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Popery, the Antichrist of Scripture

by the Rev. James Henderson, D.D.

The following article is a public lecture that was published in the book, The Doctrines and Practices of Popery Examined, in a course of Lectures, by Ministers in Glasgow. (Printed by Wm. Collins & Co., Glasgow.) The lecture is "Popery, the Antichrist of Scripture. Its Character as Developed, and its Doom foretold, in Prophetic Scripture," by Rev. James Henderson, D.D., minister of St. Enoch's Church, Glasgow (pp.105-135). The other ten lectures in the book demonstrate, for example, how Popery "Makes Void the Law of God;" "Perverts the Gospel;" "Corrupts Christian Ordinances;" is "the Enemy of Knowledge;" is "the Enemy of Freedom, and the Bane of National Prosperity;" is "the Enemy of the Souls of Men." Among the other ministers who gave these lectures are Revs. John Forbes, Robert Buchanan and James Gibson.

I could find no publishing date in this book; but I deduce that it was published sometime in the 1850s and that the series of lectures was given in Glasgow in the mid-to-late 1830s, since the preface says that there had been a "loud call" for this book's republication following the "recent Papal Aggression" (1850-51), and that the lectures had been given fifteen years earlier.

I have made these small alteraions:

  • Roman numerals used in the Bible references have been here rendered in the more familiar decimal numbers.

  • The letters of quoted Greek words are rendered in their nearest equivalents in the English alphabet, and italicized. Rev. Henderson had done the same with an Hebrew word he quoted.

  • The footnotes have been renumbered and incorporated into the text as a [square braceted note] immediately following the paragraph in which the reference appears. In the book, the footnotes were all numbered starting from 1 on each page where they appeared, so that there were several Footnote 1's, and a few 2's and 3's.

  • I have added some Sub-Headings.

Popery, the Antichrist of Scripture


by the Rev. James Henderson, D.D.
Minister of St. Enoch's Church, Glasgow.

IT is known to every student of the Bible that ANTICHRIST holds a prominent place in its prophetic page. The name, it is  true, does not often occur in Scripture. But there is expressly foretold the coming and the character of an antichristian power, which, as counter-working the great design for which Christ the Son of God was manifested in the flesh, this name most aptly describes, and to which, from the earliest times of the Christian Church, it has been by common consent appropriated. His portrait is drawn in full length. Being drawn by the pencil of the Spirit of truth, it is doubtless also exact, to the life. Yet being drawn by him, as a Spirit of prophecy, who is wont, for wisest reasons, to veil his revelations of the future under dark and mystic symbols, a certain obscurity lies over it, leaving it but too possible, as the event has shown, that, through rashness or prejudice, men may misconceive the likeness, and consequently err in their endeavours to discover or identify the original. But though obscure, and liable to be mistaken, it may not be inferred that the prophetic description is hopelessly inscrutable. Prophecy, given by inspiration of God, must surely have been meant to enlighten, not to perplex or mislead us. In fact, it is spoken, like parables, in language so far dark, that men who love not the truth may not discover it; yet not so impenetrably dark, but that the humble, truth-loving, and prayerful inquirer, shall succeed in finding it. The prophecies concerning Antichrist are of this description; and there are many circumstances connected with them which, to the candid inquirer into their meaning and application, promise a safe guidance and a sure result. The delineations which the Spirit of prophecy has made of his character and history, are numerous and ample. If some of them are obscured by the veil of symbols, others are so plain, that they who run may read. And while his every feature is strongly marked, and his entire character is unique and unexampled, we have not now to cast about for the impersonation in the dark and hidden future, but, by notes of time contained in the prophetic volume, are directed to look for him as already revealed; as already having long been fulfilling his disastrous course, and hastening on to his doom.

A Connected View of Antichrist

It will be useful, in the outset, to bring briefly before you a connected view of those scriptures in which the character and history of Antichrist are most distinctly and strikingly unfolded. Some of these, it is worthy of remark, are introduced in immediate connection, and in dark contrast, with the more sublime views of Christian truth; as if already, in the eye of the inspired writers, the coming of Antichrist hung like a black portentous cloud over the future history of the Church, threatening to obscure her vision of Christ's glory, and to intercept from her the communications of his grace. Thus, in the 1st Epistle to Timothy, after having declared the great Mystery of godliness, "God manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, and received up into glory," the apostle immediately announces the apostacy from this divine mystery, saying, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils (demons); speaking lies in hypocrisy; or, (as the grammatical construction of the apostle's language requires it to be rendered,) through the hypocrisy of liars; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats," etc. 1 Tim. 4:1,2,3. Again, in the 2nd Epistle to the Thessalonians, having occasion to rectify a misconception into which this church had fallen with regard to the time of the Lord's second coming, he reminds them of what he had told them when he was at Thessalonica, that, previous to Christ's glorious appearing with his saints, a great apostacy should intervene, introducing and supporting an audacious and successful usurpation of Christ's place and honours in the Church: "We beseech you, brethren, concerning the coming of the Lord, and our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that when I was with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth, that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way: and then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: even him whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish," etc. 2 Thes. 2:1-10.

Territorial Spirits, Demon-gods, Deified Men and Romish "Saints"

In the prediction contained in the 1st Epistle to Timothy, already quoted, it is said, evidently with a reference to a prophecy of the event already spoken and recorded, that the Spirit speaks expressly (patoos) of this apostacy from the faith. Under the guidance of this suggestion, the learned Joseph Mede was led to search for such a prophecy, and found it in the book of Daniel: "And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any God: for he shall magnify himself above all. But in his estate," or in his seat, "shall he honour the God of forces: (or munitions, or maussims, as in the margin:) and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and with pleasant things. Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, (or as Mede renders it more intelligibly, 'And he shall make the holds, or temples of the maussims, jointly to the foreign god,') whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the earth for a reward, Dan. 11:36-39. You cannot fail to recognise, in the subject of this prediction, the character of the Man of Sin, the arrogant and lawless adversary, of whose coming the apostle forewarns the Thessalonians; while you learn, further, what the apostle had not openly declared respecting him, that he should unite kingly with ecclesiastical power. And you have only to understand the meaning of the other part of the prophecy, which in our version is confessedly obscure, in order to discover that this impious king should be committed to the support and spread of an apostacy of the very form and kind which is described in the 1st Epistle to Timothy. In his seat, (where that is, Paul has declared, for "he sitteth in the temple of God,") in his seat he shall honour maussims, as it is in the original; munitions, as in the Vulgate and the marginal reading of our version; protectors, divine protectors, as, by a large and accurate critical exposition, Mede has conclusively shown to be the just and true import of the prophet's language. These protectors shall he honour; and he shall make the holds or temples of these protectors jointly to the foreign god, and shall cause them to rule over many. And these protectors, these guardian angels, these tutelary deities, (terms which describe them more intelligibly) are, as we shall see, in nature and in office, precisely the same as those demons to whom it is expressly foretold that the apostacy should give heed.

In the seventh chapter of Daniel, the arrogant and impious apostate power is brought before us under the symbol of a "little horn." This is explained by the angel, who brought the vision to the prophet, to signify a king or a kingdom, (verse 24.) It is represented as rising after, or on the back of the ten horns or kingdoms, into which the fourth great beast, or, in plain terms, the Pagan Roman Empire, should be divided. And while he is described as holding the office, and exemplifying the character of Daniel's "Impious King," and of Paul's "Man of Sin," "in speaking great and blasphemous words against God," he is further represented as, in the exercise of his power, perpetrating for a long season the most atrocious and desolating cruelties against God's Church and people. "He shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand, until a time and times and the dividing of time. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end." Dan. 7:25,26.

