But actions speak louder than words! The Popes have not confined their self-exaltation to empty boastings. They have practically exalted themselves "above all that is called God, or that is worshipped." The following is extracted from the "Ceremoniale Romanum," and describes the first public appearance of the Pope in St. Peter s, on his election to the Pontificate. After the investiture with the scarlet papal robes, the vest covered with pearls, and the mitre studded with precious stones, the new Pope is conducted to the altar, before which he prostrates himself in prayer, bowing as before the seat of God. An awful sequel then follows. We read: "The Pope rises, and, wearing his mitre, is lifted up by the cardinals, and is placed by them upon the altar to sit there. One of the bishops kneels, and begins the Te Deum. In the mean time the cardinals kiss the feet and hands and face of the Pope." This ceremony is commonly called by Roman Catholic writers "The adoration;" it has been observed for many centuries, and was performed at the inauguration of Pius IX. A coin has been struck in the papal mint which represents it, and the legend is, "Quem creant adorant," "whom they create (Pope) they adore." The language in which this adoration is couched is blasphemous to a degree. At the coronation of Pope Innocent X. Cardinal Colonna on his knees, in his own name and that of the clergy of St. Peter s, addressed the following words to the Pope: "Most holy and blessed father, head of the church, ruler of the world, to whom the keys of the kingdom of heaven are committed, whom the angels in heaven revere, and the gates of hell fear, and all the world adores, we specially venerate, worship, and adore thee."
The very assumption the Pope makes, to be Christ s Vicar involves self-exaltation. How should one representing the Judge, of all be judged by any? He might make laws, but he held himself above all law. Was not Christ King of kings and Lord of lords? How then could he, the representative of Christ, do other than regard all kings, and rulers, and potentates, as his subjects, to be crowned and uncrowned by him at his pleasure? His dominion he likened to that of the sun, all other dominion being like that of the moon and satellites, immeasurably inferior. Pope Celestine III, when crowning Henry VI., expressed in action his sense of his own superiority to all monarchs: "The Lord Pope sat in the pontifical chair, holding the golden imperial crown between his feet; and the Emperor bending his head, and the Empress, received the crown from the feet of the Lord Pope. But the Lord Pope instantly struck with his foot the Emperor s crown, and cast it upon the ground, signifying that he had the power of deposing him, from the empire, if he were undeserving of it. The cardinals lifted up the crown, and placed it upon the Emperor s head."
"Is not the king of England my bond-slave?" said Innocent VI. "Hath not God set me as a prince over all nations, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to build?" asks Boniface VIII. The glorious declarations of the world-wide homage yet to be paid to Messiah the Prince, have been applied by the Popes as descriptive of the respect due by earthly monarchs to them: "All kings shall fall down before Him, all nations shall serve Him;" and since Christ was God, and he was Christ s representative and Vicar, was he not also to be regarded by men as God? Even to this height of blasphemy and folly did Antichrist push his pretensions. Witness the address of Marcellus to the Pope at the Lateran Council: "Thou art another God on earth;" and the oft- accepted title, "Our Lord God the Pope." And since the Pope by his power of transubstantiation can even make God, and by his power of ordination can enable his countless priests to do the same, is he not in a sense the superior of God Himself? What adoration can be too profound for one exalted so high? Such worship is accepted by the Roman Pontiffs.
We read, "great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh," the Most High stooped and made Himself of no reputation. May we not say, m considering the self-exaltation of the Popes of Rome, great is the "mystery of iniquity," man, sinful, mortal man, exalting himself to be as God! And strange to say, men allowed it: "All the world wondered after the beast." It was no empty boast of Gregory II. : "All the kings of the West reverence the Pope as a god on earth." Sismondi describes how Pepin and the Franks received him "as a divinity." The mighty Emperor Charlemagne consented to receive his title and empire as a donation from the Pope; and ere long the coronation oath of Western kings came to include a vow, to be "faithful and submissive to the Pope." Kings and emperors consented, like our own John, and like the Emperor Otho, and many others, to hold their dominions as vassals of the Pope, and to resign them at his bidding: to hold his stirrup, and lead his palfrey, like servants, to kiss his feet and bow in his presence like slaves. In his full fame, and flushed with victory, the great Francis I, of France, in his interview with Leo X. at Bologna, just before the Reformation, "knelt three times in approaching him, and then kissed his feet." The Emperor Henry of Germany, driven to the most abject humiliation by the terror of a papal interdict, sought pardon, barefoot and clothed in sack-cloth, and was kept waiting three wintry days and nights at the doors of the supreme Pontiff, ere he could secure an interview.
It is difficult in this nineteenth century to credit the records which reveal, the unbounded power of the Pope during the dark ages, and the nature and extent of the claims he asserted, to the reverence and subjection of mankind. If kings and emperors yielded him abject homage, the common people regarded him as a deity. His dogmas were received as oracles, his bulls and sentences were to them the voice of God. The Sicilian ambassadors prostrated themselves before Pope Martin, with the thrice-repeated cry, "Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world." "The people think of the Pope as the one God that has power over all things, in earth and in heaven," said Gerston. The fifth Lateran Council subscribed, just before the Reformation, a decree which declared, that "as there was but one body of the church, so there was but one head, viz., Christ s Vicar, and that it was essential to the salvation of every human being to be subject to the Roman Pontiff"
"Every spiritual as well as every ecclesiastical office of Christ, was arrogated to himself by the man of sin." "If Christ was the universal Shepherd of souls, was not he, the Pope, the same? If Christ was the door of the sheep, was not he. the door? If Christ was the truth, was not he the depositary, source, and oracular expounder of the truth, authoritative, infallible, independent of Scripture, and even against it? If Christ was the Holy One, was not he the same, and did not the title, his holiness, distinctively and alone belong to him? If Christ was the husband of the Church, was not he the same? With the marriage ring in the ceremonial of his inauguration he signified it; and with his great voice in his canon law and papal bulls he proclaimed it to the world. The power of the keys of Christ s Church and kingdom, given him, extended into the invisible world. He opened with them, and who might shut? He shut, and who might open? . . . the souls in purgatory and the angels in heaven were subject to him; and it was even his prerogative to add to the celestial choir; by his canonizing edicts he elevated whom he pleased of the dead to form part of heaven s hierarchy, and become objects of adoration to men." * (* * Elliott, "Hore," III., p. 161, condensed.)
IV.SUBTLETIES, FALSE DOCTRINES, AND LYING WONDERS.
The foregoing are not the only characteristics which lead the careful student of Scripture and of history, to recognise in the Papacy, the great predicted power of evil, that was to arise in the latter times of the fourth great empire, and fix its seat at Rome. The coming of the Antichrist was to be "with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness" We must inquire whether this mark has been visibly impressed on the papal dynasty, whether subtleties, false doctrines, and lying wonders, have been an essential part of its policy. Again the abundance of evidence alone makes reply difficult!
Macaulay says: "It is impossible to deny, that the polity of the Church of Rome, is the very masterpiece of human wisdom. In truth nothing but such a polity could, against such assaults, have borne up such doctrines. The experience of twelve hundred eventful years, the ingenuity and patient care of forty generations of statesmen, have improved that polity to such perfection, that among the contrivances which have been devised for deceiving and oppressing mankind; it occupies the highest place. The stronger our conviction that reason and Scripture were decidedly on the side of Protestantism, the greater is the reluctant admiration with which we regard that system of tactics against which reason and Scripture were employed in vain. This wonderful policy of the Papacy may be viewed as an expression of Satanic genius, if we may use the expression, or as a fruit of human genius. Regarded as "the working of Satan," it is in perfect harmony with all the other workings, of him, who has been a liar from the beginning. It has been by means of a counterfeit Christianity that Satan has, through the Papacy, resisted the spread of true Christianity. The Papacy has its. counterfeit high priest, the Pope; its counterfeit sacrifice, the mass; its counterfeit Bible, tradition; its counterfeit mediators, the Virgin, the saints, and angels; the forms have been copied, the realities set aside. Satan inaugurated and developed a system, not antagonistic to Christianity, but a counterfeit of it; and as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so (i.e., by imitation) he has withstood Christ.
