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Sixth Edition, 1915
By Dr. John Thomas (first edition written 1861)



Chapter 2


3. The Place the Satan Inhabits




In the time of "the things which are" Pergamos was the place the Satan dwelt in. The reader can refresh his mind concerning the Satan by turning to a former page. The Satan in Pergamos, as elsewhere, was the Church Hierarchy claiming to be apostles and ambassadors of Jesus Christ, leading away disciples after them, and teaching perverse things, by which the gospel of the kingdom and its obedience as inculcated by Jesus and his apostles, were abolished. They dwelt in Pergamos in full force; and therefore, in the days of John, it was apocalyptically represented as "the throne of the Satan." These of the Satan did their best to separate the Saints from "the Name," and from "the Faith" of the Spirit. Nevertheless, when John wrote, though the "Angel" had unfaithful constituents, yet the majority were true. The Angel-Presbytery dwelt side by side with the Satan. It was in daily communication with them; "contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints," as the true believers have done, and are doing to this day in tribulation and reproach. Still they "held fast the Spirit's name and denied not his faith;" in other words, they were faithful to "the truth as it is in Jesus."

The power of this Church -- Satan, the rival and subsequent destroyer of the One body of Christ -- destroyer of its tranquillity and happiness for the time being -- was enthroned in Pergamos, where they were more influential than the priests of the established superstition. This appears from Pliny's testimony concerning the state of things in his letter to Trajan, A.D. 106, which is already before the reader in ch. II. ii. 5a. Speaking of christianity as a whole (for the pagans made no distinction between Apostolic Christianity and the rising Apostasy) the Roman governor of Bithynia says, "The contagion of the superstition hath spread not only through cities, but even villages and the country." Still he did not despair of suppressing it; and on expressing his hope gives us to know the depths in which he found idolatry when he first came to Anatolia. "Not that I think it impossible," saith he, "to check and correct it. The success of my endeavors hitherto forbids such desponding thoughts; for the temples, once almost desolate, begin to be frequented; and the sacred solemnities, which had long been intermitted, are now attended afresh; and the sacrificial victims are now sold everywhere, which once could scarcely find a purchaser." This is the testimony of a pagan ruler about four years after the death of the apostle John. In A.D. 106, the temples were almost desolate, idolatrous rites suspended, and "things sacrificed unto idols" could scarcely find any one to purchase them for food. But when Pliny came to Anatolia a considerable change was effected by his measures in favor of the old superstition. Many persons who had renounced idolatry, he says, returned to its abominations. These were called christians. They styled themselves such, and were so regarded by the pagans; but not by the Spirit, and those who held fast his name and had not denied his faith. They were such christians as "sinners of the world" call christians in our day. They were the catholics, protestants, and sectarians of the second century, "the synagogue of the Satan," the apostasy in embryo, ramifying and striking out its roots in all the habitable. The type of their principles was that of "easy virtue;" a very "charitable" community who would receive Socrates, Plato, and "the best of the heathen," into their synagogue, and practice heathen customs, if their contemporaries would give honor to Christ, and forego the worship of images. On this principle variously expressed, they so popularized christianity as to make it palatable to the heathen mind, and to produce the effect deplored by Pliny. But he preferred pure and unmixed Paganism to the semi-heathenism of the Satan's synagogue, whose system of superstition had no images of gods, no visible altar, and no bloody sacrifices. He therefore commanded christians to frequent the temples, to attend to "the sacred solemnities," and to purchase the idol sacrifices for food, upon pain of death. Many obeyed, but others were in his judgment sullenly and inflexibly obstinate. These were they whom the Spirit commends saying, "Thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith." Pliny tried all he could to compel them. He commanded them to "perform sacred rites with wine and frankincense, to repeat after him an invocation of the gods, and of the emperor's image and to execrate Christ." To do this would have been to release their hold of his name and to deny his faith; which, Pliny says, he had been told "a real christian can never be compelled to do." From this it is evident that the distinction existed in John's day, between "real christians" and "christians." The name christian comprehended all the adherents of Balaam and Jezebel, whether Ebionites, Gnostics, or by whatever name or denomination of heresy, they might be known. The "real christians" had no fellowship with such; though among them, as in Pergamos, the poison of the serpent might be detected. The ecclesia and "the synagogue of the Satan" were institutions as distinct as they are now; for in the nineteenth century a true believer of the gospel of the kingdom is againstall who have not obeyed the same; yet a congregation of "real christians" may have in it some who are not true, as at Pergamos; these will sooner or later show themselves, for their sympathies are fleshly, and they become impatient of principles which they regard as "harsh, uncharitable, and severe."

