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AN EXPOSITION OF THE APOCALYPSE
Section 1 Subsection 13
The Development of the Romano-Babylonian Name of Blasphemy
When the fiftieth day after the crucifixion had fully come, the apostles were all with one accord in one place, NOT IN ROME, but in Jerusalem. In obedience to the Lord's command, they were tarrying in this city until they should be endued with power from on high to execute the mission entrusted to them. Nor had they long to wait; for about nine in the morning of that day, they were all visibly and audibly filled with the Holy Spirit, and proceeded to speak as they were moved by the Spirit.
This extraordinary inflation of the apostles with Spirit when noised abroad, caused a multitude of people to assemble to behold this marvelous exhibition of the supernatural. Among these were "STRANGERS OF ROME, Jews and proselytes," who had come from the Capital of the empire to celebrate the Passover, the Wave Offering of the Sheaf, and the Feast of First Fruits, according to the Mosaic Law. Being devout Jews and proselytes, they were zealous for the law, and earnestly intent upon all the sacrificial observances it prescribed. They were acquainted with Jews of Nazareth; and with the miracles, and wonders, and signs, with which the Deity had attested his claims to the Messiahship; and had witnessed also his ignominious execution by the wicked hands of his enemies. For anything they knew, he was still in death, and securely confined within its gates; so that, whatever they might have thought of him, while living, they had doubtless settled it in their minds, that, though a man of excellent deportment, and of gracious and benevolent disposition, he was self-deceived. Was he not dead? And could a dead man be the Christ of God for the redemption of his people?
With these convictions, these devout Roman strangers stood before PETER and the rest of the apostles. They saw upon their heads Spirit, blazing in cloven-tongues of flame, the symbol of many languages in which they were declaring the wonderful works of the Deity. Astonished at the sublime eloquence outfiowing from these illiterate Galilatan fishermen, they said one to another, "What meaneth this?" They had seen nothing like it in Rome, nor yet in Jerusalem, before; and there were none that could expound it, save the Eternal Spirit before whom they stood. Moved by this Divine Power, PETER standing up with
the Eleven, replied to their inquiry, by saying, "Hearken ye unto my words." Why did not James, or John, "the beloved disciple," or some other apostle, rather than Peter, who, they afterwards learned, had thrice denied his Lord, stand up and invite them to hearken to his words? This inquiry would certainly be mooted before their return to Rome. They perceived that Peter was, on this Pentecostian occasion, the Mouth of the Apostolic Body; nor was he a Babylonian Mouth, nor a Roman Mouth, but the Mouth of Deity, in the sense of the Deity speaking by him. Why was this? To this question it would be replied, that the Spirit had given the Keys of the Kingdom of the Heavens to Peter according to a previous promise through Jesus Christ, who had said, "I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of the heavens, and whatsoever thou shalt bind upon the earth, shall be bound in the heavens; and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon the earth, shall be loosed in the heavens" (Matt. 16:19). What they saw and heard was in fulfillment of this promise, and of what had been spoken by the prophet Joel. Their attention being gained by this, they were furthermore informed by Peter, the Holder of the Keys, that all that had recently been transacted in Jerusalem connected with the crucifixion, was "by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of the Deity." He charged them directly with the murder of Jesus, saying, "him ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain." They had demanded his life, and imprecated the curse of his blood upon them and their children. But, continued Peter, the Deity hath delivered him from death, and placed him at the right hand of power in the heaven, there to remain until the time shall come for Deity to give him the throne of his father David; in proof of which, he shed forth the Spirit which they saw upon the heads of the apostles, and heard in all the languages of the empire.
The result of this discourse of the Spirit by the mouth of Peter, was the conviction, that the same Jesus they had crucified was alive again, and by the Deity made both Lord and Christ. These devout Jews and proselytes of Rome were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, What shall we do?" They perceived that they were involved in the greatest of crimes from which they knew not how they could be loosed. The import of their question was therefore, What must we do to be loosed from the consequences of our iniquity? Again it was Peter who took up the question put to all the apostles; for "Peter said unto them, Repent, and be immersed every one of you for the Name of Jesus Christ, epi to onomati, unto remission of sins," eis aphesin hamartion. This command of the Spirit was new doctrine in-deed to these Roman strangers from the Capital; but their conviction of its truth, "caused them to cease sacrificing and offering" (Dan. 9:27) ac-
cording to the law; and gladly receiving Peter's word, to be immersed for the Name. They were now immersed believers of the things concerning the kingdom of the Deity and the Name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38; 8:12). Peter by the use of his Key had opened the door of the prison in which they were bound, and gave them liberty in loosing them from their sins: and what he had done upon earth was ratified in the heavens, according to the words of Jesus.
Having thus become CHRISTADELPHIANS, or Brethren of the Christ they had crucified and slain, they had placed themselves in such a position, that, on their arrival in Rome, they would be regarded as apostates from Judaism; and no longer worthy of fellowship in the Synagogue of the Jews. It can easily be conceived what an excitement would be created in the Jewish community of Rome. They would, of course, tell the story of what they had seen, heard, and done; but, from the temper of the Jews in those days, we may know that, if they had no other evidence than their own assertion, they would be accused of falsehood and blasphemy; and accounted as worthy of a like fate with the Nazarene. But, the Spirit in Jerusalem had provided for such an eventuality in Rome and elsewhere. He knew that "the Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven," after the feasts were over, would have to return to their several countries and friends; and he knew also, that such extraordinary facts and doctrines as he had prepared for mankind, required no less than the attestation of Deity in his cooperation with his witnesses. Hence, he not only moved Peter to specify the condition upon which believers of the Gospel of the Kingdom might be loosed from all past sins; but he moved him also to promise the baptized "the gift of the Holy Spirit." Filled sufficiently with this, they would be prepared for any emergency that might arise.
What, then, was necessary to equip these new converts for the work of introducing the gospel of Jesus Christ among the Jews of Rome? It was necessary that all things they had heard from the apostles should be brought to their remembrance; and that they should be guided into all the truth (John 14:8-14). This was as needful for them in Rome as for the apostles in Jerusalem. But more was required than this. It was necessary that what they affirmed as truth of Deity issuing from their mouth, should be acknowledged by Him as such; that their hearers might be-lieve for the work's sake. In this case, their faith would "stand not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of the Deity." In short, it was necessary, that they should have all "the diversities of gifts" constituting "the Manifestation of the Spirit;" such as the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith as it were, to remove mountains, gifts of healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, diverse kinds of
tongues, and the interpretation of tongues (1 Cor. 12:4-10). Now, these gifts they would no doubt receive by the imposition of the hands of Peter, after the manner recorded of him, when the apostles sent him and John down to Samaria for a like purpose; who, when they arrived, "prayed for them that they might receive holy spirit: then laid they hands upon them and they received holy spirit" (Acts 8:15-17). In this way the gifts were imparted when apostolically and evangelistically bestowed.
Thus equipped, these "strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes," would be transformed into a company of "prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers;" or saints perfected for the work of the ministry, for the formation in Rome of the Body of Christ, and its edification; until it should attain to perfect manhood in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of the Deity - "to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that thenceforth it be no more composed of babes, tossed to-and-fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to de-ceive." All among these circumcised strangers from Rome, having the moral qualifications specified by Paul in his letters to Timothy and Titus, would be, doubtless, thus spiritually equipped through the instrumentality of Peter, who, with the rest of the apostles, would request them, as Brethren of Christ, to devote themselves with all earnestness to "speaking the truth in love" to the Brethren in Moses; not in Rome only, but in all Italy, as opportunity might serve: not forgetting, of course, this necessary principle of action, that they be faithful to the original elements of the doctrine delivered to them; and that they so build upon the foundation, that the converts they might make might "grow up into him in all things who is THE HEAD," and therefore both Eyes and Mouth of the Body; or, as Peter styles him, "the Chief Shepherd and Bishop (epis-copos) of their souls." "From whom the whole Body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working of the Spirit in the measure of every part (whether a prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher) maketh increase of the Body unto the edifying of itself in love" (Eph. 4:9-16). These instructions would be endorsed by all the apostles, among whom John would tell them, that he and the rest had declared unto them what they had seen and heard, that they might have fellowship with them; "and truly," said he, "our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ, in whom is no darkness at all;" so that, if they walked in the light, they would have "fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ would cleanse them from all sin" (1 John 1:3-7).
On their arrival in Rome, they would be, whether many or few
would matter not, the Body of Christ in that city - the Holy Apostolic Ecciesia on the Seven Heads. They were a company of Christadelphians, Christou adelphoi, or Brethren of Christ, who believed into him through the word of Peter and the Eleven (John 17:20). This was the day of small things, which they did not despise. They had no temple, cathedral, or synagogue in which they could meet on their return, A.D. 33. Even seventeen years after they met in the house of Priscilla and Aquila, two Jews, who made tents for a living, Acts 18:2; Rom. 16:5. In this place, Paul mentions twenty-six by name, and alludes to others connected with them. Some of them, doubtless, were the original "strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes"; but there is nothing extant to distinguish them from the rest. When Paul wrote to the ecciesia in Rome, he speaks of Tryphena and Tryphosa "who labor in the Lord." These may have been two of them, but there is no certainty. Whatever their names may have been, matters not now; they are no doubt on record in the heavens. They were apostolically "in the Lord," and were prepared to state "the truth as it is in Jesus," and to illustrate it, and to prove it, infallibly, or without making mistakes. This infallibility resided not in a Pope or a single bishop. There was no Bishop or Pope of Rome at that early day besides Tiberius Catsar, who was the Pontifex Maximus of the whole empire. There were bishops of the ecclesia in Rome; for these prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers," newly arrived from Jerusalem, were the presbyters, or elders, and overseers, or episcopoi, of their wonderful, though little, community, whose mission it was, first, to separate a people for the name of Christ; and secondly, to subvert the superstition of the capital. These saints, as the Star-Angel of the Ecclesia in Rome (Apoc. 1:20) were infallible teachers and rulers, whose infallibility was not of themselves, but of Holy Spirit ministered to them by Peter and the Eleven. This guided them into all the truth, and brought all things to their remembrance; so that thus they acquired a mouth and wisdom from Christ, which all their adversaries were not able to gainsay or successfully to resist (Luke 21:15).
