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The Signs of the Times, vol. 13

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    May 26, 1887

    “An Image of the Papacy” The Signs of the Times 13, 20, pp. 311, 312.

    IN the Pittsburg National Reform Convention of 1885, President Brunot said:—SITI May 26, 1887, page 311.1

    “The first amendment of the Constitution, which provides that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ was never intended to de-Christianize the nation, as some now hold, but, on the contrary, was meant to keep it Christian and free. First, by guarding against the establishment of a church or sect; and second, against the restrictive legislation in case the power to enact laws should fall into the hands of the enemies of all religion.—Christian Statesman, April 20, 1885.SITI May 26, 1887, page 311.2

    Very good. It is plain therefore that any interference or change in that amendment would tend to de-Christianize the nation, and to prevent its being free. As that amendment guards against the establishment of a church, to change the amendment would open the way for the establishment of a church. As that amendment guards against restrictive legislation by the enemies of all religion, should they have the power to legislate so, to change the amendment would open the way for the enemies of all religion to restrict or abolish the practice of the Christian religion in this nation.SITI May 26, 1887, page 311.3

    But to change that amendment and so to open the way for these evils, is precisely what that association, of which Mr. Brunot is president, proposes to do. Thus says “Secretary” W. J. Coleman:—SITI May 26, 1887, page 311.4

    “The first sentence of Article I of Amendments reads: ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’ This would be made consistent with the proposed [National Reform] amendment by substituting the words ‘a church’ for ‘religion,’ making it read, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of a church.’ This is what the Reform Association believes should be the rule in a rightly constituted State. There should be religion, but no church.—Statesman, November 1, 1883.SITI May 26, 1887, page 311.5

    By their own words, then, it is clearly the purpose of the National Reform Association to reverse the first amendment of the United States Constitution so as to allow Congress to make laws respecting an establishment of religion, and prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Therefore it stands proved that the work of the National Reform Association is to open the way for “the establishment of a church or sect,” and for the destruction of the freedom of this nation.SITI May 26, 1887, page 311.6

    For (1), The State recognition of Christianity in law—both constitutional and statutory—and the making of laws respecting and enforcing the principles of that religion, is that which the National Reform Association proposes to accomplish. But that is precisely what Constantine did in the fourth century, and out of it grew the Papacy. And just as surely as the National Reformers succeed in doing with Christianity in this nation, what Constantine did with it in the Roman State, so surely will it follow that out of their action will grow the living image of the Papacy. Nothing can prevent it, because—SITI May 26, 1887, page 311.7

    (2) In the day when, by their proposed change in the first amendment of the Constitution, the National Reformers put it into the power and make it the province of Congress to make laws respecting religion, or prohibiting its free exercise, that very day they open wide the gates and give free course to the enemies of all religion, and to the enemies of Christianity in particular, just as soon as they can secure the power to make laws restricting or even prohibiting the free exercise of the Christian religion.SITI May 26, 1887, page 311.8

    And when the way is thus opened for the enemies of the Christian religion to oppress it, as soon as they can secure the power, everybody knows that they will secure the power, at the earliest possible moment. Everybody also knows that the enemies of Christianity have no compunctions of conscience in the matter, and that they will leave no means unemployed, that they will stop at nothing, to secure the coveted power. Therefore, if the National Reformers will maintain their cause in the conflict which they shall thus have opened, they will have to do it upon the field which they themselves have chosen—the field of politics—and with the weapons which their enemies shall choose. They will have to meet political power with political power; they will have to meet force with force; bribery with bribery; intrigue with intrigue; chicanery with chicanery; hypocrisy with hypocrisy. This they will be compelled to do or else lose all they shall have gained, as soon as they shall have gained it.SITI May 26, 1887, page 311.9

    This is precisely the course through which the Papacy was developed. And the long and constant practice of these bad methods, which the bishop of Rome was compelled to employ if the Christianity which he represented was to hold its position against its enemies and the ambitious rivals of its power—the practice of these bad methods it was which made the Papacy what it is, “the very masterpiece of human wisdom,” and the most complete of all contrivances that have ever been “devised for deceiving and oppressing mankind.” And if the National Reformers succeed in securing the changes in our Constitution which they propose, then by the practice of these bad methods which they will be compelled to employ to successfully cope with the enemies of the Christian religion, there will be developed in free America a perfect likeness of the Papacy.SITI May 26, 1887, page 311.10

    On the other hand, having secured those changes in the Constitution; having empowered Congress to make laws respecting religion; and having entered upon this political contest to determine what kind of a Congress it shall be which shall make the laws respecting religion; then if the National Reformers do not employ the like methods with their political opponents, they will be defeated, the seats in Congress will be filled with the enemies of religion, and so the Christian religion in free America, its happiest home on earth, will be sold into the hands of its bitterest enemies, waiting to destroy.SITI May 26, 1887, page 311.11

