Allow me to commence this lecture by reading to you Daniel’s description of the divinely designed hieroglyph by which the history of Rome was prefigured. He has previously described the hieroglyphics of the Babylonian, Persian, and Grecian empires, and then he says:
After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things. I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things. These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever. Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet; And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows. I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
In these verses you have the entire story of the Papacy, and what is more, you have its future as well as its past, the judgment of God as to its moral character and deserts.
And how vivid the coloring, how graphic the picture! I wish I could paint, or, better still, display in action before your eyes, such a dreadful and terrible and exceedingly strong wild beast, with its brazen claws and iron teeth, and ravening, ferocious nature, with its ten horns and its strange, head-like “little horn,” able to see and speak and blaspheme the Almighty, so as at last to bring down destruction on the beast itself! I wish I could let you watch it ù rending and tearing its enemies, breaking their bones in pieces, devouring their flesh, and in wanton, fierce ferocity stamping on and trampling with its brazen-clawed feet what it cannot consume! If you had learned the ABC of the language of hieroglyphics you would at once recognize that such creatures as this are figures of godless empires, kingdoms which are brutal in their ignorance of God, in their absence of self-control, in their bestial instincts; which love bloodshed and are reckless of human agony, selfish, terrible, cruel, mighty. They represent and recall proud military heroes, like Julius Caesar, who trample down all that oppose them; cruel despots, who oppress their fellows; reckless conquerors like Tamerlane and Napoleon, to whom the slaughter of millions of mankind was a matter of no moment. This is the generic signification of all such hieroglyphs.
But we are not left to guess the meaning and application of this particular monster. The symbol has a Divine interpretation. “The fourth beast,” we read, “shall be the fourth kingdom upon the earth.” That, beyond all question, was Rome, as all historians agree ù the fourth and last of the great universal empires of antiquity. The monster represents Rome, her whole existence as a supreme or ruling power, after the fall of the Greek or Macedonian beast before her attacks (197 B.C.). It represents therefore the history of Rome for over 2,000 years in the past, and on into a time still future; for, be it well noted, this beast ravages and rules, and his characteristic little horn blasphemes and boasts, right up to the point when empires like to wild beasts come to an end, and “the Son of man and the saints of the Most High take the kingdom and possess it for ever.”
It is important that we should clearly grasp one great historical fact; i.e. the rule of Rome has never, since it first commenced, ceased to exist, save once, for a very brief period during the Gothic invasions. It has changed in character, as we have seen, but it has continued. Rome ruled the known world at the first advent of Christ, and still rules hundreds of millions of mankind, and will continue so to do right up till the second advent of Christ. So this prophecy teaches; for not until the Son of man takes the dominion of the earth, and establishes a kingdom that shall never pass away, is the monster representing Roman rule destroyed. The rule of Rome, we repeat, has never ceased. It was a secular pagan power for five or six centuries; it has been an ecclesiastical and apostate Christian power ever since, that is to say, for twelve or thirteen centuries. There lay a brief period between these two main stages, during which professing Christian emperors ruled from Rome, followed by an interval when, for a time, it seemed as if the great city had received a fatal blow from her Gothic captors. It seemed so; but it was not so, for the word of God cannot be broken. The rule of Rome revived in a new form, and was as real under the popes of the thirteenth century as it had been under the Caesars of the first. It was as oppressive, cruel, and bloody under Innocent III. as it had been under Nero and Domitian. The reality was the same, though the forms had changed. The Caesars did not persecute the witnesses of Jesus more severely and bitterly than did the popes; Diocletian did not destroy the saints or oppose the gospel more than did the Inquisition of Papal days. Rome is one and the same all through, both locally and morally. One dreadful wild beast represents her, though the symbol, like the history it prefigures, has two parts. There was the undivided stage, and there has been the tenfold stage. The one is Rome pagan, the other Rome Papal; the one is the old empire, the other the modern pontificate; the one is the empire of the Caesars, the other is the Roman Papacy.
I speak broadly, omitting all detail for the present. We shall find more of that when we come by- and-by to John’s later foreview. Daniel’s was a distant view in the days of Belshazzar, too distant altogether for detail. No artist paints the sheep on the hillside if the hill be fifty miles off; he may sketch its bold outline, but he omits minor detail. So Daniel’s distant foreview, dating from 2,500 years ago, shows the two great sections of Roman history ù the undivided military empire, followed by the commonwealth of Papal Christendom, the latter as truly Latin in character as the former; and he shows the end of Rome at the second advent of Christ. But he refrains from encumbering his striking sketch with confusing political details. He does not fail however to delineate fully the moral and religious features of the power ruling from Rome during the second half of the story, the power symbolized by the proud, intelligent, blasphemous, head-like “little horn” of the Roman beast. To this he devotes, on the contrary, the greater part of the prophecy; and I must ask you now carefully to note the various points that prove this horn to be a marvelous prophetic symbol or hieroglyph of the Roman Papacy, fitting it as one of Chubb’s keys fits the lock for which it is made, perfectly and in every part, while it refuses absolutely to adapt itself to any other.
