ambition of the Roman Pontiffs themselves.
Gregory VII., Innocent III., Julius II., and Boniface VIII., were as ambitious of power, as all Alexander, a Caesar, or a Napoleon. Their desire was, not simply supremacy in the church, or even in Europe, but supremacy throughout the world.
The gradual development of this wonderful system of power, will now be considered. From the days of Constantine, Christian bishops, and especially Roman bishops, exerted more or less influence upon the policy of the country. “Even under the Roman Emperors,” says Hallam, “they had found their way into palaces; they were sometimes ministers, more often secret counselors, always necessary but formidable allies, whose support was to be conciliated, and interference respected.” After the fall of the throne of the Caesars, the civil obedience of the bishop of Rome became after a short interval, subject to the eastern Emperor, and to the Exarch of Ravenna, as his lieutenant. The veneration, however, of the new Gothic kingdoms for their spiritual head, and the ancient habit of the west in rallying around a western political center, together with some difference of doctrine between Rome and Constantinople, well nigh counterbalanced the authority of the successors of Constantine; and while they exalted the Pope, made his subjection to a distant sovereign, rather tacit, than efficient. Hence the readiness of the Papal See to constitute a western emperor in the person of Charlemagne; and hence the haughty language it sometimes employed toward the eastern court. The following is an extract of a letter to Leo III., from Gregory II., whom Gibbon styles, “the founder of the papal monarchy,” and whom also Catholic writers are in the habit of representing as a mode of patience and loyalty. “You now accuse,” says Gregory, “the Catholics of idolatry; and by the accusation you betray your own impiety and ignorance. To this ignorance we are compelled to adopt the grossness of our style and arguments. The first elements of holy letters are sufficient for your confusion; and were you to enter a grammar school, and avow yourself the enemy of our worship, the simple and pious children would be provoked to cast their hornbooks at your head. You assault us, O tyrant, with a carnal and military hand; unarmed and naked, we can only implore Christ, the Prince of the heavenly host, that he will send unto you a devil, for the destruction of your body and the salvation of your soul. Abandon your rash and fatal enterprise, reflect, tremble, repent. If you persist, we are innocent of the blood that will be spilt in the contest; may it fall on your own head.” Such was the language of Gregory II. to the greatest emperor of Christendom, and also his own lawful sovereign. Gregory III. his immediate successor, went still further, and excommunicated the whole sect of the Iconoclasts, and Leo among them. The authority of the popes over the new kingdoms was of a more decisive character. The first remarkable interference of this authority in political matters occurred in France. Pepin, the son of the celebrated Charles Martel, was exercising the authority, but durst not usurp the name, of king. This name belonged to Childeric, a regular descendant from Clovis, who had established the French monarchy. The case was referred to Pope Zacharias. He decided that Childeric, the lawful sovereign, should be shorn and placed in a convent; and that Pepin should assume both the name and the insignia of royalty. True, the decision in this ease was but that of a supreme judge, giving his opinion in a question of doubt and perplexity.
But what right had a Christian pastor to decide who should reign over a political kingdom? If the reference was a matter of policy on the part of Pepin, and of conscience on the part of the French, it was also one of power in the hands of the Pope. His sentence was authoritative, and it was final. Hence Eginhard, the biographer of Charlemagne, says that Pepin was made king — “jussu et auetoritate Pontificis Romani” — “by the command and authority of the Roman Pontifex.” This occurred about the middle of the eighth century.
Fifty years after the important decision above alluded to, that is, on Christmas day, A.D. 800, Pope Leo III. crowned Charlemagne, the son of Pepin, Emperor of the West. Daunou affirms that this was done, not by the Pope, alone, but by “all assembly of the clergy, of the nobility, and of the people of Rome.” 12 Anastasius, however, affirms, that Charles was made emperor — “Dei nutu atque B. Petri clavigeri regni coelorum” — “by the will of God and of the blessed Peter, the keys-bearer of the kingdom of heaven.” “On Christmas day,” says Grimshaw, “when the monarch was attending mass in St. Peter’s church, at Rome, the supreme Pontiff advanced, and placed upon his head an imperial crown; and having conducted him to an imperial throne, declared, that he should thenceforth be styled Emperor and Augustus.” As the chair of St. Peter had virtually made both a king for France, and an emperor for the west, the subsequent subjection of these thrones to the dictation of the Pope, would seem to be a matter of course. The son and successor of the late emperor, was the first to experience evils of this kind.
Louis I., surnamed Le Debonnaire, divided his kingdom among his three sons, Lothaire, Pepin, and Louis. The birth of a fourth son, by a second marriage, Charles the Bald, was the means of associating the three first against their father and the last. In these royal controversies, not only the prelates of France, but the Pope also took a prominent part. Gregory IV. allied himself to the three rebellious sons. He entered France in person, and without the permission of Louis. He caused the army of Louis to desert him, and became thus the means and instigation of the dethronement of the son of Charlemagne. It was at this time, that in a letter to the bishops, he uses the following insolent language: — “Know ye that my chair is above the throne of Louis.” “It would be painful” says Daunou, “to trace the details of the well known humiliations of Louis I. How Hebo, his creature, and other bishops condemned him to a public penance; how upon his knees before these prelates he recited publicly a confession of his crimes, among which he enumerates the march of his troops during the carnival, and the convocation of a parliament on holy Thursday; how, dragged from cloister to cloister, to Compeigne, to Soissons, to Aix-la-Chapelle, to Paris, to St. Denis, he seemed destined there to terminate his days.” Such was the son of Charlemagne in the hands of the ecclesiastics, who had aspired to control the throne of France and of the empire.
Louis II. was equally subservient to the power of the Pope. “He went on foot before the pontiff, served him as an esquire, and led his horse by the bridle!” Charles the Bald, in a submissive letter to the clergy, affirmed, that, “the bishops are the throne where God sits to render his decrees!”
The power of the Pope, however, was far superior at this time to that of either bishops or kings. An experiment was made of that power. Lothaire, king of Lorraine, and great grandson of Charlemagne, had repudiated his wife, Theutberge. This repudiation had occurred after a lawful examination before a council of bishops. The Pope, however, Nicholas I., thought proper to annul the whole proceedings. He ordered the king to take back the wife from whom he was lawfully divorced; threatened him with excommunication if he refused; sent a legate to compel compliance with his mandate; and even proceeded so far as to depose two of the bishops, who sat in one of the councils by which the divorce was granted. Lothaire was forced into obedience, although ably defended by his brother, the Emperor Louis. Thus did the arbitrary will of the new sovereign of the Seven Hills, control at once, emperors and kings, councils and bishops! This occurred about the year 863.
Under the Pontificate of John VIII., Charles the Bald was made emperor, when his brother, the king of Germany had superior claims to that office.
The language used by the pontiff on the occasion, is significant: “We have judged him worthy of the imperial scepter — we have elevated him to the dignity and power of the empire — we have decorated him with the title of Augustus.” 14 In a council at Troyes, in France, over which this same pope presided, besides various excommunications against persons of distinction, it was decreed, “that bishops shall be treated with respect by the secular powers, and that none shall be so bold as to sit in their presence, unless they shall be directed to do so.”
Such were the perpetual collisions between the civil and ecclesiastical powers in France, during the Carlovingian race of kings. The officers of the church, instead of being subject to civil rulers, arrogated to themselves a vigilant supervision over those rulers, crowns were conferred by popes; and thrones made vacant by their simple volition. No doubt, the contests between the descendants of Charlemagne had a powerful tendency to promote the frequent exercise and gradual ascendency of ecclesiastical power. There were many other causes, however, conspiring to the same result. The general ignorance that prevailed, the gross superstitions that were practiced, the erroneous notions entertained of the office and prerogatives of church-officers — especially the almost divine homage paid to the Pope — all these tended to lower the civil and exalt the ecclesiastical authority. The Papacy had not as yet, however, reached its full grown stature. Other centuries were required for this.
Before we trace its fuller developments, however, through these centuries, it will be proper to notice an event which powerfully accelerated its advancement. This event was the fabrication of two documents, the objects of which were to elevate the power of the Pope to the highest possible pitch. The Decretals and the Donation of Constantine were both invented, it is thought, in the eighth century. The former, which we have already noticed, was designed to establish the absolute supremacy of the Pope in the church, the latter to give him supreme control in the state. The following is a quotation from the latter document. It employs the language of Constantine the Great. “We ascribe to the See of St. Peter, all dignity — all power — all imperial power. Besides, we give to Sylvester and his successors our palace of Lateran — we give him our crown, our miter, our diadem, and all our imperial vestments — we remit to him the imperial dignity. We give, as a pure gift, to the holy pontiff, the city of Rome, and all the western cities of Italy, as well as the western cities of other countries. In order to give place to him, we yield our dominion over all these provinces, by removing the seat of our empire to Byzantium, considering that it is not right that a terrestrial emperor should presume the least power, where God has established the head of religion.” 15 This document is admitted, by all Catholic writers at the present time, to be a mere forgery; and yet, so ignorant were men in the middle ages, and so blinded by papal authority, that it was universally received as authentic. “This donation,” says Daunou, “obtained belief so long, that in 1478, Christians were burnt at Strasburg for having dared to doubt its authenticity!” It is easy to see what an exaltation of papal power, what a stretch of papal ambition, would naturally arise from a popular and general belief like this.
In the tenth century, we have another most painful instance of the deep humiliations to which the throne of France was again subjected by the Pope of Rome. Hugh Capet had supplanted the Carlovingian line of kings, and established the Capuriah — that which continues to the present time.
His son and successor, Robert, had married Bertha, his cousin of the fourth degree, to whose son also, by a previous husband, he had stood as god-father. The validity of this marriage, although authorized by seven bishops, was denied by the Pope. As the king was unwilling to put away his wife, he incurred from the holy see the sentence of excommunication, and his kingdom was laid under an interdict. “It was the first time,” says Daunou, “that the church of France saw herself under an interdict, or received the injunction to suspend the celebration of divine offices — the administration of the sacraments to adults — the religious burial of the dead.” Such was the effect of this sentence of excommunication, that the king of France was deserted by all his attendants and domestics, save two servants, who are said, on the authority of a cardinal, 16 to have cast to the dogs what provisions were left from the royal table, and also to have purified by fire every vessel the excommunicated monarch touched!
Humbled by such rigorous treatment, Robert was compelled to yield, and Gregory V. had the satisfaction to see both bishops and king subservient to his pontifical mandate.
Thus were matters preparing for a universal Theocracy. The full conception of that theocracy, and its partial completion, was the work of the celebrated Hildebrand. “The idea,” says Daunou, “of a universal theocracy, had taken in his ardent and severe mind, the character of a passion. His whole life was consecrated to this enterprise.” To accomplish this vast scheme, Hildebrand attempted, first, to make the church independent of the state, and next to extend the power of the church gradually, but universally over the state. To render the church less dependent upon civil authority, he virtually abolished the right of layinvestiture required every bishop to come to Rome for consecration, and. established a new mode of electing the Pope. The power of nominating a successor in the chair of St. Peter was at this time in the emperors of Germany. According to the decree however, of Nicholas II., of which Hildebrand was the real author, “the cardinal bishops were to choose the supreme Pontiff, with the concurrence, first of the cardinal priests and deacons, and afterward of the (Roman) laity. Thus elected, the new Pope was to be presented to Henry, and to such of his successors, as should personally obtain that privilege.” 18 To render his authority yet more efficient, Gregory had a special legate or representative, clothed with extraordinary powers, in each country of Europe. These legates collected taxes, intimidated bishops, and kept even kings in awe. They were ready at any moment, either to report misconduct to Rome or to fulminate from their own seats, in the name of the Pope, the anathemas of the Holy See.