But viewed as a fabrication of human ambition and wickedness, the subtlety with which the Papacy has adapted itself to its end is a marvel of genius. That end was, to exalt a man, and a class of men, the Pope and his priesthood, to the supreme and absolute control of the world and all its affairs; to reign, not only over the bodies, but over the minds of men. To attain this object it employed a policy, unmatched in dissimulation and craft, a sagacity distinguished by largeness of conception combined with attention to detail, irresistible energy, indomitable perseverance, and, when art was unavailing, overwhelming physical force.
In the selection of ROME as its seat of empire, the Papacy secured enormous prestige. "In no other spot, would its gigantic schemes of dominion have been formed, or, if formed, realized. Sitting in the seat which the masters of the world had so long occupied, the Papacy appeared the rightful heir of their power. Papal Rome reaped the fruit of the wars and the conquests, the toils and the blood, of Imperial Rome. The one had laboured and gone to her grave, the other arose and entered into her labours. The Pontiffs were perpetually reminding the world, that they were the successors of the Caesars, that the two Romes were linked by an indissoluble bond, and that to the latter had descended the heritage of glory and dominion acquired by the former. . . . The Pontiffs also claimed to be successors of the Apostles: a more masterly stroke of policy still. As the successor of Peter, the Pope was greater, than as the successor of Caesar. The one made him a king, the other made him king of kings; the one gave him the power of the sword, the other invested him with the still more sacred authority of the keys. . ., The Papacy is the ghost of Peter crowned with the shadowy diadem of the old Caesars." * (* Wylie s "Papacy," p. 414.)
Every doctrine and dogma of the Papacy is framed with a similar design, to exalt the priesthood; at the expense of the intellect, the conscience, and the eternal well-being, of mankind. By the doctrine, the priest becomes the channel of Divine revelation, and by that of inherent efficacy in the sacraments, the channel of Divine grace: men are wholly dependent on the priesthood, for a knowledge of the will of God, and an enjoyment of the salvation of God.
Recognising that no religion enjoining a high morality could ever be a popular one, in a world of sinners, who love sin, the Papacy presented a religion of ritual observance, instead of one of spiritual power: heaven could be secured by outward acts; obedience to the church, not a change of heart, was the great essential of salvation. Men naturally seek to earn heaven; Popery sets them to work to do so, teaching salvation by merit, and denying salvation by faith. "It provides convents for the ascetic and the mystic; carnivals for the gay; mission s for the enthusiast; penances for the man suffering from remorse; sisterhoods of mercy for the benevolent; crusades for the chivalrous; secret missions for the man whose genius lies in intrigue; the Inquisition, with its racks and screws, for the cruel bigot; indulgences for the man of wealth and pleasure; purgatory to awe the refractory, and frighten the vulgar; and a subtle theology for the casuist and the dialectician." * Its marvellous flexibility, its adaptation of its doctrines to all classes and conditions of men, is one phase of the exceeding subtlety of the Papacy. Many others might be adduced, as for instance its encouragement of ignorance, in the people, in order to the production and maintenance of that superstition, which alone makes spiritual imposture easy or even practicable.
The absurd and childish doctrine of Purgatory, unknown in the church till the end of the sixth century, could never have obtained currency, but for the aid of fictitious miracles,- visions of departed persons broiling on gridirons, roasting on spits shivering in water, or burning in fire, etc. Such "lying wonders" were therefore freely invented by the priests, and readily credited by the people; and by their means the doctrine, which was one of the most lucrative ever invented, was soon firmly established. Time would fail us, to speak of the "lying wonders" connected with the relics, shrines of pilgrimage, and false miracles of the Papacy: their name is legion, and their folly is exceeded by their guilt.
We must pass on to note its persecutions of the saints, for in the prophecies of Antichrist under consideration, this feature is prominently conspicuous. Daniel says of the "little horn" that "he shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and they shall be given into his hand." And John says, "It was given him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them," and that he "opened his mouth to blaspheme," or speak evil of them.
Now it is a notorious fact that the Church of Rome considers heresy (i.e., any dissent from her teachings, the worst crime of which a man can be guilty; she asserts that no heretic can be saved. She teaches that no faith is to be kept with heretics, that they are to be cut off from all social intercourse, deprived of all natural, civil, and political rights; that they forfeit all claim and right to their property; that they are to be put to death, and that if they have died a natural death, their very bones and dust are to be taken up and burnt. And who are to be regarded as heretics? Let the bull In Coena Domini (or, "at the supper of the Lord") answer. Every Thursday of Passion Week, that is the day before Good Friday, this bull is read in the presence of the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, and a crowd of people. His Holiness appears with a pair of peacock s feathers, one on each side of his head, and when the bull is finished, flings a lighted torch into the court of the palace, to make the effect of the anathema the more dreadful. The object of the bull, as defined by Pope Paul III., is "to preserve the purity of the Christian religion, and to maintain the unity of the faithful" The following is one of its clauses. "We excommunicate and anathematize in the name of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and by the authority of the blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul, and by our own, all Hussites, Wicklifftes, Lutherans, Zwinglians, Calvinists, Anabaptists, Huguenots, Trinitarians, and apostates from the faith, and all other heretics, by whatsoever name they are called, and of whatsoever sect they be, as also their adherents, receivers, favourers, and generally all defenders of them; together with all who without our authority, or that of the Apostolic See, knowingly read, keep, print, or any way for any cause whatsoever, publicly or privately, on any pretext or colour, defend their books, containing heresy or treating of religion."
These are the principles of Popery, as stated by acknowledged authorities of her church, and pronounced applicable to all times.
As to the practice of this unchangeable church, there is not a statement in the following quotation which history does not abundantly substantiate. "As some luxurious emperors of Rome exhausted the whole art of pleasure, so that a reward was promised to any who should invent a new one; so have Romish persecutors exhausted all the art of pain, so that it will now be difficult to discover or invent a new kind of it, which they have not already practised upon those marked out for heretics. They "have been shot, stabbed, stoned, drowned, beheaded, hanged, drawn, quartered, impaled, burnt, or buried alive, roasted on spits, baked in ovens, thrown into furnaces, tumbled over precipices, cast from the tops of towers, sunk in mire and pits, starved with hunger and cold, hung on tenter hooks, suspended by the hair of the head, by the hands or feet, stuffed and blown up with gunpowder, ripped with swords and sickles, tied to the tails of horses, dragged over streets and sharp flints, broken on the wheel, beaten on anvils with hammers, blown with bellows, bored with hot irons, torn piecemeal by red-hot pincers, slashed with knives, hacked with axes, hewed with chisels, planed with planes, pricked with forks, stuck from head to foot with pins, choked with water, lime, rags, urine, excrements, or mangled pieces of their own bodies crammed down their throats, shut up in caves and dungeons, tied to stakes, nailed to trees, tormented with lighted matches, scalding oil, burning pitch, melted lead, etc. They have been flayed alive, had their flesh scalped and torn from their bones; they have been trampled and danced upon, till their bowels have been forced out, their guts have been tied to trees and pulled forth by degrees; their heads twisted with cords till the blood, or even their eyes started out; strings have been drawn through their noses, and they led about like swine, and butchered like sheep. To dig out eyes, tear off nails, cut off ears, lips, tongues, arms, breasts, etc., has been but ordinary sport with Rome s converters and holy butchers. Persons have been compelled to lay violent hands on their dearest friends, to kill or to cast into the fire their parents, husbands, wives, children, etc., or to look on whilst they have been most cruelly and shamefully abused. Women and young maids have also suffered such barbarities, accompanied with all the imaginable indignities, insults, shame, and pungent pangs, to which their sex could expose them. Tender babes have been whipped, starved, drowned, stabbed, and burnt to death, dashed against trees and stones, torn limb from limb, carried about on the point of spikes and spears; and thrown to the dogs and swine." If such treatment as this, inflicted on successive generations of disciples of Christ, for centuries together, be not "wearing out the saints of the Most High," what could be? History affords no parallel, for the Pagan persecutions were brief in comparison to the Papal.
