Historicism.com

Recovering the classic, Protestant interpretation of Bible prophecy.

LECTURE 4

JOHN’S FOREVIEW OF ROMANISM

In the three preceding lectures we considered first the POLITICAL character and relations of Romanism, as prefigured in the prophecies of Daniel; and next its ECCLESIASTICAL character and relations, as predicted in the epistles of Paul.

We have now to consider the combination of these two aspects, or the POLITICO-ECCLESIASTICAL character of Romanism, as presented in the prophecies of John.

The Apocalypse, or "Revelation of Jesus Christ," is an advance on all other prophecies. It gives the complete story of Christ’s kingdom, exhibiting it both from an external and an internal point of view, and unveiling its political as well as its ecclesiastical history. In its faithful reflection of the future it gives central prominence to the Roman power and apostasy. On this subject it enters into detail, and exhibits the mutual relations of the Latin Church and Roman State, using composite figures for this purpose-figures one part of which represent the political aspect of Romanism as a temporal government, and the other its religious aspect as an ecclesiastical system.

Two great foreviews of Romanism are given in the Apocalypse: that concerning its rise and reign in Revevelation 13, and that relating to its decline and fall in chapters 17-19.

Both of these prophecies are double. The first is the prophecy of "the beast" and the "false prophet"; the second is that of "the beast" and "the harlot." The false prophet acts for "the beast," the harlot rides upon "the beast." In each case there are two powers, perfectly distinct yet closely connected. The "beast" and the "false prophet" can neither be confounded nor separated. Similarly, the "beast" and "harlot" are associated. The beast carries the harlot during all her long career of crime and cruelty, and they both come to their ruin in the same judgment era of the vials of God’s righteous wrath which terminate the present dispensation.

Before considering the interpretation of these wonderful Apocalyptic visions, it will be necessary to devote a few moments to the relation which exists between the prophecies of DANIEL and those of JOHN. We are exhibiting the prophecies of Romanism as a whole, and in order to do this it is necessary to trace the simple yet profound connection between the foreview granted to the Jewish prophet in Babylon in the days of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, and that given to the Christian apostle in Patmos, in the days of Domitian.

The prophecies of Daniel and the book of Revelation may be considered as two parts of a single prophecy; their subject is the same, and their symbols are the same. They reveal the course of cruel, idolatrous Gentile empires, followed by the eternal kingdom of God; and in doing this they employ the same symbols. Daniel revealed the four empires; John the fourth only, for the first three had in his time passed away. Babylon, Persia, Greece had fallen; but Rome was still in the zenith of its greatness, destined to endure for many ages, and to rule, even to our own day, a large section of the human race. To John therefore was shown with considerable fullness, the future of the Roman power. The Apocalypse contains a marvelous foreview of the rise, reign, decline, and fall of the Roman Papacy, of the sufferings and triumphs of the saints of God during its continuance, and their enthronement at its close.

The Roman empire is presented to Daniel and to John under one and the same striking and special symbol, a ten-horned wild beast. Daniel saw the Medo-Persian empire as a two-horned ram, one horn being higher than the other (#Dan 8:3). He saw the Grecian empire as a four-horned goat (#Dan 8:8-20); and he saw the Roman empires as a ten-horned wild beast Thus these three great empires as seen by Daniel were two-horned, four-horned, ten-horned. This is remarkable and easy to be remembered. Now Daniel’s ten-horned beast reappears in the Apocalypse. Here we have an important link between the Old Testament and the New, and a clue to the meaning of the last book of Scripture. Let us try to be clear on this point. The four wild beasts represent Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome. The fourth is ten-horned. This ten-horned beast of Daniel reappears in the Apocalypse, the divinely given symbol of the fourth and final earthly empire. You see it in chapters 12,13, and 17 of the book of Revelation. Compare now the passages. First, #Dan 11:7: "I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had ten horns."

Next, #Rev 12:3: "A great red dragon, having ten horns."

#Rev 13:1: "I saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having ten horns."

Lastly, #Rev 17:3: "A scarlet-colored beast, having ten horns."

It is universally admitted that this fourth, or ten-horned beast, represents the Roman empire. The angel himself so interprets it. I want you particularly to notice the fact that we are not left to speculate about the meaning of these symbols; that the all-wise God who selected them, and gave them to us, has condescended to give us their interpretation. All these principal visions are divinely interpreted.

First, as to the vision of the fourfold image there is an inspired interpretation of a most detailed character. You remember the words with which it begins, "This is the dream, and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king."

Then in the vision of the four wild beasts, there is the interpretation beginning thus, "So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things." So with the vision of the second and third empires in Daniel 13, there is the interpretation. Daniel says: "I heard a man’s voice..which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision," and so forth.

The same method is followed in the Apocalypse. The opening vision of the seven candlesticks is interpreted. You remember the words, "The seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven Churches." And similarly, the vision of the woman seated on the seven-headed, ten-horned beast, in chapter 17, is interpreted: every part of it is interpreted. Observe the angel’s words: "I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns." Mark in your Bibles, if you will, these four sentences in the angelic interpretation: "The beast which thou sawest." "The ten horns which thou sawest." "The waters which thou sawest." "The woman which thou sawest."

