Recovering the classic, Protestant interpretation of Bible prophecy.



WE turn now to consider the closing era of "the times of the Gentiles," called by Daniel "the time of the end." The period must, as we have seen, combine six distinctive peculiarities.

1.It must be removed by twenty-five centuries from the captivity era; that is to say, from the fall of Judah and the rise of Babylon, the first of the four great empires.

2. It must be removed by twelve and a half centuries from the rise of the western and eastern apostasies, the Papacy and Mohammedanism, each of which lasts "time, times, and a half," and perishes at the advent of Christ.

3. It must be a period in which "Babylon the Great is passing through a series of distinct stages of decline and fall.

4. It must be a period in which the eastern apostasy, or Mohammedanism, is undergoing similar experiences.

5. It must be an era during which there takes place a marked renaissance of the Jewish nation,-a commencement of that liberation from Gentile oppression and of that material uplifting, which will issue in their restoration to their own land, and recovery of independence.

6. It must also be a period in which the spiritual Israel, or true Church, is experiencing a similar but spiritual liberation from the yoke of the anti-typical Babylon, an uplifting -a time of spiritual revival in the Christian Church, and of widely extended gospel preaching, not in Christendom only, but in heathendom.

Here then are six distinctive and peculiar characteristics of the period as a whole; and if we find them all attaching to the days in which we live, and if careful study reveals the fact that never in the course of twenty-five centuries have all these features similarly characterized any other period, we shall then surely have good ground to conclude that we have reached "the time of the end."

As regards the first of these points, that the time of the end must be removed by twenty-five centuries from the captivity era, we have seen that the captivity era extended over 160 years, from B.C. 747 to B.C. 587, from the incipient rise of Babylon to the final fall of Judah. The corresponding 160 years after the lapse of "seven times" extend, on the lunar scale, from AD. 1699 to A.D. 1860; and on the solar scale, from A.D. 1774 to A.D. 1934.

B.C.. 747 seven times, lunar ______________A.D. 1699 687 _____________________________________ 1859-60 747 seven times, solar______________A.D. 1774 687________________________________________________1934

We are consequently living (in this year 1886) 187 years from the earliest commencement of "the time of the end," and within fifty years of its latest close. This "time of the end is, from the nature of the case, a longer period than the captivity era, because the difference between lunar and solar measurement has to be included (160 + 75=235). Reckoned from the earliest date on the shortest scale, the 2,520 years ran out in 1699. Reckoned from the latest date on the longest scale, they do not terminate until A.D. 1934.

The first observation we naturally make is that as forty or fifty years of the period are still unexpired, it is of course impossible for us to discern in history the fulfilment of the closing predictions of the prophecy. This is clearly the case; but we need not wait till it is high water before we decide that the tide is rising; nor do we hesitate to say that it is falling, even though it may not yet have reached low- water mark. Moreover, when we know that the fall of the tide occupies about six hours, and when we have watched it steadily retiring for five, we have little question that the remaining hour will complete the ebb, and reveal low-water mark again.

So in this case. We do not say that "the times of the Gentiles" either have closed, or will close this century; nor do we touch any speculative question as to what events the next few decades may bring forth, nor as to the exact point in this "time of the end" which will witness the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Time will decide. All we do is to study the history of that part of the period which has already elapsed-nearly four-fifths of the whole- and to observe if so far the general movement seems to be in the predicted direction, and if special and definite fulfilments are perceptible.

The question therefore is, Have the 187 years of this closing era which lie behind us, the years from A.D. 1699 to the present time, presented the characteristic features of the "time of the end," as above indicated? Have they been years of decay and fall both to the Papal and Mohammedan powers? Have they been conspicuously and undeniably such, so that the fact admits of no question, so that no previous period of their entire history presents anything at all similar or approaching to the course of events throughout this period. Was there a turn in the tide of their fortunes at the end of the seventeenth century? and has the subsequent movement been a steadily downward one? Further, is there any sign that the movement is even now arrested? or do things look as if it were absolutely irresistible? Has the world itself observed and noted this phenomenon? or is it a dream of prophetic students only? Is it or is it not a fact so familiar to civilized nations, as that the not distant result is taken for granted, as much as that the sun, when low in the heavens, will quickly sink beneath the horizon?

