Antichrist Must be Developed, Revealed and Smitten Before the Day of the Lord – A Contrary View of This Subject Considered – Prophetic Delineation – Antichrist's Birth – His Rapid Development – The Historic Picture and the Bible Description Agree – His Kingdom a Counterfeit – His Head and Mouth Notable – His Great Swelling Words of Blasphemy – His Blasphemous Teachings – His Wearing Out of the Saints of the Most High – His Millennial Reign – Antichrist Smitten with the Sword of the Spirit – His Final Struggle and End.
"Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that Man of Sin be revealed, the Son of Perdition." 2 Thess. 2:3
It is clearly stated, not only that this Man of Sin must first rise, but that he must develop and prosper, before the
Day of the Lord comes. Before Christ's day the prosperity and influence of this power will have reached their climax and will be on the decline; and it is to be by the bright shining of the Lord's presence at his second advent that this Man of Sin shall be utterly destroyed. These foretold circumstances we must observe, in order to see whether this caution to the Church in Paul's day is still applicable in our day. Now, after eighteen centuries, the claim is again made that the day of Christ has come; and the important question arises, Does anything which Paul said in correcting the error of the Thessalonians stand as an objection to this claim now?
From the Apostle's exhortations to the Church, to watch for the Lord's return, taking heed to the sure word of prophecy, and from his care in pointing out the signs of Christ's presence, the character of his work at that time, etc., it is evident that he was quite as anxious that the Church should be able to recognize the Lord's presence when he should come, as that they should not be deceived into the error that he had come, before the time of his presence. A fall into the latter error, in the early part of the age, exposed those who embraced it to the deceptions of the Antichrist principle which was even then working; while a failure to recognize the Day of the Lord, and his presence in the day when his presence is due, exposes those failing to recognize him to the continued deceptions and false doctrines of Antichrist, and blinds them to the grand truths and special privileges of this day. Hence the Apostle's anxiety for the Church at both ends of the age, and his warning – "Let no man deceive you by any means." Hence also the exact description of the Man of Sin, in order that he might be recognized in his time.
While Christians in this end of the age are inclined to forget even the promise of the Lord's return, and, when they
do remember it, to think of it only with dread and fearful forebodings, the early Church looked for it anxiously, and with joyful anticipation, as the fruition of all its hopes, the reward of all its faithfulness and the end of all its sorrows. Consequently, the believers of that day were ready to hearken diligently to any teaching which claimed that the Day of the Lord was either very near or present; and hence they were in danger of being deceived on this point unless they were careful students of the teachings of the apostles on the subject.
The Church at Thessalonica, impressed with the erroneous teachings of some, to the effect that the Lord had come again, and that they were living in his day, evidently supposed that the idea was in harmony with Paul's teaching in his first epistle to them, wherein he said (1 Thess. 5:1-5) that the Day of the Lord would steal on quietly and unobservedly, as a thief in the night, and that, though others would be in it unawares, the saints would be in the light concerning it. Learning of the serious error into which they had fallen, of supposing the day of the Lord's presence to have already come, Paul wrote them a second epistle, the central thought of which was the correction of this error. He says: "Now we beseech you, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together unto him, that ye be not readily agitated in mind nor troubled; neither by spirit, neither by word, neither by letter as from us, as though the Day of the Lord [enestemi] is present. Let no man delude you, by any means; because the falling away [apostasy] must first come, and there must be revealed that Man of Sin, the Son of Destruction, the Opposer, exalting himself above all, being called a god [mighty ruler] or that receives homage – so as to seat himself in the Temple of God, openly displaying himself that he is a god. Remember ye not that while I was yet with you I told you these
things? And now ye know what interposes, in order that he [Christ] may be revealed in his own [due] season. But insubordination [to Christ] is already working, only as a secret thing, until the now hindering one shall be out of the way; and then shall that insubordinate one be revealed, whom the Lord shall kill with the spirit of his mouth and annihilate by the bright shining of his [parousia] presence." Paul could write thus positively of the development of the Man of Sin before the Day of the Lord, because of his study of Daniel's prophecy, to which our Lord also referred (Matt. 24:15); and probably because Paul himself, in his "visions and revelations," had been shown the great havoc which this character would work in the Church.
It should be observed that Paul did not use arguments such as some today are disposed to use against the claim that the day of the Lord has begun. He did not say, O foolish Thessalonians, do ye not know that when Christ comes your eyes shall behold him, and your ears shall hear a dreadful sound of the trump of God? and that you will have further proof of it in the reeling tombstones and the rising saints? Is it not evident that if such a criticism had been proper, Paul would have been quick to avail himself of an argument so simple and so easily grasped? And moreover, is not the fact that he did not use this argument a proof that such an argument is not, and could not be, founded on the truth?
From the fact that Paul, in his energetic effort to correct their error, offered but this one objection to their claim, he thereby evidently endorsed as correct their general ideas of the Day of the Lord – that it could be commenced while many might be in ignorance of it, that it could come without outward demonstration to mark it. But the only ground of his objection was, that there must first come a falling away, and, in consequence of that falling away, the development of the Man of Sin – which, whatever it may be
(whether a single individual, or a great Antichrist system which he thus personifies), must rise, flourish and begin to decline – before the day of the Lord's presence. So, then, if this one objection which Paul offered be no longer in the way – if we can clearly see a character in actual existence whose history corresponds in every particular to the prophetic description of the Man of Sin, from the beginning of his existence down to the present time – then Paul's objection, which was well taken in his day, and his only one, is no longer a valid objection against the present claim that we are living in the Day of the Lord, the day of the Lord's presence. And, further, if the Man of Sin can be readily distinguished, if his rise, development and decline are clearly seen, then this fact becomes another corroborative proof of the teaching of the preceding chapters, which show that we are now in the Day of the Lord.
The student of prophecy will find that the Man of Sin is distinctly noted throughout the sacred writings, not only by giving a clear description of his character, but also by showing the times and places of his beginning, prosperity and decline.
This character is very forcibly delineated even in the names applied to it by the inspired writers. Paul calls it "That Wicked One," "The Man of Sin," "The Mystery of Iniquity," "The Antichrist," and "The Son of Perdition"; the Prophet Daniel calls it "The Abomination that maketh desolate" (Dan. 11:31; 12:11); and our Lord refers to the same character as "The Abomination of Desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet" (Matt. 24:15), and again as a "Beast" (Rev. 13:1-8). This same character was also prefigured by a little horn, or power, out of a terrible beast that Daniel saw in his prophetic vision, which had eyes, and a
mouth that spoke great things, and which prospered and made war with the saints, and prevailed against them. (Dan. 7:8,21) John also saw and warned the Church against this character, saying, "Ye have heard that Antichrist shall come." He then advises how to escape Antichrist's influence. (1 John 2:18-27) The book of Revelation, too, is in large part a detailed symbolic prophecy concerning this same Antichrist – though this we shall merely glance at here, leaving its more particular examination for a succeeding volume.
These various appellations and brief descriptions indicate a base, subtle, hypocritical, deceptive, tyrannical and cruel character, developed in the midst of the Christian Church; at first creeping in and up very gradually, then rapidly ascending in power and influence until it reaches the very pinnacle of earthly power, wealth and glory – meanwhile exerting its influence against the truth, and against the saints, and for its own aggrandizement, claiming, to the last, peculiar sanctity and authority and power from God.
In this chapter we purpose to show that this Man of Sin is a system, and not a single individual, as many seem to infer; that as the Christ consists of the true Lord and the true Church, so Antichrist is a counterfeit system consisting of a false lord and an apostate church, which for a time is permitted to misrepresent the truth, to practice deceit and to counterfeit the authority and future reign of the true Lord and his Church, and to intoxicate the nations with false claims and assumptions.
We hope to prove, to the satisfaction of every conscientious reader, that this great apostasy or falling away mentioned by Paul has come, and that this Man of Sin has been developed, has sat "in the temple of God" (the real, not the typical), has fulfilled all the predictions of the apostles and
prophets concerning his character, work, etc., has been revealed, and now, since A.D. 1799, is being consumed by the spirit of the Lord's mouth (the truth), and will be utterly destroyed during this day of the Lord's wrath and revelation with flaming fire of retribution, already beginning.
Without any desire to treat lightly the opinions of others, we nevertheless feel it necessary to point out to the reader a few of the absurdities connected with the common view concerning Antichrist, that thereby the dignity and reasonableness of the truth on this subject may be properly estimated, in contrast with the narrow claim that all which the Scriptures predict concerning this character will be accomplished by some one literal man. This man, it is claimed, will so charm the whole world that in a few short years he will secure to himself the homage and worship of all men, who will be so easily imposed upon as to suppose this man to be God, and, in a rebuilt Jewish temple, to worship him as the Almighty Jehovah. All this is to be done at lightning speed – three and a half years, say they, misinterpreting the symbolic time, even as they misinterpret the symbolic "man."
Tales of fiction and the most absurd imaginations of childhood furnish no parallel to the extreme views of some of God's dear children who are stumbling over a literal interpretation of Paul's language, and thereby blinding themselves and others to many precious truths, which, because of error on this subject, they are unprepared to see in an unprejudiced light. No matter how much we may sympathize with them, their "blind faith" forces a smile as they seriously tell over the various symbols of Revelation which they do not understand, misapplying them literally to their wonderful man. In this, the most skeptical age the world has ever known, he will, they claim, in the short space of three and a half years, have the whole world at his feet, worshiping him as God, while the Caesars, Alexander, Napoleon,
Mahomet and others sailed through bloody seas and spent many times three and a half years, without accomplishing the one thousandth part of what is claimed for this man.
And yet those conquerors had all the advantages of dense ignorance and superstition to aid them, while today we live under conditions most unfavorable to such a development of deceit and fraud: in a day when every hidden thing is being manifested as never before; in a day when fraud of the sort claimed is too preposterous and ridiculous for consideration. Indeed, the tendency of our day is toward a lack of respect for men, no matter how good, talented and able, or what offices of trust and authority they may occupy. To such an extent is this true, as never before, that it is a thousand times more likely that the whole world will deny that there is any God, than that they will ever worship a fellow human being as the Almighty God.
One great obstacle to many, in considering this subject, is the contracted idea generally entertained of the meaning of the word god. They fail to note that the Greek theos (god) does not invariably refer to Jehovah. It signifies a mighty one, a ruler, and especially a religious or sacerdotal ruler. In the New Testament, theos is seldom used except in referring to Jehovah, because, in their discourses, the apostles spoke rarely and little of the false systems of religion, and hence seldom noticed their sacred rulers or gods; yet in the following texts the word god (theos) is used to refer to others than the one supreme being, Jehovah – viz.: John 10:34,35; Acts 7:40,43; 17:23; 1 Cor. 8:5.
Recognizing the breadth of the Greek word theos, it will be seen at once that the Apostle's statement concerning Antichrist – that he will seat himself in the temple of God, showing himself to be a god – does not of necessity mean that Antichrist will attempt to exalt himself above Jehovah, nor
even that he will attempt to take Jehovah's place. It simply implies that this one will exhibit himself as a religious ruler, claiming and exercising authority over and above all other religious rulers, even to the extent of exalting himself in the Church, which is the true Temple of God, and there claiming and exercising lordly authority as its chief or authorized ruler. Wherever in the Greek the word theos is used in any sentence where its meaning would be ambiguous, it then is preceded by the Greek article, if it refers to Jehovah; as if in English we were to say the God. In the texts above, which refer to other gods, and in this text (2 Thess. 2:4), which refers to Antichrist, there is no such emphasis.
With this seen clearly, a great stumbling-block is removed, and the mind is prepared to look for the right things as fulfilments of this prediction: not for an Antichrist claiming to be Jehovah and demanding worship as such, but for one claiming to be the chief, supreme religious teacher in the Church; who thus attempts the usurpation of the authority of Christ, the divinely appointed Head, Lord and Teacher.
Strangely enough, too, they who take this literal view of the Man of Sin are generally those who are believers in the Lord's premillennial coming, who are looking for and expecting the Lord to come "at any moment now." Why cannot all see the Apostle's meaning, when he positively declares that the Day of the Lord (the Day of his presence) cannot come and should not be expected until after the Man of Sin has been revealed? It required over forty years to build the former Jewish temple, and it would surely require at least ten to twenty years to build, with more than former magnificence, the new temple at Jerusalem, where they expect a literal Man of Sin to be installed and worshiped as God. Why then should those who believe thus expect the Lord to
come at any moment now? Such a view is out of harmony with reason as well as with the Apostle's prophecy. Consistency demands that they should either give up looking for the Lord at any moment, or else give up their expectation of a future Man of Sin; for the Day of the Lord's presence cannot come until the falling away (the apostasy) has taken place, and until the Man of Sin has been developed and revealed out of that apostasy.
But when we get a correct view of the Apostle's words, together with correct ideas of the manner of the Lord's coming, we find no such discrepancies and contradictions, but a convincing harmony and fitness. And such a view we now present. Its Scripturalness the reader must prove.
The various titles applied to this system are evidently symbolic. They do not refer as names to a single individual, but as character delineations to a corrupt religious and civil combination, developed within the nominal Christian church, which, by its subtle opposition to Christ, the Head, and his true Church, his body, well earns the name Antichrist. Such a system could fulfil all the predictions made concerning the Antichrist, or Man of Sin, though an individual could not. It is evident, moreover, that this Antichrist system is not one of the heathen systems of religion, such as Mohammedanism or Brahminism; for the Christian Church has never been under the control of any such system, nor did any of these systems originate in the Christian Church. They now are, and always have been, independent of the Christian Church.
The system which fully answers the description given by inspiration must be professedly Christian, and must contain a large majority of those who claim to be Christians. And it must be one having its start as an apostasy, or falling away from the true Christian faith – an apostasy, too, which was secret and stealthy, until circumstances favored its assumption
of power. Its stealthy beginning was in the days of the apostles – in the desire of some teachers to be greatest.
We need not look long to find a character fitting all the requirements perfectly; one whose record, written by secular historians as well as by its own deluded servants, we shall see agrees exactly with the prophetic delineations of Antichrist. But when we state that the one and only system whose history fits these prophecies is Papacy, let no one misunderstand us to mean that every Roman Catholic is a man of sin; nor that the priests, nor even the popes of the Church of Rome, are, or have been, the Antichrist. No man is "the Antichrist," "the Man of Sin," described in prophecy. Popes, bishops and others are at most only parts or members of the Antichrist system, even as all of the Royal Priests are only members of the true Christ, under Jesus their head, and in the same manner that these in their present condition are together the antitypical Elijah, though no one of them is the Elijah or the Christ foretold. Notice, further, that the Church of Rome as an ecclesiastical system only is not the "Man of Sin," and is never presented under any figure of a man. On the contrary, a woman is always the symbol used for a church separate from its head and lord. The true Church is symbolized by a "chaste virgin," while the apostate church, which has fallen away from primitive purity and fidelity to the Lord, is symbolically called "a harlot." As the true "virgin" Church continues to be such to the end of the age, when she is to be united to her Lord and take his name – Christ – so the apostate church was not the Antichrist, or Man of Sin, until she united with her lord and head, the pope, the claimed vicegerent of Christ, and became a religious empire, falsely styled Christendom – which signifies Christ's Kingdom.
Papacy is the name of this false kingdom; and it was built upon a misapplied truth – the truth that the Church is
called to be kings and priests unto God and to reign on the earth. But the time for reigning had not yet come: the Gospel age was not appointed for that purpose, but for the selection, development, discipline, humiliation and sacrifice of the Church, following in the footprints of her Lord and patiently waiting and enduring until the time appointed for the promised exaltation and glorious reign – the Millennial age.
The Lord foresaw that nominal Christianity would spread over the world, and that, becoming popular, it would be embraced by many who would appreciate the form without entering into the spirit of its institution. He foresaw that as numbers of this sort would identify themselves with the Church, the worldly spirit, which is the opposite of the spirit of self-denial and self-sacrifice, would come in with them; that selfishness and a desire to be great and to rule, thus coming in, would not have long to wait until they could seize an opportunity; and that thus the Church would seek to dominate the world before the time – or, rather, that the worldly element which would enter the Church would make its influence felt, and in the name of the true Church would grasp the civil power of earth which God had given over to the Gentiles, and which cannot pass fully into the hands of the true Church until the close of the Times of the Gentiles, A.D. 1914.
And thus it actually transpired: the nominal church began to fall away as it increased in numbers under the teaching and example of ambitious men whose ideas grew more and more favorable to the power and worldly influence which numbers and wealth brought with them. Gradually the spirit of the Church became worldly, and the things of the world were coveted. The suggestion of ambition was – "If the great Roman Empire, with all its power and influence,
its armies and wealth, were only to support the Church, how honorable and noble it would then be to be a Christian! How speedily then would heathen persecutions cease! Then it would be in our power not only to overawe them, but to compel their adherence to the Church and cross and name of Christ. It evidently is not God's design that the Church should forever be subject to the world and persecuted by it: the Apostle's words, 'Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?' as well as our Lord's promises that we shall reign with him, and the many prophecies which refer to the reign of the Church, indicate clearly that such is God's plan. True, the Apostle wrote that our Lord would first return and exalt the Church, and exhorted that we should 'wait' for the Lord; but several centuries are now past, and we see no sign of the Lord's coming. We must understand that the apostles were to some extent in error. To us it seems clear that we can and should use every means to obtain a hold upon civil government and conquer the world for the Lord. It must be, too, that the Church should have a head – one to represent the absent Lord and to represent the Church before the world – one who would receive the homage of the world, exercise the authority of Christ, and rule the world with a rod of iron, as the Prophet David predicted." Thus gradually by a slow process of reasoning covering centuries, the real hope of the Church for exaltation to rule and bless the world – namely, the second coming of the Lord – was lost sight of, and a new hope took its place: the hope of success without the Lord, under the headship and lead of a line of popes. And thus, by collusion, intriguing and exchange of favors with the world, the hope of the Church became a false hope, a delusive snare by which Satan led from one evil and error to another, both of doctrine and of practice.
