In honor of Reformation Month, as I have done in the past, I will be posting various pieces related to the Reformers' view of Rome. This selection comes from Louis Gaussen's Geneva and Rome: Rome Papal as Portrayed by Prophecy and History.
In this selection, Gaussen is commenting on the Papacy having just read Daniel 7:1-14.
Thirteen or fourteen characters described in it portray the Popedom entirely. I will endeavour to show you, that on looking at each of these features, it is impossible not to exclaim, "It is the Pope!” and also that there is nothing now existing under heaven, nor has existed through all the history of past ages, to which it is possible to apply these descriptions of holy writ, except the Pope, and to no other than the Pope!
Its first character consists in the nature of this power predicted in the little born. Evidently, according to this prophecy it must be a royal priest, a king, for it is written "there came up amongst them a little horn." And "another king shall rise after them." A king-priest, — for it is written that “he shall be diverse from the other kings;” and all that follows is to show us in what consists the difference, politically as well as religiously. What does he do? He blasphemes, he persecutes the saints, he pretends he has the power of changing the times and the laws. As king, he is weak and insignificant; as king-priest, he is powerful and haughty; he has power to oppress the saints for ages, — “he utters great words” — he rules the world. Now, with regard to this first feature, where shall we find under heaven a king-priest if not at Rome, or perhaps amidst the mountains of upper Asia, in the great Lama? Where shall we find in history a king-priest who has attempted to change the times and the laws, who has reigned with power, and who has made a secular war on the people of the saints?
The second feature consists in the geographical situation of this power. Where are we to look for the little horn? Where is the seat of Rome? Where is her territory, her patrimony, or the possessions of the Church? Where are we to find the theatre of her evil doings?
What can be clearer than this prophecy? It is given to lead us straight to the monarchy of Rome and make you place the Holy See in Rome, the possessions of the Church in Italy, and the theatre of this baneful potentate in the vast empire of the ten Latin kingdoms. You know well with what particular care St. John shows us that it is Rome, the city of the seven hills, the Queen City, the Babylon of the latter times. You know also that the Roman Catholics, as well as ourselves, all acknowledge that the Babylon of St. John can be no other than Rome. If, then, this power is a lauded power, this territory, according to Daniel, is a Roman state; if it is a church, this church, according to Daniel, is a Roman church; if it is a pontiff, this pontiff, according to Daniel, is a Roman pontiff; and if it is a great apostasy, this apostasy extends, according to Daniel, between the Rhine, the Danube, the countries forming the Grecian empire, the Adriatic, Mount Atlas, and the great Ocean; that is to say, in all the territory of the 'fourth beast. In other words, we must seek for it in France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Savoy, Italy, Bavaria, Austria, and a part of Hungary.
The third feature of this power is its origin and its increase. How does it first appear in the world? Slowly, little by little, a gradual growth, like the budding horn on the forehead of a young bull. You must remark that the ten first horns, or the ten kingdoms established by the Goths in the Roman Empire, appeared before the eyes of the prophet at their full growth, but it is not so with the eleventh horn; that appears to him after the others, silently, and without any noise, as a horn that is growing. Ask now, any historian, if it is not the exact description of the beginning of the papal tyranny, and if it did not become menacing, noisy, and terrible, without its being possible for them to say in what year it began!
The fourth feature is the chronology of this apostasy; I mean the time of its beginning and that of its end. According to Daniel, when was it to begin? This fact is very striking. In his vision, the time should be immediately after the divisions of the Latin empire into the ten Gothic kingdoms; and this divided state was to last till the coming of Jesus Christ! Now I ask, is it possible to explain this clear and positive prophecy if the Popedom is excluded? I ask if all the historians of the Popes have not described their power as rising out of the ruins of the Roman Empire, about the sixth or seventh century, and taking its growth in the midst of those ten kingdoms which were built up from those ruins, in the days of Clovis, Justinian and Belisarius! Shew me in the whole worlds and above all in the Roman Empire and in Rome, a king-priest who began to reign twelve hundred years ago, and who still reigns in our days, and will reign till the last coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ.
The fifth feature denotes the territory belonging to this power, and this too is marvelous. "Three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots, before the little horn/' and these horns St. John shows us as "having each his crown." Take now the map of Italy, and look for the dominions of the Pope, and see of how many of the ten first kingdoms the pontifical territory occupies the site at this day. You will see that it has supplanted these three: the Herules, the Ostrogoths, and the Lombards! And go to Rome itself, and see the pontiff on the banks of the Tiber in all his sovereign pomp, trampling underfoot the ashes of Romulus in the Basilica of St. Peter's, or in his own palace of the Vatican. You will see on his brow that Babylonish tiara, surmounted by the three crowns of the three horns "plucked up by the roots before him," those of Odoacer, of Theodoric, and of Alboin; he, the only king in the universe, who wears this prophetic head-dress. Show me another prince on the face of the earth who binds three crowns upon his forehead! He is also a king-priest, he is in Rome, he has grown as a horn grows, he began to reign in. the sixth or seventh century, and he reigns still! It is written, "Three of the first horns were plucked up before him, and he shall subdue three kings.''
The sixth character is extraordinary penetration, most accomplished cleverness, incomparable policy, and continual vigilance. Remark how this characteristic feature is admirably described in the symbols of the vision! From whence could proceed, according to Daniel, that influence exercised by the little horn, which ruled the whole Roman empire, and stirred up the world for so many centuries, while, coming forth as it did after the ten others, it was likewise the smallest? Listen! “It had eyes like the eyes of a man,'' says Daniel; these eyes contain the secret of its power. A horn with eyes! What a singular idea! Yet how admirable when we understand the sense! For twelve hundred years what has given Rome her power in this superhuman penetration, this worldly cleverness, of which these eyes are the emblem? It is the vigilance which she exercises over all the world by means of her priests, by her monkish orders, by her nuncios, by the Jesuits, by her apostolic prefects, and, above all, by her confessionals; it is this piercing eye, ever open and which never slumbers; it is this consummate knowledge of human frailty which the confessional has taught her for eight hundred years; it is her wiles, her perfect cunnings those "depths of Satan, as they speak” as St. John has said.
The seventh feature is her deceitfulness, her falsehoods. Her pretended miracles are astonishing features, and unparalleled in history. I might have included them in the last feature; but St. Paul has described this particular so well in his second epistle to the Thessalonians, where he says of the man of sin, that his “coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceiveableness of unrighteousness," that I have thought it right to give it a place alone. And here it would be necessary to bring forward those false traditions, those false books, those false visions, those false relics, those miraculous medals, those false cures, those false acts, and above all those false decretals, that astonishing lie, which has never had its equal in the world in boldness or in success, for it has deceived all Europe for five hundred years, and alone, in itself, rendered the gigantic usurpations of the Popes possible.
The eighth feature consists in his more than royal pomp. Daniel tells us, in the twentieth verse, that though this horn was the smallest, yet his "look was more stout than his fellows." Certainly the pomp of Charlemagne, of Charles the Fifth, of Louis the Fourteenth, or of Bonaparte, was very great; hut not to he compared with that of the Roman Pontiff. Nothing less could satisfy him than that the greatest kings should hold his stirrup, wait on him at table— what shall I say? Should prostrate themselves before him and kiss his feet, and he has even gone so far as to place his proud foot upon their prostrate neck! Go and contemplate him in the Vatican as I have done; you will see the painting which represents the emperor Henry the Fourth, stripped before Gregory the Seventh, placed in the royal saloon, through which the ambassadors of all the powers of Europe pass; and in another the heroic and powerful emperor, Frederick Barbarossa, on his knees before Pope Alexander the Third, in the public square of Venice, the Pope's foot is on his shoulder, his scepter thrown upon the ground, and underneath these words; “Fredericus supplex adorat, fidem et obedientiam pollicitus.” One must see this king-priest in his palaces and basilica, to have a just idea of what his pomp is, and to comprehend the full sense of Daniel's words. ''His look is more stout than his fellows.” Where is the king of the west who is carried on men's shoulder? and surrounded by peacock's feathers? Incense is burnt before him as to an idol; he is knelt to on both knees, his slipper is kissed on his foot, and he is adored! “Venite, adoremus,” exclaim the cardinals when they go to him. The present Pope sold in Rome this year, amongst the many medals which are annually struck to record in bronze the glories of his reign, one on which is inscribed, above the likeness of Adrian the Sixth, crowned by his cardinals, these words, '' Quem creant adorant.” How often, whilst I beheld him in the midst of his pomp, has not the words of the Holy Spirit sounded in my ears, “He as God sitteth in the temple of God, calling himself God!"