To ask these questions is to answer them. What historian, what statesman, what newspaper editor, what well educated person, could hesitate for a single moment to grant that the last two centuries have been a time of special, and previously unparalleled, decay and fall to the Papacy and to the Porte; so that these two great politico-religious dynasties, before whom for so many centuries western and eastern Europe trembled and bowed down in abject submission, are now scarcely practical factors at all in European politics? Has not the king of Italy instead of the pope ruled at Rome for the last sixteen years ? Is not Italy respected as a power of at least secondary importance, while "the States of the Church’ and the patrimony of Peter have long since disappeared from the map of Europe? The pope is now simply a priest; he is a monarch no longer. As to the Porte, every one knows that it is an effete kingdom, "a sick man" already at the last gasp! Step by step within the period we are considering both these dynasties have fallen from their once high estate, losing first power, then independence, then tribute, and at last, as far as the temporal sovereignty of the Papacy is concerned, existence itself. The Porte still remains a temporal power in Europe, but does any one expect it to do so much longer?

It survives simply because European arrangements for replacing it are still incomplete. Its structure has long been so rotten, and its foundations so shaken, that it would have fallen to pieces like a ruinous old building, but that, in order to avert public danger, it has been propped up and buttressed by external support, until the fences and scaffolding needful for its safe removal can be erected. The cause and the course of this double decay need not long detain us here, as we write for the educated, who are sufficiently familiar both with the facts and with their philosophy.

Both Popery and Mohammedanism as religious systems, as blasphemous apostasies from the true faith, are doomed, according to Scripture, to perish only at the coming of the Lord; but as political powers in Europe, their destiny- revealed twenty-five centuries ago-is to perish before the advent, in this "the time of the end," an era which to them politically is one of solemn and awful retribution for their deeds of corruption, tyranny, and blood, for their opposition to God and to His truth, and for their persecution of His people. To the world at large, this same period is an era of great and growing prosperity, so that when the end comes as "a thief in the night" men will be saying, "Peace and safety," and things go on as in the days of Noah and in the days of Lot. But these two politico-ecclesiastical powers will as such have ceased to be beforehand.

The doom of the Papacy, as revealed both by Daniel in the Old Testament, and by Paul in the new, is twofold, consisting of, first, the progress of slow consumption by the spirit of God’s mouth, and secondly, of sudden destruction by the brightness of His coming. [ See #Dan 7:26 and #2Thess 2:8.]

Already the first of these has been marvellously accomplished, and that by the means indicated-" the spirit of His mouth "; i.e., the word of God, the circulation of the Scriptures. The Reformation of the sixteenth century gave back to the world the Bible, which had for a thousand years been virtually taken from the Church, and buried in the Latin language. Now wherever an open Bible is found, there Popery loses its power; "The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible," is the watchword of Protestantism; and what has been the result of its circulation in the sphere of Catholic Europe within the last three centuries?

Just prior to Luther’s movement, the pope, in a bull closing the Lateran Council, A.D. 1517, felicitated himself and his bishops, because the unity of the Catholic Church was at the moment untroubled by a single heresy. There was an end of all resistance to Papal tyranny. The long persecuted witnesses of Christ had sealed their testimony with their blood. Not an avowed heretic was to be found in Europe! And how stands the matter now? To-day there are no less than one hundred and sixteen millions of Protestants in the world-a hundred and sixteen millions of those whom Rome calls heretics! Germany, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, England, the United States-the greatest and most progressive kingdoms of the world-are what the Bible has made them; and the Latin nations of Europe, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and France, are what Popery has made them- Catholic in name only, infidel at heart, and just as much opposed to the temporal sovereignty of the Papacy as Protestants themselves.

The Reformation undoubtedly aimed the first and the most fatal blow at the power of the Papacy in its character as a religious system, for it never recovered from the wound inflicted by that movement. The Protestant states, instead of suffering for their revolt under the anathemas of the Vatican, quickly rose to be the leading powers of Europe. The pope was ere long obliged to defer to them; and the other European sovereigns who remained in his communion, observing the liberty and the prosperity of the Protestant nations, no longer trembled before the transcendental claims of Rome, no longer feared the Papal curse, or cared for the Papal benediction. The thunderbolts of the Vatican thenceforth produced ridicule and resentment, rather than fear and dread.