At this early date, A.D. 33, all that were in Rome called saints, were "the beloved of the Deity." It was not then necessary to go to Rome to be "canonized" by a pope. They had been made saints at Jerusalem by the word, which called them to that holiness without which no man can see the Lord (John 17:17; Rom. 1:7). These spiritually-endowed saints were the Mouth of the Deity; first, to the Jews; and some years afterwards, to the Gentiles, of Rome. For a few years, they preached the gospel to none but Jews; so that for that space, the ecclesia in that city was composed solely of the circumcised. It is not surprising, therefore, that the pagans should make no distinction between the
Ecclesia and the Synagogue. They regarded them all as Jews; so that, when Claudius commanded all Jews to depart from Rome, Aquila and Priscilla, though Christians, had to leave. But, before the publication of this edict, Peter had opened the door of faith to Gentiles, as recorded in Acts 10 and 11. The of this soon reached Rome, and the Mouth of Deity was opened there to the same effect. Pagans were invited to "the obedience of faith for His name," that they might become "the tabernacle of the Deity, and dwellers in the heaven," together with the saints already separated from the Synagogue. But for this extension of the Ecclesia, the edict of Claudius would have left none of the saints in Rome. It expelled all natural Jews, without regard to their belief; so that, in this crisis, the Ecclesia there would become in appearance entirely Gentile. But, when the edict became obsolete, the Jewish members would many of them return; nevertheless, the Jewish influence in the Ecclesia would predominate no more.
From this sketch of the origin of things in Rome, the reader will easily perceive how Peter, the apostle of the Circumcision, and the Two Keys, came in after times to occupy so prominent a position in the capital. When the strangers of Rome returned from Jerusalem, they would unquestionably speak more about Peter than the rest, because he was chief speaker. From this fact, he would acquire the title "Prince of the Apostles" and Holder of the Keys: and though there is no reliable evidence that he ever was in Rome (and, if he ever had been there, the account of it would hardly have been omitted from the Acts), the part he enacted was so conspicuous, that his relation to Rome in the introduction of the gospel there, would seem almost like his personal presence. In process of time, this would be affirmed, like many other imaginary things, to be a fact; and then, when popes came into fashion, they would seek to sanctify the imposition by styling Peter "the first pope!"
In the earliest years of the ecclesia in Rome, its faith was spoken of throughout all the empire. Its members presented their bodies a living sacrifice, and were not conformed to the world; but were transformed by the renewing of their mind; which was characterized by unanimity, a disregard of high things, and association with men of low estate. The Star-Angel that ruled them was neither "Bishop of Rome," "Universal Bishop," nor "Pope;" but a presbytery, or eldership, of inspired men of low degree in society, whose only ambition it was to be "glorified together with Jesus Christ." They would have rejected with indignation and contempt the idea of being united with the State, or any state, as "the Church by law established." Their mission was to convert sinners from the error of their way, not to form alliances with them; for they
well knew that the friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15).
But this state of ecclesiastical affairs, so highly commendable, did not continue very long undisturbed by "unlearned questions and strifes of words," which do not edify. Peter's use of the SECOND KEY entrusted to him, and to him only, to the exclusion of all successors in Catsarea and elsewhere, aroused all the latent prejudices of the Jewish mind, whether identified with the Synagogue or the Ecclesia. The Jewish element of the Body of Christ soon found themselves in the minority; and that the uncircumcised were rejoicing in things which Peter said nothing about, when, by the use of the FIRST KEY, he opened the door of faith to them. Some of them were Judaistically disposed, while others who had been added from the Synagogue were but partially enlightened, and developed themselves as "false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily (or with a secret purpose) to spy out the liberty which the Gentile party had in Christ Jesus, that they might bring it into bondage." These false brethren stood up in all the ecclesias of Christ, and became the occasion of much trouble and anxiety to Paul, who was "preacher, apostle, and teacher of the Gentiles" (2 Tim. 1:11). Thus, Paul being especially the apostle of the uncircumcision, and Peter the apostle of the circumcision, in Corinth the Judaizers said they were of Cephas, or Peter; while their Opponents, who advocated liberty from Mosaic bondage, said they were of Paul. The same condition of things manifested itself in Rome. The false brethren there were zealous for Peter, in whom they boasted as the Prince of the Apostles and Holder of the Keys. Their dogma was, that "it was needful to circumcise the Gentile converts to Christ, and to command them to keep the law of Moses, or they would not be saved" (Acts 15:1,5): and, although this was contradicted by all the apostles as well as Paul, they continued to teach it; and with so much success, that the leaders of the faction and their disciples through-out Asia Minor, all turned away from Paul (2 Tim. 1:15); whom they did not hesitate to speak of evilly and with disrespect.
The false brethren in Rome were not behind their brethren in the provinces in zeal for the propagation of their traditions. By their fruits they were proved to be "grievous wolves, not sparing the flock; and speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them." Their party was in secret alliance with the Synagogue; and their purpose seems to have been to Judaize Christianity, and then to use it in this corrupt form to turn the idolators from Jupiter to Moses, and subordinately, to Christ. In this way they would draw disciples after them, and thus acquire importance and influence in the world, which they clearly perceived were not to be obtained by devotion to the unadulterated Word.
The interests of Christ's flock they measured by their own selfishness, which was promoted by the assumption of clerical lordship over the multitude of them that believed. Paul alludes to these "grievous wolves," overlaid with wool, styled by Christ Jesus, "false prophets who come in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves," in his letter to the saints in Rome, ch. 16:17, saying, "I beseech you, brethren, mark them who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine you have learned; and AVOID THEM. For they that are such serve not the Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." They caused divisions and offences, which, when viewed in the light of the apostolic teaching, and that of the Star-Angel which presided over them, were clearly seen to be such.
Now, it was from this Judaizing Faction in the Ecclesia at Rome all those evils sprung, which afterwards attained maturity as "THE CHURCH OF ROME." The false brethren of this anti-apostolic faction were the out-ward expression of that "Mystery of Iniquity" which Paul said "doth already work." In the beginning, it worked cautiously until it gained sufficient hold to make it careless of appearances. It aimed at the establishment of a HIERARCHY, or Sacred Order of Rulers, whose authority should be supreme over all. This Order is styled by Paul "the Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition." So long as primitive apostolic equality was maintained among the presbyters, or overseers, of the ecclesia, there was no scope for the exhibition of such a tendency. The apostles were not lords over the faith of their brethren in Christ, but helpers of their joy. All the ecclesias were classed into rulers and ruled; but the rulers were no less governed by the authority of Christ in all their administrations, than the ruled were in all their religious practices. They were subject one to another, and clothed with humility. But, when a zeal for the doctrines and commandments of men, and a striving for power and dominion over one another took the place of the simplicity which is in Christ, the Mystery of Iniquity began to crop out, first, in the separation of the elders into a distinct order; and afterwards, in one particular presbytery usurping supremacy over the rest.
Originally the distinction of clergy and laity did not exist. The professors of Christianity were all brethren in Christ; and their several ecclesias, the clergies, kleroi, or heritages, of the Deity. The elders, or the episcopal presbyters, were exhorted by Peter to "feed the flock of the Deity, episcopizing it willingly; but not as lording over the heritages." The ecclesial heritages, or clergies, composed the flock, which the elders were to episcopize, or oversee, not for their own sordid interests, but for the benefit of the flock itself.
But soon after the breaking up of the Mosaic Commonwealth by
the Romans, A.D. 70, the Judaizers changed the relations of things. They argued, that now the Levitical Order was removed, the Elderships of the ecclesias should take its place; and as the tribe of Levi was Yahweh's clergy, lot, or heritage under the law, so the Elderships should now be regarded as his clergy under the gospel; not forgetting to put in a claim for Levi's tithes and other perquisites. Whatever might have been thought of the claim, and the argument to enforce it, matters not; the Judaizing Presbyters and Deacons became the "priest and Levites" of the growing apostasy; and soon after ripened into a Hierachy, or "Holy Order," called "The Clergy," in contradistinction to the multitude, whom they styled ho laos, the Laity, or common people.
Having successfully usurped the birthright of Christ's brethren, andimposed themselves upon the Deity as his charge, or lot, an element of "the blasphemy of them who say they are Jews, and are not, but the synagogue of the Satan" (Apoc. 2:9), they were prepared to push onwards for the Satan's throne. About the middle of the second century, a very important change occurred promotive of this unhallowed ambition. The innovation then taking place, was a marked distinction between the Bishop and the Elder; in consequence of which a third kind of office was created; so that, instead of Episcopal Elders, or bishops and deacons, we come to read in ecclesiastical authors of bishops, presbyters and deacons. In a collection of epistles attributed to Ignatius, this novel and unscriptural distinction frequently and officially obtrudes upon the reader. This novelty soon came to be generally admitted, and paved the way for pernicious results. The adoption of the idea laid the foundation for the dominion of a Clerical King, or Pontiff, with clerical officials; a kingdom which, having originated in the Mystery of Iniquity, could not possibly ultimate in any other manifestation than that which has filled the habitable with hypocrisy and crime for sixteen hundred years. The passage alluded to in Ignatius is in a letter from him to Polycarp: "Attend to the Bishop," says he, "that God may attend to you. I pledge my soul for theirs, who are subject to the Bishop, presbyters, and deacons. Let my part in God be with them." No man guided by the Spirit into all the truth could write in such a style as this. Again, in his epistle to the Ephesians, ch. 6, it is said, "the more silent a man finds the bishop, he ought to reverence him the more": on which Dr. Campbell remarks, that "one would be tempted to think this has originated with some opulent ecclesiastic, who was far too great a man for preaching; at least, we may say, it seems an oblique apology for those who have no objection to anything implied in a bishopric, except the discharge of its duties. No one whose notion of the duties of a bishop correspond with the prophet Isaiah's idea of a watchman, ch. 56:10, would have thought taciturnity a
recommendation." The passage must have been an interpolation, or if Ignatius really wrote it, he must have been in league with the Judaizers. Surely he could not have been ignorant that Paul required a bishop to be "able by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convince the gainsayers; for there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision; whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake." A silent bishop would be of no use in such a diocese. To talk down vain talkers who had made such a progress as this, would require an amount of words that would effectually destroy the reputation of any bishop for a taciturn, and therefore worshipful official.