The main points in the nature, character, and actings of this “little horn,” which we must note in order to discover the power intended, are these:
1. Its place: within the body of the fourth empire.
2. The period of its origin: soon after the division of the Roman territory into ten kingdoms.
3. Its nature: different from the other kingdoms, though in some respects like them. It was a horn, but with eyes and mouth. It would be a kingdom like the rest, a monarchy; but its kings would be overseers or bishops and prophets.
4. Its moral character: boastful and blasphemous; great words spoken against the Most High.
5. Its lawlessness: it would claim authority over times and laws.
6. Its opposition to the saints: it would be a persecuting power, and that for so long a period that it would wear out the saints of the Most High, who would be given into its hand for a time.
7. Its duration: “time, times and a half,” or 1260 years.
8. Its doom: it would suffer the loss of its dominion before it was itself destroyed. “They shall take away its dominion, to consume and destroy it to the end.”
Here are eight different and perfectly tangible features. If they all meet in one great reality, if we find them all characterizing one and the same power, can we question that is the power intended? They do all meet in the Roman Papacy, whose history I have just briefly recalled, and we are therefore bold to say it is the great and evil reality predicted. A few words on each of these points, to convince you that this is the case.
1. Its place. No one can question that the Papacy is a Roman, as distinguished from a Greek or an oriental, power. Its seat is the seven-hilled city; its tongue is the Latin language of Caesar and of Pliny and of Tacitus; its Church is the Church of Rome, and is the only Church that is or ever has been named from a city. Others have been named from countries or from men; the Papal Church alone bears the name of a city, and that city is Rome. The Papacy fulfills the first condition therefore.
2. Its time. We have shown that the last Bishop of Rome and the first pope was Boniface III., A.D. 607. Now the western empire of Rome came to an end with the fall of Romulus Augustulus, A.D. 476; that is, 130 years earlier. During that time the ten kingdoms were forming in the body of the old empire, and during that time the simple pastor of the Church was transformed into a pope. The little horn grew up among the ten. The Papacy developed synchronously with the Gothic kingdoms.
3. Its nature. The power symbolized by the little horn is of course a kingdom, like all the other ten; but it is not merely this. It is “diverse,” or different from all the other ruling dynasties with which it is associated. It is a horn of the wild beast, but it has human eyes and a human voice, denoting its pretensions to be a seer, or prophet, and a teacher. It takes the oversight of all the ten, it is an overseer or bishop, and it has “a mouth speaking great things.” Its paramount influence depends, not on its mere material power, for it is small as a kingdom, a “little horn,” but on its religious pretensions. Does not this exactly portray the Papacy? Was it not diverse or different from all the Gothic kingdoms amid which it existed? Was it a mere kingdom? Nay, but a spiritual reign over the hearts and minds as well as the bodies of men a reign established by means, not of material weapons, but of spiritual pretensions. It was founded not on force, but on falsehood and fraud, and the superstitious fears of the half-civilized and ignorant Gothic kingdoms.
The popedom has always been eager to proclaim its own diversity from all other kingdoms. It claims “a princedom more perfect than every human princedom,” surpassing them “as far as the light of the sun exceeds that of the moon.” It arrogates to itself a character as superior to secular kingdoms as man to the irrational beasts. Its laws are made not with the best human wisdom; but auctoritate, scientia, ac plenitudine, with fullness of Divine knowledge and the fullness of apostolic power. Is not the Papacy sufficiently diverse from all the rest of the kingdoms of western Europe to identify it as the little horn? What other ruling monarch of Christendom ever pretended to apostolic authority, or ruled men in the name of God? Does the pope dress in royal robes? Nay, but in priestly garments. Does he wear a crown? Nay, but a triple tiara, to show that he reigns in heaven, earth, and hell? Does he wield a scepter? Nay, but a crosier or crook, to show that he is the good shepherd of the Church. Do his subjects kiss his hand? Nay, but his toe! Verily this power is “diverse” from the rest, both in great things and little. It is small in size, gigantic in its pretensions. It is, or was for centuries, one among many temporal kingdoms in Europe. It is the only one which claims a spiritual authority and universal dominion.
