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The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4

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    III. Anti-Catholic Literature Also Draws on Prophecy

    The anti-Catholic agitation of the turbulent thirties and the “roaring forties” was keen, especially now that it was linked with growing apprehension over the heavy stream of immigration, which provided the bulk of this large Catholic increase, along with French Catholics from Quebec, and the incident of the Louisiana Purchase. 30This was a carryover from Colonial days. Only in Maryland had Catholics been welcome in those early times, for, with the arrival of the Puritans, Calvinistic Protestantism was stamped indelibly upon the early English colonies. The Quakers, Baptists, and other Nonconformists settled in compact groups. And the German Pietists, Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, and French Huguenots were all wary of the Catholics. However, through the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, religious liberty was assured-one Catholic, Charles Carroll, signing the Declaration. At the time there were only thirty thousand Catholics in a population of four million. But by 1810 there were seventy-five thousand Catholics, or one per cent of the total population, while in 1840 they numbered a million, or five and a half percent—with the percentage steadily on the increase, and now these gains were watched closely. Anti-Catholic literature began to multiply. And Catholic “associations” in Europe, formed to promote missions in America and for the “Propaganda of the Faith” over here, were regarded as plots against American democracy. Lyman Beecher’s Plea for the West, in 1835, was really a plea to save the West for Protestantism. This was followed by numerous books and periodicals warning of Catholic danger. Even Samuel F. B. Morse, inventor of the telegraph, was an anti-Catholic writer.PFF4 275.4

    A series of anti-Catholic papers, mostly short-lived, was established to meet the threat envisioned—The Protestant (1830-1832), Reformation Advocate (1832), Protestant Vindicator (1834-45?), Priestcraft Exposed (1828-29), Anti-Romanist (1834), Downfall of Babylon (1834-37), already noted, and various others. These productions continued on into the forties. Protestant-Catholic debates like that of Campbell-Purcell in Cincinnati (1837), were quite the order of the day. 31See pp. 249-258. And many pulpits became forums for discussion, like those of Presbyterian Lyman Beecher of Cincinnati and Boston, and Protestant Reformed William C. Brownlee of New York City. Though alleged Catholic immorality was one of the favorite popular arguments, along with tales of horror in the convents—like Rebecca Reed’s Six Months in a Convent (1835) and Maria Monk’s Awful Disclosures (1836)—prophecy was constantly invoked and continuously expounded.PFF4 276.1


    One example of such constant recourse to Bible prophecy was the weekly (later biweekly) called The Downfall of Babylon, or, the Triumph of Truth Over Popery, published in New York City from 1834 to 1837 by SAMUEL B. SMITH, a former Catholic priest. 32SAMUEL B. SMITH, of Quaker background, was born in Pennsylvania. After his father’s death he was befriended by Roman Catholics, and became a convert to that faith. A Catholic bishop took an interest in him, and arranged for him to teach in a Catholic school. He was then sent to a Parisian seminary to study for the priesthood, and taught English in a Parisian college. After ordination he served as a priest for fourteen years. He then came to Detroit, where the evil lives of his parishioners appalled him. Begging them to reform, he was himself defamed. At last, disillusioned by the un-Scriptural positions of the Roman Church, and disgusted with the low moral tone prevalent, he retired from the priesthood, was converted to evangelical Christianity, and became editor of Downfall of Babylon and author of The “Image of the Beast” and other books. At the top of page 1, Revelation 14:6-8 Avas quoted in full, with a woodcut of the Vatican realistically toppling into the Tiber. 33Through Nov. 21, 1835; the verses continued somewhat longer. The larger portion of the issue of August 8, 1835, was on the “Mark of the Beast”—the Beast ever being the “Church of Rome.” And Lateinos is taken as the name yielding the mystical number, “666.” The “beasts” in the Revelation relate to “one and the same power,” namely, the papal Antichrist. 34The Downfall of Babylon, Aug. 8, 1835, p. 154.PFF4 276.2

    The seven-headed beast, this article contends, is the Latin church on the seven hills. The woman of Revelation 17, with the golden cup, is similarly the papal hierarchy of the Church of Rome, and its head. The writer believes the hour is not far distant when the kings of the earth shall bewail her, when they see her destruction. The editorial of August 29, 1835, “On the Downfall of Babylon,” warns against the “Man of Sin” and “Son of Perdition,” also called the “mysterious Woman.” So, according to prophecy, it is a “hermaphrodite, who is both male and female.” The ten horns on the beast symbolize the ten kingdoms-which have already begun to hate her. 35Ibid., Aug. 29, pp. 166, 167. So it is apparent that, while there were all types of expositors, there was one common or general Protestant identification of Antichrist at this time.PFF4 277.1