Mystery, Babylon the Great

Passing on to the great book of New Testament prophecy, the book of the Revelation, which unfolds, though darkly, the history of the Christian Church from the apostles' times even to the time of the end, we find the history and deeds and doom of Antichrist interwoven with it throughout. Yes, strange and mysterious as is the fact, for the long period of three and a half prophetic years, or forty and two months, or twelve hundred and sixty days, which are so many mystic numbers, all denoting the same period of time, Antichrist is there revealed as occupying the high places of the earth, and doing according to his will; while the Church of Christ, during the same long period, is driven into the wilderness, where her visibility all but disappears, and her honours and privileges are mournfully contracted and diminished. In the thirteenth chapter of the book of this prophecy, after a description of one beast, or idolatrous kingdom, which is clearly identified with the fourth beast of Daniel's vision, or the Pagan Roman Empire, we find mention made of another beast, or idolatrous power, which, from the time of his rise, and the marks of his character, and the duration of his reign, is not less clearly identified with the "Hornish tyrant" of the Hebrew prophet. And, to name only one other, in the seventeenth chapter of this prophecy, we meet with a notable description of the same Antichristian power, under the emblem of a woman, sitting upon many waters, or, as the angel explains it, over many people, arrayed in purple and scarlet, and having on her forehead this name written, "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of fornications and abominations of the earth." I do not quote but must refer you to these striking predictions, only remarking, that a comparison of them with one another will discover so exact and so extended a parallel, as to make it evident that both refer to the same formidable power. The beast and the woman are both described as restoring the ancient idolatry; as ruling over the seven-headed beast, or Roman Empire; as aspiring to imperial power, as pretending to the power of miracles; as professing great sanctity, while yet they practise and encourage great wickedness; as persecuting the saints and witnesses of Jesus Christ with relentless and successful cruelty; as having the same rise, and also the same duration to their power. If, notwithstanding these points of agreement, it should still seem incongruous and improbable that the same power should be set forth in inspired prophecy by emblems so dissimilar, as the king, the man of sin, and the woman, the mother of harlots, the supposed incongruity may perhaps be accounted for by the incongruous character of the Antichrist whom these emblems prefigure. In prophetic usage, a beast is the known emblem of an idolatrous kingdom; [1] a woman who is an adulteress, is the equally well-known emblem of an apostate Church; [2] and instead, therefore, of ascribing confusion or incongruity to these representations, we infer that the Antichrist must exemplify this complex and monstrous character.

[Note 1: See Grotius on Dan. 8.]
[Note 2: Ezek. 6:9; Deut. 31:16.]

From these Scriptures, mainly, we ascertain the character and doom of Antichrist. I am not aware that there exists any important controversy concerning their reference to him between Roman Catholics and Protestants. The controversy between us relates, in part, to the interpretation, and chiefly to the fulfilment of them; Roman Catholics alleging, along with certain modern Millenarians, that Antichrist, to whom they apply, is not yet revealed, while we maintain, that they are embodied and exemplified in the system of Popery.

In prosecuting this argument, I desire on my part to remember, that I am handling the Word of God, and that it is at the peril of my soul if I handle it deceitfully; while I would have you also, my friends, to bear in mind, that it is the Word of God you listen to, and that it is your duty to receive the truth in the love of it.

I could not overtake, and shall not therefore attempt, a full exposition of the prophecies of Scripture concerning Antichrist, but shall adopt the more concise, and I trust, not less satisfying course, of selecting the more prominent features of the portrait, and setting before you, as I proceed, the living prototype in the Popish system.

A "Falling Away" or Apostacy in the Church

The first characteristic of Antichrist to which I point your attention is, the apostacy with which he should be introduced and maintained, and which in turn he should promote and perpetuate. The Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter days some shall depart or apostatize from the faith. (2 Tim. 4:1.) "That day," namely, the day of Christ's coming in glory, "shall not come, except there come a falling away, or the apostacy, first." (2 Thess. 2:3.) Besides, being thus distinctly foretold in these general terms, a particular statement is given of the form and nature it should assume. Those of the apostacy, it is said, shall give heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of, or concerning demons. (2 Tim. 4:1.) The king, who presides over it, shall honour, or worship, together with the god whom his fathers knew not,maussims, or divine protectors. (Dan. 11:38.) The beast in the thirteenth Chapter of Revelation, is discovered by this prophetic designation to be an idolatrous power; and the woman in the seventeenth chapter, who is described us an adulteress, and the mother of fornications, is distinctly ascertained to be the apostate Church, who shares with other and false gods, the homage which is due exclusively to her Lord.

It thus appears that the Antichristian apostacy should be not total but partial; that it should consist not in absolute atheism or unbelief, but in will-worship and idolatry; and that the objects of this idolatry should be maussims or demons, such as were worshipped in the idolatry of Gentile nations.

Demons, it may be proper to mention, were, in the opinion of the heathen, "a sort of deified powers, occupying a middle place between the immortal gods and mortal men." There were different orders, among them, some of a higher, sublimer nature, of whom Plutarch says, "they never had been souls of men, and were never linked to a human body;" others, as Plutarch's description implies, and, indeed is familiarly known, were deceased men, who, by the oracle in Greece and by the emperor and his senate at Rome, were deified after death, on account of their wisdom, or their virtues, or their valour, while they lived. They were regarded as the order of agents and ministers in the economy of the universe, by whose services the purposes of the celestial gods were carried into effect. Celsus describes them in respect of, honour and power, "as peers, and presidents, and lieutenants, and officers of the Most High God, who, when neglected, could do as much hurt as the peers and officers of the Persian or Roman kings. And Apuleius represents them, in respect of office, as "mediators, through whom men's prayers and desires pass to the gods; as carriers of petitions from earth, and of supplies from heaven."

The Exaltation of Men

Thus exalted in nature, and in office, and in power, these deified sages, and benefactors, and heroes, were made by the heathen, objects of religious worship. First, their sepulchres and relics were venerated and adored; it being pretended by the heathen priesthood, and believed by an ignorant and superstitious people, that they possessed a miraculous virtue. Then, temples, and altars, and images, were reared and consecrated to their worship. Eusebius says, "that when the demons," whom he calls wicked spirits, "saw that men were thus brought to the deifying of the dead, they insinuated themselves, and helped on the error by certain motions of the statues consecrated to the deceased, and also by ostentation of oracles and cures of diseases." And the delusion being thus established, they became so many tutelary and local deities, whose favour men sought to propitiate, or whose vengeance they sought to avert, by offerings of sacrifices, and of incense, and of costly gifts, presented at their shrines. That such were the objects of Pagan worship, and such, also, the manner in which the Gentiles offered worship to them, is sufficiently plain from the sacred Scriptures. In the days of Moses it is declared, that the Israelites who fell away to the worship of the heathen, sacrificed unto demons and not unto God (Deut. 32:17; Lev. 17:7). That these demons were, as has just been declared, the spirits of departed men, is not doubtfully inferred from the language of the Psalmist, who, in allusion to this transgression of the Israelites, says, that they joined themselves to Baal-peor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead, (Ps. 106:28). [3] And that neither the object nor the manner of heathen worship underwent any important change during the long interval from Moses to Christ, is decisively evinced by the apostle, who describes the Gentile idolatry of his day by the very words which Moses used to describe the false worship into which Israel were seduced by the heathen around them." The things which the Gentiles sacrifice," says he, "they sacrifice to devils," or demons, (daimoniois) "and not to God," (1 Cor. 10:20).

[Note 3: The Baalim, or Lords, after whom Israel went a-whoring, were in truth no other than deified kings or heroes, the name having been derived from Baal or Bel, the second king of Babylon, and the first of deified men; and when you read that Manasseh reared up altars for Baalim, (2 Chron. 33:3,) that Ahaz made molten images for them, (28:2,) and that the sons of Athaliah bestowed upon them all the dedicated things of the house of the Lord, (24:7,) it will be perceived how exactly the Scripture account agrees with the representations of heathens respecting the manner of their worship.]

