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THE RISE, PROGRESS, AND TYRANNY, OF PAPAL
History records few things more instructive and monitory than the rise, progress, and dominion of the Papacy. How can the existence and extensive domination of this power, which is not only unsupported by sacred Scripture, but contrary to Scripture, be accounted for? Fully to answer this inquiry, would require an extent of observation, inconsistent with the brevity prescribed in this work. A few remarks, however, on the subject, are necessary in the present inquiry.
It is important here to remark, that the rise and dominion of the Papal hierarchy furnishes a strong argument for the truth of Christianity, seeing it was foreseen and predicted centuries before, by the writers of the New Testament. St. Paul, in
particular, in his Epistles, marks out so clearly the distinguishing characters, causes, and effects of this antichristian
that no one who compares the events with the predictions, can for a moment
THE RISE, PROGRESS, AND TYRANNY, &c.
doubt, that in foretelling these things the apostle
spake as he was moved by the Holy Ghost.” We select two passages in proof of this. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils (dæmons;) speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their consciences seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them who believe and know the truth.” (1 Tim. iv. 1-3.) Another prediction, by the same apostle, of a still more remarkable and graphic character, is recorded in the Epistle to the Thessalonians. “Now, we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter, as from us, as that the day of Chrisë is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means ; for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped ; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that when I was yet with you, I told you these things ? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work; only he
who now letteth (hindereth) will let, until he be taken out of the way, and then shall that wicked (o úvouoc) be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spiritof his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming ; even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs, and lying wonders; and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish ; because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved.” (2 Thess. ii. 1—10.) The following summary of Bishop Newton's illustrations of this remarkable prophecy, will show how exactly it has been fulfilled in the church of Rome. “ « The man of sin' is the pope, not only on account of the disgraceful lives of many of them, but by means of their scandalous doctrines and principles ; dispensing with the most necessary duties, selling pardons and indulgences for the most abominable crimes, and perverting the worship of God to the grossest superstition and idolatry. He also, like the false apostle Judas, is the son of perdition ;' whether, actively, as being the cause of destruction to others, or passively, as being devoted to destruction himself. · He opposeth ;' he is the great adversary of God and man; persecuting and destroying, by crusades, inquisitions, and massacres, those Christians who prefer the word of God to the authority of men. • He exalteth himself above all that is called God, or is worshipped ;' not only above inferior magistrates, not only above bishops and primates, kings and emperors, but also above Christ and God himself; making even the word of God of none effect by his traditions ; forbidding what God has commanded, as marriage, the use of the Scriptures, &c.; and commanding, or allowing, what God has forbidden, as idolatry, persecution, &c.; so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.' His sitting in the temple of God,' implies plainly his having a seat in the Christian church; and he sitteth there as God, especially at his inauguration, when he sits upon the high altar in St. Peter's church, and makes the table of the Lord his footstool, and in that position receives adoration. At all times he exercises divine authority in the church,
showing himself that he is God ;' affecting divine titles, and asserting that his decrees are of the same or greater authority than the word of God. The foundation of Popery was laid in the apostles' days, but several ages passed before the building was completed, and the man of sin’ fully revealed ;' when, that which hindered,' the Roman empire, was dissolved.
· His coming is after the energy of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders,' &c.; and does it require any particular proof, that the pretensions of the pope, and the corruptions of the church of Rome, are all supported and authorized by feigned visions and miracles, by pious frauds and impositions of every
kind ? But, how much soever the man of sin' may be
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exalted, and how long soever he may reign, yet at last the Lord shall consume him with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy him with the brightness of his coming.""* Thus will the dreadful abuse of Christianity, which has been adduced as an objection to its truth, be found to furnish an unanswerable argument in its favour.
“ The mystery of iniquity,” that worldly and ambitious spirit which the apostle says was at work in the church in his days, in which originated the corruption of Christianity, and which was developed in the revelation of “ the man of sin,” rapidly advanced. While the Roman empire continued Pagan, and Christianity was proscribed, this mystery of iniquity was restrained by the civil power. In a short time, circumstances occurred which favoured the revelation of the man of sin; among these, the principal was the conversion of Constantine to Christianity, early in the fourth century. That remarkable event led to the establishment of Christianity as the religion of the empire, and produced a great alteration in the state of the church and the clergy. Christianity, which had passed the fiery ordeal of several severe persecutions un. hurt, now rose from her lowliness, and casting aside her sackcloth, arrayed herself in the imperial purple, and sat down in triumph on the throne of
* Bishop Newton's Dissertation on the Prophecies (XXII.) Comprehensive Bible-Remarks on the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians.