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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 5

Ritualism in relation to the apostacy of the last days

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Dunedin: Mills, Dick & Co., General Painters, Stafford Street. MDCCCLXVIII.

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Ritualism in Relation to the Apostacy of the Last Days.

On this subject, I will endeavour to show that Ritualism, even in those respects in which it seems, on a superficial view, to be in most decided opposition to the current infidelity of the times in which we live, has in reality an inherent tendency in the same direction: that, if I may so illustrate the matter, while the main current of the river of modern thought sets steadily towards un belief, Ritualism is as it were an eddy, which appears to carry those who are caught in it out of the stream, but it is only to rejoin it further on, where the current is swifter and stronger, because much nearer to the point where the river plunges headlong into the dark gulf of Atheism. I wish to point out how, while in one aspect Ritualism is a too faithful index of the low point to which real spiritual religion is at present sinking, it yet in another aspect exhibits such a marked incompatibility with the secular spirit of the times, as must finally bring the two into deadly collision—a collision in which, we may learn from inspired prophecy, the latter will triumph.

The aspect in which I shall in the first instance view Ritualism is its Childishness. Ritualism at the best, is the religion of children. The attention bestowed on the minutest details of dress, decorations, and even posture; the ludicrous gravity with which the fashion of an alb, the embroidery of a chasuble, or the colour of a stole, is debated; the tricking out of the churches, and especially of the altar, with a profusion of flowers and tawdry ornaments; the long processions of priests and choristers with their crosses, banners, and other ecclesiastical toys, all manifest this spirit in a way that cannot be mistaken. It does not fail to attract the attention even of the genuine Romanists themselves. It is only recently that a distinguished Roman Bishop, on being asked by the Naples correspondent of the Times newspaper, with what feeling English Ritualism was regarded by the members of his order, thus expressed himself:

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"We think that the Ritualists do not know what they are about They are trifling with the fringe of the mantle without laying hold of the substance of it. Indeed, we liken them to children, who are playing at priests, and who invent and distort, and make mistakes as they go on. It may, however, lead to something. It may persuade some of them to study antiquity, and, if it does, it will bring them back to the bosom of the Church...... At present, however, Ritualism is mere child's play, a mere imitation of externals, and, like all imitations, bad. Many young persons of imaginative temperament are attracted by it, but after a time become wearied of it, and lapse into a general indifference to religion. If they could be induced to study antiquity, the result would be different, and we hope that the time may come."

Alluding to the inventions and extravagant imitations of the Ritualistic clergy, this Bishop added, "They are like a Judge on the bench, with the book of the law open before them, but without any knowledge of the traditions of their profession, consequently they often commit many gross absurdities. I will illustrate this by one or two anecdotes related to me by a lady of rank. Dr.—, on one occasion, when giving absolution, laid two crossed keys on the head of the penitent—a pure invention without precedent, and without any apparent object. On another occasion a person wishing for absolution from the same clergyman, and being unable to present himself or herself, wrote to ascertain if it could be communicated by letter. The answer was favourable, and I take for granted that confession as well as absolution was sent through the post. Now, it is well known that in our Church, which is the object of imitation, the presence of the penitent is absolutely necessary before the priest; and I give you these anecdotes to shew you what wild inventions and unauthorised practices are adopted by men, who, while thinking they imitate, follow no rule or precedent whatever. In my own experience, several persons among the Ritualists have come to me asking for absolution, but I told them I could do nothing for them—they must go through a regular course of preparation beforehand. No! Ritualism is at present nothing but child's play—they are toying with the fringe; but on the condition I have mentioned, it may lead to something."*

* Let me add here the testimony of a very different witness. Mr. Binney, in his admirable volume, quotes the following from the letter of "A Reciter":—

"May I be permitted to make a suggestion to my clerical brethren with reference to the use of church bells, which 1 have for some time carried into effect in my parish church, and which I find, although but a trifling matter in itself, to be very edifying. The bell-ringer is instructed to sound each bell thrice, and as he does so, to repeat the usual invocation of the Blessed Trinity, then to make a pause of at least a minute before commencing to chime or toll. The meaning of this threefold intonation on each bell becomes understood ly all residing within its sound, and to them it has the effect of a solemn warning, while this not itself of ringing is made an act of devotion to the ringer or ringers. The great bell of my church is also similarly rung at the consecration of the Blessed Sacrament. The sick and others detained from church are thus apprized of the exact moment when the Holy Sacrifice is pleaded, and are thus enabled to join their prayers and intentions to those of the priest and worshippers in the church, while at the same time the solemnity of the act of worship is greatly augmented by this accessory."

On this Mr. Binney observes:—"This extract illustrates another thing often to be seen in some of the ritualistic clergy, namely, the mixture of silliness and sincerity—the childish, not child-like piety—that distinguishes them. It is not to be denied that there are men of real power and of unquestionable ability among the leaders of the movement, but in many of the unfledged weaklings that follow, there is no strength or manliness either in their aspect, or utterances; everything is emasculated, drivelling, feeble; they seem earnest and devout in their way, but their devotion is often expressed in such unctuous language and grotesque forms as to seem the result of a union between sainthood and idiotcy."—"Micah, the Priest-Maker," pp. 83, 84.

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One may smile at this, and yet in truth the matter is sad and serious enough. The Church of Christ was once a child. The pen of inspiration has drawn the picture of that childhood "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers And fear came upon every soul; and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, as every man had need. And they continued daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart. Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." (Acts ii. 42–47). Such was the daily walk, such the catholic usages of those who "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for His Son from heaven." (1 Thess. i. 9, 10.) Beautiful picture of the childhood of the Church! What happy obedience, what innocent simplicity, what unquestioning faith, what filial love! How, like a happy, loving child waiting as the evening shadows fall for the return of its father, did the Church, ere her first love was lost, wait for her Lord from heaven! But that childhood has long been left behind, and has been succeeded by the sorrows of her youth, and the sins and follies of her womanhood. And now—what is she now? What page 6 she should he we know fail well. A widow indeed, clad in het mourning weeds, her heart a-lit with chastened hope, and the glory of coming translation already encircling her meek bowed head. But what is she, alas! A poor demented creature, decking herself in the gaudy rags of the harlot, and mistaking them for her bridal robes; pleased with the toys of childhood, which shake and tremble in her palsied hands; painting her face and tiring her head like another Jezebel, and thinking that in very deed the renown of her beauty may-still captivate the nations of the earth. Childish! yes; but, dark and awful thought, it is not the childishness of youth but of age: not first childhood, telling of inexperience, simplicity, and undeveloped powers, but second childhood, telling of mental imbecility, of spiritual decay, of coining death. Of this childhood, too, we find the awful picture in the Word of God. "Unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that then art neither cold nor hot: I would that thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked; I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fine, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest he clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see." (Rev. iii. 14–18.) Surely Ritualism viewed in this aspect, and taken in conjunction with other indications of spiritual childishness which we see, warns us that the visible Church has entered on her last and darkest phase, and that the hour of her rejection is at hand. No scruple is felt by Ritualism in parading ceremonies so childish and frivolous, "that," as Dr. Vaughan has strongly, but not too strongly said, "if men of understanding were obliged to accept such exhibitions as being acceptable to the Founder of Christianity, that Founder would receive little, homage at their hands. As it is easier to be an atheist than to accept a character of God which belies his moral perfections, so it would be much easier to a man of intelligence to become a deist than to be a Christen, if he must regard Jesus Christ as being really pleased with the scenic performances which some men present to us in his name. An awful alternative indeed, yet one which it can hardly be doubted, hundreds here will accept, should Ritualism achieve its expected triumph, as millions have accepted it in England, France and Italy. "There is no school of scepticism like this school of folly. What page 7 more natural, if Christianity is to be exhibited as a weak thing, what more certain than that it will be despised? But it is not possible that the scheme of these men should be a success. The tide of modern thought is not to be stayed by such means. The measure in which the Ritualists succeed in imposing upon the weak, is the measure in which they will become an offence to the enlightened. In the eyes of men generally, it will be the priest at his old work again, aiming to rule the people as nurses rule children, now by scaring them with silly inventions, and now by amusing them with trifles."*