There are twenty-seven maxims, ascribed to Gregory VII., from which the character of his administration may fairly be inferred. The following are a few of them: — “That the Pope has the right to depose all princes, to dispose of all crowns, to reform all laws. That he can never err, that he alone can nominate bishops, convoke councils, preside at them, dissolve them: that princes must kiss his feet, that by him subjects are absolved from their oath of allegiance; in a word, that there is but one name or power in the world, viz., the Pope.”
Nor did Gregory simply write maxims. His acts corresponded with his creed. “It would be necessary,” says Daunou, “to enumerate all the princes who reigned during the time of this Pope, in order to furnish the list of those, who were smitten, or menaced by him with excommunication. Sardinia and Dalmatia, he considered only as fiefs, dependent on the tiara. To Demetrius of Russia, he wrote: “We have given your crown to your son.” Nicephorus Botiniares, the Greek emperor, he commanded to abdicate his throne. Boleslas, king of Poland, he declared fallen, adding that Poland should no longer be a kingdom. Solomon, king of Hungary, he bid go to the Hungarian old men and learn, that their country belonged to the Roman Church. To the Spanish princes he wrote, that St. Peter was their lord paramount, having the right to the revenues of all their little states. Robert Guiscard he punished by anathemas. From the Duke of Bohemia, he exacted the tribute of a hundred marks of silver. Philip I. of France he denounced as a tyrant, plunged in crime and infamy; and upon William the Conqueror, he enjoined it as a duty, to render homage for his kingdom, to the Apostolic See. The greatest trophy, however, of the ambition of Gregory, was the Emperor Henry IV. Contrary to the new doctrines of Papacy, Henry had made some investitures; this was a capital offense. Gregory dispatches two legates to Germany, to summon the emperor to appear at Rome, to answer in person to the Pope, for the crimes alleged against him. The emperor refused. This refusal led to a rupture between the two potentates, in which Henry was excommunicated by the Pope in the following words: — “On the part of God Omnipotent, and by my plenary, authority, I forbid Henry, the son of Henry, to govern the Teutonic kingdom, and Italy. I absolve all Christians from the oaths which they have made to him, or which they shall make to him. It is forbidden to every person to render him any service as to a king.”
The humiliations of Henry, consequent upon this sentence of excommunication, are thus described by Hallam. “Gregory was at Canossa, a fortress near Reggio, belonging to his faithful adherent, the Countess Matilda. It was in a winter of unusual severity. The emperor was admitted, without his guards, into an outer court of the castle, and three successive days remained from morning till evening, in a woolen shirt, and with naked feet, while Gregory, shut up with the countess, refused to admit him to his presence. On the fourth day he obtained absolution, but only upon condition of appearing on a certain day, to learn the Pope’s decision, whether or no he should be restored to his kingdom, until which time he promised not to assume the ensigns of royalty.” Such was the height of power, to which the Papal See had advanced, towards the close of the eleventh century. Gregory VII. however, only drew the outlines of a dominion, which his successors, and especially Innocent III., were to establish and complete. We have already noticed how the Donation of Constantine and the Decretals of Isidore tended to augment papal power. We must now notice another instrument of the same kind. This instrument is “the Digest of Gratian.” This Digest consists of a compilation of various canons for the regulation of ecclesiastical polity. It was divided into three parts, the first treating of ecclesiastical persons, the second of judgments, and the third of sacred things. Its popularity and influence were wonderful. “It was explained,” says Daunau, “in the schools, cited in the tribunals, and invoked in treaties. It had almost become the public law of Europe, when the return of light dissipated, by slow degrees, the gross imposture.” The character and design of this celebrated Digest may be learned from the following. “By it,” continues the same author, “the clergy were held not to be amenable to answer in the secular tribunals: the civil powers were subjected to ecclesiastical supremacy: the state of persons, and the acts which determine it, were regulated, validated, or annulled, by the canons and the clergy; the papal power was enfranchised from all restrictions; the sanction of all laws of the church was ascribed to the Holy See, that See itself being independent of the laws published and confirmed by itself.”
Such was the jurisprudence, by which papal authority was carried to its summit, throughout Europe, a jurisprudence, whose origin was fraud, whose popularity was based upon ignorance and superstition, by which all civil rights were trampled in the dust; and whose sole object was, the independent establishment of one vast papal monarchy. This new system of law was first published by a Benedictine monk, in the year 1152. Pope Eugene III. gave it at once his pontifical sanction, and thus constituted it the law of the church; and virtually the law of Europe.
We are now about to stand upon the summit of papal ascendency. For nearly nine hundred years, that is, from Constantine the Great, to Pope Innocent III., the bishop of Rome had regularly been rising in influence and power. For about six hundred years, that is, from the grant of Pepin to the same pontificate, had this bishop not only been a temporal prince, but had been gradually establishing his authority over the thrones and crowns of all other temporal princes. At that period, when other kingdoms have usually begun to wane, and to feel the decrepitude of age, the papal power was only in its strength, exhibiting a healthfulness which indicated the absence of decay, and wielding an influence at once absolute and formidable to the kings of the earth. “The noonday of papal dominion,” says Hallam, “extends from the pontificate of Innocent III. inclusively, to that of Boniface VIII.; or in other words, through the thirteenth century. Rome inspired during this age all the terror of her ancient name. She was once more the mistress of the world, and kings were her vassals.”
The empire of Innocent III. and of the popes of the thirteenth century, was as great, if not greater, than that of the old Romans under Trajan and Adrian. By the conquest of Constantinople, the east had been brought into subjection to the Pope. Nations farther north than ever acknowledged an emperor or a consul, bowed to the chair of St. Peter; while westward, the broad Atlantic only was the boundary of the Pope’s dominion. Africa was in possession of the infidels, but even here the crusaders took several of their strong holds.
But the dominion of the popes was as powerful as it was extensive.
Innocent established himself in Italy more firmly than his predecessors. “He abolished the consulate, and arrogating to himself imperial rights, he invested the prefect with his powers. He installed public officers, and received the oaths of the senators. Out of Rome also, Orbitello, Viterbia, Ombria, Romagna and the Marche d’Ancona, acknowledged Innocent III. as their sovereign. Reigning thus from sea to sea, he conceived the hope of conquering Ravenna, of getting fully the inheritance of Matilda, and of getting more in subjection to him the two Sicilies.” The authority of Innocent, however, extended beyond Italy. “In one year” says Daunou, “Innocent III. gave three crowns, that of Wallachia, of Bohemia and of Arragon. He also conferred that of Armenia.”
The power of this pontiff, however, was more felt in abasing than in giving crowns. The three most powerful sovereigns during the pontificate of Innocent, were Otho IV. Emperor of Germany, Philip Augustus, king of France, and John, king of England. Otho he excommunicated, Philip he not only excommunicated, but laid his kingdom under an interdict; and John he brought to the deepest possible humiliation. The crime of John was his opposition to an appointment, which the Pope had made, of an archbishop of Canterbury. The pontiff first laid an interdict upon the kingdom of John; he next excommunicated the monarch, delivering him over to the wrath of God; he then deposed him, as no more fit to occupy the throne of England. And as if this were not enough, he even ventured to cede to his rival Philip, the entire dominion of the English monarch.
The Pope however, had in England one of his “legates.” Pandolph undertook to effect a reconciliation between the pontiff and the king. He advised John to receive from the Pope as a pure gratuity and in the most humble manner, the kingdom from which he had been deposed. The following is the account which Daunou gives of this affair. “John upon his knees before Pandolph, put his hands between those of this priest, and pronounced, in the presence of the bishops and lords of his kingdom, the following words: “I, John, by the grace of God, king of England, and lord of Ireland, for the expiation of my sins, of my free will, and with the advice of my barons, give to the Roman church, to the Pope Innocent and his successors, the kingdom of England and the kingdom of Ireland, with all the rights attached to the one and to the other. I will hold them hereafter of the Holy See, of whom I will be a faithful vassal, faithful to God and to the Church of Rome, to the sovereign Pontiff, my lord, and to his successors lawfully elected. I bind myself to pay every year a rent of a thousand marks of silver (about sixty three thousand dollars,) that is. to say, seven hundred for England and three hundred for Ireland.” 21 The money was immediately paid. The legate having kept the scepter and crown of the monarch five days, returned them as a pure gift. He then left England, and entering France, forbade Philip to wage war upon England, as now a fief of the papal autocrat.
But Innocent went further. As if the powers of excommunication and interdict, were not adequate to his purposes, he employed two other modes of executing his will. These were, crusades and the inquisition. The crusades had hitherto been employed only against Mohammedans.
Innocent turned them against Christians. The Greek church was the first to experience the dreadful effects of this mode of conversion. Constantinople was taken, its palace rifled of its treasures, French emperors appointed, while Innocent congratulated himself by saying — “God, wishing to console the church by the union of the schismatics, has caused the empire to pass from the proud, superstitious, and disobedient Greeks, to the humble and submissive Latins.”
The Albigenses were the next class of Christians to experience the vengeance of a crusade. Innocent ravaged their country, transferred the territory of Raymond, their protector, to Monfort, and reduced to desolation and ruin, these once flourishing provinces. Nor was this all.
Whatever Christian prince now began to prove refractory, was threatened, not simply with excommunication and an interdict, but with a crusade.
But there was another instrument wielded, indeed originated, by this sagacious pontiff — the Inquisition. The object of this barbarous tribunal, was not simply to ascertain heresy, but to eradicate it from the conscience and heart. For accomplishing this work, the Apostles had depended upon truth accompanied by the Spirit of God. Not so Pope Innocent and his illustrious successors. They resorted to torture, and to torture of the most dreadful character. The suspected person was confined to a most loathsome dungeon, from which the light was excluded. He was subjected to the most rigorous treatment. He was frequently brought before his spiritual judges, and every effort was made to force him to the confession of his heresy. If obstinate, he was tied, suspended by a pulley and suddenly dropped down, often to the dislocation of his bones, or the fracture of his limbs. He was compelled to drink great quantities of water, until unnaturally distended, when an iron bar was placed across his stomach and pressed by great weights. Or, if this kind of torture did not answer, he was gradually roasted before slow fires. These tortures were varied, according to circumstances, and they were also protracted more or less according to the perseverance or timidity of the subject. In all cases however, they were horrible and excruciating to the last degree. Multitudes perished under them, and multitudes who endured them, were only transferred from this dreadful court, to meet a yet more terrible death.
Innocent was the author of this institution. “The friars Raynier, and Guy, and the arch-deacon Peter of Castelnau, are the first inquisitors,” says Daunau, “known in history. Innocent enjoined it upon princes and people to obey them; upon princes to proceed against the heretics denounced by these missionaries; upon the people to arm themselves against princes who were indocile, or had too little zeal.” 22 The first inquisitorial commission was sent by Innocent into Languedoc,: o extirpate the heresy of the Albigenses. Proving useful here, it was subsequently introduced into all the countries of Italy, except Naples; into the kingdoms also of Spain and Portugal, and attempts were made to erect it in all the other kingdoms of Europe.
Such was the pontificate of Innocent III., the haughtiest, and probably the most successful of the popes. “A pope,” said he, “a vicar of Christ, is superior to man, if he is inferior to God. He is the light of day; the civil authority is but the fading star of night.”
We cannot here pursue a minute history of the popes, or point out the almost innumerable instances in which they domineered over the princes of the earth. We refer the reader on this subject to the standard histories on modern Europe, and to authors who have made it their business to delineate the usurpations and blasphemies of this proud and insatiable power. Let us, however, notice some of the doctrines taught by those famous instruments called papal bulls.
