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Civil Government and Religion

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    CHAPTER VI. - THE SUNDAY-LAW MOVEMENT IN THE FOURTH CENTURY, AND ITS PARALLEL IN THE NINETEENTH

    A TITLE for this chapter equally good with the above would be, The Making of the Papacy and the Perfect Likeness to It. In 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, Paul wrote:—CGRSL 84.1

    “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”CGRSL 84.2

    Speaking to the elders of the church at Ephesus, Paul makes known what is the secret, we might say, the spring, of the papacy. Acts 20:28-30. “Of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” He was here speaking to the elders of the churches—the bishops. Whether he meant that there would be among these Ephesians bishops individuals who would do this, or that the bishopric would be perverted from its true office, and would exalt itself to the full development of the papacy, it matters not; for the words themselves express the fact as it was enacted in the history that followed. The bishopric of Rome finally developed into the papacy, which is the embodiment of the “mystery of iniquity.” This work, as he says, began by the bishops’ speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. It became quite general about twenty years after the death of John. Says Mosheim:—CGRSL 84.3

    “The bishops augmented the number of religious rites in the Christian worship, by way of accommodation to the infirmities and prejudices both of Jews and heathen, in order to facilitate their conversion to Christianity.” “For this purpose, they gave the name of mysteries to the institutions of the gospel, and decorated particularly the holy sacrament with that solemn title. They used in that sacred institution, as also in that of baptism, several of the terms employed in the heathen mysteries, and proceeded so far at length as to adopt some of the ceremonies of which those renowned mysteries consisted. This imitation began in the Eastern provinces; but after the time of Hadrian [emperor A.D. 117-138], who first introduced the mysteries among the Latins, it was followed by the Christians who dwelt in the western part of the empire. A great part, therefore, of the service of the church in this century, had a certain air of the heathen mysteries, and resembled them considerably in many particulars.”—Church History, cent. 2, part 2, chap. 4, par. 2, 5.CGRSL 85.1

    Another means by which these ambitious bishops secured disciples to themselves in great numbers from among the heathen, was the adoption of the day of the sun as a festival day.CGRSL 85.2

    “The oldest, the most wide-spread, and the most enduring of all the forms of idolatry known to man, [is] the worship of the sun.”—T. W. Chambers, in Old Testament Student, January, 1886.CGRSL 85.3

    And says Mosheim:—CGRSL 85.4

    “Before the coming of Christ, all the Eastern nations performed divine worship with their faces turned to that part of the heavens where the sun displays his rising beams. This custom was founded upon a general opinion that God, whose essence they looked upon to be light, and whom they considered as being circumscribed within certain limits, dwell in that part of the firmament from which he sends forth the sun, the bright image of his benignity and glory. The Christian converts, indeed, rejected this gross error [of supposing that God dwelt in that part of the firmament]; but they retained the ancient and universal custom of worshiping toward the east, which sprang from it. Nor is this custom abolished even in our times, but still prevails in a great number of Christian churches.”—Church History, cent. 2, part 2, chap. 4, par. 7. Ezekiel 8:16.CGRSL 85.5

    This was first adopted in connection with the Sabbath of the Lord; but after a while the paganized form of godliness crowded out the Sabbath entirely, and those were cursed who would observe it. By the beginning of the fourth century, this apostasy had gained a prominence by which it could make itself felt in the political workings of the Roman empire. The ambitious bishops of the apostasy had at this time invented a theory of government, which they determined to have recognized, which should make the civil power subordinate to the ecclesiastical. Says Neander:—CGRSL 86.1

    “There had in fact arisen in the church a false theocratical theory, originating not in the essence of the gospel, but in the confusion of the religious constitutions of the Old and New Testaments, which brought along with it an unchristian opposition of the spiritual to the secular power, and which might easily result in the formation of a sacerdotal State, subordinating the secular to itself in a false and outward way.—Torrey’s Neander, Boston, 1852, p. 132.CGRSL 86.2

    The government of Israel was a true theocracy. That was really a government of God. At the burning bush, God commissioned Moses to lead his people out of Egypt. By signs and wonders and mighty miracles multiplied, God delivered Israel from Egypt, and led them through the wilderness, and finally into the promised land. There he ruled them by judges “until Samuel the prophet,” to whom when he was a child, God spoke and by whom he made known his will. In the days of Samuel, the people asked that they might have a king. This was allowed, and God chose Saul, and Samuel anointed him king of Israel. Saul failed to do the will of God, and as he rejected the word of the Lord, the Lord rejected him from being king, and sent Samuel to anoint David king of Israel and David’s throne God established forevermore. When Solomon succeeded to the kingdom in the place of David his father, the record is: “Then Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king instead of David his father.” 1 Chronicles 29:23. David’s throne was the throne of the Lord, and Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king over the earthly kingdom of God. The succession to the throne descended in David’s line to Zedekiah, who was made subject to the king of Babylon, and who entered into a solemn covenant before God that he would loyally render allegiance to the king of Babylon. But Zedekiah broke his covenant; and then God said to him:—CGRSL 86.3