The picture we have been considering is dark enough, but we must now turn to one which is even darker. If Ritualism ostentatiously exhibits all, and more than all the childishness of Romanism on the one hand, it assuredly contains within it the undeveloped seeds of all Rome's intolerance, persecution, and bloodthirstiness on the other. It is in truth only "the priest at his old work again." The life-blood which circulates throught the two systems is the same, and that life-blood is—Priestcraft. Priestcraft! what images of terror, what cruel oppression, what frightful tyranny does the very word recal! The tyranny of kings and rulers has been a sore burden to humanity; the scourge of war has desolated the nations and deluged the earth with blood; the hideous wrong of slavery has inflicted incalculable misery and cried to heaven for vengeance; but" none of these things, dreadful and cruel as they are, have been such a curse to man's race as that master-piece of the devil—Priestcraft. More far-reaching than the iron rod of the conqueror, it has tyrannised even over the souls of men; more merciless than the bloodstained chariot of war, it has slain its millions in cold blood and with fiendish exultation; more iniquitous than slavery, whose manacles bind only the festering limbs of the slave, it has striven to bind and fetter not the dying body, but the enduring mind. Would we know with what feelings the great High Priest, who has passed through the heavens into the holy place not made with hands, regards it? We have, as I solemnly believe, his verdict in those terrible words addressed to the Church at Ephesus, "But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate" (Rev. ii. 6, 15.)

* "Ritualism in the English Church," pp. 69, 70

The common idea that the Nieolaitanes were a primitive heretical sect, is, I am persuaded, altogether a mistake. Nicolaos (conqueror of the people) is the Greek version of Balaam (destroyer of the people). The Book of Revelation, we know, abounds in these duplicate Hebrew and Greek names: as Apollyon, Abaddon; Devil, Satan; Yea, Amen. The name Nieolaitanes is symbolic, and denotes those who, farming, themselves into a priestly caste, have, from the earlier ages of the Christian Church to the present hour, usurped dominion over the minds and consciences of their fellow-men, and made themselves in very deed lords over God's heritage. Adopting that view of the Epistles to the Seven Churches which regards them as a prophetic picture of the successive phases of the visible Church, we can have no difficulty in understanding what Nicolaitanism really is. "We know from the Scriptures, and from the common representations of all ecclesiastical historians, that the Church was hardly founded until it began to be troubled with the lordly pretentions and doings of arrogant men, in violation of the common priesthood of believers, and settling upon ministers the attributes and prerogatives of a magisterial order, against which, Peter, Paul, and John were moved to declare their apostolic condemnation, but which grew nevertheless, and presently became fixed upon the Church as part of its essential system. We know that there is to this day a certain teaching, and claim, and practice in the largest part of the professing Church, according to which a certain order severs itself entirely from the laity, assumes the rights and titles of priesthood, asserts superiority and authority over the rest in spiritual matters, denies the right of anyone, whatever his gifts or graces, to teach or preach in the Church, who has not been regularly initiated into the mysterious puissance of its own self-constituted circle; and puts forward its creatures, however glaringly deficient in those heavenly gifts which really make the minister, as Christ's only authorised heralds, before whom everyone else must be mute and passive, and whose words and administrations everyone must receive, on pain of exclusion from the hope of salvation. We also know that this system of priestly clericalism and prelatical hierarchism claims to have come down from the earliest periods of the Church, and traces for itself a regular succession through the Christian centuries, and appeals to patristic practice as its chief basis, vindication, and boast. We know that it first came into effective away in the period immediately succeeding the Pagan persecution (Smyrna), reaching its fullest embodiment in Popery (Pergamos), and has perpetuated itself in the same, and in Laudism, Tractarianism, and Ritualism, even to our day, and to our very door. "—See Dr. Seiss's "Lectures on the Apocalypse, lect. vii.

