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



Chapter 2


4. The Depths of the Satan as They Speak




But all among the Thyatirans were not impressible by the arts and blandishments of Jezebel and her children. "The rest" were a faithful remnant who repudiated her teaching, and "the depths" which they prescribed. We need not repeat here what has been already adduced concerning "the Satan;" but we may add to this, that the sentence, "the depths of the Satan as they speak," shows that "the Satan" is not a solitary individual, but representative of a plurality of speakers, whose speech is enunciative of deep things, called "depths." These depths were adverse to the "Name," "Faith," and morality, or "works," styled by the Spirit "his," and therefore they were Satanic Depths; and those who taught them "the Satan;" and those who received them, both teachers and disciples, "the Synagogue of the Satan;" "Jezebel the prophetess" and the holders of Balaam's teaching, who styled themselves apostles, and said they were Jews, being the clergy of that synagogue, clerically termed "the Church of God;" but in reality "the habitation of demons, he hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird." Antipas, or the faithful witnesses, were "the rest among the Thyatirans who had not acknowledged the depths of the Satan as they speak." Antipas still retained his original position in "all the ecclesias," which, although teeming with "false brethren" both in the presbyteries and among the multitude, had not yet been "spued out of the mouth of the Spirit." Antipas was the remnant of the Woman's Seed contending earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints against all "the depths of the Satan as they speak," which in their logical effect upon the minds of Christians perverted the gospel; and made it of no effect in regard to justification and practice. The Star-Presbytery in Ephesus had fallen from its first estate; still it had not fallen to the lowest "depths," for Antipas was among them as "those who could not bear them that are evil; but tried them who pretended they were apostles, and are not, and found them liars." Antipas was also among the Smyrneans as "the rich," because faithful in works, tribulation, and poverty; also among the Sardians as "the few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and in Philadelphia as the "little strength" of the ecclesia there which the Spirit says had "kept my word and not denied my name." But among the Laodiceans the Antipas are not found. Their existence is a supposition, as, "If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him, and he with me." The Satan was triumphant there, and the faithful witnesses reduced to such an insignificant minority as to be noticeable in the prophecy only as an hypothesis. They were "a contemptible few" not submerged in "the depths of the Satan as they speak;" but not enough of them to save the ecclesia from being spued out of the Spirit's mouth. A few did hear the Spirit's voice among the Laodiceans, and became fugitives in consequence. They were no longer found in "the churches," but in their own peculiar place, "in the wilderness;" where, as "the Woman" and "the Remnant of her Seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Anointed," they were "nourished" for 1260 years "from the face of the Serpent," become a Catholic of the Laodicean type (Apoc. xii. 14,17,9,10).

The extract from Cyprian sufficiently illustrates "the depths of the Satan as they speak," in the practice of the so-called Christians of the middle of the third century. He says that "the long peace," or time given for Jezebel to repent of her prostitution, instead of being attended with the result desired by the Spirit, produced a contrary effect" it corrupted the discipline divinely revealed to us." In this Cyprian and the Spirit agree; for the latter says, "and she repented not." "Our faith," says Cyprian, "was almost dormant;" and his details of practice must have made them an object of contempt even to the pagans. But, though good practice will not always result from sound teaching, owing to the perverseness of the flesh; bad practice is the certain consequence of satanic teaching. The depths of the Satan spoken, produced the depths of the Satan wrought. The energy, or "working of the Satan," was elaborated by the teaching of "the Fathers" of the second and third centuries. These fathers were the "they" of the text before us; as, "the depths of the Satan as they (the Fathers) speak." Irenaeus, Tertullian, Pantaenus, Clemens Alexandrinus, Origen, Cyprian and so forth, are specimens of these clerical fathers whose teaching "corrupted the discipline divinely revealed." Of Irenaeus history testifies that "his philosophy had its usual influence on the mind, in darkening some truths of scripture, and in mixing the doctrine of Christ with human inventions:" "in general, however, notwithstanding some philosophical adulterations, he certainly," says Milner, "maintained all the essentials of the gospel:" that is to say, what Milner regarded as "the essentials." He is said to have been instructed in "Christianity" by Polycarp of Smyrna, and Papias of Hierapolis, contemporaries of the apostle John. Ireneus became overseer of the ecclesia at Lyons in France about A.D. 169. One of his sentiments left on record is certainly sound. "If man," says he, "had not been united to the Deity, he could not have been a partaker of immortality:" another also is perfectly scriptural; speaking of Jesus, he says, He had flesh and blood, not of a different kind from what men have; but he gathered into himself the very original creation of the Father, and sought that which was lost:" and again, "The Word of God, Jesus Christ, on account of his immense love, became what we are, that he might make us what he is."