These four sentences are the key to the Apocalypse. The beast, the horns, the waters, the woman are all interpreted; and their interpretation involves, or carries in it, the interpretation of the Apocalypse. The seven heads of the beast are also interpreted, and so interpreted as to tie down the symbol to the ROMAN empire. For the angel mentions an important note of time; he says of the seven heads, "five are fallen, and ONE IS, and the other is not yet come." The heads of this beast then, when the vision was revealed, were past, present, and future; five were past, the sixth then existed, the seventh was not yet come. This demonstrates the power in question to be the Roman empire. The then reigning power in John’s day was symbolized by the sixth head of a seven-headed beast. This is certain. And the then reigning power was that of the Caesars of pagan Rome. This is equally certain. Therefore the Roman Caesars were represented by the sixth head of the symbolic beast. Now, to make the assurance doubly sure, mark the closing sentence in the angelic interpretation: "The woman which thou sawest is that city which reigneth over the kings of the earth." Note the words, "which reigneth" (h ecousa basileian), or as it is in Latin, "quae habet regnum super reges terrae": "and the woman which thou sawest is the great city which has (or holds) the kingdom (or government) over the kings of the earth." The great city "which reigneth," not which did reign, nor which shall reign, but "which reigneth", or was actually reigning then. What great city was reigning then over the kings of the earth? Rome, and none other. Rome then is the power which is signified.

We have now got the KEY to the Apocalypse; we are no longer lost in a crowd of uninterpreted symbols. The beasts of Daniel and John are empires. The ten-horned beast is the Roman power. This beast appears three times in the Apocalypse; it is expounded by the angel. This expounded symbol is the key to the entire prophecy.

And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon the heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon that gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (#Rev 13:1-8).

The head is the governing power in the body. The heads of this beast represent successive governments. Mark the "deadly wound" inflicted on the last of its seven heads, and the marvelous healing of that wound, or the revival of the slain head or government, then mark the tyrannical and dreadful doings of this revived or eighth head. It becomes a great and terrible enemy of God’s people, a Roman enemy not an early Roman enemy, not a pagan Caesar, not a Nero or a Domitian, but one occupying a later place, a final place; for none succeeds him in that empire, since it is foretold that his destruction will be accomplished at the advent of Christ in His kingdom.

A comparison of this Roman enemy of God’s people described by John with the "little horn" foreshown by Daniel, demonstrates the important fact of their identity. They are one and the same. Observe the following points:

I. The persecuting horn seen by Daniel is a horn of the Roman empire; it is a Roman horn. And the persecuting head seen by John is a head of the Roman beast. In this they are alike. Each is Roman.

II. The persecuting horn grows up in the later, or divided state of the Roman empire; it rises among the ten Gothic horns. The persecuting head seen by John also grows up in the same later state of the Roman empire, for it follows the seven heads, and is the last. The sixth was said by the angel to be in existence in John’s time, and the seventh was to last only a short season, ù be wounded to death, and then revived in a new and final and peculiarly tyrannical and persecuting form. The "little horn" in Daniel belongs to the later ten-horned, or Gothic, period of the Roman empire; and the revived head of the empire seen by John belongs to the same period. You will note this point their period is the same. This is the second mark of their identity.

III. Each has a mouth. Now here is a very distinct and remarkable feature. The other horns and heads were dumb; but this speaks. Of the persecuting Roman horn we read in Darnel, it had "a mouth"; and of the persecuting Roman head we read in John, "there was given to him a mouth."

IV. In each case this mouth speaks the same things. Of the mouth of the Roman horn Darnel says, in chapter 7, "it spake great things" (#Dan 7:8), "the great words which the horn spake" (#Dan 7:11), "very great things" (#Dan 7:20), "great words against the Most High" (#Dan 7:25). While of the Roman head in the Apocalypse John says:

"There was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies..And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven" (#Rev 13:6).

The horn speaks; the head speaks: each speaks great things; each speaks blasphemies. This striking correspondence is a further indication of their identity. Each has (otoma laloun megala) (#Dan 7:8). (otoma laloun megala)  (#Rev 13:5).

The expression is exactly the same in the Septuagint translation of Daniel and in the Apocalypse. V. The horn has great dominion. It plucks up three horns; it has "a look more stout than his fellows" (v. 20); it makes war and prevails; its great "dominion" is eventually taken away and destroyed; "they shall take away his dominion" (v. 26). Similarly the head has great dominion; "power was given him over all kindreds and tongues and nations." The application of these words should not be pressed beyond the sphere to which they belong. In that sphere, for a certain period, the power of the horn or head was to be supreme and universal. In the fact of their dominion they are alike.

VI. Each makes war with the saints: each is terrible as a persecutor of God’s people. Daniel says: "The same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them..He shall wear out the saints of the Most High.. They shall be given into his hand until a time, and times, and the dividing of time." John says: "It was given unto him to make war with the saints and to overcome them" (#Rev 13:7); "He shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them" (#Rev 11:7).