The writers in the interest of the Latin Name of Blasphemy have fabricated a list of what they style "Bishops of Rome." The first fifty-six they have named "Saints," in their sense of the word, which signifies one decreed to be holy by an official act of the pope! This sounds infinitely ridiculous in the ears of an enlightened believer, who knows that all true Christians, without distinction of class or order, are made saints by "the obedience of faith," independently of the acts and decrees of popes, bishops, presbyters, or councils. The memory of the faithful and humble presbyters who ruled the Ecclesia in Rome, is insulted and blasphemed by papal canonization. Though men of low degree, and despised by the wise and prudent of their day, they were men of whom Rome, the common sewer of nations, has never been worthy; but of all blasphemies ever uttered to their disparagement, that of being declared "saints," in the Romish sense of the word, is the greatest of all.
Of the said fifty-six, the catholic bishop Sylvester, who flourished in apostasy in the reign of Constantine, is reckoned the thirty-fourth saint from the apostle Peter, to whom they lyingly assign a reign of twenty-four years in Rome, as the first pope! The only reign of Peter in Rome was after the manner of his reign in America or Britain at this day, where his doctrine may be believed and obeyed. Where this reigns, Peter reigns; nay, more, Christ and the Father reign; for, said the Lord
Jesus to his apostles, "he that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth Him that sent me" (Luke 10:16). This saying constitutes the Father, Christ, and the Apostles, as one authority; and the only authority to which obedience should be rendered in spiritual affairs. Where this authority rules, everything works to the self-edification of the body in love. Had its members continued faithful to this supremacy, there would have been no scope for sovereign bishops and popes. But the Divine authority fell into disuse. It was no longer, what saith the Scripture? but, what saith
the Bishop? And in later times, what saith the Bishop of Rome, or the Pope? An incredible number of volumes have been written to propagate and defend the old wife's fable of Peter's popeship, with Mark, Barnabas, and all others, as his subordinate clergy. Having planted him upon the Seven Heads, with these for his college of Cardinal Princes, they have, as a consequence, claimed Rome as the throne of spiritual dominion, and the Bishop there as the only true undoubted Christian Pontiff! And thus, by such a lying conceit, Peter, Mark, Barnabas, and their company, are, in effect, made the inception of the Name of Blasphemy upon the Seven Hills!
Ecclesiastical writers refer to the third century as the time when the doctrine, order, and worship, instituted by the apostles, under went a memorable and manifest change. The theology of the Judaizers had, to a great extent, drawn off the attention of professors from "the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus," and fixed it on a Hierarchy, particularly in Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, and Carthage, which, by this time, had become numerous, and ranked among their adherents many wealthy citizens. Professors of Christianity were now very numerous, and therefore, of no little consequence in the estimation of the government, which favored or repressed them as reasons of State dictated.
In this century, a system of ecclesiastical management was introduced, aptly styled by some, the Episcopal System of Church Law. It got rid of the trouble of consulting the laity, or common people, on the affairs of their respective ecclesias; it introduced sacerdotal or priestly authority; it set up as many principalities as there were bishoprics; it acknowledged the Bishop in Rome as the first in order, but nothing more; and to consummate the whole, it eventually deprived the so-call-ed laity of all right to be consulted about their own affairs. This state of things, when compared with that exhibited in the Acts of the Apostles, indicates a notable falling away; of which, the following quotation from Mosheim will give the reader some idea:
"The most respectable writers of that age," says he, "have put it out of the power of an historian to spread a veil over the enormities of ecclesiastical rulers. For, though several yet continued to exhibit to the world illustrious examples of primitive piety and christian virtue (these were the "few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments," and the "little strength" of Philadelphia that had "kept the word, and had not denied the name of Christ" -Author) yet many were sunk in luxury and voluptuousness; puffed up with vanity, arrogance, and ambition; possessed with a spirit of contention and discord, and addicted to many other vices that cast an undeserved reproach upon the holy religion of which they were the unworthy professors and ministers.
And in many places the bishops assumed a princely authority, particularly those who had the greatest number of churches under their inspection, and who presided over the most opulent assemblies. They appropriated to their evangelical functions the splendid ensigns of temporal majesty. A throne, surrounded with ministers, exalted above his equals the servant of the meek and lowly Jesus; and sumptuous garments dazzled the eyes and minds of the multitude into an ignorant veneration for their arrogated authority. Presbyters followed their example, neglected their duties, and abandoned themselves to the indolence and delicacy of an effeminate and luxurious life. Deacons imitated their superiors, and the effects of a corrupt ambition were spread through every rank of the Sacred Order."
In treating of the progress of episcopal authority he remarks that "the prelates of the third century imperceptibly changed the language of exhortation into that of command, scattered the seeds of future usurpations, and supplied, by scripture allegories and declamatory rhetoric, their deficiency of force and of reason. They exalted the unity and power of the church, as it was represented in the episcopal office, of which every bishop enjoyed an equal and undivided portion. Princes and magistrates, it was often repeated, might boast an earthly claim to a transitory dominion; it was the episcopal authority alone which was derived from the Deity, and extended itself over this and over another world. The Bishops (it was said) were the Vicegerents of Christ, the successors of the Apostles, and the Mystic Substitutes of the High Priest of the Mosaic law. Their exclusive privilege of conferring the sacerdotal character, invaded the freedom both of clerical and popular elections; and if, in the administration of the church, they still consulted the judgment of the presbyters (or elders), or the inclination of the people, they most carefully inculcated the merit of such a voluntary condescension. The bishops acknowledged the supreme authority which resided in the assembly of their brethren (of the episcopal order); but in the government of his peculiar diocese, each of them exacted from his flock the same implicit obedience as if that favorite metaphor had been literally just, and as if the shepherd had been of a more exalted nature than that of his sheep. This obedience, however, was not imposed without some efforts on one side, and some resistance on the other. The democratical part of the constitution was, in many places, very warmly supported by the zealous or interested opposition of the inferior clergy. But their patriotism received the ignominious epithets of faction and schism; and the episcopal cause was indebted for its rapid progress to the labors of many active prelates who, like Cyprian of Carthage, could reconcile the arts of the most ambitious statesman with the christian virtues which seem
adapted to the character of a saint and martyr.
"The same causes," he continues, "which at first had destroyed the equality of the presbyters, introduced among the bishops a preeminence of rank, and from thence a superiority of jurisdiction. As often as in the spring and autumn they met in provincial synod, the difference of personal merit and reputation was very sensibly felt among the members of the assembly, and the multitude was governed by the wisdom and eloquence of the few. But the order of public proceedings required a more regular and less invidious distinction; the office of perpetual presidents in the Councils of each province was conferred on the bishops of the principal city, and these aspiring prelates, who soon acquired the lofty titles of Metropolitans and Primates, secretly prepared themselves to usurp over their episcopal brethren the same authority which the bishops had so lately assumed above the college of presbyters. Nor was it long before an emulation of preeminence and power prevailed among the metropolitans themselves, each of them affecting to display, in the most pompous terms, the temporal honors and advantages of the city over which he presided; the numbers and opulence of the christians, who were subject to their pastoral care; saints and martyrs who had arisen among them, and the purity with which they had preserved the tradition of the faith, as it had been transmitted through a series of orthodox bishops from the apostle, or the apostolic disciple, to whom the foundation of their church was ascribed. From every cause, either of a civil or of an ecclesiastical nature, it was easy to foresee that ROME must enjoy the respect, and would soon claim the obedience, of the provinces. The society of the faithful bore a just proportion to the capital of the empire; and the Roman church was the greatest, the most numerous, and, in regard to the West, the most ancient of all the christian establishments, many of which had received their religion from the pious labors of her missionaries. Instead of one apostolic founder, the utmost boast of Antioch, of Ephesus, or of Corinth, the banks of the Tyber were supposed to have been honored with the preaching and martyrdom of the two most eminent among the apostles; and the Bishops of Rome very prudently claimed the inheritance of whatever prerogatives were attributed, either to the person, or to the office, of St. Peter. The bishops of Italy and of the provinces were disposed to allow them a primacy of order and association (such was their very accurate expression) in the christian aristocracy. But (in the third century) the power of a monarch was rejected with abhorrence, and the aspiring genius of Rome experienced, from the nations of Asia and Africa, a more vigorous resistance to her spiritual, than she had formerly done to her temporal, dominion. The patriotic Cyprian who ruled with the most absolute sway the church of Carthage and the provincial synods, opposed with resolution and success the ambition of the Roman Bishop, artfully connected his own cause with that of the eastern bishops, and, like Hannibal, sought out new allies in the heart of Asia. If this Punic war was carried on without any effusion of blood, it was owing much less to the moderation than to the weakness of the contending prelates. Invectives and excommunications were their only weapons; and these, during the progress of the whole controversy, they hurled against each other with equal fury and devotion.