The following is one of the authorized curses, published in the Romish Pontifical, to be pronounced on heretics .by Romish priests,. "May God Almighty and all his saints curse them, with the curse with which the devil and his angels are cursed. Let them be destroyed out of the land of the living. Let the vilest of deaths come upon them, and let them descend alive into the pit. Let their seed be destroyed from the earth; by hunger, and thirst, and nakedness, and all distress let them perish. May they have all misery, and pestilence, and torment. Let all they have be cursed. Always and everywhere let them be cursed. Speaking and silent let them be cursed. Within and without let them be cursed. By land and by sea let them be cursed. From the crown of the head to the sole of the foot, let them be cursed. Let their eyes become blind, let their ears become deaf, let their mouth become dumb, let their tongue cleave to their jaws, let not their hands handle, let not their feet walk. Let all the members of the body be cursed. Cursed let them. be standing, lying, from this time forth for ever; and thus let their candle be extinguished in the presence of God, at the day of judgment. Let their burial be with dogs and asses. Let hungry wolves devour their corpses. Let the devil and his angels be their companions for ever. Amen, amen; so be it, so let it be."
Entire volumes would be requisite to give an adequate idea of the way in which the Papacy has worn out and overcome the saints of the Most High, by her cruel persecutions. The Apocalypse presents us with two great companies of martyrs (Rev. vi. 9. xv. 2) one slain by Pagan Emperors, on account of their testimony against heathen idolatry; the other slain by Christian Popes, on account of their testimony against Christian idolatry, against the corruptions and false doctrines of the Papacy. The latter company in number enormously exceeds the former; it cannot be numbered by hundreds, or by, thousands, or by tens of thousands, or by hundreds of thousands, or even by millions; we must rise to tens of millions, to express the multitude of the saints of Christ, whose blood has been shed, by the self-styled Vicar of Christ on earth!
The INQUISITION,-a name at which humanity has learned to shudder,-is a long and supremely cruel and wicked history compressed into one word! Instituted for the avowed purpose of suppressing heresy, it was established in every country which submitted to Papal authority. In Spain alone it has been proved by the careful statistical investigations of Llorente, that between the years 1481 and 1808 over three hundred and forty-one thousand persons were condemned by this "Holy Office," of whom 31,912 were burned alive, 17,000 burned in effigy and nearly 300,000 tortured and condemned to severe penances. Every Catholic country in Europe, Asia, and America, had its INQUISITION, and its consequent unexplained arrests, indefinitely long imprisonments of innocent persons, its secret investigations, its horrible torture chambers, and dreadful dungeons, its auto da fe s, or burnings of obstinate heretics, and its thousand nameless cruelties and injustices.
When the French took Toledo, and broke open the Inquisition prison there, we read, "Graves seemed to open, and pale figures like ghosts issued from dungeons which emitted a sepulchral odour. Bushy beards hanging down over the breast, and nails grown like birds claws, disfigured the skeletons, who with labouring bosoms inhaled, for the first time for a long series of years, the fresh air. Many of them were reduced to cripples, the head inclined forward, and the arms and hands hanging down, rigid and helpless: they had been confined in dens so low they could not rise up in them: .
. . in spite of all the care of the surgeons, many of them expired the same day. The light of the sun made a particularly painful impression on the optic nerve. . . . On the following day General Lasalle minutely inspected the place, attended by several officers of his staff. The number of machines for torture thrilled even men inured to the battle-field with horror; only one of these, unique in its kind for refined cruelty, seems deserving of more particular notice.
"In a recess in a subterraneous vault, contiguous to the private ball for examinations, stood a wooden figure, made by the hands of monks, and representing the Virgin Mary. A gilded glory encompassed her head, and in her right hand she held a banner. It struck us all, at first sight, as suspicious, that, notwithstanding the silken robe, descending on each side in ample folds from her shoulders, she should wear a sort of cuirass. On closer scrutiny, it appeared that the fore part of the body was stuck full of extremely sharp nails and small narrow knife-blades, with the points of both turned towards the spectator. The arms and hands were jointed; and machinery behind the partition set the figure in motion. One of the servants of the Inquisition was compelled, by command of the General, to work the machine, as he termed it. When the figure extended her arms, as though to press some one most lovingly to her heart, the well-filled knapsack of a Polish grenadier was made to supply the place of a living victim. The statue hugged it closer and closer; and when the attendant, agreeably to orders, made the figure unclasp her arms and return to her former position, the knapsack was perforated to the depth of two or three inches, and remained hanging on the points of the nails and knife-blades. To such an infernal purpose, and in a building erected in honour of the true faith, was the Madonna rendered subservient!"
Gigantic enterprises of EXTERMINATION of Christian confessors were from time to time undertaken by the Popes of Rome. Witness the bloody "crusade," against the Albigenses, described by Sismondi, and the religious wars against the Waldenses, narrated by Monastier and others. Pope Alexander III. began the persecution against these "saints," whose only crime was, that they held the truth of the Gospel and read the Scriptures; he confined himself to excommunications, anathemas, and decrees, by which they were rendered incapable of holding offices of trust, honour, or profit, and by which their land s were seized, and their goods confiscated. Innocent III., finding that they grew and prospered in spite of this, instigated sterner repressive measures; and the fierce and bloodthirsty cruelty with which his behests were obeyed, has added to history one of its very darkest chapters.
The populous and beautiful Val Louise (Dauphiny) was deserted on the approach of the Papal army, the Waldenses fleeing to the caves of the mountains. They were followed, caught, thrown headlong over the precipices, dashed to pieces; others who took refuge in caves where their persecutors could not follow them, were suffocated with the smoke of huge fires, lit in the caverns mouth; 3000 men, women, and children, with 400 infants, were found so smothered in one cave, at one time! At the Lateran Council, A.D. 1179, a decree was issued against all heretics of whatever name, anathematizing them, and forbidding any to harbour them while alive, or give them Christian burial when dead. Lucius III. gave them up to the secular arm, and to the Inquisition, for detection and suppression. Innocent III: charged every bishop to gird himself for the work of extermination and to employ both princes and populace in the cause. Then followed the proclamation of a Crusade, with all its horrors, against the faithful witnesses for the truth. At the siege and sack of Beziers alone, sixty thousand Protestants were slain, and this was a specimen of the whole crusade. Vassals, were by the Pope absolved from. allegiance to their superiors, should these latter refuse to join in the work of extermination; the lands and goods of heretics, were given to their murderers; and plenary indulgence to the day of death, was granted to every one taking part in the persecution.