Such, then, are the doctrine and worship to which, it is foretold, those of the Antichristian apostacy should give heed; and which, therefore, must be revived and exemplified in any system which supports Antichrist, or is supported by him. Well, then, can such doctrine and worship be charged on the Popish system? I say upon the Popish system, for it were unfair to speak of individuals, of whom, I know from Scripture, there are many in communion with the Church of Rome who are better than the system (Rom. 14:4,) they profess; even as among Protestants, alas! the great majority fall short of the purity which their principles require and should sustain. To ascertain this, then, let me lay before you the 8th and 9th Articles of the Creed of Pope Pius IV. which is the avowed creed of the Romish Church, which every Romish priest has sworn to hold and to teach, and which "his subjects" are in duty bound to receive. "I strenuously maintain, that the saints who reign together with Christ are to be venerated and invoked, and that they offer prayers for us to God, and that their relics are to be venerated. I most firmly declare that the images of Christ and of the ever Virgin Mother of God, and also of other Saints, are to be had, and retained, and that due honour and veneration are to be shown them." The Council of Trent, also, which is regarded as the voice of the Church, and infallible, repeats the same doctrine, and affirms, "that they think impiously who deny it." Now, if it be not already manifest, it will soon appear from a brief analysis of these articles of Popish belief, that with the exception of the name, for which, also, I shall find occasion to account, the demonology, and demon worship of the ancient world is revived, in its essential nature, yea, in identical form, in the saint and image worship of Popish Rome.

The Exaltation of Men in the Apostasy

Departed saints and martyrs are now exalted, by the Church of Rome, to a similar elevation with the departed sages and heroes of antiquity. As in ancient Rome the latter were deified or made demons by the decree of the emperor and senate, so are the former in the same manner exalted by the Pope and his cardinals, who assume the power of canonization. As by the deed of the Roman senate the emperor Augustus, after his decease, was styled Divus Augustus, so by the decree of the Popish hierarchy, Augustine, for example, as canonized or enrolled in the calendar of the saints, is styled Divus Augustinus, the divine or deified Augustine. Such phraseology is quite familiar at Rome. Instead of the old inscription upon the heathen temple, "Diis Deabusque cum Jove," "To the gods and goddesses with Jupiter," there is placed over it, as now consecrated to Popish worship, the inscription, not less heathenish, "Divis præstatibus juvantibus, Georgio Stephanoque cum Deo Opt. Max." "To the gods, George and Stephen, together with God, the Best, the Greatest." [4] The canonized saints who, like the demons of antiquity, are thus called gods, are like them, also, considered as occupying a middle place, and exercising the corresponding office of mediators between God and men on earth. "They pray for us," says the Council of Trent. "By their merits and intercessions," says the Romish prayer-book, "they obtain grace for us:" [5] thus supplying precisely the office of the Pagan demons, who are said to have carried men's prayers to the gods with recommendations. [6] This office, moreover, they hold and exercise within a limited sphere. Like the tutelary deities of Paganism, who were appointed to preside over, and protect, and patronise each his respective nation, or province, or city: they have a special jurisdiction assigned to them. And you need not be told that the saints who are said to reign in heaven, are yet sent forth under orders from the Pope, who reigns in Rome, as "maussims, or protectors, to rule over many." Thus he has fixed the presidency of St. Peter and St. Paul at Rome, as a double tower of strength and defence to his own seat; and he has appointed St. George, (Divus Georgius) to England, and St. Patrick to Ireland, and St. Andrew to Scotland, and St. Mungo to our own city, as their patron saints, or as they might be styled, in not less appropriate terms, though of more heathenish sound, their tutelary demons.

[Note 4: For this incription, and others of the same kind, see Middleton's Letter from Rome, p, 178.]
[Note 5: See the Vespers of the Roman Church: Glasgow, 1835. pp. 276-278, et passim.]
[Note 6: Apuleius De Demonio Socratis.]

It is evident, then, that the creed of Popish Rome recognizes in her canonized saints, an order of beings of the same human origin, with the same honorary titles, invested with the same office, and exercising precisely the same species of power, as the demons of antiquity. If we now inquire how far the practices of Popish worship, connected with this creed, are found to revive the worship of demons, as maintained by the ancient Pagans, the parallel will be found equally complete. Did the Pagans consecrate temples in honour of their demons? it will not be denied that Papists consecrate churches to the saints. "At this moment," says Middleton, "the noblest heathen temple in the world, the Pantheon or Rotunda at Rome, bears the inscription, on its portico, that having been dedicated of old by Agrippa to Jove and all the gods, it was piously re-consecrated by Boniface IV. to the blessed Virgin and all the saints!" Did the Pagans venerate the tombs and relics of their demons, as Plato attests? so is it affirmed by the Council of Trent, that "the relics of the saints are to be venerated;" and accordingly their sepulchres, and other depositories of their relics, are the crowded resorts of Popish votaries, who repair thither to invoke their protection, and in expectation of obtaining health and cure from the virtue of their old clothes or rotten bones. Did the Pagans consecrate images to their demons? the great Popish Council decrees, with some caution, it is acknowledged, that the images of the saints are to be had, and retained, and duly venerated: accordingly, it is the known fact, that images are venerated; yea, that the very images of the ancient demons, after being baptized, have been, in many cases, adopted, and are venerated as the images of Christian saints. Did the heathens appoint festivals in honour of their demons? you know how, in like manner, almost every day in the year is set apart for the special honour of one or other, or all of the reputed saints of Popish Rome; and as on occasion of their festivals especially, demons were worshipped in their temples and at their shrines, with offerings of incense with holy water, with grand public processions, in which their images were held up to public gaze, and with presents of every precious gift which wealth could furnish or superstition could devote to them, so a ceremonial, resembling it in every particular, and to a degree of minuteness which produces the conviction of an affected and studious imitation of Pagan rites, is observed and maintained every where in the Popish Churches. (Middleton's Letter, passim.)

Christian Church Fathers opposing "Saint-Worship"

This resemblance, or, we may say, this identity of doctrine and worship between Pagan and Popish Rome, was soon observed, and, with various views, pointed out by different Christian Fathers. Some of them, inclined to the superstition which was thus introduced, made a boast of it. Thus Theodoret saith, Our Lord God hath brought his dead into the room and place of your gods, whom he hath sent packing, and hath given their honour to his own martyrs; for instead of the feasts of Jupiter and Bacchus are now celebrated the festivals of St. Peter and St. Paul; these we call preservers and physicans; although out of the body, they are capable of taking care of men's affairs. Their temples are frequently to be seen famous for their beauty and greatness; Christians go to them not as gods, but as divine men, and agents for them with God; and that they who have prayed unto them faithfully, have obtained their petitions, appears from the presents and gifts brought by their votaries as so many grateful acknowledgments of their recovery: (quoted in Mede's Works, p. 642.) Others of the Christian Fathers noticed this revival of the ancient worship under Christian name, to deplore and to condemn it as the commencement of the antichristian apostacy. Thus, when Epiphanius observed the worship of the Collyridians, who offered a cake and incense to Mary as the queen of heaven, (a name by which she is still honoured, and God blasphemed at Rome) he said, "Herein is the fulfilling of the apostle's words: Some shall apostatize from sound doctrine, giving heed to fables and doctrines of demons, and he adds, as in explanation of the text, for they shall be worshippers of thedead, as they were worshipped in Israel." [7]

[Note 7: Mede, p.637.]

Notwithstanding their solemn vow to receive the Scripture in the sense which it has received by unanimous consent of the Fathers, we do not expect that the Romish priests will bow to the interpretation of this text by this Christian Father, seeing that it directly criminates them as antichristian apostates. We know, indeed, that the Council of Trent pronounces of those who think their system of saint-worship to be idolatry, that "they think impiously." But we thank God that we have not been taught to prostrate our judgment before the dictum of Pope or Council; and having the word of God in our hand, instructing us in the true nature of idolatry, we find it impossible to avoid the conviction, that the Church of Rome, in her doctrine and worship of her saints, teaches and upholds the idolatrous system wliich the Scriptures have foretold as marking the antichristian apostacy.