"From the imperious declamations of Cyprian, we should naturally conclude that the doctrines of excommunication and penance formed the most essential part of religion, and that it was much less dangerous for the disciples of Christ to neglect the observance of the moral duties, than to despise the censures and authority of their bishops. Sometimes we might imagine that we were listening to the voice of Moses, when he commanded the earth to open, and to swallow up, in consuming flames, the rebellious race which refused obedience to the priesthood of Aardn; and we should sometimes suppose that we heard a Roman Consul asserting the majesty of the republic, and declaring his inflexible resolution to enforce the rigor of the laws. 'If such irregularities are suffered with impunity (it is thus that the Bishop of Carthage chides the lenity of his colleague) if such irregularities are suffered, there is an end of episcopal vigor, an end of the sublime and divine power of governing the church, an end of christianity itself.' Cyprian had renounced those temporal honors which it is probable he would never have obtained; but the acquisition of such absolute command over the conscience and understanding of a congregation, however obscure or despised by the world, is more truly grateful to the pride of the human heart than the possession of the most despotic power, imposed by arms and conquest on a reluctant people.
"A perpetual stream of strangers and provincials flowed into the capacious bosom of Rome. Whatever was strange or odious whoever was guilty or suspected might hope, in the obscurity of that immense capital, to elude the vigilance of the law. In such a various conflux of nations, every teacher, either of truth or of falsehood, every founder, whether of a virtuous or criminal association, might easily multiply his disciples or accomplices. The christians of Rome, at the time of the persecution of Nero, A.D. 61, in which Paul suffered death, are represented by Tacitus as amounting to a very great multitude. The church in Rome was undoubtedly the first and most populous in the empire" - not first in order of beginning, but in that of influence; "and we are possessed of an authentic record which attests the state of religion in
List of the first 26 "popes" or bishops of Rome not shown as written in Latin
that city about the middle of the third century, and after a peace of thirty-eight years. The clergy at that time consisted of ONE BISHOP, (named CORNELIUS, and of the Babylonian Mouth Order,) forty-six presbyters, seven deacons, as many subdeacons, forty-two acolytes, and fifty readers, exorcists, and porters. The number of widows, of the infirm and of the poor, who were maintained by the oblations of the faithful, amounted to fifteen hundred. From reason, it may be estimated that the Christians in Rome were about fifty thousand. The populousness of that great capital will not surely have been less than a million of inhabit-ants, of whom christians might constitute at the most a twentieth part."
In the middle of the third century, this Cornelius figures as the Roman Mouth of that section of professors who now assumed to themselves the title of "the Holy Catholic Church." The spirit of the Lion fully possessed him; and he spoke with all the loftiness and inflation of his prototype in Babylon. A council was convened in Rome while he was in office, which decreed the propriety of excommunicating the founder of the Novatians, who could no longer tolerate the episcopal arrogance and corruption of the times. In writing to Fabius, bishop of Antioch, on the decrees of the council, he undertakes to delineate the character of Novatus, who, judged by an enemy, would appear a very disreputable person. The extracts given by Eusebius (himself also an enemy to Novatus) from the letters of Cornelius, show the latter to have been truly a wolf in sheep's clothing. He speaks of Novatus "aspiring to the episcopate" which he styles a "precipitate ambition," and a folly. He speaks of "the artifice and duplicity," "the periuries and falsehoods, the dissocial and savage character," "the devices and wickedness," of "that artful and malicious beast." The crime of Novatus consisted in maintaining that the Christian ecciesia was a society where virtue and innocence should reign; and whose members, from their entrance into it, were undefiled by any enormous crime. This most Scriptural position, consequently, caused him to regard every society which readmitted heinous offenders to communion, after the custom in Rome, as unworthy the title of a Christian ecclesia. This gave Cornelius and his adherents mortal offence, which was greatly'aggravated by the Novatians obliging such as came over to them from the Catholics to be reimmersed, as a necessary preparation for entering their society. By the maintaining of this impregnable position, the nominally Christian body in Rome and elsewhere was rent in twain. There was now a large minority who repudiated the system of things described in the above citations from Gibbon and Mosheim; and who, in so doing, renounced all allegiance to the episcopate of the Apocalyptic "Synagogue of the Satan." The Novatian minority regarded Cornelius as the prince of this synagogue in Rome,
denied the Christianity of what he called "the Holy Ecelesia," and claimed that the true apostolic faith and discipline was with the Novatians or Puritans, and with them alone.
This being the issue between Cornelius and Novatus, and knowing, on credible testimony, the awful corruption of morals that prevailed, we are at no loss to perceive the bitterness and malignity that inspired the epithets of Cornelius. A man who was contending earnestly for purity would be careful, for the sake of consistency, if for no other reason, to avoid such offenses against morality as Cornelius accuses him of. "We have seen," says he to Fabius, "within a short time, an extraordinary conversion and change in Novatus. For this most illustrious man, and he who affirmed with the most dreadful oaths, that he never aspired to the Episcopate, has suddenly appeared a bishop, as thrown among us by some machine!" Novatus, doubtless, affirmed the truth, that he did not aspire to the Roman Episcopate, as constituted by the novel episcopal system of church law; but had no objection to act as bishop, presbyter, or elder, with others, upon a pure and Scriptural foundation. The means by which he was appointed such, the jealous Cornelius likens to "some machine" projecting him into their midst. The appearance of Novatus, claiming to be Bishop of the Only True Ecclesia in Rome, ordained an elder by three sympathizing elders from an Italian province, would create quite a sensation; especially when his presence there was hailed, and his ordination endorsed, by a large minority of the original community. We can imagine how Bishop Cornelius felt by supposing what would be the feeling of Pius IX, the present successor of Cornelius, if a second Novatus were now to appear in Rome, endorsed by nearly half the Catholics of St. Peter's alleged patrimony, as the only true successor of the apostle! Bishop Pius would no doubt be in a foaming rage, and open his lion-mouth in the most orthodox Babylonian style. He would defame and curse his rival in the fashion and phraseology peculiar to Roman Holiness, which claims universal and absolute authority over all. Cornelius though neither universal nor absolute, yet spoke as an episcopal lion's whelp who felt the spirit of future greatness moving within, and said, "this dogmatist, this pretended champion of ecclesiastical discipline, when he attempted to seize and usurp the episcopate not given him from above (whence Cornelius claimed to have received it) selected two desperate characters as his associates, to send them to some small, and that the smallest, parts of Italy, and from thence, by some fictitious plea, to impose upon three bishops there, men altogether ignorant and simple, affirming and declaring, that it was necessary for them to come to Rome in all haste, that all the dissension that had there arisen might be removed through their mediation in conjune-
tion with the other bishops. When these men had come, being, as before observed, but simple and inexperienced in discerning the artifice and villany of the wicked, they were shut up with men of the same stamp with himself, and at the tenth hour, heated with wine and surfeiting, they forced them, by a kind of shadowy and empty imposition of hands, to confer the episcopate (pertaining to the ecciesia in Rome) upon him; which, though by no means suited to him, he claims by fraud and treachery. This was the roaring of the Lion-like Mouth, A.D. 251. The epithets sounded out against poor Novatus and his brethren, who were doing the best in their power to organize a Scriptural association, by which the original Apostolic faith and discipline introduced by the converted "Jews and proselytes" from Jerusalem, and strengthened after-wards by Paul's personal ministration for two whole years, might be maintained and perpetuated in Rome; and the Apostasy then so advanced there might be broken up, or restrained: the epithets which denounced this holy enterprise, and the unproved and reckless assertions accompanying them, are in themselves a justification of it. Cornelius claimed to be in possession of Holy Spirit; and therefore, when voted into office by his copresbyters, to have received "the episcopate from above;" all his sanguinary and blasphemous successors claim the same things; but his fruits and theirs clearly evince that the only spirit that has worked in them all is the spirit peculiar to "the children of disobedience." We know, by experience, how readily "fellows of the baser sort," pretending to great conscientiousness, and zeal for religion, busy themselves, for the promotion of their own wicked purposes, in defaming and bearing false witness against men whose lives are devoted to the propagation and defense of the truth. These were evidently the weapons of Cornelius wielded against the company of brethren convened in Rome. The wine and surfeiting story was most likely trumped up for the occasion. The author has been vilified, by so-called "elders," after the same fashion. The same sort of accusation was circulated against the Lord himself; so that we can endorse the truth and justice of an observation of Dr. Jortin, that "we should not trust too much to the representations which christians, after the apostolic age, have given of the heretics of their times. Proper abatements must be made for credulity, zeal, resentment, mistake and exaggeration."
It is easy to perceive how deeply Cornelius' episcopal pride was wounded, from the following words: "This asserter of the gospel then," says he, "did not know that there should be BUT ONE BISHOP in a catholic ecclesia - en katholike ecclesia. Novatius and Novatus both knew that, whatever there should be in a catholic church, there ought to be in a Scriptural ecclesia, more than one. If the original episcopal plurality had
not been departed from, there would have been no place found for an Episcopal Monarch in Rome. Cornelius was such a king in embryo. The "shadowy and empty imposition of hands," which he attributes to Novatus, had made him such; and it is the same sort of imposition, by which all bishops according to "church law," are imposed upon credulous and deceived communities. Sixteen bishops ordained Cornelius, and three ordained Novatus; the whole nineteen claiming to possess the Spirit. Which was the bishop from above? Cornelius was ordained first. True; and Saul was ordained before David. Priority therefore, determines nothing. The anointing of David was the repudiation of Saul. And so it proved with reference to the Five Episcopal Bodies in Rome. The organization of the NEW ECCLESIA in the capital of the empire was, Providentially, the first step to the spuing of the Catholic Synagogue of the Satan out of the Spirit's Mouth (Apoc. 3:16); and to the leaving it upon the Seven Heads, "a wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked," carcass; then after to be galvanized by imperial power and authority into a political existence, the judicial termination of which is waiting at the door. It seems that Cornelius avenged his wounded dignity, in true papal fashion, upon the bishops who ordained Novatus; for he says, "one of these, not long after, returned to his church, mourning and confessing his error, with whom also we communed as a layman, as all the people present interceded for him, and we sent successors to the other bishops, ordaining them in the place where they were." The successors sent were probably to rule catholic churches formed by the divisions endorsing the corrupt practices and lay discipline of the Cornelian church in Rome. The following extract from a writer on ecclesiastical affairs will finish what we have to offer in regard to the development of the Name of Blasphemy previous to the reign of Constantine.