The point at which the apostasy developed into the "Man of Sin" was when the Papal hierarchy exalted itself under the headship of an arranged line of popes, and claimed and attempted the rulership of earth in the name of, and pretending to be, Christ's Millennial Kingdom. It was a false, fraudulent claim, no matter how thoroughly some of its supporters believed it. It was a fraudulent, counterfeit kingdom, no matter how sincere some if its organizers and supporters may have been. It was Antichrist's, no matter how much they claimed and believed it to be the true Christ's glory and kingdom and power upon earth. It is a mistake to suppose that to be conscientious is always to be right. Every system of error doubtless has as many conscientiously deluded votaries as it has hypocrites, or more. Conscientiousness is moral honesty, and it is not dependent upon knowledge. The heathen, misinformed, conscientiously worship and sacrifice to idols; Saul, misinformed, conscientiously persecuted the saints; and so, too, many papists, misinformed, conscientiously did violence to the prophecies, persecuted the true saints and organized the great system of Antichrist. For hundreds of years Papacy has not only deceived the kings of the earth as to its power and claimed divine authority, and ruled over them, but even in the Church, God's Temple, where Christ alone should be recognized as Head and Teacher, it has seated itself and claimed to be the only teacher and lawgiver; and here it has deceived all, except the few, by its phenomenal success and boastful claims. "All the world wondered" – were astonished, deceived, bewildered – "whose names were not written in the Lamb's book of life," and many whose names are written as saints of God were seriously perplexed. And this deception is the stronger because of the very gradual formation of these ambitious designs and their yet more gradual realization. It extended
over centuries, and, as an ambition, was already secretly at work in Paul's day. It was a process of little by little adding error to error – the supplementing of one man's ambitious declarations by those of another and another farther down the stream of time. Thus, insidiously, did Satan plant and water the seeds of error, and develop the greatest and most influential system the world has ever known – Antichrist.
The name "Antichrist" has a twofold significance. The first is against (i.e., in opposition to) Christ: the second significance is instead (i.e., a counterfeit) of Christ. In the first sense the expression is a general one, which would apply to any enemy opposing Christ. In this sense Saul (afterward called Paul), and every Jew, and every Mohammedan, and all the Pagan emperors and people of Rome, were antichrists – opposers of Christ. (Acts 9:4) But it is not in this sense of the word that the Scriptures use the name Antichrist. They pass over all such enemies, and apply the term Antichrist in the sense given above, as now its secondary meaning, viz. – as against, in the sense of misrepresenting, counterfeiting, taking the place of the true Christ. Thus John remarks, "Ye have heard that the Antichrist shall come. Even now there are many antichrists." (1 John 2:18,19) [The Greek distinguishes between the special Antichrist and the numerous lesser ones.] And John's subsequent remarks show that he does not refer to all opposers of Christ and the Church, but to a certain class who, still professing to be of the Christ body, the Church, had left the foundation principles of the truth, and were therefore not only misrepresenting the truth, but were, in the eyes of the world, taking the place and name of the true Church – hence really counterfeiting the true saints. John says of these, "They went out from us, but they were not of us:" they do not represent us, even though they may deceive themselves and the world on this subject. In the same epistle John declares
that those he mentions as many antichrists have the spirit of the Antichrist.
Here, then, is what we should expect, and what we do find in Papacy: not an opposition to the name of Christ, but an enemy or opponent of Christ in that it falsely bears his name, counterfeits his kingdom and authority, and misrepresents his character and plans and doctrines before the world – a most baneful enemy and opponent indeed – worse far than an outspoken foe. And this is true, be it remembered, even though some of those connected with that system are conscientiously astray – "deceiving and being deceived."
With these intimations as to the identity and characteristics of the Man of Sin, and when, and where, and under what circumstances, to look for him, we shall proceed to an examination of some of the historic evidences, proving, we think beyond reasonable question, that every prediction concerning the Antichrist has been fulfilled in the Papal system, in a manner and to an extent which, with the enlightenment of this day taken into account, all must admit could never be repeated. Space obliges us here to confine ourselves to a mere outline of the great mass of historic testimony. We have also confined ourselves to historians of recognized accuracy, in many instances going to Roman Catholic writers for their testimony or admissions.
A GREAT FALLING AWAY. We first inquire, Does history record a fulfilment of Paul's prophecy of a great falling away from the original simplicity and purity of the doctrines and life of the Christian Church, and of the secret working of an iniquitous, ambitious influence in the Church, prior to the development of Papacy, the Man of
Sin – i.e., prior to the recognition of a pope as the head of the Church?
Yes, very clearly: The Papal Hierarchy did not come into existence for several centuries after the Lord and the apostles had founded the Church. And of the interval between, we read*:
"As the church grew in numbers and wealth, costly edifices were constructed for worship; the services became more elaborate; sculpture and painting were enlisted in the work of providing aids to devotion. Relics of saints and martyrs were cherished as sacred possessions; religious observances were multiplied; and the church under the Christian emperors [in the fourth century], with its array of clergy and of imposing ceremonies, assumed much of the stateliness and visible splendor that belonged to the heathen system which it had supplanted."
Says another,+ "Contemporaneously with the establishment [of Christianity as the religion of the empire in the fourth century] was the progress of a great and general corruption which had arisen two centuries before. Superstition and ignorance invested the ecclesiastics with a power which they exerted to their own aggrandizement."
Rapin observes that, "In the fifth century Christianity was debased by a vast number of human inventions; the simplicity of its government and discipline was reduced to a system of clerical power; and its worship was polluted with ceremonies borrowed from the heathen."
Mosheim, in his "History of Christianity," traces the falling away of the Church from its original simplicity and purity, step by step, down to its deep degradation which culminated in the development of the "Man of Sin." Whether or not he recognized the Antichrist does not appear, but in a masterly way he has traced the workings of the "Mystery of
Iniquity," in the Church, down to the beginning of the fourth century – when his work was suddenly cut short by death. From his excellent and voluminous work our space does not here permit quotations, but we commend the work entire as highly instructive in its bearing on the subject.
We quote, from Lord's "Old Roman World," a brief and pointed sketch of the Church's history during the first four centuries, which shows clearly and concisely its gradual decline, and its rapid degeneracy after the hindrance referred to by the Apostle was removed. He says:
"In the First Century not many wise or noble were called. No great names have been handed down to us; no philosophers, or statesmen, or nobles, or generals, or governors, or judges, or magistrates. In the first century the Christians were not of sufficient importance to be generally persecuted by the government. They had not even arrested public attention. Nobody wrote against them, not even Greek philosophers. We do not read of protests or apologies from the Christians themselves. They had no great men in their ranks, either for learning, or talents, or wealth, or social position. Nothing in history is more barren than the annals of the Church in the first century, so far as great names are concerned. Yet in this century converts were multiplied in every city, and traditions point to the martyrdoms of those who were prominent, including nearly all of the apostles.
"In the Second Century there are no greater names than Polycarp, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Clement, Melito and Apollonius, quiet bishops or intrepid martyrs, who addressed their flocks in upper chambers, and who held no worldly rank, famous only for their sanctity or simplicity of character, and only mentioned for their sufferings and faith. We read of martyrs, some of whom wrote valuable treatises and apologies; but among them we find no people of rank. It was a disgrace to be a Christian in the eye of fashion or power. The early Christian literature is chiefly apologetic, and the doctrinal character is simple and practical. There were controversies in the Church, an intense religious life, great activities, great virtues, but no outward conflicts,
no secular history. They had not as yet assailed the government or the great social institutions of the empire. It was a small body of pure and blameless men, who did not aspire to control society. But they had attracted the notice of the government and were of sufficient consequence to be persecuted. They were looked upon as fanatics who sought to destroy a reverence for existing institutions."
"In this century the polity of the Church was quietly organized. There was an organized fellowship among the members; bishops had become influential, not in society, but among the Christians; dioceses and parishes were established; there was a distinction between city and rural bishops; delegates of churches assembled to discuss points of faith or suppress nascent heresies; the diocesan system was developed, and ecclesiastical centralization commenced; deacons began to be reckoned among the higher clergy; the weapons of excommunication were forged; missionary efforts were carried on; the festivals of the church were created; Gnosticism was embraced by many leading minds; catechetical schools taught the faith systematically; the formulas of baptism and the sacraments became of great importance; and monachism became popular. The Church was thus laying the foundation of its future polity and power.
"The Third Century saw the Church more powerful as an institution. Regular synods had assembled in the great cities of the empire; the metropolitan system was matured; the canons of the Church were definitely enumerated; great schools of theology attracted inquiring minds; the doctrines were systematized [i.e., defined, limited, and formulated into creeds and confessions of faith]. Christianity had spread so extensively that it must needs be either persecuted or legalized; great bishops ruled the growing church; great doctors [of divinity] speculated on the questions [philosophy and science falsely so called] which had agitated the Grecian schools; church edifices were enlarged, and banquets instituted in honor of the martyrs. The Church was rapidly advancing to a position which extorted the attention of mankind.
"It was not till the Fourth Century – when imperial persecution had stopped; when [the Roman Emperor] Constantine was converted; when the Church was allied with the State; when the early faith was itself corrupted; when superstition and vain philosophy had entered the ranks of the faithful; when bishops became courtiers; when churches became both rich and splendid; when synods were brought under political influence; when monachists [monks] had established a false principle of virtue; when politics and dogmatics went hand in hand, and emperors enforced the decrees of [church] councils – that men of rank entered the Church. When Christianity became the religion of the court and of the fashionable classes, it was used to support the very evils against which it originally protested. The Church was not only impregnated with the errors of Pagan philosophy, but it adopted many of the ceremonies of oriental worship, which were both minute and magnificent. The churches became, in the fourth century, as imposing as the old temples of idolatry. Festivals became frequent and imposing. The people clung to them because they obtained excitement and a cessation from labor. Veneration for martyrs ripened into the introduction of images – a future source of popular idolatry. Christianity was emblazoned in pompous ceremonies. The veneration for saints approximated to their deification, and superstition exalted the mother of our Lord into an object of absolute worship. Communion tables became imposing altars typical of Jewish sacrifices, and the relics of martyrs were preserved as sacred amulets. Monastic life also ripened into a grand system of penance and expiatory rites. Armies of monks retired to gloomy and isolated places, and abandoned themselves to rhapsodies and fastings and self-expiation. They were a dismal and fanatical set of men, overlooking the practical aims of life.
"The clergy, ambitious and worldly, sought rank and distinction. They even thronged the courts of princes and aspired to temporal honors. They were no longer supported by the voluntary contributions of the faithful, but by revenues supplied by government, or property inherited from the old [pagan] temples. Great legacies were made to the
Church by the rich, and these the clergy controlled. These bequests became sources of inexhaustible wealth. As wealth increased and was intrusted to the clergy, they became indifferent to the wants of the people – no longer supported by them. They became lazy, arrogant and independent. The people were shut out of the government of the Church. The bishop became a grand personage who controlled and appointed his clergy. The Church was allied with the State, and religious dogmas were enforced by the sword of the magistrate. "An Imposing Hierarchy Was Established, of Various Grades, which Culminated in the Bishop of Rome
"The clergy, ambitious and worldly, sought rank and distinction. They even thronged the courts of princes and aspired to temporal honors. They were no longer supported by the voluntary contributions of the faithful, but by revenues supplied by government, or property inherited from the old [pagan] temples. Great legacies were made to the
Church by the rich, and these the clergy controlled. These bequests became sources of inexhaustible wealth. As wealth increased and was intrusted to the clergy, they became indifferent to the wants of the people – no longer supported by them. They became lazy, arrogant and independent. The people were shut out of the government of the Church. The bishop became a grand personage who controlled and appointed his clergy. The Church was allied with the State, and religious dogmas were enforced by the sword of the magistrate.
"An Imposing Hierarchy Was Established, of Various Grades, which Culminated in the Bishop of Rome
"The Emperor decided points of faith, and the clergy were exempted from the burdens of the state. There was a great flocking to the priestly offices when the clergy wielded so much power and became so rich; and men were elevated to great sees [bishoprics], not because of their piety or talents, but their influence with the great. The mission of the Church was lost sight of in a degrading alliance with the State. Christianity was a pageant, a ritualism, an arm of the State, a vain philosophy, a superstition, a formula."
Thus the great falling away from the faith, predicted by the Apostle Paul, is an established fact of history. All historians bear witness to it, even those who approve the assumption of power and eulogize the chief actors in the scheme. We regret that our space limits our quotations to some of the most pointed expressions. The falling away, covering a period of centuries, was so gradual as to be much less noticeable to those who then lived in its midst than to us who see it as a whole; and the more deceiving was it because every step of organization, and every advance toward influence and authority in the Church and over the world, was taken in the name of Christ, and professedly to glorify him and fulfil his plans recorded in Scripture. Thus was the great Antichrist developed – the most dangerous, most
subtle and most persistent opponent of true Christianity, and the most fiendish persecutor of the true saints.
The Apostle Paul foretold that this iniquitous principle would work secretly for a time, while some opposing thing stood in the way, until, the hindrance being removed, it could have a free course, and progress rapidly to the development of the Antichrist. He says, "Only he that now hindereth will hinder, until he be taken out of the way." (2 Thess. 2:7) What does history have to show in fulfilment of this prediction? It shows that the thing which hindered a rapid development of Antichrist was the fact that the place aspired to was already filled by another. The Roman empire had not only conquered the world and given it politics and laws, but, recognizing religious superstitions to be the strongest chains by which to hold and control a people, it had adopted a scheme which had its origin in Babylon, in the time of her greatness as ruler of the world. That plan was, that the emperor should be esteemed the director and ruler in religious as well as in civil affairs. In support of this, it was claimed that the emperor was a demigod, in some sense descended from their heathen deities. As such he was worshiped and his statues adored; and as such he was styled Pontifex Maximus – i.e., Chief Priest or Greatest Religious Ruler. And this is the very title claimed by and given to the pontiffs or popes of the Roman Hierarchy since this Antichrist obtained "the power and seat and great authority" of the former ruler of Rome. Rev. 13:2
But ancient pagan Rome and Babylon had only a mere skeleton of sacerdotal power as compared with the complex and elaborate machinery and contrivances of doctrine and practice of Papal Rome, the triumphant successor to their scheme, who now, after centuries of cunning and skill, has its power so intrenched that even today, when its power is
outwardly broken and it is shorn of civil dominion, it rules the world and controls kingdoms secretly, under cover, more thoroughly than the Roman emperors ever ruled the kings subordinate to them.
To their credit be it recorded that not one of the Roman emperors, as Pontifex Maximus or Chief Religious Ruler, ever exercised the tyranny of some of their successors on the Papal throne. On this point Gibbon says:* "It must be allowed that the number of Protestants who were executed in a single province and a single reign, far exceeded that of the primitive martyrs in the space of three centuries and of the [entire] Roman empire." According to the custom of their day they did favor the most popular gods, but wherever their armies went, the gods and worship of the conquered people were generally respected. This was illustrated in Palestine, in which, though under Roman control, religious liberty and freedom of conscience were generally respected by the imperial Pontifex Maximus, who as religious ruler thus showed his clemency toward the people, and his harmony with all the popular gods.
So, then, we see that what hindered the early development of Antichrist was the fact that the coveted seat of spiritual supremacy was filled by the representatives of the strongest empire the world had yet known; and that for any to have attempted an open display of ambition in this direction would have exposed them to the wrath of the masters of the world. Hence this iniquitous ambition at first worked secretly, disclaiming any intent to gain power or authority, until a favorable opportunity was presented – after the nominal Church had become large and influential and the imperial power was shattered by political dissensions and was beginning to decay.
The power of Rome was rapidly failing, and its strength
and unity were divided among six claimants to the imperial honors, when Constantine became emperor. And that, in part at least, he adopted Christianity to strengthen and unify his empire, is a reasonable supposition. On this point history says:
"Whether Constantine embraced it [Christianity] from conviction of its truth, or from policy, is a matter of dispute. Certain it is, that this religion, though receiving from the Roman power only silent obloquy, or active persecution, had extended among the people, so that Constantine strengthened himself in the affection of the soldiers by adopting it....Worldly ambition pointed to the course which the emperor pursued in declaring himself a Christian, and not the spirit of Christ, who said, My kingdom is not of this world. Constantine made it the religion of the empire, and thenceforth we find its influence sullied with earthly things....No particular bishop was regarded as head of the whole Church, but the emperor was such in point of fact. In this capacity he called the Council of Nice, having in the controversy between Athanasius and Arius taken sides against the latter. The council agreed with the emperor."*
"Whatever advantages might be derived from the acquisition of an imperial proselyte, he was distinguished by the splendor of the purple, rather than the superiority of wisdom or virtue, from the many thousands of his subjects who had embraced the doctrines of Christianity....The same year of his reign in which he convened the Council of Nice was polluted by the execution of his eldest son.... The gratitude of the Church has exalted the virtues and excused the failings of a generous patron who seated Christianity on the throne of the Roman world."+
Here, then, under Constantine's reign, the opposition of the empire to Christianity gave way to favor, and the Imperial Pontifex Maximus became the patron of the professed but really apostate Church of Christ; and, taking her by the
hand, he assisted her to a place of popularity and splendor from which she was able afterward, as the imperial power grew weak, to put her own representatives upon the religious throne of the world as Chief Religious Ruler – Pontifex Maximus.