Keep yourselves from Idols

First, we charge this Church with an idolatrous worship, the worship of saints by images. That the use of images obtains in Popish worship, is not denied, but avowed. "We firmly maintain, that the images of Christ and of the ever Virgin Mother of God, and also of the other Saints, are to be had and retained, and due veneration paid to them." This language, it must be owned, is artfully vague; and is well chosen to mean more or less, according as it is to be canvassed by an adversary, or pressed upon a votary of Popish doctrine. Nor have we any desire to make it mean more than the lowest sense it will admit, namely, that images are to be used as a medium of worship. It might very easily be shown, that though little more than this is allowed by Popish writers in Protestant countries, very different doctrine has been held, and a very different practice has been encouraged in the Pope's dominions. Bellarmine, who involves his doctrines of images in many nice and subtle distinctions, admits, that Thomas and Bonaventure held that images should themselves be worshipped with the same worship as the object they represent. (Bellar. de Imaginibus, cap. 25). [8] And if they have not been so worshipped, which, yet, many Papists themselves confess and lament that they have been, and are by many, it is no fault of the Popish priesthood, who have invented and countenanced endless lying legends of smiling, and weeping, and working, and bleeding, and moving, and wonder-working images, which, so far as they were believed, must needs have produced a persuasion in men's minds, that the images were not only the representations, but the residences of the saints now dead, as truly as their bodies were while they were alive. But passing this, we maintain, that the use of images in worship, in what ever way, or on whatever pretence, is idolatry in the judgment of Scripture. In the Scripture sense of the term, and in the sense of the Christian fathers, an image used in worship is an idol. Jerome, a great authority at Rome, has determined the case, saying, by idols we understand images of the dead: "Idola intelligimus imagines mortuorum." And in the style of the ancient Fathers, the worshippers of images, or those who used them, whether as objects, or merely as the medium of worship, are uniformly called Pagans. Nor can we doubt that they are truly so denominated. The second commandment, which relates to the manner of worship, as the first relates to the object of it, positively and absolutely excludes the use, nay, forbids, for religious purposes, themaking of images: and why, but because conscious of transgression, and fearful of exposure, why should the Church of Rome have dared to mutilate God's perfect law, by excluding from three or four of her approved catechisms, [9] this second commandment, which says, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, nor any likeness of any thing inheaven above, or in earth beneath: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them?

[Note 8: When this lecture was delivered, I [James Henderson, D.D.,] was under the persuasion that this was Bellarmine's own sentiment, and imputed it to him. On reading the chapter throughout, I find, that though this seems to be the plain sense of his general proposition, he gives it a reduced meaning in his illustration.]
[Note 9: See Dr. Doyle's Evidence before the House of Commons in 1825.]

But, again, the objects of Popish worship, independently of the manner of it, fix upon the Popish system the guilt of idolatry. These are not different from the objects of heathen worship. The angels and saints are to be invoked and venerated, say the Council of Trent. [10] The Popish expositors of this decree, it is true, make a distinction between that veneration and invocation which are here claimed for the saints, and the supreme worship and adoration which are due to God. But such distinctions cannot be established from Scripture; the invocation of angels and saints, the calling upon them by prayer, and confiding the soul to their keeping, is the very worship which Stephen, a great saint, and the first martyr for Christ, offered in his dying moments to his Saviour: they stoned Stephen, calling upon or invoking, and saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" and which, when offered in a moment of surprise by John to an angel from heaven, was thus rebuked and forbidden: "See thou do it not, etc., worship God." (Rev. 22:9.) As this distinction is not sanctioned by Scripture, neither is it observed in Popish practice. In the prayer of Pope Urban IV. used in the consecration of images, the very same words are used to express the worship, which is to be paid before the image of the Virgin or of any other saint, and before the image of the Saviour: "Grant, God, that whosoever shall humbly, upon his knees, worship and honour the only begotten Son of God, or the blessed Virgin, (according as the image is) or this glorious apostle or martyr, etc., he may obtain by his or her merits and intercession, grace in this life, and eternal glory in the next." [11] That the worship rendered to the saints is as absolute in its terms at least as human language can supply, and as profound in its nature as the human heart can offer, the following prayer, offered to the Virgin Mary, may sufficiently convince us. "My only succour! my lips are bound to publish no other praises but thine. By thee the head of the serpent was bruised, the world repaired. Thy power is bound less. Unto thee I confess my sins. Into thy hands I commit lay spirit. Come unto Mary, ye that thirst; pray unto her that she may wash away the filthiness of thy sins." [12]

[Note 10: Catech, Trident., par. iii, cap. ii.]
[Note 11: Gandolphy'sRomish Prayer Book, 1812.]
[Note 12: Psalter approved by the Doctors of Sorbonne.]

Thou shalt not make a Graven Image

Thus are the honours of the Saviour shared with others. Nay, it is but too evident, that in the practice of Popish worship, and in the hearts of thoroughly Popish worshippers, He to whom of right belongs the undivided homage of his people, holds only the second place. Papists are taught in some places to say ten Ave Marias for one Pater Noster; and to what effect, I ask, but to induce the persuasion, that if prayer be not tenfold more due, it is yet tenfold more efficacious to the Virgin than to the blessed God. On the high altar in the Church of Recollets at Ghent, there is a painting by Reubens, thus described by Sir Joshua Reynolds: "Christ, with Jupiter's thunderbolt and lightning, denouncing vengeance against a wicked world, represented by a globe lying on the ground, with the serpent twined round it. This globe, St. Francis appears to be covering and defending with his mantle; the Virgin is holding Christ's hand and showing her breasts; implying, that as his mother, she has a right to intercede, and have an interest with her son." How deeply unjust and dishonouring to the compassionate Redeemer is such a representation! He appears here not as the Saviour, but the destroyer; and the worshippers before the altar are taught to dread and hate Him, while they are directed to repose their hope of salvation on the mercies and merits of the saints. Under such teaching, we can well conceive that the homage and the trust of selfish mortals will be estranged and withdrawn from the only foundation which God hath laid, and that the altar of Christ will generally be forsaken for the shrines of reputed saints. It was so, Dr. Patrick records, when Canterbury received Thomas à Becket for her patron saint. While the offerings at St. Thomas's shrine in the Cathedral amounted to nearly £1000, those at Mary's were £5, and at Christ's nothing at all!

Now where, if not here, was idolatry ever exemplified. How, if not by this system enjoined and encouraged by the Romish Church, can the first commandment of God s law be broken? Have they not other gods, even by themselves so called, (Divi,) besides God, and before him? In what, but in name, do the objects of Popish worship differ from the Baalim, or demons, which the apostate Jews, or superstitious heathen, worshipped? or how does the image worship of Rome differ at all from the ancient idolatry which Jehovah denounced as the abominable thing which his soul hateth? In nothing that is essential; yea, very little even in form. This is allowed and lamented by some Romanists themselves. "Many Christians," says Ludovicus, a Popish commentator upon Augustine, "do for the most part transgress in a good thing, that they worship deified men and women, (Divos, Divasque,) no otherwise than they worship God; nor do I see, in many things, what is the difference between their opinions of the saints, and that which the Gentiles had of their demon-gods." — Notæ in Aug. Civ. Dei. lib. viii. c. 27.

Now when this form of idolatry prevailed among the Gentile nations, demons, or the spirits of dead men, being the objects, and idols or images of the dead being the medium of their worship, it was testified by the pen of inspiration, that the whole world lay in the wicked one. By these means Satan maintained his kingdom of darkness upon the earth. When, therefore, the Son of God was manifested to destroy the works of the devil, he commissioned his apostles to call on men to turn from the service of dumb idols, and from the demon-gods of which these idols were considered the representations, or the residences. Thus, when Paul at Athens preached Jesus and the resurrection, and was supposed, according to the doctrines popular even in that enlightened city, to be a setter forth of strange gods, or, as the words are, of strange or "foreign demons," that zealous servant of Christ repelled a charge so dishonouring to the exclusive claims of the living God, saying, "Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious," excessively addicted to the worship of demons, Deisidaimonesterous, and in a discourse levelled throughout, as might be shown, against the prevailing doctrines of demons, called upon them to forsake these false gods, and to turn unto God who made the world, and who would judge it by the man Jesus Christ, whom he had raised from the dead. The apostles measured their success by the downfall of this demon worship. "They themselves show what entering in we had unto you," says the apostle to the church of Thessalonica, which he fore warns so fully of the apostacy, "how ye turned to God from dumb idols, to serve the living and the true God." Before the light of the Gospel of the glory of God in the face of Christ, Satan's kingdom of darkness fell; doctrines of demons were discovered to be delusions of the devil; the worship of demons was abandoned as a service dishonouring to God and destructive to men; the images of their demons, before which they were wont to bow themselves in vain and debasing adoration, were thrown to the moles and to the bats; the temples which were consecrated to their honour, were neglected and forsaken; and in place of the gods many, and the lords many, both in earth and in heaven, which had shared the homage of the heathen, men owned and honoured one God, the Father of all, of whom are all things; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. Hence, as distinguished from the heathen who lay in the wicked one, those who knew that the Son of God was come, and had received an understanding to know him that is true, are described as in him that is true, even in the Son Jesus Christ, the true God, and eternal life. (1 John, 5:20.)