The dreadful sufferings inflicted on the peaceful and industrious Vaudois, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, are too well known to need repetition. The wretched villagers, surprised in the night, and hunted from rock to rock, by the light of the flames which were consuming their homes, escaped one snare, to fall into another. Surrender did not save the men from slaughter, nor the women from brutal outrage at which nature revolts! All were forbidden to afford succour to the fugitives. At Cabrieres more than 700 men were butchered in cold blood, and the women were burned alive in their houses.
The "bloody ordinance of Gastaldo," issued in 1655, decreed, that all who would not embrace the Catholic faith; must quit the valleys within a few days. Upwards of 1000 families were driven by this edict from their homes, in the depth of winter, to the shelterless recesses of the Alpine heights. The general to whom the execution of the edict was entrusted, fearing the consequences, if the Vaudois should resist in the defiles of their mountain passes, resorted to treachery, persuaded the villages, by fair promises, to receive his 15,000 soldiers in small detachments; and when the simple, unsuspicious people, complied with his desire, he ordered the massacre, which filled Protestant Europe with horror. Four thousand victims suffered death, under cruelties too horrible to relate, and the carnage was repeated in valley after valley.
In 1686, a fresh persecution was organised against the remaining Vaudois, by the Duke of Savoy; terrible devastation was carried again into their quiet vales; unheard-of barbarities committed, on every age and sex; life could be saved only by submission to overwhelming force, and a remnant did submit. The whole Protestant population were consigned to prison, and their lands, houses, and possessions, were divided among the Catholic soldiers of Victor Amadeus. The gaols were so crowded, and the treatment of the prisoners so cruel, that multitudes of the poor captives perished; they slept on bare bricks, in dungeons thronged to suffocation, in the intense heat of summer; and the disease and death engendered were horrible in the extreme, so that in six months only 3000 of the Vaudois survived. Urgent representations from the Protestant powers of Europe, procured the liberation of this remnant; but the wretched exiles were sent out destitute, after having been, in many cases, deprived of their children, and of their pastors. They turned their steps to Switzerland, and had to make their way over the Alps, in the depth of winter; hundreds, perished of cold and hunger on the road. Three years laħer, a little band of eight hundred of these intrepid exiles, made their way back to their valleys, under the leadership of Arnaud, who himself recounts their triumph over apparently insuperable difficulties.* (* "Glorleuse Rentree des Vaudois dans leurs Valkes" : Arnaud.)
Is further proof of the persecuting spirit of the Roman Pontiffs needed? Look at IRELAND in 1641, when the Romanist Bishops proclaimed a "war of religion," and incited the people lay every means in their power, to massacre the Protestants. North, south, east, and west, throughout the island, Protestant blood flowed in rivers; houses were reduced to ashes, villages and towns all but destroyed, in the deadly strife; the very cattle of the Protestants were inhumanly tortured; the only burial allowed to the martyrs was the burial of the living, and their persecutors took a fiendish delight, in hearing their cries and groans, issuing from the earth. Popish children were taught to pluck out the eyes of their Protestant playmates, to hack their little limbs, and, hunt them to death. Some were forced to murder their own relatives, and then butchered themselves over the bleeding remains; the last sounds that reached their dying ears, being the savage assurances of the priests, that these agonies were but the commencement of eternal torment. Dublin alone escaped, and became a refuge for the distressed, but all its Popish inhabitants were forbidden, under pain of the direst curse, to afford the slightest succour to the sufferers. Thousands died of cold and hunger; thousands more emigrated, and perished in the wintry weather from hunger and exposure.
In Armagh, four thousand Protestants were drowned; in Cavan, the road for twelve miles together was stained red with the gory track of the wounded fugitives; sixty children were abandoned in the flight, by parents fiercely hunted by the blood-hounds of the Papacy, who declared that any who helped or even buried these little ones, should be buried by their Sides; seventeen adults were buried alive at Fermanagh, and in Kilkenny seventy-two. In the province of Ulster alone, upwards of one hundred and fifty-four thousand Protestants, were massacred or expelled from Ireland. O Niel, the Romish Primate of all Ireland, declared this rebellion to be "a pious and lawful war;" and Pope Urban VIII., by a bull, dated May, 1643, granted "full and absolute remission of all their sins," to those who had taken part in "gallantly doing what in them lay, to extirpate and wholly root out, the pestiferous leaven of heretical contagion." * (* "History of the Attempts of the Irish Papists to Extirpate the Protestants in the kingdom of Ireland." By Sir John Temple, Master of the Rolls.)
But France was the scene of the greatest national crime which even the Papacy has ever instigated and approved, THE MASSACRE OF ST. BARTHOLOMEW S DAY, planned by the infamous Catherine de Medicis, and ordered by her weak and wretched son, Charles IX. The horrible story of this unparalleled atrocity, is too well known to. need recounting here. In Paris alone the blood of over ten thousand innocent Protestant citizens, deluged the streets, and for a whole week the shouts of "Kill, kill," resounded on every hand. In Rouen from one to two thousand were slaughtered; and a similar number at Lyons, at Orleans five hundred; every town and village became a scene of carnage. Some writers compute that at least one hundred thousand persons fell in this terrible massacre; others put the number lower. At the most moderate calculation, thirty to forty thousand Protestants, perished on account of their faith, in that fatal month of August, 1572. All the Princes of Europe expressed their indignation at the foul treachery, excepting the King of Spain and the Pope. The former wrote to congratulate Charles IX., on the "triumph of the Church militant," which his conduct had secured. The Pope, Gregory XIII., who was privy to the plot, celebrated a TE DEUM on hearing the news, ordered a jubilee, and a solemn procession, which he accompanied himself; to thank God for this glorious success; he sent a nuncio to Paris to congratulate the king, had a medal struck in memory of the happy event, and a picture of the massacre, painted and hung in the Vatican. A scroll at the top contained a Latin inscription to the effect, The Pontiff approves the murder of Coligny.
Tremendous as this blow had been, it did not crush Protestantism in France; a twelfth part of the entire population of the country were still attached to the Reformed religion. Henry IV., on ascending the throne, issued, in 1598, the Edict of Nantes, which placed Protestants on an equal footing with Catholics in regard to civil rights, and the free exercise of their religion. The Huguenots soon began to recover from the effects of past persecutions; but the gleam of prosperity was of short duration. With the murder of Henry IV. it passed away, and by the loss of La Rochelle the political power of the Protestants was extinguished. Oppression and injustice gradually increased, till, on the accession of Louis XIV., they were so galling, that eight hundred thousand of the best Huguenot families of France, emigrated to England and other countries, to find the liberty to worship God denied them in their own. At last, in 1685, the Edict of Nantes, and all the other concessions made to the Reformed, were revoked completely; their churches were demolished; their meetings prohibited; their schools closed; their children, from five to sixteen, taken from them to be educated as Catholics; while at the same time they were forbidden to emigrate. A reward of five thousand five hundred liras was offered, for information leading to the capture of any one of the Huguenot preachers. Persecution waxed hotter and hotter; secret meetings, surprised by the dragoons, were at once turned into scenes of butchery and slaughter. Incredible tortures were invented, and cruelties, the recital of which is almost impossible, were perpetrated by the Romish party, on their unoffending fellow subjects. The Protestants, driven to desperation, rose at last in the Cevennes, and in 1702; the war of the "Camisards" began. A Huguenot historian of this dreadful civil war, says, "Never did hell in the direst persecution, invent or employ means so diabolical and inhuman as the dragoons, and the monks who head them, have used to destroy us. These cruelties were general in France, but most violent in our Cevennes." The Pope, Clement XI., did all in his power to secure the utter extinction of the persecuted Camisards. He promised complete exemption from the pains of purgatory, to all who took up arms to exterminate "the accursed and execrable race." For three years this cruel crusade continued, till the fair and fruitful hills and valleys of the Cevennes, were turned into desolation, and the Protestants completely crushed.
