PAULS FOREVIEW OF ROMANISM
You will remember that in my last lecture I stated that the three foreviews of Romanism presented in prophecy by Daniel, Paul, and John respectively, have three distinctive characters. Daniel gives mainly its political relations and its broad moral features; Paul presents its ecclesiastical relations and its religious features; and John, by the two compound hieroglyphs which he employs and which we will consider in the next lecture, exhibits the combination of the two aspects ù a politico-ecclesiastical power. He shows also the changing relations between its contrasted yet united elements during their long joint career, and foretells the distinctive doom of each.
It must never be forgotten that the Roman Papacy was for long ages an absolute, unlimited, tyrannical monarchy, a worldly, secular government. It had its territorial dominions, its provinces, cities, and towns; it had its court, its nobles, its ambassadors, its army, its police, its legislature, its jurisprudence, its laws, its advocates, its prisons, its revenues, its taxes, its exchequer, its mint, its arsenals, its forts, its foreign treaties, and its ambitious, selfish plans and policy, just as much as any mere secular kingdom. But it was also something very different ù it was the head of the Latin Church; it was a great ecclesiastical power; it was a religion as well as a government. As such it had its dioceses and parishes, its spiritual hierarchy of archbishops, bishops, priests, and deacons, its theological schools and colleges and professors, its abbots and deans, its councils and synods and chapters, its monasteries and convents, its orders of mendicant and other friars, its services and sacraments, its creeds and confessions, its doctrines and discipline, and its penances and punishments. Romanism is a comprehensive term, including both these widely different organizations. Both had their center in the seven-hilled city, and both regarded the Roman pontiff as head. Just as in the old pagan times the Caesars themselves had been both emperors and high priests of the national religion, so the popes in mediaeval times were fountainheads of authority both in the kingdom and in the Church. The ecclesiastical position of the emperors was however rather a name than a reality; while that of the popes was most real. They were practically and effectively head in both realms.
From his remote point of view, in the Babylonian era, the statesman-prophet Daniel saw mainly the political status of the Papacy. From his five-hundred-years-later standpoint, under the empire of Rome, the Christian Apostle Paul saw and foretold most clearly the ecclesiastical character of the coming antichrist; and this evening we are to consider this latter foreview of Romanism ù we are to study it as a Church system. I must ask you at your leisure to study very carefully three or four passages in the writings of the Apostle Paul, especially the third and fourth chapters of his first letter to Timothy, and the second chapter of his second epistle to the Thessalonians. You will see that Pauls foreview consists of two parts: the first gives a general view of a great apostasy, which would in due time arise in the Church; and the second a carefully drawn portrait of the power in which that apostasy would be headed up. He had even previously predicted the apostasy in his parting address to the elders of the Church at Ephesus, recorded in #Acts 20.
He had told them that there would arise ù not from the outside world, but from among themselves, the pastors or bishops of the Church ù "grievous wolves, not sparing the flock." "Of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples alter them; therefore watch, and remember how I ceased not to warn you." This was but a brief and passing glance into the dark future; but the momentary glimpse suffices to show the outline of the evils which time was to develop, and which Paul so fully predicted later on. Ten pagan persecutions lay before the Church; but Paul does not predict them. Myriads of Christians were to do literally what he did figuratively, to fight with wild beasts in Roman amphitheaters; but the Apostles prophetic gaze rests not on any such spectacle. No! a worse evil by far was to befall the Church: an enemy was to arise in her midst, an apostasy was to originate in her bosom, and eat like a cancer into her vitals. Her own leaders were to mislead her; her very pastors, instead of feeding the flock, would feed on it, and devour it like ravening wolves. Perverse pastors, selfish, mercenary bishops, would draw away disciples after themselves, instead of drawing them to Christ as Paul had done. He had coveted no mans silver or gold, as he reminds them: but these apostate bishops who should arise would be of a wholly different character, robbing and oppressing the Church as wolves the flock; they would be the direct opposites of the Good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep, and of the apostolic ministry which follows in His steps.
This first warning prediction of the Apostle Paul was addressed, it is true, especially to the elders or bishops of Ephesus; but in view of all that has happened since, it is easy to see that the Ephesian branch of bishops were at any rate representative, for the words are a prediction of the ecclesiastical corruption that culminated in the Papacy. It strikes the keynote as to the nature of the evil from which the Church was destined to suffer so long and so widely. The pagan persecutions, which threatened to exterminate the early generations of Christians, were harmless to the Church compared to the internal corruption and cruel tyranny introduced by her own bishops later on. Pauls foreview, from the first, was of an ecclesiastical evil, one arising not from the throne of the emperors but from the bench of bishops, not outside but inside the Church. You will feel the importance of this fact later on in our course more than you can do now; I urge you to take special note of it.
In the picture of the coming apostasy which Paul draws in 1 Timothy he adds many an additional and dark detail. After giving practical precepts for the organization and government of the infant Church, and specifying the qualifications essential in its bishops and deacons (one of which was that they should be married men), and after summing up the faith of Christ in a brief epitome of "the mystery of godliness," he writes ù and we may well believe he did so with a heavy heart:
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving, for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
Here we have, not only a prediction that there would be an "apostasy," or falling away from the faith in the Christian Church, but a description of its origin and character. Its origin was to be satanic; its doctrines were to be doctrines of devils, or demons. It was to assume authority, and to lay down laws and prohibitions. Prominent among these was to be the prohibition of marriage; that is, of the very relationship which the inspired apostle had just previously enjoined on bishops and deacons in the words, "A bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife;..one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity"; and in the word, "Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well." Marriage, although thus divinely ordained, would be prohibited, and meats, though created to be received with thanksgiving, would be forbidden. Thus the apostasy would be marked by a departure from primitive faith and pure religion, and by the authoritative inculcation in its place of asceticism ù the substitution of an external religiousness, and self-imposed sacrifices, for true holiness, but a cover for the reverse. Its professors would be hypocrites and liars, men so sinful as to have lost their conscience against sin; "speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their consciences seared with a hot iron."
This feature of false profession reappears in the corresponding prophecy in 2 Timothy concerning the "last days," in which the abettors and adherents of the apostasy are described as men "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." These men were not then to be open opponents of godliness, but, on the contrary, they would be great professors. They were to have a form of godliness: but only a form- ù a form covering no reality; a hollow form, a hypocritical form. Thus the two great Pauline prophecies of the apostasy in "the latter times" and "last days" warn the Church, not against professed irreligionists, but against professed religionists, against covert enemies of the Gospel: men cloaked in the garment of self-denial and superior sanctity; clever imitators of the apostles, like the magicians of Egypt, who withstood Moses, not by denying his miracles, but by counterfeiting them; cunning men, who should "creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts"; and withal educated men, men of letters, "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." Mark this well: the men whom Paul described as leaders of the apostasy which he foresaw were not low, ignorant infidels, but learned hypocrites, lying professors of religion, and self-deceived ascetics.
It is in this same strain that he writes also to the Thessalonians. The coming of Christ, he tells them, would not take place before the occurrence of an "apostasy," or falling away from the faith. This apostasy was to result from the working of what he calls "the mystery of iniquity" a remarkable expression, in direct contrast to the "mystery of godliness," from which the apostasy is a departure. (Compare 1 Timothy 3:16.) The iniquity in question was hidden. It was a "mystery." People did not recognize it as iniquity; they were deceived by it. From this "mystery of iniquity" was to spring in due time "the man of sin," whose coming was to be "after the working of Satan." The outcome and issue of this Satan-inspired apostasy would be "all deceivableness of unrighteousness," "lying wonders," and the belief of lies under the influence of "strong delusion" on the part of those who had "pleasure in unrighteousness."