The Reformation had also the effect of largely reducing the sphere of Papal dominion in Europe. Germany, Switzerland, Norway, England, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Finland, Iceland, and other countries, were henceforth withdrawn from the influence of Rome. The official report at Rome summed up the losses of the holy see in the Reformation movement in these words: "England, Scotland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and all the northern countries are alienated; Germany is all but lost; Bohemia and Poland are largely infected; the low countries of Flanders are so far gone that the Duke of Alva’s remedies will hardly recover them; and finally France is full of confusion: so that nothing appears sound and secure to the Papacy but Spain and Italy."

But the decline and fall of the Papacy had at this time scarcely begun. Its still mighty and terrible power was wielded with deadly force for more than a hundred years after the Reformation, in the vain and cruel effort to crush the Protestants and their faith. The dark chapter of the Papal reaction against the Reformation may be dated from about the time of the anti-Protestant Council of Trent, for a century after which the pope, directly or indirectly, deluged Europe with blood in a desperate attempt to reestablish his supremacy. It has been computed that the popes of Rome have been the occasion of more wars and slaughter than even Mohammedanism itself.

The two great instruments of this Papal reaction were the inquisition and the Jesuits; and both were mercilessly wielded. In Bohemia 30,000 Protestant artisans and 200 of the nobility were driven into exile before that kingdom could be re- subjected. In Switzerland, Protestant villages were laid waste with fire and sword; the Thirty Years’ War raged among the kingdoms of Europe; the pope contrived to sow dissension amongst them in order to weaken his enemies by mutual antagonisms. The Spanish armada was sent against Elizabeth of England, her kingdom having been bestowed by the pope upon Mary Queen of Scots. The Dutch republic was almost annihilated by the Duke of Alva; deeds of cruelty were perpetrated, surpassing in horror any of the darkest period of pagan antiquity. After the inquisition had exhausted its list of infernal tortures, and the Protestants remained firm in their faith, Alva’s campaign added the last touch of horror to their sufferings. Commissioned in 1567 by Philip II. of Spain to exterminate them, he in less than six years put to death no less than 18,000 by the sword, the gibbet, the rack, and the flames. The bloody council established by him soon cast its awful shadow over the land; men, women, and children were burned before slow fires, pinched to death with red hot tongs, starved, flayed alive, broken on the wheel, suffocated, drowned, subjected to all kinds of lingering agonies; and the whole country became one vast sepulchre.

In France the reaction was equally terrible. Civil wars desolated the country, and intervals of severe persecution intervened, and at last the awful massacre of Saint Bartholomew slaughtered at one fell blow a whole hecatomb of martyrs. Murder raged uncontrolled through Paris and the provinces; neither sex nor age nor noble rank was regarded by the murderers. The streets were paved and the gateways blocked up with ghastly heaps of the dead and dying. The small streams were filled with blood, and rolled in red torrents to the rivers. Fifteen thousand Huguenots were slaughtered in Paris alone, and 60,000 throughout the country in the course of one month. The pope, Gregory XIII., commanded special services and brilliant illuminations in honour of the event, of which he caused a medal to be struck, that Roman Catholics from all parts of the world might thank God for what he considered to be a triumph of Christianity. Jesuit missionaries traversed France in all directions, and within a few years Protestantism in that country fell seventy per cent.

Elsewhere the reaction was equally powerful. The Emperor Ferdinand sought to extinguish civil and religious liberty in Germany, and would have succeeded in doing so, had not God raised up the valiant and godly Protestant hero, Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, who saved Germany, and rolled back the flood of Papal invasion.

The struggle between the Church of Rome and the Reformation may be said to have continued in full force up to the time of the Peace of Westphalia, in 1648, when the prolonged agony of the Thirty Years’ War terminated. Rome had to some extent been successful in its resistance of Protestantism. It had recovered its supremacy in France, and had re-imposed its yoke on Austria, Bohemia, and Bavaria; but the other Protestant countries had maintained their ground, and a line of demarcation had at last been drawn, after a century of conflict, between the territories of the two religions. The princes of Europe were never again arrayed against each other in war on religious grounds. Rome was obliged to abandon the dream of universal empire, and the boundaries between Protestantism and Papacy, which exist in our own days, were defined by this treaty. Protestantism became an element in the European system, in spite of the pope, and ere long the most progressive and important element. The nations of Europe refused thenceforth to engage in mutual slaughter, in order to uphold the Papacy. But Rome still retained terrible power to stir up political troubles, to incite monarchs to persecute their subjects, and subjects to rebel against their rulers. Louis XIV. made himself a willing tool in the hands of Rome, in France; and so did James II. in England and Ireland. The Jesuits made a desperate effort to subvert civil and religious liberty in England, and this brought about the English Revolution, which established Protestantism firmly in this country. It had of course been previously established under the Tudors, but was very nearly overthrown by the desperate efforts of Louis XIV. to re-establish Catholicism by crushing the Protestant nations of Europe, Holland, Germany, and England.