"Novatianus was an elder or presbyter in the church at Rome about the A.D. 251, at which time Cyprian flourished at Carthage. He was a man of extensive learning, and the author of several publications in defence of the doctrine of the Trinity and other subjects. His address is said to have been eloquent and insinuating, while his morals were irreproachable. He beheld with just indignation the depravity of the church in his day, and sighed over its abominations. Within the space of a few years, Christians had been caressed by one emperor, and persecuted by another. In the day of prosperity many persons rushed into the church who had never seriously counted the cost; and, like the stony-ground hearers in our Lord's parable of the sower, when persecution overtook them, they denied the faith, and reverted to idolatry. When the storm had subsided, they returned again to the church; and the bishops, who were much more concerned about the number and respectability of their con-
gregations, than they were for the purity of communion and the free circulation of brotherly love among the members, encouraged all this, to the disgust of Novatian and all considerate persons. On the death of Fabian, who had sustained the character of bishop, one Cornelius, copresbyter with Novatian, who was a vehement partisan for taking in the multitude, was put in nomination for the bishopric. Novatianus opposed him, but ineffectually; and seeing no prospect of reformation in the church, but, on the contrary, a tide of immorality prevailing, he withdrew, and was joined by a number of the friends of reform. The consequence was, that Cornelius, irritated, it is said, by Cyprian, who was similarly situated, through the remonstrances of virtuous men at Carthage, and who was exasperated beyond measure with one of his elders, whose name was Novatus, and who had quitted Carthage and gone to Rome to espouse the cause of Novatianus, called a council, and got a sentence of excommunication against the latter. In a little time the friends of Novatianus formed themselves, or, at any rate, were formed into a church, which invested him with the pastoral office. The example was followed in various places, and Puritan churches were formed all over the empire, and flourished during the succeeding two hundred years. Afterwards, when penal laws (enacted by catholic emperors) obliged them to lurk in corners, and worship God in private, they became distinguished by various names, and a succession of them continued to the Lutheran reformation.
"It has been truly said," continues the same writer, "that it is next to impossible to avoid being misled in perusing histories of heretics. They are all written by interested ecclesiastics, who study to blacken the character of those whom they describe, in the most bitter terms that malice can invent. Novatianus is held up by these writers as the first ANTIPOPE, because he withdrew from the communion of a corrupt church. The stigma of Antipope is ridiculous; for, at that time, there was no pope in the true sense of the word; nor for jubilees of years after his day. They call Novatianus(*) the author of the heresy of Puritanism; whereas Puritanism, or the object for which the puritans, or CATHARI, as they were styled, contended, was a virtue, and not a heresy. In contend-
ing for purity of fellowship they were sustained by the concurrent voice of prophets and apostles. Novatianus was by no means singular in that respect even in the age in which he lived. Tertullian had quitted the church fifty years before, for the very same reason; and Privatus, who was an old man in the time of Novatianus, had, with several more, repeatedly remonstrated against the departures which had taken place from apostolic institution, and as they could get no redress, had withdrawn, and formed separate congregations, or worshipped God in private. These ecclesiastical writers attribute to Novatian what they regard as the crime of originating innumerable congregations in every part of the Roman empire; and yet he had no other influence over them than what his example gave him. The real friends of Christ and his cause everywhere saw the same ground of complaint, and sighed for relief; and when the standard of return to first principles was once lifted up, thousands gathered themselves around it; they saw the propriety of a remedy for a crying evil, and applied it to their own relief. In truth, so far are the charges of heresy and schism brought against Novatian from being well founded, that his memory ought to be embalmed in the recollection of the faithful for his zealous adherence to the cause of truth and virtue."
In tracing the development of the Name of Blasphemy, we now advance to the era of Constantine. Sixty years after the death of Cornelius, who died in exile at Civita Vecchia, A.D. 252, "the Catholic and Apostolic Church, Mother of the Faithful," was invested with the sunshine of imperialism, and constituted the religion of the State. The bishop of the Anti-novatian association in Rome now became "the Bishop of Rome," and a spiritual prince of the empire. Before this change of fortune, he had but a bare precedency in respect of rank which had been tacitly yielded to him as bishop of the church in the metropolis of the empire. As to authority, Irenaeus, bishop in Lyons, on account of his personal character, was of ten times more authority even in the West than Victor, bishop in Rome; and Cyprian of Carthage, than Stephen of Rome, who excommunicated him. "But," says Dr. G. Campbell, "matters under-went a very great change after christianity had received the sanction of a legal establishment. Then, indeed, the difference between one see and another, both in riches and in power, soon became enormous. And this could not fail to produce, in the sentiments of mankind, the usual consequences. Such is the constant progress in all human politics whatever. In the most simple state of society, personal merit, of some kind or other, makes the only noticeable distinction between man and man. In politics purely republican, it is still (many years ago when these words were penned) the chief distinction. But the further ye recede from
these, and the nearer ye approach the monarchical model, the more does this natural distinction give place to those artificial distinctions created by riches, office, and rank.
"When Rome was become immensely superior, both in splendor and in opulence, to every western See, she would with great facility, and as it were naturally, (if nothing very unusual or alarming was attempted,) dictate to the other Sees in the west; the people there having had, for several ages, very little of the disputatious dogmatizing humor of their brethren in the east. It no doubt contributed to the same effect, that Rome was the only See of very great note which concurred with several of them in language; Latin being the predominant tongue among the western churches, as Greek was among the eastern. It was natural for the former, therefore, to consider themselves as more closely connected with the Roman Patriarch than with the Constantinopolitan, or any of the other oriental patriarchs. A similar reason, when not counteracted by other causes, operated among the Greeks, to make them prefer a Grecian patriarch before a Latin one.
Sylvester(*) was the catholic saint, whom Constantine recognized as the Bishop of Rome and Patriarch of the West. The papists reckon him as the thirty-fourth pope. But, we know from history, that popes had not yet come into fashion. The spirit of a pope, however, wrought in him mightily; and when he opened his mouth, his utterances showed what he would do when power should be given to him by the Dragon. Take the following as an illustration: The Nicene Creed having been subscribed, Constantine, the Man-Child of Sin, who presided at the council, transmitted its canons and decrees to Sylvester, who, in the thirteenth council that had been held in Rome, at which were present two hundred and seventy-five bishops, ratified them in the following Babylonian style: 'We confirm with our mouth that which has been decreed at Nice, a city of Bithynia, by the three hundred and eighteen holy bishops, for the good of the catholic and apostolic church, Mother of the faithful. We anathematize all those who shall dare to contradict the decrees of the Great and Holy Council which was assembled at Nice (A. D. 325), in the presence of that most pious and venerable prince, the emperor Constantine.' And to this all the bishops answered, 'We consent to it.' Nebuchadnezzar himself could not have spoken more loftily and lion-like. He that dared to call in question their utterances was deemed unworthy of all blessings human and Divine; for, if Constantine be worthy of the belief, their voice was not the voice of men, but of 'the successors of the apostles, who had been established as priests and gods
upon earth' "-Vit. Const. 184.108.40.206.21.
This recognition of the Catholic clergy by the unbaptized and imperial president of their church, as "priests and gods upon earth, "was very flattering to their vanity and pride of life. They had instructed their imperial patron that this was their Scriptural relation to the sons of men. In their case, however, it was a mere assumption of Divine honors, and undeserved. In the days of the apostles, that which was spoken to Israel, might be truly applied to them, and to those who believed into Jesus through their word, saying, "I said, Ye are gods." The Lord Jesus explained in what sense this saying was applicable to Israel, but not to mankind at large. Thus, "if He (the Spirit) called them gods, unto whom the word of the Deity came, and the Scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of the Deity?" The Jews considered this as "making himself equal with God" (John 5:18; 10:33-36). The gospel teaches, that a people to whom the Word of the Deity is sent, and who receive it, become Sons of God; and are, in this sense, gods. This Word was first sent to Israel, and then to the Gentiles. And who obeyed it in the love of it, became Sons of God by adoption through Jesus Christ. This is the Scriptural status of all true Christadelphians, or Brethren of Christ. This is a great honor, and an extraordinary manifestation of love on the part of the Father, the contemplation of which caused John to exclaim, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the Sons of God;" and lest any should say, that this sonship pertained exclusively to a future state of existence, he adds concerning the faithful, "beloved, we are Now the Sons of God;" which was equivalent to saying, "we are now gods upon the earth;" and he continued, "it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him AS HE IS " (1 John 3:1-3).
But, though it be true that such men are "gods upon earth," and also "priests," it is a mere blasphemy in the mouth of the Man-Child of Sin, when applied to the corrupt and arrogant clergy of the Laodicean Apostasy. The gifts of the Spirit had been withdrawn; and State-Church Catholics were left to their own delusions. The Spirit had raised up a testimony against them, by which He "spued them out of his mouth," as "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:" for He only recognizes them as "priests and gods upon earth," in the Scriptural sense, who, having believed the things concerning the kingdom of the Deity and the Name of Jesus Christ, have been immersed, and walk in purity, "even as He is pure;" a condition of things that could not possibly
be affirmed of Constantine and the professional ecclesiastics whom he delighted to honor.