He has left on record a testimony to the corruption of the faith already prevalent in his day in a letter to Florinus, a person of rank in the emperor's service, whom he had known in early life. Florinus had been seduced into heresy, concerning which Irenaeus says, "These doctrines, they who were presbyters before us -- those who had walked with the apostles -- did not deliver to you. For I saw you when I was a boy in the lower Asia with Polycarp; and you were then (though a person of rank in the emperor's service) very desirous of being approved by him ... I can describe the sermons which he preached to the multitude, and how he related to us his converse with John, and with the rest of those who had seen the Lord; how he mentioned their particular expressions, and what things he had heard from them of the Lord, and of his miracles, and of his doctrine. As Polycarp had received from the eye-witnesses of the Word of Life, he told us all things agreeable to the scriptures. These things, then, through the mercy of God visiting me, I heard with seriousness; I wrote them not on paper, but on my heart; and ever since, through the grace of God, I retain a genuine remembrance of them, and I can witness before God, that if that blessed apostolical presbyter had heard some of the doctrines which are now maintained, he would have cried out, and stopped his ears, and in his usual manner have said, 'O good God! to what times hast thou reserved me, that I should endure these things!' And he would immediately have fled from the place in which he had heard such doctrines." Polycarp suffered death A.D. 167. At one time he and Irenaeus lived together at Smyrna, and held the same opinions. One Evaristus wrote an account of Polycarp's martyrdom, which was adopted by the Ecclesia at Smyrna, and sent to that sojourning at Philomelium, a city of Lycaonia. The sentiments therein contained may or may not be regarded as those also of Polycarp their late teacher, and of Irenaeus his disciple. Speaking of martyrs in general, the letter says, "they despised the torments of this world, and by one hour redeemed themselves from eternal punishment. The fire of savage tormentors was cold to them; for they had steadily in view a desire to avoid that fire which is eternal and never to be quenched."

Now the dogma of redemption from eternal punishment by an hour's burning is nowhere taught in scripture. If Polycarp and Irenaeus taught this, they certainly held a depth of the Satan. As to "the fire which is eternal and never to be quenched," it depends upon the sense of the original, whether it be classed with "the depths of the Satan," or not. In the modern clerical sense of the words it is a depth; but in the scriptural sense, which is not the clerical, it is not a depth of the Satan; but one of "the deep things of God." I apprehend that the Smyrneans, at least the Antipas among them, certainly would have used the expression in the sense of the Apocalypse which had been sent to their Star-Angel, or Presbytery, some sixty nine years before. There "the fire which is eternal" is "the fire and brimstone in the presence of the Holy Angels, and in the presence of the Lamb," styled by Jesus "the aionian fire;" and which he says, has been then "prepared for the Diabolos and for his agents;" apocalyptically styled, "the Beast and his Image, and the receivers of the mark of his name" (Matt. xxv. 41; Apoc. xiv. 9-11; xix. 20). This fire is AIONIAN, because it is kindled when "the Times of the Gentiles are fulfilled," and at the epoch termed "the Hour of Judgment," which immediately precedes the AION which continues 1000 years. This Aionian Fire cannot be quenched. It is like that fire kindled in Jerusalem in the days of Jeremiah, which Yahweh Elohim said "shall burn and shall not be quenched" (Jer. vii. 20; xvii. 27): nevertheless, the fire went out when its work was done; and Jerusalem was rebuilt, and continued for several hundred years, until it was again consumed in another unquenchable fire, which has also in like manner ceased to burn for ages past (Mark ix. 43,44). This I believe to be the sense of the Smyrneans; not an eternal fire in the sense of the Satan -- a fire whose continuance is measured by the years of God.

Polycarp in his last words prayed "for resurrection to eternal life, both of soul, and body in the incorruption of the Holy Spirit." He looked for life after resurrection of soul and resurrection of body, that they might both then become incorruptible by the Holy Spirit. But those who adopted the letter of Evaristus, and styled themselves "the Catholic Church of Smyrna," apocalyptically "the Synagogue of the Satan," declare therein that "he was now crowned with immortality and the prize of unquestionable victory." This was equivalent to saying, that something called Polycarp had gone direct to heaven, and had obtained the prize. This was one of "the depths of the Satan" so pointedly condemned by Justin as unchristianizing those who held it. Polycarp and they evidently disagreed upon this vital question, although they styled him "an apostolical and prophetical teacher, the bishop of the Catholic Church of Smyrna." If Irenaeus agreed with them that his instructor Polycarp had obtained the prize of immortality without resurrection; if this "philosophical adulteration" formed a part of his philosophy, "the essentials" he maintained would be of little worth. We suspect Irenaeus was infected with this depth of the Satan, for he speaks of "the martyrs" hastening to Christ; as though they would enter into his presence before the resurrection! Nay, we are now sure of it; for further on, in his account of the persecution at Lyons and Vienne, he says of Vettius Epagathus who suffered death, "he was, and is still a genuine disciple of Christ, following the Lamb whithersoever he goeth" -- a quotation seventy years after John's death, from Apoc. xiv. 4. Now Vettius could only "follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth" after his death, upon the principle of immediate translation to heaven, which was styled "the birthday of martyrdom." In another place, he speaks of "eternal fire in hell" for the apostate. But enough of Irenaeus, who suffered death A.D. 210.