But it is a mistake to suppose, as many do, that the Church at this time was a pure (virgin) church, suddenly lifted into a dignity and power which became her snare. Quite the contrary is true. As already stated, a great falling away had occurred, from primitive purity and simplicity and freedom into creed-bound, ambitious factions, whose errors and ceremonies, resembling those of the pagan philosophies, garnished with some truths and enforced and clinched with the doctrine of everlasting torment, had drawn into the church a vast horde, whose numbers and influence became valuable to Constantine and were respected and used accordingly. No such worldly man ever thought seriously of espousing the cause of the humble, Christlike "little flock" – the truly consecrated Church, whose names are written in heaven. The popularity with his soldiers, mentioned by the historians, is very different from popularity with real soldiers of the cross.
In proof of this let us here quote from history, regarding the state of religious society under Diocletian, the predecessor of Constantine, who, toward the close of his reign, believing that Christians had attempted to destroy his life, became embittered against them and persecuted them by ordering the destruction of Bibles, the banishing of bishops, and finally by decreeing the death of such as opposed these enactments. Gibbon* says of this era:
"Diocletian and his colleagues frequently conferred the most important offices on those persons who avowed their abhorrence for the worship of the gods, but who displayed abilities proper for the service of the state. The bishops held
an honorable rank in their respective provinces, and were treated with distinction and respect, not only by the people, but by the magistrates themselves. Almost in every city, the ancient churches were found insufficient to contain the increasing number of proselytes; and in their place more stately and capacious edifices were erected for the public worship of the faithful. The corruption of manners and principles, so forcibly lamented by Eusebius, may be considered as not only a consequence but a proof of the liberty which the Christians enjoyed and abused under the reign of Diocletian. Prosperity had relaxed the nerves of discipline. Fraud, envy and malice prevailed in every congregation. The proselytes aspired to the episcopal office, which every day became an object more worthy of their ambition. The bishops, who contended with each other for ecclesiastical pre-eminence, appeared by their conduct to claim a secular and tyrannical power in the church; and the lively faith which still distinguished the Christians from the Gentiles was shown much less in their lives than in their controversial writings.
"The story of Paul of Samosata, who filled the metropolitan see [bishopric] of Antioch while the East was in the hands of Odenatus and Zenobia, may serve to illustrate the condition and character of the times. [A.D. 270] Paul considered the service of the church a very lucrative profession. His ecclesiastical jurisdiction was venal and rapacious: he extorted frequent contributions from the most opulent of the faithful, and converted to his own use a considerable part of the public revenues. [It is claimed by critics, says Gibbon, that Paul held the office of Imperial Ducenarius, or procurator, with an annual salary of two hundred Sestertia – $77,000.] By his pride and luxury, the Christian religion was rendered odious in the eyes of the Gentiles. His council chamber, and his throne, the splendor with which he appeared in public, the suppliant crowd who solicited his attention, the multitude of letters and petitions to which he dictated his answers, and the perpetual hurry of business in which he was involved, were circumstances much better suited to the state of a civil magistrate than to the humility of a primitive bishop. When he harangued his people from
the pulpit, Paul affected the figurative style and the theatrical gestures of an Asiatic sophist, while the cathedral resounded with the most extravagant acclamations in the praise of his divine eloquence. Against those who resisted his power, or refused to flatter his vanity, the prelate of Antioch was arrogant, rigid and inexorable, but he relaxed the discipline and lavished the treasures of the church on his dependent clergy."
Thus under Constantine's reign all hindrance was finally removed, and, as we shall find, the organization of Papacy – the church nominal under the headship of the bishop of Rome as pope – was speedily effected.
The rapid development of the Papal Hierarchy after the accession of Constantine is a very remarkable feature of its history. "The prince of this world" was true to his promise to give power and dominion as a reward for worshiping and obeying him. (Matt. 4:8,9) By the edict of Milan, Constantine gave legal security to the possessions of the Church, and Christians recovered lands formerly forfeited. A second edict, A.D. 321, granted the liberty of bequeathing property to the Church, while Constantine himself set an example of liberality and lavished wealth upon the Christian clergy unsparingly. This example of the Emperor was followed by thousands of his subjects, whose offerings during life and whose bequests in the hour of death flowed into the ecclesiastical treasury. White says:*
"The church of Rome began early to assume authority over the others [over the churches of other cities and countries] as well from the numbers and wealth of its converts as from its position in the capital city. Many circumstances concurred to augment the influence of its bishop, although his usurpation and ambition were for a time vigorously repelled. The transference of the seat of power [by Constantine,
from Rome to Constantinople, A.D. 334] increased the power of the western church by conferring the chief magistracy on the bishop. To this must be added the sanction given by Gratian and Valentinian to the custom of appeals to Rome, and the frequent pilgrimages to the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul and other martyrs."
After the death of Constantine the varied fortunes of the Roman Empire seemed to cooperate for the advancement of the apostate church and the development of Antichrist; for a union under one head or pope, esteemed the representative or vicegerent of Christ, had not yet been effected. The emperors succeeding Constantine, down to Theodosius, continued to regard themselves as the heads of the Church, in whom centered divine authority. Though no one of the eighteen hundred bishops of the empire was yet prepared to demand recognition as the head, or pope, several had their eyes on that prize, and the emperors were shown the shallowness of their claims to the title Pontifex Maximus, in the argument that since they worshiped dead saints they owed a similar respect to their living representatives – the bishops. Nevertheless, the emperors in their edicts repeatedly referred to the empire as a divine hierarchy and to themselves as divine personages.*
The power and headship of the bishop of Rome came on apace: within fifty years from the time Christianity was legally established, his wealth and dignity, as the bishop of the capital and chief city of the world, were very great. Ammianus, a contemporary historian, describing his wealth and ostentation, says, "He surpassed kings in splendor and magnificence, rode in the stateliest chariots, was arrayed in the finest attire, and was distinguished by his luxury and pride." The removal of the seat of empire to Constantinople, the exposure of the city of Rome to the invasion of the barbarians from the north, the continual
changes of generals and governors in the now fast falling empire, left the bishop of the church at Rome the most permanent and most honored official there; and his gradually increasing prestige was heightened as well by the removal of the rival splendors of the imperial court to Constantinople as by the reverence attaching to the very name of Rome, among all the peoples of the world.
As an illustration of this, we note that when, in A.D. 455, the city of Rome was invaded and plundered by the Vandals, and all around was distress and desolation, Leo, the bishop of Rome, improved the opportunity for impressing upon all, both barbarians and Romans, his claim of spiritual power. To the rude and superstitious barbarians, already greatly impressed by what they saw about them, of Rome's greatness and wealth, Leo, arrayed in his pontifical robes, exclaimed: "Beware! I am the successor of St. Peter, to whom God has given the keys of the kingdom of heaven and against whose church the gates of hell cannot prevail; I am the living representative of divine power on the earth; I am Caesar, a Christian Caesar, ruling in love, to whom all Christians owe allegiance; I hold in my hands the curses of hell and the benedictions of heaven; I absolve all subjects from allegiance to kings; I give and take away, by divine right, all thrones and principalities of Christendom. Beware how you desecrate the patrimony given me by your invisible king; yea, bow down your necks to me and pray that the anger of God may be averted."
The veneration for the place and name was actively taken advantage of by the bishop of Rome, who soon claimed a superiority to all other bishops, governors and rulers. Soon he claimed not only ecclesiastical dominion of the world, but also civil dominion: that the right to crown and uncrown, to make and degrade any and all rulers of the old Roman Empire was the right and inheritance of the Church of Rome, which, it was claimed, God had thus invested
with the dominion of earth. These claims were made repeatedly, and repeatedly denied by opposing bishops, so that to fix an exact year as the date of its beginning would be impossible. As for itself, Papacy claims that it was organized in the days of the apostles, and that Peter was the first pope; but this is not only without proof, but it is most positively contradicted by all history, which shows that though the iniquity of ambition worked secretly for a long time, it was hindered from developing into Antichrist, and from making such open claims, until the Roman Empire began to disintegrate.
Henceforth we deal with the Antichrist, whose gradual development and organization from secretly working ambition are a fitting prelude to the terrible character displayed after the coveted power had been grasped – from 539 A.D. to 1799 A.D., 1260 years. Of this period the first three hundred years mark the rise of this temporal power; the last three mark its waning under the influences of the Reformation and civilization; and the intermediate period of seven centuries embraces Papacy's glory-time and the "dark ages" of the world, full of frauds and deceptions in the name of Christ and true religion.
A Roman Catholic writer fully corroborates our findings on this subject, and we present his words regardless of their gloss, as corroborative testimony. Giving, with glowing enthusiasm, a description of the rise of the Papacy to temporal power, describing it as a plant of heavenly origin, and therefore of rapid growth and high exaltation in the world, he says:
"The rise of the temporal power of the Popes presents to the mind one of the most extraordinary phenomena which the annals of the human race offer to our wonder and admiration. By a singular combination of concurring circumstances a new power and a new dominion grew up, silently
and steadily, on the ruins of that Roman Empire which had extended its sway over, or made itself respected by, nearly all the nations, peoples and races that lived in the period of its strength and glory; and that new power, of lowly origin, struck a deeper root, and soon exercised a wider authority, than the empire whose gigantic ruins it saw shivered into fragments and mouldering in dust. In Rome itself the power of the successor of Peter grew side by side with, and under the protecting shadow of, that of the emperor; and such was the increasing influence of the popes, that the majesty of the supreme Pontiff was likely ere long to dim the splendor of the purple.
"The removal by Constantine of the seat of empire from the West to the East, from the historic banks of the Tiber to the beautiful shores of the Bosphorus, laid the broad foundation of a sovereignty which in reality commences from that momentous change. Practically, almost from that day, Rome, which had witnessed the birth, the youth, the splendor, and the decay, of the mighty race by whom her name had been carried with her eagles to the remotest regions of the then known world, was gradually abandoned by the inheritors of her renown; and its people, deserted by the emperors, and an easy prey to the ravages of the barbarians whom they had no longer the courage to resist, beheld in the bishop of Rome their guardian, their protector, their father. Year by year the temporal authority of the popes grew into shape and hardened into strength, without violence, without bloodshed, without fraud, by the force of overwhelming circumstances, fashioned, as if visibly, by the hand of God."
While Roman Catholics thus represent the rise of the Papacy on the ruins of Pagan Rome as a triumph of Christianity, those who are acquainted with the true spirit of Christianity look in vain to see any trace of that spirit in the prostitution of the Church and her unholy alliance with the world. Neither can the true Christian see in the advantages furnished by ignorance, superstition, calamities, and the
various circumstances of the times of which the Church of Rome took advantage, any evidence of divine interposition in her favor. Nor yet can they discover, in the exaltation of the Church of Rome to earthly power and glory, any verification of the Lord's promise to the true Church, to exalt her in due time – after the Antichrist has come and gone; for the exaltation of the true Church is not to be to a blood-stained and crime-polluted throne, such as the throne of the Papacy has been from its very beginning: neither will the true Christ ever need to call upon earthly kings to establish or defend his power. The marks which distinguish the counterfeit from the real kingdom of Christ are easily recognizable by those acquainted, through the Scriptures, with the real Christ and his body, the true Church, with the principles upon which his kingdom is to be established, and with the object for which it is to be set up.
But let no one suppose that the real Church of Christ, even in those corrupt times, was either extinguished or lost sight of. "The Lord knoweth them that are his" in every age and under every condition. As wheat they were permitted to grow in the midst of a field overrun with tares; as gold they were in the furnace, being tried and purified and "made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light." True, the course of the multitude, who called themselves Christians, occupies the most prominent place on the pages of history; but undoubtedly a faithful few through all the persecutions, and in the midst of all the deceptive arts of the Mystery of Iniquity, walked worthy of their high calling, were laid to rest and recorded of God as heirs to the crown that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for them.
Thus, clearly, on the pages of history, the fact is pointed out that this Man of Sin, Antichrist, was born in Rome; and, though at first opposed, he gradually raised himself up to power; or, as expressed in Daniel's prophecy, as "a little horn," it came up out of the head of that old Roman beast,
that "great and terrible beast," for which Daniel could find no name, which had such power to hurt and to destroy. And, as we proceed, we shall find that Antichrist's history corresponds exactly, not only with Daniel's prophecy, but with all the prophecies recorded concerning him.
Having located Antichrist, we next proceed to compare the character of Papacy with the prophecies recorded, descriptive of the character and deeds of the Antichrist or Man of Sin.
Some may query whether it be right to pass over the emperors of Rome (who claimed to be Supreme religious rulers), without calling their system Antichrist, and to apply that title complete and entire to the organized Papal system. We answer, This is certainly right; and we refer the reader again to the definition of Antichrist already given, as used in the Scriptures, viz., in the place of, instead of, i.e., to be a spiritual empire: it must claim to rule the kingdoms of earth by this spiritual authority; it must thus be not only an antagonist but a counterfeit, misrepresenting and pretending to be Christ's kingdom, and exercising what will in God's due time be the authority of the true Christ, the church glorified and complete under the only true Head and Lord – the real Pontifex Maximus.
Not only does Papacy claim to be the glorified kingdom of Christ promised by the Lord, the apostles and the prophets, but it applies to itself and its successive heads (the popes, who, it claims, take the place of Christ, as Pontiff, Chief or King of this kingdom) all those passages of the prophets which describe the Millennial glory of the Christ. And, "deceiving [others] and being deceived" themselves (by their false theories, developed slowly by sinful ambition for greatness, during centuries), the popes have piece by piece arranged the titles of all associated in the hierarchy,
their gorgeous clothing, their imposing ceremonials, their grand cathedrals with solemn, awe-inspiring services, on a scale to correspond as nearly as possible with their claims – the gorgeous surroundings and clothing and ceremonies matching, as best they can make them match, the glories and grandeur portrayed by the prophets.
For instance, Psalm 2:12 reads, "Kiss the Son, O ye kings of the earth, lest he be angry, and ye perish by the way, when his anger is kindled but a little." This is not a command to kiss literally, but to yield willing, cheerful submission to our Lord, and applies to the present hour, when, preparatory to the great and true Millennial reign of the true Christ, the kings or great ones of earth, politically, socially, financially and ecclesiastically, are being tested by their willingness or unwillingness to bow to the righteous regulations now due to go into operation. Those who resist righteousness resist the scepter of this King of glory, and all such shall be overthrown in the great time of trouble which ushers in the Millennial reign of the new King: all who would not have him reign shall be slain. (Luke 19:27) "His enemies shall lick the dust" – be vanquished.
Misapplying this prophecy to his counterfeit kingdom, Antichrist's representative head, the pope, in the palmy days of his prosperity caused kings and emperors to bow before him, as before Christ, and to kiss his great toe – applying the same as the fulfilment of this prophecy.
Claims like these are very generally passed over lightly by prophetic students and writers, while they search out and specially notice immoralities; but herein they greatly err, for criminalities have been plentiful enough in every age, and would need no such special, prophetic delineations as are given of Antichrist. Could it be proved that those connected with the papal system have been very models of morality, it would be none the less identical with the character
noted in Scripture as the great Antichrist – the counterfeit which has arrogated to itself the titles, privileges, powers and reverence belonging to the Lord's Anointed. As a counterfeit, it has also misrepresented the plan of God with reference to the selection of a "little flock," or Church, in the present time; and it has entirely set aside the real hope of the Church, and the Lord's provision for the blessing of the world during the Millennial reign of Christ – which it represents as fulfilled in its own reign.
The ill effects of such perversion and misrepresentation of God's plan can scarcely be estimated. They have been the direct source from which sprang all the corrupt doctrines which, one after another, were introduced to support the claims and add to the dignity of Antichrist. And though the Reformation, three centuries ago, ushered in an era of Bible study and liberty of thought, and led to the rejection of many evils and errors, yet the counterfeit was on so elaborate a scale, so complete in all its parts and arrangements, and had so thoroughly deceived the whole world that, even after Luther and many others had recognized Papacy as the outcome of the great falling away – the Antichrist of prophecy – they, while denouncing it as a system, held firmly to the false theory which led to its peculiar errors of doctrine and practice. To this day the great majority of Protestants of all denominations support the theory of Antichrist, that Christ's Kingdom has been set up. Some have endeavored to do as Papacy did – to organize their church under some one person as its head – while others supply the place of this head with a council or synod; but all are under the delusion imposed by the false and misleading interpretations of Scripture doctrines started by Antichrist – that now, and not at a future time, is the reign of Christ's Kingdom; and, denying the coming age, as the Antichrist does, they, like that system, are careless of the full development of holiness
among believers and are zealous rather for the accomplishment now of the work of the next age (the conversion of the world) – so much so, that they are often willing to misrepresent God's plan and Word, and to invent theories to frighten and drive the world into a profession of godliness; and willing also to resort to questionable and worldly methods to add to their attractions, to make their various systems the more enticing to the unconverted, whom they, like Antichrist, are willing to count in for pride's sake and to make a good showing.
Such find it difficult to see that Papacy is Antichrist. How could they, while faith is not yet free from the poison, and reason is still greatly blinded by the very essence of Antichrist's error. The greatness, the grandeur and the necessity of Christ's Millennial Kingdom and its work of blessing all the families of the earth must be seen, before the greatness of the Antichrist counterfeit can be appreciated, or its havoc to the truth and its desolating and defiling influence in the nominal church or temple of God can be rightly estimated.