4. Its moral character. The salient feature here is the “mouth speaking very great things.” Great words spoken against the Most High, and “a look more stout than his fellows.” Audacious pride and bold blasphemy must characterize the power that fulfills this point of the symbol.
We ask then, Has the Papacy exhibited this mark also? Time would fail me to quote to you verbatim its great words, its boastful self-glorifications, and its outrageous blasphemies against God! You will find pages of them quoted in my work on “The Approaching End of the Age,” and volumes filled with them exist, for Papal documents consist of little else. The Papal claims are so grotesque in their pride and self- exaltation, that they almost produce a sense of the comic, and that feeling of pitying contempt with which one would watch a frog trying to swell itself to the size of an ox! I must however mention some of the claims contained in these “great words,” which will show you the nature of Papal blasphemies. It is claimed, for instance, that “no laws made contrary to the canons and decrees of Roman prelates have any force,” that “the tribunals of all kings are subject to the priests,” that “no man may act against the discipline of the Roman Church,” that “the Papal decrees or decretal epistles are to be numbered among the canonical Scriptures,” and not only so, but that the Scriptures themselves are to be received only “because a judgment of holy Pope Innocent was published for receiving them.” It is claimed that “emperors ought to obey, and not rule over pontiffs”; that even an awfully wicked pope, who is a “slave of hell,” may not be rebuked by mortal man, because “he is himself to judge all men and to be judged by none,” and “since he was styled God by the pious prince Constantine, it is manifest that God cannot be judged by man”! They claim that no law, not even their own canon laws, can bind the popes; but that just as Christ, being maker of all laws and ordinances, could violate the law of the Sabbath, because He was Lord also of the Sabbath, so popes can dispense with any law, to show they are above all law!
It is claimed that the chair of St. Peter, the see of Rome, is “made the head of the world”; that it is not to be subject to any man, “since by the Divine mouth it is exalted above all.” In the canon laws the Roman pontiff is described as “our Lord God the pope,” and said to be “neither God nor man, but both.” But the climax of assumption, the keystone of the arch of Papal pretension, is probably to be found in the “extravagant” of Boniface VIII., the Unam Sanctam, which runs thus: “All the faithful of Christ by necessity of salvation are subject to the Roman pontiff, who judges all men, but is judged by no one.” “This authority is not human, but rather Divine..Therefore we declare, assert, define, and pronounce, that to be subject to the Roman pontiff is to every human creature altogether necessary for salvation.”
All these claims were incessantly and universally urged all down the centuries by the popes of Rome, and are still advanced, as boldly as ever, in official decretals, bulls, extravagants, decisions of canonists, sentences of judges, books, catechisms, sermons, and treatises of all kinds. There is no mistaking what they amount to. The pope claims Divine inspiration, his words are to be received as the words of God; no laws can bind him, he is supreme over all; the very Scriptures derive their authority from him; implicit obedience to him is the only way of salvation. He is exalted above all, supreme over all nations, kings, emperors, princes, bishops, archbishops, Churches, over all the world; he is as God on earth, and as such to be worshipped and obeyed. Let me quote you from his own lips some of the great words of the little horn. The following language affords a mere sample of thousands of such Papal blasphemies.
The greatness of priesthood began in Melchisedek, was solemnized in Aaron, continued in the children of Aaron, perfected in Christ, represented in Peter, exalted in the universal jurisdiction, and manifested in the pope. So that through this pre-eminence of my priesthood, having all things subject to me, it may seem well verified in me, that was spoken of Christ, “Thou has subdued all things under His feet, sheep and oxen, and all cattle of the field, the birds of heaven, and fish of the sea,” etc.: where it is to be noted that by oxen, Jews and heretics, by cattle of the field, pagans be signified..by sheep and all cattle are meant all Christian men, both great and less, whether they be emperors, princes, prelates, or others; by birds of the air you may understand angels and potentates of heaven, who be all subject to me, in that I am greater than the angels, and that in four things, as afore declared, and have power to bind and loose in heaven, and to give heaven to them that fight in my wars; lastly, by the fishes of the sea, are signified the souls departed, in pain or in purgatory.