All of this is consistent. These Pauline prophecies teach the same thing. They warn the Church against the same danger. They predict the same sort of apostasy; an apostasy marked, not by open hostility to the gospel, not by the denunciation of godliness and the unblushing profession of infidelity or atheism, but by "hypocrisy," "deceit," a "form of godliness," external religiousness, the practice of asceticism, cloaking corruption ù by a beautiful garment of light covering the form of the very prince of darkness.
But this apostasy was to have a head, and the coming and character of that head are the great subject of Pauls Thessalonian prophecy. A mistaken apprehension of his first letter to them had led the Thessalonians to expect an immediate advent of Christ, and in his second epistle Paul sets himself to correct this error by further instruction as to the future. He tells them of something that was destined to precede the return of Christ, a great apostasy, which would reach its climax in the manifestation of a certain mighty power of evil; to which he attaches three names, and of which he gives many particulars similar to those which Daniel gave of his "little horn," such as the place and time of its origin, its nature, sphere, character, conduct, and doom.
The names which the apostle gives to this head of the apostasy in this prophecy are "that man of sin,...the son of perdition," and "that wicked" or "lawless" one. These expressions might convey to the mind of superficial readers the idea that the predicted head of the apostasy would be an individual. Careful study however shows this to be a false impression ù an impression for which there is no solid foundation in the passage. The expressions themselves, when analyzed grammatically, are seen to bear another signification quite as well, if not better, and the context demands that they be understood in a dynastic sense. "The man of sin," like "the man of God," has a broad, extended meaning. When we read "that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works," we do not suppose it means any one individual man, although it has the definite article. It indicates a whole class of men of a certain character, a succession of similar individuals. The use of the indefinite article (analogous to the omission of the article in Greek) does indeed limit an expression of the kind. A man of sin could be only one, just as a king of England could mean only an individual. The king, on the other hand, may include a whole dynasty. A king has but the life of an individual, the king never dies. When, in speaking of the Jewish tabernacle in Hebrews, Paul says that into the holiest of all "went the high priest alone once every year," he includes the entire succession of the high priests of Israel. That a singular expression in a prophecy may find its fulfillment in a plurality of individuals is perfectly clear from Johns words, "As ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even so now there are many antichrists." 1
Any doubt or ambiguity as to the true force of the expression "the man of sin" is however removed by a consideration of the context of this passage. Grammatically it may mean either an individual or a succession of similar individuals. The context determines that it actually does mean the latter. "The mystery of iniquity," in which this man of sin was latent, was already working in Pauls day. The apostasy out of which he was to grow was already in existence. "The mystery of iniquity doth already work." The man of sin, on the other hand, was to continue till the second advent of Christ, which is still future; for he is destroyed, as it is distinctly stated, only by the brightness of the epiphany. The interval between Pauls days and those of the still future advent was then to be filled by the great apostasy in either its incipient working as a mystery of iniquity or its open manifestation and great embodiment in the career of "the man of sin and son of perdition." That career must consequently extend over more than a thousand years, for the process of gestation is certainly briefer than the duration of life. In this case of the man of sin the two together occupy at least eighteen centuries. What proportion of the period can we assign to the hidden, mysterious growth of this power, and what to its wonderfully active and influential life? The life must of course occupy the larger half, to say the least of it, and therefore, as no individual lives on through ages, we may be sure that it is a succession of men, a dynasty of rulers, that is intended by the ambiguous expression. We, students of the nineteenth century, may be sure of this, though the students of early centuries could not.
Paul himself probably supposed that the antichrist he foretold would be an individual, for it is not always given to prophets to understand the messages they are inspired to deliver. "Not unto themselves, but unto us" they minister, as Peter tells us. At any rate, the early Church thought so, as their writings prove. They expected an individual antichrist, who should be followed by an immediate advent of Christ. But it must be remembered that the apostles and the early Church knew nothing of the eighteen centuries of delay which have actually taken place. They could not have guessed or even conceived that well-nigh two thousand years would pass before the second advent. They expected it in their own day. Paul wrote as if he himself would see it: "We who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord"; and no revelation was given the effect of which would have been to rob the early Church of that sweet and sanctifying hope. On the contrary, the prediction of the apostasy and the antichrist who should head it up are purposely so worded as not to extinguish that hope. Even in Daniel, where chronological limits are assigned to the Roman "little horn," the expression which conveys them is symbolic, and could be interpreted with certainty only by the fulfillment.
No duration at all is mentioned in this prophecy by Paul, only the two limits. "Already" the apostasy was developing, and it would not be destroyed till the advent. That much was clearly revealed, but not the length of the interval between the starting point in apostolic days in the first century, and the advent, which has not yet ù in the nineteenth ù taken place. There was a good reason for the form of the prophecy ù for the ambiguous use of the singular number. It neither asserted nor excluded a dynastic meaning. Time alone could decide, and time has decided.
Bearing this in mind, let us now look at Pauls prophetic portrait of the great antichristian power he foresaw and foretold.
It is a strange one, with marked and most peculiar features. He is represented as seated in the temple or house of God; i.e. the Church, "the habitation of God through the Spirit," Gods dwelling-place ù a sacred sphere, the most sacred on earth. There in the midst, exalted and enthroned, sits a sinful mortal, an enemy of God, a "man of sin," engaged in receiving from a multitude of deluded apostate Christians worshipful submission and adoration. Beneath him, like a dark cloud or vapor, out of which he has arisen, is a "mystery of iniquity." There is a chronological date upon the cloud. Close examination shows inscribed on it the words, "doth already work," indicating its existence in Pauls day, eighteen centuries ago. On one side lies a broken arch, covered with Roman sculpture. This arch had at one period blocked the way from the dark under the cloud to the exalted seat occupied by the "man of sin." In Pauls day it stood firm, a massive hindrance; but he foresaw that it would be "taken out of the way." By some mighty stroke it has been rent, and lies in fragments. The barrier has been "taken out of the way." Through the ruinous gap the mystery of iniquity has come up into the holy place in the form of "all deceivableness of unrighteousness." Mingled with a vast mass of deceit there are certain leading lies, which are firmly believed, and many "lying wonders."
The countenance of the "man of sin" is marked by pretended sanctity. There is in it a look of elevation, marred by pride. The features are full of power and intelligence. His head is circled with a crown of a peculiar form, unlike that worn by ordinary kings, and upon it is the title "King of kings and Lord of lords," ù implying that he is ruler both of the Church and of the world, because he claims to be as God on earth. His hand is lifted in the attitude of one bestowing divine favors. His semblance is that of benignity and blessing, while the spirit of the man is that of the great adversary. Behind him, half concealed, is a dark figure difficult to make out, with a face full of malignity. There is a gleam of defiance in his eye, and a deadly purpose in his aspect. He too wears a crown, and the name written on it in yellow, sulfurous letters is, "god of this world." He stands close to the "man of sin," ù too close to be seen by the worshipping multitude ù directing and inspiring all his utterances and all his movements. With extraordinary skill he wields a worldwide power through this chosen agent, a power which has been exercised in various ways for six thousand years, deluding men to their destruction, but which reaches its climax in this combination of satanic craft with ecclesiastical exaltation. By the mouth of the "man of sin" he speaks to the multitude thronging the holy temple, or house of God, in a tone of authority, commanding them to submit to his teachings and guidance, and to abase themselves in his presence. His words are, "Fall down and worship me." The deluded multitude blindly obeys him, as though his voice was the voice of God!