None need be surprised at the completeness of this counterfeit, when we reflect that it is Satan's workmanship, and has been patterned after the types and illustrations of future glory presented in the Scriptures. Seeing that the time for the selection of the Church had come, and that the truths planted by the Lord and the apostles had gained rapid headway against all the heathen religions, seeking out the meek wherever it went, the great adversary sought to destroy the purity of the Church and to turn into other and false channels that which he could not stop. Thus the triumph of Antichrist, as well as its present power, has really been Satan's success. But here we behold the wisdom of God; for while the success of Antichrist seemed to presage the defeat of God's plan it was really, though unwittingly,
cooperating to insure the success of his plan; for by no other means could the truly consecrated have been so thoroughly tried, and their faithfulness to God's Word so thoroughly tested, as by the permission of this great counterfeit.
The accompanying table will serve to show how complete has been the counterfeit of the future organization of Christ's kingdom in Papacy, and how it was drawn from the Jewish typical priesthood.
Mosheim, explaining the rise of the hierarchical system in the Church, very clearly shows this counterfeiting, in these words, Vol. I, p. A337:
"Whilst the least probability remained that Jerusalem might at one time or other again rear its head from the dust, the Christian teachers and elders assumed to themselves no titles or distinctions, at least none but the most modest and humble ones; but when the fate of that city had been sealed by Hadrian [A.D. 135], and not the most distant hope could any longer be entertained by the Jews, of seeing their ancient government re-established, these same pastors and ministers conceived a wish to have it believed by their flocks that they themselves had succeeded to the rights of the Jewish priesthood. The bishops, therefore, made it their business to inculcate the notion that they were invested with a character resembling that of the great High Priest of the Jews, and were consequently possessed of all those rights which had been recognized as belonging to the Jewish Pontiff. The functions of the ordinary Jewish priest were, in like manner, stated to have devolved, though under a more perfect form, on the presbyters of the Christian Church: and finally the deacons were placed on a parallel with the Levites, or inferior ministers."
The Head and Mouth of Antichrist
The pope (each pope in his turn) is the head of the false church, which is his body, even as Christ Jesus is the head of
the true Church, which is his body. Since the head is the representative of the body, and its mouth speaks for the body, we find, as we should expect, this feature of Antichrist prominently referred to in the Scriptures. In Daniel 7:8,11,25, and Rev. 13:5,6, the mouth of Antichrist is brought specially to our notice as a leading characteristic. Daniel says this horn had "eyes like the eyes of man" – symbolic of intelligence and a farsighted policy. This "horn" was to be different from all the other powers; it was to be more wise, more cunning, than other empires which attempted to rule the world; its power was to be that of its mouth (utterance) guided by its eyes (knowledge), rather than that of physical force. And no one acquainted with the history of Papacy can deny that the figures used to illustrate its power and methods are strikingly good.
"And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven." "And he shall speak great words against the Most High." Rev. 13:5,6; Dan. 7:8,25
It should not be forgotten that these are figurative expressions descriptive of the character and claims of a symbolic "beast" (government) and "horn" (power) out of the old Roman beast or empire. In some respects, Papacy was a new government ("beast"), distinct from the old Roman empire; and in others, it was a horn or power among others out of that empire, which for a time held superior control over the other horns or powers. It is presented in symbol from both these standpoints so as most thoroughly to locate and designate it.
Antichrist's great swelling words, or blasphemies, cover the whole period of his long career. The expression, "blasphemy," in our day, is usually given only a coarse meaning, as if it related to the most vulgar forms of cursing and profanity
only. But, in its true significance, the word "blasphemy" is applicable to any indignity offered to God. Bouvier defines it thus: "Blasphemy is to attribute to God that which is contrary to his nature, and does not belong to him – and to deny what does." See Webster's Unabridged Dictionary under heads of Blasphemy and Blasphemously. And in evidence that this is the sense in which the word "blasphemy" is used in the Scriptures, notice the manner in which our Lord and the Pharisees used it: "The Jews answered, For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy; and because thou, being a man, makest thyself God." Jesus answered them, "Say ye of him whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God?" John 10:33,36. See also Mark 14:61-64.
With this, the proper definition of "blasphemy," before us, how evident it must be to the simplest minds that Papacy's great swelling words and boastful claims have, one and all, been blasphemies. The establishment of a counterfeit Kingdom of God was a libel upon God's government, a gross blasphemy, and a misrepresentation of his character and plan and word. God's character, i.e., his "name," was blasphemed in the thousand monstrous edicts, bulls and decretals issued in his name, by the long line of those who claimed, as vicegerents, to represent his Son; and God's tabernacle, the true Church, was blasphemed by the false system which claimed to take its place – which claimed that its faithful were the true and only tabernacle or Church of God. But we must let history tell us of these great swelling words, these blasphemous assumptions, which successive popes, as the head of Antichrist, uttered and approved.
In a work entitled, "The Pope the Vicar of Christ, the Head of the Church," by the celebrated Roman Catholic, Monsignor Capel, is a list of no less than sixty-two blasphemous titles applied to the pope; and, be it noticed, these
are not mere dead titles from the past, for they were arranged by one of Papacy's foremost living writers. We quote from the list as follows:
"Most Divine of all Heads."
"Holy Father of Fathers."
"Pontiff Supreme over all Prelates."
"Overseer of the Christian Religion."
"The Chief Pastor – Pastor of Pastors."
"Christ by Unction."
"Abraham by Patriarchate."
"Melchisedec in Order."
"Moses in Authority."
"Samuel in the Judicial Office."
"High Priest, Supreme Bishop."
"Prince of Bishops."
"Heir of the Apostles; Peter in Power."
"Key-bearer of the Kingdom of Heaven."
"Pontiff Appointed with Plenitude of Power."
"Vicar of Christ."
"Head of all the Holy Churches."
"Chief of the Universal Church."
"Bishop of Bishops, that is, Sovereign Pontiff."
"Ruler of the House of the Lord."
"Apostolic Lord and Father of Fathers."
"Chief Pastor and Teacher."
"Physician of Souls."
"Rock against which the proud gates of hell prevail not."
"Head of all the Holy Priests of God."
In addition to the long list of titles of which the above are instances, the author gives the following quotations from a letter which St. Bernard, Abbott of Clairvaux, wrote to Pope Eugenius III, A.D. 1150:
"Who art thou? The High-Priest, the Supreme Bishop. Thou art the Prince of Bishops, thou art the Heir of the Apostles. Thou art Abel in Primacy, Noah in government, Abraham in the patriarchal rank, in order Melchisedec, in dignity Aaron, in authority Moses, Samuel in judicial office, Peter in power, CHRIST IN UNCTION. Thou art he to whom the keys of heaven are given, to whom the sheep are intrusted. There are indeed other door-keepers of heaven, and other shepherds of the flocks; but thou art the more glorious in proportion as thou hast also, in a different fashion, inherited before others both these names....The power of others is limited by definite bounds: thine extends even over those who have received authority over others. Canst thou not, when a just reason occurs, shut up heaven against a bishop, depose him from the episcopal office, and deliver him over to Satan? Thus thy privilege is immutable, as well in the keys committed to thee as in the sheep intrusted to thy care."
All these blasphemously flattering titles have been applied to and received by the Roman pontiffs with complacency and marked satisfaction, as rightfully belonging to them.
From Pope Boniface VIII we have the following decree, which is still extant in the common law: "We declare, say, define, pronounce it necessary to salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman pontiff." Pope Gregory VII, who in the year 1063 ordained that the pope should be called father of fathers, draws the following from Gen. 1:16, to support papal pretensions: "God made two great lights in the firmament of heaven; the greater light to rule the day and the less to rule the night; both great, but one the greater. 'In the firmament of heaven,' that is, the universal church, 'God made two great lights'; that is, he instituted two dignities, which are the pontifical authority and the regal power; but that which presides over the day, that is, the spiritual, is the greater; but that which presides over carnal things is the less; for as the sun differs from the moon, so do popes differ from kings." Other popes have
adopted this interpretation, which has done much to enforce the idea of papal supremacy.
St. Antonius, Archbishop of Florence, after citing Psalm 8:4-8, "Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels," etc., and applying it to Christ, transfers it to the pope in the following words:
"And because he left us in his bodily presence, he left his vicar [substitute] on the earth, viz., the chief pontiff, who is called papa, which means father of fathers; so that these words may be fitly expounded of the pope. For the pope, as Hostiensis saith, is greater than man but less than an angel, because he is mortal; yet he is greater in authority and power. For an angel cannot consecrate the body and blood of Christ, nor absolve or bind, the highest degree of which power belongs to the pope; nor can an angel ordain or grant indulgences. He is crowned with glory and honor; the glory of commendation, because he is called not only blessed, but most blessed. Who shall doubt to call him blessed whom the very top of such great dignity hath exalted? He is crowned with the honor of veneration, so that the faithful may kiss his feet. A greater veneration cannot exist. 'Adore his footstool.' (Psa. 99:5) He is crowned with the magnitude of authority, because he can judge all persons, but can be judged of none, unless he be found to deviate from faith [the faith of Antichrist, of course]. Hence he is crowned with a triple, golden crown, and is 'placed over all the works of his hands,' to dispose of all inferiors. He opens heaven, sends the guilty to hell, confirms empires, regulates the whole clergy."
The Council of Lateran in its first session gave to the pope the appellation of "Prince of the Universe"; in its second session it called him "Priest and King, who is to be adored by all people, and who is very like unto God"; and in its fifth session it referred prophecies of Christ's glorious reign to Leo X in these terms: "Weep not, daughter of Zion, for behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David: behold, God hath raised thee up a savior."
From Ferraris' Ecclesiastical Dictionary, a standard Roman Catholic authority, we quote the following condensed outline of papal power as given under the word papa, article 2nd:
"The pope is of such dignity and highness that he is not simply a man but, as it were, God, and the vicar [representative] of God....Hence the pope is crowned with a triple crown, as king of heaven, of earth and of hell. Nay, the pope's excellence and power are not only about heavenly, terrestrial and infernal things, but he is also above angels, and is their superior; so that if it were possible that angels could err from the faith, or entertain sentiments contrary thereto, they could be judged and excommunicated by the pope....He is of such great dignity and power that he occupies one and the same tribunal with Christ; so that whatsoever the pope does seems to proceed from the mouth of God....The pope is, as it were, God on earth, the only prince of the faithful of Christ, the greatest king of all kings, possessing the plenitude of power; to whom the government of the earthly and heavenly kingdom is entrusted." He further adds: "The pope is of so great authority and power that he can modify, declare or interpret the divine law." "The pope can sometimes counteract the divine law by limiting, explaining, etc."
Thus, Antichrist not only endeavored to establish the Church in power before the Lord's time, but it was audacious enough to attempt to "counteract" and "modify" divine laws to suit its own schemes. How clearly did it thus fulfil the prophecy which over a thousand years before declared – "He shall think to change times and laws." Dan. 7:25
In a bull, or edict, Sixtus V declares:
"The authority given to St. Peter and his successors, by the immense power of the eternal King, excels all the power of earthly kings and princes. It passeth uncontrollable sentence upon them all. And if it find any of them resisting God's ordinance, it takes more severe vengeance on them,
casting them down from their thrones, however powerful they may be, and tumbling them down to the lowest parts of the earth as the ministers of aspiring Lucifer."
A bull of Pope Pius V, entitled "The damnation and excommunication of Elizabeth, queen of England, and her adherents – with an addition of other punishments," reads as follows:
"He that reigneth on high, to whom is given all power in heaven and in earth, committed one holy, catholic and apostolic church (out of which there is no salvation) to one alone upon earth, namely, to Peter, the Prince of the apostles, and to Peter's successor, the bishop of Rome, to be governed in fulness of power. Him alone he made prince over all people and all kingdoms, to pluck up, destroy, scatter, consume, plant, and build."
St. Bernard affirms that "none except God is like the pope, either in heaven or on earth."
"The Emperor Constantine," says Pope Nicholas I, "conferred the appellation of God on the pope; who, therefore, being God, cannot be judged by man."
Said Pope Innocent III – "The pope holds the place of the true God"; and the canon law, in the gloss, denominates the pope – "our Lord God."
Innocent and Jacobatius state that "the pope can do nearly all that God can do," while Decius rejects the word nearly, as unnecessary. Jacobatius and Durand assert that "none dare say to him any more than to God – Lord, what doest thou?" And Antonius wrote:
"To him [the pope] it belongs to ordain those things which pertain to the public good, and remove those things which prevent this end, as vices, abuses which alienate men from God....And this according to Jeremiah 1:10 [Here again appropriating to Antichrist a prophecy which belongs to Christ's Millennial reign]: 'Behold, I have placed thee over the nations and kingdoms, to root up and destroy, to scatter and disperse,' that is, as it regards vices; 'to build
up and plant,' that is, as it regards virtues....In regard to the power of the pope over those in hell, who are designated by the fishes in the sea (Psalm 8) – because, as the fishes are continually agitated by the waves of the sea, so those in purgatory are continually exercised by the afflictions of punishment – God hath subjected to the pope also the fishes of the sea, that is, those who are in purgatory, to relieve them by indulgences.
"Pagans are subject to the pope, who presides in the world in the place of Christ. But Christ hath full power over every creature. The pope is the vicar of Christ, and no one can lawfully withdraw himself from his obedience, as no one can withdraw himself lawfully from obedience to God. ...The pope can punish pagans and barbarous nations.... And though pagans cannot be punished with the spiritual punishment of excommunication and the like, yet they can be punished by the church with pecuniary punishment, and by princes with corporeal punishment also....The church can punish, indirectly, the Jews with spiritual punishment, by excommunicating Christian princes to whom the Jews are subject, if they neglect to punish them with temporal punishment when they do anything against Christians....If the conversion of some should be desired, they may be compelled by terrors and stripes, not indeed to receive faith, but that they should present no obstacle to faith by an obstinate will. For the conversion of infidels, the judgment of God ought to be imitated."
Here is an illustration of how error of doctrine produces unrighteousness. Men may speedily be led into every form of cruelty and oppression, if first they can convince themselves that in the exercise of such depravities they are the more like God – imitators of God. The wonder is that men are as kind and moderate as we find them, with all the terrible, false ideas and doctrines concerning God's plan for mankind, with which Satan has blinded and deluded them through the papal fountain of error, leading them in a course congenial to their fallen nature. Continuing, the same writer adds:
"The power of the pope is exercised over heretics and schismatics, denoted also by oxen, because they resist the truth with the horn of pride. God hath subjected these also under the feet of the pope to be punished in a fourfold way, viz., by excommunication, deposition, the deprivation of temporal goods and military persecution. But then they are only to be taken for heretics when they refuse to reform their pestiferous doctrines, and are ready pertinaciously to defend them....The pope can choose or elect the emperor. The emperor is the minister [servant] of the pope, in this, that he is the minister of God, whose place the pope fills; for God hath deputed the emperor as the minister of the pope....I suppose it to be said as a truth, that the pope, the vicar of Christ, hath universal jurisdiction of spiritual and temporal things, in the whole world, in the place of the living God."
The following utterances of the popes, culled from Fox's "Acts and Monuments," by H. G. Guinness, and English writer of note, deserves a place of prominence; and we can sympathize heartily with this writer's comment on the system whose mouth gives forth such utterances, when he says – "If 'he that exalteth himself shall be abased,' what degradation can be commensurate with such self-exaltation as this?"
"Wherefore, seeing such power is given to Peter, and to me in Peter, being his successor, who is he then in all the world that ought not to be subject to my decrees, which have such power in heaven, in hell, in earth, with the quick and also the dead....By the jurisdiction of which key the fullness of my power is so great that, whereas all others are subjects – yea, and emperors themselves ought to subdue their executions to me – only I am subject to no creature, no, not to myself; so my Papal majesty ever remaineth undiminished; superior to all men, whom all persons ought to obey and follow, whom no man must judge or accuse of any crime, no man depose but I myself. No man can excommunicate me, yea, though I commune with the excommunicated; for no canon bindeth me; whom no man must lie to, for he that lieth to me is a heretic, and an excommunicated
person. Thus, then, it appeareth that the greatness of priesthood began in Melchisedec, was solemnized in Aaron, perfectionated in Christ, represented in Peter, exalted in the universal jurisdiction, and manifested in the Pope. So that through this pre-eminence of my priesthood, having all things subject to me, it may seem well verified in me, that was spoken of Christ, 'Thou hast subdued all things under his feet.'
"And, likewise, it is to be presumed that the bishop of that church is always good and holy. Yea, though he fall into homicide or adultery, he may sin, but yet he cannot be accused, but rather excused by the murders of Samson, the thefts of the Hebrews, etc. All the earth is my diocese, and I am the ordinary of all men, having the authority of the King of all kings upon subjects. I am all in all, and above all, so that God himself, and I, the vicar of God, have both one consistory, and I am able to do almost all that God can do. In all things that I list my will is to stand for reason, for I am able by the law to dispense above the law, and of wrong to make justice in correcting laws and changing them. Wherefore, if those things that I do be said not to be done of man, but of God – WHAT CAN YOU MAKE ME BUT GOD? Again, if prelates of the church be called and counted of Constantine for Gods, I then, being above all prelates, seem by this reason to be ABOVE ALL GODS. Wherefore, no marvel if it be in my power to change time and times, to alter and abrogate laws, to dispense with all things, yea, with the precepts of Christ; for where Christ biddeth Peter put up his sword, and admonishes his disciples not to use any outward force in revenging themselves, do not I, Pope Nicholas, writing to the bishops of France, exhort them to draw out their material swords?...And whereas Christ was present himself at the marriage in Cana of Galilee, do not I, Pope Martin, in my distinction, inhibit the spiritual clergy to be present at marriage-feasts, and also to marry? Moreover, where Christ biddeth us lend without hope of gain, do not I, Pope Martin, give dispensation for the same? What should I speak of murder, making it to be no murder or homicide to slay them that be excommunicated? Likewise, against the law of nature, item against the apostles, also against the
canons of the apostles, I can and do dispense; for where they, in their canon, command a priest for fornication to be deposed, I, through the authority of Sylvester, do alter the rigor of that constitution, considering the minds and bodies also of men now to be weaker than they were then....If ye list briefly to hear the whole number of all such cases as properly do appertain to my Papal dispensation, which come to the number of one-and-fifty points, that no man may meddle with but only I myself alone, I will recite them. [Here follows the list.]
