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“The Pope is of so great dignity and excellence, that he is not merely man, but as if God, and the vicar of God (non sit simplex homo, sed quasi Deus, et Dei vicarius). The Pope alone is called most holy, . divine monarch, and supreme emperor, and king of kings. ... The Pope is of so great dignity and power that he constitutes one and the same tribunal with Christ (faciat unum et idem tribunal cum Christo), so that whatsoever the Pope does seems to proceed from the mouth of God (ab ore Dei).”“Prompta Bibliotheca” (Ferraris), art. “Papa;" Ferraris's Ecclesiastical Dictionary (Roman Catholic), art. “The Pope." Quoted in Guinness's “Romanism and the Reformation,” p. 16.
These are no merely extravagant adulations of the Dark Ages, to be repudiated by the moderns; these terms express the unchanging doctrinal claims of the Roman Church, that put man in the place of God. The modern Pope Leo XIII, in an encyclical letter dated June 20, 1894, repeated the claim:
“We hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty."-"The Great Encyclical Letters of Leo XIII” (New York, Benziger Brothers), p. 304.
Thus does the Papacy "speak great words against the Most High.”
“And Shall Wear Out the Saints of the
Most High" All through the Dark Ages we catch glimpses of the ruthless hand of Rome laid upon simple believers in God's Holy Word; but plans for wholesale wearing out of the saints of God were devised as the Waldenses and others rose to a widespread work of witnessing, heralds of the dawn of the coming Reformation,
“These who gave earliest notice,
As the lark
Pope Innocent III gave orders concerning them as follows:
“Therefore by this present apostolical writing, we give you a strict command that, by whatever means you can, you destroy all these heresies and expel from your diocese all who are polluted with them. You shall exercise the rigor of ecclesiastical power against them and all those who have made themselves suspected by associating with them. They may not appeal from your judgments, and, if necessary, you may cause the princes and people to suppress them with the sword.”— Quoted from Migne, 214, col. 71, in Thatcher and McNeal's "Source Book for Medieval History," p. 210.
As the truth spread, so also the papal church redoubled its efforts by sword and flame. The historian Lecky says:
“That the Church of Rome has shed more innocent blood than any other institution that has ever existed among mankind, will be questioned by no Protestant who has a competent knowledge or history. The memorials, indeed, of many of her persecutions are now so scanty that it is impossible to form a complete conception of the multitude of her victims, and it is quite certain that no powers of imagination can adequately realize their sufferings.”—“History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe," Vol. II, p. 32.
Motley, in his "Rise of the Dutch Republic” (part 3, chap. 2), tells how Philip II of Spain — who declared that he would “never consent to be the sovereign of heretics"sent the Duke of Alva to take over the Netherlands:
“Early in the year the most sublime sentence of death was promulgated which has ever been pronounced since the creation of the world. The Roman tyrant (Nero) wished that his enemies' heads were all upon a single neck, that he might strike them off at a blow; the Inquisition assisted Philip to place the heads of all his Netherlands subjects upon a single neck for the same fell purposc. Upon February 16, 1568, a sentenoe of the Holy Onice condemnel all the inhabitants of the Netherlands to death as heretics. From this universal doom only a few persons, especially named, were excepted. A proclamation of the king, dated ten days later, confirmed this decree of the Inquisition, and ordered it to be carried into instant execution, without regard to age, sex, or condition. This is probably the most concise death warrant that was ever framed. Three millions of people, men, women, and children, were sentenced to the scaffold in three lines.”
Roman Catholic writers admit that the papal church has sought to exterminate what it calls heresy, by the power of the sword.
The Western Watchman (St. Louis), Dec. 24, 1908, says:
“The church has persecuted. . . . Protestants were persecuted in France and Spain with the full approval of the church authorities. We have always defended the persecution of the Huguenots, and the Spanish Inquisition. Wherever and whenever there is honest Catholicity, there will be a clear distinction drawn between truth and error, and Catholicity and all forms of error. When she thinks it good to use physical force, she will use it."
Prof. Alfred Baudrillart, rector of the Catholic Institute of Paris, says: “The Catholic Church is a respecter of conscience and of liberty.
She has, and she loudly proclaims that she has, a 'horror of blood.' Nevertheless, when confronted by heresy, she does not content herself with persuasion; arguments of an intellectual and moral order appear to her insufficient, and she has recourse to force, to corporal punishment, to torture. She creates tribunals like those of the Inquisition, she calls the laws of the state to her aid, if necessary she encourages a crusade, or a religious war, and all her 'horror of blood practically culminates into urging the secular power to shed it, which roceeding is almost more odious for it is less frank than shedding it herself. Especially did she act thus in the sixteenth century with regard to Protestants. Not content to reform morally, to preach by example, to convert people by eloquent and holy missionaries, she lit in Italy, in the Low Countries, and above all in Spain, the funeral piles of the Inquisition. In France under Francis I and IIenry II, in England under Mary Tudor, she tortured the heretics, whilst both in France and Germany during the second half of the sixteenth and the first half of the seventeenth century if she did not actually begin, at any rate she encouraged and actively aided, the religious wars.”—“The Catholic Church, the Renaissance and Protestantism” (London, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., Ltd., 1908), pp. 182, 183.
She has done it the Church of Rome has worn out the saints of the Most High. The prophet in vision saw an ecclesiastical kingly power rise among the kingdoms of the divided Roman Empire. Its look was more stout than its fellows, and the prophet heard it speaking “very great things,” and
THE SHAME OF RELIGIOUS WARS
Christ viewing the battle fields of history, where millions of His followers have been slain in His name.
saw it wearing out the saints of the Most High through the long centuries.
“Guilty!" is the clear verdict of history, against the Church of Rome on these two counts of the prophetic indictment.
“And Think to Change Times and Laws" The power that was to speak great words against the Most High, and to wear out the saints of the Most High, was further - in its self-exalting opposition to God — to as
sume to lay hands upon times and laws, evidently the times and the laws of the Most High; for to say that such a power would lay hands on the laws of men, changing or setting aside human legislation, would signify less than the preceding counts. This third specification states a climax in the indictment - the self-exalting, persecuting power was to lay hands upon the very law of the Most High. It is clearly the same power that the apostle Paul said would rise to dominion after his time: “Then shall be revealed the lawless one." 2 Thess. 2:8, A. R. V.
God's Law Unchangeable Just as the laws of a government express its character, so the law of God is a reflection of the divine character. “The law of the Lord is perfect.” Ps. 19:7. “Wherefore the law
. is holy,” said the apostle, "and the commandment holy, and just, and good." Rom. 7: 12.
Jesus declared, “I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart." Ps. 40: 8. And He maintained the unchangeable, enduring integrity of that law: “Verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Matt. 5: 18.
But in Daniel's prophecy is foretold the rise of this power that was to think to change the times and the laws of the Most High.