The Revolution, which delivered our land from political and ecclesiastical tyranny, by placing William of Orange on the throne, gave the power of England into the hands of that heroic champion of the reformed faith, and he knew how to use his opportunity.

In France Louis XIV. revoked, at the instigation of the Jesuits, the Edict of Nantes, by which Henry of Navarre had secured religious toleration to the Protestants of that country in 1598. Eighty-seven years of toleration had made them numerous, respected, and wealthy, and had the Reformed Church even then been let alone, it might have saved France. But in consequence of the determination of Louis to extirpate heresy entirely from his kingdom by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which had so long protected them, a most cruel and deadly persecution against them broke out. Large numbers were imprisoned, sent to the galleys, and slaughtered; there was no choice but suffering and death, or treachery to the faith they held; emigration was not permitted, and voluntary exile was therefore a difficult matter. They could not fly, as the Huguenots of former days had done; their exit from the country was prevented by dragoons, and to attempt to leave France was death. In spite of these laws some 400,000 are calculated to have made good their escape, and to have secured refuge in England, Prussia, Switzerland, and America, while an almost equal number perished in the attempt.

This terrible chapter in the history of Papal persecutions was nearly the last. A series of similar dark deeds had extended over about five centuries, the most sanguinary period of Rome’s "war against the saints." But the days of her might were drawing to a close, and the end of the seventeenth century may be regarded as the time when the Papacy lost the power, though not the will, to persecute. Some few after-waves of the terrible storm of that Papal war against the truth and those who held it did indeed extend into the first decade of the eighteenth century, but they were local and temporary, though terrible enough in character.

Such was the three years’ war of extermination waged against the Camisardes in the Cevennes, whose fair and fruitful hills and valleys were turned into a desolation by the cruel crushing out of its Protestant population. But the PEACE OF RYSWICK, which was signed in 1697 between the Emperor Leopold, Great Britain, the United Provinces, France, and Spain, and which was ratified by William of Orange, marked the end of the sanguinary conflicts between the Protestant and Papal nations of Europe, and secured the recognition of our "glorious Revolution," and of William and Mary as lawful sovereigns of England.

It marks the full establishment of civil and religious liberty, and St. Paul’s was opened for the great thanksgiving service celebrated on the occasion of the conclusion of this peace. Protestantism was never fully and firmly established in England until this epoch, nor indeed, it may be said, anywhere else.

But if the beginning of the eighteenth century saw-as it undoubtedly did-the end of the period when the Papacy could use the nations of Europe as its tools, the end of its power to persecute the Protestant witnesses for the truth, three-quarters of a century had yet to elapse before the judgments which brought about the more acute stages of its decline and fall, began to be poured out on it. The intervening period was full of signs of what was coming; it was the lull before the storm, the gathering time of the forces which were about to explode with terrific violence.

About the year 1750 Voltaire began his scoffing attacks on Christianity in France, and for fifty years from that time he and his colleagues in the task of undermining all religious faith in the masses of the people, Rousseau, Diderot and the Encyclopaedists, and others, were indefatigable in their attacks on the only form of Christianity with which they were acquainted-Popery. They succeeded in producing in France an intense hatred and contempt for the priesthood and the Church of Rome. All the Catholic nations, irritated and wearied by the atrocious crimes and terrible immorality of the Jesuits, began one after another to expel them. Savoy did so in 1729, Portugal in 1759, Spain in 1767, France in 1762, Sicily in 1767; in fact, they suffered no less than thirty-seven expulsions on account of their intrigues, their immoral doctrines, and evil practices, between 1555 and 1773. In this last year the ambassadors of all nations demanded the abolition of the order itself, and Pope Clement XIV. was obliged to sign a bull for their entire suppression. The act, however, cost him his life.

The inquisition, the other great pillar of the Papacy, was abolished in Naples, Tuscany, and Purina in 1782, and in 1784 monasteries were also suppressed in Naples. There was not a single kingdom which had confidence in the Roman court, or was willing to fight in its defence, when the French Revolution burst like a hurricane on its head, and for the time swept it away.