Time and space fail to tell the sickening and similar stories of the papal persecutions in Spain and Portugal, in Savoy, in Poland, in Bohemia, and in the Thirty Years War in Germany; the horrible persecutions of the Emperor Charles V., and above all of the dark deeds of the Papacy, wrought through the infamous Duke of Alva, in the Low Countries. Let the thrillingly interesting story of the holy heroism of hundreds and thousands of Christian martyrs, as told in Motley s "Dutch Republic," add its testimony to the fact, that the Papal power had fulfilled the inspired prediction, "he shall wear out the saints of the Most High," and "make war with the saints and overcome them;" let Foxes "Book of Martyrs" do the same; let the records of the Lollard persecution in our own land, and of the reign of "bloody" Mary, do the same; let Mexico, and Abyssinia, and India, tell their tales of the Holy Inquisition and its doings, and of the Jesuits and their proceedings; and let Italy itself unveil the scenes that Ferrara, and Venice, and Parma, and Calabria have witnessed, in confirmation of the fact. In the mouth of many many witnesses, the charge is proved, and one single statement makes all argument on the subject needless. It has been calculated that the Popes of Rome have, directly or indirectly, slain on account of their faith, fifty millions of martyrs; fifty millions of men and women who refused to be parties to Romish idolatries, who held to the Bible as the Word of God, and who loved not their lives unto death, but resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
One of the most marked features of the great power of evil predicted in the four prophecies we are considering, is, ITS WIDE DOMINION.
Of this revived head of the Roman earth we read, (#Rev 13:7) "power was given him, over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations"; and other clauses in the chapter show that so absolute was this power to be, that all, small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, were to be brought into subjection to it, and that it would become almost impossible, for those who refused such subjection, to exist; they would not even be permitted to buy or sell.
A peculiar mark of the nature of this power is also given. The subjection .yielded to it would be a voluntary one. It is said of the ten horns, that they shall "have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the Beast"; that is, it is predicted that the kingdoms into which the Roman earth would be divided, on the fall of the Empire, would voluntarily place themselves, in some sense, under the dominion of this final form of Roman power. Their subjection would not be effected by conquest, but by the arts of persuasion and subtle influence. They would be deceived and cajoled into submission, by fair words, by false miracles, by. lying wonders, by superstitious fears, and by the influence of others, acting on behalf of this power, rather than by its own direct efforts.
This feature is so peculiar, so unlike the analogous features of the three first Beasts or Empires of Daniel, whose dominion was acquired by devouring, pushing, running furiously, smiting, breaking, stamping in pieces, in a word, by exercising physical force, instead of subtle spiritual influence, that it serves at once to indicate the power intended. The Papacy is the only great political power, which has ever held sway over all kindreds, tongues, and nations, without having to fight for it, and with the consent of the subjected kingdoms. The profound ignorance of the dark ages, so zealously fostered by the Papacy, created a degree of superstition, which rendered kings and peoples alike, willingly obedient to this power, which boldly claimed to be supernatural, and to exercise dominion in heaven and in hell, as well as on earth, and over the souls, as well as over the bodies of men; and that both for time and for eternity.
The prophecy further distinctly intimates, that this power will not be universal or all- inclusive, even in the lands where it should prevail. It would be resisted by a certain class:"all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." This foretells that the godly- "the saints" -the chosen and called and faithful, and they alone will refuse to bow to this power; and the vision shows also, that they will do it at the risk, and too often at the cost of the loss of life itself. How literally and fearfully this prediction has been fulfilled in the history of the Papacy, the preceding outline of the persecutions inflicted on so-called "heretics," shows.
The extent and the character of Papal dominion, during the dark ages, is, in our days, little realized. It is not easy, gazing on the rotten stump of an old oak, to picture to one s self what the tree was in the days of its glorious youth, and of its mighty maturity; how its immense branches shot off on every side, overshadowing, a thousand lower growths; how the tempests attacked it in vain, and the hurricanes only rooted it more firmly in the soil. How beautiful it looked in its light green robe in spring; how magnificent in its ruddy autumnal brown; how generation after generation of birds sheltered amid its branches, and of wild boars fed upon its acorns. The centuries that have rolled over the tree have left little trace of what it was, and yet the very size of the stump tells the tale of its bygone might and glory. It is just so with the power of the Roman Pontiffs. The world can smile now at the puerility of the proud and preposterous pretensions, of the poor old man who occupies the chair of St. Peter, in his Vatican prison in Rome. It listens to his loud claim to infallibility with a laugh of contempt, and to his fierce anathemas on science, and literature, and social and religious liberty, with the calm and compassionate scorn, with which the wanderings of a lunatic are regarded. But of yore it was quite another thing. Every utterance of the tiara-crowned monarch was heard with awe, every command was implicitly obeyed. Men trembled under his curse, and gloried in his benediction, as if they had been those of Deity. The thunders of his interdicts shook the nations, and the fires of his excommunications spread death and destruction abroad. The imperial edicts of the Emperors Justinian and Phocas gave the Popes of Rome a legal power in all religious matters; and very early the various Gothic princes of Western Christendom showed a disposition to yield submission to the Roman Pontiff, as children to a father, or inferiors to a superior: Already, in the eighth century, Gregory II. boasted to the Greek Emperor, " all the kings of the west reverence the Pope as a God on earth," and facts fully justified the assertion. Pepin, for example, when aspiring to the crown of France, prayed the Pope to authorize his usurpation; and as soon as he had done so, the Franks, and indeed the whole Western World, recognised his title. Even the great Emperor Charlemagne, was willing to receive from the Roman Pontiff his crown and dominion. "The Lord John, apostolic and universal Pope," says the Council of Pavia, "hath at Rome elected and anointed with the holy oil, Charlemagne, as Emperor." The western kings of Europe accepted the position of subserviency to the Sovereign Pontiff, by admitting into their coronation oaths a promise, "to be faithful and submissive to the Popes, and the Roman Church."
In its earlier days the Papacy, restrained by princes from exercising civil dominion, was equally restrained by the independence of bishops, and the authority of councils, from assuming despotic power, even in the church. "From the time of Leo IX.," says Mosheim, "the Popes employed every method which the most artful ambition could suggest, to remove these limits, and to render their dominion both despotic and universal" Hildebrand, one of the most ambitious, sagacious, crafty, and arrogant of men, when he became Pope under the title of Gregory VII., "looked up to the summit of universal empire, with a wistful eye, and laboured up the ascent with uninterrupted ardour and invincible perseverance." He laboured indefatigably to render the universal church, subject to the despotic government of the Pontiff alone, as well as to submit to his jurisdiction the emperors, kings, and princes of the earth, and to render their dominion tributary to the see of Rome. Even when the Pope reclaimed a crown he had conferred, he was often met with the most abject submission. The Emperors Rodolphus and Otho, of Germany, not only received the crown as a Papal grant, on the Pope s deposition of previous emperors, but they resigned, at his bidding, the crowns so received. Peter II. of Arragon, and John, king of England, and other monarchs also, gave up their independence, that they might receive back their realms as vassals of the Pope. "Under the sacerdotal monarchy of St. Peter," says Gibbon, "the nations began to resume the practice of seeking on the banks of the Tiber, their kings, their laws, and the oracles of their fate." And similarly, in speaking of the first Norman king of Sicily, he says, "The nine kings of the Latin world might disclaim their new associate, unless he were consecrated by the authority of the supreme Pontiff."