All the earth is my diocese, and I am the ordinary of all men, having the authority of the King of all kings upon subjects. I am all in all and above all, so that God Himself and I, the vicar of God, have but one consistory, and I am able to do almost all that God can do. In all things that I list, my will is to stand for reason; for I am able by the law to dispense above the law, and of wrong to make justice in correcting laws and changing them..Wherefore if those things that I do be said not to be done of man, but of God, what can you make me but God? Again, if prelates of the Church be called and counted of Constantine for gods, I then, being above all prelates, seem by this reason to be above all gods. Wherefore no marvel if it be in my power to change time and times, to alter and abrogate laws, to dispense with all things, yea, with the precepts of Christ; for where Christ biddeth Peter put up his sword, and admonishes His disciples not to use any outward force in revenging themselves, do not I, Pope Nicholas, writing to the bishops of France, exhort them to draw out their material swords? And whereas Christ was present Himself at the marriage in Cana of Galilee, do not I, Pope Martin, in my distinction, inhibit the spiritual clergy to be present at marriage feasts, and also to marry? Moreover where Christ biddeth us lend without hope of gain, do not I, Pope Martin, give dispensation for the same? What should I speak of murder, making it to be no murder or homicide to slay them that be excommunicated? Likewise against the law of nature, item against the apostles, also against the canons of the apostles, I can and do dispense; for where they in their canon command a priest for fornication to be deposed, I, through the authority of Sylvester, do alter the rigor of that constitution, considering the minds and bodies also of men to be weaker than they were then.
After that I have now sufficiently declared my power in earth, in heaven, in purgatory, how great it is, and what is the fullness thereof in binding, loosing, commanding, permitting, electing, confirming, disposing, dispensing, doing, and undoing, etc., I will speak now a little of my riches and of my great possessions, that every man may see by my wealth, and abundance of all things, rents, tithes, tributes, my silks, my purple miters, crowns, gold, silver, pearls and gems, lands and lordships. For to me pertaineth first the imperial city of Rome, the palace of Lateran; the kingdom of Sicily is proper to me; Apulia and Capua be mine. Also the kingdom of England and Ireland, be they not, or ought they not to be, tributaries to me? To these I adjoin also, besides other provinces and countries, both in the occident and orient, from the north to the south, these dominions by name. [Here follows a long list.] What should I speak here of my daily revenues, of my firstfruits, annats, palls, indulgences, bulls, confessionals, indults and rescripts, testaments, dispensations, privileges, elections, prebends, religious houses, and such like, which come to no small mass of money?..Whereby what vantage cometh to my coffers it may partly be conjectured..But what should I speak of Germany, which the whole world is my diocese, as my canonists do say, and all men are bound to believe; except they will imagine (as the Manichees do) two beginnings, which is false and heretical? For Moses saith, In the beginning God made heaven and earth; and not, In the beginnings. Wherefore, as I began, so I conclude, commanding, declaring, and pronouncing, to stand upon necessity of salvation, for every human creature to be subject to me (Foxe: “Acts and Monuments,” vol. 4., p. 145).
It is futile to allege that the Papacy does not make these claims and speak these great words against God, but in His name and as His representative. The answer is patent. This prophecy foretells what the power predicted would do, not what it would profess to do. Does the Papacy give God the glory, or does it glorify itself? Facts cannot be set aside by false pretensions. Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. The head of a Christian Church would not overtly array himself against Christ; if he does so, it will be under semblance of serving Him.1
The Papacy has abundantly branded on her own brow this particular of the prophecy ù the boastful, blasphemous claim to Divine authority and absolute dominion. It has assumed Divine attributes, and even the very name of God, and on the strength of that name claimed to be above all human judgment.
5. Lawlessness was the next feature we noted in the little horn. We have given above some specimens of the Papal claim to set aside all laws Divine and human.
The pope has also annulled the only surviving law of paradise, confirmed by the words of Christ. The Lord ordained, “What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” The pope ordains, “We decide also that, according to the sacred canons, the marriages contracted by priests and deacons be dissolved, and the parties brought to do penance.” The Papacy has further annulled the second commandment, given on the mount by the lips of God ù in theory, by the childish and false distinction between heathen idols and Christian images; and in practice, by hiding it from the people, and blotting it out from the catechisms of general instruction. The pope has further annulled the main laws of the gospel. He forbids the cup to the laity, although the Lord Himself has commanded, “Drink ye all of it.” He forbids the people of Christ, in general, to use the word of God in their own tongue; though Christ Himself has charged them, “Search the Scriptures.” He forbids the laity to reason or converse on the doctrines of the gospel; though St. Peter has commanded them, “Be ye ready to give a reason of the hope that is in you.” The pope, finally, sanctions the invocation of saints and angels: though St. Paul has warned us, “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels”; though St. John has renewed the charge to the disciples of Christ, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols”; and an angel from heaven renews the caution, in his words to the same holy apostle, “See thou do it not, for I am thy fellow servant; worship God” (Birks, “First Two Visions of Daniel,” pp. 258, 259).