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Yet priestcraft is the vital centre, the root principle of Ritualism as much as it is of Romanism. Out of this root springs, as by a law of natural growth, altar, sacrifice, apostolic succession, supernatural powers bestowed in ordination, confession, and absolution. In fact, you may construct the Romish system as completely and elaborately as you like, and if you then withdraw "priesthood," the whole falls at once into utter ruin. Now we know that priestcraft and intolerance are almost synonymous terms: the world has never seen priestcraft in power, without its attempting to suppress opposition by means of persecution, and, as Solomon tells us, "the thing that hath been, it is that which shall be." As Mr. Lecky has truly said, "It is an incontestable truth that for many centuries the Christian priesthood pursued a policy, at least towards those who differed from their opinions, implying a callousness and absence of the emotional part page 9 of humanity which has seldom been paralleled, and perhaps never surpassed. From Julian, who observed that no wild beasts were so ferocious as angry theologians, to Montesquieu, who discussed as a psychological phenomenon the inhumanity of monks, the fact has been constantly recognised. The monks, the inquisitors, and in general the mediaeval clergy, present a type that is singularly well defined, and is in many respects exceedingly noble, but which is continually marked by a total absence of mere natural affection. In zeal, in courage, in perseverance, in self-sacrifice, they towered far above the average of mankind; but they were always as ready to inflict as to endure suffering. These were the men who chanted their Te Deums over the massacre of the Albigenses, or of St. Bartholomew, who exulted over the carnage, and strained every nerve to prolong the struggle, and, when the zeal of the warrior had begun to flag, mourned over the langour of faith, and contemplated the sufferings they had caused with a satisfaction that was as pitiless as it was unselfish. These were the men who were at once the instigators and the agents of that horrible detailed persecution that stained almost every province of Europe with the blood of Jews and heretics, and which exhibits an amount of cold, passionless, studied and deliberate barbarity unrivalled in the history of mankind."*

Equally weighty are the words of Dr. Vaughan: "The Church which shall say—within my enclosure there is salvation, beyond it there is none, will always be liable to the temptation of endeavouring to compel the refractory to come in. The clergy taking this position, have soon learnt to regard disaffection towards themselves as the deepest form of treason; and soul-murder, as occasioned by false doctrine, as the foulest of all murders. And it the crimes said to be perpetrated are of this dye, why should not the penalties attached to them be proportioned? If death should follow on the lesser offence, should anything less follow on the greater? So men have reasoned on this subject, and they have acted upon such reasoning. The Divine Being, according to the teaching of such men, does wonderful things continually in conformity with their pleasure. They have only to ask in Baptism, and he regenerates the soul. They have only to ask in Confirmation, and He gives His Holy Spirit. They have only to ask in Absolution, and the sinner is absolved. They have only to ask in the Communion, and that service becomes a mysterious participation in the body and blood of Jesus Christ, under the forms of bread and wine; and a participation, in some mysterious way, in his divine as well as in his human

* "History of the Rise and Influence of Rationalism," vol. i. pp. 358, 359.

page 10 nature.....Christians who believe that there are plans men in all Churches, and that all pious men go to heaven, may well be tolerant of differences. Such differences in their estimation may not be insignificant, but so long as they are not inconsistent with a truly religious life in this world, and religious blessedness in the next, they may well be borne with. But it is not so with men who say we are the only channel through which such a life and such blessedness are possible, and who brand religious differences as spiritual treason and blood-guiltiness. The temptation in their case must be to crush resistance and to compel submission. The natural issue of such Church theories is that error should be accounted heresy, and that the penalties of heresy should be such as Romanism has made them.

"The haughty and censorious temper in which the majority of Ritualists indulge towards Protestant Christendom, and especially towards the Christians of this land whether beyond the pale of the English Church or within it, is such as to prophesy distinctly enough what the course of this sect would be if it might once become powerful. If such things are done in the green tree, what would be done in the dry? We see this movement in its incipiency and weakness, but its principles are old, have been often tested, and experience, that safest of expositors, assures us that it is in the nature of those principles that they should come as a blight on everything social and religious, to the extent in which circumstances may be favourable to their action,"*

Let those who may be disposed to doubt this testimony just watch the manner in which, as time passes on, the question of religious toleration is dealt with by Ritualism. Already significant indications are not wanting. Take as an example the following remarks from the essay on "Religious Toleration," in the second series of "The Church and the World:"—"Perhaps some of those who are sighing for the rapproachement of the various members of the Catholic family may not have duly considered this consequence of unification. They may have been content to regard such an event as fitting and beautiful, without looking to it for authoritative decisions on the limits of orthodoxy and heterodoxy, knowledge and opinion, faith and free inquiry. But if infallibility can be found anywhere upon earth, no one will deny that it must be sought in the deliberate judgment of a Synod of the whole Catholic Church; no other opportunity can be conceived when the scattered elements of truth, specially preserved by particular Churches, could be brought together, and re-cemented into one consistent whole. Over such a representa-