    In the one case, free Christianity will be enslaved; in the other her beautiful form will be marred and her fair name dishonored; and in either case the unkindest thrust of all will be by the traitorous hand of National Reform. For a traitorous hand it is, because, under the first amendment of the Constitution, as it is, Christianity is forever safe from all her enemies, and forever free in free America. With the first amendment of the United States Constitution as it is, the presidential chair and every seat in Congress might be filled with the worst infidels and the most bitter enemies of Christianity that are in the land, and Christianity could not be molested or disturbed in the least degree. But with that amendment changed as the National Reformers propose to change it, then in the filling of the presidential chair and of each seat in Congress, Christianity would have just cause for fear, because there would be no means of knowing whether those who gain the seats were really her friends or her enemies; and with a bare majority of the enemies of Christian- ity in congressional seats, every Christian in the land would be in danger of losing the dearest rights known to man. Traitorous, therefore, would be the hand of any but an avowed enemy of Christianity, that would attempt to break down this safeguard of Christianity in the United States; but to sweep away this safeguard is what the National Reform Association, under the guise of the Christian name, declares that it is its purpose to do, and therefore most traitorous is the hand of National Reforms.SITI May 26, 1887, page 311.12

    One or the other of these evils will inevitably follow the success of National Reform in its designs upon the United States Constitution. The certain consequence will be either that Christianity will be delivered into the hands of open infidelity and atheism, or else there will be developed a new form of the Papacy to meet, and successfully contend with, the open enemies of Christianity. As to which of these forms of evil would be the worst we can form no opinion. Of the former we have an illustration in the French Revolution; of the latter we have an illustration in the Inquisition, the massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day, and the Crusade against the Albigenses.SITI May 26, 1887, page 312.1

    Yet, although we can form no opinion as to which would be the worst, we can form an opinion as to which form would rule—and ruin. We are fully persuaded that it would be the image of the Papacy. We are assured of this because we are satisfied that the National Reform Association, on its own part, would prove itself fully equal to the task of outdoing the open enemies of Christianity in all the political methods they might employ; and this assurance is made doubly sure, by the confessed fact that National Reform will be in close alliance with the Papacy itself. Read this:—SITI May 26, 1887, page 312.2

    “Whenever they [the Roman Catholics] are willing to co-operate in resisting the progress of political atheism, we will gladly join hands with them.”—Christian Statesman, December 11, 1884.SITI May 26, 1887, page 312.3

    And this:—SITI May 26, 1887, page 312.4

    “We may be subjected to some rebuffs in our first proffers, for the time is not yet come when the Roman Church will consent to strike hands with other churches—as such; but the time has come to make repeated advances and gladly to accept co-operation in any form in which they may be willing to exhibit it. It is one of the necessities of the situation.”—Rev. S. F. Scovel, Christian Statesman, August 31, 1881.SITI May 26, 1887, page 312.5

    And the National Reform Association, inspired and supported by the Papacy, can outdo political atheism in all the politically atheistic methods that they can employ. The Roman Church has had sixteen hundred years’ practice “in resisting the progress of political atheism,” and there is not a political method known to the human race, of which she is not the consummate mistress. In her presence all the political atheists in Christendom must hide their diminished heads. This is why we are certain that the success of National Reform will be to develop a new form of the Papacy. For with this alliance with Rome which the National Reformers are so anxious to complete—so anxious, indeed, that they will make repeated advances and suffer repeated rebuffs—when, under their reformed Constitution, the political conflict comes on between National Reform and the enemies of all religion, the “Reformers” will be thoroughly furnished unto all bad works. If bribery is demanded, Rome can furnish scores of eminent examples among the Popes, and ages of practice among all classes from kings and emperors to peasants and beggars. If mob violence or military force becomes necessary to the success of a candidate for office, Rome is likewise an adept in this, as the election of Pope Damasus and of many of his successors abundantly proves. If intrigue, treachery, fraud, and the most secret and deceptive wire-working are required, there are the Jesuits, whom Leo XIII. has lately restored to all their rights and privileges, and has thus prepared this strong support to National Reform.SITI May 26, 1887, page 312.6

    We might follow these lines and extend these illustrations to almost any required length, but these points are sufficient to show to all thinking men that out of the success of National Reform there can come no good thing, but only evil, and that continually and continually increasing. If any of the National Reformers object to the points which we have here made, let them not blame us, let them call to account the president of their association, and their district secretary, W. J. Coleman, whose statements, fairly quoted, we have only traced to their logical and inevitable consequences. If either President Brunot’s or Secretary Coleman’s statement in regard to the first amendment is not correct, let the National Reformers call him to account and correct him, not us. We have only reasoned upon the premises laid down by these leading officials of the National Reform Association; if the premises are not true, that is their fault, not ours—let them correct the premises and we will revise our conclusions. But if the premises are true, and we believe they are, then the demonstration is complete that the success of National Reform will assure in this nation the development of a living image of the Papacy.SITI May 26, 1887, page 312.7