John describes the method of this warfare, in what way and for what reason the "saints" or "martyrs of Jesus" "should be killed" (#Rev 13:15); and it is of these martyrs the voice from heaven says, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them" (#Rev 14:13).

In their persecution of the saints Daniel’s "horn" and John’s revived "head" are alike. VII. The duration of each is the same. This too is a noteworthy feature. The duration of the persecuting horn is mystically stated in Daniel as "time, times, and the dividing of time," or three and a half times (#Dan 7:25). And the duration of the persecuting head in the Apocalypse is stated to be forty-two months.

"Power was given unto him to continue forty and two months" (#Rev 13:5).

And these are the same period. This will appear from a comparison of the seven passages in which this period occurs in Daniel and the Apocalypse; in these it is called 1,260 days, forty-two months, and three and a half times. Now 1,260 days are forty-two months, and forty-two months are three and a half years. What these symbolic periods represent is another question; our point here is their identity. The persecuting horn and persecuting head are exactly the same in their duration. This is another proof of the sameness of the reality they represent.

VIII. They end in the same manner and at the same time. This completes the evidence of their identity. The persecuting horn is slain by the Ancient of days revealed in judgment, and the glory of His kingdom (#Dan 7: 9-11,22). The persecuting head is slain by the "King of kings and Lord of lords" revealed in that judgment in which He treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. The judgment is the same (#Rev 19:11,20). The "little horn" and revived "head" then, are alike in place, time, character, authority, persecuting action, duration, and doom. They arise at the same point, they last the same period; they do the same deeds; they come to their end at the same moment, and by the same revelation of Christ in the glory of His kingdom. They cannot prefigure two powers absolutely alike in all these respects; but one and the same. Even the Church of Rome admits their identity. It teaches that both are symbols of the same great persecuting power.

The way is now clear to consider the interpretation of this prophecy. It is indeed determined already by this very identification. The little horn of Daniel prefigures, as we have proved before, the Papacy of Rome. So then does this revived head. We will examine briefly the evidence which sustains this conclusion; but as we have already sketched the history, we need not dwell at any length on the different points. We will take the prophetic features in the order in which we have already presented them, considering first the facts relating to the rise, and then those concerning the reign, of the power in question.

First then as to its rise. The predicted head rises from the Roman empire. It is therefore Roman. So is the Papacy. We have called the system which owns the pope as head Romanism, because its seat is the seven-hilled city.

Secondly, the predicted persecuting power grows up in the second stage of Roman history. It is the seventh or last head of the old empire revived. Now this is the exact position of the Papacy. The Papacy belongs to the second or Christian stage of the Roman empire. It grew up among its Gothic horns or kingdoms. It was the revival of a power which had been slain. When the pagan empire was overthrown the Papal rose in its place. First the Caesars ruled in Rome, then the popes. The Goths overthrew the Roman empire in the fifth century; Romulus Augustulus abdicated the imperial dignity in A.D. 476. This was the "deadly wound" of the seventh head. From that date the Papacy grew with freedom, grew up among the Gothic horns or kingdoms. Note this feature ù the Papacy belongs to the second or Christian stage of the Roman empire. It was a horn among the Gothic horns. It was a revived head. The power of the Caesars lived again in the universal dominion of the popes.

The Papacy was small at its beginning, but grew to great dominion; it exercised as wide a sway as the Caesars it succeeded; all Europe submitted to its rule; it claimed, and still claims, a power without a rival or a limit. Hallam, as we have already remarked, says of the thirteenth century, the noonday of Papal power: "Rome inspired during this age all the terror of her ancient name. She was once more mistress of the world, and kings were her vassals."1 Remember the proud title taken by the popes, rector orbis ù ruler of the world. In this also the Papacy fulfills the prophecy.

Observe, secondly, that extraordinary feature both in Daniel and the Apocalypse, the mouth of this power. Both the horn, in Daniel, and the head, in John, has a mouth, otoma laloun megala - "a mouth speaking great things." This feature is marvelously fulfilled in the Papacy. What a mouth has that Latin ruler! What a talker! what a teacher! what a thunderer! How has he boasted himself and magnified himself, and excommunicated and anathematized all who have resisted him! Has the world ever seen his equal in this respect? All the Gothic kings were his humble servants. He was, by his own account, and is, the representative of Christ, of God, ruler of the world, armed with all the powers of Christ in heaven, earth, and hell. He is infallible; his decrees are irreformable. A mouth indeed is his, a mouth speaking great things!

Notice, in the third place, his warring with the saints. In the Apocalypse we read, "It was given to him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them." I will not do more here than remind you of the fact that, terribly as the saints suffered under the Caesars of pagan Rome, they suffered far more terribly and far longer under Papal Rome. Let the massacres of the Albigenses, the Waldenses, the Hussites, the Lollards, the massacres in Holland and the Netherlands, the massacre of St. Bartholomew, the massacre in Ireland in 1641, the tortures of the Inquisition, the fires of the stake kindled over and over in every country in Europe ù let these speak and testify to the fulfillment of prophecy. Yes; the Papacy has made war with the saints, and overcome them, and worn them out, and would have totally crushed and annihilated them, but for the sustaining hand and reviving power of God. In its prolonged, cruel, and universal persecution of the saints, the Papacy has fulfilled this solemn prophecy.