The ninth feature is his language, his great words. The little horn “had a mouth that spake very great things,'' said Daniel; and it would seem that nothing in the whole vision so forcibly struck the prophet as the violence, the hatred, and the pride of its language. More than once he expresses his astonishment at it. “I beheld because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake. Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, even of that mouth which spake very great things;” and certainly this one feature is sufficient to characterize the Pontiff of Rome. What would the least among the students of history in one of our colleges, answer if asked to point out the power which through the nine hundred years of the middle ages, and the four hundred years of modern history, has never ceased to fill the world with the noise of his mighty words, his menacing words, his proud words, his commanding words, his words of cursing and his words of fire, who ordered all people under his authority to undertake distant expeditions and exterminating wars? Will not the student instantly hasten to reply, the Pope, and the Pope alone! And sure it is then that the Pope is unparalleled in the history of men. For twelve hundred years the earth has heard these mighty words, these menacing and anathematizing words: he himself styles them his thunderbolts. Gregory the Sixteenth, now on his throne, when speaking of them in his book on "the triumphs of the Church," borrowing the language of Jove, says that "he thunders." Words of command and violence! he excommunicates kings, he condemns them, he de poses them, he curses them. Words of hatred and bloodthirstiness! For two centuries he hurled the nations of the west all over the east by his crusades; later he destroyed the Christian Grecian Empire; in twenty-seven years, by the means of crusades of Christians against Christians, he effected the extermination of the south of France. Proud words! All historians, whether Christian or infidel, are agreed that the Roman Pontiff was never equaled on earth in proud and haughty words. Daniel therefore had good reason to say, “I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake.''
The tenth feature of his character is the continuation of this language. According to Daniel, it is to endure till the coming of the Son of Man in the clouds of heaven, and you see, gentlemen, that it does still endure. And who would have believed, without witnessing it, that in Europe, after so much civilization, and after the coming of the glorious Reformation, after twelve hundred years of scandalous conduct, a king-priest could continue the same language from Rome in the midst of the nations? But our God is omnipotent!
The eleventh feature is his blasphemies. Daniel says, “He shall speak great words against the Most High;" and is there anything more blasphemous than the high pretensions and titles of the Roman Pontiff? He styles himself, “Holy Father!" the name by which Jesus addresses His Father! "The very holy Father! the Husband of the Church! the Head of the universal Church! (the incommunicable name of the only Son of God!) His Holiness! God's Vicar upon earth — God's Vicegerent — God upon earth! Deus in terra, sanctissimus Pater, sua sanctitas!" He declares himself infallible; he puts his decrees above even those of the word of God, and assumes the power of releasing man from fulfilling the commandments of his Creator! He maintains that he only makes priests, and they only in their turn can create their God in a morsel of bread, by the means of three Latin words, and give Him to be eaten by the people! And he can forgive sins committed against the Lord of Lords, and open at will the gates of heaven to whom he chooses! Are these blasphemies enough to be proclaimed openly by a worm of the earth? And has there ever existed under the heavens a power which in this particular resembled the Pope? Will you find in any country his counterpart in all the history of the folly and the pride of man? What shall we say, when we reflect— and no one can deny it— that the priests capable of this excess of presumption were, as to the generality of them, for many generations, the scandal of the universe, by their luxury, their licentiousness, and their cruelty.
The twelfth feature consists in his murderous hatred and persecution of real Christians. Daniel says, ''I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;" and he adds, “he shall wear out the saints of the Most High.” Alas! here also the voice of history does but echo the lamentable cry of the prophet. Every one of its pages, down to the last century, when alluding to the Popes, bears witness to their unrelenting pursuit of those who were firm in living according to the Word of God, and of their slaughter in the name of the holy Church! Words would be wanting to describe all that the Popedom has shown forth of this appalling feature for centuries. Who can relate all the tragedies that have been acted for six hundred years in the dungeons and at the auto da fé of the holy Inquisition, that wonderful tribunal whose acts during that period were directed and legalized by the bulls of the court of Rome? All other earthly powers have made men perish by thousands, for the foot of man is swift to shed blood, but the Pontiff of Rome has killed the saints. His decrees curse and condemn to the stake those who may be surprised in reading the Bible in the vulgar tongue! Let it be remarked here that it is no contradiction of the accusation to bring forward the proofs of cruelty committed antecedently for the sake of religion. The cruelties so committed are now condemned and abhorred in every existing communion; but they cannot be so condemned in the communion of the Pope, for they not only form a part of his history, but a part of his doctrine! The duty of executing heretics is inscribed amongst the infallible and irrevocable decrees of his general councils, in the same manner as those of the mass and purgatory; and when Luther dared to declare "that it was contrary to the Holy Spirit to bum men convicted of error,” the court of Rome, in its Bull Exsurgus, inserted this sentence in the number of the forty-one propositions by which it condemned Luther, and ordered, under severe penalties, that he should be seized (personaliter) and sent to the Pope.