    “Thou profane, wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end, thus saith the Lord God: Remove the diadem, and take off the crown; this shall not be the same; exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it; and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.” Ezekiel 21:25-27; 17:1-21.CGRSL 87.1

    The kingdom was then subject to Babylon. When Babylon fell, and Medo-Persia succeeded, it was overturned the first time. When Medo-Persia fell, and was succeeded by Grecia, it was overturned the second time. When the Greek empire gave way to Rome, it was overturned the third time. And then says the word.“ It shall be no more, till he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.” Who is he whose right it is?—”Thou ...shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David; and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Luke 1:31-33. And while he was here as “that prophet,” a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, the night in which he was betrayed he himself declared, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Thus the throne of the Lord has been removed from this world, and will “be no more, until he come whose right it is,” and then it will be given him. And that time is the end of this world, and the beginning of “the world to come.” Therefore while this world stands, a true theocracy can never be in it again. Consequently, from the death of Christ till the end of this world, every theory of an earthly theocracy is a false theory; every pretension to it is a false pretension; and wherever any such theory is proposed or advocated, whether in Rome in the fourth century, or anywhere else in any other century, it bears in it all that the papacy is or that it ever pretended to be,—it puts a man in the place of God.CGRSL 87.2

    “These theocratical bishops made themselves and their power a necessity to Constantine, who, in order to make sure of their support, became a political convert to the form of Christianity, and made it the recognized religion of the empire. And says Neander further:—CGRSL 88.1

    “This theocratical theory was already the prevailing one in the time of Constantine; and ...the bishops voluntarily made themselves dependent on him by their disputes, and by their determination to make use of the power of the State for the furtherance of their aims.”—Idem.CGRSL 88.2

    In these quotations from Neander the whole history of the papacy is epitomized. All that the history of the papacy is, is only the working out of this theory. For the first step in the logic of a man-made theocracy, is a pope; the second step is the infallibility of that pope; and the third step is the Inquisition, to make his infallibility effective, as we will prove:—CGRSL 88.3

    First, a true theocracy being a government immediately directed by God, a false theocracy is a government directed by a man in the place of God. But a man governing in the place of God is a pope. A man ruling the world in the place of God, is all that the pope has ever claimed to be.CGRSL 89.1

    Second, a false theocracy being a professed government of God, he who sits at the head of it, sits there as the representative of God. He represents the divine authority; and when he speaks or acts officially, his speech or act is that of od. But to make a man thus the representative of God, is only to clothe human passions with divine power and authority. And being human, he is bound always to act unlike God; and being clothed with irresponsible power, he will sometimes act like the Devil. Consequently, in order to make all his actions consistent with his profession, he is compelled to cover them all with the divine attributes, and make everything that he does in his official capacity the act of God. This is precisely the logic and the profession of papal infallibility. It is not claimed that all the pope speaks is infallible; it is only what he speaks officially—what he speaks from the throne. Under this theory, he sits upon that throne as the head of the government of God in this world. He sits there as the representative of God. And when he speaks officially, when he speaks form the throne, he speaks as the representative of God. Therefore, sitting in the place of God, ruling from that place as the official representative of God, that which he speaks from the throne is the word of God, and must be infallible. This is the inevitable logic of the false theocratical theory. And if it is denied that the theory is false, there is logically no escape from accepting the papal system. The claims of the papacy are not in the least extravagant, if the theory.CGRSL 89.2

    Third, God is the moral governor. His government is a moral one, whose code is the moral law. His government and his law have to do with the thoughts, the intents, and the secrets of men’s hearts. This must be ever the government of God, and nothing short of it can be the government of God. The pope then being the head of what pretends to be a government of God, and ruling there in the place of God, his government must rule in the realm of morals, and must take cognizance of the counsels of the heart. But being a man, how could he discover what were the thoughts of men’s hearts, whether they were good or evil, that he might pronounce judgment upon them?—By long and careful experiment, and by intense ingenuity, means were discovered by which the most secret thoughts of men’s hearts might be wrung from them, and that was by the Inquisition.CGRSL 90.1

    But the Inquisition was only the inevitable logic of the theocratical theory upon which the papacy was founded. The history of the papacy is only the logic of the theocratical theory upon which the papacy was founded: First, a pope; then the infallibility of that pope; then the Inquisition, to make his infallible authority effective. And that is the logic of any theocratical theory of earthly government since Jesus Christ died.CGRSL 90.2

    This being their theory, and their determination being “to make use of the power of the State for the furtherance of their aims,” the question arises, What means did they employ to secure control of this power? Answer.—The means of Sunday laws. They secured from Constantine the following Sunday law:—CGRSL 90.3

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