In a bull of Boniface VIII., against Philip IV., is the following language. “God has established me over the empires to pluck up, to destroy, to ruin, to dissipate, to edify, to plant.” In another, called Unam Sanctum, Boniface thus expresses himself: “The temporal sword ought to be employed by kings and warriors for the church, according to the order and permission of the Pope. The temporal power is subjected to the spiritual power, which institutes it, and judges it, and which God alone can judge.
To resist the spiritual power, then, is to resist God, unless we admit the two principles of the Manicheans.” 23 Pope Pius V., in the bull in which he excommunicated Queen Elizabeth, expresses himself thus: “He that reigneth on high hath constituted one (the Pope) prince over all nations, and all kingdoms, that he might pluck up, destroy, dissipate, ruinate, plant, and build.” 24 Sixtus V. also, in the bull in which he excommunicated the King of Navarre, and the Prince of Conde, asserts, that “the authority given to St. Peter and his successors, excels all ‘the powers of earthier kings and princes.” Such have been the gradual development, and the ultimate height, of the papal empire. Presiding at first, but as a Christian pastor, over a small congregation, the Roman bishop rose by degrees, and under a great change of circumstances, became the supreme political, as well as the supreme spiritual, head of Christendom. Indeed, much more than this is true; as vicar of Christ, as the sole and supreme representative of the Eternal, the Pope has arrogated to himself honors and prerogatives not less than divine.
Were this system carried out, the world would be subject to one man, and that one man would become the universal object, not only of civil and ecclesiastical, but also of religious homage. Every throne on earth would be extinguished but that of the Pope; every capital would be destroyed but that of the Pope; every system of religion would be annihilated but that of the Pope. It is impossible that a system of this kind should always exist.
Such a system is monstrous, is unnatural, is contrary to every political, social, moral, and religious interest of mankind. It withers the heart, it paralyzes society, it degrades man, it insults God. Hence, about the beginning of the fourteenth century, causes began to work, whose tendency was the gradual, but ultimate overthrow of this whole system.
These causes began in politics, began in education, began in religion, began in everything. Public sentiment, that had long favored the Papacy, had come to its flood, and an ebb of human opinion began, adverse to the whole system of spiritual despotism. These causes, with great and powerful auxiliaries, are still at work; and although there have been obstructions in their way, still are they destined to operate till the entire papal fabric shall only be among the legends of the past. Cold, and long, and dreary, it is true, has been the winter, through which the church and society have passed. But the spring has dawned, the summer is approaching, the warming sunbeams are falling, the earth is relaxing, the fields are smiling, and no power of man can prevent the rich harvest of blessings, that God is about to bestow on a ransomed and love-lit world.
True, the papist would still carry us back to his dreary Decembers — to his dark and gloomy winters; he would still surround us with snow, and frost, and death. But no, the voice of God has gone forth; the Spirit of the Eternal is moving on the hearts of men, and retrogression is impossible.
Onward is the watchword, and onward all things will go; the Papacy to destruction, the church and society to liberty, salvation.
But let us now apply to our subject the facts we have here contemplated.
The book of God foretells, that after the apostolic days, somewhere in the approaching future, a great power should arise, arrogating to itself divine honors, “exalting itself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped,” possessing “great authority,” having “power over all kindreds, and tongues and nations; and causing all, both small and great, to receive a mark in their right hands or in their foreheads; and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark.” This power was also to have its seat at Rome; it was to be a nominally Christian power, for it was “to depart from the faith.” It was to be in itself a small power, “a little horn.” but to derive its strength from the kingdoms around it; “these kingdoms having one mind to give their power and strength to the beast.” Such are the predictions; but where shall we find the facts? We cannot find them in imperial Rome; for this power was to arise upon the ruins of the empire, and it was to continue in existence twelve hundred and sixty years, which the Roman empire did not. We cannot find them in any one, or even in all the kingdoms of Europe; we cannot find them among the Lutherans or the Calvinists. Hence Romanists, dissatisfied with all applications of these prophecies to the past, refer them to the future. They speak of Antichrist as yet to come. But, then, they forsake the prophecy; for it is certain that Antichrist was directly to succeed the downfall of the Roman empire.
Where, then, is Antichrist? Let facts speak; let Europe, which has been down-trodden so long by papal power, testify. Let prostrated crowns, and abased monarchs, bear witness. Let the blood of martyrdom be heard — all these declare, that if there can be an Antichrist, the papal autocrat is he.
CHAPTER - ANTICHRIST DISTINGUISHED FOR CRAFT AND PRETENDEDMIRACLES.
IN the “little horn” upon the head of the fourth beast in Daniel’s vision, were “eyes like the eyes of man.” This peculiarity was seen by the prophet in none of the other ten horns. These eyes were the symbols of knowledge and sagacity. And as the “little horn” indicated not a good, but a wicked power, they were designed to express the cunning and craft, which such wicked power would employ, in persecuting the saints and in opposing God. The Apostle Paul gives us the idea more literally. He describes the man of sin as coming “with all deceivableness of unrighteousness” (en pash spath thv adikiav ), and as “speaking lies in hypocrisy, (en uJpokpisei yeudologwn .)
That these passages refer to Antichrist, even Romanists themselves admit. “The little horn,” says the Commentator on the Doway Bible, “is commonly understood of Antichrist.” The same authority says, “The man of sin agrees to the wicked and great Antichrist, who will come before the end of the world.” The difference between this commentator and ourselves is, that, while he considers Antichrist as yet to come, we affirm, that he is even now in the world.”
If then, these passages refer to Antichrist, they teach, that cunning and craft are to be among his chief characteristics. That these traits are more notorious in the papal church, than in any other establishment ever known among mankind, needs scarcely to be affirmed. The evidences of their existence have filled its history for more than a thousand years.
The first instance we notice of the craft of this church is, in its mode of interpreting the holy Scriptures. That the Scriptures are to be interpreted like all other books, is evident. Although the truth in them is inspired, that is, delivered from heaven, yet the language is human. The very object of this volume is, to make known to man, in his own modes of speech, the will of God for his direction and salvation. The Papacy, however, considers this book of such difficult interpretation, that, withholding it from the people generally, it only furnishes such portions as its forced, though infallible interpretations, have so far glossed, that the original meaning is entirely concealed.
We shall notice only two of the unnumbered perversions of this kind. In Matthew 16:18, Christ addresses Peter in the following language: “And I say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” This text has been used by Catholic writers as the very foundation of their papal system. “It is proved,” says Dens, “that Peter received supremacy from Christ above the other Apostles from Matthew 16:18, where the supremacy is promised, and John 21 where it is conferred.” 1 The passage referred to in John is the following: “Then said Jesus unto them again, Peace be unto you; as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them, and whosoever sins ye retain, they are retained unto them.” This latter passage, in which Christ addresses the apostles in a body, and in which he conferred upon them, if anything, equal authority, is said to teach Peter’s supremacy above his brethren.
Surely, if this was the time, when Peter had conferred upon him the supremacy previously promised, he never received it at all. And as the text quoted to prove that Peter received the supremacy has failed, so, no doubt, will the text said to contain the promise of supremacy, also fail. 1. This supremacy is not contained in the words of this text. There is evidently a wide distinction between the word Peter ( Petrov ) and the two words, “this rock (tauth th petra ) used in this verse. They are not the same, either in our English version, or in the original Greek. 2 The nearest that these words can approximate to identity, is in the following version of the text — ‘Thou art a stone, and upon this rock I will build my church.’
Now it is certain, that if Christ had intended to say, that his church should be built upon a stone, he would have used the same word in both parts of the sentence. But he affirms that his church shall be built, not upon a stone, but upon a particular rock. Nor is this all — the word Peter here is evidently used as a proper name, and not as a collective noun. If then Christ had intended to affirm, that he would build his church upon the apostle he would have used the following mode of address: ‘Thou art Peter, and upon thee will I build my church.’ Where that apostle is meant in the next verse, this is the mode of expression: “I will give to thee the keys, etc.” Besides the fact, too, that these words are really different in themselves, the sense of the passage requires, that they should be different. Suppose them identical; then Christ is made to say, that his Church shall be built on Peter. Now, besides the positive falsehood, if not blasphemy, of such a declaration, there is absurdity in the very idea. How can a church, or government of any kind, be built upon a man? Romulus, though the first king, was not the foundation of the Roman government.
Nor are the kings of England or France the foundation of the respective monarchies in those countries. The foundation of a government is its constitutional laws; the foundation of a church is its fundamental doctrines. It is absurd to speak of any man as the foundation of either church or state; a man may be a founder, or a builder, or a ruler, but never a foundation. But admit this absurdity; place Peter as the foundation of the church; then we deny that he can be its ruler. There certainly is some difference between the foundation of a house, and its master. If Peter therefore be at the foundation, he cannot also be at the head of the church.
The very ground therefore, which these critics take, defeats their object, and renders Peter’s primacy, as contained in this text, impossible. 2. Nor does the context show that the primacy of Peter is contained in these words. The following verse has been quoted with this intention: “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” Now, there certainly must be a wide difference between occupying the foundation of a house, and carrying its keys. The two offices cannot be performed by the same person; 3 if Peter therefore be the foundation, he cannot be the keyscarrier, and if he be the keys-carrier, he cannot be the foundation. To suppose therefore, that our Lord intended to convey the same idea, by two such different and opposite figures, is to suppose him ignorant of the meaning of language. Nor can such supremacy be inferred from the preceding verses. Christ had asked the question — “Who do men say, that I, the Son of man, am?” The reply of the apostles was, “some, John the Baptist, some, Elias, and others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He then asked the apostles themselves, as to their belief in the matter, — “But who say ye that I am?” Peter, more promptly than the rest, exclaimed: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” — “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona;” says Jesus, “for flesh and blood hath not revealed it (viz. that I am the Christ, the Son of the living God) unto thee, but my Father, which is in heaven. And I say unto thee, thou art Peter, (that is, by this confession, thou well deservest the name I have given thee) and upon this rock (the truth which thou hast confessed, that I am the Christ) I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Such is evidently the meaning of the passage. Hence at the conclusion of the conversation, Jesus charged his disciples, that “they should tell no man that he was Jesus, the Christ.” This was the truth after which the Savior was inquiring; it was the truth which Peter confessed; it was the truth which Christ affirmed had been revealed to him by his Father; it was the truth which he wished, for the present, to be kept secret; — and it is the truth upon which the Christian church, both was to be, and is founded.
Roman Catholic writers tell us, that Christ used the Syriac word, Cephas, which has no variety of gender. Admit it. They still have to prove, that by the use of the word Cephas in the second instance, Christ did not mean a rock, but the apostle of that name. Matthew, however, must have understood the Syriac. He was also inspired in writing the Greek. Why, then, does he render the second Cephas by petra, and not by petron? If he believed his Master meant the same thing, in the twofold use of the term Cephas, why did he use, in the second instance, a word which always signifies a rock, but never the apostle Peter? This supposition makes even this inspired writer to err, worse than a mere tyro in the use of language.
Thus, it is impossible, upon any rational mode of criticism, to wrest out of this passage the primacy of the apostle Peter. It is not there, nor the promise of it. 3. Nor can such primacy be educed from this passage through the analogy of Christian doctrine. Were the primacy of Peter of the importance ascribed to it by Papists, then might we expect to find it so interwoven with Christian doctrine in the Holy Scriptures, as to leave no doubt of its reality. We find it, however, not even hinted at in the doctrinal portions of the New Testament. “Other foundation,” says Paul, “can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:11. In the book of Revelation, too, where John speaks of the twelve foundations of the holy city, he does not represent the name of Peter as the only one written on those foundations; but “the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”
Revelation 21:14. The apostle Paul also represents converted gentiles, as being built, not upon Peter, but “upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.” Ephesians 2:20.