From A.D. 1774, the year of the accession of Louis XVI., the unfortunate monarch who lost his crown and life in that Revolution, and whose accession took place in the year following the suppression of the Jesuits, we may date the commencement of the overthrow of the Papacy under the judgments of the last days.

France, which ever since the conversion of Clovis and the donations of Pepin and Charlemagne, had taken rank as "the eldest son of the Church," and been the first of Papal nations; France, which had been so prominent in her persecution of the reformed religion, and which had crushed out the new life and extinguished the rekindled gospel light in the massacre of Saint Bartholomew and the revocation of the Edict of Nantes; France, for more than a thousand years the main pillar of the popedom in Europe,-had by this time become anti-Papal to the core. Her people, once so superstitious, had revolted from the tyranny of priestcraft, and become openly and fiercely infidel. All restraints of law and order were then thrown off, and the country plunged into the maddest excesses of revolution and crime. In the reign of Louis XVI. came to its crisis a tremendous, unparalleled, irresistible movement, which put an end at once to absolute monarchy, aristocracy, and ecclesiastical power in France; and which communicated to the neighbouring nations of Europe the shocks of revolution and the fierce fires of democracy, together with an anti-ecclesiastical mania that has never since been allayed.

The French Revolution is, by common consent, regarded as the commencement of a new era. It could never have assumed the character it did, had not the people previously lost all fear of God and all respect for man, had not the national mind been blinded, and the national heart hardened against all claims, human and Divine. It is needless to dwell on the details here; our readers will mostly be familiar with the tragic facts: how the infidel democracy suddenly uprose in its might, destroyed the Bastile, issued its declaration of the rights of man; assaulted the king and queen by night at Versailles, and, murdering some of their bodyguard, forced them to proceed as prisoners to Paris, the bloody heads carried on pikes before the royal carriage: how the people confiscated all the vast revenues of the Church, all the domains of the crown, and all the estates of refugee nobles, for the use of the State; subjected to themselves all ecclesiastical, civil, and judicial power throughout the country; murdered the royal guard, and some five thousand leading royalists; dethroned, imprisoned, tried, condemned, and murdered the king and then the queen; declared war against all kings, and sympathy with all revolutionists everywhere: how the "reign of terror" witnessed the slaughter of 1,022,000 persons, of all ranks and ages, and of both sexes, till the streets of Paris ran with blood, and the guillotines could not overtake their work: how thousands were mown down by grape-shot fusillades; drowned in noyades, where in loaded vessels hundreds of victims were purposely sunk in the rivers; roasted alive in heated ovens; or tortured to death by other infernal cruelties: how Christianity was publicly renounced, and a prostitute enthroned as "goddess of reason" at Notre Dame, and worshipped by the National Convention and by the mob of Paris, with the wildest orgies of licentiousness-morality as well as mercy having perished with religion-how the most horrid mockery of the solemn rites of Christianity was publicly enacted, an ass being made to drink the sacramental wine: how the sabbath itself was abolished, and the decade substituted for the week: and how hundreds and thousands of priests were massacred or driven into exile, and the churches and cathedrals turned into stables and barracks. Taken as a whole, the French Revolution was a convulsion, in which the angry passions of men, set free from all restraint, manifested themselves, with a force and fury unprecedented in the history of the world, against monarchical, aristocratic, ecclesiastical, and religious institutions.

Let these things be considered in the light of a mighty and successful revolt against, and overthrow of, absolute monarchical power, and Papal tyranny and usurpation, and it will at once be granted that nothing similar had ever occurred previously in the history of the fourth great empire.

Terribly iniquitous had been the career of the monarchical, power thus rudely overthrown; and fearfully corrupt the priesthood and religion thus utterly and with abhorrence rejected. A solemn character of retribution attaches to even the worst excesses of the French Revolution. The Papacy in the hour of its agony was exultingly reminded of its own similar cruelties against Protestants. Papists were treated according to the example set by Papists of other days, and the worst barbarities of revolutionary France could not out-herod the previous barbarities of Papal France.

"The more deeply and earnestly the French Revolution is considered, the more manifest is its pre-eminence above all the strange and terrible things that have come to pass on this earth. . . Never has the world witnessed so exact and sublime a piece of retribution. . . . If it inflicted enormous evil, it pre-supposed and overthrew enormous evil.