Notice, in the fourth place, the predicted duration of this persecuting power. Daniel mysteriously announces its duration as three and a half times; John as forty-two months. The symbolical nature of the prophecy, as well as the vastness of the subject, forbid us to take these times literally. As the beast is symbolic, and its various parts symbolic, so the period of its persecuting head is symbolic. You find this period mentioned seven times over in Daniel and Revelation, and called 1,260 days, forty-two months, and also three and a half "times." These are, as we have said, the same period. Calculate for yourself, and you will find it so. Now, both in the law and prophets, a day is used as the symbol of a year. Moses, Ezekiel, Daniel use it thus. The seventy weeks of Daniel, or 490 days to Messiah, were fulfilled as 490 years; that is, they were fulfilled on the year-day scale. On this scale the forty-two months, or 1,260 days, are 1,260 years. We ask then, Has the Papacy endured this period? An examination of the facts of history will show that it has. From the era of its rise in the sixth century, at the notable decree of the emperor Justinian, constituting the Bishop of Rome head of all the Churches in Christendom, A.D. 533, 1,260 years extended to 1793, the date of the tremendous Papal overthrow in the French Revolution. Here we have a fact of great importance. Note it well. To this we add the further fact, that from the analogous decree of the emperor Phocas, confirming the headship of the pope over Christendom, in the year 607, 1,260 years extended to 1866-7, the initial date of the recent remarkable overthrow of Papal governments which culminated in the loss of the pope’s temporal power in 1870. In that year the Papacy assumed the highest exaltation to which it could aspire, that of infallibility, and lost the temporal sovereignty, which it had held for more than a thousand years. Thus the predicted period has been fulfilled. What an evidence is this! The Papacy has fulfilled the prophecy, not only in its geographical and historical position, its moral character, its political power, its blasphemous pretensions, its tyrannical career, but in its very chronology, ù in the point of its rise, the period of its duration, the era of its decline, the crisis of its overthrow.

We have already directed your attention to the fact that the Papacy is a complex power, and requires complex symbols for its prefiguration. It is both a secular and an ecclesiastical power; and the ecclesiastical power has arrogated to itself the right to create the secular, or endow it with divine authority, and has also wielded the energies of the secular power in pursuance of its own unholy ends.

Revelation 13 represents both these organizations as "beasts." The one is represented as a ten- horned, the other as a two-horned beast. The former rises, as does each of the beasts of Daniel, from the sea; the latter rises from the earth. The one springs up in storm, the other in stillness. Striving and warring winds attend the birth of the one; the other grows up quietly from a low, terrestrial origin, like an ivy plant or a noxious, earth-born weed. The ten horns of the one are strong iron kingdoms; the two horns of the other are gentle and lamb-like. The two beasts stand side by side; they act together in everything. The earth-born beast is the "prophet" of the sea-born beast, and he is a "false prophet." He compels subjection to the secular power, especially to its new head, that head which had been slain and healed. He establishes an idolatrous worship of that head, or a submission to it as Divine in authority. He "exercises" all the power of the ten-horned beast in his warfare against the saints and servants of God. He works false miracles, and accomplishes lying wonders, and even brings down fire upon the earth in imitation of the prophets of the Lord; that is, he causes judgments to descend on those who resist. He uses the instrument of excommunication, a weapon of celestial authority, and wields it with terrible effect. He lays kingdoms under interdicts, and nations under anathemas. He makes idolatry compulsory, delivering to the secular arm all who refuse to render it, that they may be put to death. He prohibits all dealings with so called "heretics," all traffic and communion with them. He allows none to buy from them, and none to sell to them. He institutes the system which is now called "boycotting," a system of persecution which was freely wielded by the Popish priesthood in the middle ages, and is still employed, as we know, in certain Papal lands.