6. Systematic and long continued persecution of the saints is one of the most marked features of the little horn of the prophecy. It is predicted that he should “wear out the saints of the Most High.” His first great characteristic is blasphemous opposition to GOD; his next salient feature is oppressive cruelty towards men: and just as Christ allowed His people to suffer ten persecutions under the pagan emperors of Rome, so he allowed His faithful witnesses to be worn out by the cruelties of Papal Rome. “They shall be given into his hand.” The Church has to tread in the footsteps of Christ Himself, who resisted unto blood striving against sin, and was put to death by the power of Rome. She is called to the fellowship of His sufferings; and while they secured the salvation of our race, hers have not been unfruitful, for the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.
But we must compare the facts of history with the prediction of prophecy on this point, to see how deeply this mark is engraved on the Papacy as upon no other power that has ever existed in the earth. That the Church of Rome and her Papal head have persecuted largely and long, none can pretend to deny; in fact, so far from denying it, Rome glories in it, and regards it as one of her greatest merits. Other nations have now abandoned as unsound “the bloody tenet of persecution.” Rome retains it still, approves it theoretically, and would carry it out as vigorously as ever practically, if she could. Other powers have persecuted to a small extent and occasionally, in the past, but never systematically and by law throughout ages. All but Rome now hold religious liberty to be an inherent right of man. Rome has, on the other hand, persecuted on principle, and steadily from the seventh century right on to the French Revolution and to some extent almost to the present time. She does so still in the secret recesses of her nunneries and monasteries, under the name of penance. Why else does she require shops for the sale of instruments of bodily torture, such as exist this day in London?
Rome’s contention is, not that she does not persecute, but only that she does not persecute saints. She punishes heretics ù a very different thing. The first would be wicked, the last she esteems laudable. In the Rhemish New Testament there is a note on the words “drunken with the blood of saints,” which runs as follows: “Protestants foolishly expound this of Rome, because heretics are there put to death. But their blood is not called the blood of saints, any more than the blood of thieves or man-killers, or other malefactors; and for the shedding of it no commonwealth shall give account.” This is clear. Rome approves the murder of “heretics,” and fully admits that she practices her principles.
The question therefore becomes this, Are those whom Rome calls “heretics” the same as those whom Daniel calls “saints”? If so, the identification of the Papacy is as complete in this respect as in all the previous points. In order to arrive at an answer to this question, let us take Rome’s own definition of a heretic. The following statements are from authorized documents, laws, and decrees of the Papacy, dating from the time of Pope Pelagius in the sixth century, twelve hundred years ago. “Schism is an evil. Whoever is separated from the apostolic see is doubtless in schism. Do then what we often exhort. Take pains that they who presume to commit this sin be brought into custody..Do not hesitate to compress men of this kind, and if he despise this, let him be crushed by the public powers.” This, it will be observed, makes a want of perfect submission to the pope, even though no false doctrine or evil practice be alleged, a ground for persecution. Pope Damasus, whose election to the pontificate was secured by a hundred and thirty-seven murders, authorizes persecution of those who speak against any of the holy canons, and adds, “It is permitted neither to think nor to speak differently from the Roman Church.” This is one of the canons which it is blasphemy to violate; and he who ventures to differ, even in thought, on any point whatever from the Roman Church is therefore a heretic. Hundreds of decisions on detailed examples of heresy are all summed up in this one. The Roman decrees everywhere supply similar definitions. Whatever is short of absolute, unconditional surrender of all freedom of act or word, or even of thought and conscience, is heresy. Every evangelical Christian in the world is therefore, according to Romanist canons, a heretic, and as such liable to “punishment.” And moreover Rome frankly admits that it is only where she cannot in the nature of things carry out her ecclesiastical discipline that she is justified in refraining from persecution. The Papacy teaches all her adherents that it is a sacred duty to exterminate heresy. From age to age it has sought to crush out all opposition to its own dogmas and corruptions, and Papal edicts for persecution are innumerable. The fourth Lateran Council issued a canon on the subject, which subsequently became an awful instrument of cruelty.