Let it be observed here, too, that neither John nor Paul represents the apostles, or the apostles and prophets, as the foundation either of the church or holy city. John speaks of the names of the apostles only as being written on the twelve foundations. And Paul draws, in 1 Corinthians 3, a very broad distinction between the foundation, which all apostle lays, and an apostle himself. The primacy of Peter, then, is no such article of Christian faith, that one must infer it from Matthew 16:18, because, by a great perversion of language, it may be inferred from that passage. 4. Nor can the primacy of Peter be inferred from this passage, from any thing afterwards recorded, either in the life of this apostle, or in the history of the early church. What sovereignty did Peter exercise, either at Jerusalem, at Antioch, or anywhere else? Was he a very Pope, and were the other apostles but cardinals around him? Every one knows the entire falsehood of such a supposition. The apostle Paul declares, that “he was not a whir behind the very chiefest of the apostles.” 2 Corinthians 11:5.
Thus have we shown, from the words themselves, from the context, from the analogy of Scripture doctrine, and from subsequent facts, that the primacy of Peter is neither contained nor promised in this text. Yet, Papists deduce from it the three following conclusions: — that Peter was constituted head of the church, that this supremacy was set up at Rome, and that it has been left in that city as a legacy to all succeeding — I know not whether to say — apostles, bishops, or popes!
The other passage of Scripture which Papists have forced into their service, is that contained in Matthew 26:26-28. “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
To most readers this passage is perfectly simple and of easy comprehension. No one but a Papist would ever imagine, that by the expressions, this is my body, (touto esti to swma mou ,) — this is my blood, (touto gar esti to aiJma mou ) — that Christ meant his literal body and blood. The body of Christ was then before the very eyes of the disciples unbroken; his blood was in his veins unshed. It must therefore, have been perfectly manifest to the apostles that their Master was speaking figuratively, and not literally. But, upon this simple language, have Romanists founded the monstrous doctrine of transubstantiation!
The following is a decree of the Council of Trent: “Whosoever shall deny that in the sacrament of the most holy eucharist are contained truly, really, and substantially the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore the entire Christ, but shall say that he is in it only as in a sign, or figure, or virtue; let him be accursed.” 4 Here, not only are the words of Christ literalized, which they were not intended to be, but they are transcended. The most rigid interpretation that can be adopted, would only require that the bread should be the body, and the wine the blood of Christ. But even this literalism did not satisfy Rome.
She must have also the “soul” and “divinity” of our Lord — yea, the “entire Christ.” Nor is this all: the entire Christ, she teaches, is contained in each fragment of the bread, and in each drop of the wine. Nor is even this all; the bread and wine, thus converted into the entire Christ, even in their minutest particles, are offered to the people to be adored with the worship of latria, that which is paid to God only! Nor is even this all. The sacrifice of the mass is next offered, for the living and the dead. Here is certainly one of the most extraordinary bundles of absurdities, which ever entered into the head of mortal. Bread and wine, converted by a priest into something like a thousand Christs at a time! And as this is a daily. service, performed in many places over the earth, and also in past generations, many millions of times, almost as many Christs have thus been formed, as there are particles of sand on the banks of the Tiber! How shocking to common sense is such a doctrine! And yet, this is the Papal mode of interpreting Scripture! No wonder that Papists prohibit the common reading of the word of God; for even the most superficial acquaintance with this holy volume, would be sufficient to overthrow their entire System.
The two texts of Scripture we have been considering, through the gross perversions of their meaning by Papists, have given rise to the Pope and the Mass, those tremendous agents of papal power and papal superstition.
The same mode of interpretation is pursued, in deducing from the oracles of God, scriptural authority for all their various inventions and superstitions. Thus it is coolly affirmed; by Dens, that since the candlestick in the Jewish tabernacle had seven branches, therefore, there are seven sacraments; and that since Peter alone of all the apostles walked with Christ on the water, therefore, we may infer his primacy.
A second instance of the craft of the Papacy, may be found in its use of tradition as a divine rule of faith. One would imagine, that its convenient mode of interpreting Scripture would answer all its purposes. But no, the Bible, even when eclipsed and surrounded by papal interpretations, still emits too much light upon the consciences of these crafty men, to allow all their gross departures from its teachings. They need, therefore, another and a yet more flexible rule of faith. Hence, tradition is placed upon equal footing with Scripture in matters of faith and practice. But even tradition, and especially early tradition, is too inflexible for them. They must, therefore, invent some method to divest it of its power of reproof. What is that method? Peter Dens shall inform us: “Whatever the Catholic church holds, or decrees as such, is to be regarded as tradition.” 5 This is perfectly legitimate; for if the church has the right to make tradition its rule of faith, instead of the Scriptures, it certainly must have the right also, to mold and fashion that tradition as it pleases. Here then is another abyss of papal fraud. This crafty power passes off to hundreds of thousands of men, its own fabricated traditions, as containing that will of God, which they are bound to obey! Here are the eyes of “the little horn,” where “the man of sin,” coming in “all deceivableness of unrighteousness.”
But neither perverted Scripture, nor perverted tradition could give to this wicked power sufficient liberty. It had recourse, therefore, to positive and barefaced forgeries. The chief pillars of papal usurpations in the middle ages were the false Decretals, and the Donation of Constantine. These two instruments gave to the Pope unlimited power, in both church and state; and yet, they were both mere fabrications! “No one,” says Hallam, “has pretended to deny for the last two centuries, that the imposture of the Decretals is too palpable for any but the most ignorant ages to credit.” “The falsity of the Donation,” says Daunou,” according to Fleury, is more generally admitted, than that of the Decretals of Isidore; and if the Donation of Constantine should yet obtain any credit, it would be sufficient to transcribe it, in order to show it to be unworthy of belief.” Here, then, are two celebrated forgeries, known to be such by the papal hierarchy, and yet for centuries appealed to, for the support and extension of papal authority over the liberties both of church and state!
Bat the power of the Pope needs to be extended in another direction. It is not enough to annihilate the independence of thrones, and the freedom of the people of God; the infernal regions must be entered, and the fires of purgatory kindled. “Purgatory,” according to Beilarmine, “is situated in the center of the earth; it forms one of the four compartments into which the infernal regions are divided. In the first of these the damned are placed; the second is purgatory; in the third reside the spirits of infants who died without baptism; the fourth is limbus, the abode of the pious who departed this life before the birth of Christ, and were delivered by him when he descended into hell. The pains of purgatory are so horribly severe that no sufferings ever borne in this world can be compared with them.
This is the doctrine which the Council of Trent enjoins, shall be “everywhere taught and preached” (doceri et ubique praedicari). But no such doctrine as this, is contained in the word of God. The blood of Christ, we are there assured, “cleanseth us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7. The apostle Paul also teaches that “there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1. He also asserts that for such “to be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8. A wonderful salvation would that of Christ be, indeed, if after souls had taken refuge in him as their Savior, they must still be sent down to the infernal regions, to suffer in the fires of purgatory, the expiation of their offenses! Such a doctrine is a reproach upon Christ, is contrary to the whole teaching of the Scriptures, is calculated to enslave even those who are pardoned, and is, moreover, subversive of the entire scheme of salvation by grace. There is no grace in it, as certainly there is no truth.
Why then such an invention? Simply to increase the power and wealth of tile Roman priesthood. These are the motives; and if these could cease to operate, the fires of purgatory mold long since have been extinguished.
Look next at the long catalogue of sacred relics. The apostle Paul taught, that in his day, as now, “the fashion of this world passeth away.” And Isaiah had affirmed even before Paul, that “all flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof as the flower of the field.” Moses too had declared earlier still, “dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return.” These physical laws, however, seem to have had no application to the bones of saints, the wood of the Savior’s cross, or even to his coat. All these, and tell thousand others like them, are carefully preserved by pious Roman Catholics, as mementos of ancient piety, and objects of religious homage! “They show at Rome,” says a modern traveler,” the heads of St. Peter and St. Paul encased in silver busts and set with jewels; a lock of the virgin Mary’s hair, a vial of her tears, and piece of her green petticoat; a robe of Jesus Christ sprinkled with his blood, some drops of his blood in a bottle, some of the water which flowed out of the wound in his side, some of the sponge, a large piece of the cross, all the nails used in the crucifixion; a piece of the stone of the sepulcher on which the angel sat; the identical porphyry pillar on which the cock perched when he crowed, after Peter denied Christ; the rods of Moses and Aaron, and two pieces of the wood of the real ark of the covenant.” 8 Now can anyone imagine, that Papists who have the least intelligence can possibly believe that these are bona fide relics! They know that they are not. Why then are they employed as objects of religious veneration? To delude the vulgar, to extort money from them, and to deepen the shades of that already too dark superstition, in which Catholic ecclesiastics are made to move, as supernatural beings! O Popery! Popery! Thou hast an awful doom before thee, when the Judge of all shall tear off thy mask, and reveal thy nakedness to an abhorring world!
These are only a few of the many “lies spoken in hypocrisy” by which this unnatural and wicked system is sustained. This whole papal fabric is based in fraud, is pillared on falsehood, is defended by deceit, and propagated by hypocrisy.
We now proceed to consider the miracles performed by the Papacy, as proof of its antichristian character. The Apostle Paul represents Antichrist as coming “after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs and lying wonders.” — (shmeioiv, kai perasi yeudouv . ) It is a remarkable fact, that while all other sects and religious parties believe that miracles have long since ceased, the ends having been answered for which they were appointed, papists still pretend, that miracles are performed in their communion. Were such miracles real and not pretended, and were they, moreover, performed by holy men, and in the cause of truth, the Romish church would stand out before the world, as a divinely constituted body, and as having the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. But, if these miracles are base impostures, and if they are performed by wicked men in defense of error, then do they proclaim with the voice of thunder, that the Papacy is Antichrist, and that the Roman church is but marking herself with the signs of the beast.
That the Papacy sanctions modern miracles is certain. What is the doctrine of transubstantiation, but a standing recognition of miraculous power in the Romish priesthood? Can we imagine a greater miracle, than the formation of a “whole Christ,” from a piece of bread? Neither Moses, nor Elijah, nor Peter, nor Jesus, performed so wonderful a miracle as this.
Extreme unction is also attended with miraculous effect. “Whosoever shall alarm,” says Trent, “that the sacred unction of the sick does not confer grace, nor forgive sins, nor relieve the sick, (nec alleviare infirmos,) but that its power has ceased, as if the gift of healing existed only in past ages; let him be accursed.” Every saint, too, who is canonized at Rome, must have performed miracles, previously to his being admitted to such exalted honor. “Before a beatified person is canonized, the qualifications,” says Buck, “of the candidate are strictly examined into, in some consistories held for that purpose; after which one of the consistorial advocates, in the presence of the Pope and cardinals, makes the panegyric of the person who is to be proclaimed a saint, and gives a particular detail of his life and miracles; which being done, the holy father decrees his canonization, and appoints the day.” 9 Such canonization, however, cannot take place until fifty years after the candidate’s death; when, as one would think, it must be a pretty difficult task, either to establish or disprove the reality of his miracles.
As specimens of the miracles performed in the papal church, we give the following. “At Hales,” says Hume, “in the county of Gloucester, there had been shown, during several ages, the blood of Christ brought from Jerusalem; and it is easy to imagine the veneration with which such a relic was regarded. A miraculous circumstance also attended this miraculous relic; the sacred blood was not visible to any one in mortal sin, even when set before him; and till he had performed good works, sufficient for his absolution, it would not deign to discover itself to him. At the dissolution of the monastery, the whole contrivance was detected. Two of the monks, who were let into the secret, had taken the blood of a duck, which they renewed every week: they put it into a vial, one side of which consisted of thin and transparent crystal, the other of thick and opaque. When any rich pilgrim arrived, they were sure to show him the dark side of the vial, till masses and offerings had expiated his offenses; and then finding his moneys or patience, or faith nearly exhausted, they made him happy by turning the vial.”
