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    December 9, 1897

    “After the Creed was Made: How the Papacy Ruled and Ruined. The Temporal Authority of the Papacy Established” The Present Truth 13, 49, pp. 773, 774.

    ATJ

    ALL things were now ready for the complete deliverance of the Catholic Church from Arian dominion. Since the death of Theodoric, divided councils had crept in amongst the Ostrogoths, and the Catholic Church had been more and more cementing to its interests the powers of the Eastern throne. “Constant amicable intercourse was still taking place between the Catholic clergy of the East and the West; between Constantinople and Rome; between Justinian and the rapid succession of pontiffs who occupied the throne during the ten years between the death of Theodoric and the invasion of Italy.” (Milman.)PTUK December 9, 1897, page 773.1

    THE VANDALS OVERTHROWN

    THE crusade began with the invasion of the Arian kingdom of the Vandals in Africa, of whom Gelimer was the king, and was openly and avowedly in the interests of the Catholic religion and church. For in a council of his ministers, nobles, and bishops, Justinian was dissuaded from undertaking the African War. He hesitated, and was about to relinquish his design, when he was rallied by a fanatical bishop, who exclaimed: “I have seen a vision! It is the will of heaven, O emperor, that you should not abandon your holy enterprise for the deliverance of the African church. The God of battle will march before your standard and disperse your enemies, who are the enemies of His Son.”PTUK December 9, 1897, page 773.2

    This persuasion was sufficient for the “pious” emperor, and in June, 533, “the whole fleet of six hundred ships was ranged in martial pomp before the gardens of the palace,” laden and equipped with thirty-five thousand troops and sailors, and five thousand horses, all under the command of Belisarius. He landed on the coast of Africa in September; Carthage was captured on the 18th of the same month; Gelimer was disastrously defeated in November; and the conquest of Africa, and the destruction of the Vandal kingdom, were completed by the capture of Gelimer in the spring of 534.PTUK December 9, 1897, page 773.3

    Belisarius dispatched to Justinian the news of his victory. “He received the messengers of victory at the time when he was preparing to publish the Pandects of the Roman law; and the devout or jealous emperor celebrated the divine goodness and confessed, in silence, the merit of his successful general. Impatient to abolish the temporal and spiritual tyranny of the Vandals, he proceeded, without delay, to the full establishment of the Catholic Church. Her jurisdiction, wealth, and immunities, perhaps the most essential part of episcopal religion, were restored and amplified with a liberal hand; the Arian worship was suppressed, the Donatist meetings were proscribed; and the Synod of Carthage, by the voice of two hundred and seventeen bishops, applauded the just measure of pious retaliation.” (Gibbon.)PTUK December 9, 1897, page 773.4

    As soon as this pious work of uprooting the Vandal kingdom had been fully accomplished, the arms of Justinian were turned against Italy and the Arian Ostrogoths. In 534 Amalasontha had been supplanted in her rule over the Ostrogoths by her cousin Theodotus. And “during the short and troubled reign of Theodotus—534-536—Justinian received petitions from all parts of Italy, and from all persons, lay as well as clerical, with the air and tone of its sovereign.” (Milman.)PTUK December 9, 1897, page 773.5

    THE OSTROGOTHIC KINGDOM DESTROYED

    BELISARIUS subdued Sicily in 535, and invaded Italy and captured Naples in 536. As it was now about the first of December, the Gothic warriors decided to postpone, until the following spring, their resistance to the invaders. A garrison of four thousand soldiers was left in Rome, a feeble number to defend such a city at such a time in any case, but these troops proved to be even more feeble in faith than they were in numbers.PTUK December 9, 1897, page 773.6

    They threw over all care of the city, and “furiously exclaimed that the apostolic throne should no longer be profaned by the triumph or toleration of Arianism; that the tombs of the Caesars should no longer be trampled by the savages of the North; and, without reflecting that Italy must sink into a province of Constantinople, they fondly hailed the restoration of a Roman emperor as a new era of freedom and prosperity. The deputies of the pope and clergy, of the Senate and people, invited the lieutenant of Justinian to accept their voluntary allegiance, and to enter into the city, whose gates would be thrown open to his reception.” (Gibbon.)PTUK December 9, 1897, page 773.7