Such, however, was the blasphemous assumption of the Catholic clergy, both Greek and Latin. Though utterly unworthy, by ignorance of the truth, by perversion of Apostolic institutions, and impurity of life, they claimed to be "priests and gods upon earth." But, though nothing but the spued-out ejecta of the Spirit's mouth, they were, in a certain relation of things, "priests and gods upon earth." They were the "priests and gods upon earth" pertaining to the Laodicean Apostasy; and acknowledged by the Man-Child of Sin "in his estate." According to Gibbon's authorities, there were eighteen hundred of these gods upon the Roman earth; of whom one thousand were enthroned in the Greek, and eight hundred in the Latin provinces of the empire. Episcopal thrones were closely planted along the banks of the Nile, on the sea coast of Africa, in the proconsular Asia, and through the southern provinces of Italy. The episcopal gods of Gaul and Spain, of Thrace and Pontus, reigned over an ample territory, and delegated their rural suffragans to execute the subordinate duties of the pastoral office. A god's diocese might be spread over a province, or reduced to a village; but all the gods possessed an equal and indelible character; they all blasphemously claimed to derive the same powers and privileges from the Apostles, from the people, and from the laws. The whole body of these priests and gods of Antichrist, was exempted by Sin's imperial Man-Child, from all service, private or public, all municipal offices, and all personal taxes and contributions, which pressed upon the laity with intolerable weight; and the duties of their clerical profession, deemed holy by the strongly deluded, was accepted as a full discharge of their obligations to the republic.
The gods of the Catholic heaven were regularly assembled in the spring and autumn of each year; and these synods diffused the spirit of ecclesiastical discipline and regulation through the hundred and twenty provinces of the Roman world. The Archdeity, or metropolitan bishop, was empowered, by the laws, to summon the suifragan demons of his province; to revise their conduct, to vindicate their rights, to declare their faith, and to examine the merit of the candidates who were elected by the clergy and people to supply the vacancies of the episcopal college. The chief gods, or primates, of Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Carthage, and afterwards of Constantinople, who exercised a more ample jurisdiction, convened the numerous assemblies of their dependent gods. But the convocation of great and extraordinary synods was the sole prerogative of the god who filled the imperial Dragon throne. Whenever the emergencies of the spiritual department of his estate required this
decisive measure, the emperor dispatched a peremptory summons to the episcopal deities, or the deputies of each province, with an order for the use of post-horses and a competent allowance for the expenses of their journey. The Council of Nice was convened by this authority, A.D. 325. It was assembled by "the Mother's" imperial protector and proselyte, to extinguish, by their final sentence, the subtle disputes which had arisen in Egypt on the subject of the Trinity. Three hundred and eighteen gods obeyed the summons of their imperial creator whom Gibbon styles "their indulgent master." The inferior gods or demons, of every rank and denomination, have been computed at two thousand and forty-eight; the Greeks appeared in person: and the consent of the Latins was expressed by the legates of the Archdeity of Rome. The session, which lasted about two months, was frequently decorated by the presence of the imperial Man-Child, who claimed to be God of gods upon earth, as expressed in the title, BISHOP of bishops. Leaving his guards at the door, he seated himself (with the permission of the divine council) on a low stool in the middle of the hall, an eminent illustration of Satan's "darling sin," which is said to be
"Pride that apes humility."
"He listened with patience," says Gibbon, "and spoke with modesty; and while he influenced the debates, Constantine humbly professed that he was the minister, not the judge, of the successors of the apostles, who had been established as priests and as gods upon earth."
Of all these gods of the apostasy, those of Antioch, Alexandria, Carthage, Constantinople and Rome, were the chief. They were, however, not only the chief of many, but they were rival gods, whose principle it was rather to reign in hell than to serve in heaven. Lust of power and love of contention were the ruling characteristics of them all; at least such is the testimony of a contemporary of those turbulent times. "If I must speak the truth," says Gregory Nazianzen, "this is my resolution to avoid all councils of the bishops; for I have seen no good end answered by any synod whatever; for their love of contention and their lust of power are too great even for words to express."
In the reign of Constantine's son and successor, Rome had become a most seducing object of sacerdotal ambition. In the episcopal order, the Bishop of Rome was the first in rank among the gods, and distinguished by a sort of preeminence over all the others. He surpassed all his companion deities in the magnificence and splendor of the temple over which he presided, in the extent of his revenues and possessions, in the number and variety of his ministers, in his influence over the deluded people, and in his sumptuous and splendid manner of living. Ammiamus Marcellinus, a Roman historian, who lived in the reign of Con-
stantius, referring to this subject, says: "It was no wonder to see those who were ambitious of human greatness contending with so much heat and animosity for that dignity; because, when they obtained it, they were sure to be enriched by the offerings of the matrons, of appearing abroad in great splendor, of being admired in their costly coaches, sumptuous in their feasts, outdoing sovereign princes in the expenses of their table." No wonder that Pretextatus, the pagan Prefect of the city, should say, "Make me Bishop of Rome, and I'll be a Christian, too!"
As a further illustration of the pass at which the Mystery of Iniquity had arrived in Rome, it may be added that Liberius, the bishop, died A.D. 366, and that a violent contest arose respecting his successor in the throne of blasphemy. The Catholics were divided into two factions, one of which elected Damasus to that dignity, while the other chose Ursicinus, a deacon. The party of Damasus prevailed, and obtained his ordination of the godship. The other party, enraged at its failure, set up separate meetings, and eventually had their favorite ordained also. This occasioned great disputes among the pious laity, as to which of them should possess the episcopal dignity; and to such an extremity was the dispute carried, that great numbers on either side were killed in the quarrel; no fewer than a hundred and thirty-seven persons having been put to death in the very "temple of the God" itself! "How much more rationally," remarks Ammianus, "would those pontiffs consult their true happiness, if, instead of alleging the greatness of the city as an excuse for their manners, they would imitate the exemplary life of some provincial bishops, whose temperance and sobriety, whose mean apparel and downcast looks, recommended their pure and modest virtue to the Deity, and his true worshippers." This lively picture drawn by Ammianus of the wealth and luxury of the gods in the fourth century, "becomes the more curious," says Gibbon, "as it represents the inter-mediate degree between the humble poverty of the apostolic fishermen and the royal state of a temporal prince, whose dominions extend from the confines of Naples to the banks of the Po."
Damasus was contemporary with "Theodosius the Great," who, on his advancement to the imperial office, evinced a fervid zeal for Trinitarianism. He addressed a letter to the divided Catholics of Con-stantinople, and told them that "it was his pleasure that all his subjects should be of the same profession as Damasus, Bishop of Rome, and Peter, bishop of Alexandria; that their church alone should be denominated 'Catholic' who worshipped the divine Trinity as equal in honor, and that those who were of another opinion should be deemed heretics, be regarded as infamous, and subject to other punishments. This was an imperial constitution of the Trinitarian gods of Rome and Alexandria as
We are now, then, arrived at a great crisis in the development of the "Name of Blasphemy upon the Heads;" that is, at a period in which the second stage of its growth was nearly consummated a period which may be expressed by the epochal years A.D. 380-410. The beginning of this period is illustrated by the exaltation of Theodosius to the imperial office, and is marked by the sack of Rome by the tribes of Germany and Scythia, under the command of Alaric, who visited the sanguinary intolerance, blasphemy, corruption and crimes of the Catholics and their God in Rome, with the "hail and fire mingled with blood" of the First Wind-Trumpet. Theodosius was one of the most intolerant and perse-cuting of the Catholic emperors of the Sixth Head of the Dragon. We have seen how he set up his will and pleasure as the rule of his subjects' faith and conscience. This is further illustrated by his expulsion of all from Constantinople who would not subscribe the Nicene confession of faith. In A.D. 383, he issued two edicts against "heretics;" the first, prohibiting them from holding any assemblies; and the second, forbidding them to meet in fields or villages. These edicts would be especially oppressive to "the Angel having the Seal of the living God," engaged in sealing His servants in their foreheads (Apoc. 7:2,3): and, as though this were not enough, he followed it up by a law in which he forbade heretics to worship, or to preach, to ordain bishops, or presbyters, commanding some to be banished and others rendered infamous and deprived of the common privileges of citizens. This intolerant and wicked oppressor is surnamed "the Great," and by scribes of the same superstition declared to be "very dear to the Catholic Church." It was not to be supposed, however, that the Lord Jesus at the right hand of Power, to whom his brethren and servants are infinitely dearer, would permit these oppressions to pass away unavenged. He, therefore, let loose the four winds against the "earth, the sea and the trees" of the empire, by which it was extinguished in its western third, and the "god upon earth," not yet be-come "the god of the earth" in Rome, was reduced almost to a nonentity.
The six days pillage and slaughter of the inhabitants of the Queen City, was a terrible but richly-deserved calamity, and, at the same time, a blow that prostrated her dignity and honor in the dust. A city which, with the strength of iron, had broken in pieces and subdued all things; and had boasted of her reign over the kings of the earth, was now trampled under foot of barbarians, and insolently compelled to become a sport, and to sue for peace. This was a great discouragement and check to the ambition of the Bishop of Rome. Hitherto, he had based his claim to the first rank among "all called god, or an object of worship," upon the greatness of the city in which he officiated. A canon of the Council of Chalcedon expressly declares this principle of primacy in voting equal privileges to the Bishop of R6me and the Bishop of Constantinople, because the last, then called New Rome, was also the Royal City. Leo, of Old Rome, however, indignantly rejected this coequality in primacy, he would be first. But the time had now arrived to pour out the Divine wrath upon her which had been accumulating against her for over eleven hundred and sixty years. Her imperial and metropolitan dignity was doomed to suffer a total eclipse; so that, when it had departed, it would be necessary for the man who had "become a god," to invent some new theory whereby his dignity might be prevented from taking its departure likewise. The proud and luxurious bishop was hurled into the lowest depths of misery. Had Ammianus Marcellinus beheld him after being spoiled by Alaric, he would have seen a blasphemer smitten of the God of heaven for his sins, and there would be nothing, at this crisis, Proetextatus would desire less than to be Bishop of Fallen Rome. The following extract from a letter of Pelagius, an eye-witness of the pillage, will give the reader some idea of the change of fortune that had come over the bishop since the days of Ammianus and Proetextatus, when princely magnificence and luxury were the rule of episcopal life: "This dismal calamity," says he, "but just over, and you yourself are a witness how Rome, that commanded the world, was astonished at the alarm of the Gothic trumpet, when that barbarous and victorious nation stormed her walls and made her way through the breach. Where were then the privileges of birth and the distinctions of quality? Were not all ranks and degrees leveled at that time, and promiscuously huddled together? Every house there was a scene of misery, and equally filled with grief and confusion. The slave and the man of quality were in the same circumstance, and everywhere the terror of death and slaughter were the same, unless we may say the fright made the greatest impression on those who had the greatest interest in living."