"After that I have now sufficiently declared my power in earth, in heaven, in purgatory, how great it is, and what is the fullness thereof in binding, loosing, commanding, permitting, electing, confirming, dispensing, doing and undoing, etc., I will speak now a little of my riches and of my great possessions, that every man may see my wealth and abundance of all things – rents, tithes, tributes; my silks, my purple mitres, crowns, gold, silver, pearls and gems, lands and lordships. For to me pertaineth first the imperial city of Rome; the palace of Lateran; the kingdom of Sicily is proper to me; Apula and Capua be mine. Also the kingdoms of England and Ireland, be they not, or ought they not to be, tributaries to me? To these I adjoin also, besides other provinces and countries, in both the Occident and the Orient, from the north to the south, these dominions by name. [Here follows a long list]. What should I speak here of my daily revenues, of my first-fruits, annates, palls, indulgences, bulls, confessionals, indults and rescripts, testaments, dispensations, privileges, elections, prebends, religious houses, and such like, which come to no small mass of money?...whereby what vantage cometh to my coffers it may partly be conjectured....But what should I speak of Germany, when the whole world is my diocese, as my canonists do say, and all men are bound to believe. Wherefore, as I began, so I conclude, commanding, declaring, and pronouncing, to stand upon necessity of salvation, for every human creature to be subject to me."
It is presumed by many today that these boastings of the Papacy belong only to the distant past, and that a great
change has come over that system in later times; but a little reflection and observation prove that these sentiments of the Papacy are still unchanged. We should bear in mind, too, that the constant claim of Papacy is that its doctrines are unchangeable: that the decrees of its popes and councils are infallible; and that those decrees, breathing out blasphemy against God, and persecution against his saints, are still held sacred by the Roman Catholic Church of the present day. The change in Papacy is merely the loss of power brought about by the awakening of the Reformation. The will is still possessed, but the power to do is curtailed by the increase of knowledge and liberty in which the Bible has been the principal factor. Antichrist is being gradually "rendered powerless" by the true Christ – by the "spirit of his mouth" – his Word. Soon the bright shining of Immanuel's presence will utterly destroy the vainglorious counterfeit, and wholly free the world from the chains of its delusive claims and errors.
For an illustration of latter time assumptions, note the fact that the present pope, upon ascending the papal throne, took the title of Leo XIII, and shortly after subscribed himself "Leo de tribus Juda" – i.e., "The Lion of the tribe of Judah"; one of the titles of the true Head. Surely in presumptuous claims, therefore, he is not behind those who held the same office during the dark ages.
The following, called The Adoration, is still a part of the ceremony connected with the installation of a new pope. The new pope, clad in white, studded with many brilliant gems, and wearing red shoes with large gold crosses for buckles, is conducted to the altar, where he kneels. Then – "The pope rises, and, wearing his mitre, is lifted up by the cardinals and placed by them upon the altar-throne to sit there. One of the bishops kneels, and the singing of Te Deum [We praise thee, O God] begins. Meantime the cardinals kiss the feet and hands and face of the pope." A coin representing
this ceremony, struck in the Papal mint, bears the words, "Whom they create, they adore."
Cardinal Manning, Papacy's chief representative in England, endorses and draws public attention to the following clause of the Catholic faith:
"We declare, affirm, define, and pronounce it necessary to salvation, for every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff." And in a published discourse he represents the pope as saying, "I claim to be the Supreme Judge and Director of the consciences of men; of the peasant that tills the field, and the prince that sits on the throne; of the household that lives in the shade of privacy, and the Legislature that makes laws for kingdoms. I am the sole, last, Supreme Judge of what is right and wrong."
Surely, too, in observing modern instances of Papacy's "great swelling words of vanity," we should not overlook the notable decree of the Ecumenical Council, held in Rome in A.D. 1870, declaring the infallibility of the Pope. True, it had been claimed now and then in the past, by supercilious popes, that they were infallible; and bishops and princes desirous of flattering their pride had virtually so pronounced them, in the declaration, "Thou art another god, on earth"; but it remained for a Papal Council in this enlightened nineteenth century to coolly and deliberately inform the world how great this "god on earth" is – that he is almost as perfect as the other God, in heaven; that he cannot err more than the other; that in his ex cathedra utterances the pope is infallible – unerring.
The vote of the council was taken July 13th 1870, and on the 18th the decree was formally promulgated, with ceremony, at the great St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome. The following description of the event, by Dr. J. Cummings, of London, will be read with interest. He says:
"The Pope had a grand throne erected in front of the eastern window in St. Peter's, and arrayed himself in a perfect blaze of precious stones, and surrounded himself with cardinals
and patriarchs and bishops in gorgeous apparel, for a magnificent spectacular scene. He had chosen the early morning hour and the eastern window – that the rising sun should flash its beams full upon his magnificence, and by it his diamonds, rubies and emeralds be so refracted and reflected that he should appear to be not a man, but what the decree proclaimed him, one having all the glory of God.... The pope posted himself at an early hour at the eastern window,...but the sun refused to...shine. The dismal dawn darkened rapidly to a deeper and deeper gloom. The dazzle of glory could not be produced. The aged eyes of the would-be God could not see to read by daylight, and he had to send for candles. Candle-light strained his nerves of vision too much, and he handed the reading over to a cardinal. The cardinal began to read amid an ever blackening gloom, but had not read many lines before such a glare of lurid fire and such a crash burst from the inky heavens as was never equaled at Rome before. Terror fell upon all. The reading ceased. One cardinal jumped trembling from his chair, and exclaimed, 'It is the voice of God speaking, the thunders of Sinai.'"
Among the blasphemous pretentions of Antichrist should be remembered several of its doctrines, particularly the doctrine of the Mass, which we will notice in a subsequent volume. Passing over the worshiping of saints and of Mary, we note some of the still more grievous errors.
Church Infallibility was one of the first, and paved the way to others. It was claimed before the office of Pope was acknowledged. It has been a most serious error, and has barred the way against the rectifying of errors when afterward discovered. It has placed the decrees of church councils beyond contradiction or questioning, either by reason or Scripture, and has made human ignorance and weaknesses and misconceptions the standards of faith instead of God's word – the Bible; for, once conceded that the voice of the church council was infallible (unerring), everything must be forced to conform thereto; and each council felt
bound to render no decisions contrary to preceding councils; and those which did otherwise were liable to be repudiated. So an error once affirmed could not be denied nor even dropped, and the Bible and reason had to be interpreted and twisted to match the infallible decrees of fallible men. No wonder it was found that it required a very expert theologian to interpret the Scriptures so as to make them agree with the so-called infallible decrees. No wonder either that, from expediency, Antichrist –
Proscribed the Bible. The history of Papacy shows clearly that, while professing to reverence the Bible as the Word of God, it has kept it in the background and its own infallible words in the front. Not only so, but it has proscribed God's Word entirely, as unfit to be read and dangerous to the people, that its own infallible word might have full control. It well knew that the Bible was dangerous to its power, and a constant denouncement of its blasphemous pretentions.
In the days of Papal power, the possession or reading of the Bible by the people was treated as a criminal offense. The art of printing and the general revival of learning resulting therefrom, about the sixteenth century, secured the resurrection of the Bible from the sepulcher of dead languages where Antichrist had long kept it hidden, forbidding the translating of it under severe penalties. And when an awakening spirit of independence began to scatter it in living languages among the people, Bible-burning was no uncommon thing; and long and loud were the merciless curses that issued from the Vatican against the presumptuous sinners who dared to translate, publish or read the Word of God.
When Wycliffe published his translation, Pope Gregory sent a bull to the Oxford University condemning the translator as "run into a detestable kind of wickedness." Tyndale's translation was also condemned; and when Luther published his German translation, Pope Leo X issued a bull
against him. Nevertheless, the work went grandly and steadily forward: the Bible was to have a complete resurrection, and was destined to shed light upon men of every nation and language. Slowly the Church of Rome came to realize this, and resolved, therefore, to permit the translation of the Scriptures into modern languages, by Catholic translators, accompanied with Catholic notes. These, however, were not to be given to the people, except where there was danger of their receiving the Protestant translations. The Rhemish translation declares this.
The following show the character of some of the Notes of the Rhemish translation – which, however, is in recent years being superseded by the Douay translation, very similar, but with less pointed notes. A note on Matt. 3 reads: "Heretics may be punished and suppressed; and may, and ought, by public authority, either spiritual or temporal, to be chastised or executed." One on Gal. 1:8 reads: "Catholics should not spare their own parents, if heretics." On Heb. 5:7 the note reads: "The translators of the Protestant Bible ought to be translated to the depths of hell." And on Rev. 17:6 the comment reads: "But the blood of Protestants is not called the blood of saints, no more than the blood of thieves, man-killers, and other malefactors, for the shedding of which, by the order of justice, no commonwealth shall answer."
The following are some of the restrictions imposed when it was found that the reading of the Bible could not be entirely prevented. The fourth rule of the Index Expurgatoris says:
"If any shall have the presumption to read or possess the Bible without written permission, he shall not receive absolution until he have first delivered up such Bible to the ordinary. Book-sellers who shall sell or otherwise dispose of Bibles in the vulgar tongue, to any person not having such permission, shall forfeit the value of the books,...and be subjected by the bishop to such other penalties as the
bishop shall judge proper, according to the quality of the offense."
Said the Council of Trent, in its session A.D. 1546:
"In order to restrain petulant minds, the council decrees that in matters of faith and morals, and whatever relates to the maintenance of Christian doctrine, no one, confiding in his own judgment, shall dare to wrest the sacred Scriptures to his own sense of them, contrary to that which hath been held, and still is held, by the holy mother church, whose right it is to judge of the true meaning."
From the bull of Pius VII, against Bible Societies, issued June 29, 1816, to the Primate of Poland, we quote:
"We have been truly shocked at this most crafty device, by which the very foundations of religion are undermined; and having, because of the great importance of the subject, conferred in council with our venerable brethren, the cardinals of the holy Roman Church, we have, with the utmost care and attention, deliberated upon the measures proper to be adopted by our pontifical authority, in order to remedy and abolish this pestilence as far as possible....Of your own accord you have already shown an ardent desire to detect and overthrow the impious machinations of these innovators; yet, in conformity with our office, we again and again exhort you that whatever you can achieve by power, provide by counsel, or effect by authority, you will daily execute with the utmost earnestness....The Bible printed by heretics is to be numbered among other prohibited books, conformably to the rules of the Index."
The same pope, in the year 1819, issued a bull against the use of the Scriptures in the schools of Ireland. From it we quote:
"Information has reached the ears of the sacred congregation that Bible Schools, supported by the funds of the heterodox, have been established in almost every part of Ireland; in which the inexperienced of both sexes are invested with the fatal poison of depraved doctrines....Every possible exertion must therefore be made, to keep the youth away from these destructive schools....Do you labor
with all your might to keep the orthodox youth from being corrupted by them – an object which will, I hope, be easily effected by the establishment of Catholic schools throughout your diocese."
Here we have a candid admission of the real object of the establishment of Catholic parochial schools in Great Britain and North America, viz.: to protect their lines. Antichrist has no other object in offering education to the common people. Ignorance and superstition are Papacy's bulwarks; and the centuries of its power, including what is known as the "dark ages," prove this. The education of the clergy under "restrictions" was not neglected; but, that no provision was made for the education of the people, the dense ignorance of all old Roman Catholic countries is strong proof. Schools and Bibles have ever been Antichrist's unendurable enemies, and would not be tolerated, except as they became necessities – upon which a false light must be thrown for the preservation of Antichrist's existence.
From a bull by Leo XII to the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland, A.D. 1825, we quote:
"It is no secret to you, venerable brethren, that a certain society, vulgarly called the Bible Society, is audaciously dispreading itself through the whole world. After despising the traditions of the holy fathers, and in opposition to the well known decree of the Council of Trent, this society has collected all its forces, and directs every means to one object: to the translation, or rather to the perversion, of the Bible into the vernacular languages of all nations."
Even the late Pope Pius IX expressed his anguish of heart at the triumph on every hand of this great enemy of Antichrist – the Bible. He said, "Accursed be those very crafty and deceitful societies called Bible Societies, which trust the Bible into the hands of the inexperienced youth."
True, it was decreed at the Roman Catholic Plenary Council of Baltimore, A.D. 1886, that an approved Bible shall be permitted in Catholic schools of the United States. This, however, betokens no change in the real sentiment of
Antichrist; it is but another stroke of its farsighted policy, in deference to the spirit of liberty in this country, which abhors such restraints. They well knew, however, that the liberty and not the Bible was wanted; and inquiry discovers that now, two years after, the Bible is not to be found in Catholic schools hereabouts.
The doctrine of the natural, inherent immortality of man (that a human existence once begun can never cease) was another fruitful error, borrowed from Grecian philosophy. And, being admitted, it led naturally to the conclusion that if existence must continue forever, then the Bible expressions concerning the destruction of finally wilful sinners, the second death, etc., must be construed to mean the opposite of what they say, viz.: everlasting life, in some condition. Next, it was easy to decree that to the wicked it must be a life of suffering; and the torments were frequently pictured upon the walls of the churches as well as by the words of zealous priests and monks. This error was the more easily impressed upon converts because the Greek philosophers (then the leaders of the world in matters of science, religion and philosophy – whose ideas, as Josephus shows, had even begun to tincture Judaism) had long held and taught a punishment for the wicked in death. To their credit, however, be it noted that they never descended to the horrible blasphemies of God's character and government taught to the world by Antichrist. Next, it was in order to fix a place for this torment and call it hell, and to seek passages of Scripture referring to sheol and hades and gehenna which describe the real wages of sin – the first and second deaths – and dextrously to apply these and the parables of our Lord and the symbols of Revelation, so as to delude themselves and the whole world on this subject and most grievously to malign and blaspheme the character and plan of God, our all-wise and gracious Heavenly Father.
Purgatory was brought in, to relieve and make endurable
this terrible dose of doctrine, and withal to give Antichrist a firmer hold upon the people. It claimed to hold the keys of heaven and hell and to have power to remit the pains of purgatory: not only the Adamic penalty, and the weaknesses inherited thereby, but also the penalties of wilful, deliberate sins. What a leverage of power this gave, over an ignorant people, can be easily imagined – especially when the emperors and chief men of earth acknowledged and bowed before the deceiver.
Masses for the dead followed; and rich and poor alike felt it a duty to pay, and liberally, too, to have these. The efficacy of masses, for the relief of purgatorial sufferings, is claimed to be omnipotent – so that not even Jehovah or Christ could interfere with it. This became a source of great income to Antichrist; for the priests were not slow to remind the dying, if wealthy, of the propriety of leaving liberal bequests for masses for themselves – lest those who inherited their wealth should neglect the matter. And, indeed, within the present year warnings of a similar kind have appeared in Roman Catholic journals, urging that less money be spent upon funeral flowers, that the more might be spent for masses for the dead.
Indulgences came in, some time before the "Crusades": we know that indulgences were offered, as a bounty, to secure volunteers for these "Crusades" or "Holy Wars." By Papal edict, whoever would engage in these holy wars would not only have forgiveness for sins past, but also merit to offset sins future; and thus be guaranteed against certain purgatorial sufferings. These indulgences, Roman Catholics tell us, are not designed to be licenses to commit sins, but are rewards of merit which offset or cancel a certain number of days or years of purgatorial anguish: so that if a man's sins made him liable to one thousand years of suffering, and he, at one time, or at various times, secured indulgences to the
amount of one thousand years, either for money, or for services rendered to Papacy, or by penances done, he would go free; if he had to his credit nine hundred years indulgence, he would have to endure one hundred years of suffering; and if indulgences were reckoned to much overbalance his penalties, he would probably be accounted a saint, of special influence in heaven, to be prayed to and adored. Of this order Louis, king of France, the Crusader, would be an example. He was canonized, and is now adored and prayed to as Saint Louis.
There is indeed a difference between this view of Indulgences and a license to commit sins; and yet it is very slight; for Papacy affixed to various common sins a certain amount of suffering, and not only could sins past be thus offset and canceled, but those who had reason to think that they might commit certain sins, in the future, could thus provide beforehand merit to cancel them. Besides this, some, called "plenary [complete, entire] indulgences," are certainly understood to cover all sins, past and future.
The practice even at the present day seems scarcely credible. Romanists have certain prayers, a repetition of which constitutes a ground for indulgence for a limited period; and many added together, they claim, will protect from wrath a long time. Thus, those who say the "Hail, Holy Queen" are granted forty days of indulgence, while for saying the "Litany of the Blessed Virgin" there is an indulgence of two hundred days; and for those who say the "Blessed be the Holy, Immaculate and Most Pure Conception of the Virgin Mary" one hundred years indulgence is granted, etc., etc. In the "darker ages," when indulgences were freely offered for money and for services in the persecution of infidels and heretics, it may readily be imagined to what corruption this blasphemous doctrine led.