For long ages it was held and taught universally that whoever fell fighting against heretics had merited heaven. Urban II. issued a decree, acted on, alas! to this day in Ireland, that the murder of heretics was excusable. “We do not count them murderers who, burning with the zeal of their Catholic mother against the excommunicate, may happen to have slain some of them.” If not absolutely murdered, heretics might be ill treated ad libitum, according to an ordinance of Gregory IX., who writes to the Archbishop of Milan: “Let those understand themselves to be absolved the debt of fidelity, homage, and all manner of service, who were bound by any compact, however firmly ratified, to those who have fallen into heresy.” Systematic persecution and extermination of heretics among their subjects was constantly enjoined on kings and emperors; such were required solemnly to swear on their coronation that they would, according to their power, faithfully render their service to the pope. If they neglected to do it, the sovereign pontiff would declare the vassals free and give their realms to rigid Papists who would more effectually persecute. If monarchs became heretics themselves, they were to be deposed and anathematized. Thus Pius V. “issued a bull for the damnation and excommunication of Queen Elizabeth and her adherents,” cutting her off from “the unity of the body of Christ,” depriving her of her crown and kingdom, and pronouncing a curse on her and on all who continued to obey her.
The laws of the Papacy on this subject increase in malignity from the beginning down to modern times. Bellarmine argues for the necessity of burning heretics, a practice which Luther had asserted to be contrary to the Spirit of God. He says: “Experience teaches that there is no other remedy; for the Church has proceeded by slow steps, and tried all remedies. First, she only excommunicated. Then she added a fine of money, and afterwards exile. Lastly, she was compelled to come to the punishment of death. For heretics despise excommunication, and say that those lightnings are cold. If you threaten a fine of money, they neither fear God nor regard men, knowing that fools will not be wanting to believe in them, and by whom they may be sustained. If you shut them in prison, or send them into exile, they corrupt those near to them with their words, and those at a distance with their books. Therefore the only remedy is, to send them betimes into their own place.”
Under these bloody maxims those persecutions were carried on, from the eleventh and twelfth centuries almost to the present day, which stand out on the page of history. After a signal of open martyrdom had been given in the canons of Orleans, there followed the extirpation of the Albigenses under the form of a crusade, the establishment of the Inquisition, the cruel attempts to extinguish the Waldenses, the martyrdom of the Lollards, the cruel wars to exterminate the Bohemians, the burning of Huss and Jerome, and multitudes of other confessors, before the Reformation; and afterwards the ferocious cruelties practiced in the Netherlands, the martyrdom of Queen Mary’s reign, the extinction, by fire and sword, of the Reformation in Spain and Italy, by fraud and open persecution in Poland, the massacre of Bartholemew, the persecutions of the Huguenots by the League, the extirpation of the Vaudois, and all the cruelties and perjuries connected with the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. These are the more open and conspicuous facts which explain the prophecy, besides the slow and secret murders of the holy tribunal of the Inquisition” (Birks: “First Two Visions of Daniel,” pp. 248,249).
A Romanist writer, who deplored the persecuting policy of his Church ù Professor Rossetti ù writes: It makes the heart of a true Christian bleed to think of this fatal error of the Latin Church, which by persecuting others laid the foundation of her own irreparable ruin. That the opinions held by these so-called heretics were most injurious to the Church of Rome cannot be denied, but the means taken to destroy them were, of all others, the most likely to strengthen them, and render them more deeply rooted. Daniel and St. John foretold that Satan’s delegate would use horrid cruelties, and inundate Babylon with the blood of Christ’s martyrs; and the pope, to prove that he was not that delegate, did use horrid cruelties, and cause Rome to overflow with the purest of Christian blood!
So Sismondi, the historian writes: To maintain unity of belief the Church had recourse to the expedient of burning all those who separated themselves from her; but although for two hundred years the fires were never quenched, still every day saw Romanists abjuring the faith of their fathers and embracing the religion which often guided them to the stake. In vain Gregory IX., in A.D. 1231, put to death every heretic whom he found concealed in Rome. His own letters show that the heretics only increased in numbers.
It must never be forgotten that all Rome’s ordinances against heresy, all its statutes of persecution, remain in its canon law unabrogated, unchanged, and as the Papacy is infallible in its own esteem ù unchangeable, “irreformable.” Its present disuse of persecution practically is the result of the heavy judgments which have, since the Reformation, and especially since the French Revolution, overtaken it. It has now no army and no Inquisition of its own, nor is any single kingdom in Europe willing any longer to act as its executioner. It lacks the power ù it utterly lacks the power ù to persecute directly or indirectly. It can only stir up sedition and revolt in Protestant countries, and thus endeavor to injure and weaken Protestant powers, as it is doing today in Ireland and in the United States. It is too weak politically to defy modern society by reintroducing mediaeval tortures, massacres, religious crusades, and the auto da fe. But it is as willing as ever, and awaits the opportunity only. As a drunkard may retain his vicious appetite when he has no longer the means of gratifying it, so Rome long drunken with the blood of saints ù is restrained from further maddening and debasing draughts of her dreadful beverage by nothing but inability to procure them. The Papacy, by justifying as righteous all the horrible persecutions of the past, attests her readiness to renew them whenever the opportunity may serve.