In a country where every ancient institution and every time-honoured custom disappeared in a moment, where the whole social and political system went down before the first stroke, where monarchy, nobility, and Church were swept away almost without resistance, the whole framework of the State must have been rotten-royalty, aristocracy, and priesthood must have grievously sinned. Where the good things of this world, birth, rank, wealth, fine clothes, and elegant manners, became worldly perils, and worldly disadvantages for a time, rank, birth, and riches must have been frightfully abused. The nation which abolished and proscribed Christianity, which dethroned religion in favour of reason, and enthroned the new goddess at Notre Dame in the person of a harlot, must needs have been afflicted by a very unreasonable and very corrupt form of Christianity. The people that waged a war of such utter extermination with everything established, as to abolish the common forms of address and salutation, and the common mode of reckoning time, that abhorred ‘you’ as a sin, and shrank from ‘monsieur’ as an abomination, that turned the weeks into decades, and would know the old months no more, must surely have had good reason to hate those old ways from which it pushed its departure into such minute and absurd extravagance. The demolished halls of the aristocracy, the rifled sepulchres of royalty, the decapitated king and queen, the little dauphin so sadly done to death, the beggared princes, the slaughtered priests and nobles, the sovereign guillotine, the republican marriages, and the Meudon tannery, the couples tied together and thrown into the Loire, and the gloves made of men’s and women’s skins: these things are most horrible; but they are withal eloquent of retribution, they bespeak the solemn presence of Nemesis, the awful hand of an avenging power. They bring to mind the horrible sins of that old France: the wretched peasants ground for ages beneath the weight of imposts from which the rich and noble were free; visited ever and anon with cruel famines by reason of crushing taxes, unjust wars, and monstrous misgovernment, and then hung up or shot down by twenties or fifties for just complaining of starvation: and all this for centuries! They call to remembrance the Protestants murdered by millions in the streets of Paris, tormented for years by military dragoons in Poitou and Béarn, and hunted like wild beasts in the Cevennes; slaughtered and done to death by thousands and tens of thousands in many painful ways and through many painful years.

"In no work of the French Revolution is this, its retributive character, more strikingly and solemnly apparent than in its dealings with the Roman Church and Papal power. It especially became France, which, after so fierce a struggle, had rejected the Reformation, and perpetrated such enormous crimes in the process of rejection, to turn its fury against that very Roman Church on whose behalf it had been so wrathful, to abolish Roman Catholic worship, as she had abolished the Protestant worship; to massacre multitudes of priests in the streets of her great towns; to hunt them down through her length and breadth, and to cast them by thousands upon a foreign shore, just as she had slaughtered, hunted down, and driven into exile hundreds of thousands of Protestants; . . . to carry the war into the Papal territories, and to heap all sorts of woes and shames upon the defenceless Popedom. . . The excesses of revolutionary France were not more the punishment than the direct result of the excesses of feudal, regal, and Papal France.

In one of its aspects the Revolution may be described as a reaction against the excesses, spiritual and religious, of the Roman Catholic persecution of Protestantism. No sooner had the torrent burst forth, than it dashed right against the Roman Church and Popedom.

The property of the Church was made over to the State; the French clergy sank from a proprietary to a salaried body; monks and nuns were restored to the world, the property of their orders being likewise gone; Protestants were raised to full religious freedom and political equality. . . . The Roman Catholic religion was soon afterwards formally abolished.

"Buonaparte unsheathed the sword of France against the helpless Pius VI. . . . The pontiff sank into a dependent. . . . Berthier marched upon Rome, set up a Roman Republic, and laid hands upon the pope. The sovereign pontiff was borne away to the camp of infidels, from prison to prison, and finally carried captive into France. Here, he breathed his last, at Valence, in the land where his priests had been slain, where his power was broken, and his name and office were a mockery and a byword, and in the keeping of the rude soldiers of the unbelieving commonwealth, which had for ten years held to his lips a cup of such manifold and exceeding bitterness. . . . It was a sublime and perfect piece of retribution, which so amazed the world at the end of the eighteenth century: this proscription of the Roman Church by that very French nation that had slaughtered myriads of Protestants at her bidding; this mournful end of the sovereign pontiff, in that very Dauphiné so consecrated by the struggles of the Protestants, and near those Alpine valleys where the Waldenses had been so ruthlessly hunted down by French soldiers; this transformation of the States of the Church into the ‘Roman Republic,’ and this overthrow of the territorial Popedom by that very French nation, which, just one thousand years ago, had, under Pepin and Charlemagne, conferred these territories. Multitudes imagined that the Papacy was at the point of death, and asked, would Pius VI. be the last pontiff, and if the close of the eighteenth century would be signalised by the fall of the Papal dynasty. But the French Revolution was the beginning, and not the end of the judgment; France had but begun to execute the doom, a doom sure and inevitable, but long and lingering, to be diversified by many strange incidents, and now and then by a semblance of escape, a doom to be protracted through much pain and much ignominy." [Thomas H. GILL.: "The Papal Drama," book x.]