If not with a prophetic glance at the coming apostacy, yet in distinct intimation that a return to idols would involve a relapse from this union with Christ to the power of Satan, this description of their Christian state is followed by the earnest, emphatic concluding admonition, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." Is it not then manifest that the Church of Rome, which, in violation of this warning, hath brought back the worship of saints, by images, and by incense, and by other heathen rites, which in the earlier times of the Gospel many Christians died rather than observe, and which, on their first introduction into the Christian Church, Christian emperors, zealous for her purity, forbade by imperial decree: is it not manifest, that, by this means, the Church of Rome has traversed the path and counterwrought the effects of the Gospel, and that, under another name, she has brought over Christendom the idolatry of Pagan Rome, realizing the prophetic character of the antichristian apostacy?

Usurping the Place of the Father and the Son

It may perhaps be objected to this conclusion, that the Church of Rome does acknowledge and worship the true God, and Jesus Christ the only Lord, and that whatever corruption of doctrine or of worship she doth hold and sanction, she cannot be justly charged with the antichristian apostacy; "for who is antichrist," as the apostle asks, "but he that denieth the Father and the Son?" We deny not that the Church of Rome does profess to acknowledge the Father and the Son; neither do we question that the antichrist will deny the Father and the Son; yet we hold both on natural and Scriptural principles, that a profession of the true God, and of his Son Jesus Christ, united with the worship of any creature, whether demon or saint, on earth or in heaven, involves a virtual denial of the true God and the only Saviour. The wife who goeth after her lovers, is justly reckoned to have fallen from her allegiance to her husband, though she continue to bear his name, and deceitfully profess her fealty. In like manner, the worship of any creature, in the judgment of Scripture, is constructive atheism. "If," says Job, "when I saw the sun in the heavens, or the moon walking in brightness, my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hands, I should have denied the God who is above." On this principle Jehovah uniformly judged and dealt with his ancient Church. The frequent apostacy of the Jewish Church did not consist in an open and absolute renunciation of the name and worship of the God of their fathers. She only would divide her homage between God and Baalim; and for this was she treated as an adulteress, and sent away by her aggrieved and dishonoured Lord, to wander as an outcast among the heathen, and there, amid contempt and oppression, to eat the fruit of her guilt and shame. And can it be imagined, that God who is jealous, and will not give his honour to another, will put a more lenient construction on the idolatries of Popish Rome, who, while she would be held the Church of God, the Lamb's wife, does yet, as Daniel foretold, honour, jointly together with Him, the strange god who was unknown in Pagan Rome, the maussims, or protectors, to whom she makes more prayers than to Christ, and in whose merits and intercessions she reposes more confidence than in his mediation? No, surely. There is no uniting of the worship of God with the worship of Baalim; ye cannot drink of the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table and the table of demons. To adhere to Christ is to renounce demons; to fall away to demons is to apostatize from Christ. To use the words of the learned Mede: "As God is one, so the Mediator is one; for it is a godlike royalty, and therefore can belong but to one. There is but one God in heaven, without any other gods subordinate to him; therefore but one Mediator, with out other mediators besides him. As for the angels and blessed saints, they have indeed a light of glory, too, but they are as lesser stars in that heaven of heavens. And, therefore, as when the sun shines, the lesser stars of heaven, though stars, give not their light to us; so when the glorious sun, Christ, continually shines by his presence, sitting at the right hand of God, there the glory of saints and angels is not sufficient to make them capable of any flower of that divine honour which is godlike, and so appropriated to Christ by right of his heavenly exaltation to the throne of Majesty. Whatsoever spirit saith otherwise, holds not the Head, but is a Christ apostate spirit, which denies the faith of Christ s ascension into glory, and revives the doctrine of demons." [13]

[Note 13: Mede's 'Apostacy of the Latter Days.']

This, we conceive, constitutes the great feature of the Antichrist, and if we are not strangely deceived, it is prominently characteristic of the Church of Rome. The rest which we shall more briefly notice, are in some measure incidental, or rather consequent to it.

Above all that is called God

It is declared, that immediately on the apostacy being matured, the Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition, the Wicked One, should be revealed, exalting himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; sitting in the temple of God, and showing himself that he is God. While the place of this antichristian power is here sufficiently fixed to be the Church of God, a reserve is maintained, for which, in the circumstances in which the apostle wrote, it is not difficult to perceive a reason, as to the precise form which this power should assume. Had it been plainly announced that an ecclesiastical authority should occupy the throne, the discovery might have been too clear to be compatible with God's purposes for the event. But the reserve, so studiously maintained in this place, is thrown off in other predictions which have been already quoted, where antichrist is represented as taking and exercising kingly in combination with ecclesiastical authority; practising the most audacious usurpations, rising into unexampled power, and using his power to perpetuate the apostacy by which he is supported, and to make war against, wear out, and slay the saints of God, who, like the faithful in Babylon of old, witnessed for Christ, and refused to be partakers of her sins. Such is the antichristian power which should be raised up to confirm and to punish the Church in her apostacy, the time of whose reign, in this view, is styled "the days of indignation."

Now, in connection with the antichristian apostacy, which we have fastened on the Romish Church, do we find that any power has arisen, which has been exercised in the manner, and to the effects thus predicted of the antichrist? Who does not know, that the head and representative of the Popish system combines this extraordinary power, said in prophecy to be diverse from every other; that he holds both swords, the royal sceptre and the sacerdotal keys; that the Pope's proud titles are, Universal Bishop, and Emperor of Rome, and that in emblem of his honours, he wears the golden mitre and the triple imperial crown? Does he, then, like the prophetic antichrist, exalt him self above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; that is above all human authorities, even above the emperors of Rome, those masters of the world, whose honorary name was the sebastoi, the worshipful? This he will not himself deny. "It is altogether a point necessary to salvation," says the Maynooth Class-book, "that every creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff!" For himself and for his clergy also, on the pretence of the supremacy ofspiritual over temporal power, he claims exemption from human laws, and independence of human authority. Although now, that his power is on the wane, he is forced to take a lower tone, and to act with moderated pride and arrogancy, time was when he wantoned in the display of his supremacy on the earth, subjecting kings and emperors to the grossest indignities, and exercising over them the most imperious and despotic dominion. Gregory VII., as is well known, kept Henry IV. of France standing many winter days, as a barefooted suppliant at his gates, ere he deigned to go out to him. Alexander III. trode upon the neck of the First Frederick, saying impiously, with application to his own prerogative, "Thou shalt tread upon the lion and the adder." In our own country, kings have been humiliated and dethroned, and the charter of British liberties rescinded by the power of the Pope; and it was the boast of Bellarmine, the great champion of his prerogatives, that in his day there was not an emperor in Europe who did not owe to him his crown!

So unlike Peter; so unlike Christ

Should this antichristian king rise yet higher in arrogancy, and exalt himself not only above men, but above the most high God, in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God? And can impiety so presumptuous be imputed to the Pope, the head of the Romish Church? Let his own words and deeds bear witness. He assumes and accepts the names and honours of the most high God. His Holiness, most Holy Lord, Sanctissimus Dominus, a vice God, a God on earth, our Lord God the Pope, etc. are among his assumed or accepted titles. I remember of reading in Bower's Lives of the Popes, of one who secreted a spring in the stair of the pulpit of St. Peter's, which communicated with the door of it, and by which the impious pretender made it fly open as he said, "Lift up your heads, ye gates, and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in." And when it is known, not as the deed of an impious individual, but the authorised and established practice at Rome, that on the day of his inaguration, the Pope stands on the altar in St. Peter's (mark his position, on the altar) as the cloud of glory, the emblem of Deity over the mercy seat in the Jewish temple, and that in this attitude he receives the adoration of the assembled thousands, who bow down and adore, none will fail to see in the actor in this monstrous impiety, the Man of Sin, who in the temple of God, showeth himself that he is a God. How directly, how deeply does the conduct of Peter, on a memorable occasion, condemn this daring arrogancy of his pretended successors! When Cornelius, the Roman centurion, sincere but unenlightened, fell down at Peter's feet, and worshipped him, as he entered his house, as the first herald of repentance and salvation to the Gentile world, this Christian apostle, you remember, straightway forbade the undue honour, saying, "Stand up, I myself also am a man."