If kings and emperors bowed thus before the Pope, it will easily be believed that the reverence of the common people for his person and office, and their submission to his arrogant and blasphemous pretensions, was complete. Not in respect of his power in secular things, but in things much higher, who knows not of the universal reverence and faith in his blasphemous pretensions exhibited throughout the long middle ages by Christendom? Look at the thronging multitudes on pilgrimage to Rome, in assurance of the salvation he promises them! Look at their reception of his dogmas in matters of faith, as very oracles from heaven! Look at their purchasing of his indulgences with their often hard earned money, in the belief of delivering thereby the captive souls of departed relatives, as well as their own souls, from the pains of purgatory and of hell !" * (* Elliott, vol. iii., p. 171.) Look at the way in which thousands of all classes engaged in crusades and religious wars at the bidding of the Popes, and refused aid, even to their nearest and dearest friends, if they came under his ban! From the most private domestic relations of individuals, to the most public national acts of empires, all fell under the rule, direct or indirect, of the Papacy. It was the last solemn united act, before the Reformation of the deputies of Christendom assembled in council, to subscribe the bull Unam Sanctum, which declares that AS THERE IS BUT ONE BODY OF THE CHURCH AND CHRISTENDOM, SO THERE IS BUT ONE HEAD, THE VICAR OF CHRIST-THE POPE; AND THAT IT IS ESSENTIAL TO THE SALVATION OF EVERY HUMAN BEING, TO BE SUBJECT TO THE ROMAN PONTIFF; and no subsequent Council ever revoked this decree.
It is clear, then, that a widespread and all-pervading power, of the most despotic, absolute, and blasphemous character, was wielded for a thousand years by the Popes of Rome, and is claimed by them still; that this power was submitted to by all the nations of Western Christendom for many centuries; and that it is still acknowledged by all Roman Catholics everywhere. The late Pope, in addressing the people of Rome on one occasion, congratulated them, that they had more than two hundred millions of fellow subjects elsewhere, speaking all languages, and dwelling in all nations.
In the Papacy, has therefore been fulfilled to the letter, and in the most marvellous way, the prediction, "Power was given unto him over all kindreds and tongues and nations."*
( * The application of this prophecy to the Popedom has sometimes been doubted, because of the wide universality of this expression. But comparison with other scriptures removes this difficulty. We read in #Matt 3:5 "Then went out unto him Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized." And again, #Acts 9:35, "And all that dwelt in Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord." "All" in these passages must be taken with limitations, which are not expressed. So in #Dan 3:7, it is said that when Nebuchadnezzar set up his image, "all the people, the nations, and the languages fell down and worshipped." Now, the second verse of the chapter shows, that only the princes and governors of those nations were present; they are regarded as representatives of their people. In the same way all Christendom submitted to the Popes of Rome, through the Councils which represented them. The exception in the text of those whose names are written in the Lamb s book of life shows that-just as all were not Israel that were of Israel-so all were not Papists that were subject to the Papacy This must never be forgotten. At the last the cry goes forth, "Come out of her, my people," a call which implies that-as Lot dwelt in Sodom-so some true believers will be found in the Roman Catholic system, even just prior to its final destruction.)
The growth of this power to these gigantic proportions, was a most singular phenomenon. Tyndale the Reformer speaking of it, says : "To see how the holy father came up, mark the ensample of the ivy! First it springeth up out of the earth, and then awhile creepeth along by the ground, till it find a great tree. Then it joineth itself beneath, unto the body of the tree, and creepeth up a little and a little, fair and softly. At the beginning, while it is yet thin and small, the burden is not perceived; it seemeth glorious to garnish the tree in winter. But. it holdeth fast withal, and ceaseth not to climb up till it be at the top, and even above all. And then it sendeth its branches along by the branches of the tree, and overgroweth all, and waxeth great, heavy, and thick; and it sucketh the moisture so sore out of the tree and his branches, that it choketh and stifleth them. And then the foul, stinking ivy waxeth mighty in the stump of the tree, and becometh a seat and a nest for all unclean birds and for blind owls which hawk in the dark, and dare not come to the light.
Even so the Bishop of Rome, now called Pope, at the beginning crope along upon the earth, and every man trod on him. As soon as there came a Christian emperor, he joined himself to his feet and kissed them, and crope up a little, with begging now this privilege, now that. . . And thus with flattering and feigning and vain superstition, under the name of St. Peter, he crept up, and fastened his roots in the heart of the emperor, and with his sword climbed up above all his fellow bishops, and brought them under his feet. And as he subdued them by the emperor s sword, even so after they were sworn faithful, he, by their means, climbed up above the emperor, and subdued him also, and made him stoop unto his feet and kiss them! - - And thus the Pope, the father of all hypocrites, both with falsehood and guile perverted the order of the world, and turned things upside down."
VII Before closing- this chapter, we must notice the doom of the great power of evil predicted in the fourfold prophecy we are considering.
It consists of two parts, gradual consumption, followed by sudden and final destruction. The latter, being still future, affords no opportunity of comparing the prophetic announcement with the historical fulfilment; but the former, being already partially fulfilled, and still in progress of fulfilment; does, and the correspondence between prediction and event is nowhere more clear and unmistakable.
In Daniel, in Thessalonians, and in the Apocalypse; the final destruction of this last form of the Roman power, is connected with the personal appearing of Christ to establish his millennial. kingdom. But in each prophecy it is also intimated that a consuming and destroying process, would go on for some time, previously to the end, so that the once mighty power would be weakened and impoverished, before it is finally destroyed.
"They shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it unto the end" (#Dan 7:26). "Whom the Lord shall consume with the Spirit of his mouth, and destroy with the brightness of his coming" (#2Thess 2:8). "The ten horns shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire" (#Rev 17:16).
The final destruction of the power in question is described in #Rev 19:20, "The beast was taken and cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone." This is his destruction with the brightness of Christ s coming; and the consumption by the spirit of his mouth, must have preceded this final judgment.
Pharaoh and the hosts of Egypt were similarly wasted and consumed by the ten plagues, before they were whelmed in the waters of the Red Sea. The consuming process is figured in the Apocalypse as taking place under the outpouring of certain vials of wrath, on the kingdom of the Beast, and on his followers.
We inquire, then, whether there have been in the history of the Papacy any events answering to this emblem, whether any process of consumption is distinctly traceable, any wasting to decay of its resources, any conspicuous diminution of its dominion, and reduction of its influence and authority.
The facts of the case are so notorious, that it is needless to set them forth in detail. The political power of the Roman Pontiffs, once, as we have seen, a dread reality in Europe, is gone. It is a memory of the past, not an existing fact. The territorial possessions of the Pope are gone; the States of the Church form part of the dominions of the king of Italy, and Rome itself has become his capital. Within the last twenty years all the Concordats made between the Pope and the various countries of Europe, have been brought to an end. The immense landed Property, belonging to the various orders of monks and nuns on whom the Papacy relied as its universal agents, has all been confiscated and secularized in Italy, in France, in England, and in other lands. In 1513, when the great Lateran Council was held, there was not a "heretic" to be found. There are now nearly eighty millions of PROTESTANTS, who abjure Papal doctrines and practices. The dominion of the Popes, over the bodies and minds of men, is therefore marvellously diminished, though the latter is not yet destroyed.
And it is specially worthy of note that the means by which this conspicuous and undeniable "consumption" of Papal power has been accomplished, are precisely the means specified by the Apostle Paul in Thessalonians. He says that the Lord shall consume this evil power by the spirit of his mouth, i.e., by his word.
Holy Scripture is of course the form in which the word or spirit of the Lord s mouth, retains a sensible existence, and influences human society. "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."