To crimes generally committed by the rich, who could pay
liberally, enormous penalties were affixed, while the basest violations of justice, more common among the poorer classes, were lightly excused. Thus, marriage with a first cousin cost $5,000, while wife-murder or parricide cost only $20. Spanheim says: "The institution of Indulgence was the mint which coined money for the Roman Church; the gold mines for the profligate nephews and natural children of the popes; the nerves of the Papal wars; the means of liquidating debt, and the inexhaustible fountain of luxury to the popes."
To regulate this traffic a graded scale of penalties was affixed to various sins – so many days or years in purgatory for each; and a scale of prices was also arranged to correspond, so that those obtaining indulgence for a murder or a theft, for infanticide, or adultery, or perjury, or other sins, could be charged at different rates. By this means penances were canceled and the torments of purgatory mitigated or ended, at the pleasure of Antichrist's agents. We cannot wonder that the people speedily got to understand that so much money paid for so much sin.
To such an extent was crime increased by these indulgences, that the indignation of the better classes of society was roused to rebellion against the church. Men's eyes began to be opened, and they saw the clergy, from the highest dignitaries of the church down to the lowest orders of officials, steeped in iniquity.
As the darkest hour precedes the storm, so just before the great Reformation movement was, morally, the darkest hour of Antichrist's dark reign. There the open and shameful traffic in indulgences produced nausea, and led Luther and other zealous papists to question and examine the entire system, both in its moral, and afterward in its doctrinal, aspects. Finally, Luther struck the true idea – that Papacy was indeed the Antichrist. And, having discovered this, he fearlessly pointed out some of the symbols of Revelation,
and showed their applicability and partial fulfilment in the Papal Hierarchy.
On this subject we quote the following from the pen of the well known clergyman, Lyman Abbott. He says:
"Among other conditions, for which indulgences were formerly granted more than now, was the contribution of money to the church. This traffic reached its height in the beginning of the sixteenth century, under Leo X, who published indulgences to all who would contribute toward the erection of St. Peter's [Cathedral] at Rome. His chief agent for the sale of indulgences in Germany was one John Tetzel. The notorious vices of Tetzel did not prevent him from being selected as the bearer of these pardons to other purer souls, and no extravagance seemed to him too great, so that it brought money to his coffers. He declared that the red cross, which accompanied him wherever he went, had as great efficacy as the cross of Christ – that there was no sin so great that he could not remit it. 'Indulgences save not the living alone, they also save the dead. The very moment that the money chinks against the bottom of the chest, the soul escapes from Purgatory and flies free to heaven.' Such were some of his blasphemous declarations. A regular scale of prices was established. 'Polygamy cost six ducats; sacrilege and perjury, nine; murder, eight; witchcraft, two.' It was this open and shameless traffic which, more than anything else, led to the Reformation. Indulgences continued to be granted, not only for acts of worship, but also for contributions in money to the church; but the public and open sale of indulgences is now banished, for the most part, from the Church of Rome."
Another writer quoted Tetzel's language further, thus:
"Draw near and I will give you letters duly sealed, by which even the sins you shall hereafter desire to commit shall be all forgiven you. There is no sin so great that indulgence cannot remit. Pay, only pay largely and you shall be forgiven. Ye priests, ye nobles, ye tradesmen, ye wives, ye maidens, ye young men, hearken to your departed parents and friends, who call to you from the bottomless abyss, 'We
are enduring horrible torment; a small alms would deliver us. You can give it, Will you not?' With ten groschen you can deliver your father from purgatory. Our Lord God no longer deals with us as God – He has given all power to the Pope."
The following is handed down as a copy of the blanks used by Tetzel – filled out with the name of the purchaser, his sins, etc.:
"Our Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on thee,...and absolve thee by the merits of his most holy sufferings. I, in virtue of the Apostolic power committed to me, absolve thee from all....excesses, sins and crimes that thou mayest have committed, however great and enormous they may be, and of whatever kind,...I remit the pains thou wouldst have had to endure in purgatory,...I restore thee to the innocence and purity of thy baptism, so that, at the moment of death, the gates of the place of torment shall be shut against thee, and the gates of paradise open to thee. And if thou shouldst live long, this grace continueth unchangeable till the time of thy end. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen. The brother, John Tetzel, commissary, hath signed this with his own hand.—."
As to the immediate present we cannot say, but we know that, only a few years since, printed indulgences with prices affixed were kept on sale, at tables, in some of the large Roman Catholic churches of Mexico and Cuba.
Did the papal counterfeit kingdom hold and exercise power over the truly consecrated children of God, and overcome them – "wear them out" by a long period of oppression, or crushing, as the Hebrew text implies? We answer, Yes: every means that could be thought of was employed to crush out the very spirit of true Christianity (John 8:36;
Gal. 5:1; 2 Cor. 3:17), and to substitute the spirit, doctrines and forms of Antichrist. It was at first less of an open attack on the faithful than of a slow, persistent, crushing oppression, dealing more particularly with opposing teachers; and wearing out the patience and also the faith of many. This persistent worrying, and wearing out, are well illustrated in the institution of the Confessional, in which Antichrist not only took cognizance of every criticism and every word of objection to that system, uttered in the hearing of the confessing one, but under threat of future penalties compelled him to confess and repent of any opposing thoughts or acts of his own. This, too, was soon so backed by the civil power that to utter any protest against the church could be construed as treason against the civil power, which was upheld by papal authority.
In the first flush of papal exaltation, the people as a whole were nominally members of the church or else pagans; and all who professed Christ were expected to conform to the usages and regulations of the gradually self-exalting hierarchy. Error, always more popular than truth, when exalted to influence and power, hunted down, proscribed and made disreputable the truth, and all who held it. This was the time when, as pictured in Revelation, the true Church (woman) fled into the wilderness – into solitude (Rev. 12:6) – an outcast because of her fidelity to the truth, and to the true Lord and Head of the Church. In this time, when apostates were being exalted as princes, the true, humble saints were experiencing what the Lord had warned them, and all who will live godly (in this present time), to expect, viz., persecution. The mother-in-law was against the daughter-in-law, father against son, and brother against brother; and a man's foes were often indeed they of his own household. Could anything be conceived of more likely to wear out or crush the saints of the Most High than such a course, persisted in for centuries?
To gain an idea of the ferocity and relentlessness of this persecution, we must again turn to the pages of history.
The persecutions of the Christians under Pagan Rome were not worthy of comparison with those under Papal Rome, being less frequent, more limited in extent and much less severe. It is stated, on the authority of the early Christians, that the majority of the Roman magistrates who exercised in the provinces the authority of the emperor, or of the senate, and in whose hands was the power of life and death, behaved like men of polished manners and liberal education, who respected the rules of justice. They frequently declined the odious task of persecution, dismissed charges against the Christians with contempt (as Pilate and Herod attempted to do in the case of our Lord – Luke 23:14-16,20,22; Matt. 27:24), or suggested to accused Christians some legal evasion. When possible, they used their power much oftener for the relief than for the oppression of Christians; and the Pagan tribunals were often their surest refuge against their Jewish accusers.* The cruel persecution under the execrable tyrant Nero, who burned some of the Christians to divert public suspicion from himself, forms one of the darkest pages in the history of Pagan Rome; but his victims were comparatively few. The victims of Pagan persecution were not communities generally, but prominent individuals. These persecutions of leading representatives, even, were not so much a fixed, persistent determination of opposition on the part of the government as a result of uncontrollable popular clamor, awakened by superstition, which it seemed to the rulers necessary to satisfy in the interest of peace and order. Several instances illustrative of this are found in the career of the Apostle Paul, as well as of other apostles. See Acts 19:35-41; 25:24-27; 26:2,3,28.
Even the more general persecutions, under the Roman emperors, lasted for but brief periods, except that under Diocletian, which continued with varying severity for ten years. Between these persecutions were often long periods of peace and quiet. Under the emperors, though greatly harassed, Christianity was not worn out, but, as we have seen, it greatly prospered.
How different the persecutions of Papacy, which laid hold not only of prominent opposers but of all, and whose persecutions lasted not for a few months only, but incessantly! What under Pagan emperors had been a passing rage or frenzy, under the popes was reduced to a regular system, animated by religious fanaticism and scheming ambition – and inspired with a Satanic zeal, energy and cruelty unparalleled in the annals of history. The apostate church laid aside the sword of the spirit, and, grasping the arm of the empire, turned its carnal weapons with relentless fury upon every weaker opponent that stood in the way of its ambition; while it courted, flattered and deceived those in authority until it gained their confidence and usurped their place and power.
Both heathenism and heresy then became the subjects of persecution – especially the latter. The so-called Christian clergy, says Edgar, "misapplied the laws of the Jewish theocracy, and the transactions of the Jewish annals, for the unchristian and base purpose of awakening the demon of persecution against the mouldering remains of Grecian and Roman [heathenish] superstition....They dissolved the ancient fabric of Polytheism and transferred its revenues to the use of the church, the state and the army....Gentilism was expelled from the Roman territory....Coercion in general was substituted for conviction, and terror for the gospel. One blushes to read of a Symmachus and a Libanius, two heathen orators, pleading for reason and persuasion in the propagation of religion, whilst a Theodosius
and an Ambrosius, a Christian emperor and a Christian bishop, urge violence and constraint."
Upon the accession of Constantine to the sovereignty of Rome, he was inclined to tolerate all religions, as was shown by the celebrated edict of Milan, which granted religious freedom to every individual of the Roman empire. Such a measure should have been hailed with joy by the Christian Church, which had so longed for liberty under previous persecutions; but such was not the case. The true spirit of Christianity had departed, and now the ambition of the church was to exalt itself as rapidly as possible by crushing out every spark of liberty and subduing all things to itself. Accordingly, says Gibbon,* "His [Constantine's] ecclesiastical ministers soon contrived to reduce the impartiality of the magistrate, and to awaken the zeal of the proselyte; ...and he extinguished the hope of peace and toleration, from the moment that he assembled three hundred bishops within the walls of the palace." The emperor was there persuaded to declare that those who resisted the judgment of this clerical body in matters of faith should prepare themselves for immediate exile. And their decisions were declared to be of divine authority. This spirit of intolerance soon ripened into bitter and relentless persecution. Constantine issued two penal laws against heresy, and his example was followed by succeeding emperors – Valentinian, Gratian, Theodosius, Arcadius, and Honorius. Theodosius published fifteen, Arcadius twelve, and Honorius no less than eighteen of these statutes. These are recorded in the Theodosian and in the Justinian codes, to the disgrace of their priestly and imperial authors.
What Antichrist was pleased to call heresy (much of which was truth and righteousness endeavoring to hold a
footing) was classed as worse than infidelity, and both were opposed by kings, emperors and theologians; and both were persecuted, especially the former, by the Inquisition. When, about the beginning of the thirteenth century, there came a revival of learning, and men began to awaken from the sleep and troubled dreams of the "dark ages," those from whose minds the truth had not been entirely eradicated were stimulated, and the standard of truth was raised in opposition to the grosser errors of Antichrist. Then the persecuting spirit of Antichrist was aroused to furious action, to crush out the opposition.
Kings and princes who trembled for the security of their crowns, if they to any extent incurred the pope's displeasure, and whose realms might be laid under a dreaded interdict, should they or their people refuse to render absolute obedience to the pope's commands, were sworn to exterminate heresy, and admonished to purify their provinces from heretical perversity, on the pain of having their dominions wrested from them; and those barons who neglected to aid in the work of persecution forfeited their estates. Kings and princes, therefore, were not tardy in their efforts to comply with the mandates of the Papacy, and the barons and their retainers were at their service, to aid in the work of destruction.
Even before this awakening, as early as the year A.D. 630, the Council of Toledo compelled the king of Spain, on his accession to the throne, to swear to tolerate no heretical subjects in the Spanish dominions; and it was declared that the sovereign who should violate such oath would "be accursed in the sight of the everlasting God, and become the fuel of eternal fire." But the awful import of such demands was much more fully realized when the awakening began, and when Antichrist had obtained the maximum of his power.
The Council of Oxford in 1160 consigned a company of Waldenses, who had emigrated from Gascony to England, to the secular arm for punishment. Accordingly, King Henry II ordered them, men and women, to be publicly whipped, branded on the cheek with a red-hot iron, and driven, half-naked, out of the city in the dead of winter; and none were permitted to show them pity or to grant them the slightest favor.
Frederick, the emperor of Germany, A.D. 1224, sentenced heretics of every description, alive, to the flames, their property to confiscation, and their posterity, unless they became persecutors, to infamy. Louis, king of France, A.D. 1228, published laws for the extirpation of heresy, and enforced their execution. He forced Raymond, Count of Toulouse, to undertake the extermination of heresy from his dominions without sparing friend or vassal.
From the earliest encroachments of the power which by degrees developed into the papal system, resistance was made; but that resistance was offered only by a faithful few, whose influence made little impression on the overwhelming tide of worldliness that swept in upon the church. Gradually, as they discerned the error, some quietly withdrew themselves from the great apostasy, to worship God according to the dictates of conscience, even at the risk of persecution. Notable among these were some, afterward called Waldenses, Albigenses, Wycliffites and Huguenots. These, though called by several names had, so far as we can judge, a common origin and a common faith. "Waldensianism," says Rainerous (3.4), the noted Inquisitor of the thirteenth century, "is the ancientest heresy; and existed, according to some, from the days of [pope] Sylvester, and according to others, from the days of the apostles." Sylvester was pope when Constantine was emperor and confessed Christianity; and thus we see that the
truth was not without its adherents from the first, who, though humble and unpopular, resolutely resisted Papacy and the papal doctrines of purgatory, image-worship, invocation of saints, worship of the Virgin Mary, prayer for the dead, transubstantiation, celibacy of the clergy, indulgences, mass, etc., and discountenanced pilgrimages, festivals, the burning of incense, sacred burial, the use of holy water, sacerdotal vestments, monachism, etc., and held that the teaching of the Sacred Scriptures should be received, in opposition to the traditions and claims of the Church of Rome. They regarded the pope as the head of all errors, and claimed that the remission of sins is obtained through the merits of the Lord Jesus, only.
The faith and works of this people were a stand for reformation, and a protest against error, long before the days of Luther; and they, and other opposers of Romanism, were hunted and hated and persecuted with pitiless fury, by papal emissaries. The Waldenses and Albigenses were the most numerous bodies of Protestants against Papacy; and when the literary awakening of the thirteenth century came, it was mainly from these that the truth shone out, though reflected and intensified in utterance by Wycliffe, Huss, Luther, and others. And their doctrines, backed by simplicity and morality, shone out with the greater luster in contrast to the pompous pride and flagrant immoralities of the then exalted Papacy.
Then it was that popes, councils, theologians, kings, crusaders and inquisitors combined their fiendish powers to exterminate every opponent, and to extinguish the faintest rays of dawning light. Pope Innocent III first sent missionaries to the districts in which the doctrines of the Albigenses had gained foothold, to preach Romanism, work miracles, etc.; but, finding these efforts unavailing, he proclaimed a crusade against them and offered to all who
would engage in it the pardon of all sins and an immediate passport to heaven without passing through purgatory. With full faith in the pope's power to bestow the promised rewards, half a million men – French, German and Italian – rallied around the standard of the cross, for the defense of Catholicism and the extinction of heresy. Then followed a series of battles and sieges covering a space of twenty years. The city of Beziers was stormed and taken in 1209, and the citizens, without regard for age or sex, perished by the sword to the number of sixty thousand, as reported by several historians. The blood of those who fled to churches, and were murdered there by the holy crusaders, drenched the altars and flowed through the streets.
Lavaur was besieged in 1211. The governor was hanged on a gibbet, and his wife was thrown into a well and crushed with stones. The citizens were without discrimination put to death, four hundred being burned alive. The flourishing country of Languedoc was devastated, its cities burned, and its inhabitants swept away by fire and sword. It is estimated that one hundred thousand Albigenses fell in one day; and their bodies were heaped together and burned.
All this rioting in blood and villainy was done in the name of religion: professedly for the glory of God and the honor of the church, but really to uphold Antichrist, sitting in the temple of God [the church], showing himself that he is a god – a powerful one – able to conquer and destroy his enemies. The clergy thanked God for the work of destruction, and a hymn of praise to God for the glorious victory at Lavaur was composed and sung. The dreadful carnage at Beziers was accounted as the "visible judgment of heaven" on the heresy of Albigensianism. The crusaders attended high mass in the morning, and proceeded throughout the day to waste the country of Languedoc and murder its inhabitants.
Be it remembered, however, that these open crusades, against the Albigenses and Waldenses, were undertaken merely because the so-called "heresy" had gained a strong hold upon large portions of these communities. It would be a great mistake to suppose that the crusades were the only persecutions: the quiet, steady crushing of individuals, in the aggregate numbering thousands, all over Papacy's wide domain, went steadily on – wearing out the saints of the Most High.
Charles V, Emperor of Germany and King of Spain and the Netherlands, persecuted the friends of the Reformation throughout his extensive dominions. Supported by the Diet of Worms, he proscribed Luther, his followers and his writings; and condemned all who should aid Luther or read his books, to the confiscation of their property, the ban of the empire and the penalty of high treason. In the Netherlands the men who followed Luther were to be beheaded, and the women buried alive or if obstinate to be committed to the flames. Though this wholesale law was suspended, the work of death in all its horrid forms proceeded. The Duke of Alva boasted of the execution of 18,000 Protestants in six weeks. Paolo reckons the number who in the Netherlands were executed on account of their religion at 50,000; and Grotius gives the list of the Belgic martyrs at 100,000. Charles, with his dying breath, exhorted his son, Philip II, to carry on to completion the work of persecution and extermination of heresy which he had begun – which advice Philip was not slow to follow. With fury he stimulated the spirit of persecution, consigning Protestants to the flames without discrimination or pity.