* "Ritualism in the English Church," pp. 86–88

page 11 tive assembly of the entire Church, the Holy Spirit would pre . . . . It is surely something more than possible, that particular Churches will ere long communicate in the sacrament of unity, and take common counsel to discover what is not tolerable in doctrine and discipline, and purge out of herself all traitors and treasons which have crept in unawares..... The primary truth to be acknowledged is this—that the limits of toleration are left in such profound obscurity, that the most obedient son of the Church connot distinctly tell whether he is conforming to her mind or not. Our practical inquiry, consequently, ought to be—How can that happy condition be realised, in which a Christian will not be perplexed, as to his faith or practice, a heretic will not he allowed to un dermine the orthodoxy of his neighbours, and a faithful believer will not be persecuted for maintaining what his Church does not forbid?"*
Now. I am quite prepared to believe, way. I am very sure, that many of the learned, conscientious, and benevolent men who are taking part in this movement have never realised, and would indignantly repel the idea, that this is the necessary result of their system. All that they ask, and all that they want, they tell us, is toleration for themselves and their opinions and ceremonies And no doubt such is the case for the present. But will this always be the case I trow not. Anticipating as I do at least the partial and temporary triumph of the so-called "Catholic movement," I can clearly foresee that the time is coming, and perhaps more speedily than some of us imagine, when the toleration which they now ask for themselves. "Catholics" will assuredly deny to others. But this is not all; for when that hour shall have come, I can perceive just as clearly, that the knell of their own doom shall have rung out. Strong as priestcraft may be, and great as its ascendancy

* Pp. 226–263.—The drift of these remarks is obvious enough, however cautiously expressed. Romanism proper sneaks more plainly. The following extract is from an article which appeared some years ago in a Roman Catholic magazine: "You ask if the Roman Catholic were lord in the land, and you were in a minority, if not in numbers, yet in power, what would he do with you? That, we say, would entirely depend upon circumstances. If it would benefit the cause of Catholicism, he would tolerate you; if expedient, he would imprison you, banish you, fine you; possibly he might even hang you. But he assured of one thing, he would never tolerate you for the sake of the; "glorious principles of civil and religious liberty....... Shall I hold out hopes to the Protestant that I will not meddle with his ereed, if he will not meddle with mine? Shall I lead him to think that religion is a matter for private opinion, and tempt him to forget that he has no more right to his religious views than he has to my purse, or my house, or my life-blood? No! Catholicism is the most intolerant of creeds. It is intolerance itself, for it is the truth itself."—The Rambler, September, 1851.

page 12 may become, there are yet some things which it will find itself unable to accomplish. It can never put back the history of the world five centuries. It can never again imprison and entomb that Word of God, which the printing press has sown broadcast over the length and breadth of the earth. It can never again destroy the grand idea of religious toleration, which is the noblest birth of Protestantism, and which is embalmed in the works of her philosophers, the verse of her poets, and the teaching of her greatest divines and martyrs. Above all, as most pertinent to our present subject, it can never again quench that deep-rooted love of civil and religious liberty, pushed as it is even now to the very verge of lawlessness and license, which forms so marked a characteristic of the days in which we live. And attempting to do these things it will find itself at last brought into deadly collision with the spirit of the times—not only in its deepest religious, and highest intellectual aspects, but also, and more fearfully, in its fierce and universal political instincts. Terrible will be this conflict "when it comes; terrible indeed, but not of doubtful issue. Would we know what that issue must be? We may find it revealed in the prophetic page in words too plain to be mistaken. "And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them; for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings; and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth." (Rev. xvii. 11–18.)*

* "The spirit of the age, jealous as it has become of all authority—except such nominal authority as is of its own voting, and bows to its dictates—will little brook submission to such a yoke as the Church of Rome would impose. If she supposes that the friends she is now making by feigned liberality, and temporary suppression of her pretentions, will presently, when she thinks fit to resume them, fall into the ranks of her disciples and dutiful children, she is grossly mistaken; and if she attempts to assert them by force, she falls instantly: the experiment would be her ruin."—Burgh's "Lectures on the Second Advent," p. 117. Third edition.