    Belisarius at once marched to Rome, which he entered December 10, 536. But this was not the conquest of Italy or even of Rome. “From their rustic habitations, from their different garrisons, the Goths assembled at Ravenna for the defence of their country: and such were their numbers that, after an army had been detached for the relief of Dalmatia, one hundred and fifty thousand fighting men marched under the royal standard” in the spring, A.D. 537; and the Gothic nation returned to the siege of Rome and the defence of Italy against the invaders. “The whole nation of the Ostrogoths had been assembled for the attack, and was almost entirely consumed in the siege of Rome,” which continued above a year, 537-538. “One year and nine days after the commencement of the siege, an army so lately strong and triumphant, burnt their tents, and tumultuously repassed the Milvian bridge,” and Rome was delivered, March, 538. (Gibbon.) The remains of the kingdom were soon afterward destroyed. And thus was the kingdom of the Ostrogoths destroyed before the vengeful arrogance of the Papacy.PTUK December 9, 1897, page 773.8

    POPE ASSERTING TEMPORAL AUTHORITY

    This completely opened the way for the bishop of Rome to assert his sole authority over the estates of the church. The district immediately surrounding Rome was called the Roman duchy, and it was so largely occupied by the estates of the church that the Bishop of Rome claimed exclusive authority over it. “The Emperor, indeed, continued to control the elections and to enforce the payment of tribute for the territory protected by the imperial arms; but, on the other hand, the pontiff exercised a definite authority within the Roman duchy, and claimed to have a voice in the appointment of the civil officers who administered the local government.” (Encyclopedia Britannica.)PTUK December 9, 1897, page 774.1

    Under the protectorate of the armies of the East which soon merged in the exarch of Ravenna, the papacy enlarged its aspirations, confirmed its powers, and strengthened its situation both spiritually and temporally. Being by the decrees of the councils, and the homage of the emperor, made the head of all ecclesiastical and spiritual dominion on earth, and being now in possession of territory, and exerting a measure of civil authority therein, the opportunity that now fell to the ambition of the bishopric of Rome was to assert, to gain, and to exercise, supreme authority in all things temporal as well as spiritual. And the sanction of this aspiration was made to accrue from Justinian’s letter, in which he rendered such distinctive honor to the apostolic see. It is true that Justinian wrote these words with no such far-reaching meaning, but that made no difference; the words were written, and like all other words of similar import, they could be, and were, made to bear whatever meaning the bishop of Rome should choose to find in them.PTUK December 9, 1897, page 774.2

    BEGINNING OF THE 1,260 YEARS OF PAPAL DOMINION (Daniel 7:25)

    THEREFORE, the year A.D. 538, which marks the conquest of Italy, the deliverance of Rome, and the destruction of the kingdom of the Ostrogoths, is the true date which marks the establishment of the temporal authority of the Papacy, and the exercise of that authority as a world-power. All that was ever done later in this connection was but to enlarge by additional usurpations and donations, the territories which the Bishop of Rome at this point possessed, and over which he asserted civil jurisdiction. This view is fully sustained by the following excellent statement of the case:—PTUK December 9, 1897, page 774.3

    The conquest of Italy by the Greeks was, to a great extent at least, the work of the Catholic clergy.... The overthrow of the Gothic kingdom was to Italy an unmitigated evil. A monarch like Witiges or Totila would soon have repaired the mischiefs caused by the degenerate successors of Theodoric, Athalaric, and Theodotus. In their overthrow began the fatal policy of the Roman see, ... which never would permit a powerful native kingdom to unite Italy, or a very large part of it, under one dominion. Whatever it may have been to Christendom, the papacy has been the eternal, implacable foe of Italian independence and Italian unity; and so (as far as independence and unity might have given dignity, political weight, and prosperity) to the welfare of Italy.... Rome, jealous of all temporal sovereignty but her own, for centuries yielded up, or rather made, Italy a battlefield to the Transalpine and the stranger, and at the same time so secularized her own spiritual supremacy as to confound altogether the priest and the politician, to degrade absolutely and almost irrevocably the kingdom of Christ into a kingdom of this world.” (Milman.)PTUK December 9, 1897, page 774.4

    Then “began that fatal policy of the Roman see,” because she was then herself a world-power, possessing temporalities over which she both claimed and exercised dominion, and by virtue of which she could contend with other dominions, and upon the same level.PTUK December 9, 1897, page 774.5

    It is evident that as the Papacy had hitherto claimed, and had actually acquired, absolute dominion over all things spiritual, henceforth she would claim, and, if crafty policy and unscrupulous procedure were of any avail, would actually acquire, absolute dominion over all things temporal as well as spiritual. Indeed, as we have seen, this was already claimed, and the history of Europe for more than a thousand of the following years, abundantly proves that the claim was finally and fully established. Henceforth kings and emperors were but her tools, and often but her playthings; and kingdoms and empires her conquests, and often only her traffic.PTUK December 9, 1897, page 774.6

    A. T. JONES.

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