The career of Napoleon, in the course of which these things happened to Pius VI., was a second phase of the French Revolution, and involved thus the total wreck of the Papal power for a time, and the loss of Rome itself to the popes. His coronation took place in 1804.

A single campaign made Buonaparte master of Italy; Milan, Sardinia, Parma, and Naples were successfully reduced, and all the great cities of the peninsula. The Austrians were defeated, and many of the pope’s territories incorporated with the French dominions. Pins VI. had to pay five millions of livres towards the expenses of the war, and subsequently, when a democratic riot took place in Rome, it was made a pretext for summoning the aged monarch to surrender the temporal government; and on his refusal, he was dragged from the altar, and carried a prisoner into Tuscany, the Vatican was plundered, and the Papal States converted into a Roman Republic. The possessions of the clergy and monks were declared national property, and they themselves were cast into prison. "The Papacy was extinct, not a vestige of its existence remained; and among all the Roman Catholic powers, not a finger was stirred in its defence. The Eternal City had no longer prince or pontiff, and the decree was already announced that no successor would be allowed in its place" (1798). ["Rome, from the Fall of the. Western Empire." By Rev. Canon Trevor. Religious Tract Society, 56, Paternoster Row, London, B.C.] The pope was forced to sign the Treaty of Tolentino, and was carried captive into France, where he died in exile in 1799.

In 1800, however, the fortunes of war leaving them free to do so, the cardinals were able to elect another pope, who assumed the name of Pius VII. Napoleon had just returned from his unsuccessful expedition to Egypt, and from selfish motives, perceiving that without religion it was impossible to govern the nation, he entered into negotiations with the new pope, and once more established the Roman Catholic religion in France, where it had been abolished by the Revolution. The position of the pope, however, was a very insecure one, and as he firmly refused to fall in with some of Napoleon’s views, he in his turn speedily fell a victim. In 1808, the French troops again entered Rome, exiled the cardinals, and kept the pope a prisoner; and in the following year the Papal States were annexed to the French empire, of which Rome was declared to be the second city!

On this Pius VII. excommunicated Napoleon, and in retaliation the French troops broke into his palace, arrested him, conveyed him across the Alps to Grenoble, while Napoleon revoked the gift of Charlemagne, confirmed the annexation of the Papal States, and detained the pope a close prisoner. Pius VII. was treated with great severity, his friends taken from him and confined in different dungeons, while he himself was obliged to live on half a crown a day. On his return from Moscow, Napoleon induced the old man to sign the concordat by which he renounced all claim to Rome for ever, and abandoned the temporal power.

In 1815 Napoleon fell, and the allies once more restored the pope, at the same time that they restored the Bourbons. Vain effort to resist the purposes of God! The restoration lasted but a few years, and even during that brief interval the Papal power was a name, rather than a reality, compared to what it had been in former times. "The pope sat not on his throne as once before; his power was crippled, his seat unstable; the riches of his Church were rifled, and a mighty precedent and principle of action had been established against him, which could scarcely fail of bearing similarly bitter fruit afterwards."

The year 1830 brought about another thoroughly antisacerdotal revolution in France. Charles X., who had acceded to the throne in 1824, had to abdicate, and his ministry had to flee for their lives; while the Duke of Orleans was proclaimed king, under the title of Louis Philippe.

In 1848 a third revolution again constituted France a republic; tumults broke out in Paris in February, the Tuileries were ransacked, and frightful disorders committed. Louis Philippe was in his turn obliged to abdicate and take refuge in England; and the "Second Republic" was proclaimed.