As I shall have to recur to this subject when treating of St. John’s foreview of Romanism, I will add nothing further on this point. I have said enough to show, that this sixth mark of the little horn attaches most distinctly to the Papacy, and indicates it alone among all the powers that have ever held sway on the Roman earth. It has martyred by millions the saints of God, the best and holiest of men. Its persecuting edicts range over the entire period of its existence; the present pope has endorsed them by his approval of the syllabus of Pius IX., and he threw over them the mantle of infallibility.
7. Its duration. A certain definite period is assigned to the rule of the little horn. That period is expressed in symbolic language, harmonious with the symbolic or hieroglyphic character of the whole prophecy. It is “time, times and a half,” or “1,260 days.” This is a miniature symbol of the empire, and the little horn of the Papacy of Rome. Scripture elsewhere gives us the scale on which it is to be enlarged, “a year for a day.” It means therefore 1,260 years. The political supremacy and the persecuting power of the see of Rome were to last for this period and no longer. We have shown you that the popedom dates from the beginning of the seventh century. Twelve and a half centuries added brings us to the end of the nineteenth century ù in other words, to the days we live in, and in which Rome has ceased to be governed by its popes and has become the capital of the kings of Italy. I have no time to expound this chronological point fully to you this evening. If you wish to study it, you will find it carefully and exactly treated in my recent work, “Light for the Last Days.” But it leads me to the final point in this identification.
8. The doom of the predicted power. What is the end of this symbolic horn? “They shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it to the end.” “The beast was slain, and his body destroyed and given to the burning flame.” This last clause of prophecy is of course not yet fully accomplished, as it is the coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven that brings about the final consummation (v. 13). Speculations about the future we leave to futurists, and therefore it might at first sight seem as if we ought to say nothing on this point of the prophecy. But it is not so.
This doom consists clearly of two parts: first, the consuming and destroying to the end; and then the end itself, symbolized by the slaughter of the beast, the committal of his body to the burning flame. Now the first part of this doom is fulfilling, and has been fulfilling ever since the Reformation, and especially ever since the French revolution; though the second part is still future. We ask, Has there not been going on for the last few centuries a process by which the once mighty power of the Papacy has been sensibly consumed ù a weakening process, analogous to consumption in the human frame ù a wasting decay tending to extinction?
It must be borne in mind that this prophecy of Daniel takes up the political aspect of the great antichrist, not his religious character. It views him as a monarch of the Roman world, not as a bishop of the Christian Church. We come to that aspect of his career presently, when we take up Paul’s foreview. Here it is one horn among ten, one kingdom among ten Latin kingdoms, though in some senses ruling over them all. The question is, Has there not been such a decay and diminution of Papal sovereignty, such a wasting and weakening of Papal power, such a loss of revenue, influence, and territory, as may be fairly said to fulfill this prediction?
Now I mentioned some facts at the beginning of this lecture which indicate a very considerable growth of Papal influence in England during the last fifty years. Many so fix their gaze on these facts as to get an impression that Romanism is gaining ground in the world generally. This is very far from being the case, as a glance at the comparative positions of the Papacy in the thirteenth century and the two following ones, with its position now in the nineteenth, will show. Then Rome actually exercised the “dominion” which she can now only claim. Then, with the consent of his barons, the king of England agreed to hold his kingdom as the pope’s feudatory, and to pay him annually one hundred thousand marks as an acknowledgment. Can you imagine Queen Victoria and the lords and commons of England agreeing to that sort of thing now? Then the great and valiant emperor of Germany stood for three winter days and nights barefoot in the courtyard of “His Holiness,” waiting for the honor of an audience, in which he might beg the pope’s pardon for having acted as an independent monarch! Can you imagine the Kaiser Wilhelm, of Berlin, doing that now? Then wherever he pleased the pope could suspend all the observances of religion, even to the burial of the dead and the marriage of the living, in any country with which he was offended. In what kingdom could he do so now? Long after his absolute dominion was gone, the pope had what were called concordats with different nations, in which it was agreed that, in return for the pope’s spiritual support, they would uphold him when the last vestige of his temporal dominion was violently taken away.
