« PreviousContinue »
reached" the lowest period of her depression. The sources of public and private opulence were exhausted: the lofty tree under whose shade the nations of the earth had reposed, was deprived of its leaves and branches, and the sapless trunk was left to wither on the ground. Curiosity and ambition no longer attracted the nations to the capital of the world: but if chance or necessity directed the steps of the wandering stranger, he contemplated with horror the vacancy and solitude of the city, and might be tempted to ask, Where is the senate, and where are the people? The depopulation was constant and visible, and the gloomy enthusiasts might expect the approaching failure of the human race." (Vol. viii. p. 159, 160.)
The Papal power arose from the miseries of the times.' Do you ask, what it was which involved the apostolical pastor in the business of peace and war?
answer, in the words of the historian-The misfortunes of Rome.' (Vol. viii. p. 170.) I answer in the words of Scripture," The Beast rose out of the sea."
But "the sea out of which "the Beast rose was also a sea of anarchy and rebellion. It is agreed that in the eighth century the dominion of the Popes was founded on rebellion, and that the rebellion was produced and justified by the heresy of the Iconoclasts.' (Gibbon, Vol. ix. p. 133.) And this adds the guilt of idolatry to the sin of rebellion. The treason of the two Gregories (the second and third) was followed up by the decision of Pope Zachary in
THE THIRTEENTH CHAPTER
BOOK OF REVELATION.
THE PAPACY DESCRIBED.
I. AND I STOOD UPON THE SAND OF THE SEA, AND SAW A BEAST RISE UP OUT OF THE SEA, HAVING SEVEN HEADS AND TEN HORNS, AND UPON HIS HEADS THE NAME OF BLASPHEMY.
II. AND THE BEAST WHICH I SAW WAS LIKE UNTO A LEOPARD, AND HIS FEET WERE AS THE FEET OF A BEAR, AND HIS MOUTH AS THE MOUTH OF A LION AND THE DRAGON GAVE HIM HIS POWER, AND HIS SEAT, AND GREAT AUTHORITY.
III. AND I SAW ONE OF HIS HEADS AS IT WERE WOUNDED TO DEATH; AND HIS DEADLY WOUND WAS HEALED: AND ALL THE WORLD WONDERED AFTER THE BEAST.
IV. AND THEY WORSHIPPED THE DRAGON WHICH B
favour of Pepin against the last descendant of Clovis. The little horn of Daniel, within a short time afterwards, plucked up three horns by the roots, and the Exarchate of Ravenna, the state of Lombardy and the Senate of Rome were laid at the feet of the successor of St. Peter, the vicar of Jesus Christ and the Universal Bishop. The exarchate was given to the Pope within three years after the decision of Zachary, and in the year 755, according to Sigonius; and thus, as has been well observed by Mr. Waddington, 'the earliest interference of the Vatican, in temporal matters, brought after it in the course of three years, only a rich and solid reward of temporal power, which has never since been either greatly increased or greatly diminished.' (Hist. of Church, p. 164.) 'Henceforward the Popes, being now become temporal princes, did no longer date their Epistles and bulls by the years of the Emperor's reign, but by the years of their own advancement to the Papal chair.' (Bishop Newton.) The splendid donation was granted in supreme and absolute dominion, and the world beheld for the first time a Christian Bishop invested with the prerogatives of a temporal prince : the choice of magistrates, the exercise of justice, the imposition of laws, and the wealth of the palace of Ravenna.' (Gibbon ix. p. 160.) The Beast rose
out of the sea.
In the words of a Roman Catholic historian, The Roman Empire began to decline; but the Church of Rome augmented as fast.' Mr. Gibbon, as we have seen, gives the same account, he adds, A distant
and dangerous situation amidst the barbarians of the West, excited the spirit and freedom of the Latin Bishops.' The historian labours to shew that the Patriarch of Constantinople, however aspiring he might be, was kept as a slave under the eye of his master.' In the case of the Patriarch 'he that let,' or hindered, was not taken out of the way.' But in the case of the Pope, the obstacle to his ambition was taken away by the fall of the Imperial government; and immediately the Beast "rose out of the sea." And with respect to the duty of allegiance and the sin of rebellion, the Vicar of Jesus Christ may learn a lesson from Mr. Gibbon.
Speaking of the death of the Emperor Maurice, and the triumph of Phocas, the historian observes, 'As a subject and a Christian, it was the duty of Gregory to acquiesce in the established government, but the joyful applause with which he salutes the fortune of the assassin has sullied with indelible disgrace the character of the saint.' (Vol. viii. p. 211.)
The origin of the Papal power could not be either more concisely or more emphatically described than in the words of Apocalyptic vision; "It rose out of the sea," and that sea, a sea of turmoil and agitation. Then was fulfilled the prophecy of St. Paul, "The mystery of iniquity doth already work only he who now letteth (or hindereth) will let (or hinder), 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." (2 Thess. ii. 7, 8.)