Thus, then, the glory of the city having departed, the glory of the bishop built upon it had departed also. A god located in a city of inferior rank, with no other prestige, could not expect to command the world. As the city faded into insignificance and contempt among barbarians, so would he unless he "changed his base," and commenced to operate upon their ignorance and credulity from a new position. In a hundred and thirty-six years from its sack by Alaric, Rome was to be left a dreary solitude, without man or beast within its walls for forty days and more. It was time, therefore, that some pretension should be set up that would so awe the world, that a Divine supremacy should be accorded to its bishop altogether independent of the former plea. The pretension that seemed to meet the urgency of the situation, was that of the Bishop of Rome being the lineal successor of the apostle Peter; and that by virtue of this successorship, he possessed the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and had Divinely intrusted to him the power of binding and loosing. The clergy were all assumed to be the successors of the apostles; but the Bishop of Rome claimed to be successor of "the Prince of Apostles," and that, therefore, he was the Prince-god of all clerical "gods upon earth."
But, upon what could this pretension be based so as to give it plausibility? It is true that Christ promised to give the keys to Peter, whom he pronounced "blessed;" it is also true that he fulfilled the promise; and furthermore, lt lS true that when Peter declared his conviction, in common with the rest of the apostles, that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Lord said to him, that upon this rock He would build His ecclesia, against which the gates of the unseen should not prevail (Matt. 16:15-19). But, in all this there was not a word, no, not a hint, of any one else than Peter; much less of such an ignorant, corrupt, and de-graded blasphemer as the bishop of Rome. How, then, could what was promised and fulfilled to Peter, a Jewish fisherman of Galilee, be made applicable, even plausibly so, to a proud and luxurious man of fashion in Rome? This was a work and great labor to be done! A labor which only craft and falsehood, operating upon the grossest ignorance and superstition, could finish with success.
Paul testifies in Gal. 2:7,8, that the gospel of the circumcision was intrusted to Peter, the ministration of which constituted his apostleship
of the circumcision. Hence, as "the strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes" received the gospel in Jerusalem from the Spirit through him, a relationship was established between him and them, which two hundred and~twenty years after came to be styled by Cyprian, "Petri cathedram, atque ecclesiam principalem, unde unitas sacerdotalis exorta est" - that is, the Chair of Peter, and the principal ecclesia whence priestly unity proceeds. But is it not ridiculous to style a little company of disciples of the Spirit in Rome, Peter's Chair, because they heard the truth from his mouth? The "strangers of Rome" were only a small portion of his audience on the day of Pentecost. Besides them, there were "devout Jews" from every nation under the Roman heaven. When they returned, they would plant ecclesias in their homes, every one of which upon the same principle would be a Chair of Peter! But, craft, which deceives the ignorant and the simple, has no use for reason. Assertion without proof is all that it requires. The crafty ecclesiastics of the apostasy affirmed it; and it suited the policy of the aspiring bishops of the imperial city to adopt it. If it were conceded that the Church in Rome was Peter's Chair, would not the man that occupied it as chief bishop of the church be Peter's successor; and if Peter's successor in office, must he not officially inherit all that is predicable of Peter? He would be "Vicar of the Blessed Peter" -Peter in every respect, save in personal identity.
This was the position assumed by "the Name of Blasphemy upon the Heads of the Beast;" and ultimately conceded by the Horns, which the judgments of the first four trumpets upon the Catholic West developed, when they gave in their adhesion to that Name; in evidence whereof the following gleanings of Mr. Elliott from divers sources will amply show:
He styles it, "the mighty fact" first privately spoken out by Boniface I., A.D. 419-22, to the Thessalian and Illyrian bishops. "The Blessed Peter," says he, "to whom the height of priesthood was conceded by the word of Jesus Christ;" "on whom, we read, was placed the foundation of the universal ecclesi a:" "on whom its government and supreme power rested:" "this, therefore, by ecclesias spread over the whole world, is established to be as the Head of its own members; from which whosoever cuts himself off, becomes exiled from the Christian religion."
After this the Legate of Celestine, the bishop of Rome, A.D. 431, in the Council of Ephesus before all Antichristendom, said, "It is a thing undoubted, that the holy and most blessed Peter, the Exarch and Head of the apostles, the pillar of the faith, the foundation of the catholic church, received the keys of the kingdom; and to him was given the power of binding and loosing sin; which Peter still lives and exercises judgment in his successors, even to this day and always." In the same style, bishop Leo's deputies, some twenty years later, in the Council of Chalcedon, proclaimed him "Head of All Churches;" and this evidently because, as the Council itself said, "Peter spoke in Leo!" On similar grounds the headship of the Antichristian Body and the world was claimed by Leo himself, in his letters and orations. In a sermon of St. Peter's day, he thus expressed himself before his Roman audience:
"There are those, O Rome, who advance thee to this glory as a holy nation, an elect people, a sacerdotal and royal city complete through the Holy Seat of the Blessed Peter, head of the World; thou hast a wider rule by the divine religion than by earthly domination." In these words he evidently applies 1 Pet 2:5, to the Roman See and people in communion with it. This is a specimen of the blasphemy of the Name, which perverts what the apostle says to the saints concerning their spiritual status, and applies it to the basest of mankind. Leo said that he, as Bishop of Rome, was officially "both the guardian of the catholic faith, and of the tradi-tions of the fathers."
Leo's immediate successor was Hilary. The spirit of Leo had passed with the office to him, so that what Leo had affirmed, he readily accepted as his rightful prerogative. In the estimation of these men, "whoever disputed the primacy and authority of the Roman See, as being that rock on which by Christ's own ordinance Christ's universal church was built, was none other than the Devil or Antichrist." Hence, the incense of the Tarragonese bishop's reference to him as officially the "Vicar of Peter; unto whom, forthwith from after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the keys of the kingdom belong, for the illumination of all," was an odor of a sweet smell. From A.D. 492 to 496, Gelasius figured as Bishop of Rome, which was then the throne of the Seventh Head, the Gothic Kings of Italy. But though subject to Theodoric, he strenuously asserted his Divine supremacy over all kings and emperors. In a letter to Faustus, he wrote: "Things divine are to be learned by the secular potentates (the Horns of the Beast) from bishops, above all from the Vicar of the Blessed Peter"; and in a letter to the emperor in Constantinople, whom he excommunicated, A.D. 494, he writes: "There are two authorities by which the world is governed, the Pontifical and the Royal; the sacerdotal order being that which has charge of the sacraments of life, and from which thou must seek the causal of thy salvation. Hence, in divine things, it becomes Kings to bow the neck to Priests; specially to the Head of Priests, whom Christ's own voice has set over the universal church." But, to be Vicar of Peter was to be only the Vicar of a Vicar. There was a step still higher on the ladder of episcopal ambition, which the Blasphemer of Rome was ready to mount when opportunity presented. Two consecutive councils at Rome, held A.D. 494 and 495, rec-
-ognized and accepted his words as those of the VICAR OF CHRIST: "The Holy Roman Church," says he, "is preferred to other ecclesias by no synodical canons; but it obtains the primacy by the evangelical voice of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, saying, Thou art Peter. The Roman Church is therefore the chief seat of the apostle Peter, not having spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing;" "having authority over the whole church for its general superintendence and government." This same Gelasius, as if determined indelibly to affix the character of blasphemy to the Name he represented, styles the apostle, "our Saviour the Blessed Peter," because of the words spoken to him, "whatsoever thou shalt bind, etc.; so that none living are excepted from the church's authority of the keys; but only the dead." But, in after times, not even the dead were excepted. At the close of the Council in A.D. 495, when Gelasius had finished, the assembled bishops shouted, six times repeated, "We see that thou art the VICAR OF CHRIST."
There was more in the significance of the words of those episcopal shouts than they intended. VICARIUM CHRISTI te videm us! was in effect saying, "We see that thou art ho Antichristos, the Antichrist!" Vicarius answers to the word anti, that is, instead, or supplies the place of another; hence, as a substantive, a deputy, a substitute, a vicegerent, locum tenens, vicar. "We see that thou art a substitute for Christ!" and a substitute for Peter! And that thou art above every thing called god or is worshipped! Anti- Christos is the Greek for Vicarius Christi. This "was blaspheming those who dwell in the heaven;" it was injuring greatly the reputation of the Father and the Son among men, for an ignorant and profane Gentile, who proclaimed in council the words noster Salvator Beatissimus Petrus, "our saviour the most blessed Peter," to announce himself as their substitute and all-powerful representative upon earth. A Vicar-Christ is Anti-Christ; and though they did not mean to make that application, yet in shouting what they did, they for once proclaimed the truth to the world from the Seven Hills.