This is a specimen of a bona fide Roman Catholic miracle! For several generations, had our English ancestors paid their homage at this celebrated monastery. They revered the very earth on which such a holy building stood. They venerated the monks resident here, as men of peculiar sanctity, and as the intimate friends of the Deity. They especially worshipped the holy relic, and felt, whenever they saw the precious blood, that their sins were all forgiven. They left their offerings and gifts with a cheerful heart, and returned to their homes, not only to tell the glad story, but also to forward other pilgrims to the holy spot. And what does the whole turn out to be? The blood of a duck every week renewed! A base trick of designing and covetous monks! Surely, we must blush for humanity at a scene like this. All this is done, too, under the holy sanctions of religion, and as carrying palpable evidence to the heart of every beholder, of the truth of the gospel, and the authority of the papal church.
The same historian furnishes another example of the same kind of miracles. “A miraculous crucifix,” says he, “had been kept at Boxley in Kent, and bore the appellation of the ‘rood of grace.’ The lips, and eyes, and head of the image, moved on the approach of its rotaries. Hilsey, bishop of Rochester, broke the crucifix, at St. Paul’s cross, and showed to the whole people, the springs and wheels by which it had been secretly moved.” Here was another papal wonder. Multitudes had worshipped this crucifix, as they would Christ himself. They had felt all the emotions of joy and astonishment while gazing upon it. They had enriched its keepers, and blessed their own consciences with the tokens of pardon and salvation.
And what is this great wonder? The mere mechanism of Romish priests, to enforce superstition, to exalt themselves, and to enrich their fraternity.
And yet these are the proofs incontrovertible — the miracles which papists boast as affording divine testimony to the purity and authority of their system! From the benefits of such miracles, may God ever deliver his church and people!
The two following miracles are taken from the Roman Breviary. “St. Francis Xavier turned a sufficient quantity of salt water into fresh, to save the lives of five hundred travelers, who were dying of thirst, enough being left to allow a large exportation to different parts of the world, where it performed astonishing cures! St. Raymond de Pennafort laid his cloak on the sea, and sailed thereon from Majorca to Barcelona, a distance of a hundred and sixty miles, in six hours!” These are but a few of the myriads of similar miracles which Popery tolerates, which Popery practices, and of which Popery boasts! That they are incredible, every one can at once perceive — that they are not only superstitious, but fraudulent, none can doubt. Why then their existence?
Why, they were invented, ages past, to support the church and to make gain. They are a part of the transmitted commerce of mystical Babylon.
But for such miracles, much of the trading capital of Rome would be left in the market. The business, therefore, must be kept up; and as long as there are devotees simple enough to credit such things, there will, of course, be found priests wicked enough to defend and practice them. And there is another reason: — Rome must fulfill her destiny; she must correspond to every prophecy concerning her; and one of these prophecies is, that she will practice, through the working of Satan, “signs and lying wonders.”
Here, then, we have two additional marks of Antichrist most strangely meeting in the Papacy. Antichrist was to practice craft and deceit, above all other powers. For these things Rome has been unrivaled in the history of human governments. Antichrist was also to perform “lying wonders,” and “signs;” he was to be notorious for false miracles. Such miracles are every where characteristic of the Romish communion. If, then, scriptural predictions are expected to have their fulfillment in corresponding facts, what set of facts can more clearly indicate the fulfillment of prophecy, than these to which we have alluded? Strange, strange indeed, must it be, that all the prophecies concerning Antichrist, should point directly to Rome, and yet Antichrist not be at Rome! But these prophecies do not lie; nor can we well be mistaken in their application. They refer to the Papacy — they proclaim the Pope as Antichrist. The conclusion may be personal, it may appear invidious, but it is inevitable: the Pope is as truly Antichrist, as Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ.
ANTICHRIST A REPROBATE
BY reprobation, we mean that judgment of God whereby some men, on account of their sin, are given up to a course of presumptuous wickedness and to final destruction. Reprobation refers both to individuals, and to whole classes of men. Pharaoh was a reprobate; for this is what is meant by God’s “hardening his heart.” Exodus 14:4. Judas was also a reprobate; hence he is called by Christ, “the son of perdition.” John 17:12. The Canaanites were reprobates; hence they were doomed by God to utter destruction. Deuteronomy 7. The apostle Paul also represents the gentile world generally, as in a state of reprobation. Romans 1. He also speaks of the unbelieving Jews as in a similar condition. Romans 11. Reprobation, however, as applied to the Jews and gentiles in these passages, refers not to races, but to generations of men. The gentile world was ultimately brought under the light of the gospel, and multitudes of them became the children of God. The Jews are also to be reclaimed; for blindness has happened to them only “in part;” that is, for a certain fixed period. The reprobation, however, of Antichrist is of a worse character. Like Pharaoh, like Judas, like the ancient Canaanites, his reprobation is unto perdition.
Hence he is called “the son of perdition,” 2 Thessalonians 2:3; and is said to “go into perdition.” Revelation 17:11. We are not to understand by this, that all the individuals attached to this Antichristian system will perish.
By no means. As the apostle Paul said of his Jewish brethren, even so say we of Papists, that “there is a remnant among them according to the election of grace.” Romans 11:5. “The apostle,” says Dr. Hill, “is not to be understood as meaning, by the strong expressions he has subjoined to this prophecy, that all who ever believed the errors of Popery are certainly damned. We believe that many worthy, pious men, by the prejudices of education and custom, have been so confirmed in doctrines, which we know to be erroneous, as to be unable to extricate themselves.” 1 Still, however, the errors of Antichrist are so radically subversive of the gospel, the whole system is so extravagant and enormous, that the great body of its adherents are not only given up of God now, but will hereafter suffer his severe wrath. This is a matter of express and positive prediction — “and for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all may be damned, who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:11,12.
Reprobation, so far as it is accomplished in this life, relates to the mind, the heart, the will, the conscience and the actions of men. In his description of it in Romans 1, the Apostle represents God as giving men up to “a reprobate mind;” to “vile affections;” and to “do those things which are not convenient.” In 1 Timothy 4:2, he also includes in reprobation, “a seared conscience;” and in Romans 9:l8, a hardened heart, of powerful self-will. These are apt, all of them, to follow each other in regular order. Where the mind is “reprobate,” the affections will be “vile;” where the conscience is “seared,” the will will be stubborn; and where all these exist, the actions will be wicked. What a catalogue of crimes arises from a fountain like this, any one may learn, by reading the latter part of the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans.
The reprobation of Antichrist is contained in these words — “and for this cause, God shall send them strong delusion (energeian planhv ) that they should believe a lie.” Macknight renders the passage thus: “And for this cause God will send to them the strongworking of error to their believing a lie.” Doddridge paraphrases it thus — “God will in righteous judgment give them up to a reprobate and insensible mind, and will send upon them the energy of deceit; he will suffer them to deceive others, till they are themselves deceived, so that they shall believe the lie they have so long taught.” The expression is remarkably strong; and it teaches, that those who are involved in this judicial sentence of God, will be buried in an almost hopeless delusion.
We have already shown that the previous part of these predictions refers to the Papacy. Of course then this passage must have the same application. Nor will it be found upon examination, that other features in this system of evil have been better described by the apostle than that of its actual reprobation. God has sent upon the champion, and abettors of this system “strong delusion,” and there can be but little doubt, that they have been permitted to believe “a lie.” 1. The first mark of reprobation is, a darkened or reprobate mind. The evidence which the apostle gives of the existence of such a state of mind, is idolatry. “Professing themselves to be wise, they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man.” Now whatever plea Papists may employ for using in their acts of worship images of the saints, and even of Christ, there certainly can be no apology for representations of the “incorruptible God.” But they do make and tolerate such images even of the Deity himself. “When the Deity is thus represented,” says a decree of Trent, “it is not to be supposed that the same can be seen by our bodily eyes, or that a likeness of God can be given in color or figure.” 2 The catechism uses the following language:- — “To represent the persons of the Holy Trinity by certain forms, under which, as we read in the Old and New Testaments, they deigned to appear, is not to be deemed contrary to religion or the law of God.” 3 Peter Dens also asks the following question: “Are images of God, and of the most Holy Trinity, proper?” The answer given is — “Yes: although this is not so certain as concerning the images of Christ and the saints; as this was determined at a later period.” 4 Here then, are three respectable witnesses, yea, standard authorities, proving that the church of Rome does “change the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man.” Now, Paul declares, that such conduct is evidence of a darkened mind, and that it is a characteristic feature in God’s judicial reprobation.
As certain then, as that Rome sanctions this gross idolatry, is it that she is reprobate in mind. 2. Another mark of reprobation is vile affections. “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies.” Probably no three causes have ever led to more fearful scenes of licentiousness, than monasticism, nunneries, and the celibacy of the Roman clergy. And if to these causes we add the virtual subversion of the law of God by the Papacy, and the facilities of absolution, and even of indulgences, we shall at least see a machinery at work, which under ordinary circumstances, would inevitably lead to fearful results; and if we are to credit history, and especially the testimonies of many, who have themselves been behind the curtains, our inferences will scarcely reach the realities that occur under this dreadful system of delusion. Those who may wish to know more on these subjects, we refer to Peter Dens, “De Pollutione,” etc., to the narratives of Gavin, “the Confessions of a Catholic priest;” and other works of a like nature.
They will here find specimens of “vile affections,” strong enough certainly, to show that this feature of reprobation is not wanting in the papal system. 3. A third mark of reprobation is great perversity of which an invincible adherence to error. This is the cardinal feature, in the reprobation, predicted of Antichrist. “And for this cause, God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” Nor can there be found on earth, a people more fixedly set in their errors and superstitions, than papists.
This is the boast of their church. And even, when contradicted by innumerable facts, they still repeat in triumph the adage, “Once a Catholic, always a Catholic.” To any one who considers the papal system, and who reflects upon the mode of education employed by Romanists, such rigid adherence to their system can be readily accounted for. indeed, it is wonderful, that any of them are ever converted. They are born and raised behind walls of error heaven-high. How then are they to escape? This very boast however, of papists, is but another indelible feature of their judicial reprobation. If their system held them with a less grasp — if there were only a little liberty granted, there might be some hope. But “the strong delusion” is upon them; and God only can so far remove it, as to call some of his elect even from these iron walls of Satan. 4. A fourth sign of reprobation is a seared conscience — “Having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” Conscience has more or less restraint upon most men. It often makes even the daring transgressor quail beneath its just and retributive scourges. But human nature may proceed to that degree of wickedness, that even conscience will neither upbraid nor admonish. This is always the case under God’s fearful sentence of judicial reprobation. A long course of sin, like iron, heated seven times, sears the sensibilities of this inward monitor, and destroys its power of vital action.
No condition of the soul is worse than this; yet, this is the predicted state of conscience in Antichrist. And what conscience, pray, have the leading actors of the Papacy had, for centuries on centuries past? Can there be any conscience in men who openly set aside the revealed authority of Jehovah?
Any conscience, where a mere man is made to exercise the prerogatives of the Son of God? Any conscience, where the most barefaced idolatry is set up under the sanctions of Christianity? Any conscience, where every sort of fraud is used to obtain the money of poor deluded mortals? Any conscience, where men are deliberately seized, and tortured, and killed, in the name of Christ! Any conscience, where crimes of the blackest dye are perpetrated under covert of oaths, and vows, and the mask of religion?