Does not the extreme jealousy with which the Papacy has always endeavoured to bury the Bible in an unknown tongue, or to undo its teachings by false interpretations, betray its inveterate antagonism to the power destined to "consume" it? "There is an instinct of apprehension, a consciousness, which, antecedent to experience, divines danger; it seems discernible in the alarm with which Romanism recoils from Holy Scripture." * ( * "The Apostasy": O Sullivan)
The Creed of Pius IV.-that creed, a belief in which is, according to Papal declaration, essential to salvation expressly states that the Bible is not for the people: "Whosoever will be saved," must renounce it. It is a forbidden book. Bible Societies are "Satanic contrivances." Bible burnings are most Catholic demonstrations. All this dread of Scripture, all this violent opposition to its circulation, is a plain proof that the Papacy recognises in the Word of God its worst antagonist. Experience shows it is right.
Wherever the Word of God has free course, the power of the Papacy is at an end. The Reformation sprang from a recovered Bible; and wherever, as in Scotland, the popular mind is imbued with Scripture, Romanism has no chance. It is the absence of Bible knowledge that enables the Papacy to retain its sway, in Spain and other European countries, in Mexico, in Brazil, and in parts of Ireland.
The fact was stated in evidence before the Commissioners of Education, that in 1846, among 400 students attending Maynooth College, only ten had Bibles or Testaments, while every student was required to provide himself with a copy of the works of the Jesuits, Bailly and Delahogue.
The failure of the Hibernian Schools, in which the Bible without note or comment was used, was attributed by Lord Stanley to that fact alone: the priests exerted "themselves, with energy and success, against a system to which they were in principle opposed." The parents were told that it was "mortal sin" to send their children to such schools; and if they persisted, the sacrament was withheld from them, even when dying.
Pius IX., in his Encyclical Letter of 1850, speaks of Bible study as "poisonous reading," and urges all his venerable brethren with vigilance and solicitude to put a stop to it. A clergyman lost his wife in Rome, and wished to put a text on her tombstone. The Pope refused permission, not only on the ground that it was unlawful to express a hope of immortality as to a "heretic," but because it was "contrary to law, to publish in the sight of the Roman people any portion of the Word of God"! "Rome is constrained to do homage to the majesty of the Bible; she has done her best to exile that book from the world, with all the treasures it contains,-its thrilling narratives, its rich poetry, its profound philosophy, its sublime doctrines, its blessed promises, its magnificent prophecies, its glorious and immortal hopes. Were any being so cruel as to extinguish the light of day, and condemn the successive generations of men to pass their lives amid the gloom of an unbroken night, where would words be found strong enough to execrate the enormity? Far greater is the crime of Rome. After the day of Christianity had dawned, she was able to cover Europe with darkness; and by the exclusion of the Bible, to perpetuate that darkness from age to age. The enormity of this wickedness cannot be known on earth. But she cannot conceal from herself that, despite her anathemas, her indices expurgatorii, her tyrannical edicts, by which she still attempts to wall round her territory of darkness, the Bible is destined to overcome in the conflict. Hence her implacable hostility- hostility founded to a large extent on fear. . . To Popery a single Bible is more dreadful than an army ten thousand strong. . . . When she meets the Bible in her path, she is startled, and exclaims with terror, I know thee who thou art! Art thou come to torment me before the time?"
For the last three hundred years, ever since the Reformation, the Papacy has been in process of consumption by the spirit of the Lord s mouth. It will ere long be "destroyed by the brightness of his coming."
VIII. This leads us to the last point we must notice in our brief examination of. this remarkable fourfold prophecy of the Papacy,-ITS DURATION.
The period of the dominion of the little horn, is fixed in Daniel vii. as "time, times, and the dividing of time;" and that of the last head of the Romah beast (which is, as we have seen, only another symbol of the same power), as "forty and two months," the same period under a different designation. This period is identical, and synchronous with, the 1260 days of parallel prophecies. Interpreted according to the year-day system, it has had a most evident fulfilment in the duration, of the power of the Papacy; and it is besides A KEY TO THE WHOLE SYSTEM OF TIMES AND SEASONS, NATURAL AND REVEALED.
The entire system thus opened up, is a confirmation of the interpretation which opens it: its universal range, its exquisite internal harmonies, and its deep underlying connection with the profoundest truths of our faith, make this system a grand witness to the true interpretation of the mystic phrases which furnish the clue for its discovery.
To enter more largely on this point here would be to anticipate subsequent chapters. For the present we must content ourselves with asserting simply that the predicted period of the great power of evil we have been considering, 1260 years, points out the Papacy as the proper fulfilment, as clearly as any of the other features. The Bishops of Rome assumed universal supremacy in the beginning of the seventh century, and have exercised it ever since. It is a solemn fact, that these inspired prophecies,-every other prediction in which has been so marvellously fulfilled,-foretell that it will not last much longer. Its days are numbered. Its end is near.
To conclude. The origin of the Papacy corresponded with every indication furnished by these four prophecies. Its character answers exactly to the singularly wicked and evil character assigned by the inspiring Spirit to the predicted power. Self-exalting utterances, great words, against God and man, have been one of its most distinguishing features; idolatries and false doctrines have been inculcated and promulgated throughout Christendom by its instrumentality; it has made war with the saints and overcome them, fifty millions of evangelical martyrs having been slain by its authority; it has ruled over all the kindreds and nations of Catholic Christendom, and that for, more than twelve centuries; and it has for the last three hundred years been wasting to decay, undermined and exposed by the Reformation movement, which itself was the direct result of the revival of scriptural teachings and the dissemination of Bible truth. The Papacy was never so low, in power, in resources, in prestige, as it is at this moment. According to the Divine programme afforded by these sacred, once mysterious but now clear predictions, the Papal drama is played out. The final scene alone remains,-the destruction of the Papacy by the brightness of Christ s coming.
In the face of such a fulfilment as this,-a fulfilment on so grand a scale, as to the area involved, the events comprised, and the time occupied,- a fulfilment affecting countless myriads of human beings during its course of more than twelve hundred years,-a fulfilment of immense spiritual importance, to thirty or forty generations of professing Christians, throughout the world,-a fulfilment so little to have been expected, "and therefore so peculiarly worthy of being made the subject of prophetic forewarning,- in the face of such a fulfilment, surely candour would admit, this is that which was spoken by the prophet; this is that system of supernatural and soul- destroying error, that dire and dreadful apostasy, revealed by the inspiring Spirit, as the principal power of evil, to arise between the first and second advents of the Lord Jesus Christ.
When the four symbolic beasts were presented to Daniel, it was the fourth that arrested his gaze, and it was the "little horn" of that fourth empire, that mainly attracted his attention, and the angelic interpreter dwells with tenfold fulness on the power represented by this symbol. So when Paul predicted the future of the church on earth, it was the rise, domination and decay of this same evil power that he presented, as the main event to intervene before her rapture to meet the Lord in the air; and so when John received the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, the central symbol of the entire group of hieroglyphs, the one which occupied the most prominent place in the prophecy, was one of this same power, "the beast," the great antagonist of the Lamb and his followers.