Francis and Henry, the French kings, followed the example of Charles and Philip in their zeal for Catholicism and the extermination of heresy. The massacres of Merindol, Orange and Paris are forcible illustrations of their zeal in the cause of Antichrist. The massacre of Merindol,
planned by the French king and approved by the French parliament, was committed to the president, Oppeda, for execution. The president was commissioned to slay the population, burn the towns and demolish the castles of the Waldenses, large numbers of whom resided in that section. Roman Catholic historians admit that in compliance with this commission thousands, including men, women and children, were massacred, twenty-four towns were ruined, and the country was left waste and desolate. Men, women and children fled to the woods and mountains for safety and were pursued and put to the sword. Many who remained in the towns met the same or a worse fate. Five hundred women were thrown into a barn which was set on fire, and when any leaped from the windows they were received on the points of spears. Women were violated and children were murdered in sight of their parents, who were powerless to protect them. Some were dashed over precipices and others were dragged naked through the streets.
The massacre of Orange, A.D. 1562, was of a similar character to that of Merindol, and is described with precision by Catholic historians. The Italian army sent by Pope Pius IV was commanded to slay men, women and children; and the command was executed with terrible cruelty. The defenseless heretics were slain with the sword, precipitated from rocks, thrown on the points of hooks and daggers, hanged, roasted over slow fires and exposed to shame and torture of every description.
The massacre in Paris on St. Bartholomew's day, August 24th, A.D. 1572, equaled in cruelty, but exceeded in extent, the massacres of Merindol and Orange. This has also been detailed by Catholic historians, one of whom, Thuanus, stigmatizes it as "a ferocious cruelty, without a parallel in all antiquity." The tolling of the tocsin at midnight, August 23rd, gave the signal of destruction, and the dreadful scenes
of Merindol and Orange began to be reenacted against the hated Huguenots. The carnival of death lasted seven days; the city flowed with human blood; the court was heaped with the slain on which the king and queen gazed with extreme satisfaction. The body of Admiral Coligny was dragged through the streets; and the river Seine was covered with floating dead bodies. Accounts of the number killed vary from 5,000 to 10,000. The work of destruction was not confined to Paris, but extended very widely through the French nation. On the preceding day special messengers were dispatched in every direction ordering a general massacre of the Huguenots. The same scenes were accordingly enacted in nearly all the provinces, and estimates of the number slain vary from 25,000 to 70,000.
In these dreadful scenes of carnage Antichrist found extreme satisfaction. The pope and his court exulted at the victory of Catholicism over Waldensianism at Merindol, and the impious Oppeda was styled "The defender of the faith and the hero of Christianity." The French king went to mass, and returned solemn thanks to God for the victory over and massacre of the Huguenots at Paris. This carnage, sanctioned by the French king and parliament and Roman Catholic subjects, was probably at the direct instigation of the pope and the Papal Hierarchy. That it was highly approved, at least, is evident from the fact that at the Papal Court the news was received with great rejoicing. The pope, Gregory XIII, went in grand procession to the church of Saint Louis to render thanks to God for the signal victory. He at once proclaimed a jubilee, and sent a nuncio to the French court, who in the pope's name praised "the exploit so long meditated and so happily executed for the good of religion." A medal was struck by the king in memory of the massacre, bearing the inscription, "Pietas Excitavit Justitiam" – Piety Excited Justice.
Medals commemorative of the event were also coined in the Papal mint by order of the pope. One of these is now on exhibition in Memorial Hall, Philadelphia, Pa. Its face presents a raised figure of the pope and the abbreviated inscription, "Gregorius XIII, Pontifex Maximus Anno I," the first year of his pontificate, viz., A.D. 1572. On the reverse side of this medal is a representation of a destroying angel, bearing in the left hand a cross, and in the right hand a sword, before whom, prostrate and fleeing, a band of Huguenots, men, women and children, is represented, whose faces and figures express horror and despair. Under this are the words, "Ugonottorum Strages 1572" – which signifies, "The slaughter of the Huguenots, 1572."
A picture of the St. Bartholomew Massacre was hung in the Vatican. It had a scroll at the top, on which was inscribed, in Latin, words signifying, "The Pontiff approves the fate of Coligny." Coligny was a prominent leader of the Huguenots and one of the first to fall. After he was killed, his head was severed from his body and sent to the queen (who had it embalmed and sent as a trophy to Rome), while his body was dragged by the populace through the streets of Paris. The king was shortly afterward seized with the horrors of remorse from which he never recovered. It is recorded that to his confidential physician he said, "I know not what has happened to me, but in mind and body I am shaking as in a fever. It seems to me every moment, whether waking or sleeping, that mangled bodies present themselves to me with hideous faces and covered with blood." He died in great agony, covered with a bloody sweat.
In 1641 Antichrist proclaimed a "war of religion" in Ireland, and called on the people to massacre the Protestants by every means in their power. The deluded people heard the command as the voice of God, and were not slow to execute
their commission. Protestant blood flowed freely throughout Ireland, houses were reduced to ashes, towns and villages were almost destroyed. Some were forced to murder their own relatives, and then to take their own lives – the last words that fell upon their ears being the assurances of priests, that their dying agonies were but the beginnings of eternal torment. Thousands died of cold and hunger, while endeavoring to emigrate to other lands. In Cavan, the road for twelve miles together was stained with the bloody tracks of wounded fugitives; sixty children were abandoned in the flight, by parents fiercely hunted, and it was declared that any who should in any way help these little ones should be buried by their sides. Seventeen adults were buried alive at Fermaugh, and seventy-two at Kilkenny. In the province of Ulster alone, over 154,000 Protestants were either massacred or expelled from Ireland.
O'Niel, the primate of Ireland, pronounced this "a pious and lawful war," and the pope (Urban VIII) issued a bull dated May 1643, granting "full and absolute remission of all their sins" to those who had taken part in "gallantly doing what in them lay, to extirpate and wholly root out the pestiferous leaven of heretical contagion."
To Dominic, the leading spirit in this crusade, is ascribed the honor of inventing the infernal Inquisition, though Benedict, who is zealous in ascribing to Saint Dominic the honor of being the first Inquisitor General, is doubtful as to whether the idea first suggested itself to Pope Innocent or to Saint Dominic. It was first established by Pope Innocent III, in A.D. 1204.
St. Dominic was a monster, devoid of every feeling of compassion, who seemed to find his chief delight in scenes of torture and misery. During the crusade against the Albigenses, with a crucifix in his hand he led and encouraged the holy warriors to deeds of death and destruction. The Inquisition or Holy Office is today a tribunal in the Roman Catholic Church for the discovery, repression and punishment of heresy and other offenses against the Church of Rome.* But in Dominic's day it had no legal tribunal, nor were the instruments of torment brought to the perfection exhibited in later days. Nevertheless, Dominic, without such machinery, found abundant means of torture, in dislocating joints, tearing nerves, and lacerating the limbs of his victims, and in burning at the stake those whose convictions were unshaken by other means, and who would not renounce their faith and liberties.
Under his commission from Pope Innocent, to punish with confiscation, banishment and death the heretics who would not receive his gospel, Dominic stimulated the civil magistracy and populace to massacre the heretical Waldenses; and he at one time committed one hundred and eighty Albigenses to the flames. It was for such faithfulness in the service of Antichrist that he was canonized a saint, and is today adored and prayed to by Roman Catholics. The Roman Breviary (somewhat like a Prayer Book), referring to St. Dominic, lauds "his merits and doctrines which enlightened the church, his ingenuity and virtue which overthrew the Tolossan heretics, and his many miracles which extended even to the raising of the dead." The Roman Missal (which embraces the service connected with the administration of the Lord's supper) eulogizes his merits, and prays for temporal aid through his intercession. Thus Antichrist still upholds and honors its faithful heroes.
It would be impossible briefly to convey any adequate conception of the horrors of the Inquisition, or of the dreadful fear which it inspired among the people. Those not loud in their praise of Antichrist, or who ventured a criticism of his methods, were suspected of heresy; and such persons, without warning or redress, were liable to imprisonment in a dungeon for an indefinite time until a convenient season for trial – both the accuser and the accusation often being equally unknown to them. The proceedings of these trials were conducted secretly, and tortures were often employed to extort confessions. The tortures inflicted were almost too appalling to be credited in this age and land of freedom, yet their reality is confirmed by evidence which even Catholic historians cannot deny; and their fruitless attempts to apologize for them only tend to substantiate the evidence. Instruments of torture, relics of the Inquisition, are still in existence which would render denial unavailing. The "Holy Office" even employed physicians to watch the process of torture and stop it when death seemed likely to relieve the sufferer; and the victim was allowed partially to recover, that the torture might be applied a second or even a third time. These tortures were not always inflicted as punishments for the offense of heresy: they were in general for the purpose of compelling the accused to confess, retract or implicate others, as the case might be.
Even within the present century, after the Inquisition had lost many of its horrors, it was still terrible. The historian of Napoleon's wars, describing the capture of Toledo by his army, incidentally mentions the opening of the Inquisition prison, and says:
"Graves seemed to open, and pale figures like ghosts issued from dungeons which emitted a sepulchral odor. Bushy beards hanging down over the breast, and nails grown like bird's claws, disfigured the skeletons, who with laboring bosoms inhaled, for the first time for a long series
of years, the fresh air. Many of them were reduced to cripples, the head inclined forward and the arms and hands hanging down rigid and helpless. They had been confined in dens so low they could not rise up in them, and in spite of all the care of the [army] surgeons many of them expired the same day. On the following day General Lasalle minutely inspected the place, attended by several officers of his staff. The number of machines for torture thrilled even men inured to the battle field, with horror."
"In a recess in a subterranean vault, contiguous to the private hall for examinations, stood a wooden figure made by the hands of monks and representing the Virgin Mary. A gilded glory encompassed her head, and in her right hand she held a banner. It struck all at first sight as suspicious that, notwithstanding the silken robe, descending on each side in ample folds from her shoulders, she should wear a sort of cuirass. On closer scrutiny it appeared that the fore part of the body was stuck full of extremely sharp nails and small narrow knife-blades, with the points of both turned toward the spectator. The arms and hands were jointed, and machinery behind the partition set the figure in motion. One of the servants of the Inquisition was compelled by command of the General to work the machine as he termed it. When the figure extended her arms, as though to press some one lovingly to her heart, the well-filled knapsack of a Polish grenadier was made to supply the place of a living victim. The statue hugged it closer and closer, and when the attendant, agreeably to orders, made the figure unclasp her arms and return to her former position, the knapsack was perforated to the depth of two or three inches, and remained hanging on the points of the nails and the knife blades."
"Racks" of various sorts were invented, and applied as means of torture. One of the simplest methods is explained thus: The victim, stripped of all clothing, had his arms fastened behind his back with a hard cord, with which, by the action of a pulley, he was raised off his feet, to which weights were attached. The sufferer was several times let
fall, and raised with a jerk, which dislocated the joints of his arms and legs, while the cord by which he was suspended penetrated the quivering flesh to the very bone.
A reminder of such outrages in the name of Christ came to public notice recently. A Bible Society's printing office in Rome being crowded for space, it rented a large room near the Vatican. A large and peculiar ring in the ceiling attracted attention, and inquiry discovered the fact that the room in which they are now busy printing the Bible – "the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God," by which Antichrist has already been rendered "powerless" to oppress and wear out the saints – is the very room once used by the Inquisition as a torture chamber; the pulley ring having probably been used to rack many a poor, gagged sufferer.
Those convicted of heresy were sometimes sentenced to what was called an "Act of Faith." The ecclesiastical authority transferred the condemned to the secular power, while the clergy, in pretense of mercy, implored the magistracy to show compassion to the condemned, and, holding up the cross, pleaded with the victim to recant and save his present and future life. The magistrates knew well their part, and showed no mercy except to recanters; thus gaining the blessings and titles of "Defender of the Faith," and "Exterminator of Heretics." The condemned "heretic," dressed in a yellow coat variegated with pictures of dogs, serpents, flames and devils, was led to the place of execution, tied to the stake and committed to the flames.
Torquemada, another famous Inquisitor General, furnished a marked illustration of the spirit of Antichrist. Roman Catholic writers admit that he caused ten thousand two hundred and twenty (10,220) persons, men and women, to be burned alive. Llorente, who was for three years the Secretary General of the Inquisition, and had access to all the documentary evidences, in his Reports, published
A.D. 1817 (4 vols.), shows that between the years 1481 and 1808, by order of this "Holy Office" alone, no less than 31,912 persons were burned alive, and nearly 300,000 tortured and condemned to serve penances. Every Catholic country in Europe, Asia and America had its Inquisition.
We cannot here trace Antichrist's persecutions of everything resembling reforms, liberty of conscience or political freedom. Suffice it to say, this persecution extended to every country where Papacy had a footing – to Germany, Holland, Poland, Italy, England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Spain, Portugal, Abyssinia, India, Cuba, Mexico and some South American states. Space forbids our reciting individual cases which would serve to show that many of the martyrs were truly saints and heroes, who under the most horrible sufferings had grace sufficient, and were often enabled, while dying by inches, to sing hymns of praise and thanks to the true Head of the true Church, and, like him, to pray for their enemies who, as he had foretold, persecuted them for his sake.*
Neither will we, for the same reasons, particularize all the awful, sickening, soul-harrowing tortures, inflicted upon some of the Lord's jewels because of faithfulness to their convictions. It is estimated, by those who seemingly have given the subject thorough investigation, that Papacy, during the past thirteen hundred years, has, directly or indirectly, caused the death of fifty millions of people. And it may safely be said that human and Satanic ingenuity were taxed to their utmost to invent new and horrible tortures, for both the political and religious opponents of Antichrist;
the latter – heretics – being pursued with tenfold fury. Besides the common forms of persecution and death, such as racking, burning, drowning, stabbing, starving and shooting with arrows and guns, fiendish hearts meditated how the most delicate and sensitive parts of the body, capable of the most excruciating pain, could be affected; molten lead was poured into the ears; tongues were cut out and lead poured into the mouths; wheels were arranged with knife blades attached so that the victim could be slowly chopped to pieces; claws and pinchers were made red hot and used upon sensitive parts of the body; eyes were gouged out; finger nails were pulled off with red hot irons; holes, by which the victim was tied up, were bored through the heels; some were forced to jump from eminences onto long spikes fixed below, where, quivering with pain, they slowly died. The mouths of some were filled with gunpowder, which, when fired, blew their heads to pieces; others were hammered to pieces on anvils; others, attached to bellows, had air pumped into them until they burst; others were choked to death with mangled pieces of their own bodies; others with urine, excrement, etc., etc.
Some of these fiendish atrocities would be quite beyond belief were they not well authenticated. They serve to show to what awful depravity the human heart can descend; and how blind to right, and every good instinct, men can become under the influence of false, counterfeit religion. The spirit of Antichrist degraded and debased the world as the spirit of the true Christ and the power and influence of the true Kingdom of God would have elevated and ennobled men's hearts and actions – and as they will do, during the Millennium. This is to a slight extent illustrated by the advance in civilization, and the increase of justice and mercy, since the power of Antichrist began to wane, and the word of God began to be heard, and heeded, even slightly.
Truly, no device of which we can conceive could have been better calculated to deceive and oppress mankind. Advantage has been taken of every depraved disposition and weakness of fallen men; every base passion has been stimulated and appealed to, and the gratification of those passions rewarded. The vicious were thus allured and enlisted as its devotees, while those of nobler cast were engaged by other means – by an outward and hypocritical show of piety, self-denial and charity manifested in its monastic institutions, but which served only to lead many such far from the paths of virtue. The gay and the frivolous found ample satisfaction in its parade and show, its pomp and ceremony; the enterprising and chivalrous in its missions and crusades; the profligate in its indulgences; and the cruel bigot in its enterprises for oppressing its opponents.
In horror and wonder we ask ourselves, Why did kings, and princes, and emperors, and the people at large, permit such atrocities? Why did they not arise long ago and smite down Antichrist? The answer is found in the Scriptures (Rev. 18:3): The nations were drunk (stupefied), they lost their senses in drinking the mixed wine (doctrine, false and true mixed) given them by the apostate church. They were deceived by the claims of Papacy. And, truth to tell, they are only partly aroused from their stupor yet; for though the ambassadors of kings, falling before the pope, do not as of old address him as the "Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world," nor think of him as "a God with power over all things on earth and in heaven," yet they are still far from realizing the truth – that Papacy has been, and is, Satan's counterfeit of the true Kingdom.
While kings and soldiers wearied of such inhuman work, it was not so with the holy (?) hierarchy; and we find the General Council of Sienna, A.D. 1423, declaring that the spread of heresy in different parts of the world was due to
the remissness of the Inquisitors – to the offense of God, the injury of Catholicism and the perdition of souls. Princes were admonished, by the mercy of God, to exterminate heresy if they would escape divine vengeance; and plenary indulgences were granted to all who would engage in the work of destruction or provide arms for the purpose. These enactments were published in the churches every Sabbath. And Roman Catholic theologians and historians are by no means few who have wielded their pens in the unholy cause of justifying, recommending and praising the persecution of heresy. Bellarmine, for instance, declares that the apostles "abstained from calling in the secular arm only because there were in their day no Christian princes." Doctor Dens, a celebrated Roman Catholic theologian, published a work on theology in 1758, which is regarded by papists today as standard authority, especially in their colleges, where it ranks as Blackstone does on English civil law. This work breathes the spirit of persecution throughout. It condemns the patrons of heresy to confiscation of goods, banishment from the country, confinement in prison, infliction of death and deprivation of Christian burial.