Surely, if ever conscience were “seared with a hot iron” — if it were ever destroyed, it must be in the breasts of such men. 5. A fifth mark of reprobation as given in the Scriptures, is depraved and wicked actions. The following is a list of those actions as furnished by the Apostle Paul. “Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity, whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents; with. out understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.” How far the crimes, here specified by the Apostle, are to be found amid papal influences and institutions, let those judge who are best acquainted with this system of priestcraft and oppression. Some of these crimes are written upon the front of Popery in bold relief. Among these are the following — covetousness, malignity, murder, deceit, boasting, inventing of evil things, disobedience to parents, covenant-breaking, and unmercifulness. With these sins the history of the Papacy abounds.
Thus have we discovered in the Papacy, all the marks of God’s judicial reprobation. The understanding has here been darkened, the heart given up to vile affections, the will has been rendered stubborn, the conscience has been seared, and the life filled with unrighteous deeds. But is this reprobation to be final? Is there to be no reformation, no return to right principles? The prophecies answer these questions in the negative.
Antichrist is “the son of perdition” — the “Lord is to consume him with the spirit of his mouth, and to destroy him with the brightness of his coming.” When too, we consider the actual state of Popery, we discover in it those fixed elements which at once render the hope of reformation fruitless, and ultimate destruction inevitable. Popery itself, as well as prophecy concerning it, declares, that it is to be destroyed, not reformed.
If Popery be ever reformed, such reformation must arise from one of three sources — it must either originate in the system itself, or it must arise from without that system, or it must come from heaven. 1. Such reformation cannot arise from within the system of Popery itself.
The principles, the very frame-work of this system are such, that its reformation is utterly impossible. True, Papists may be more moral in one age than in another, they may be less superstitious in some countries than in others, and there may be made some external and unimportant changes in some of its ceremonies and customs; but a radical and thorough reformation, such as the word of God requires, never can be made in it, without the abandonment of the whole system. Take its fundamental doctrine, that the Pope is the vicar of Christ on earth. How can this article be changed, so as to agree with Scripture, without destroying the very fulcrum of the papal system? Take the doctrine of transubstantiation.
How can this creed be reformed, but by denying the doctrine itself? Look at the doctrines of purgatory, of absolutions, of indulgences. What reformation can be made with respect to these, but to renounce them?
Consider the whole system of saint and image worship. How can this be reformed? In no manner whatever. It can only be abandoned. What are we to say, too, of its traditions and seven sacraments? How are they to be reformed? They cannot be. What is here needed is a forsaking of the ground taken by Romanists. And so throughout. The position assumed by the church of Rome, ensures the destruction of that church, in one or the other of two ways. Either its advocates, as Luther and the Reformers, must forsake the establishment and thus let it perish, by desertion, or they must adhere to it, till God shall vindicate the rights of his own truth and name. Many, no doubt, will pursue the former method; but the body will perish with the system. 2. Nor can the Papacy be reformed from any thing without itself, Even in the freest countries on the globe, the Papacy is a consolidated and isolated system. Its arms of iron grasp all its own interests within itself, and it seeks seclusion from all others. Civil governments can have but little influence in changing its character. Older than all modern systems of civil polity, compactly framed together, claiming even superiority above the state, Popery receives upon its indurated exterior the influences of civil government, as the massy rock does the passing stream: such waves come, meet, are broken to pieces and fall backward, leaving the unmoved rock still cold and fixed on its original basis. Nor can Popery be reformed from the influence of Protestant churches. There is literally “a great gulf fixed” between it and them. It is not only forbidden to other ministers to enter a popish pulpit, but even their members are forbidden to enter the doors of other churches. Nor can Popery be reformed by the Bible; — that word is itself a prisoner within the iron walls of this dreadful system. Nor can Popery be reformed by’ the circulation of tracts and books; — all tracts and books, containing any thing contrary to its own system, are strictly forbidden in their Index Expurgatorius. When a pope can say, even in relation to the circulation of the Holy Scriptures: “Bible societies fill me with horror; they tend to overthrow the Christian religion; they are a pest which must be destroyed by all possible means:” 5 when even a pope can speak thus, and speak thus of the Bible, what hope can we have for Papists in the circulation of books? True, individuals may thus be converted; but the Papacy will remain unchanged. Nor can philosophy and science reform the Papacy; if so, the doctrine of transubstantiation had long ago been renounced as unphilosophical and absurd. Nor can the general intercourse of other Christians, and of citizens generally, reform the papal system. All this is counteracted by the confessional, whose province it is to guard the entrance-doors of heresy and change.
Thus is there no external source, from which influences may come to reform this monstrous system of error and tyranny. A stone may now and then be removed from its place in this great temple of error; occasionally a pillar may fall; but the old building stands, sunk, like the pyramids of Egypt, in the sands of its own superstitions, venerable for age, a monument of oppression and of pride; the gray relic of the past, the wonder of the present, and the prophet of the future; there it stands, and will stand, till God shall shake the earth, and thus, by his power dash it to pieces. 3. Nor will the Papacy be reformed from heaven. The conversion of the gentiles to Christianity, took place, according to the previous decree and promise of God. Long before Peter preached to Cornelius, had the Spirit of God said concerning the Messiah, “I will give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the gentiles.” Isaiah 12:6. And the ingathering of Israel to the same Messiah, which is yet to take place, is also included in the purposes of God. Romans 11. But the decrees and purposes of God, concerning Antichrist, have no such promises of grace and mercy. Here the cloud is without a bow, the night without a star. “And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great mill-stone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.”
Revelation 18:21 Utter destruction is to be the end of this system, and of all who adhere to it. As Sodom and Gomorra, the old world and the Canaanites, were all made so many examples of the righteous judgments of God, so will it be with Rome. Unreformed, and unreformable, she will go “into destruction,” to meet the solemn doom from that righteous Judge, whose truth she has despised, whose name and authority she has trampled under foot, and whose “glorious gospel” she has made but the theater of her pride, her avarice, and her various abominations.
Here, then, is another mark of Antichrist, deeply branded upon the forehead of the Papacy. Antichrist was to be a reprobate, given up of God to a course of the most presumptuous wickedness, and doomed to ultimate destruction. The Papacy, we have seen, is reprobate, and its advocates are under “strong delusion;” they believe “a lie,” and seem to be left of God to wander in the mazes of superstition and error, to that fearful doom which is before them. From that doom, with which the body is to meet, may God by his grace, avert the wandering feet of many a poor, benighted victim of this unnatural and unchristian system!
THE DOWNFALL OF ANTICHRIST
PROPHECY never leaves the church in despair. Whatever evils it may foretell, it always represents them as in the hand of God, and as overruled by him to ultimate good. Hence, it predicts not only the rise and character of evil powers, but also their overthrow. This rule has special application to Antichrist. The holy prophets of old saw this power arise; they saw it arrogating to itself all dominion and rule; they saw it trampling upon the earth, and destroying the saints; they saw it arrayed in purple and enriched with jewels. But the Spirit carried their minds further, and revealed to them its utter destruction, and the subsequent triumph of the glorious kingdom of the Son of God. Indeed, the prophets, like ancient Israel, seem to have been traveling through a dreary wilderness, while wandering over the domains of the man of sin, only, that they might rest themselves, and teach the church to rest in that promised country — that Immanuel’s land — which lay beyond those barren wastes. Their prophecies ultimately terminate in Christ, and are lost only in the blaze of his everlasting reign. 1. In predicting the downfall of Antichrist, the sacred prophets teach us, first, who is to be its author. This is the Lord Jesus Christ. “Whom,” says Paul, “the Lord shall consume with the Spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” John also declares — “These (the beast and his allies) shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings; and they that are with him, are called, and chosen, and faithful.” Revelation 17:14.
Daniel also refers to the same thing, when he speaks of “one like the Son of man,” receiving at the overthrow of the “little horn,” dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him. Daniel 7:14. The great adversary, then, of Antichrist is Christ himself. True, the Son of God, for wise purposes, has permitted Antichrist to usurp great authority; he has suffered him, for a long period, to trample upon his truth, and to persecute his church. But the day of vengeance will come at last, when he shall receive double for all his pride and wickedness, and when the insulted Redeemer will pour upon him the just retaliation of that wrath, with which he has been anathematizing the saints of the Most High. 1 While, however, the Lord Jesus Christ is to be the immediate author of the overthrow of Antichrist, still here, as elsewhere, he will employ various instruments for that purpose. The first of these instruments will be his own glorious gospel. “Whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth” — (tw pneumati tou stomatov autou ) Macknight renders the passage thus — “Him the Lord will consume by the breath of his mouth;” and remarks, “so pneuma should be translated in this passage, where the preaching of true doctrine, and its efficacy in destroying the man of sin, are predicted.”
The errors of Popery arose, for the most part, in times of great ignorance.
And as from their very nature they could not stand the light, it became the settled policy of Romish ecclesiastics, to exclude that light as much as possible from the minds of men. The conversion of the preacher into the priest, the saying of mass in the stead of proclaiming salvation, the invention of numerous and burdensome ceremonies, the introduction of saint and image worship, and especially the interdicts placed upon the reading of the Scriptures; all these were so many means invented by crafty men, to shut out the light of the gospel from the dupes of this dreadful delusion hour, the remedy, and the only remedy for evils of this nature, is the general diffusion of the Holy Scriptures and their glorious doctrines, through all those countries where these delusions exist. This is the first step; and it is that which God usually employs first in the overturning of the kingdom of darkness. Previous to the overthrow of Judaism, as a system of error, an unusual amount of light was poured upon the national mind. John, Christ, the apostles, all labored, and the most of them died in this work. A chosen number were thus called out, from the great body of the nation, in whom the succession of truth was to continue, and a fuller vindication was thus given to the providence of God, in the overthrow and dispersion of the rest. Christ could thus say, without the possibility of contradiction, “This is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.”
It was, too, by this means primarily and chiefly, that the Reformation from Popery in the sixteenth century occurred. A few individuals, by the Spirit of God became experimentally acquainted with the truth of God’s word. This truth they began to proclaim to others. This truth, by the translation of the Scriptures into the language of each nation, they placed in the hands of others. This truth, in every possible way, they defended and maintained; and for it many of them were carried to the stake, or perished in dungeons.
There can be but little doubt, therefore, that in the final overthrow of the Papacy, the word of God will precede all other agents. And is not this word going forth at the present time? Are not Bible Societies and their agents, missionaries and their assistants, publishing and scattering the word even within the dominions of the Pope? Is not this word, too, producing its effects? Like its Author, has it not already begun to “purge the papal floor, gathering the wheat into the garner, and preparing the chaff to be burnt with unquenchable fire?” Go forth, thou mighty instrument of the Lord, thou forerunner of his power, thou leveler of the nations; go forth, and accomplish thine own most glorious work!
It is evident, however, that the Lord Jesus will employ other, and more coercive instruments in the overthrow of Popery. The Romans were employed to disperse the Jews; Constantine was called forth to uproot paganism; Frederick, the Elector of Saxony, the Landgrave of Hesse, Henry VIII., and other European princes, were also employed to protect and extend the great Reformation. Thus is fulfilled the word of Isaiah, “kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and queens thy nursing mothers.”
Indeed, it would seem but a just retaliation, that as Antichrist has employed the civil powers to persecute and destroy the Church, so God, in his providence, should also use the same instruments to afflict and overturn his unrighteous administration.
We are, however, not left, to conjecture on this subject. “But the judgment shall sit,” says Daniel, “and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it unto the end.” (7:26.)