Under the feet of the "man of sin" are two venerable volumes, bearing the titles "Laws Human and Divine." He is trampling on them both, treading them underfoot! Some in the crowd are pointing to this fact, and stand in a protesting attitude. In the distance there are prophets and apostles looking on. Far above ù a perfect contrast in every respect to the self-exalting "man of sin" ù is seen the self-humbling and self-sacrificing Son of God. He too is seated, seated on a radiant throne, from which celestial glory is streaming. His attitude is that of one coming in judgment for the destruction of the "man of sin" and his sinful worshipers. Many of the protesters are looking at him in anticipation of His advent, and seem to have something of His likeness. The face of the man of sin is the face of a false apostle, the dark face of a Judas. Written upon the wall of the temple, in letters of light, just above the proud, false, central figure, is the name "son of perdition." The man of sin is a Judas ù a secret enemy while a seeming friend ù a "familiar friend," yet a fatal foe who betrays with a kiss and a "hail, master!"
There are several features in this portrait which I must ask you to specially notice. Observe the place occupied by the man of sin ù the "temple" or house of God. This is not, and cannot be, any Jewish temple. Paul, who uses this expression in his prophetic portrait of Romanism, employs it both in Corinthians and Ephesians with reference to the Christian Church. In the second Epistle to the Corinthians, writing to Gentile Christians, he says, "Ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them." In Ephesians he calls the Church "a holy temple," a "habitation of God through the Spirit"; and he would never have applied it to the Jewish temple, which, with all other Jewish things, he regarded as mere shadows of Christian realities. To Paul emphatically the temple of God was the Church of Christ. This is the temple in which his prophetic eye saw the man of sin seated. It is no question of his bodily location in any structure of wood and stone, but of something far higher. The temple of God is that "spiritual house" in which He dwells. It is built of "living stones," of true believers. It is here that the man of sin was to usurp the place of God. This is the "mystery," the dread danger, the deadly evil, predicted by the Apostle. It is no person in a temple of stone, but a power in the Christian Church.
Observe next the character of the man of sin. He is at once an imitation of Christ, and a contrast to Him. He occupies His position, but is totally unlike Him, and opposed to Him. He has usurped His place and His prerogatives; but, so far from truly representing Him, he represents His great enemy. As Christ acts for God, so the man of sin acts for Satan, who indeed produces him for this very purpose. His coming is "after the working of Satan." Christ and he are antagonistic powers: the power of light, and the power of darkness; the Majesty of heaven, and the might of hell. And as the Son of God humbled Himself, so the "man of sin" exalts himself. There is infinite self- abasement in the one, the Divine nature stooping to humanity; and infinite self-exaltation in the other, the human and satanic assuming to be Divine. Observe here that it is not asserted that the man of sin will say that he is God, but that he will show himself as such. The words are, "He as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" or is Divine, or a Divine being. (apodelknuJnta eanton oti esti Qeov) There is no article here before the name God. The expression indicates that the man of sin would show himself by acts and professions to be possessed of superhuman and Divine dignity, authority, and power.
Observe the position of the man of sin. Notice the word kaqisai, "sitteth," and connect with it kaqedra, a seat, a word which occurs three times in the New Testament. It is used twice with reference to the seats in the temple of those who sold doves, who turned the house of God into a house of merchandise and den of thieves; and once in the sentence, "the Pharisees sit in Moses seat." From kaqedra comes "cathedral," "the bishops seat," and also the expression ex cathedra, or from his seat, officially. There, in that exalted cathedral position, and claiming to represent God, the man of sin was to act and abide as the pretended vicar, but real antagonist, of Christ, undermining His authority, abolishing His laws, and oppressing His people. Observe the words, "who opposeth." It is possible effectually to oppose another without being his avowed antagonist; so the professions of the predicted power might be friendly, while his actions would be those of an opponent of the gospel of Christ.
We have said that the principles which were ultimately to produce the man of sin had already begun to operate in Pauls own day. His words are, "The mystery of iniquity doth already work"; and these principles would continue to work until the full development of the apostasy, and its final destruction at the Second Advent: that is, throughout the eighteen Christian centuries.
The sphere of their operation therefore cannot be the Jewish temple, which was destroyed in the first century, but must needs be the professing Christian Church.
An important point in the prophecy is the existence in apostolic times of a certain restraining power, withholding while it lasted the manifestation of the man of sin. Paul, for good reasons, speaks of it in guarded language, as "he who letteth," or "that which hinders." What it was Paul knew, and the Thessalonians knew from him: "Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you?" The early Church - from whom alone we can learn what Paul told them by word of mouth, but refrained from committing to writing has left it on record that the Apostle had told them that this hindering power was the dominion of the Roman Caesars; that while they continued to reign at Rome, the development of the predicted power of evil was impossible. Hence it would seem that ROME would be the seat of the man of sin. During the continuance of the Roman empire there was no opportunity for him to rise; he would only be manifested on its fall. While the Caesars reigned he could not appear, but when they passed away he would succeed them.
Notice particularly that, just as the expression, "he that letteth," comprehends the line of succession of the Caesars, so the expression, "he that sitteth," may well comprehend an analogous line or succession of rulers. Both expressions refer to dynasties, and not to individuals.
The distinctive names given by Paul to the great head of the apostasy are expressive of his character. They are the "man of sin," the "son of perdition," and "that wicked" (o anomov, the lawless one). First, it was to be to an extraordinary extent sinful itself, and the occasion of sin in others; secondly, it would be like Judas, and share his doom; and, thirdly, it would set at defiance all laws, whether human or Divine. It would be inspired by Satan, and, on account of its evil character and actions, it would be doomed to destruction; it would eventually "go to its own place" ù the bottomless pit, from whence it emanated. Its doom was to fall in two stages: the Lord Himself would consume it by the spirit of His mouth, and destroy it by the brightness of His epiphany, or advent in power and glory. There would be first a consumption, then a destruction. It would continue until the second coming of Christ a statement which, as you will observe, involves the Lords return before the millennium, since there can be no millennium under the reign of the man of sin, nor prior to his utter destruction.
Let us now compare this portrait of the man of sin drawn by the Apostle Paul with the portrait of the self-exalting power foretold by Daniel, which we studied last week. The comparison will demonstrate their identity.
1. Both are Roman. The self-exalting horn or head represented by Daniel is Roman; it belongs to the fourth or Roman empire. So also does Paul s man of sin, for the imperial government seated at Rome needed to be removed in order to make way for its rise and dominion. It was to be the successor of the Caesars at Rome. They have the same geographical seat.
2. They have the same chronological point of origin: both arise on the fall of the old undivided empire of Rome. And they have he same chronological termination: Daniels little horn perishes at the coming of the Son of man in glory, and Pauls man of sin is destroyed at the epiphany.
3. Both exalt themselves against God. Daniel mentions the proud words of the blasphemous little horn, and Paul the audacious deeds of the man of sin, showing himself as Divine.
4. Both begin as small, inconspicuous powers, and develop gradually to very great and influential ones.
5. Both claim to be teachers of men. Daniels little horn was to have eyes, as a bishop, or overseer (the meaning of the word bishop, episkopov, is overseer); and that he was to have a mouth, that is, he was to be a teacher; while Paul assigns to the man of sin ecclesiastical eminence, a proud position in the temple of God, or Christian Church.