Tertullian wrote much, but of little account. Pantaenus was the first master of a catechetical school established at Alexandria, in Egypt; which piqued itself on its superior erudition, and whose taste was ruled by the Platonic philosophers. Pantaenus was much addicted to the sect of the Stoics, a sort of romantic pretenders to perfection. The combination of Stoicism with Christianity, in the system of Pantaenus, was a depth of the Satan that very much debased the truth, and beclouded the light of the gospel. The Antipas, composed of the simple and unlearned, happily escaped the infection, and preserved unadulterated the genuine simplicity of the faith of Christ. The Stoicized Christianity of Pantaenus lay more in the way of the learned, who are always ready to be caught by any bait that flatters intellectual pride. Pantaenus always retained the title of the Stoic Philosopher after he had been admitted to eminent employments in the church. Eusebius highly commends him for his philosophy -- a blasting wind as it was; a depth of the Satan, highly destructive of Christian vegetation in all infected by it. He died soon after the commencement of the third century, being at the time Catechist of the Alexandrian School for the indoctrination of youthful Satans in the depths as they speak."

Clemens Alexandrinus was a disciple of Panaenus, and of the same philosophical, or Satanic, cast of mind. He was of the eclectic sect. He succeeded Pantaenus in the school, and became the preceptor of Origen, and other eminent perverters of the truth. Besides the office of Catechist, he filled that of a presbyter in the ecclesia in Alexandria. He was what is styled in our day a "Reverend Divine," and "Professor of Divinity." His course of instruction, he tell us, was this : "As the husbandman first waters the soil, and then casts in his seed, so the notions which I derive out of the writings of the Gentiles serve first to water and soften the earthly parts of the soul, that the spiritual seed may be the better cast in, and take vital root in the minds of men." This was putting the flesh above the Spirit. Milner well says upon this, that "the apostles neither placed Gentile philosophy in the foundation, nor believed that it would at all assist in raising the superstructure of Christianity." On the contrary, they looked on the philosophical religion of their own times as so much rubbish; but in all ages the blandishments of mere reason on such subjects deceive us -- "vain man would be wise." Clemens' Christianity was Nikolaitanism; and the "divinity" he taught "the depths of the Satan" derived from the writings of the Gentiles, commingled with ideas received from the scriptures, which the philosophy rendered void.

The next clerical constituent of the Satan we have named is Origen. He was pre-eminently a child of the woman Jezebel, and floundered notably in all the depths as the Fathers speak. He was of a most presumptuous spirit, which incited him to philosophize with great audacity in things religious; and permitted him never to content himself with plain truth, but to hunt after something singular and extraordinary. Demetrius the bishop committed the school in Alexandria to him alone; and he converted it wholly into a school of religious information, or, as it would be styled in our time, a "theological seminary." He was a courageous, self-denying, learned, exceedingly austere, and pious member of "the Synagogue of the Satan." "Heretics and philosophers," says Milner, "attended his lectures; and he took, no doubt, a very excellent method to procure regard to himself at least; he instructed them in profane and secular learning and obtained among the Gentiles the reputation of a great philosopher. He encouraged many persons to study the liberal arts, assuring them that they would, by that means, be much better furnished for the contemplation of the Holy Scriptures. He was entirely of opinion, that secular and philosophical institutes were very necessary and profitable to his own mind. Does it escape the reader how much in the course of the christian annals we are already departed, though by insensible degrees, from christian simplicity? Here is a man looked up to with reverence, at least by the Eastern Church, as a great luminary; a man who, in his younger days, was himself a scholar of the amphibious Ammonius; who mixed together christianity and pagan philosophy, and who, by reading his motley lectures, drew over, in form at least, many of the heathen philosophers to embrace the religion of Jesus. These mention him often in their books; some dedicate their works to him, and others respectfully deliver them to him as their master. All this Eusebius tells us with much apparent satisfaction. To him the gospel seems to have triumphed over Gentilism by these means. There is no doubt but in a certain sense Origen's success was great, but, in return, the pure gospel suffered greatly by an admixture of Gentilism. What can this extraordinary teacher and author mean, by asserting the utility, and even the necessity of philosophy for himself as a christian? Are not "the scriptures able to make a man wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work?" Suppose a man of common sense, perfectly unacquainted with all the learned lore of Ammonius, to study only the sacred books, is it not conceivable that he may acquire a competent, nay, even an eminent knowledge of the scriptures? But what are all Origen's labors but vain attempts to mix things which the Holy Spirit has declared will not incorporate? The mischief which actually followed was to be, expected: characters were confounded; and henceforward among the learned, the distinction between christian godliness and human philosophy is but faintly marked. If Origen had simply and plainly expounded to his learned auditors the peculiar and vital truths of the gospel, I cannot but suspect that many of them have ceased to attend his instructions.