One of the authorized curses published in the Romish Pontifical, to be used against Protestants, reads as follows:
"May God Almighty and all his saints curse them with the curse with which the devil and his angels are cursed. Let them be destroyed out of the land of the living. Let the vilest of deaths come upon them, and let them descend alive into the pit. Let their seed be destroyed from the earth – by hunger, and thirst, and nakedness and all distress let them perish. May they have all misery and pestilence and torment. Let all they have be cursed. Always and everywhere let them be cursed. Speaking and silent let them be cursed. Within and without let them be cursed. From the crown of the head to the sole of the foot let them be cursed. Let their eyes become blind, let their ears become deaf, let their mouth become dumb, let their tongue cleave to their jaws,
let not their hands handle, let not their feet walk. Let all the members of their body be cursed. Cursed let them be, standing or lying, from this time forth forever; and thus let their candle be extinguished in the presence of God, at the day of judgment. Let their burial be with dogs and asses. Let hungry wolves devour their corpses. Let the devil and his angels be their companions forever. Amen, Amen; so be it, so let it be."
This is the spirit of Papacy; and all who possess the spirit of the true Christ should readily recognize so base a counterfeit.
Since errors of doctrine lie at the very foundation of all these errors of conduct, it cannot be doubted that if circumstances were again favorable, the doctrines being unchanged, their bad spirit and bad fruits would shortly again appear, in similar acts of injustice, oppression, superstition, ignorance and persecution; and any and all means conceivable would be resorted to, for restoring, upholding and extending the counterfeit Kingdom of God. In proof of this, let us cite a few incidents which recently chanced to come to our attention, as follows:
In Ahuehuetitlan, Guererro, Mexico, August 7th, 1887, a native Protestant missionary, named Abraham Gomez, and two assistants, were murdered in cold blood by natives, at the instigation of a Roman Catholic priest, Father Vergara, who, when celebrating mass the day previous, is reported to have urged his people to "make an example of the minister of Satan" who had come among them; adding, that they might "kill him" with all safety, counting upon protection from the chief of police as well as the priest. The priest's word was law to the benighted people, and to the civil authorities. The mangled body of the poor missionary, shot and hacked to pieces, was dragged through the streets, subject to all sorts of indignities, a warning to others. For this no redress could be obtained.
The New York Independent having called attention to this
bloody massacre, the following retort was made by the Freeman, an influential New York Roman Catholic journal:
"They [Protestant missionaries] see honest people kneel, at the sound of the Angelus, in honor of the Annunciation and the Incarnation. The Bible, they say, will soon wipe out such 'superstition.' A light burns before an image of the Mother of God. 'Ha!' cries the missionary, 'We shall soon teach the benighted to break that symbol!' and so on. If the killing of a few missionaries of this kind would keep others like them at home, we should almost – we Papists are so wicked! – be inclined to say: 'On with the dance; let joy be unconfined.'"
A minister by the name of C. G. Moule tells a painful story, which has gone the rounds of the press, of the persecution, in Madeira, of Robert Kelley and the converts resulting from his labors, who, with their children, nearly one thousand persons in all, suffered expatriation as the penalty for receiving a crumb of truth.
In "Protestant Prussia," so-called, Pastor Thummel has been arrested for "insulting the Roman Catholic Church." He published a pamphlet criticising Papacy, in which one of the "insulting" remarks was to the effect that Papacy is an apostasy "built upon superstition and idolatry."
Recently the Caroline Islands were in dispute between Prussia and Spain, and the pope got himself appointed arbitrator or judge, to settle the dispute. (Much in this reminds one of his former power and policy as arbiter or supreme judge of nations.) The pope decided in favor of Spain. A man-of-war, fifty soldiers and six priests were at once dispatched by Spain; and on their arrival Mr. Doane, an American missionary, was made a prisoner and cut off from all intercourse with his converts, without cause, except that he refused to surrender his mission work and property to the priests; and because, the islands now belonging to Spain, and Spain belonging to the pope, none but the pope's religion could be tolerated.
A gentleman, formerly a Roman Catholic, and a friend of the writer, states that recently, when traveling in South America, he was assaulted with stones and obliged to flee for his life, because he would neither uncover his head nor kneel with the multitude, when the Romish priests bearing the crucifix and host passed along the streets. And a similar case, in which three Americans were struck by the priests, mobbed by the people and arrested by the police in the city of Madrid, Spain, for a like offense, is no doubt still fresh in the minds of many who read the daily papers.
The Converted Catholic quotes as follows from the Watchman, a Roman Catholic journal published at St. Louis, Mo.:
"Protestantism! We would draw and quarter it. We would impale it and hang it up for crows' nests. We would tear it with pinchers and fire it with hot irons. We would fill it with moulten lead, and sink it in hell-fire a hundred fathoms deep."
In the light of the past, it is entirely probable that with such a spirit, if the power were possessed, the Editor of the Watchman would soon extend his threats beyond "Protestant-ism" to the persons of Protestants.
In Barcelona, Spain, by order of the government, a large number of copies of the Bible were recently burned – of course at the instigation of the Church of Rome. The following, translated from the Catholic Banner, the organ of Papacy there, shows that they approved and appreciated the action. It said:
"Thank God, we have at last turned toward the times when those who propagated heretical doctrines were punished with exemplary punishment. The re-establishment of the Holy Tribunal of the Inquisition must soon take place. Its reign will be more glorious and fruitful in results than in the past. Our Catholic heart overflows with faith and enthusiasm; and the immense joy we experience, as we begin
to reap the fruit of our present campaign, exceeds all imagination. What a day of pleasure will that be for us, when we see Anti-clericals writhing in the flames of the Inquisition!"
To encourage another crusade, the same paper says:
"We believe it right to publish the names of those holy men under whose hands so many sinners suffered, that good Catholics may venerate their memory:
"By Torquemada –
Men and women burnt alive10,220
Burnt in effigy6,840
Condemned to other punishments97,371
"By Diego Deza –
Men and women burnt alive2,592
Burnt in effigy829
Condemned to other punishments32,952
"By Cardinal Jiminez de Cisneros –
Men and women burnt alive3,564
Burnt in effigy2,232
Condemned to other punishments48,059
"By Adrian de Florencia –
Men and women burnt alive1,620
Burnt in effigy560
Condemned to other punishments21,835
"Total number of men and women burnt alive,
under the ministry of 45 holy Inquisitor-Generals35,534
Total number burnt in effigy18,637
Total number of condemned to other punishments293,533
"We believe it right to publish the names of those holy men under whose hands so many sinners suffered, that good Catholics may venerate their memory:
As the true Kingdom of the true Christ is to last a thousand years, so the Papal counterfeit looks back upon the period of its greatest prosperity, which began A.D. 800 and closed in the dawn of the present century, as the fulfilment of the Millennial reign foretold in Rev. 20. And the period
since, in which Papacy has gradually lost all of its temporal power, suffered many indignities from nations formerly its supporters, and been greatly despoiled of territories, incomes and liberties long claimed and possessed, Romanists regard as the "little season" of Rev. 20:3,7,8, at the close of the Millennium, during which Satan was to be loosed.
And the dates which mark the beginning and the close of Papacy's Millennium of ignorance, superstition and fraud are clearly shown in history. A Roman Catholic writer* thus refers to the beginning of this religious empire: "The coronation of Charlemagne as Emperor of the West, by Pope Leo, A.D. 800, was really the commencement of the Holy Roman Empire."+
Although Papacy was organized, as a religious system, long before, and was even "set up" in temporal power in A.D. 539, yet it was Charlemagne who first actually bestowed and formally recognized the temporal dominion of the pope. As Charlemagne was the first emperor over the "Holy Roman Empire," A.D. 800, so Francis II was the last, and he voluntarily surrendered his title in A.D. 1806.# As, prior to the year 800, Papacy was rising, supported by the Roman "beast" (people) and by its "horns" (powers), so since
1800 it has been cast off from temporal authority over kings and peoples, and has been torn and pillaged by those who formerly gave it support. (Rev. 17:16,17) Today, though still the recipient of honors, and still possessed of a wide influence over the consciences of the people, Papacy bemoans its loss of everything resembling temporal dominion.
The careful student will note four periods, more or less distinctly marked, in the development and exaltation of Antichrist, and the same number distinctly marking its fall. In its development the four dates are:
1st. In Paul's day, about A.D. 50, a beginning of the secret working of the iniquitous ambition was the start.
2nd. Papacy, "the Man of Sin," was organized as a hierarchy; i.e., the church came to an organized condition, and the popes came to be recognized as the Head, representing Christ, reigning in the church and over the nations, gradually, from about A.D. 300 to 494.*
"These words were written as far back as the year of our Lord 494.... On the whole, then, it is clear, from the foregoing authentic evidence, that the primacy of the Chair of St. Peter [the Bishopric of Rome] had so far developed itself in the fifth century, that the pope was then universally regarded as the center of Christian unity – the Supreme Ruler and Teacher of God's church, the Prince of Bishops, the Final Arbiter of appeals in ecclesiastical causes from all parts of the world, and the Judge and Moderator of General Councils, over which he presided by his legates."
3rd. The time when the popes began to exercise civil authority and power, as will hereafter be shown, A.D. 539. (Vol. III, Chap. iii)
4th. The time of exaltation, A.D. 800, when, as already shown, the "Holy Roman Empire" was formed, and the pope, crowning Charlemagne emperor, was recognized as himself King of kings, Emperor of emperors, "another God, on earth."
The four periods of the fall of papal influence are as follows:
1st. The period of the Reformation, which may be said to have had its beginning about A.D. 1400, in the writings of Wycliffe – followed by Huss, Luther and others.
2nd. The period of Napoleon's success, the degradation of the popes, and the casting aside finally of the title "Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire," by Francis II, A.D. 1800-1806.
3rd. The final rejection of the pope as ruler over Rome and the so-called Papal States of Italy, by the pope's subjects and the King of Italy, A.D. 1870, by which Antichrist is left without the slightest temporal authority.
4th. The final extinction of this counterfeit hierarchy, near the close of the "Day of wrath" and judgment already begun – which will close, as shown by the "Times of the Gentiles," with the year A.D. 1914.
We have traced Antichrist's rise, out of an apostasy or "falling away" in the Christian Church; we have heard its blasphemous claim to be Christ's Kingdom and that its pope is Vicegerent of Christ – "another God, on earth"; we have heard its great swelling words of blasphemy, arrogating to itself titles and powers belonging to the true Lord of lords and King of kings; we have seen how terribly it fulfilled the prediction, "He shall wear out the saints"; we have seen that the truth, crushed and deformed, would
have been completely buried under error, superstition and priestcraft, had not the Lord at the proper moment, prevented by raising up reformers, thus helping his saints – as it is written, "They that understand among the people shall instruct many; yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days. Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help." Dan. 11:33,34
In view of all this testimony, is there room for doubt that it was concerning Papacy that the apostles and prophets were inspired to write, describing minutely as they do its prominent characteristics? We think there should remain no doubt in any unbiased mind that Papacy is the Antichrist, the Man of Sin; and that no one man could possibly fulfil the predictions. Papacy's unparalleled success, as a counterfeit Christ, deceiving the whole world, has amply fulfilled our Master's prediction, when, after referring to his own rejection, he said, "If another shall come [boastingly] in his own name, him ye will receive." John 5:43
It will be observed, no doubt with surprise, by many, that in our examination of the subject we have in general omitted reference to villainies, gross immoralities, on the part of the popes and other officials, and to the dark deeds of "expediency" practiced by the Jesuits and other secret orders, who do all sorts of detective work for Papacy. We have omitted these intentionally, not because they are untrue, for even Roman Catholic writers acknowledge many of them; but because our line of argument does not require these evidences. We have shown that the Papal Hierarchy (even if it were composed of the most moral and upright of men – which is not the case, as all history testifies) is the Man of Sin, the Antichrist, the counterfeit and misrepresentative of Christ's Millennial Kingdom, skillfully arranged so as to deceive.
The words of Macaulay, the English historian, serve to
show that some without special prophetic light can see Papacy's wonderful system – the counterfeit of the most wonderful of all systems, the Kingdom of God, yet to come.
"It is impossible to deny that the polity of the Church of Rome is the very masterpiece of human [we would say Satanic] wisdom. In truth, nothing but such a polity could, against such assaults, have borne up such doctrines. The experience of twelve hundred eventful years, the ingenuity and patient care of forty generations of statesmen, have improved that polity to such perfection, that among the contrivances of political ability it occupies the highest place."
We have traced Papacy to the present time, to the Day of the Lord – the time of Immanuel's presence. This Man of Sin has been developed, has done his awful work, has been smitten with the sword of the Spirit – the Word of God. The spirit of Christ's mouth has rendered him powerless to persecute the saints openly and generally, no matter how strong the desire; and now we ask, What next? What says the Apostle concerning Antichrist's end?
In 2 Thess. 2:8-12, the Apostle Paul declares concerning Antichrist: "Whom the Lord Jesus will consume with the spirit of his mouth, and annihilate with the bright shining of his presence." The light of truth is to penetrate every subject. By exposing rights and wrongs it will lead into the great struggle between these principles, and between the human exponents of each – causing the great time of trouble and wrath. In this struggle, wrong and evil shall fall, and right and truth shall triumph. Among other evils now to be finally and utterly destroyed is Antichrist, with which nearly every evil, of theory and practice, is more or less directly connected. And it will be this bright-shining, this sunlight from the Lord's presence, which will produce the "day of
trouble," because of and in which Antichrist, with every other evil system, will be destroyed. "Whose presence is with [accompanied by or during] an energetic operation of Satan [Satanic energy and action] with all power, and signs, and lying delusions, and with every iniquitous deception for those perishing; because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be preserved. And for this reason God will send to them a deluding power, that they might believe the error: so that all not believing the truth, but taking pleasure in iniquity, may be judged" unworthy to share the Millennial Kingdom as joint-heirs with Christ.
We understand these words to imply that in the time of the Lord's presence (the present time – since 1874), through this Antichrist system (one of the principal of Satan's agencies for deceiving and controlling the world), as well as through all his other agencies, the devil will make a most desperate resistance to the new order of things about to be established. He will take advantage of every little circumstance, and all the inherited weaknesses and selfishness of the human family, to enlist their hearts and hands and pens in this final struggle against liberty and the full elucidation of truth. Prejudices will be enkindled where, if the truth were clearly seen, none would exist; and passionate zeal will be evoked, and partisan unions formed, which will deceive and mislead many. And this will be so, not because God has not made the truth clear enough to guide all the fully consecrated, but because those who will be deceived were not sufficiently in earnest in seeking out and using the truth provided as "meat in due season." And thus it will be manifested that the class misled received not the truth in the love of it, but rather through custom, formality or fear. And the Apostle's assurance seems to be that, in this final death-struggle of Antichrist, notwithstanding he shall seem to gain increased power in the world by new stratagems, deceptions
and combinations, yet the true Lord of earth, the King of kings, in the time of his presence, will prevail; and shall finally, during the great time of trouble, utterly annihilate Antichrist and destroy forever his power and deceptions.
As to the exact form in which this closing struggle should be expected, we can only make suggestions, based largely upon the symbolic views of the same, given in Revelation. We anticipate the gradual formation throughout the world of two great parties – from both of which the faithful, overcoming saints will stand separate. These two great parties will be composed on the one side of Socialists, Free-thinkers, Infidels, discontents, and true liberty-lovers whose eyes are beginning to open to the facts of the case as they relate both to political and religious mis-government and despotism: on the other side will be gradually associated the opponents of human liberty and equality – Emperors, Kings, Aristocrats; and in close sympathy with these will stand the counterfeit of God's Kingdom, Antichrist, supporting and being supported by earth's civil despots. We expect, too, that Antichrist's policy will be somewhat modified and softened to seek to win back into sympathy and practical cooperation (not actual union) extremists of all Protestant denominations, who even now are panting for a nominal union with each other and with Rome – forgetful that the only true union is that produced and continued by the truth, and not by creeds, conventions and laws. Improbable as this cooperation of Protestants and Catholics may seem to some, we see unmistakable signs of its rapid approach. It is being hastened by the secret workings of Papacy among its people, whereby such politicians as are willing to cooperate with Papacy are assisted into prominent positions in governmental affairs.
Laws may be expected soon through which, gradually,
personal liberty will be curtailed, under the plea of necessity and the public welfare; until, one step after another being taken, it will finally be necessary to formulate some "simple law of religion"; and thus Church and State may be in a measure united, in governing the United States of America. These laws, simple as they can be made, to suit all so-called "orthodox" (i.e., popular) religious views, will be calculated to repress and prevent further growth in grace, and in the knowledge now "meat in due season." The plea will probably be, the prevention of socialism, infidelity, and political eruption, of the lower and the independent classes.
Evidently, in the near future, as a part of its trouble, and even before the severity of the great trouble of this "day of wrath" has burst upon the world and wrecked the entire social fabric of earth (preparatory to the new and better one promised under the true Christ), there will be a severe hour of trial and testing of the truly consecrated Church, much as it was in the days of Papacy's triumph; only now the methods of persecution will be more refined and will comport better with the more civilized methods of the present day: the spikes and pincers and racks will have more the form of sarcasm and denunciations, restrictions of liberties, and social, financial and political boycotting. But concerning this, and the new combinations which Antichrist will form in this final struggle against the establishment of the true Millennial Kingdom, more anon.
In concluding this chapter we desire to again impress our readers with the fact that Papacy is the Antichrist, not because of its moral obliquity, but because it is the counterfeit of the true Christ and the true Kingdom. It is because of a failure to realize this fact that many Protestants will be deceived into cooperation with Papacy in opposition to the true King of Glory.