The contrast is still more striking between the popes and that great Lord whose vicars they claim to be considered. "All these things will I give thee," said Satan to Jesus, showing to him the kingdoms of this world, and the glory of them, "if thou wilt fall down and worship me." But he said, "Get thee hence, Satan; it is written thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." But alas! when the enemy of souls laid the same tempting lure before the eye of worldly and self-seeking bishops, to whom, in mysterious providence, the care of his Church was committed, they, false and faithless to their trust, yielded to the temptation of the enemy. They gave the Church back, as we have seen, to the power of Satan; and Satan, not from love to them, or from regard to his promises, for he is a liar, but for the more complete and prolonged ascendancy of his kingdom of darkness on the earth, gave the kingdoms of the world into their hands, secure that in their guilty hands the kingdom and the cause of Christ could not prosper.

Drunk with the Blood of the Saints

It had already been observed, as prophetically descriptive of the Antichrist, that he should act in opposition to the cause and people of Christ; and that while his favour and protection should be extended to such as received implicitly at his hand the odious and deadly cup of spiritual fornications, (a protection to the body at the expense of death to the souls of those who loved his lie and shared in his abominations,) the terror and the violence of his power should be put forth against the saints of God, who stood out from, and protested against his corruptions of Christian doctrine and worship. "The little horn," in Daniel's vision, it was foretold, should make war with the saints. The antichristian beast, it is said, (Rev. 13:12,) should exercise the power of the Pagan beast, who during ten persecutions made war with the saints and overcame them; and the apostate Church, represented under the emblem of the great whore sitting over many people, appears in vision drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus Christ, chap. 17:6. And does Papal Rome verify this dark and horrid feature of the Antichrist? That she has shed the blood of men, she is not disposed to deny. By the decree of the fourth Lateran council, whose authority is acknowledged at this hour, heretics are pronounced incapable of inheritance, their property to be confiscated, resistance to the execution of this sentence to be put down by force of arms, and their bodies to be burned and deprived of burial. These decrees are not a dead letter. I have only to refer to the history of the Waldenses and Albigenses, against whom the blood-hounds of the Inquisition were first let forth, to the massacre of St. Bartholemew, to the persecution in England in the reign of the Bloody Mary, and to the butchery in Ireland in 1741, in order to recal so many instances of the wholesale and ruthless executions of these antichristian decrees, ordained as if to give the lie to the words of Jesus, who said, "The Son of man came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them." It is true that heretics, men who have denied the faith, have been professedly the objects of these hideous atrocities. Even had they been really such, we could have regarded it as but a light alleviation of the outrages perpetrated on the name and cause of Christ, by a system of oppression and cruelty, repugnant as well to humanity as to the spirit and end of the Gospel of salvation. But we own, when the judgment of heresy is placed in the hands of men, who, as you have heard in former lectures, have made void God's word by their traditions, God's law by their indulgences, God's grace by their doctrine of merits, and God's ordinances by their system of will-worship, we can have no confidence that their vengeance will fall on such as are heretics in truth; nay, we know that it has in fact been directed chiefly against men of whom the world was not worthy, the saints and witnesses of Jesus Christ. Of course, the Popish party are at direct issue with Protestants upon this point. Yet the history of Popish persecutions throughout, makes it manifest that they were levelled not so much against the enemies of Christ, as against the enemies of the Pope. This is evident, in the first place, that the Church of Rome has tolerated within her pale, without molestation, heretics of every name and shade, who have offered no resistance to her power, nor ventured to call in question her claims. Amid her boasted unity of faith, she has not only tolerated, but provided for, and sanctioned within her pale, a place for the holders of every variety of religious opinion. "Her Jansenists are Calvinists; her Jesuits, Arminians; her Franciscans, Quakers; and among her professed and unchallenged adherents have been authors, who have taught Socinianism in all its gradations, from Arianism to Belshamism." [14]  Were there no other grounds for the conclusion, this toleration of every form of opinion, when not attended with resistance to the authority of the Roman pontiff, or the peculiarities of the Roman creed, might awaken and warrant a strong suspicion, that it was something else than zeal for the truth as it is in Jesus, which prompted such outrageous violations of all the charities of the Gospel. But the well known facts abundantly confirm and establish it. On what pretence was it that the Albigenses were hunted down by protracted and exterminating wars? Did they blaspheme Christ, or renounce the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith? On the contrary, they avowed their belief of every article of the apostles' creed. Or were they discontented and seditious, as members of civil government? No. The last article of their confession is, "We honour the secular powers with subjection, obedience, payment." But they held it to be unlawful to invoke the saints, and to worship the Virgin, and to obey magistrates in things sinful; therefore they were branded as revilers of the saints, and blasphemers of the Virgin, and rebels against the State; and on these calumnious pretexts, they were worn out and slain, without distinction of age, or of sex, or of rank. Such have ever been the charges for which the sword of persecution has been unsheathed by the Popish power, charges which do but thinly veil the real character of the offence which kindles its fury. Why was Huss perfidiously apprehended and burned alive, "and his soul devoted to the devils in hell"? [15] Why, but because he was a disciple of "Wickliffe, of damnable memory," as the Council of Constance presumes to speak of one who shines in the eye of Protestants as the bright morning star of the Reformation. Why was Cranmer and the host of English martyrs burned at Smithfield? Why, but because of their resistance to the creed and worship of an Apostate Church; especially to the most absurd and impious of all her dogmas, transubstantiation. In a word, it was only where the Roman Church had committed her authority to support her own inventions or to maintain her own power, that she sought, by the weapons of carnal and cruel warfare, to enforce submission upon the timid, or to inflict vengeance upon the faithful. And though it is a mysterious providence which has given the saints, whom the Lord keeps as the apple of his eye, into the power of those who thus have hated and persecuted them even unto the death, it is just what was distinctly foretold should occur during Antichrist's reign. And dark and sad as is the scene, it is yet a blessed relief and consolation, in looking through the long dreary vista of those ages in which the apostacy was at its height, and the Man of Sin in his strength, to be able to trace, even though it be by the light of the fires which were kindled to consume them, the unbroken chain of witnesses for Christ? Sometimes they are all but hidden from the eye of man, like the seven thousand in Elijah's day, which were known only to God. But ever and anon, they are seen, gathered into a goodly band of bold and faithful men, who, though they stood forth to fall before the power of Papal antichrist, have transmitted the precious testimony, that even when the gates of hell were strongest, they never prevailed against the Church.

[Note 14: Mr. Townsend, quoted in Reformer's Library, No. V, p. 129.]
[Note 15: Enfant Hist, of the Council of Constance.]

From the beginning there have been many antichrists. Not only have there been individuals and sects, but even churches, wide and extended, which in a just sense have merited the name, [16] but it is not every one of these that may be regarded as implementing the character and conditions of that antichrist, of whom, as singular and pre-eminent, it is said, "he should come."

[Note 16: The Greek Church was overrun with the worship of saints and images, almost as much, and as soon as the Church of Rome. Ricault's State of Greek Church, pp. 323-331.]

It will be proper, therefore, to advert briefly to a few of the more prominent circumstances which prophecy reveals, connected with thetime, and place, and manner of Antichrist's rise; for if it shall be found that the HISTORY, as well as the CHARACTER of the Popish system, accords with prophetic history, we shall be much confirmed in the conclusion that it is not only an antichrist, but the Antichrist of whom, from the beginning, it was "heard that he should come."