    Smith’s first book, Renunciation of Popery (1833), abounds with similar expressions from the Apocalypse that were universally applied by Protestants to the Papacy—such as Mystery of Iniquity, the symbolic “woman” sitting on the seven hills, and the abomination of desolation—and he speaks of the “throne of the beast,” sounding the call to “Come out of her my people,” that is, out of Great Babylon. 36Samuel B. Smith, Renunciation of Popery, pp. 3, 16, 22, 10, 31, 41, 13, 14, 17, 18.PFF4 277.2


    The title of another of Smith’s books, The “Image of the Beast,” is of course, a phrase taken from the prophecy of Revelation 13:14. Smith first defines the Beast rising out of the sea as the “corrupt church of Rome,” the Man of Sin, the church of Antichrist, seated in the city of Rome. It is likewise the mystery woman on the scarlet colored beast. There she sits, at the zenith of her glamorous power, stained with blood and robed in pomp and splendor. In her hand is a golden cup with its “sacred mysteries.” And the telltale number, “666,” is yielded by this Latin kingdom. It became the Mystery of Iniquity when church and state were united under Constantine. The ten horns of the beast are the divided ten kingdoms of Europe, nevertheless subject to the pope. 37Samuel B. Smith, The “Image of the Beast,” pp. iii, 13-16.PFF4 277.3

    But the “Image of the Beast,” formed by the Beast from the earth, is also an ecclesiastical power, though a different one from the Papacy. This Smith believed involved Protestant sectarianism. And the two horns he interpreted as civil and religious liberty. This power is the “mirror” in which the image of the Beast is “reflected.” Nominalism, he warned, is taking the place of genuine spirituality in Protestantism. (2 Timothy 4; Matthew 24:12.) And the various signs of the times (such as repetition of the days of Noah) are all about us. But Christ will come before the millennium, with the new earth following after. 38Ibid., pp. 15, 18, 19, ff.PFF4 278.1


    Running all through this type of literature was the continuing strand of prophetic interpretation—predictions of the Papacy’s rise, its history, and its final doom, based on the Inspired Word. The New York weekly, (The American) Protestant Vindicator (1834-1845), edited by William Craig Brownlee, is heavily sprinkled with expositions relating to Rome. These appear in extended articles, short notes, and frequent allusions. The first 38 numbers of volume 2 carry a text, under the periodical’s name reading, “Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?” On June 29, 1836, this journal became the organ of the newly organized American Society to Promote the Principles of the Reformation.PFF4 278.2

    The October 7 issue (in vol. 2) contains “The Dragon and the Beast,” signed “D.G.”—the dragon of Revelation 12 being pagan Rome, and the first beast of Revelation 13, the Papacy. The editorial for December 30 touches on the Beast, False Prophet, and Man of Sin, or Son of Perdition, and his “mysterious period of 1260 years.” The March 16, 1836, issue lists the marks of Antichrist, gleaned from Daniel 7—thinking to change times and laws, and from 2 Thessalonians 2, exalting himself above God. 39Protestant Vindicator, vol. 2. nos. 7, 19, 24 (unpaged).PFF4 278.3

    The Vindicator for May 11 and 25, 1836, deals with the “Scriptural Predictions” referring to the Papacy. The June 8 number reprints a discussion of “The Fifth Trumpet” as Mohammedanism—the locusts being “the wandering tribes of Arabia”—and its 150 scourging years from A.D. 612 to 762. The June 29 issue quotes extensively from the Waldensian treatise Concerning Antichrist, with its vivid description of Antichrist’s predicted rise, identification, and fulfillment. 40On the Waldenses, see Prophetic Faith, Vol. I, chaps. 34, 35.PFF4 279.1

    July 6 continues with the “Sixth Trumpet”—the Turks destroying the empire in the East—with the 391 years as either 1063-1453 or 1281-1672. And with this was the Mohammedan power as the “little horn” of Daniel 8, “the other ‘little horn,’ being the Papacy” of Daniel 7. July 20 discusses the papal persecutions—the woman of Revelation 17, drunk with the blood of saints. August 17 presents “The Anti-Christian Apostacy” of Revelation 18—Babylon and her coming plagues. And finally, on September 7, John Wesley is quoted on the Papacy, with his “standard Methodist” interpretation of the symbols of 2 Thessalonians 2 and Revelation 13, 17, and 19, culminating with Babylon’s fall.PFF4 279.2