Gesenius understands by the word anyd (dhinaa), not judgment, but judges; “but the judges shall sit.” The reference evidently is to those cabinets or councils, which European princes were to assemble in opposition to the pretensions of the Pope. Some such councils have already been held, and by means of them, several states originally papal, are now protestant, and seem destined so to remain. But others will yet be held, whose results will be still more decisive and overpowering to the dominions of the Man of Sin; for Daniel declares that his dominion will thus be “consumed and destroyed to the end.”
If, however, any doubt should remain, as to the agency of European princes in the destruction of the Papacy, it will be enough to remove such doubt, to refer to the testimony of John: — “And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh and burn her with fire.” Revelation 17:16.
The beast here alluded to, is papal, or rather political Europe; its horns the sovereigns of the several European states; and the whore, the Romish church, which by forsaking Christ and worshipping idols, has become like an adulterous woman, who has departed from her own husband to seek other lovers. These horns, says John, that is, these kings, shall hate the whore, that is the papal church, and shall make her desolate.
It is then among the decrees of heaven, that the princes of Europe are to be the agents whom God will employ in overturning and utterly destroying the papal power. A sort of friendship may be maintained between these princes and the Autocrat of Rome; toleration may for a time be given to papal doctrines, the armistice of centuries may continue a little longer. But when “the words of God are fulfilled,” that is, when the prophetic period of twelve hundred and sixty years shall have expired, there will be a crisis, a tremendous crisis. Antichrist will then put on all the remainder of his strength; he will call to his aid those that are still devoted to his cause; he will use stratagem and deceit. But all in vain; for tile battle will be the Lord’s; and the triumph of Antichrist will be forever destroyed. It is supposed by many expositors, that it is this scene which is described in Revelation 14:19,20: “And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great wine-press of the wrath of God. And the wine-press was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horses’ bridles, by the space of a thousand six hundred furlongs.” When God overthrew the Jews, it so happened, that they were for the most part, within their capital. The destruction was thus more complete and sudden. So will it be with Antichrist, only a far more dreadful scene will follow. Driven probably, from post to post, the deluded advocates of this system, will, at last, plant themselves upon the strictly papal territory. Rome will be their headquarters. That city, however, will not only be captured but burnt, while a scene of slaughter will follow, truly dreadful to behold. It was not easily, that the bigoted son of Abraham yielded to the Roman arm; and it certainly will not be easily, that the proud vicegerent of Christ, the successor of apostles, the head of the church, the sovereign of kings — it will not be easily, that he and his followers will resign their high pretensions. Resign them, however, they must and will — “for strong is the Lord God who will judge them.” 3. The Scriptures also teach the manner in which Antichrist shall fall. He is to fall gradually, but utterly. “And they shall take away his dominion,” says Daniel, “to consume, and to destroy it unto the end.” The Vulgate renders the latter part of the passage thus, “ad delendum et ad perdendum usque in finem” — “for consuming and destroying it even to the end.” The two cardinal ideas in the passage are, that the power of Antichrist is to be destroyed by successive blows, and that that destruction will be in the end complete. The destroying agents are to proceed from destruction to destruction, from uprooting his power at one post, to uprooting it at another, and they are to continue till the work shall have been finished.
The apostle Paul also, in the passage already cited, expresses himself in a similar manner. “The word, analwsei (consume)” says Chandler, “is used to denote a lingering, gradual destruction; being applied to the waste of time, the dissipation of an estate, and to the slow death of being eaten up of worms.” “If St. John and St. Paul,” says Benson, “have prophesied of the same corruptions, it should seem, that the head of the apostasy will be destroyed by some signal judgment, after its influence or dominion hath, in a gradual manner, been destroyed by the force of truth.” 1 In the sixteenth chapter of the Apocalypse we have, in the pouring out of the seven vials, seven periods, or gradations, in this progressive destruction of Antichrist.
And how remarkably have these predictions, so far, accorded with the facts! The papal power was at its zenith in the thirteenth century. Every event almost that has occurred since that period, has tended to its gradual subversion. Among the causes of its decline, Daunou mentions the following. “The praiseworthy resistance of Louis IX., the firmness of Philip-le-Bel, the madness of Boniface VIII., the vices of the court of Avignon, the schism of the west, the pragmatic sanction of Charles VII., the revival of learning, the invention of printing, the nepotism of the popes of the fifteenth century, the bold attacks of Sixtus IV., the crimes of Alexander VI., the ascendency of Charles V., the progress of heresy 2 in Germany, in England, and other countries, the troubles of France under Henry II., the wise administration of Henry IV., the Edict of Nantes, the Four Articles of 1682, the dissensions which grew out of the formulary of Alexander VII., and of the bull, Unigenitus, of Clement XI.; finally, the senseless enterprises of such popes as Benedict XIII., Clement XIII., and some other pontiffs of the eighteenth century.” The same author adds: “The papal power cannot survive such shame: its hour is come, and it remains to the popes only to become, as they were during the first seven centuries, humble pastors, edifying apostles. It is a dignity sufficiently honorable.” 3 Remarks similar to these last, were made by’ Machiavelli as early as the sixteenth century. “We shall see,” says he, in allusion to his history, “how the popes, first by their ecclesiastical censures, then by the union of temporal and. spiritual power, and lastly by indulgences, contrived to excite the veneration and terror of mankind: we shall also see, how, by making an ill use of that terror and reverence, they have entirely lost the one, and lie at the discretion of the world for the other.” 4 There can be but little doubt, that this celebrated historian has specified the primary cause of the overthrow of papal tyranny. That tyranny became itself so burdensome, that a change was demanded for the security, if not for the very existence of society.
In the latter part of the fourteenth century, Wickliffe, commenced his opposition to the Pope. In the early part of the fifteenth century, John Hues and Jerome of Prague were put to death for advocating his sentiments. A century after, Luther began his great work; and from that period till now, a uniform and constant resistance has been given by several nations of Europe to papal power. It is true, that some things have happened favorable to its temporary advancement. The organization of the society of Loyola may be specified as the principal one. But even this society, by its dangerous operation, by its pliable morality, by its very prevalence — yea, by its crimes, has only made Popery more odious in the eyes of mankind. Even the infidelity of France, the French revolution, and the wars of Napoleon, have all tended to the downfall of the Papacy.
Thus have the moral and political movements in Europe, for five centuries past, proceeded ad delendura et ad perdendum, to the gradual overthrow of the papal power. And although matters have not as yet reached, usque in finem, to its entire subversion; yet that result cannot be very far distant. 4. The precise period of the final overthrow of Antichrist, is predicted in the Scriptures in such a manner, as to leave the calculations of even the best qualified persons in some doubt. There can be no question, but that in the Divine mind, the period is accurately fixed; but its revelation is partially obscure, as all such revelations usually are in the holy volume. If prophecy were perfectly plain in all its parts, it would rather be history than prophecy. If therefore our minds cannot know precisely “the times which the Father hath put in his own power,” we should rejoice, that even an approximation to those times may be reached by us. In the mean time, we should patiently wait and hope for the coming of the Son of Man.
In Daniel 7:25, it is said, the saints shall be given into the hand of the “little horn,” until “a time and times and the dividing of time.” In chapter twelve of the same prophecy, the wonders seen by Daniel, were to end at the expiration of “a time, times and an half, and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” John teaches us also, that “the holy city shall be trodden under foot by the gentiles forty and two months.” (Revelation 11:2.,) that the two witnesses were to prophesy clothed in sackcloth, “a thousand two-hundred and three-score days,” (verse 3); the woman also who fled into the wilderness, was to be nourished there, “a thousand two-hundred and threescore clays,” (12:6;) or for “a time, times and half a time,” (verse 14.) The beast also was to continue “forty and two months,” (13:5.) Here are no less than seven times, in which the same number is used, and applied substantially to the same event. The period noted in these prophecies is 1260 prophetic days, that is 1260 years. Now, if we could only ascertain the precise point at which these 1260 years began, there would be no difficulty in ascertaining the date of their termination. Writers of prophecy, however, beginning at different periods, end also at different periods. On this subject we refer to the second chapter of this work. There we have ventured the opinion, that between the years 730 and 754 — that is, between the overthrow of the Exarchate and the grant of Pepin, we are to date the rise of the Papacy, as a political power. Daunou fixes it in the year 800; he admits however, that before this, the Popes did exercise a power that was at least “efficient,” if not “independent.” Machiavelli dates the papal power from the subversion of the Exarchate; or at least, from the time that the Exarchate fell into the possession of the Popes. His language is — “No more Exarchs were sent from Constantinople to Ravenna, which was afterwards governed by tile will of the Pope.” According to this calculation, the final overthrow of the papal power will take place in the latter part of the next century. The author however, does not insist upon these dates as correct. It may occur sooner, it will scarcely be delayed later. It is enough to know, that the work of gradual subversion is now in progress; and that the final catastrophe, will take place ere long. “Amen, even so, come Lord Jesus.” 5. The result of the overthrow of Antichrist will be, the establishment upon earth of the glorious kingdom of Christ. “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” Daniel 7:27.
As the destruction of the Jewish temple and the dispersion of the Jewish nation, were to precede the universal spread of the gospel, and seemed necessary to its general reception, so the overturning of this nominally Christian, but really antichristian power, appears to be demanded in the providence of God, to the general enlightenment of the world. Nothing, too, especially in Europe, can possibly be conceived of, more favorable to the universal triumphs of truth, than such an event. Were the Pope displaced, were Romanism destroyed, were the worship of saints and relics discontinued, were priestcraft abolished, how rapid, how glorious would be the flight of the true gospel! How would the nations welcome it!
How would a liberated world bask in its sun-beams! There can, too, be but little doubt, that the manner in which the Papacy will be overthrown, will give the nations a greater relish for pure doctrines. This power is yet to exhibit some dreadful deeds of oppression. Its iron yoke will yet gall more deeply, its prisons yet groan more dreadfully. And when too, God, in a way remarkably providential — in a way to be seen and known of all, shall so interpose, as to deliver mankind from these, the last struggles, the dying efforts of an old tyranny; how sweet upon the ear will fall the notes of gospel truth! How precious to the heart will be the influences of gospel grace! What countless multitudes will then crowd the temples of salvation, and what marshaling millions will then bend before Him, who is “the Lord of lords, and King of kings.”
Thus will the downfall of Popery be the signal for the universal triumph of pure Christianity. “The man of sin,” will thus yield to the Man of grace, even Christ our Lord, and the long reign of wickedness be supplanted by the peaceable and righteous kingdom of the Son of God. Scattered Israel will, in the mean time, be regathered, and Jew and gentile, yea, a ransomed world, will rejoice in him, who is the “Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last.”
Thus have we attempted to prove, from its location at Rome, from the time of its rise, front the peculiarity of its character, from its apostasy, from its idolatry, from its blasphemy, from its innovations, from its persecutions, from its riches, from its power, from its craft and pretended miracles, from its reprobation, and even from its begun downfall, that the Papacy is the Antichrist predicted in the word of God. The very same kind of evidence, derived too from the same source, which proves that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, also demonstrates that the Papacy is the Antichrist. The two sets of testimonies stand or fall together. The prophecies that are fulfilled in Jesus are scarcely more numerous, as they are not more explicit, than those fulfilled in the Roman hierarchy. The light of heaven marks out the Roman High Priest as Antichrist; it converges there, and if it finds not there its object and completion, it is difficult, if not impossible to prove the actual fulfillment of any set of predictions whatever. We do not affirm that every individual pope either has been or will be lost. Much less would we affirm, that all who are attached to this dreadful system must perish. We leave individual men in the hands of a just and righteous Judge. He knows their hearts, and will reward them according to their works. It is possible, that even in Rome itself, there may be a “remnant according to the election of grace.” The Spirit of God may pluck souls from perdition, even under the hands of Antichrist. Many too, no doubt there are many in America, many in most papal countries, who are ignorant of the real nature of Popery. They see only its exterior; they have not examined its principles. The condition of such we sincerely pity; and we earnestly pray, that the God of grace may bring them to the light.