How could the mutual relations of the political and ecclesiastical powers in the apostate Roman empire be better represented than by these wonderful symbols? Here are a monarchy and a priesthood in close, nefarious association; the priesthood anoints the monarchy, serves it, uses it. Together they rule, and together they persecute. No symbol can represent everything, no parable can correspond in all respects with the reality it depicts. It is surely enough if the principal features and primary relations are exhibited in the symbol, or reflected by the parable. This is just what is done in the apocalyptic prophecy. Look at the facts. The Papacy has been a political power for more than a thousand years. The popes of Rome have been secular monarchs. They have possessed territories, levied taxes, laid down laws, owned armies, made wars. The Papal monarchy has been for ages an integral part of the Roman empire. The Papacy has also been a sacerdotal power, and is so still. While its temporal government has fallen, its spiritual remains. Further, the Papacy is served by an extensive sacerdotal organization, embracing about a thousand bishops and half a million priests. This organization controls the convictions and actions of two hundred millions of persons, belonging to more than thirty nations. If the best symbol to represent the Roman empire with its rulers be a ten-horned beast, what better symbol to represent the Papal hierarchy than a two-horned beast, whose horns are like those of a lamb, while it has the voice of a dragon? And what better name for that hierarchy could be found than the "false prophet"? Does it not pretend to utter the messages of heaven? And as Moses and Elijah called down the fire of God’s judgments on the enemies of Israel, has not this hierarchy brought down again and again, in the estimation of millions, the judgments of God on those who have resisted its will, whether individuals or nations? Has not this been one of its most tremendous and irresistible weapons? Read the history of the middle ages and of the sixteenth century. What nation in Europe has not been laid from time to time under Papal interdicts, and compelled by these means to submit to the decisions of the Roman pontiff? And has not the priesthood too been the author and instigator of a wholesale system of idolatry and persecution? Has it not employed the power of the State in enforcing idolatry, and cruelly persecuted to death millions of the faithful who would not bow the knee to the modern Baal? In all this, history only too faithfully corresponds to prophecy. Deep calls to deep, and the utterances of inspiration are caught up and echoed by the experience of generations. The voices of the prophets come back in thunder from the course of ages, and the proof that God has spoken reverberates throughout the world.

Having briefly considered John’s prophecy concerning the rise and reign of the Papal power, we have now to glance at his prediction of its fall and overthrow. This you will find in Revelation 17-19. We have not time to read these chapters now; you are doubtless familiar with them, and will do well to study them carefully and thoroughly. They contain the second complex or duplicate prophecy concerning Romanism ù the career and judgment of "Babylon the Great."

In this prophecy John beholds the ten-horned BEAST representing the Roman empire bearing a mystical WOMEN, dressed in purple and scarlet, decked with gold, precious stones, and pearls; a harlot, and the mother of harlots and abominations, the guilty paramour of kings, the creel persecutor of saints; intoxicated, but not with wine drunken with the blood of the saints and of the martyrs of Jesus. What a vision! what a prophecy!

You remember the angel’s interpretation of this vision: "The woman which thou sawest is that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth." We showed that that city was Rome, indisputably Rome. That Babylon the Great means Rome is admitted by Romanists themselves. Cardinal Bellarmine says that "Rome is signified in the Apocalypse by the name of Babylon." Cardinal Baronius admits that "all persons confess that Rome is denoted by the name of Babylon in the Apocalypse of John." Bossuet observes that "the features are so marked, that it is easy to decipher Rome under the figure of Babylon" (Rome sous la figure de Babylone). But, while admitting that Babylon the Great, seated on the seven hills, means Rome, Papal interpreters assert that it means heathen Rome, and not Christian Rome ù the Rome of the Caesars, and not that of the popes.

In reply to this, we answer, first, that the name upon the harlot’s brow is "mystery," and that heathen Rome was no mystery. The true character of heathen Rome was never concealed. On the other hand, Christian Rome is a "mystery"; it is not what it seems. In profession, it is Divine; in character, satanic.

We say, in the second place, that there is a marked and intentional contrast in the Apocalypse between the two cities Babylon and Jerusalem, which is overlooked by the Papal interpretation. Babylon, in the Apocalypse, is a city and a harlot. Jerusalem, in the same book, is a city and a bride. The former is the corrupt associate of earthly kings; the latter, the chaste bride of the heavenly King. But the latter is a Church; the former then is no mere heathen metropolis. The contrast is between Church and Church; the faithful Church and the apostate Church.

In the third place, we point to the fact that the judgment described in Revelation 18, falls upon Babylon when her sins had reached to heaven; that is, in the darkest part of her career. But when Alaric destroyed Rome in A.D. 410 that city had improved, it had become Christian; it was purified at that time from its pagan idolatries. Nor had it then sunk into the darkness of the Papacy. It was not in the fifth century that Rome reached the utmost height of her iniquity. The capture of the city by the soldiers of Alaric, when it was neither pagan nor Papal, could not have been the judgment here foretold.

In the fourth place, we point to the fact that the destruction of Babylon foretold in the Apocalypse is total and final; as a great "mill-stone" she is plunged into the deep; there is no recovery. This cannot refer to the mere burning of Rome in A.D. 410, for that event was speedily followed by the complete restoration of the city. When the Babylon of Revelation 18, falls, the smoke of its burning goes up for ever; it is found no more at all.

In the fifth place, we point to the fact that the foretold destruction of Babylon is accomplished by the horns or governments which were previously subject to her rule. We freely admit that the Goths destroyed ancient Rome, but the Goths were not previously subject to Rome. The Gothic nations did not first submit to Rome obediently, and then cast her off, and rend, and trample, and destroy her. All this however these nations did in the case of Papal Rome. For centuries they were subject to her sway; then they cast her off. Look at the French Revolution; see the deeds of France. Look at Italy in 1870. See the Continent today.