Direct political power he now has none, though his position as head of the apostate Roman Church gives him still immense indirect influence. The ten kings as such have entirely shaken off his yoke, and he himself has no longer any sovereign jurisdiction. His territories are taken away, as well as his dominion. The wealth, which was once enormous, is equally gone; the immense landed estates belonging to the convents are, for the most part, confiscated to secular uses. But the greatest fact of all in this connection is the number of those who have rejected his religious pretension. At the Lateran Council, in 1513, after all the so-called heretics had been silenced by fire and sword, an orator, addressing the pope, said, “The whole body of Christendom is now subject to one head, even to thee; no one now opposes, no one now objects.” Today there are about a hundred and fifty million Protestants in the world! Has not the dominion of the Papacy been consumed? Can a few thousand perverts in England weigh much against this stupendous fact, that 150,000,000 of mankind are no more subject to the Pope of Rome than to the Lama of Tibet? When we take into account all the twelve centuries of Papal history, and remember that this emancipation belongs to the last three only, we must admit that the predicted consumption has made considerable progress. The political dominion and the temporal possessions are gone; the Papacy is no longer a kingdom, but only an ecclesiastical power, and, counting the Greek Church, there are far more so- called Christians outside than inside the pale of the apostate Latin Church, of which it is the head.
This feature of the prediction is then as clearly applicable to Romanism as all the rest. Let me inquire, can any one suggest any other power in which all these marks, or the majority of them, meet? They are eight in number, and definite in character. The prophecy lays its finger on the place where we are to find the great enemy ROME; on the point of time in the course of history at which we may expect to see him arise the division of the Roman territory into a commonwealth of kingdoms; it specifies the nature of the power politico-ecclesiastical; its character blasphemously self-exalting, lawless, and persecuting; it measures its duration l,260 years; and specifies its doom ù to have its dominion gradually consumed and taken away, and then to be suddenly destroyed for ever, because of its blasphemous assumptions, by the epiphany in glory of the Son of man, introducing the kingdom of God on earth.
The proof that the Papacy is the power intended is strictly cumulative. If it answered to one of these indications there would be a slight presumption against it; if to several, a strong one; if to the majority, an overwhelming one; while if it answer to all, then the proof that it is the power intended becomes to candid minds irresistible. There is not a single clause in the prophecy that cannot be proved to fit the Roman Papacy exactly, except the last, which is not yet fulfilled.
Rome, which in her pagan phase defiled and destroyed the literal temple of God at Jerusalem, in her Papal days defiled and destroyed the anti-typical spiritual temple of God ù the Christian Church. Was it not worthy of God to warn that Church beforehand of the coming of this dreadful antichristian power, and to cheer her in all the sufferings she would have to endure from its tyranny by a knowledge of the issue of the great and terrible drama? Was it not right that the Roman power, pagan and Papal, should occupy as paramount a place on the page of Scripture as it has actually done on the page of history? The eighteen Christian centuries lay open before the eye of the omniscient God, and no figure stood out so prominently in all their long course as that of the great antichrist. The pen of inspiration sketched him in a few bold, masterly strokes; and there is no mistaking the portrait. In subsequent lectures I shall have much to say to you of the antichristian doctrines and practices of the Papacy. Tonight we have but studied the broad outline drawn in the days of Belshazzar, which forms a broad foundation for what must follow.
Notice, in conclusion, the evidence of inspiration afforded by this wonderful prophecy. Could Daniel foresee the things that were coming on the earth? How should he happen to light on the notion that there would be four universal empires, and four only, and that after the fourth there would arise ù what the world had never seen before a commonwealth often kingdoms? How could he depict so strange and peculiar a power as the Papacy? How could he conceive it? A little, weak kingdom, yet controlling all kingdoms! a human dynasty like any other, yet exalting itself against God, and slaughtering His saints! a power so wicked that heaven itself is moved for its destruction, and the whole Roman earth ruined on its account! Supposing for a moment this was a sketch from imagination: how comes it that history has so wonderfully realized it? The prediction did not produce its own fulfillment, for they who fulfilled it denied its application to themselves. It was not concocted to fit the events, for the events did not begin for a thousand years after it was published. The events were not arranged by men to fit the prophecy, for they extend over forty successive generations. There is no solution of the problem save the true one: “Holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost”; “He revealeth the deep and secret things: He knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with Him.”
Let me then solemnly charge you, reverence this holy volume, heed its warnings, dread the judgments it denounces, believe its promises, obey its precepts, study its sacred predictions; for be ye very sure it is the inspired word of the only living and true God, who is, as Nebuchadnezzar declared of old, “a God of gods, a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets.”