Page images
PDF
EPUB

in fullest and absolutely undisputed measure.-The Empires of the Bible, pp. 18-20, vs. 2-5.

Rome ruled the world from B. C. 390—A. D. 410, that is, for a period of seven hundred and ninety years. During that time no hostile foot, other than that of a prisoner or suppliant had pressed its soil. The fullness of all human vitality was concentrated in a single head, all the world mounted to the brain of one man. All roads led to Rome, all power flamed from it. The strong man was at rest and his goods were in peace.

But such is not the plan of the Supreme and Incorruptible Equity. The time had been appointed that a stronger man should appear. “To the mighty Rome, God sent His Son, to make perfectly plain the way of righteousness and self government, in view of judgment to come. And when this most exalted One thus humbled Himself and came to show the way, He came saying to God, His Father, “I am Thy servant forever.’”

“I delight to do Thy will, O God; yea Thy law is within my heart.” “I can of mine own self do nothing.” “The Father that dwelleth in me, He doth the work.” “My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me.” “He gave me a commandment what I should say, and what I should speak, I came, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work.” “Not my will, but Thine be done.” This He did all of His own free eternal choice. And thus He not only showed the way, “but He is eternally ‘the way' of true, original and ultimate government, that is self-government under God, and in God. This government is found only in Christ.”—Id. He took away the leprosy of sin without taking anything from the human mind. He presented the future with the star of Liberty on its brow; on it the glowing eyes of all generations have been turned. The light that He shed abroad over the world, was a revealer of dark secrets under the throne. This disquieted the strong man. He could not rest, and he grew very angry. Officers were sent to arrest the great Teacher, and when they came and were in the presence of the serene Majesty, they stood still and listened, and they were amazed and charmed at the gracious words that fell from His lips; and they went away. To the question, “Why have ye not brought him?” they simply replied, “Never man spake like this man.” Then all the power of earth arose to destroy Him, and to crush out of existence the living principles which He taught. They crucified Him, and made His body secure with the seal of the mighty Rome in Joseph's new tomb. But that did not prevent Him from making good an appointment which He had made with His disciples. “Then the disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, ‘All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore and teach all nations.’” Thus He sent forth an army of school masters, the only army that civilization acknowledges.

CHAPTER VI.
THE MIGHTY ONE

This drama is a winged march through the ages; its halting places are at crises in the history of humanity. The leading personage is God; the second is man; and there is a third. The third person in this drama is his majesty the Evil One. When Rome, which had come to be regarded as the eternal city, and whose majesty awed the world, fell, and was sacked by the furious Gauls, there was then no more centralized power. Then that mysterious genius of ambition for empire did not know what to do. So he went down by the seaside; and there on the sands of the sea, he stood and meditated. Soon he saw a strange thing rise up out of the sea. Of those who had gone forth as teachers of Christianity, there were many who did not understand Christ at all, these loved Eminence, and they sought for places of Preeminence. Then said the evil one, I will be a Christian, too, I will join myself to them. Then Constantine made a law that Christians should rest upon the “Venerable day of the Sun.” The throne of the Caesars was displaced for the chair of St. Peter. A man was exalted in the place of God, a woman in the place of Christ and tradition in the place of the Bible. The man of sin had taken the name and the throne of his discarded rival, even assuming the name of the church of the

Bible—“Holy Catholic Church,” it is also known in history as the Holy Roman Empire.

But it was ancient, unhealthy, poisonous; it was the serpent's change of skin.

“Then came the third phase of history; and it is still apostasy and empire. No lesson was learned by men, of the essential vanity of empire; so that in the presence of the best opportunity ever offered since the peopling of the earth after the flood, no attempt was made to recognize the individuality of man, and to cultivate this, in recognition of God, and to the true glory of God and man. But the apostate church, which professed to be in the world for this very purpose, and which still remained amidst the ruins of the vanished Roman empire, instead of taking this position in the world, and appealing to and building upon this principle in men, simply exalted herself in the same old sinful ambition of imperial world power.

“Into this she deceived herself by the seduction that in all these instances of the past, empire had fallen of itself, and had failed to save the world, ‘because the rulers were bad, and because the system was only of the world itself.” “But if there could be the reign of the ‘good people' and the system be not of the world but of ‘the church,’ this being empire which both in itself and in its essential system was divine, ‘must certainly bless and save the world.’” “Only let us, the good people, have the power. Let the men of God —the bishops—have dominion. Recognize their authority. Let them with the dictates of the church have full sway. Then the government and empire will be but the kingdom of God itself. The empire being the Kingdom of God, the capital city of the church, being the capital city of the Kingdom of God, will be the very city of God, the eternal city.”—Id., pp. 20, parS. I, 2, 3. “The ancient Franks until the time of Clovis, were all pagans. In A. D. 496, Clovis professed conversion. In the beautiful Cathedral of Rheims, with all the solemn splendor and magnificence of the papal ritual, the ferocious warriors of the terrible army which followed this monarch were enrolled in the ranks of the church militant. Clovis himself was anointed with ‘Celestial oil,’ which, we are gravely told, was borne from heaven to earth in a vial, a snow white dove being the carrier. Clovis and three thousand of his troops were there baptized, and their example was followed by the remainder of the ‘gentle barbarians.’ The baptismal sermon was performed with the utmost pomp. The church was hung with embroidered tapestry and white curtains, floods of incense, like airs of paradise, were diffused around; the building blazed with countless lights. When the new Constantine knelt in that font to be cleansed from his heathenism, ‘Fierce Sicambrian,’ said the bishop, bow thy neck; burn what thou hast adored, adore what thou hast burned.’” Later, during the religious conference, the bishop dwelt on the cruelty of the Jews, at the death of our Lord. Clovis was moved, but not to tenderness. “Had I and my faithful Franks been there,” said he, “they had not dared to do it.” “The adoption of the Catholic faith, arrayed upon the side of the Frank, all the papal prelates and their followers. From one end of the Roman empire to the other, of all the princes

« PreviousContinue »