"The famous Porphyry, than whom christianity had never a more acrimonious enemy, takes notice of Origen's allegorical mode of interpreting scripture, observes that he was acquainted with him when young, and testifies to his rapid improvement under Ammonius. He asserts, what indeed Eusebius contradicts, that Ammonius, though brought up a christian, turned afterwards a Gentile. He says 'that Origen continually perused Plato, Numenius, and the rest of the Pythagoreans; that he was well versed in Chaeremon the Stoic, and in Cornutus; and that from all these masters he borrowed the Grecian manner of allegorical interpretation, and applied it to the Jewish Scriptures.' Thus, he introduced such a complicated scheme of fanciful interpretation, as for many ages after, through the excessive respect paid to this man, much obscured the light of scripture." He died about A.D. 260, aged 70 years, a teacher and seducer of the servants of Christ from the simplicity of their faith into "the depths of the Satan, as they," the Fathers of the Jezebel apostasy, "speak," and their children, unto this day.

Now, if the reader compare "the depths" excavated by Origen and his patristic coadjutors in the corruption of the primitive faith and discipline delivered to the saints by the apostles, with "the depths" of the "divinity" taught by the clergy, or spiritual guides of the people, of every name and denomination," he will find that they are as intimately related as cause and effect. "The depths of the Satan as they spoke" in apostolic times, were the speculations of Hymeneus and Philetus, and of the many other false prophets that had gone out into the world, acuminated in Origen and others (2 Tim. ii. 17; 1 John iv. 1), whose "word," or teaching, Paul said would "eat as doth a gangrene." This is known by all pathologists to be destructive of all organization, and consequently of life. The word-gangrene of "the Satan" has consummated its work upon the theory and practice of christianity apostolically delivered. This is obvious to all scripturally enlightened observers of the spiritual system of the world. The word is not preached by the clergy, who are ignorant of the first principles of the oracles of God. They preach the dogmas they have traditionally received from the "false prophets" they style "the Fathers" -- the fathers of their "Holy Orders," at the head of which is "the Holy Father" they term "the Pope." These fathers were the perverters of the gospel Paul preached, by their inventions, which substituted sacramentalism for faith; nullified the doctrine of a resurrection to judgment; abolished the kingdom; transmuted the great mystery of godliness into scholastic jargon about "trinity;" destroyed the sacrifice of the christian passover by affirming the immaculateness of Christ's flesh; in short, totally abolished the faith, and instead thereof, set up a system of RHANTIZED HEATHENISM, which may be defined, the sacramental deliverance of immortal ghosts from Plutonic fire and brimstone, and consequent translation into an Elysium beyond the realms of time and space!!! This definition is the symbol of "the depths of the Satan as they speak" now from the pulpits of Satandom in all the world. The Satan's ministers, transformed, as Paul says, into ministers of righteousness, all proclaim the heathen dogma of a soul or spirit in man capable of disembodied existence in eternal weal or woe; and all the religion or pietistic invention they have patented proposes or professes to do, is to save this phantom from the flames of their Tartarus, and land it in Elysium, which they call Paradise! It is this pagan dogma which lies at the bottom of all their "depths." Abolish this, and the religion of the clergy is abolished too; for their religion, which is "a cure" for such "souls," can be of no use to the people if it be proved that there are no such souls in them to be cured. Hence the clergy, when they find courage enough for the conflict, fight hard for hereditary immortality an immortality derived hereditarily from the earthy Adam, the first sinner upon whom the sentence of death was pronounced by the judge of all the earth. A man under sentence of death is as a dead man. Immortality derived from a dead man by natural generation, is the immortality for which the clergy contend in all their "depths." Without it, their craft is destroyed and their occupation gone. It is the great sand-bag of their system, which, when removed from the foundation-corner of their temple, leaves it without support, and in its fall, reveals to the contempt of all observers the shallowness of "the depths as they speak."




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