    Volume 3 continues in the same way. November 2 starts off with “Antichrist Is Come.” February 22, 1837, tells how “most commentators” make the “earthquake” of Revelation 11 the French Revolution, dating the 391 years of the Turk perhaps from 1453 to 1844. Here is the statement: “It is therefore probable, that within ten years, about 1844, the Turks will be driven from Europe!” 41American Protestant Vindicator, Feb. 22, 1837, p. 82.PFF4 279.3

    The January 25, 1843, issue begins a series on “The Apocalyptic Beasts.” The artist pictures the leopard beast from the sea, with its seven crowned heads, one of them, significantly enough, having upon it the identifying triple crown of the pope. Here the first beast of Revelation 13 is portrayed as Rome in its pagan empire form and in its divided condition in ten kingdoms. The second beast is the same as the Little Horn of Daniel 7. And this Little Horn is, “by the consent of all sound expositors, the symbol of the pope.” 42Ibid., Jan. 25, 1843, pp. 122, 123. Such interpretation was well-nigh universal in this special category of writings.PFF4 280.1


    William C. Brownlee, 43WILLIAM CRAIG BROWNLEE (1783-1860), Presbyterian and then Protestant Reformed minister, was born in Scotland. After receiving an M.A. with honors from the University of Glasgow, he studied theology, and was licensed to preach by the presbytery in 1808. Coming to this country, he became pastor of the Walnut Street Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, then rector of Queen’s College Academy, and professor of Latin and Greek at Rutgers. He was then made one of the pastors of the Collegiate Protestant Reformed Church of New York City, continuing there until 1848. He was well Known for his opposition to Roman Catholic aggressions, often incurring personal danger. He was likewise the uncompromising foe of Unitarianism and Universalism. He edited several journals and wrote various books. His D.D. was from the University of Glasgow. He was an Orthodox Calvinist of strong convictions, a clear and finished speaker, extemporaneous in style, and with a strong Scotch brogue. editor of American Protestant Vindicator, and minister of the Collegiate Protestant Reformed Church of New York City, in his Letters in the Roman Catholic Controversy (second edition, 1834, 360 pp.) addressing the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, declares that “the rise and reign of a singular POWER [that is, of the “Roman church”] are graphically delineated” in Daniel 7—predicting the Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, and pagan Roman empires, with the papal Little Horn arising among the ten horns of Rome. In Revelation 13, John portrayed the Beast from the sea as the pagan Roman power that first persecuted the church—the same as Paul’s hindering power of 2 Thessalonians 2:7, after whose removal (in the time of Constantine) the Papacy would be revealed. The “another beast,” from the earth, the papal power described by John, or Babylon the Great, also by Paul as the Man of Sin, appeared after the falling away, or apostasy from the Christian faith. 44W. C. Brownlee, Letters in the Roman Catholic Controversy, Letter XXXIII, p. 320. Then Brownlee asserts:PFF4 280.2

    “To the Roman hierarchy is the descriptive prophesy [sic] wholly applicable and to it alone. Hence the Roman church is that impious Man of Sin, and arrogant Son of perdition, spoken of by Paul.” 45Ibid., pp. 324, 325,PFF4 281.1


    The Protestant Banner should also be mentioned—“Set for the Defence of the Truth.” Edited by J. F. Berg and published in Philadelphia, volume 1 (1842) has an article on the “Signs of the Times” maintaining that the “Beast” of the Apocalypse is “without doubt” the papal power. 46The Protestant Banner, July 15, 1842, p. 134. The issue of August 19 treats on “The Marks of Antichrist,” its gross departure from the faith, and its allotted 1260 years. An editorial on September 16 deals with “The Doom of Antichrist,” Babylon the mystery woman, Lateinos yielding the identifying “666,” and the Beast of Revelation 13 as identical with the Little Horn of Daniel 7—and its terrible destruction impending. 47Ibid., Sept. 16, 1842, p. 161. The prophetic symbolism is the constant overtone heard all the way through its discussions, shaping its policy, and determining its goal. 48Ibid., Dec. 1, 1842, pp. 7, 43, etc.PFF4 281.2


    The Protestant Magazine (volume 1, number 1, dated September, 1833), published in New York City, by C. C. P. Crosby, likewise had frequent articles on the prophetic symbols of the Papacy—the Little Horn, Beast, Babylon, and the like. The February issue began a series on the signs of the times, Anti christ, and even on the coming battle of Armageddon. Another issue had an article entitled “Inspired Descriptions of the Papacy.” 49Such as vol. 1, no. 5, for December, 1833; vol. 1, no. 8, for April. So again we see that prophecy was the under girding of this particular type of literature.PFF4 281.3

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