In the sixth place, we point to the fact that the foretold destruction of Babylon is immediately to be followed by "the marriage of the Lamb." This is clearly foretold in Revelation 19. But the capture of Rome by Alaric was not followed by that event. Alaric captured Rome fifteen centuries ago, while the marriage of the Lamb is still future. This utterly excludes the notion that the destruction of Rome by Alaric is the judgment intended, and that Babylon the Great represents pagan Rome. And as Babylon the Great does not represent Rome pagan, it must represent Rome papal; there is no other alternative.

Now, in conclusion, read this wonderful prophecy concerning "Babylon the Great" in the clear and all-revealing light of history. I ask those of you who have read the history of the last eighteen centuries, did not Rome Christian become a harlot? Did not Papal Rome ally itself with the kings of the earth? Did it not glorify itself to be as a queen, and call itself the Mistress of the World? Did it not ride upon the body of the beast, or fourth empire, and govern its actions for centuries? Did not Papal Rome array itself with gold and precious stones and pearls? Is not this its attire still? We appeal to facts. Go to the churches and see. Look at the priests; look at the cardinals; look at the popes; look at the purple robes they wear; look at their scarlet robes; see the encrusted jewels; look at the luxurious palaces in which they live; look at the eleven thousand halls and chambers in the Vatican, and the unbounded wealth and glory gathered there; look at the gorgeous spectacles in St. Peter’s at Rome, casting even the magnificence of royalty into the shade. Go and see these things, or read the testimony of those who have seen them. Shamelessly Rome wears the very raiment, the very hues and colors, portrayed on the pages of inspired prophecy. You may know the harlot by her attire, as certainly as by the name upon her brow.

But to come to the darkest feature. Has not the Church of Rome drunk most abundantly the precious blood of saints and martyrs? We appeal to facts. What of the Albigenses in the thirteenth century? What of the Waldenses from the thirteenth century on to the time of Cromwell and the commonwealth? You have not forgotten Milton’s poem about them, those memorable lines. And what of the persecutions of Protestants in France, those dreadful persecutions mercilessly continued for more than three hundred years? What of the massacre of St. Bartholomew, and the revocation of the Edict of Nantes? What of the fires of Smithfield? What of the terrible Inquisition?

Stay, I will take you to the Inquisition. You shall enter its gloomy portals; you shall walk through its dark passages; you shall stand in its infernal torture chamber; you shall hear the cries of some of its victims; you shall listen to their very words. What agonies have been suffered in these somber vaults, unseen by any human eyes save those of fiendish inquisitors! What cries have been uttered in this dismal place which have never reached the open world in which we live. Locked doors shut them in; stone walls stifled them. No sound escaped, not even that of a faint and distant moan. But now and then a victim found release; one and another have come forth from the torture chamber pale and trembling, maimed and mutilated, to tell the things they experienced when in the hands of the holy inquisitors. We shall call in some of these as witnesses.

This book is Limborch’s "History of the Inquisition." It tells the story of its origin seven hundred years ago, and of its establishment and progress in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Poland, Sicily, Sardinia, Germany, Holland, and other parts of the world; it describes its ministers and methods, its vicars, assistants, notaries, judges, and other officials; it describes the power of the inquisitors, and their manner of proceeding. It unveils their dread tribunal; opens their blood-stained records; describes their dungeons, the secret tortures they inflicted, the extreme, merciless, unmitigated tortures, and also the public so called "acts of faith," or burning of heretics. What a record! What a world of tyranny and intolerable anguish compressed into that one word<e>the Inquisition! Tyranny over the conscience! Men in the name of Jesus Christ stretching and straining, maiming and mangling their fellow men, to compel them to call light darkness, and darkness light; to call the Gospel of Christ a lie, and the lie of Satan truth; to confess that wrong is right, and acknowledge right is wrong; to bow down to man and worship him as God; to call the teachings of Christ heresy, and the teachings of antichrist Diviner Tremendous was the power of that dread tribunal. In Spain and Portugal it completely crashed the Reformation. No secrets could be withheld from the inquisitors; hundreds of persons were often apprehended in one day, and in consequence of information resulting from their examinations under torture, thousands more were apprehended. Prisons, convents, even private houses, were crowded with victims; the cells of the inquisition were filled and emptied again and again; its torture chamber was a hell. The most excruciating engines were employed to dislocate the limbs of even tender women. Thousands were burned at the stake. The gospel was gagged and crashed, and Christ Himself in the persons of His members subjected to the anguish of a second Golgotha.

Let us look into the chamber of horrors in the Spanish Inquisition. "The place of torture," says a Spanish historian, quoted by Limborch, p. 217, "the place of torture in the Spanish Inquisition is generally an underground and very dark room, to which one enters through several doors. There is a tribunal erected in it in which the inquisitor, inspector, and secretary sit. When the candles are lighted, and the person to be tortured brought in, the executioner, who is waiting for him, makes an astonishing and dreadful appearance. He is covered all over with a black linen garment down to his feet, and tied close to his body. His head and face are all concealed with a long black cowl, only two little holes being left in it for him to see through. All this is intended to strike the miserable wretch with greater terror in mind and body, when he sees himself going to be tortured by the hands of one who thus looks like the very devil."