Such was the state of things in the place where the Satan dwelt in the days of John and Pliny, who were contemporaries. But though the Satan may still be found in Pergamos, or Bergamo, installed in the spiritual bazaars dedicated to St. Theodore and Santa Sophia; in which, "the Right Reverend Father in God, Thomas Newton, D.D., Bishop of Bristol," a "lord spiritual" of their synagogue, informs us the Greek Metropolitan of Smyrna is careful to have "the sacred offices" performed by a priest whom he continually sendeth there, and by which performance the name of Christ is not wholly lost or forgotten in Pergamos" -- though this be so, "the throne of the Satan" hath long since been removed. It was only temporarily in Pergamos, until a more convenient season; when this should arrive the generation of the Satan then existing would plant it in a place more fitting for dominion. "Ye know," said Paul to his contemporaries, "what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time." The "He" he refers to here in 2 Thess. ii. 6, is A POWER, not an isolated individual -- a Power which is the subject of the prophecy in Dan. xi. 36-39. This power Daniel styles "the King that shall do according to his will;" and Paul terms it "that lawless one whose coming is after the working of the Satan." The Satan here is evidently a christian agency; that is, a working under the christian name -- "THE MYSTERY OF INIQUITY already working" to the perversion of the gospel Paul preached. It was working "with all power, and signs and lying wonders;" and those in Pergamos, and elsewhere, who held the doctrine of Balaam, and the teaching of the Nikolaitans, and who possessed "spirits," or spiritual gifts, were the workers, who prostituted their gifts to the confirmation of the teaching they promulgated in opposition to the apostles. They worked "with all the deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish," and therefore they were styled "deceitful workers." They were like the Mormons of our time, who proclaim themselves to be "christians;" profess to believe in Jesus as the Son of God and Christ; in short, to believe all that "orthodox christians" approve; but with all their verbiage, having a political purpose to effect as the great end of all their enterprise. If they could carry this purpose into effect, they would abolish the constitution of the United States, and set up a kingdom which should rule the country according to the principles of Mormonism. But every one knows "what withholdeth;" namely, the power of the Union.

I have selected the Mormons as an example illustrative of the purpose and working of the generation of the Satan contemporary with the apostles, because they occupy a relation to the United States more resembling that of the Christians of the first, second, and third centuries to the Pagan-Roman government, than any other sect of Satan's synagogue at present extant. They began their career with a doctrine, the vindication of whose scripturality seemed to occupy all their energies. But as they increased their proselytes, certain ambitious demagogues among them conceived the idea of turning the speculation to present political account. In a few years they had some two thousand votes to dispose of to any of the political factions in being, able and willing to promote their schemes. They proselyted to Mormonism to increase their political influence with the factions, whose leaders and wireworkers would as soon profess this as any other ism, if it would help them to place, profit, and power. By working thus, though "persecuted," they have become a Power, which this government finds difficult to control. It began with a doctrine, it ends, when it thinks itself sufficiently strong, with an appeal to the sword.

And thus it was in the first three centuries in the Roman empire. Christianity had its ambitious demagogues, and Rome its factions, and hypocritical and dishonest politicians. The factions contended for supreme power, and to obtain it, the politicians would as soon profess the christianity of Satan's synagogue, as the paganism of the Diabolos. At first, the "ministers of the Satan" were zealous for doctrines, and for a righteousness of law and gospel commixed. Notwithstanding the opposition they encountered from the apostles and all real Christians, their numbers increased. Starting originally in their career as constituents of the elderships, they obtained position and a vantage ground; and with ability to work signs and wonders, which became "lying wonders," because used for the confirmation of "a lie," which became "a strong delusion" in all it took possession of. "Of your own selves," said Paul to those of the Ephesian Star-Angel endowed with spiritual gifts, "shall men arise speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them." Their numbers increased from this source, and by direct conversion to their "perverse things" from among the Jews and pagans; so that the apostolic party were placed in the minority, where it has remained to this day.

In two hundred and eighty years from the Pentecost of A.D. 33, the adherents of the perverse things of the Apostasy had become sufficiently numerous and influential to be an object of fear to the constituted authorities, and of hope to the aspirant of supreme power that might be fortunate enough to obtain their cooperation. They had got rid of the old-fashioned doctrine of non-resistance and passive obedience taught by Paul; and they were now ready to draw the sword, and fight for empire under the first champion who should present with claims upon their support. The "coming man" appeared A.D. 306, in the character of a worshipper of the sun, named Constantine. This pagan aspirant, ambitious of the supreme and sole dominion of the Roman Habitable, then ruled by six emperors, came to an understanding with "the Christian Hierarchy" of the Satan, which, for the sake of distinguishing it from the real christian community, may be styled "catholic." Constantine and the Catholics made common cause to remove "what withholdeth" by force of arms, that their own Satanism might be enthroned. After a conflict of six or seven years, they succeeded in planting the Cross, the symbol of the New Power, upon the Capitol in Rome. In consummating this, the Satan had worked as they have since worked in making Protestantism sovereign in Germany, Britain, and the United Provinces. The Satan's throne in the little kingdom of Pergamos was transferred to Rome, the symbol of whose imperiality was "the Dragon" -- "purpureum signum draconis," the purple red ensign of the dragon.