A fortnight after the fall of Louis Philippe a constitution was proclaimed in Rome, and the city and country were thrown into a state of revolution. Before the end of the year Count Rossi, the pope’s prime minister, was killed, and the pope had to flee from Rome. He was again deposed from his temporal authority, and an Italian Republic was proclaimed; it was only by the power of the French that the pope was afterwards for a time restored, when Louis Napoleon had become president of the French Republic. With occasional pauses, and with gleams of passing prosperity now and then, the course of the Papacy has ever since been one of downfall and decay.

The year 1860 was to the Papacy one of sore trouble and dismay. It lost a considerable part of its remaining territories, and had the mortification of seeing a free constitutional kingdom established in Italy. It was the central year of Garibaldi’s romantic and remarkable exploits on behalf of his cherished ideal of Italian unity. The pope, inspired with distrust of the French garrison who were upholding him in Rome, organized a mongrel army of his own, consisting of French, Belgian, Austrian, and Irish volunteers.

After liberating Sicily and Naples, and uniting them to the Italian kingdom of Victor Emmanuel, Garibali retired from the scene, and the Italian army crossed the frontier of the States of the Church, overran Umbria and the Marches, routed and crushed the Papal forces, and obliged them and General Lamoricière to capitulate in the fortress of Ancona. The pope, as usual, cursed his foes, but could not conquer them, and his dominion in Italy was henceforth limited to Rome itself.

In 1866 the Romish empire of Austria was worsted by Protestant Prussia at the memorable battle of Sadowa, a battle the results of which were as decisive as those of Waterloo. Austria received a shock from which it has never recovered, and was obliged to cede Venetia, which was annexed to the kingdom of Italy, while Prussia became one of the greatest powers in Europe. In 1868 the Spanish revolution took place; Queen Isabella fled, and Spain was plunged into years of cruel strife, in the course of which the Jesuits were banished, their monasteries and churches confiscated, and sold or pulled down, and the bones of the martyrs brought to light at the Quamadero.

This same year Pius IX. sent out his famous encyclical letter, summoning the oecumenical council for 1870. Six archbishop princes, 49 cardinals, 11 patriarchs, 680 archbishops and bishops, 28 abbots, 29 generals of orders, 803 spiritual rulers, representing the Church of Rome throughout the world, obeyed the summons to attend this Vatican council, which solemnly decreed the dogma that the occupant of the Papal chair is, in all his decisions with regard to faith and morals, infallible. Arrangements had been made to reflect a glory around the person of the pope by means of mirrors at noon, when the decree was made (July 18th, 1870); but the sun shone not that day. A violent storm broke over Rome, the sky was darkened by tempest, and the voices of the council were lost in the rolling of the thunder. [See "The Pope, the Kings, and the People." By Rev. W. Arthur, MA]

On the very day following this culmination of Papal arrogance and self-exultation was declared that terrible France-German war, in which the French empire of Louis Napoleon-by the soldiers of which the pope was maintained on his tottering throne-fell. The temporal sovereignty of the Papacy fell with it. No sooner had the French troops been withdrawn from Rome, and the French empire collapsed, than the Italian government announced its intention of entering the Roman States, and did so. On September 20th, 1870, Rome was declared the capital of the kingdom of Italy, and became the residence and the seat of the government of Victor Emmanuel.

The Times’ summary for that year says: "The most remarkable circumstance in the annexation of Rome and its territory to the kingdom of Italy, is the languid indifference with which the transfer has been regarded by Catholic Christendom. A change, which would once have convulsed the world, has failed to distract attention from the more absorbing spectacle of the Franco-German war. Within the same year, the Papacy has assumed the highest spiritual exaltation to which it could aspire, and lost the temporal sovereignty which it had held for a thousand years.

The temporal dominion of Rome Papal has already been consumed. Not a nation in Europe remains under it, and men marvel that they ever did bow beneath it. The spiritual power of the Papacy, its idolatrous religion, remains, and will remain to the end; but the secular power is a thing of the past.

Index Preface 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 Appendix A Appendix B

About Me

Historicism.com is owned and operated by me, Joe Haynes, of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. I serve as a pastor in a church plant in Victoria since 2013. My wife, Heather, and I have five kids. In 2011, I completed a Master of Arts in Christian Studies from Northwest Baptist Seminary at the Associated Canadian Theological Seminaries of Trinity Western University. Feel free to visit my blog at Keruxai.com.
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