6. Both are persecutors. Daniel describes the little horn as a persecutor wearing out the saints, and Paul speaks of the man of sin as "opposing," and calls him the "lawless one."
To sum up. The two have the same place Rome; the same period ù from the sixth century to the second coming of the Lord in glory; the same wicked character, the same lawlessness, the same self-exalting defiance of God, the same gradual growth from weakness to dominion, the same episcopal pretensions, the same persecuting character, the same twofold doom.
These resemblances are so important, so numerous, so comprehensive, and exact, as to prove beyond all question that the self-exalting, persecuting power predicted by Daniel and this man of sin foretold by Paul are one and the same power. Even Romanists admit this to be the case, and call the power thus doubly predicted the antichrist.
In the Douay Bible, with notes, issued under Romish authority, and bearing the signatures of Cardinals Wiseman and Manning, the "man of sin" is interpreted as follows: "He sitteth in the temple of God, etc. By all these words is described to us the great antichrist,...according to the unquestionable authority and consent of the ancient Fathers." Rome allows thus that the "little horn" of Daniel and the "man of sin" of Paul foreshow one and the same power, and admits that power to be the antichrist.
So far then for our examination of the prophecies of the Roman antichrist, given, some of them a thousand, and others five hundred years before the actual appearance of the predicted power. Strange and incomprehensible must these prophecies have appeared, both to those who gave them and to those who received them. Little could they imagine the tremendous scale,both geographical and chronological, on which they were to be fulfilled! They understood clearly that an awful apostasy was to intervene between the early Church and the advent; but how far it would extend and how long it would last they knew not, and could not know. A terrible enemy to God and to His Church was to arise, strange as it might seem, in that Church itself; and yet it was to have its seat in Rome, which was in their day the throne of the pagan persecutors of Christianity. How could these things be? Much was revealed, but much was left still utterly mysterious, and which time only could interpret.
Turn now from prophecy to the history, and let the latter interpret the former. We see what was predicted, let us ask what has happened. What are the historical facts? The history of the Christian Church does not record a steady progress in the pathway of truth and holiness, an uninterrupted spread of the kingdom of God on earth. On the contrary, it tells the story of a TREMENDOUS APOSTASY. Even in the first century, as we learn from the New Testament, there set in a departure from the gospel, and a return to certain forms of ritualism, as among the Galatians. In the second and third centuries, antichristian doctrine and antichristian practices, sacramentarianism and sacerdotalism, invaded the Church, and gradually climbed to a commanding position, which they never afterwards abandoned. In the fourth century, with the fall of paganism, began a worldly, imperial Christianity, wholly unlike primitive apostolic Christianity, a sort of Christianized heathenism; and in the fifth and sixth centuries sprang up the Papacy, in whose career the apostasy culminated later on.
The mighty Caesars had fallen; Augustus, Domitian, Hadrian, Diocletian, were gone; even the Constantines and Julians had passed away. The seat of sovereignty had been removed from Rome to Constantinople. Goths and Vandals had overthrown the western empire; the once mighty political structure lay shivered into broken fragments. The imperial government was slain by the Gothic sword. The Caesars were no more, and Rome was an actual desolation. Then slowly on the ruins of old imperial Rome rose another power and another monarchy ù a monarchy of loftier aspirations and more resistless might, claiming dominion, not alone over the bodies, but over the consciences and souls of men: dominion, not only within the limits of the fallen empire, but throughout the entire world. Higher and higher rose the Papacy, till in the dark ages all Christendom was subject to its sway.
"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 this was a voluntary submission. As a kingdom, the Papacy was not at that time in any position to enforce it. Not by military power, but by spiritual and religious pretensions, did the Bishop of Rome attain supremacy in the Church and in the world; it was by his lofty claim to be the vice-regent of Christ, by his assumption that he was as God on earth ù it was by means of his episcopal position that he attained by degrees supreme power, not in the Church only, but in the world.
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 above all his fellow bishops, and brought them under his feet. And as he subdued them by the emperors 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, hath with falsehood and guile perverted the order of the world, and turned things upside down.
"All the kings of the West reverence the pope as a God on earth," said Gregory II., and he spoke truly. Sismondi describes how Pepin and the Franks received him as a divinity. His dogmas were regarded as oracles; his bulls and sentences as the voice of God. "The people think of the pope as the one God that has power over all things in earth and in heaven." Marcellus, addressing the pope at the Lateran Council, said, "Thou art another God on earth"; and "our Lord God the pope" was an oft accepted title. These are facts, substantial facts of history, which can be proved by countless documents, and which indeed no Romanist will deny. The people rendered and the pope received worship ù worship due to God alone. At the coronation of Pope Innocent X., Cardinal Colonna, in his own name and that of the clergy of St. Peters, addressed the following words to the pope, "kneeling on his knees": "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!" What blasphemous exaltation is here! Have not Pauls words been fulfilled? Has not this man of sin, sitting in the temple of God, shown himself that he is God, or allowed himself to be treated as Divine, nay, even claimed to be so treated? He allowed himself to be styled "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," because he gave and sold indulgences for sin. He was even more merciful than Christ; for He left souls in purgatory, and the pope took them out! He could command even the angels of heaven, and add saints to the celestial choir, raising dead men to form part of heavens hierarchy as "saints," and causing them henceforth to be worshipped by the Church on earth.
IN ALL THIS THE POPE WAS AS GOD UPON EARTH. It was his to speak and govern as God; it was the worlds to bow down, to believe, and to obey.
See him in his robes of more than kingly royalty, with his crown of more than terrestrial dominion ù not one, but three, three in one, a triple crown. The proud tiara of the Papacy symbolizes power on earth, in heaven, and in hell; in all three the pope claims to rule. He is far above all kings. He is the vice-regent of God, the regent of the universe! He never rises from his pontifical throne to any person whomsoever, nor uncovers himself before mortal man. He does not even condescend to honor any human being by the least inclination of his head. His nuncios and legates take precedence of the ambassadors of all crowned heads. Cardinals, the chief princes of the Church, adore his holiness upon their bended knees, kissing his right hand, and even his feet! At his coronation they set him on the high altar of St. Peters, and adore him as the representative of Deity. He is carried in lofty state on mens shoulders, beneath a canopy hung with fringe of gold. People, prelates, princes, and cardinals exalt and worship him with the most solemn ceremonies. He is head of the universal Church, arbiter of its rights and privileges. He wears the keys, as the sign of his power to open the gates of heaven to all believers. He holds two swords, as judging in things temporal and spiritual. He is "the sole and supreme judge of men, and can himself be judged of no man." He is the husband of the Church, and as such wears a ring, indicating her perpetual betrothal to himself. Thousands upon thousands kneel before him; they struggle to get near his person; they stretch forth their hands to obtain his indulgences, and crave his quasi-Divine benediction, that "smoke of smoke," as Luther called it. The deluded multitude rend the air with acclamations at his approach. In his processions all is gorgeous magnificence. Swiss guards and other attendants form his cortege, in scarlet cloaks, embroidered with gold, with silver maces and rich caparisons, silk housings, red velvets, purples, satins laced with gold, long flowing robes sweeping the ground, some crimson, some black, some white, and caps adorned with precious stones, and helmets glittering in the sun. His litter is lined with scarlet velvet, fringed with gold, and he himself is clothed in a white satin cassock, with rochet, stole, and mozette, all of red velvet if it is winter, or of red satin if it is summer. At his adoration by the canons and clergy of St. Peters, he is clothed in a white garment and seated on a throne, and thus attired he "presides in the temple of the Lord."
