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    October 9, 1890

    “The Papacy. No. 3” The Present Truth 6, 21.

    EJW

    E. J. Waggoner

    THE CHURCH CORRUPTED

    Since the Bible alone is the true standard of faith and morals, it is very evident that when any power sets itself above the Bible, corruption must follow. The history of the Roman Catholic Church shows that this is absolutely true. The power that sets itself above God necessarily sets itself against God; but as God is the embodiment of all goodness, that which is opposed to him must be the embodiment of all wickedness. Therefore, according to the prophetic declaration concerning the assumptions of the Papacy, we should expect to see in it the very depths of iniquity. A very few quotations will be given concerning the apostasy which resulted in the full development of “that Wicked,” “the man of sin.” Dr. Wylie, in his “History of Protestantism,” says:-PTUK October 9, 1890, page 329.1

    “The moment inspired men cease to address us, and that their disciples and scholars take their place-men of apostolic spirit and doctrine, no doubt, but without the direct knowledge of their predecessors-we become sensible of a change; an eclipse has passed upon the exceeding glory of the gospel. As we pass from Paul to Clement, and from Clement to the Fathers that succeeded him, we find the gospel becoming less of grace and more of merit. The light wanes as we travel down the patristic road, and remove ourselves farther from the apostolic dawn. It continues for some time at least to be the same gospel, but its glory is shorn, its mighty force is abated; and we are reminded of the change that seems to pass upon the sun, when after contemplating him in a tropical hemisphere, we see him in a northern sky, where his slanting beams, forcing their way through mists and vapors, are robbed of half their splendor. Seen through the fogs of the patristic age, the gospel scarcely looks the same which had burst upon the world without a cloud but a few centuries before.”-Book I, chap. 2, paragraph 11.PTUK October 9, 1890, page 329.2

    The Doctor was more charitable than the facts will warrant, in saying that the Fathers were no doubt men of apostolic spirit and doctrine. They were at best but half heathen, whatever their intentions may have been, for they drank from the muddy pool of heathen philosophy instead of at the pure fountain of divine revelation; and their great effort was to assimilate Christianity and pagan philosophy. In this they succeeded but too well. Again we quote from Wylie:-PTUK October 9, 1890, page 329.3

    “The gates of the sanctuary once forced, the stream of corruption continued to flow with ever-deepening volume. The declensions in doctrine and worship already introduced had changed the brightness of the church’s morning into twilight; the descent of the Northern nations, which beginning in the fifth, continued through several successive centuries, converted that twilight into night. The new tribes did change their country, but not their superstitions; and, unhappily, there was neither zeal nor vigour in the Christianity of the age to effect their instruction and a genuine conversion. The Bible had been withdrawn; in the pulpit fable had usurped the place of truth; holy lives, whose silent eloquence might have won upon the barbarians, were rarely exemplified; and thus, instead of the church dissipating the superstitions that now encompass her like a cloud, these superstitions all but quenched her own light. She opened her gates to receive the new peoples as they were. She sprinkled them with the new baptismal water; she inscribed their names in her registers; she taught them in their invocations to repeat the titles of the Trinity; but the doctrines of the gospel, which alone can enlighten the understanding, purify the heart, and enrich the life with virtue, she was little careful to inculcate upon them. She folded them within her pale, but they were scarcely more Christian than before, while she was greatly less so.”-Ib., book 1, chap. 2, paragraph 8.PTUK October 9, 1890, page 329.4

    Thus was the church becoming paganized, and not long did it take to complete the transformation. Wylie continues:-PTUK October 9, 1890, page 329.5

    “Apostasy is like the descent of heavy bodies, it proceeds with ever-accelerating velocity. First, lamps were lighted at the tombs of the martyrs; next, the Lord’s supper was celebrated at their graves; next, prayers were offered for them and to them; next, paintings and images began to disfigure the walls, and corpses to pollute the floors of the churches. Baptism, which apostles required water only to dispense, could not be celebrated without white robes and chrism, milk, honey, and salt. Then came a crowd of church offices whose names and numbers are in striking contrast to the few and simple orders of men who were employed in the first propagation of Christianity.”—Ib., paragraph 9.PTUK October 9, 1890, page 329.6

    That the church should be corrupted was the inevitable result of the methods employed to make converts. Says the historian:-PTUK October 9, 1890, page 329.7

    “As the lower ranks of society are governed by imitation, the conversion of those who possessed any eminence of birth, of power, or of riches, was soon followed by dependent multitudes. The salvation of the common people was purchased at an easy rate, if it be true that, in one year, twelve thousand men were baptized at Rome, besides a proportionable number of women and children, and that a white garment, with twenty pieces of gold, had been promised by the emperor to every convert.”-Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chap. 20, paragraph 18.PTUK October 9, 1890, page 329.8