It is, however, the papacy, the hierarchy, the priesthood of this system, that we designate as Antichrist — that we have proven from the Scriptures to be Antichrist. Just so far as this hierarchical influence extends, just to the degree to which its essential principles go, does Antichrist reign. May that influence be destroyed; may those principles perish; especially, may our free country be resettled from a system, whose dilapidated tyranny in the old world, is seeking its repairs in the new.
NOTES NOTE A MANY critics suppose, that what is indicated in Daniel’s vision, by the ten horns on the head of the fourth beast, is also signified by the ten toes on the feet of the image seen by Nebuchadnezzar. These ten toes were seen in the vision to be “part of iron and part of clay;” which was interpreted to mean, that the ten kingdoms, indicated by the ten toes, should be “part strong and part broken.” Some of these ten kingdoms were to possess the Roman iron, but others were to be like “potter’s clay.” The following statements of Daunou, will cast some light upon this subject. “It was,” says he, “in the eighth century, that we perceive the first symptoms of the temporal power of the Roman prelates. The different causes which were to terminate in this result, then began to be perceptible.” Among these causes he specifies the weakness of many of the new governments. “In the mean time, the new thrones which had here and there been erected by some conquering barbarians, began already to totter under their successors, whose ignorance, often equal to that of their people, seemed to invite the enterprises of the clergy.” 1 Here seems to be the clay alluded to in the vision. The firm principles of old Roman character, and the ignorance and impetuosity of the new invaders, constituted, when mixed together, a medley, “part strong and part weak,” which was exceedingly favorable to the triumphs of clerical ambition.
NOTE B Romanists pretend to make a wide distinction between the homage they pay to God, and that they render to images, relics, saints, etc. They call the one latria, the other doulia. They have also invented an intermediate degree, which they render to the Virgin, called hyperdoulia. These again are divided into absolute, respective, etc. It is evident, however, that such distinctions as these can better be recorded in a theological treatise than observed in daily practice. The heart is deceitful, is fickle. And when the worshipper bows to the cross or an image, or prays to a saint, it is not likely that the nicely distinguished ideas, contained under the words doulia and latria, can be very strongly apprehended by him. At any rate, such words, being also in a foreign language, must constitute a very thin veil between him and idolatry.
But the distinction here drawn between doulia and latria, is not tenable.
The same Hebrew word db[ which means to serve or worship, is rendered both by latreuo and doulevo. And in the New Testament these words are both applied to the service or worship which is rendered to God. In Matthew 6:24; Romans 7:6; Galatians 4:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:9; are instances in which douleuo is employed to express the homage which is to be rendered to the supreme Being. The words are very nearly synonymous, both in their derivation and meaning. Latreuo, from which latria is derived, according to Wahl and others, has its root, latria, which means a hired servant. Douleuo, from which doulia is derived, has doulos, a slave, as its root. If then, there be any difference between them, douleuo and doulia are certainly words of stronger import than latreuo and latria.
Surely a system must be straitened for authority, when it establishes the worship of images upon a basis of this kind. This is the predicament of men, who violate, and teach others to violate, the express law of Jehovah — “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them.”
NOTE C Professor Stuart in his late work on the Apocalypse, gives a very singular interpretation to this whole subject. According to him, “the beast that was and is not” refers to Nero; the woman in scarlet is pagan Rome; and the ten horns are ten dependent kings, the subjects of Nero’s authority. He supposes the expression, “the beast that was and is not,” to be an ingenious method employed by John to indicate Nero; and he gives a very learned Excursus to show, how prevalent was the report, that alter the death of this Emperor, he would revive again.
It is very probable, to say the least, and notwithstanding all that the learned Professor has advanced to the contrary, that the banishment of John took place under Domitian, and not under Nero. If so, of course there can be no prophetic allusion at all to the latter emperor in the visions of John. But, admitting that the Apocalypse was given under Nero, is it probable that a reigning emperor would constitute so important a figure in a prophecy evidently designed for future ages? As to the report about Nero’s resurrection, is it not much more natural to suppose that a misunderstanding of the prophecy originated the report, than that the report suggested the prophecy? But there are other and stronger objections to this interpretation. Some no doubt will object to it, because it departs so widely from the interpretations given of this vision by English expositors for many centuries past. This, however, we will not urge. The learned professor in his very great zeal to make Nero the hero of these prophecies, makes not only the beast, but one of his heads also, to symbolize him! On verse 8th chapter 17, he says, “Plainly here the reigning Emperor is characterized. The well known hariolation respecting Nero, that he would be assassinated and disappear for a while, and then make his appearance again to the confusion of all his enemies, solves the apparent enigma before us.” Here he makes the beast, the symbol of Nero.
The symbol, however, is changed in his commentary on verse 10th. “Five are fallen viz.: Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius; Nero is the sixth!” Here is certainly a strange confusion of prophetic imagery.
The beast represents Nero, and yet his sixth head, also represents him!
Nor is the commentary any more satisfactory, where he explains the import of the ten horns. These he affirms are symbols of “ten contemporaneous kings, the dependents of Nero.” When, however, he attempts to reconcile with this explanation what is said of the ten horns in verse 16, he appears to be greatly at a loss. “And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.” In commenting on this verse, the Professor, and possibly for good reasons, adopts the text of Scholtz and Griesbach. This text represents the horns and beast, as confederate against the woman. And the ten horns and the beast — kai qhrion. The common text is, and the ten horns upon the beast — epi qhrion. The common text is that which has been followed by Wickliffe, Tyndale, and Cranmer; and which is also adopted by the versions of Geneva, Rheims and King James. We pass this by, however.
That this prophecy foretells the utter destruction of Rome is conceded. “At all events,” says he, “heathen and persecuting Rome is to be utterly destroyed.” It is evident, however, that neither Nero nor his “contemporaneous kings,” utterly destroyed Rome. How is the difficulty to be gotten over? First, an interpretation by Ewald is supposed to be satisfactory. This writer presumes that verse 16 refers “to the predicted return of Nero from the east, after his exile thither and his reunion with the confederate kings of that region, in order to invade Italy, and destroy its capital, where he was assassinated!” With this worse than mythological interpretation, however, the Professor is not altogether satisfied. He, therefore, gives one which he considers better. “The sentiment seems to be, that tyrants like Nero, and persecutors such as his confederates, would occasion wasting and desolation to Rome even like to that already inflicted by Nero, who had set Rome on fire and consumed a large portion of it?
When, however, we ascertain the facts, it is tyrants like Nero, and persecutors such as his confederates, who are to accomplish this destruction. Surely, after such an expenditure of learning and pains, one is at least disappointed in a result like this. But even this is not true. What tyrants or persecutors destroyed pagan Rome? If any, they must have been Constantine and Christian bishops! So that, this interpretation fails at every point.
There is another inconsistency into which this learned author falls. In his preface he tells us, that a right interpretation, the Apocalypse can never be given so long as this book is considered as an “epitome of civil and ecclesiastical history.” But in his commentary on chapter seven he says, “if we adopt the explanation made out by appeal to historical ground, then all is plain and easy.” While thus the Prosessot condemns in others the explanation of these prophecies by an appeal to history, he still makes the same appeal himself, and considers it the only method of arriving at certainty.
II. Thou shalt not swear.
III. Thou shalt sanctify the holy days.
IV. Thou shalt honor thy father and mother.
V. Thou shalt not kill.
VI. Thou shalt not commit fornication.
VII. Thou shalt not steal.
VIII. Thou shalt not bear false witness, nor lie.
IX. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.
X. Thou shalt not covet the things which are another’s.” The fact that the second commandment is left out in this list, would seem to indicate, that the Romish priesthood are self-conscious that the practices of the church are contrary to the express law of God.
NOTE E The following particulars are given by a traveler, as to the manner of spending a Sabbath in the city of Mexico. “At a corner of the great square are suspended huge placards, on which the nature of the day’s amusements is depicted in every variety of color. Here is a pictorial illustration of the most prominent attractions of the great theater, which, in common with all the rest, is open twice on this day. A little further on is a full length figure of Figaro, which draws your attention to the fascinating allurements of the opera. The bull-fights next solicit your notice, announcing the most terrific particulars. Endless varieties of other, exhibitions put forth their claims. A balloon ascension is advertised for the afternoon. One would suppose, too, that the old Roman gladiatorial shows were revived; for at one spectacle is a contest between a man and a bear.
Cock-fights, dog-fights, and fandangoes are announced in every part of the city. Horse-racing, the circus, jugglers, posture-masters, turn-biers, fireeaters, concerts, fencing matches, pigeon shooting, gymnastic exercises, country excursions, balls graduated to every pocket, form but a fraction of the entertainments to which this day is devoted. The finale of the day is generally wound up by a splendid display of fire-works, and thus ends a Mexican Sabbath!” And yet the same writer speaks of a “crowded cathedral,” and of “unaffected attitudes of devotion!” Jupiter or Mars might be worshipped in this way, but not the God of heaven.
NOTE F Schleusner defines the literal meaning of petrov (petros), to be, “Lapidem qui e loco in locum moveri potest” — “a stone which can be moved from place to place.” In this sense the word is not used in the New Testament.
The only sense in which it is here employed is, as an appellative, or proper name. In this sense it is always and exclusively applied to the Apostle Peter.
The word petra (petra,) on the contrary, is in no case whatever used as a person’s name. To suppose, therefore, that in Matthew 16:18, it refers to the apostle, is to give it an application which it never has, and of which, considering the gender, it is incapable. In Mark 15:46, this word expresses the rock out of which Joseph’s tomb had been hewn. In Luke 8:6, it expresses the rock on which a part of the seed fell. In Matthew 7:24,25, it is used to denote the rock on which the wise man built his house. In Romans 9:33, and 1 Corinthian 10:4, it is put for Christ himself. It is here, however, not used as a proper name, but as a figure, and applies more to the divinity than to the humanity of Christ. Schleusner says, it is used here “metaphorice et modo plane singulari” — “metaphorically and in a sense evidently peculiar.” Not a solitary instance can be found in which it refers to the apostle Peter, not one.
In the first place, it is evident, that many things may be said of Christ, which could be applicable to no other being in the universe. He is divine, yet human — was dead, yet lives; exercises the highest prerogatives, yet has endured the greatest humiliations. Language therefore, which the Scriptures uniformly apply to him, they never apply to another. It is also evident, that the two texts under consideration, apply exclusively to Christ. The first refers chiefly to his atoning sacrifice for sin, the latter to his regal authority in heaven. When the Apostle too, says, “Other foundation (qemelion ) can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ,” he evidently refers to the doctrines and work of Christ, and not to Christ personally. It was by his preaching that he laid the foundation of Christianity at Corinth. That preaching however referred to facts and truths. It was therefore, these facts and truths, all of which related to Christ, that he calls “foundation already laid.” Henry explains this language as applicable to “the doctrines of our Savior and his mediation.”
Scott refers the phrase to “the person, mediatorial office, righteousness, atonement, intercession and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Bloomfield says, “The sense of Jesus Christ here is,” as the best commentators have said, “the history of Jesus Christ, comprehending the doctrines and precepts, the promises and threatenings of the gospel.”
These texts therefore present no objection to the general truth we have here laid down. It certainly is an incorrect mode of speaking, to affirm, that a man is the foundation of a society and yet its ruler. Nor do we recollect, either in common parlance, or in books, to have heard or read a solitary expression of this sort.