Mark these words: he "presides in the temple of the Lord." I took them from Picarts description of the Roman ceremonial, a Roman Catholic authority. It is the Romanists themselves who use this significant phrase of the Papal pontiff: he "presides in the temple of the Lord." Exalted to this position, he is incensed, and the cardinals, one at a time, in solemn, deliberate state and idolatrous submission, kiss his hand, his foot, and even his stomach. He is surrounded by cardinals, archbishops, bishops, abbots, priests, and princes. Enormous fans of peacocks feathers are carried on either side of his chair, as used to be done to the pagan monarchs of olden times. He directs the affairs of the greatest empire upon earth, governing by an almost infinite number of men, whom he keeps constantly in subjection to himself, and from whom he demands frequent periodical account. He distributes spiritual gifts, and exalts to the highest preferments, not only on earth, but also in heaven: for is it not his to make bishops and archbishops, to canonize whom he will, and to decree their perpetual memorial and worship in the world?
All power is delivered unto him. He forgives sins; he bestows grace; he cancels punishments, even in purgatory; he restores the lapsed; he excommunicates the rebellious; he can make that which is unlawful, lawful; he cannot err; his sentences are final, his utterances infallible, his decrees irreformable. O dread dominion! O dizzy height! O blasphemous assumption! O sublime, satanic tyranny! who is like unto thee, thou resuscitated Caesar, thou false Christ? Lord of the conscience, thou sittest there as a very deity, QUASI DEUS, as God. Thou sittest supreme, as thine own words are witness, "in the temple of the Lord."!
Look again at the confessional, where every priest sits as an image of the pope his master, with the sacred consciences of men and women beneath his feet, as though he were a god! For mark, he searches the heart, the very secrets of the soul; he demands the discovery and confession of all its sins; he makes himself master of all its thoughts and intents; he sits in that temple, the temple of the human conscience, which God claims solely for Himself. Oh, awful position! And there he presumes to reign, to decide, to absolve from sin; "Absolvo te," I absolve thee, is his word. The sinner regards him as holding the place of Jesus Christ. This Romish work is a witness that it is so. This is the Ursuline Manual. Here, in the chapter for the direction of those who go to confession, and every Papist does, are these words, "Confessors should not be viewed in any other light than..as holding the place of Jesus Christ" (p. 177). And again, on p. 182, "When you leave the confessional, do not disturb your mind by examining whether you have been confessed well, or have forgotten any of your sins; but rest assured that, if you have made your confession with sincerity, and the other requisite dispositions, you are, according to the express decisions of the Council of Trent, fully absolved from every sin." "Who can forgive sins, but God only?" See how the "man of sin" sits in Gods temple, and robs Him of His place and His prerogative!
Look at this other book. It is the volume of the laws and constitution of the Jesuits. Here, on p. 10, the Jesuit is taught that his superior, whoever he may be, must be recognized, reverenced, and submitted to with perfect and complete subjection of act and thought, as occupying the place of Jesus Christ. Thus the priest in the confessional and the superior in the Jesuit order, and the bishop and archbishop and cardinal, all reflect the sacerdotal supremacy of the pope, who sits there in Gods very temple, the temple of conscience and of the Christian Church, as a usurping god ù quasi Deus, as if God Himself.
But we must pass on from this point, the position assumed by the man of sin in the Church of God, and ask whether Romanism has fulfilled the other predictions of St. Paul as to "lying wonders" and "signs," or false miracles, and the deceits of unrighteousness. Has she employed these as a means of gaining "power," deluding her votaries that she might the more effectually enslave them? To exalt the priesthood, and especially its head, the Papal high priest, Rome has spared nothing. She has trampled alike on the intellect and conscience of mankind, and despised the eternal well-being of souls by inducing them to believe lies.
The man of sin was to come with all power and signs and lying wonders, in all deceivableness of unrighteousness. Just as the apostles wrought miracles to confirm the gospel they preached ù or rather, as the Lord wrought with them and confirmed the word with signs following ù so Satan would work with antichrist, endorsing his pretensions with false miracles designed to overthrow the gospel. Bishop John Jewell, of Salisbury, wrote in the sixteenth century: Of the first sort of false miracles, we have seen an infinite number in the days of our fathers in the kingdom of antichrist. Then was there an appearance of spirits and visions of angels: our lady came swimming down from heaven; poor souls came creeping and crying out of purgatory, and jetted abroad; and kept stations, casting flakes of fire, and beset highways, and bemoaned their cases, the pains and torments were so bitter.
They sought for help, and cried for good prayers; they cried for dirges, they cried for masses of requiem, for masses of scala coeli, for trentals of masses. Hereof grew portsale of pardons, and hereof grew the province of purgatory, the most gainful country that ever was under the cityof Rome.
But these miracles were no miracles at all; they were devised by subtle varlets and lazy lordanes for a purpose, to get money. Oftentimes the spirit has been taken and laid in the stocks; the angel has been stript; the good lady has been caught; the conveyance of the miracle has appeared; the engines, and sleights, and the cause, and the manner of the working have been confessed.
In those days idols could go on foot; roods could speak; bells could ring alone; images could come down, and light their own candles; dead stocks could sweat, and bestir themselves; they could turn their eyes; they could move their hands; they could open their mouths; they could set bones and knit sinews; they could heal the sick, and raise up the dead.
These miracles were conveyances and subtleties, and indeed no miracles; the trunks by which they spake, the strings and wires with which they moved their faces and hands, all the rest of their treachery, have been disclosed. These are the miracles of which Paul speaks ù miracles in sight, in appearance, but indeed no miracles.
..It was also arranged that the saints should not have power to work in all places. Some wrought at Canterbury, some at Walsingham, some at York, some at Buxton, some in one place, some in another, some in the towns, some in the fields. Even as Jeremiah said among the Jews, chapter 11, "According to the number of thy cities were thy gods." Hereof grew pilgrimages and worshipping of images, and kissing of reliques; hereof grew oblations, and enriching of abbeys; every man had his peculiar saint on whom he called; every country was full of chapels, every chapel full of miracles, and every miracle full of lies.