The Predicted Time of Antichrist's Rise

As to the time of the rise of antichrist, it is foretold, (Dan. vii,) that he should rise after or on the back of the ten horns or kingdoms into which the old Roman Empire should be, and actually was, divided at its fall. The Revelation of St. John fixes the same period. (Chap. 8.) And in 2 Thess. 2, it is stated with a measure of reserve, that the mystery of iniquity, which the apostle says was already at work in his days, was hindered from manifesting itself in all its power and presumption by an existing obstacle which should continue to hinder, until itself were taken out of the way. That the power of the Pagan Empire, if not the obstacle thus referred to, was at least an obstacle to the revealing of the pretensions of Antichrist, is at once apparent: for, plainly, that would not have tolerated for a moment any usurpation of a pretended Christian power upon the crown or the kingdom. In point of fact this was the understanding of the primitive Church respecting it. In vindicating the Christians from the suspicion of seditious designs, Tertulliari, in his Apology, asserts that "the Church prayed for the preservation of the Roman Empire, that so the day of Antichrist might be delayed." And on hearing of the sacking of Rome by Alaric the Goth, in the year 365, Jerome, in allusion to this prediction of the apostle, writes, saying, "He who hindered is taken out of the way, and we consider now that Antichrist is nigh."

Now, without investigating the point more minutely, we may gather from these notes of time that the rise of Antichrist should nearly synchronize with the fall or division of the Roman empire. And it is notorious that the apostacy and power of the Papacy had their origin contemporaneously with this event. In the year 360, five years before the first sacking of Rome, the apostacy to demon, or saint and image worship, had so far appeared as to attract the notice of the Council of Nice. It was not yet dominant in the Church, however, for by a decree of that council it was condemned. (Laod. Canons, 35.) But, alas! from this time and onward, there are mournful indications of its rapid spread, especially over the Western or Roman Church. About the end of the sixth century, Gregory the Great sanctioned the use of images, "as pieces of history, to instruct the minds of Christians in the facts of Christianity." And in the pontificate of Gregory II. they were so established in the Christian Churches, that that imperious Pontiff excommunicated the Emperor of the Greeks, because of his hostility to them. The usurpations of the Church of Rome followed close upon the introduction, and gathered strength with the prevalence of this revived idolatry. Long had the bishop of Rome aspired to the proud title and power of Universal Bishop. So early as the Council of Nice, it is said that he declined attending it, that he might evade the humiliation of veiling his claims in presence of the Emperor, and taking the second place there. And although Gregory the Great denounced the man who should arrogate this proud title as the forerunner of Antichrist, it was assumed, unscrupulously, by Boniface, his immediate successor in the See of Rome, and was confirmed by the emperor Phocas to Gregory II. who, as if in haste to prove himself the very Antichrist, that, in the consummation of his arrogance, should exalt himself above all civil, as well as above all ecclesiastical authorities, presumed to absolve from their allegiance the subjects of Leo, whom, as the Great Image Breaker of the East, he had sinfully cut off from communion with the Church.

The Predicted Place of Antichrist's Seat

As to the place of Antichrist's seat, the language of prophecy has made it clear beyond dispute that it should be Rome, the ancient seat of that idolatry and power which he should revive. The self-exalting king was to rise on the back of the ten king doms of the Roman Empire, (Dan. 7,) and to exercise all its power, (Rev. 13.) And, still more distinctly, the apostate Church is described sitting uponseven hills, and in the great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth. The city thus described cannot be mistaken. Septicollis, septimontium, are familiar classic epithets of Rome. Ovid, for example, describes her as surveying the world she had conquered from her seven hills; and mourns over his own exile from her, as the city which from her seven mountains looks round the world, the seat of empire and of the gods. [17] The other description of her as then reigning over the kings of the earth, is equally applicable to her power at the time when the prophecy was given. Then, as all know, Rome was undisputed mistress of the world. Bossuet, one of the most powerful minds which Popery has enthralled, acknowledges, from the force of this evidence, that Rome must be the seat of Antichrist. Bellarmine, the most skilful champion of Popery, admits this point with the same explicitness: "There was no city," says he, "in the time of John, which held empire over the kings of the earth but Rome, and it is well known, that she is built on seven hills." That Popery bears this note of Antichrist no one needs to be informed. It may, indeed, present itself to some minds as an objection to the above interpretation of prophecy, though concurred in by Papists and Protestants, that the seat of Antichrist is expressly called Babylon. But that name, be it observed, is at the same time called mystery, or mystical; and its mystical meaning is not hard to interpret. In the ancient world, Babylon was the Mother of idols. The Baalim, or demons, derived their names from Baal or Belus, the second king of Babylon, and the first, it is probable, of deified men. She was also, as the Jewish prophets instruct us, the enemy and persecutor of the Church of God, and of those witnesses for his name who refused to bow down before her idols. And in both respects, as you must perceive, her name might well be transferred to the seat of Antichrist, whose seat, in Christian times, is what Babylon was of old; the Mother of fornications, and the slaughter-house of the saints.

[Note 17: Lib. 3, Elegiac 7, c. 4.]

The Predicted Manner of Antichrist and his False Religion

Scripture contains several notable prophetic descriptions, of the character and pretensions of the men by whom this antichristian power should be introduced and maintained. These will enable us yet more fully to identify the Popish system with it. One of these is their desperate wickedness, veiled under the mask of eminent sanctity. Thus it is said, that the apostacy should be brought in, "through the hypocrisy of liars, having their consciences seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats." It must at once strike every mind, that by an interdict upon marriage and upon meats, the Popish clergy have, as by infatuation, fastened upon themselves this brand of the apostacy. Not only do Friars take the vow of abstinence, and Monks the vow of celibacy, but marriage is made unlawful to all orders of the Popish clergy. This was decreed by Gregory VII., who compelled priests already married, on pretence of the unholy nature of the bond, to put away their wives. And though the decree was recalled on experience of the enormities which it led to, the Council of Trent has pronounced a curse upon the priest who shall marry. Nor is the prohibition of marriage and of meats confined to the clergy. Over the whole Church, in the plenitude of Popish power, all her people were required to eat by ecclesiastical rule; and were, and still are forbidden, on stated days, to eat those meats which God has created to be received with thanksgiving. You are aware, also, how much it has been the system of this Church to encourage Nunneries. The most artful lures are laid to entice young persons of devout dispositions and ardent feelings to take the veil; and the Council of Trent compels, even by force of arms, constancy to their rash and often involuntary vows. All this is done on the part of the Popish authorities, on pretence of pre-eminent sanctity and heavenliness. But ah! the lives of these men; their shameless, yea, licensed impurities, [18] their systematic prostitution to their own lusts of multitudes who have heen induced to take the vow of chastity, as Erasmus and Clemangis, a Popish doctor, solemnly testify, [19] prove that, if there be some dupes, others are indeed the men "who speak lies in hypocrisy, and whose consciences are seared with a hot iron."

[Note 18: Shameful to relate, says Espencaeus, they give permission to priests to have concubines, upon paying an annual tax. Reform Library, No. V, 502.]
[Note 19: Ut supra, 458, et seq.]