The thirteenth feature is his most audacious heresies; and this one is almost the most striking amongst them, and unlike any other. Daniel says of the little horn, “And he shall be diverse from the first, and think to change times and laws;" and this is precisely the extraordinary infringement which the Pope has committed in the law of his God. He has aspired to the power of changing its sovereignty, its sanctions, its use, its contents, its morality, and its doctrines. I have said its sovereignty; and has he not, the only man on earth, proclaimed himself infallible, and dared to place his decrees, and his traditions, on a level and even above the Scriptures P I said its sanction; and has not he alone of all the earth pretended to forgive those sins which the law of God condemns, and dispense with those duties which that law enjoins? I said its use; and has not he alone on the earth for six hundred and fourteen years, from the Council of Thoulouse in 1229, forbidden the people of God to read the Holy Scriptures? Nothing of the kind was ever known before in all Christendom. The Eastern churches, corrupt as they are, have treated the Scriptures in their councils with the greatest respect; the Pope is the only priest who has ever dared publicly to forbid men to read the word of Him who is his Judge and his God. I said he has changed their contents; for he alone on the earth has dared, in his council of Trent, to add the works of man to the oracles of the Old Testament: the Book of the Maccabees, for instance, acknowledged as uninspired in the days of our Saviour. I said its morality; and to believe me you have only to read those promulgated by the Jesuits, the directions given this year to the confessors of Fribourg, Grenoble, Strasbourg, and all through the popedom; look at the three hundred and twenty-six works of the Society of Jesus, which were condemned in the last century by the tribunals of all European nations as encouraging every crime, and which the parliament of Paris burnt, in 1762, by the hands of the common executioner. All these abominations have been recognized, recommended, and sanctioned by the Roman Pontiff by his solemn re-establishment of the Society of Jesus, in 1814, in the beatification, by Pius VII., of the Jesuit Liguori, the great promoter of the immoralities of Probabilism; by his recent canonization by the reigning Pope, who has thus canonized those detestable maxims, vainly branded two hundred years ago by Pascal, and vainly also burnt by the hang man of Paris, eighty years ago, which treated of "Mental Reservation," of "Probability," and of “Philosophical Sin." I said in its doctrines, when he promulgated by his own full authority heresies the most strikingly opposite to the Word of God, on the worship of images, the dominion of priests, their voluntary celibacy, on auricular confession, on secular priesthood, and on the sacrifice offered in the mass; on the invocation of the dead, on the use of an unintelligible language in all worship, on the adoration of Mary, on relics, on purgatory, on the universal bishopric of the Pope— but, above all, when he exactly professes the four doctrines which St. Paul has signalized as the marks of the Man of Sin: first, lying miracles; secondly, the worship of demigods, or the dead deified, who were worshipped by the Greeks and Romans under the name of demons; thirdly, the doctrine of ecclesiastical celibacy ; and fourthly, the interdiction of meats. These are the words of St, Paul, “Now the Spirit speaketh plainly,” (and it did also in Daniel), “that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.''
The fourteenth, and last feature, is the exact period of his persecutions of the people of God. Daniel and St. John both declare, several times, that it will be “until a time and times, and the dividing of time,” or one thousand two hundred and sixty prophetical days, which is understood to be, for many good reasons, as many years. Who could have believed beforehand, that a king-priest, so violent, so luxurious, so cruel, so blasphemous, so opposed to the Scriptures, so exactly described by them, so outrageous against peoples and potentates, would exist twelve years? And the Holy Spirit declares that he would last twelve hundred and sixty, and so it is! I shall not attempt, gentlemen, to inform you of the various calculations which have been made as to his beginning, or as to his ending; I only call upon you to admire this fourteenth prophetic feature of the Roman Pontiff, as we have already admired the others.
Finally, gentlemen, these same prophecies all equally predict his judgment and his ruin. I shall not enter on this subject, but I must bring it before you in concluding, were it only to give us fresh courage. These are the words of Daniel — “The judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall he given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him."