The degrees of torture are described by Julius Clams and other writers quoted by Limborch. They were various, and included the following:

1. The being threatened to be tortured.

2. Being carried to the place of torture.

3. The stripping and binding.

4. The being hoisted up on the rack.

5. What they called "squassation."

This was the torture of the pulley. Besides this there was the torture of the fire, or chafing- dish full of burning charcoal applied to the soles of the feet. Then there was the torture of the rack, and of another instrument called by the Spaniards "escalero"; then that of pouring water into a bag of linen stuffed down the throat; and that of iron dice being forced into the feet by screws; and of canes placed crosswise between the fingers, and so compressed as to produce intolerable pain; then the torture of cords drawn tightly round various parts of the body, cutting through the flesh; and of the machine in which the sufferer was fixed head downwards; and, lastly, the torture of red-hot irons applied to the breasts and sides till they burned to the bone.

Here, on p. 219, is the account of the stripping of victims, men and women, preparatory to torture; the stripping from them of every vestige of clothing by these holy inquisitors, and how they put on them short linen drawers, leaving all the rest of the body naked for the free action of the tormentors. Here, on page 221, is the account by Isaac Orobio of what he suffered when in their hands. It was towards evening, he says, when he was brought to the place of torture in the Inquisition. It was a large, underground room, arched, and the walls covered with black hangings. The candlesticks were fastened to the wall, and the whole room enlightened with candles placed in them. At the end of it there was an enclosed place like a closet, where the inquisitor and notary sat at a table; so that the place seemed to him as the very mansion of death, everything appearing so terrible and awful. Then the inquisitor admonished him to confess the truth before his torments began. When he answered that he had told the truth, the inquisitor gravely protested that since he was so obstinate as to suffer the torture, the holy office would be innocent (what exquisite hypocrisy) if he should even expire in his torments. When he had said this, they put a linen garment over his body, and drew it so very close on each side as almost squeezed him to death.

When he was almost dying, they slackened all at once the sides of the garment, and, after he began to breathe again, the sudden alteration put him to the most grievous anguish and pain. When he had overcome this torture, the same admonition was repeated, that he would confess the truth in order to prevent further torment. As he persisted in his denial, they tied his thumbs so very tight with small cords as made the extremities of them greatly swell, and caused the blood to spurt out from under his nails. After this he was placed with his back against a wall and fixed upon a bench; into the wall were fastened iron pulleys, through which there were ropes drawn and tied round his arms and legs in several places. The executioner, drawing these ropes with great violence, fastened his body with them to the wall, his arms and legs, and especially his fingers and toes, being bound so tightly as to put him to the most exquisite pain, so that it seemed to him just as though he was dissolving in flames. After this a new kind of torture succeeded. There was an instrument like a small ladder, made of two upright pieces of wood and five cross ones sharpened in front. This the torturer placed over against him, and by a single motion struck it with great violence against both his shins, so that he received upon each of them at once five violent strokes, which put him to such intolerable anguish that he fainted away. After this he came to himself, and they inflicted on him a further torture. The torturer tied ropes about Orobio’s wrists, and then put these ropes about his own back, which was covered with leather to prevent his hurting himself; then falling backwards he drew the ropes with all his might till they cut through Orobio’s flesh, even to the very bones. And this torture was repeated twice, the ropes being tied about his arms at the distance of two fingers’ breadth from the former wound, and drawn with the same violence. On this the physician and surgeon were sent for out of the neighboring apartment to ask whether the torture could be continued without danger of death. As there was a prospect of his living through it, the torture was then repeated, after which he was bound up in his own clothes and carried back to his prison. Here, opposite to this recital, is a picture representing these various tortures. After prolonged imprisonment, Orobio was released and banished from the kingdom of Seville.

Before we let fall the curtain upon this awful subject, let us listen for a moment to some of the words of William Lithgow, a Scotsman, who suffered the tortures of the Inquisition in the time of James I. After telling of the diabolical treatment he received, which was very similar to that I have just described, he says, "Now mine eyes did begin to startle, my mouth to foam and froth, and my teeth to chatter like the dobbling of drumsticks. Oh, strange, inhuman, monster man-manglers!.

. And notwithstanding of my shivering lips in this fiery passion, my vehement groaning, and blood springing from my arms, my broken sinews, yea, and my depending weight on flesh-cutting cords, yet they struck me on the face with cudgels to abate and cease the thundering noise of my wrestling voice. At last, being released from these pinnacles of pain, I was handfast set on the floor with this their ceaseless imploration: ‘Confess, confess, confess in time, or thine inevitable torments ensue.’ Where, finding nothing from me but still innocent, ù Oh! I am innocent. O Jesus, the Lamb of God, have mercy on me, and strengthen me with patience to undergo this barbarous murder ù ‘"

Enough! Here let the curtain drop. I should sicken you were I to pursue the subject further; it is too horrible, too damnable.