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Here my subject might properly enough have come to an end. I am reluctant, however, to conclude without taking some notice of a serious objection which may arise in some minds on its perusal. From my application of the foregoing quotation, it will be evident to the reader that while I recognise Romanism or "Catholicism" in the Babylon of the Apocalypse, I feel constrained to differ in toto from that interpretation which would identify St. Paul's "man of sin" with either popery or the Pope. Hence I find myself, at this critical period in the history of the Protestant Church, at issue with many beloved and respected friends, and exposed to their charge of abandoning what was the distinctive principle of the glorious Reformation, and of thus betraying the cause, as dear to my heart as it can be to theirs, into the hand of the enemy. Thus, for instance, I find Mr. Garratt saying: "The word Antichrist is used by St. John more than once in his Epistles. An opinion of some of the fathers that Antichrist was a man who was to usurp Christ's throne, and be in fact the incarnation of the Evil One, has prevailed and does prevail among Roman Catholic writers. A personal individual Antichrist, yet future, was the expectation by means of which, in the dark ages, they sought to ward off the charges of prophecy against the papacy, as they do still. And within the present century it has been adopted by many writers, not Roman Catholic, by those called "Plymouth Brethren," by "Romanizing Anglicans," and by that, though not large, yet growingly important section of the Church of England, who adopt and ably advocate the "Futurist Theory."

"Is Antichrist a person? And is Antichrist infidel? We have already considered the passage in 2 Thess. ii., which some of these writers wish so to explain away, and have seen in it a photograph of the papacy.... Antichrist is not infidel, but falsely religious—is not a person, but a system, and will in different ways claim all the prerogatives of Christ. But to no one man, however great and however wicked, will it be permitted to attain the pre-eminence in guilt of in all things usurping what belongs to Him."

The language of Mr. Marsden is still stronger. "Either the Church of Rome," he observes, "is the predicted Antichrist, or we have inflicted upon her a grievous wrong. For this charge was the two-edged sword with which our Reformers smote her to the dust in England. Of Scotland the assertion is, if possible, more emphatically true. With regard to Latimer, and his associates, it was the most deadly weapon they employed; but it was almost the only one Knox page 14 condescended to make use of. Rome is the predicted Babylon. The Pope, or, however, the Papacy, is the predicted Antichrist, the man of sin, the son of perdition. This was the watch-word, or, to speak more properly, the war-cry of the Reformation, and by this sign we conquered; for it was to the Reformers what the cross in the heavens (whether real or imaginary) was to Constantine, and his legions. Now, if we are not prepared to defend this position, we are bound in manliness and common honesty not only to abandon it, but along with it to abandon likewise the fruits of a victory so dishonestly gained."*

This statement is certainly somewhat exaggerated. To make the idea of the Pope being Antichrist, the mainspring of the Reformation is, to my mind, simply ludicrous; hard names were, no doubt, bandied about, and Antichrist, as being the hardest, was, perhaps, the favourite; yea, our Reformers were so far justified in their application of the term, that no doubt the Pope was an Antichrist, and the special Antichrist with whom they had to contend, though not "the Antichrist" of St. John and St. Paul Still, the question is beyond all doubt a most serious one, and of real practical consequence at the present time; and, therefore, I feel bound to give my reasons, however briefly, for dissenting from the interpretation of these writers, and the school to which they belong; so far as this point of the personality and character of the Antichrist is concerned.