These miracles are wrought by antichrist; they are his tools, wherewith he worketh; they are his weapons, wherewith he prevaileth; they are full of lying, full of deceitfulness, and full of wickedness: so shall antichrist prevail, and rule over the world. By these miracles he shall possess the ears, the eyes, and the hearts of many, and shall draw them after him." 2
It was alleged that miracles were not only wrought by the saints, but even by the relics of the saints. In Calvins tractate on the subject of relics, he proves that the great majority of the relics in use among Romanists are spurious, having been brought forward by imposters, so that every apostle is made to have three or four bodies, and every saint two or three, and that the garments of Christ are almost infinite in number! As His body ascended to heaven, relics of it were not of course available; but spurious relics of everything He ever used or handled have been multiplied ad nauseam. Even the body of Christ has not escaped; the teeth, the hair, and the blood are exhibited in hundreds of places; the manger in which He was laid at His birth, the linen in which He was swaddled, His cradle, the first shirt His mother put on Him, the pillar against which He leant in the temple, the water-pots that were at the marriage in Cana of Galilee, and even the wine that was made in them, the shoes that He used when He was a boy, the table on which He observed the Last Supper, and hundreds of similar things are shown many of them in a number of places to this day. And as to the relics connected with our Lords sufferings and death, they are just innumerable. The fragments of the true cross scattered over the globe would, if catalogued, fill a volume. "There is no town, however small, which has not some morsel of it; and this not only in the principal cathedral church of the district, but also in parish churches. There is scarcely an abbey so poor as not to have a specimen. In some places larger fragments exist, as at Paris, Poitiers, and Rome. If all the pieces which could be found were collected into a heap, they would form a good ship load; though the gospel testifies that a single individual was able to carry the real cross. What effrontery then thus to fill the whole world with fragments which it would take more than three hundred men to carry!...In regard to the crown of thorns, it would seem that its twigs had been planted that they might grow again; otherwise I know not how it could have attained such a size..I would never come to an end were I to go one by one over all the absurd articles they have drawn into this service. At Rome is shown the reed which was put into our Saviors hands has a scepter;..the sponge which was offered to Him containing vinegar mixed with gall. How, I ask, were those things recovered? They were in the hands of the wicked. Did they give them to the apostles that they might preserve them for relics, or did they themselves lock them up that they might preserve them for some future period? What blasphemy to abuse the name of Christ by employing it as a cloak for such driveling fables!"3
Among the images that Rome worships, a certain class are miraculous. The figure on the crucifix of Burgos, in Spain, is said to have a beard which grows perpetually, and there are similar ones in three or four other places. The stupid people believe the fable to be true. Other crucifixes are said to have spoken ù a whole number. Others shed tears, as for instance one at Treves; and another at Orleans. From others the warm blood flows periodically. Miraculous images of the virgin are even more numerous. As they hold that the body of the virgin ascended to heaven like that of her Son, they cannot pretend to have her bones like those of the saints. Had it been otherwise, they would have given her a body of such size as would fill a thousand coffins. But they have made up for this lack by her hair and her milk. There is no town however small, no monastery or nunnery however insignificant, which does not possess some of this ù some in small, others in large quantities. As Calvin says: "Had the breasts of the most holy virgin yielded a more copious supply than is given by a cow, and had she continued to nurse during her whole lifetime, she could scarcely have furnished the quantity which is exhibited. I would fain know," he asks, "how it was collected so as to be preserved until our time. Luke relates the prophecy which Simeon made to the virgin, but he does not say that Simeon asked her to give him some milk." The fabrication of these relics was a lucrative trade throughout the middle ages; especially were dead bodies invested with sacredness by attaching to them the names of saints and martyrs. Toulouse, for instance, thinks it possesses six bodies of the apostles: James, Andrew, James the Less, Philip, Simeon, and Jude; but duplicates of these bodies are also in St. Peters and other churches in Rome. Matthias has also another at Treves; and there are heads and arms of him existing at different places sufficient to make up another body. What shall we say of the spirit that encourages the belief in lies and deceives men in this style? The degradation inflicted on the ignorant and unlearned by these fables is terrible, as any one who watches their effect in Ireland or on the Continent is aware. Whether the miracles of the man of sin be real or pretended, true or false, it matters little. The main point is, they are directed to establish falsehood. "He relies for his success on the effects to be wrought in human minds by wonders and deceits accomplished in the energy of Satan." He employs wonders and deceits, a pretense to miraculous powers. Romanism has availed herself of such fraudulent practices to an enormous extent, and has profited by them both financially and otherwise.
But lying wonders to impose on the ignorant and superstitious masses were not the only means by which the Papacy attained its power in the middle ages; spurious documents, impostures of another kind, were used to influence the royal, noble, and educated classes. Principal among these were the celebrated decretal epistles, a forgery which produced the most important consequences for the Papacy, though its spurious nature was ultimately detected. Gibbon writes: Before the end of the eighth century, some apostolical scribe, perhaps the notorious Isidore, composed the "decretals" and the "donation of Constantine" ù the two magic pillars of the spiritual and temporal monarchy of the popes. This memorable donation was introduced to the world by an epistle of Pope Adrian I, who exhorts Charlemagne to imitate the liberality and revive the name of the great Constantine" (Gibbon: "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," chapter 49).
Their effect was enormous in advancing both the temporal power and the ecclesiastical supremacy of the popes. The donation of Constantine founded the one, and the false decretals the other. The latter pretended to be decrees of the early bishops of Rome limiting the independence of all archbishops and bishops by establishing a supreme jurisdiction of the Roman see in all cases, and by forbidding national councils to be held without its consent. "Upon these spurious decretals," says Mr. Hallam in his "History of the Middle Ages," "was built the great fabric of Papal supremacy over the different national Churches ù a fabric which has stood after its foundation crumbled beneath it, for no one has pretended to deny for the last two centuries that the imposture is too palpable for any but the most ignorant ages to credit."
It is evident then that Romanism has fulfilled this part of the prophecy of the "man of sin," even him whose coming was to be after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders and all deceivableness of unrighteousness. The power of the popes was built up on frauds and deceits of this character, and has been maintained over all the nations subject to it ever since by pretended miracles, spurious relics, lying wonders, and unrighteous deceits. And all these have been employed to oppose the gospel and establish falsehood.
In considering the ecclesiastical aspect of Romanism, we must never forget that it is the outcome and climax of the predicted apostasy, whose features Paul describes in Timothy. We must close this lecture with a few remarks on the departure from the faith which occupies so prominent a place in that description. Some should "depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats." The faith must of course here be taken in a broad sense, as including all the doctrines and commandments of the Christian religion. The apostasy was to be marked by a departure from this faith, by the teaching of false doctrines, and the inculcation of anti-scriptural practices. That Popery is completely at variance with the Bible on all the important points of the faith of Christ may be safely asserted, and can be abundantly proved. We can select but a few of the principal points.
1. The Apostle Paul teaches that the Holy Scriptures are able to make us "wise unto salvation," that they are capable of rendering the man of God "thoroughly furnished"; and James speaks of the engrafted word of God as "able to save the soul." The true doctrine therefore is that Scripture contains all that is necessary to salvation. What is the doctrine of Romanism on this point? One of the articles of the Council of Trent asserts that, not only should the Old and New Testaments be received with reverence as the word of God, but also "the unwritten traditions which have come down to us, pertaining both to faith and manners, and preserved in the Catholic Church by continual succession." In considering this decree, and its fatal effects in exalting mere human traditions to the level of Divine revelation, one is reminded of the solemn words which close the Apocalypse: "If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book." Christ taught, on the contrary, that tradition was to be rejected whenever it was opposed to Scripture. "Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?" "In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." "Laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men." "Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition."
2. Again. The Bible teaches us the duty of reading and searching the Scriptures. The Lord Jesus Himself said, "Search the Scriptures"; but Romanism forbids the general reading of Scripture, asserting that such a use of the word of God in the vulgar tongue causes more harm than good, and that it must never be practiced except by special permission in writing obtained from a priest. If any presume to read it without that, they are not to receive absolution. Booksellers who sell the Bible to any desiring to obtain it are to have penalties inflicted upon them, and no one is to purchase a Bible without special license from their superior. This is extended to receiving a gift of the Bible.
3. The true faith teaches us that every man is bound to judge for himself as to the meaning of Scripture. "Prove all things, hold fast that which is good." "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." But the Council of Trent decrees, that "no one confiding in his own judgment shall dare to wrest the sacred Scriptures to his own sense of them contrary to that which is held by holy mother Church, whose right it is to judge of the meaning." If any one disobeys this decree he is to be punished according to law.