But "the throne of the Satan," and the metropolis the Satan inhabited, were not established in the city of the Tiber. The Roman dominion had become the Satan's; but at the time of this great revolution, the city of Rome had become confounded with the dependent kingdoms which had once acknowledged her supremacy. In reference to this, Gibbon remarks, that "after the defeat and abdication of Licinius, his victorious rival, Constantine, proceeded to lay the foundations of a city destined to reign in future times the Mistress of the East. The motives, whether of pride or of policy, which first induced Diocletian to withdraw himself from the ancient seat of government (on the Tiber), had acquired additional weight by the example of his successors, and the habits of forty years. Rome was insensibly confounded with the dependent kingdoms which had once acknowledged her supremacy; and the country of the Caesars was viewed with cold indifference by a martial prince like Constantine, born in the neighborhood of the Danube, educated in the courts and armies of Asia, and invested with the purple by the legions of Britain. The Italians, who had received him as their deliverer, submissively obeyed the edicts which he sometimes condescended to address to the Senate and People of Rome; but they were seldom honored with the presence of their new sovereign. During the vigor of his age, Constantine, according to the various exigencies of peace or war, moved with slow dignity, or active diligence, along the frontiers of his extensive dominions; and was always prepared to take the field either against a foreign or a domestic enemy. But as he gradually reached the summit of prosperity and the decline of life, he began to meditate the design of fixing, in a more permanent station, the strength as well as the majesty of the throne. In the choice of an advantageous situation, he preferred the confines of Europe and Asia. Diocletian had selected and embellished the residence of Nicomedia," about sixty-five miles east of Constantinople, and one hundred and fifty north of Pergamos. "But the memory of Diocletian was justly abhorred by the protector of the Church; and Constantine was not insensible to the ambition of founding a city which might perpetuate the glory of his own name. During the late operations of the war against Licinius, he had sufficient opportunity to contemplate, both as a soldier and as a statesman, the incomparable position of Byzantium; and to observe how strongly it was guarded by nature against a hostile attack, whilst it was accessible on every side to the benefits of commercial intercourse." He determined, therefore, to make the site occupied by Byzantium the locality of the Capital, the policy, and the religion of the Satan, who had helped him in his wars.

In speaking of the foundation of the city which was henceforth to be called Constantinople, Gibbon further remarks that "the prospect of beauty, of safety, and of wealth, united in a single spot, was sufficient to justify the choice of Constantine. But as some decent mixture of prodigy and fable has, in every age, been supposed to reflect a becoming majesty on the origin of great cities, the Emperor was desirous of ascribing his resolution, not so much to the uncertain counsels of human policy, as to the infallible and eternal decrees of divine wisdom. In one of his laws he has been careful to instruct posterity, that, in obedience to the commands of God, he laid the everlasting foundations of Constantinople: and though he has not condescended to relate in what manner the celestial inspiration was communicated to his mind, the defect of his modest silence has been liberally supplied by the ingenuity of succeeding writers, who describe the nocturnal vision which appeared to the fancy of Constantine, as he slept within the walls of Byzantium. The tutelar genius of the city, a venerable matron sinking under the weight of years and infirmities, was suddenly transformed into a blooming maid, whom his own hands adorned with all the symbols of imperial greatness. The monarch awoke, interpreted the auspicious omen, and obeyed, without hesitation, the will of heaven. The day which gave birth to a city or colony was celebrated by the Romans with such ceremonies as had been ordained by a generous superstition; and though Constantine might omit some rites which savored too strongly of their pagan origin, yet he was anxious to leave a deep impression of hope and respect on the minds of the spectators. On foot, with a lance in his hand, the emperor himself led the solemn procession, and directed the line, which was traced as the boundary of the destined Capital; till the growing circumference was observed with astonishment by the assistants, who at length ventured to observe that he had already exceeded the most ample measure of a great city. 'I shall still advance,' replied Constantine, 'till HE, the invisible guide who marches before me, thinks proper to stop.'"

Constantinople was dedicated A.D. 330, or thereabout. Its foundation commemorates the union of the Greek Catholic Satan with the Roman Diabolos, whose ensign we have remarked, on the authority of Ammianus Marcellinus, a pagan writer, was the purple red dragon. Constantine made his city a partaker of the throne of the Roman Majesty -- the Emperor and his Court residing on the Bosphorus, and the Senate on the Tiber. In process of centuries, however, the Dragon ceded his throne on the Tiber to the Beast of the Sea (Apoc. xiii. 2); from which time Constantinople became alone the throne of the power whose symbolical title is "the Dragon, the Old Serpent, which is Diabolos and Satan" (Apoc. xx. 2).

From these premises it will be seen that, before the Apostasy was allied with the civil power its throne was in Pergamos, a little over two hundred miles south by west of Constantinople. It was there, in fact; but only temporarily, until it could plant itself in the place appointed for it. In due time Constantinople was built, and the Throne of the Apostasy was erected there. At present, the place of the Satan's throne is provisionally occupied by a race which does not belong to the apocalyptic synagogue of the Satan. The Satan is ecclesiastically Greek. They were Greek in Pergamos; Greek in Constantinople for more than a thousand years; and must be Greek there again when the crisis of binding the Dragon, or Satan, shall have arrived. Then will the Spirit, in the full and antitypical import of the prediction, "come quickly, and fight against them with the sword of his mouth."




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