How worthy of such conspicuous mention in the sacred oracles, of such solemn denunciation by the Holy Spirit,-how worthy of such pre-eminent fame (or rather infamy!) among the gigantic evils that have afflicted mankind,-how deserving of every dark designation bestowed, and of the dread doom denounced, has THE PAPACY proved itself to be. The self-styled vicar of Christ has been his worst enemy in the world, the crowned priest on the papal throne has been the undoing of the church on earth. The system which asserts salvation impossible beyond its borders, has destroyed the spiritual and temporal well-being of untold multitudes of men: Unutterably disastrous as have been its direct effects, its millions of slaughtered saints, its myriads of deluded disciples, its indirect effects have been hardly less terrible. By its priestly assumptions and pious frauds, by its notorious cupidity and mercenary practices, by its gross perversions of the truth, and unblushing corruptions of morality, by its reason-revolting dogmas, childish superstitions, and endless old wives fables, by its uniform opposition to social progress, and its habitual alliance with political tyranny, it has brought all religion into contempt, and filled Catholic Christendom with scorners, infidels, and atheists.
As to every single particular noted in the sure word of prophecy, the plainest correspondence can be traced between the fourfold prediction and the Papal fulfilment; and we cannot refrain from deprecating most earnestly, the mischievous system of interpretation, which teaches that this clear, undeniable, and grandly terrible accomplishment, is not the fulfilment intended.
Standing face to face with Jesus Christ, the disciples of John inquired in their master s name, "Art Thou He that should come, or look we for another?" They were answered by deeds, not words. The Lord wrought Messianic miracles in their presence, and said, "Go and tell John what thing ye have seen and heard;" that is, He did the deeds which it had been predicted that the Messiah would do, and all were responsible to draw thence the inference that He was the Messiah. So, pointing to the church history of the last twelve centuries, we say, lo! the Papacy has done the deeds which were to be done by the oft-predicted power of evil, foretold in the word of God! And we believe that Christians are responsible to draw from the historical fact, the inference, the Papacy is the power that was thus predicted.
To neglect the evidence which proves this fact, almost to demonstration, and to speculate about possible future literal fulfilments, as the intended and main accomplishment, of these sacred symbolic prophecies, is to denude them of their sanctifying power, and to turn their keen edge of, practical application. If the Papacy is the real fulfilment, if it is THE evil that was foreseen as of supreme importance (as it has certainly proved to be), it is surely no light matter for teachers of the word to mislead others on the point. To do so, is to relieve Popery of the fearful stigma cast on it by the spirit of prophecy, to deprive the church of the Divine estimate of this Anti-christian system, and to substitute instead, wild and unauthorized speculations, about some coming man, who is, in three years and a half; to exhaust these divinely given predictions, which the church has for eighteen centuries been studying.
We entreat our Futurist friends to consider, whether it is more likely that the all-wise God indited these solemn predictions for the benefit of many generations of his saints, or exclusively for the guidance of the last generation of this age? Did He pass by unnoticed, the gigantic and universally influential power, which ruled the whole of Christendom with despotic sway and inconceivably evil results for more than a thousand years, in order to describe in detail, and many times over, the doings of one man, the brief career of a single individual, who has not yet appeared? Was it to warn the church of the nineteenth century against some short-lived Napoleon, that the Holy Ghost unveiled the future to the prophet Daniel, and that the Lord Jesus gave the Apocalypse to the saintly John?
The ample and repeated descriptions of this power of evil, the unparalleled denunciations against it, the solemn adjurations to the people of God, to avoid any connection with it, all forbid the idea. Not for one, but for fifty generations of saints, were these prophecies indited; not to be fulfilled on the petty scale of three years, but on the majestic one of twelve centuries; not to indicate gross material dangers, but subtle spiritual and ecclesiastical evils, of long duration, and world-wide prevalence. The coming of Antichrist is no brief future event, lying between us and our blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our Saviour; he was revealed more than a thousand years ago, he has run his course, and lasted his pre-appointed period; for three hundred years, he has been consuming by the spirit of Christs mouth, and of all the momentous series of events connected with his long-predicted career, nothing remains to be fulfilled save his final conflict with the Lamb, and destruction with the brightness of Christs coming.
To conclude. The correct interpretation of the prophecy of Babylon the great-that it is the Church of Rome-confirms the above view of this prophecy of "the beast," and is indeed the key to the whole Apocalypse.
There is a vast difference between the Papacy, and the corrupt church, which it founded, governed, and used as its tool; a difference, less in degree, but similar in character, to that existing between the Head of the true church, and that church which He founded, governs, and employs as an instrument to accomplish his will in the world. Many things are true of the Lord Jesus, that are not true of the church which is his body, close and inseparable as is the connection between them. So, many things are true of the Popes of Rome which are not true of the Roman Catholic Church, close as is the connection between them. Widely dissimilar hieroglyphs are selected to prefigure the two, in the Apocalypse, and yet the connection between them is very clearly indicated; they are never confounded, yet never disjoined.
Now the duration of the corrupt church is not mentioned in this prophecy, though long duration is implied; but her name is given, and it demonstrates with all but mathematical certainty, as we have seen, that the church intended is the Church of Rome. That church has, we know, as a matter of history, already lasted in a condition of corruption and apostasy, for more than twelve centuries. Its fall is in the Apocalypse represented as taking place under the seventh vial (#Rev 16), and as synchronizing with the marriage of the Lamb (#Rev 19:1-4). The power of "the beast" (or Papal dynasty) is also represented as being consumed under the outpouring of the vials, while he himself and his armies are destroyed by the advent, which synchronizes with the marriage of the Lamb. That is, "Babylon" and "the beast" are represented as coming to an end at one and the same time.
Their careers are also cotemporaneous, for the woman is represented as seated on the Roman beast- " the beast that was and is not "-that is, not old Pagan Rome, but Rome revived; in a totally new form of domination. This beast "that was and is not" is expressly said to be the eighth (vii), that is the last terrible form of revived Roman power, so fully described in chapter xiii.-the power of which we have been treating.
It follows, that since the Church of Rome has already lasted more than twelve centuries, the last ruling head of the Roman world, the blasphemous, persecuting, self-exalting head or power here predicted, must have been in existence for the very same period; which is indeed the duration assigned to it, in symbolic language by the prophecy-1260 years.
Now what power has actually ruled the nations of Christendom from Rome as its seat during the last twelve centuries?
THERE CAN BE BUT ONE REPLY-THE PAPACY: IT MUST THEREFORE BE THE POWER PREFIGURED BY THE SYMBOL OF THE BEAST."
Further, the vials, under which Babylon and "the beast" are represented as being brought to an end, synchronize with the close of the period of the trumpets. The events prefigured under the earlier trumpets must therefore be sought in the previous history of Christendom; i.e., in the time of the undiminished power of the Papacy, and in the events which preceded and accompanied its rise.
The martyrs represented in the fifteenth chapter of the book, standing as victors on the sea of glass, having "gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over the number of his name," must be those slain by Papal Rome. A previous group of martyrs are represented in the sixth chapter, who must therefore be those slain by Pagan Rome in the ten great persecutions of the church by the Caesars.
Now it is under the fifth seal that this earlier company is seen under the altar, and consequently the events figured as taking place under the four previous seals, must be sought in days prior to the last great persecution under Diocletian, that is, in the first three hundred years of church history.
Thus we are led by clear and simple synchronisms, afforded by the book itself; to a conclusion respecting the Apocalypse, similar to that which we reached by other lines of argument; namely, that its fulfilment is to be sought in the events of the Christian era, and that so far from all its visions, from chap. vi. to chap. xix. being still wholly future, they are almost wholly past. Nor can the force of this argument be avoided, save by denying that the Babylon of the Apocalypse represents the Church of Rome.
In the remaining portion of this work we shall find all the conclusions we have reached in its three earlier parts, respecting the second advent and the millennium, the resurrection and the judgment to come, the true scope and nature of the Apocalypse, and the signification of these, its two leading prefigurations, -abundantly confirmed from independent sources, and by arguments drawn from the realms of natural science.
END OF PART III.