4. Scripture teaches us most abundantly that Christ is the only head of the Church. God gave Him to be the head over all things to the Church, which is His body; but Romanism teaches that the pope is the head of the Church on earth. "The pope is the head of all heads, and the prince, moderator, and pastor of the whole Church of Christ, which is under him," says Benedict XIV; and the Douay catechism, taught in all Papal schools, says, "He who is not in due connection and subordination to the pope must needs be dead, and cannot be counted a member of the Church."
5. Scripture teaches us that the wages of sin is death, and "that whoever shall keep the law, and yet offend in one point, is guilty of all." "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." But Popery teaches that there are some sins which do not deserve the wrath and curse of God, and that venial sins do not bring spiritual death to the soul.
6. The Bible teaches us that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law, and that we are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. But Popery denounces this doctrine. The Council of Trent asserted that whosoever should affirm that we are justified by the grace and favor of God was to be accursed, and so all those who hold that salvation is not by works, but by grace.
7. Scripture teaches us to confess sin to God only. "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight." "Every one of us shall give account of himself to God." "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins." But Romanism denies this, and says that sacramental confession to a priest is necessary to salvation, and that any one who should denounce the practice of secret confessions as contrary to the institution and command of Christ, and a mere human invention, is to be accursed.
8. Scripture teaches us, again, that God only can forgive sins, and that the ministers duty is simply to announce His forgiveness. "Repentance and remission of sins" was to be preached in His name among all nations. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation." He commanded us to preach to the people, that "through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." The Council of Trent asserts, on the contrary, whosoever shall affirm that the priests absolution is not a judicial act, but only a ministry to declare that the sins of the penitent are forgiven, or that the confession of the penitent is not necessary in order to obtain absolution from the priest, let him be accursed.
9. Scripture teaches us that no man is perfectly righteous, and certainly that none can do more than his duty to God. "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves." "In thy sight shall no man living be justified." "When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do." The Council of Trent, on the contrary, asserts that the good works of the justified man, his fasts, alms, and penances, really deserve increase of grace and eternal life, and that God is willing, on account of His most pious servants, to forgive others. It teaches that a man may do more than is requisite, and may give the overplus of his good works to another.
10. Scripture teaches us that faith in Christ removes sin and its guilt, "that the Lamb of God taketh away the sin of the world," that by His death Christ put away our sins, that "the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin." But Romanism teaches that the venial sins of believers have to be expiated by a purgatory after death, and that the prayers of the faithful can help them. The Creed of Pope Pius IV contains the clause: "I constantly hold that there is a purgatory, and that the souls detained therein are helped by the suffrages of the faithful."
11. Scripture teaches us that "by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified," that He was once offered to bear the sins of many. But Romanism asserts, on the contrary, that in each of the endlessly repeated masses in its innumerable churches all over the world there is offered to God "a true, proper, and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead."
12. Scripture, as we have already shown, teaches us that the marriage of the ministers of Christ is a lawful and honorable thing. Peter was a married man; Paul asserts his liberty to marry, and says that a bishop must be the husband of one wife, having his children in subjection with all gravity, and that the deacons also must be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. Romanism, on the other hand, teaches "that the clergy may not marry, and that marriage is to them a pollution."
13. Scripture says, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve." Barnabas and Paul with horror forbade the crowds to worship them, and the angel similarly forbade John, saying, "See thou do it not." Romanism enjoins the worship both of angels and saints and their relics. "The saints reigning together with Christ are for us, and their relics are to be venerated."
14. The Bible again teaches that images are not to be worshipped. "Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor serve them." "I am the Lord: My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images." But Romanism teaches her rotaries to say, "I most firmly assert, that the images of Christ, and of the mother of God ever virgin, and also of the of the other saints, are to be had and retained, and that due honor and veneration are to be given to them."
15. And above all, Scripture teaches us that there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus, neither is there salvation in any other. But Romanism teaches that there are other mediators in abundance besides Jesus Christ, that the Virgin Mary and the saints are such. "The saints reigning together with Christ offer prayers to God for us."
I must not go further, and contrast Bible and Romish teachings on the subject of the Lords supper, extreme unction, and a multitude of other points, but may say, in one word, that there is not a doctrine of the gospel which has not been contradicted or distorted by this system, and that it stands branded before the world beyond all question as fulfilling Pauls prophecy of the apostasy ù that it should be characterized by departure from the faith.
Perhaps I cannot give you a better idea of the distinctive teachings of Romanism as to controverted points of doctrine, than by reading to you the Creed of Pope Pius IV. This creed was adopted at the famous Council of Trent, held in the sixteenth century, when the doctrines of the Reformation were already widely diffused through Europe, and joyfully accepted and held by the young Protestant Churches of many lands. The Council of Trent was indeed Romes reply to the Reformation. The newly recovered truths of the gospel were in its canons and decrees stigmatized as pestilent heresies, and all who held them accursed; and in opposition to them this creed was prepared and adopted. It commences with the Nicene Creed, which is common to Romanists and Protestants; but to this simple and ancient "form of sound words" it adds twelve new articles which are peculiar to Rome, and contain her definite rejection of the doctrines of Scriptures recovered at the Reformation.
1. I most firmly admit and embrace apostolical and ecclesiastical traditions, and all other constitutions and observances of the same Church.
2. I also admit the sacred Scriptures according to the sense which the holy mother Church has held, and does hold, to whom it belongs to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures; nor will I ever take or interpret them otherwise than according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.
3. I profess also, that there are truly and properly seven sacraments of the new law, instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord, and for the salvation of mankind, though all are not necessary for every one; namely, baptism, confirmation, eucharist, penance, extreme unction, orders, and matrimony; and that they confer grace; and of these, baptism, confirmation, and orders cannot be reiterated without sacrilege.
4. I also receive and admit the ceremonies of the Catholic Church received and approved in the solemn administration of all the above said sacraments.
5. I receive and embrace all and every one of the things which have been defined and declared in the holy Council of Trent concerning original sin and justification.
6. I profess likewise that in the mass is offered to God a true, proper, and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead; and that in the most holy sacrifice of the eucharist there is truly, really, and substantially the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that there is made a conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the body and of the whole substance of the wine into the blood, which conversion the Catholic Church calls transubstantiation.
7. I confess also, that under either kind alone, whole and entire Christ and a true sacrament are received.
8. I constantly hold that there is a purgatory, and that the souls detained therein are helped by the suffrages of the faithful.
9. Likewise that the saints reigning together with Christ are to be honored and invocated; that they offer prayers to God for us; and that their relics are to be venerated.
10. I most firmly assert that the images of Christ, and of the mother of God ever virgin, and also of the other saints, are to be had and retained, and that due honor and veneration are to be given them.
11. I also affirm that the power of indulgences was left by Christ in the Church, and that the use of them is most wholesome to Christian people.
12. I acknowledge the holy catholic and apostolic Roman Church, the mother and mistress of all Churches; and I promise and swear true obedience to the Roman bishop, the successor of St. Peter, the prince of the apostles and vicar of Jesus Christ.