    There is no reason to disbelieve this statement, for it is related upon good authority that Gregory Thaumaturgus (Gregory the miracle worker), bishop of Neo-Cæsarea, on the anniversaries of the martyrs (and they were numerous) allowed his flock to give a loose rein to pleasure, to indulge in conviviality, and to do all the things that the worshipers of idols were accustomed to do in their temples, on their festival days, hoping thereby to gain the heathen, and thinking that in process of time they would, as “Christian,” voluntarily leave off such customs. (See Mosheim’s Ecclesiastical History, book 1, cent. 2, part, 2 chap. 4, sec. 2, note 3.) This was not an isolated case, for Mosheim says that “the Christian bishops purposely multiplied sacred [?] rites for the sake of rendering the Jews and the pagans more friendly to them.” Thus was pure Christianity crowded into obscurity, and that which took its name was in reality paganism with all of its corruption. Speaking of the barbarians who conquered Rome, Wylie says:-PTUK October 9, 1890, page 329.9

    “These rude warriors, who had overturned the throne of the Cæsars, bowed down before the chair of the popes. The evangelization of these tribes was a task of easy accomplishment. The ‘Catholic faith,’ which they began to exchange for their paganism or Arianism, consisted chiefly in their being able to recite the names of the objects of their worship, which they were left to adore with much the same rites as they had practiced in their native forests. They did not much concern themselves with the study of Christian doctrine, or the practice of Christian virtue. The age furnished but few manuals of the one, and still fewer models of the other.”-History of Protestantism, book 1, chap. 3, paragraph 9.PTUK October 9, 1890, page 330.1

    How could there be any models of virtue, when the truly virtuous were slaughtered, and the only virtue recognised was adherence to the dogmas of Rome? Henry Charles Lea, in his “History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages,” graphically portrays the condition of the papacy. On this point he says, among other things:-PTUK October 9, 1890, page 330.2

    “Uniformity of faith had been enforced by the Inquisition and its methods, and so long as faith was preserved, crime and sin were comparatively unimportant except as a source of revenue to those who sold absolution. As Theodoric Vrie tersely puts it, hell and purgatory would be emptied if enough money could be found. The artificial standard thus created is seen in a revelation of the Virgin to St. Birgitta, that a Pope who was free from heresy, no matter how polluted by sin and vice, is not so wicked but that he has the absolute power to bind and loose souls. There are many wicked popes plunged in hell, but all their lawful acts on earth are accepted and confirmed by God, and all priests who are not heretics administer true sacraments, no matter how depraved they may be. Correctness of belief was thus the sole essential; virtue was a wholly subordinate consideration. How completely under such a system religion and morals came to be dissociated is seen in the remarks of Pius II. quoted above, that the Franciscans were excellent theologians, but cared nothing about virtue.PTUK October 9, 1890, page 330.3

    “This, in fact, was the direct result of the system of persecution embodied in the Inquisition. Heretics who were admitted to be patterns of virtue were ruthlessly exterminated in the name of Christ, while in the same holy name the orthodox could purchase absolution for the vilest of crimes for a few coins. When the only unpardonable offense was persistence in some trifling error of belief, such as the poverty of Christ; when men had before them the example of their spiritual guides as leaders in vice and debauchery and contempt of sacred things, all the sanctions of morality were destroyed, and the confusion between right and wrong became hopeless. The world has probably never seen a society more vile than that of Europe in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.”-Vol. 3, pp. 641, 642.PTUK October 9, 1890, page 330.4

    The custom of selling absolution, which was devised for the purpose of filling up the depleted papal treasury, is one of the worst things that the Papacy has ever done against God and his worship. It set at naught the atonement, counting the blood of the covenant an unholy thing, and fastened the world far more securely than it had ever before been in “the bond of iniquity,” which must hold those who think that the gift of God can be purchased with money.PTUK October 9, 1890, page 330.5

    Perhaps some may think that the Papacy has improved, since we no longer see crimes so openly committed under its sheltering wing. They think that its wickedness was due to the ignorance of the age, and that “advancing civilization” has made such wickedness impossible. Such should remember that “Rome never changes.” The only reason why crimes are not so openly committed under its protection is because it has not now the power to protect them. As evidence that the seeming improvement in the character of the Papacy is due to lack of power and not to the spread of education, we quote the following:-PTUK October 9, 1890, page 330.6

    “In Italy the revival of letters, while elevating the intellectual faculties, had been accompanied with deeper degradation in both the moral and spiritual condition of society. Without removing superstition, it had rendered skepticism fashionable, and it had weakened the sanctions of religion without supplying another basis for morality. The world has probably never seen a more defiant disregard of all law, human and divine, than that displayed by both the church and the laity during the pontificates of Sixtus IV. and Innocent VIII. and Alexander VI. [1471-1503.] Increase of culture and of wealth seemed only to afford new attractions and enlarged opportunities for luxury and vice, and from the highest to the lowest there was indulgence of unbridled appetites, with a cynical disregarded even of hypocrisy.”-Id., p. 203.PTUK October 9, 1890, page 330.7

    The principles of the Papacy are the same to-day that they were five hundred years ago. The system is as corrupt to-day as it ever was, and it cannot be reformed. It is denominated by Inspiration the “man of sin,” and as such it will remain to the end of its career. Men do not put new wine into old bottles, nor does God entrust His truth to the hands of those who have proved their unfaithfulness.PTUK October 9, 1890, page 330.8

    E. J. W.

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