They are mainly these. (1.) It seems quite clear to my mind that Babylon in Rev. xvii., and Antichrist, or the "Lawless one," in 2 Thess. ii., cannot represent the same system or person. Babylon is spoken of as "a woman," the usual scriptural emblem of a church or ecclesiastical system; Antichrist, on the contrary, as an individual man, under which emblem no ecclesiastical system is represented in Scripture; and, therefore, recognising as I do, Rome in the Babylon of the Apocalypse, I cannot regard it as also the Antichrist. (2.) The Antichrist, when he is revealed, is to continue only for "a short space"—forty-two months, or three years and a half. (Rev. xvii. 10; xiii. 5.) But the Pope has been in possession of his usurped authority for more than twelve-hundred years; the recognition of the Pope as the Antichrist, therefore, involves the adoption of the year-day theory as exclusively the true one, and this, on independent grounds, I am unprepared for. (3) The Antichrist cannot be revealed till "the hinderer" or "repressor" is "taken out of the midst." (2 Thess. ii. 7.) Who or what this "hindered may be is a point much debated. I can only say that for myself I cordi-

* "The Churchmanship of the New Testament," pp. 203—205

page 15 ally agree with Mr. Chester in his excellent paper on the subject,* in believing that the Holy Spirit dwelling in the Church upon earth is the "hinderer," and the church itself, indwelt by the Spirit, as the hindrance (ver. 6), and that the rapture of the waiting Church will be the removal of these "out of the midst." But inasmuch as this blessed event has not yet taken place, it follows, assuming the interpretation to be correct, that the Antichrist has not yet been revealed, and, consequently, that the Pope cannot be the Antichrist. (4.) The Antichrist is he "who denieth the Father and the Son"; he 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" (I John ii. 22; 2 Thess. ii. 4); in other words, he is, in character, infidel, and not superstitious. Now, the Pope has assuredly never denied the Divine existence; and, so far from opposing himself against all that is called God, he has so multiplied objects of worship, that, as Dean Alford has truly said, "Olympus was nothing to the paradise of Vatican-made deities." Indeed, "the Pope gives the most emphatic denial to this character of him, at the very time when he is supposed most to exemplify it. On the occasions when he enters St. Peter's, borne on men's shoulders, with his peacock's fans and his silver trumpets, he is always set down at the chapel on the right hand as the nave is entered, and spends some time in "adoring the blessed sacrament." Inasmuch, therefore, as Popery is, so far from being an example of atheism, a most astounding exhibition of polytheism, it is manifestly impossible that the Pope can be Antichrist. (5.) The doom of every follower of Antichrist is pronounced in words awful enough to make both the ears of him who hears them to tingle; "If any man worship the beast, and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name." (Rev. xiv. 9–11.) But can we apply this fearful language to every one in communion with the Church of Rome, apostate though she be? Have the devout and gifted Pascal, the saintly Fénélon, the guileless Eugenie de Guerin, and a thousand holy, Christ-loving, sin-hating men and woman who have lived and died in that Church, all perished ? No; God has a

* See Rainbow. Vol. III., p. 289

page 16 people even in Babylon; or why, as the hour of her judgment draws near, should that voice of gracious warning be heard: "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." (Rev. xviii. 4.) (6.) Once more, the Antichrist is to be destroyed only by the splendour of Christ's second coming to judgment. Of him it is written: "Whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming." But the Papacy, or the apostate Gentile Church, is to be destroyed by human or angelic instrumentality; it is the ten horns of the beast that "shall hate the whore, and make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh and burn her with fire;" it is a mighty angel, who "took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city, Babylon, be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all." (Rev. xviii. 21.) I would gladly have stated the argument on each of these points more fully, but the limits of this pamphlet admitted only of this brief reference. If the reader, whose mind is not as yet made up, will candidly examine them for himself, he will, I venture to think, arrive at the conclusion that it is on no slight or insufficient grounds that I have rejected what is still by many regarded as the orthodox Protestant interpretation.

One word in conclusion, Recommended by the character, the learning, and the devotedness of many of its advocates, Ritualism seems to many weak and agitated minds the only place of safety amid the swellings of ungodliness; it points, as it were, to a rock amid the floods, and says—there, and there only is a place of refuge. But be not deceived; their rock is not the rock which God has laid in Zion; it is not a rock at all, but sand, which is being rapidly washed away, and will by-and-bye disappear beneath the raging waters. True, the flood is coming, but Ritualism is not the ark which shall outride it; true, the fiery storm is about to descend, but "the Church" is not the Zoar into which Lot must flee. Silently into the regions of the air descends the New Jerusalem, the place prepared by Christ for his waiting people; and sweetly, ere the tempest breaks, shall the invitation be heard from that secret pavilion, "Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain." (Isa, xxvi. 20, 21.)

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