13. I also profess and undoubtedly receive all other things delivered, defined, and declared by the sacred canons and general councils, and particularly by the holy Council of Trent; and likewise I also condemn, reject, and anathematize all things contrary thereto, and all heresies whatsoever, condemned, rejected, and anathematized by the Church. This true catholic faith, out of which none can be saved, which I now freely profess, and truly hold, I, N., promise, vow, and swear most constantly to hold and profess the same whole and entire, with Gods assistance, to the end of my life; and to procure, as far as lies in my power, that the same shall be held, taught, and preached by all who are under me, or are entrusted to my care, by virtue of my office. So help me God, and these holy gospels of God.
This creed of Pope Plus IV is the authoritative Papal epitome of the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent. The importance of this council "depends upon the considerations, that its records embody the solemn, formal, and official decision of the Church of Rome ù which claims to be the one, holy, catholic Church of Christ ù upon all the leading doctrines taught by the reformers; that its decrees upon all doctrinal points are received by all Romanists as possessed of infallible authority; and that every Popish priest is sworn to receive, profess, and maintain everything defined and declared by it." 4
As an illustration of its reception and maintenance in the present day by the infallible head of the Romish Church, and by the whole conclave of Roman Catholic bishops, I refer you to their action in the comparatively recent Council of the Vatican.
See the almost incredible spectacle of 1870! See those seven hundred bishops of the Church throughout the world gathered in Rome at the high altar of St. Peters. See them and hear them! In this Romish book, entitled "The Chair of Peter," p. 497, is a description of the scene. áááááá "The pope recited in a loud voice the profession of faith, namely the Creed of Nice and Constantinople, together with the definitions of the Council of Trent, called the Creed of Pope Pius IV; alter which it was read aloud from the ambo by the Bishop of Fabriano; then for two whole hours, to use the words of one of the prelates present, the cardinals, patriarchs, primates, archbishops, bishops, and other fathers of the council, made their adhesion to the same by tossing the Gospel at the throne of the head of the Church. A truly sublime spectacle, those seven hundred bishops from all parts of the earth, the representatives of more than thirty nations, and of two hundred millions of Christians, thus openly making profession of one common faith, in communion with the one and supreme pastor and teacher of all!"
Yes; the Creed of Trent, the canons and decrees of Trent, the Creed of Pius IV, those twelve articles which Rome has added to the ancient Nicene Creed, the sacrifice of the mass, transubstantiation, communion in one kind, the seven sacraments, traditions, Romish interpretation, Popish ceremonies, justification by works, purgatory, invocation of saints, indulgences, the worship of images, the absolute supremacy of the pope as the vicar of Christ, and no salvation out of union and communion with him, and submission to him: they confessed and professed them all, and swore adhesion to them, and kissed the holy Gospels in solemn token thereof before heaven and earth.
O Creed of Pius ù or Impious as he deserves to be called; O doctrines of Trent, "solemn, formal, official" decision of the Church of Rome upon all the great doctrines taught by the Reformers, Romes reply to the Reformation, her deliberate final rejection and anathema of its blessed teachings and confessions drawn from the holy word of God; O Creed of Trent and of the impious priest whose word supplants the word of God with fables and blasphemies and lies: thou art the awful decision of apostate Latin Christendom on the controversy of the ages, A DECISION TO WHICH ROME MUST NOW UNCHANGEABLY ADHERE, sealed as infallible, confessed to be irreformable! O momentous fact! O fatal Creed of Trent! thou art a millstone round the neck of the Roman pontiff, the cardinals, the archbishops, the bishops, the priests, the people of the whole Papal Church, a mighty millstone that must sink them in destruction and perdition! There is no shaking thee off. Alas! they have doomed themselves to wear thee; they have wedded and bound themselves to thy deadly lies; they have sealed, have sworn to thee as infallible and irreformable, and condemned themselves to abide by thee forever! It is done. Romes last word is spoken. Her fate is fixed, fixed by her own action, her own utterance, her own oath. Individuals may escape, may flee the system; but as a Church it is past recovery, and utterly beyond the reach of reformation. Oh that thousands might escape from it while yet there is time! Oh that they would hear the earnest, the urgent call, "Come out of her, My people"! Oh that they would wake from their blind and abject submission to the tyranny of hypocrites while there is room for repentance!
And now, in conclusion. We have shown briefly but clearly that Romanism is the offspring of a mystery of iniquity which began to work in apostolic times; that it is characterized by hypocrisy, by asceticism, by the prohibition of meats and marriage, by superstition and idolatry, by the worship of relics and images, of saints and angels, by the multiplication of mediators by false miracles, by lying signs and wonders, and by doctrines and decrees antagonistic to the teachings and command of Christ. We have shown that the Papal pontiffs have exalted themselves above all bishops, and above all kings, that they have fabricated new articles of faith and new rules of discipline; that they have altered the terms of salvation; that they have sold the pardon of sins for money, and bartered the priceless gifts of grace for selfish gain; that they have bound their deadly doctrines on the souls of countless millions by monstrous tyrannical threats and denunciations; that they have pertinaciously rejected the light of truth; that they have resolutely and wrathfully resisted those who have rebuked their impiety; that they have thundered against them their bulls and interdicts, their excommunications and anathemas; that they have made war with them, and with the faithful saints of many ages, and prevailed against them, and worn them out with long and cruel persecutions, with infamous and inhuman massacres; that they have waged against them no less than a war of extermination, wielding in this the whole strength and machinery of the resistless Roman empire, as well as the spiritual forces of the apostate Christian Church; that with the mighty working of Satan, with all power, signs, and miracles of falsehood they have OPPOSED CHRIST, have opposed His doctrines, His precepts, His people, and His cause, and in opposing Christ have OPPOSED GOD HIMSELF, and made war with Him who is the Lord of heaven and earth, and have uttered against Him their daring prohibitions and anathemas; that they have enthroned themselves in His holy temple, and trampled on His sacred laws, and trodden down His saints and servants, and arrogated to themselves His place, and power, and prerogatives; and while perpetrating acts of enormous and indescribable wickedness, have blasphemously claimed to be His sole representatives both in the church and in the world, to be inspired by His spirit, to be INFALLIBLE in their teachings and decrees, to be Vice-Christs, to be Vice- Gods ù in other words, to be AS CHRIST, AND AS GOD HIMSELF VISIBLY REVEALED UPON THE EARTH.
We have further shown that prophets and apostles foresaw and foretold the rise, reign, and doom of such a great apostate power, describing it as a "little horn" of the fourth or Roman empire, possessed of intelligence and oversight, having a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; a power both political and ecclesiastical; a Roman ruler, yet an overseer in the Christian Church; a power arising on the break up of the old Roman empire, and coexisting with the kings of its divided Gothic state; a power inspired by Satan, and prevailing by means of false miracles and lying wonders; a power springing from a "mystery of iniquity" and characterized by all deceivableness of unrighteousness; a lawless, self-exalting power, claiming Divine prerogatives, and receiving from deluded millions the submission and homage which should be rendered to God alone; a power characterized by exceeding personal sinfulness, and by the widespread promotion of sin in others; above all, a persecuting power, a power making war with the saints, and wearing them out, and prevailing against them throughout its long career of proud usurpation and triumphant tyranny.
These inspired words of prophecy and those indisputable facts of history agree. The Roman Papacy is revealed by the far-reaching light of the divinely written word. Its portrait is painted; its mystery is penetrated; its character, its deeds are drawn; its thousand veils and subterfuges are torn away. The unsparing hand of inspiration has stripped it, and left it standing upon the stage of history deformed and naked, a dark emanation from the pit, bloodstained and blasphemous, blindly struggling in the concentrated rays of celestial recognition, amid the premonitory thunders and lightnings of its fast approaching doom.