This same Gelasius at the Council of A.D. 494, had authoritatively drawn up a list of the Scriptures to be received as Canonical and Divine. The first list is headed, "The Order of the Books of the Old Testament, which the Holy and Catholic Roman Church receives and venerates; digested by the Blessed Father Gelasius, with seventy bishops." This includes the Apocryphal Books of Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Tobit, Esdras, Judith, and 1 Maccabees. The second list gives the books of the New Testament as still received. In a fourth list the writings of "the Fathers;" as Cyprian, Gregory Nazianzen, Basil, &c: and ending, "the rest, which are composed by heretics or schismatics, the Catholic and Roman Church by no means receives." A list of about one hundred of the Apocryphal writings, not to be received, is then subjoined; among which are the Opuscula of Tertullian and Lactantius, and of the Apocalyptic Commentators, Victorinus and Tychonius. All these, with their authors, the concluding clause consigns to eternal damnation: "with their authors and the admirers of the authors we declare to be damned to an indissoluble bond in eternity." Thus, like his predecessor Leo, he set himself up as the supreme arbiter and judge in all matters of faith!
At the opening of the sixth century, Symmachus was the official Antichrist and Antipeter. The Bishop of Rome was called PAPA, or En-glish, Pope. "He was declared," says Gibbon, "in a numerous synod to be pure from all sin, and exempt from all judgment." Nevertheless, this self-deceiver and liar, as John styles all such, 1 John 1:8, was a subject of Theodoric, King of Italy. Though he claimed an ample dominion in heaven and earth, he had not yet been able to exalt his Trinitarian Holiness above an Arian King. He was a turbulent and unruly subject, and made himself obnoxious to his royal master. Theodoric in consequence, summoned a council to meet at Rome, A.D. 501, to judge of certain charges against him. But, when convened, the Council demurred to entering on the matter, on the ground of incompetency; considering that the party accused was supreme above all ecclesiastical jurisdiction. And a little after, as the climax of blasphemy, another Roman Synod, with Symmachus himself presiding and consenting, in the most solemn manner, adopted a book written by Ennodius in defense of the resolutions of the former synod; in which it was asserted, "that the Pontiff is judge in the place of Deity, and can be judged by no mortal."
Assuredly there can be no mistake that we have before us an Order of Men, or a Name, answerable to Daniel's "god of guardians, exalting himself, and magnifying himself above every god, and speaking marvelous things against the God of Gods;" to Paul's Man of Sin, Son of Perdition, and Lawless One;" and John's "Name of Blasphemy, and Mouth like the mouth of a lion, speaking great things blasphemies." No person, or succession of persons, could be more like Lucifer of Babylon, more arrogant, more proud, more blasphemous, or more lawless. The reader will doubtless have perceived, that the falsehood lying at the bottom of all these blasphemous assumptions, is, that the clergy, as they style themselves, are the successors of the apostles and ambas-sadors of Jesus Christ; and that, consequently, all that is affirmed of the apostles, the true ambassadors of Christ, is truly affirmable also of them! Ignatius spoke of bishops as eis topon Theou, in the place of God; and Cyprian says, that every bishop within his own diocese, is a priest of God, and a judge appointed in the place of Christ. But there were professors of Christianity in the apostles' days, who, in effect, claimed the same things. The Spirit speaks of these as men "who say they are apostles (sent ones) and are not, but are liars (Apoc. 2:2); and Paul styles them, "False apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ - the ministers of Satan, transforming themselves as ministers of righteousness, after the example of their master." Whoever says he is a successor of the apostles, in so saying affirms that he is an apostle; which signifies "one called and sent of God as Aaron was." Hence, Jesus styled himself the Deity's apostle: and all who say that he called and sent them to preach the gospel affirm the same thing.
But where did the clergy, so-called, get their dogma of Apostolic succession from? The answer is, from tradition and Scripture falsely interpreted. So long as the Star-Angel Presbytery shone in an ecclesia, the Spirit shined in its midst. That ecclesia was the dioikesis, jurisdiction, or diocese, of the presbytery; which was in the stead of the apostles, who could not be everywhere at once. It was the gift of the Spirit that made the Star-Angel Eldership what it was. It was concerning this spiritually-endowed order in each ecclesia that Paul wrote in saying, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable to you." The Star-Angel consisted of many bishops in an ecclesia, not of one only. It was in the place of the Deity, as Moses was instead of God to Aaron. It was the Vicar of God, and the Vicar of Christ, in the particular ecclesia that rejoiced in its presence; and it was this, because of the Spirit being in the elders to guide them into all the truth. But the Star-Angels, which had power to abuse, as well as to use, the spiritual gifts, did not continue to be faithful stewards of the mystery of Christ; they fell away from the faith as apostolically delivered; and having become apostate, the Spirit was with-drawn, and nothing remained of the Star-Angels but presbyteries of vain and self-conceited ecclesiastics, each presbytery being ruled by an ignorant bishop, whose wisdom shone brightest when he spoke the least. But though "the Spirit had spued them out of his mouth," they claimed the same relation to God, to Christ, and to men - a claim, which being no longer endorsed by Deity, became mere arrogance, falsehood, and blasphemy. Thus, they claimed to be traditionally with-out the Spirit, what they were with it - apostles, ambassadors, and vicars, of Christ and of God.
But, evil men, when left to their own resources, always wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. They flourish in deception. Being sensual, not having the Spirit, as the clergy have ever been even to this day, when they appealed to Scripture in support of their impious pretensions, they wrested it to their own destruction. They refer to the
words of Jesus to the eleven, which they ridiculously enough apply to themselves. He said to the apostles, say they, "Lo, lam with you alway, even to the end of the world." Now, they continue, this must refer to us, as well as to the apostles; for they did not live to the end of the world, which has not even yet come. It must, therefore, mean, "I will be with you, and your successors, to the end of time." But, some of these clergy are very learned, if not very wise and candid, men; and they know, that the English version of Matt. 28:20, is not a correct transcript of the original, idou ego meth' humon eimipasas tas humeras, heos tes sun teleias tou aiovos. This, they know, ought not to be rendered, "lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world;" but, "Behold, I am with you all the days, until the end of the age." There is nothing about "successors" in this. We are expressly told that Jesus Christ spoke these words to "the eleven disciples." The promise was to them, and it was strictly and literally fulfilled; for we are informed in Mark 16:20, that "they went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them;" and he tells us also, how the Lord worked with them; it was by "confirming the word" they preached, "by the signs following thereupon" - epakolouthounton. In this way, he was with the eleven apostles, and also with the twelfth, Matthias, and with Paul, and their co-laborers, "all the days" of the Mosaic Dispensation, from the Day of Pentecost first after his resurrection, "till the end of the age," when it was abolished in the subversion of Judah's Commonwealth by the Roman power; a period of about thirty-seven years. But, as to the clergy, Apostolic successors, and ambassadors of Christ, as they style themselves, the application of the text to their Satanic Order, is a gross imposition upon the ignorance and credulity of their strongly-deluded worshippers. The Scripture, and the facts in their case, are against them. The Lord's promise was to co-work with eleven men preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and Name; he did not promise to co-work with an impious order of impostors, who are ignorant of its first principles, and therefore could not make an intelligible statement of that Gospel to save their lives. Christ Jesus never promised to confirm, or bear witness to the truth of any teaching or preaching, by signs, and wonders,' and divers miracles, and distributions of Holy Spirit (Heb. 2:4), other than the preaching of "The Word." It was the preaching of this alone that he confirmed and attested; not the blasphemous and contradictory foolishness enunciated by the ecclesiastical mountebanks, and martexts, of "the times of the Gentiles," among whom they have substituted their own traditions, which they style "divinity," for the Word, which they have nullified, and made contemptible thereby. The clergy do not preach the Word the apostles preached, and which it was the function of the apostleship to do. No men can there-fore be their successors in apostleship who do not preach the same things. Faithful men, who have learned the things Paul preached, and are also able to teach them to others, are the only Apostolic succession possible (2 Tim. 2:2). These faithful men, men full of faith, cannot be found in any of "the Names and Denominations," Apocalyptically styled "Abominations" (ch. 17:5), of the excluded and unmeasured Court of the Gentiles (ch. 11:2). They are only to be found in "the House of Deity;" which is not a clerical bazaar, or temple, dedicated to fictitious entities canonized by the Apostasy; but "the ecclesia of Deity;" which Paul says, "is the Pillar and base of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15). This is neither the Catholic nor Protestant organizations; but a company of Scripturally-enlightened and obedient believers, who have accepted the Deity's invitation to His kingdom and glory; of which they are all, without distinction of class or order, both the heirs and heritage, or clergy, of the Lord (James 2:5; Rom. 8:17).
Apostolic succession, then, as contended for by all ranks, orders, and degrees of the Antichristian clergy, is a mere fiction of the carnal mind. The only succession coeval in its origin with the Apostolic age they can truthfully claim to be partakers of, is, as successors of those troublers in God's Israel, who, "by good words and fair speeches, deceived the hearts of the simple." As successors of Satan's apostles, they have built upon his foundation a superstructure which crowned itself with the TIARA upon the Seven Heads. This enormous blasphemy could not have been developed apart from the Satanic dogma of Apostolic succession, any more than the worship of Mary, as Queen of Heaven, and the Saints, as intercessors and mediators, could have been invented apart from the mythological dogma of the "immortal soul" in mortal flesh, separately existing after death. The one is as vain an imagination as the other. But vain and fallacious as it is, it has been a very profitable fiction to them all, from the Mouth of Blasphemy on the Seven Hills, to the most recent imitation thereof in the Mormon settlements of Utah.
In this section of the thirteenth chapter, I have traced the
development of the Name to the reign of the Seventh Head in
the time of Theodoric, the Arian King' of Italy, and his Trinitarian
subject, Symmachus, the Bishop of Rome, who was now all ready
to avail himself of anything that might present, whereby he
could improve his fortune; and, instead of being a servant
of heretical rulers, he could assume sovereignty for himself.
But of this hereafter. I proceed now to consider the subject
of the third verse of the chapter in hand.