Here in this paper I have some of the ashes of the martyrs, some of their burned bones. I have bits of rusted iron and melted lead which I took myself with these hands from the Quemadero in Madrid, the place where they burned the martyrs, not far from the Inquisition. It was in the year 1870 that I visited it, just before the great ecumenical council was held at Rome, by which the pope was proclaimed infallible. I was in Spain that spring, and visited the newly opened Quemadero. I saw the ashes of the martyrs. I carried away with me some relics from that spot, which are now lying upon this table.

Hear me, though in truth I scarcely know how to speak upon this subject. I am almost dumb with horror when I think of it. I have visited the places in Spain, in France, in Italy most deeply stained and dyed with martyr-blood. I have visited the valleys of Piedmont. I have stood in the shadow of the great cathedral of Seville, on the spot where they burned the martyrs, or tore them limb from limb. I have stood breast-deep in the ashes of the martyrs of Madrid. I have read the story of Rome’s deeds. I have waded through many volumes of history and of martyrology. I have visited, either in travel or in thought, scenes too numerous for me to name, where the saints of God have been slaughtered by Papal Rome, that great butcher of bodies and of souls. I cannot tell you what I have seen, what I have read, what I have thought. I cannot tell you what I feel. Oh, it is a bloody tale! I have stood in that valley of Lucerna where dwelt the faithful Waldenses, those ancient Protestants who held to the pure gospel all through the dark ages, that lovely valley with its pine-clad slopes which Rome converted into a slaughter-house. Oh, horrible massacres of gentle, unoffending, noble-minded men! Oh, horrible massacres of tender women and helpless children! Yes, ye hated them, ye hunted them, ye stuck them on spits, ye impaled them, ye hanged them, ye roasted them, ye flayed them, ye cut them in pieces, ye violated them, ye violated the women, ye violated the children, ye forced flints into them, and stakes, and stuffed them with gunpowder, and blew them up, and tore them asunder limb from limb, and tossed them over precipices, and dashed them against the rocks; ye cut them up alive, ye dismembered them; ye racked, mutilated, burned, tortured, mangled, massacred holy men, sainted women, mothers, daughters, tender children, harmless babes, hundreds, thousands, thousands upon thousands; ye sacrificed them in heaps, in hecatombs, turning all Spain, Italy, France, Europe, Christian Europe, into a slaughter-house, a charnel house, an Akeldama. Oh, horrible; too horrible to think of! The sight dims, the heart sickens, the soul is stunned in the presence of the awful spectacle. O harlot, gilded harlot, with brazen brow and brazen heart! red are thy garments, red thine hands. Thy name is written in this book. God has written it. The world has read it. Thou art a murderess, O Rome. Thou art the murderess Babylon ù "Babylon the Great," drunken, foully drunken; yea, drunken with the sacred blood which thou hast shed in streams and torrents, the blood of saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. Were there naught else by which to recognize thee, O persecuting Church of Rome, this dreadful mark would identify thee. This is thy brand; by this we know thee. Thou art that foretold Babylon. We know thee by thy place. We know thee by thy proud assumptions, by the throne on which thou sittest, by those seven hills, by the beast thou ridest, by the garments thou wearest, by the cup thou bearest, by the name blazoned on thy forehead, by thy kingly paramours; by thy shameless looks, by thy polluted deeds; but oh, chiefly by this, by thy prolonged and dreadful persecution of the saints, by those massacres, by that Inquisition, by the fires of that burning stake. Mark how its ruddy flames ascend; see how its accusing smoke goes up to heaven!

In this sacred prophecy behold thy picture, read thy name; read, ay, read thy written doom. The French revolution broke upon thee; it was a stage in thy judgment, and no more. The beast who carried thee for centuries in abject submission turned against thee, cast thee off, stripped thy garments from thee, rent thee with its horns. It was foretold it would be so. It is fulfilled, but that fulfillment is not the end. It is but the beginning of the end. Tremble, for thy doom is written from of old. The hand upon the wall has written it; the finger of Almighty God has engraved it. Dreadful have been thy sins; dreadful shall be thy punishment. Thou hast burned alive myriads of the members of Christ, thou hast burned them to cinders and to ashes: thy doom is to be burned; thy doom is the appalling flame whose smoke ascends for ever.

I have done. Prophecy has spoken; history has fulfilled its utterance. Rome pagan ran its course; Rome Papal took its place. "Babylon the Great" has risen, has reigned, has fallen; her end is nigh. "Come out of her, My people," come out of her before the final judgment act in the great drama of the apostasy. "Come out of her," saith your God, "that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." FOR AS A MILLSTONE CAST BY A MIGHTY ANGEL INTO THE SOUNDING DEEP, SHE SHALL WITH VIOLENCE BE THROWN DOWN, AND SHALL BE FOUND NO MORE FOR EVER.

Romanism and the Reformation Index 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Conclusion





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.
If you would like to make a donation, for which we would be most grateful, please click here. We are unable to issue tax-receipts for funds received.


Join our FaceBook group!


You can buy great books like this one by clicking here and support our work at the same time:



Advertisement