After the Working of Satan

Besides being thus false pretenders to pre-eminent sanctity, it is intimated they should make high pretensions to supernatural or miraculous powers. "His coming," says Paul, "shall be after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and all deceivableness of unrighteousness." He shall have power to do miracles in the sight of the Roman Beast, so that the world shall wonder after him. Now, that the Church of Rome pretends to the gift of miracles, is well known. This power is set down by her champion, as one of the notes of the true Church; and in looking into the history of Popery, or looking into the prayer-books of the Church, we find this power pretended to, and, as being exercised by this and that other of her saints, made the express subject of thanksgiving unto God. [20] It is not in harmony with the ways of God, that miracles should be made of very frequent occurrence. It is intimated by our Lord, (Luke 16:31,) that after Moses and the prophets had once been fully attested by miracles, it was unfit that more miracles should be wrought to convince the careless or unbelieving; and upon the same principle it may be held improbable that Christianity, once thus attested, should be upheld by a continual and unnecessary interference with the established laws of nature. But about the time of Julian, the pretence of miraculous power was revived in the Church. Those works of healing were wrought at the tombs, and by the bones and relics of saints and martyrs, which Eusebius declares had before been pretended at the demon shrines; and it is easy to conceive how, by these means, the great apostacy was helped forward from Christ the living One, to the worship of the dead saints and their wonder-working relics and images. The same system which thus introduced Popery, has all along been used to support it. The pretence of miracles cannot indeed be openly put forward in the light of Protestantism. But it has not, until this day, ceased within the Pope's proper and exclusive territory. Altars and images, and tombs and holy wells, are still resorted to by Papists, who are held under the power of darkness; and miracles of every kind are performed in plenty, to deceive those debased souls who love not the truth, that they might be saved. It may be said that we beg the question, in thus stigmatizing the Popish miracles as lying wonders. But, in fact, the deception of many of them has been exposed, and the deception of many more has been confessed to their shame and confusion. Indeed, when we contemplate their design, when we consider that they are all wrought to support the worship of the saints and images, and the power and wealth of the priests, a suspicion is awakened that they are lies, all of them. And when we examine their character, which clearly betrays their design; when we are told, as a specimen, that a saint, with his head cut off, walked four or five miles with it in his hand; that a bishop, having cut off his hand, had it suddenly set on again by prayer to the blessed Virgin; that a crucifix took a journey of fifty miles one night through the air; that the house of the Virgin at Nazareth was transported to Loretto; [21] that the bars and locks of St. Peter's (no doubt by a new application of Pope Alexander's spring,) burst open of their own accord when the body of Gregory VI. was carried thither for burial; that on the festival of St. Januaris at Naples, the blood of Jesus, preserved there in a phial, liquifies annually, in honour of the saint; when told of these, and they are a fair specimen of Popish miracles, it is not possible, we think, to resist the conclusion, that they betray "the cloven foot;" that though they do not require the miraculous agency of Satan, they at least exhibit the workers of these lying wonders as the subjects of his deceitful power, and wickedly maintaining a false worship by a series of "pious frauds."

[Note 20: See Grant's Vespers, published under the sanction of Murdoch and Scott, Glasgow, 1835, p. 278, etc. ]
[Note 21: In the Vespers of the Popish Church, published in 1835, with the sanction of Bishops Scott and Murdoch, there is a service in honour of this absurd legend: p. 140. The service is worthy of the story it celebrates.]

Instead of Christ

I persuade myself that, without prosecuting the comparison further, between the prophetic Antichrist and the Popish system, most who have followed us so far will be ready to concur in the sentiment of the great Lord Bacon, who, being asked by King James whether he thought the Pope was Antichrist, replied with not more wit than truth, that "If an hue and cry should be raised against Antichrist, which should describe him by the character deciphered in the Bible, he would certainly apprehend the Pope for him!" Perhaps, indeed, some of his friends might plead, as Bellarmine does, in bar of his arrest, that Antichrist shall be one, an individual, but the popes are many, and who of them all is he? But not to insist that the plea is an unwise one in the lips of a Papist, who, by the same question, would limit the power of the keys to St. Peter, the one individual to whose hands they were intrusted, and thus at once undermine or cut off the authority of all his pretended successors, we reply, that the pretence is unfounded, and is clearly refuted by the duration of the reign of Antichrist, and by the long series of events in his history, which require for their accomplishment the lapse of many generations. Others perhaps may allege, that Antichrist is the infidel power, a character which cannot but with grossest indecency be imputed to the professed vicar of Christ on earth. This opinion, which some modern Millenarians entertain, has been already refuted by the prophetic evidence, that the Man of Sin should sit in the temple of God, and that he should speak lies in hypocrisy, pretending to be the friend, while he was in truth the enemy of Christ. Nor is this an unprecedented enormity. Judas, the son of perdition, who hath bequeathed his name to the Antichrist, was one of the twelve apostles of Christ. It was the judgment of the ancient Church, that Antichrist, like Judas, should be a professed friend to Christ, a counter-Christ, as the etymology of his name implies, or, according to one of the impious titles assumed by the Pope, his vicar, upholding a counter-system to the mystery of godliness, in the mystery of iniquity. Now, such is the exact character of Popery. Under a mask of Christian names, it substitutes a system which counter-works and neutralizes the ends of Christianity. The doctrines of the Gospel are no doubt retained by the Romish Church, as the Bible itself is retained. But both are considered too spiritual and elevated for daily or general use, and are, in fact, superseded. Thus the saints take the place of the Saviour. Human traditions undermine the authority, and human interpretations pervert the meaning, of the Scriptures. The absurd and idolatrous sacrifice of the mass, conceals from the view of sinners the one Great Sacrifice which taketh away the sin of the world. For the invisible Head of the Church, which is Christ's body, you have the Pope at Rome, a visible but an impotent and impious representative; and to consummate the impiety, with a matchless effrontery in those who make the lie, and with strong delusion in those who believe and love it, you have presented "the real presence of the body and blood, with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ," in the transubstantiated wafer!

But if the Pope be thus pronounced the Antichrist, and the Church he presides over antichristian, where, it may be asked, will the true Church of Christ be found? Must we suppose it to be limited to the narrow bounds of the Reformed Churches, or to those who have suffered death by Popish hands for the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus? On this narrow minded sentiment, Bishop Murdoch, in his lectures, lately published, would fain have it, that Protestants are driven, and boasts, not over-wisely, as will appear, of the comparative amplitude of his Church, as an argument in its favour against Protestants. But of what value is the argument in the light he applies it? It is plainly of greater force in the hands of Deists against Christianity itself, than it is in his hands against the churches of the Reformation; for the Roman Catholic Church does not bear so great a proportion to the heathen world as the Reformed Churches bear to her. Then in another view, the mournful and mysterious fact on which it rests, is of no avail either to Infidel or to Papist. Not to the Infidel; for in truth it robs him of the argument with which this Popish bishop would furnish him, and adds another to the many evidences of the truth of the Gospel. This all but universal apostacy, however, to be explained, was yet foretold from the beginning; and having come to pass in all particulars as was foretold, the proof is decisive that the Spirit who spake of it is the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of God. Nor will the boasted universality of his Church avail this bishop or his cause, more than the infidel. In truth, it only serves to fix more indelibly upon his Church the brand of that apostacy, and upon the Pope the mark of that apostate power of whom it was predicted, that he should prevail and prosper, to whom the kings of the earth should agree to give their strength, and into whose hand the saints of God should be given, that he should make war upon them, and overcome them, until the days of indignation should be fulfilled.

The Predicted Doom of Antichrist and his False Religion

For the times of Antichrist are determined. His power shall be brought down to the dust, and the guilty agents of his purposes shall awfully perish. "He shall reign for a time, and times, and the dividing of a time;" Jerusalem, or the true Church, during the same period, being trodden down of the Gentiles; that is, corrupted and oppressed by Pagan idolatry and antichristian persecutions. "But at the time of the end, the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion." The Lord, at his coming, "shall consume him with the Spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy him with the brightness of his coming." I enter not here into any question respecting the date of these events, which I confess myself unable to ascertain. But there is no obscurity left over the doom of Antichrist; and we cannot doubt but that the corrupt system in which his power is embodied, must in due time fall. Already has the Church seen the breaking up of the Popish power. At the era of the Reformation, as the word of prophecy foretold, the third part of the idolatrous city fell; and it fell, as it is said Antichrist shall fall, "by the Spirit of Christ's mouth," by the preaching of his word, which is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword. Before this spiritual weapon, the power ot error is unable to stand. When the Gospel is faithfully and powerfully preached, Popery withers and consumes away. The breath of Christ's mouth, which carries life and fruitfulness over the fields of his spiritual heritage, carries the blight of death with it, as it sweeps over the fields in which have been sown the tares of antichristian error. The destruction which is decreed, and which has begun, will, doubtless be consummated in its time. For aught I know, there may be truth in the apprehensions of certain students of prophecy, that he shall have a time of reviving before he is finally overthrown. But if so, his triumphing shall be short; and as sure as Popish Rome is the mystic Babylon, who hath made the nations to drink of the cup of her fornications, the time draws on when the voice of the mighty angel shall be heard, crying, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen!" followed by the voice of a triumphant Church, crying, "Alleluia! salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are his judgments; for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia! And her smoke rose up for ever and ever."