Larger font
Smaller font
Copy
Print
Contents
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
    Larger font
    Smaller font
    Copy
    Print
    Contents

    February 13, 1896

    “The Papacy. The Man of Sin Revealed” The Present Truth 12, 7, pp. 100, 101.

    ATJ

    LAST week we traced the growth of the distinctions by which, after the days of the apostles, the ambitious bishops created the three orders among the “clergy,” according to which “the bishops considered themselves as invested with a rank and character similar to those of the high priest among the Jews, while the presbyters represented the priests, and the deacons the Levites.”PTUK February 13, 1896, page 100.1

    These distinctions were established as early as the middle of the second century. This led to a further and most wicked invention. As they were now priests and Levites after the order of the priesthood of the former dispensation, it was necessary that they also should have a sacrifice to offer. Accordingly, the Lord’s Supper was turned into “the unbloody sacrifice.” Thus arose that which is still in the Roman Catholic Church the daily “sacrifice” of the mass. With this also came a splendor in dress, copied from that of the former real priesthood.PTUK February 13, 1896, page 100.2

    The estimate in which the bishop was now held may be gathered from the following words of a document of the second century:—PTUK February 13, 1896, page 100.3

    It is manifest, therefore, that we should look upon the bishop even as we would upon the Lord Himself. It is well to reverence both God and the bishop. He who honours the bishop has been honoured of God; he who does anything without the knowledge of the bishop, does (in reality) serve the devil.”PTUK February 13, 1896, page 100.4

    The next step was that certain bishops asserted authority over other bishops; and the plea upon which this was claimed as a right, was that the bishops of those churches which had been established by the apostles were of right to be considered as superior to all others. As Rome was the capital of the empire, and as the church there claimed direct descent not only from one but from two apostles, it soon came to pass that the church of Rome claimed to be the source of true doctrine, and the bishop of that church to be supreme over all other bishops. In the latter part of the second century, during the episcopate of Eleutherius, A.D. 176-192, the absolute authority of the church of Rome in matters of doctrine was plainly asserted in the following words:—PTUK February 13, 1896, page 100.5

    It is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the church,—those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the apostles; those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the certain gift of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father. Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vain-glory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorised meetings (we do this, I say); by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known church founded and organised at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also (by pointing out) the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the succession of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every church should agree with this church, on account of its pre-eminent authority.... Since, therefore, we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the church; since the apostles, like a rich man depositing his money in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth, so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life. For she is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers.PTUK February 13, 1896, page 100.6

    When this authority and power was asserted during the bishopric of Eleutherius, it is not at all strange that his immediate successor, Victor, A.D. 192-202, should attempt to carry into practice the authority thus claimed for him. The occasion of it was the question of the celebration of what is now Easter, as already related in the preceding chapter. This action of Victor is pronounced by Bower “the first essay of papal usur- pation.” Thus early did Rome not only claim supremacy, but attempt to enforce her claim of supremacy, over all other churches. Such was the arrogance of the bishops of Rome at the beginning of the third century.PTUK February 13, 1896, page 100.7

    The character of the bishopric in A. D. 250, is clearly seen by the words of Cyprian:—PTUK February 13, 1896, page 101.1

    Not a few bishops who ought to furnish both exhortation and example to others, despising their divine charge, became agents in secular business, forsook their throne, deserted their people, wandered about over foreign provinces, hunted the markets for gainful merchandise, while brethren were starving in the church. They sought to possess money in hoards, they seized estates by crafty deceits, they increased their gains by multiplying usuries.PTUK February 13, 1896, page 101.2

    As the bishopric became more exalted, and arrogated to itself more authority, the office became an object of unworthy ambition and unholy aspiration. Arrogance characterised those who were in power, and envy those who were not. And whenever a vacancy occurred, unseemly and wholly unchristian strife arose among rival presbyters for the vacant seat. “The deacons, beholding the presbyters thus deserting their functions, boldly invaded their rights and privileges; and the effects of a corrupt ambition were spread through every rank of the sacred order.”PTUK February 13, 1896, page 101.3

    These discussions which gave opportunity for the further assertion of the dignity and authority of the bishopric. Cyprian, “the representative of the episcopal system,” as Neander relates, declared that—PTUK February 13, 1896, page 101.4

    The church is founded upon the bishops, and every act of the church is controlled by these same rulers.... Whence you ought to know that the bishop is in the church, and the church in the bishop; and if any one be not with the bishop, that he is not in the church.PTUK February 13, 1896, page 101.5

    He insisted that God made the bishops, and the bishops made the deacons, and argued thus:—PTUK February 13, 1896, page 101.6

    But if we [bishops] may dare anything against God who makes bishops, deacons may also dare against us by whom they are made.PTUK February 13, 1896, page 101.7

    Not long afterward, there arose another subject of controversy, which caused much contention with far-reaching consequences. As the bishops arrogated to themselves more and more authority, both in discipline and doctrine, “heretics” increased. Whosoever might disagree with the bishop was at once branded as a heretic, and was cut off from his communion, as Diotrephes had counted as a heretic even the apostle John. Upon this point the representative of the episcopal system further declared:—PTUK February 13, 1896, page 101.8

    Neither have heresies arisen, nor have schisms originated, from any other source than from this, that God’s priest is not obeyed; nor do they consider that there is one person for the time priest in the church, and for the time judge in the stead of Christ; whom if, according to divine teaching, the whole fraternity should obey, no one would stir up anything against the college of priests; no one, after the divine judgment, after the suffrage of the people, after the consent of the co-bishops, would make himself a judge, not now of the bishop, but of God. No one would rend the church by a division of the unity of Christ.PTUK February 13, 1896, page 101.9

    He therefore argued that if any person was outside of this system of episcopal unity, and was not obedient to the bishop, this was all the evidence necessary to demonstrate that he was a heretic. Consequently he declared that no one ought “even to be inquisitive as to what” any one “teaches, so long as he teaches out of the pale of unity.” In this way the truth itself could be made heresy.PTUK February 13, 1896, page 101.10

    Of the condition of the bishopric in 302, when the Diocletian persecution began, Eusebius says: “They were sunk in negligence and sloth, one envying and reviling another in different ways, and were almost on the point of taking up arms against each other, and were assailing each other with words as with darts and spears, prelates inveighing against prelates, and people rising up against people, and hypocrisy and dissimulation had arisen to the greatest height of malignity.” Also some who appeared to be pastors were inflamed against each other with mutual strifes, only accumulating quarrels and threats, rivalship, hostility, and hatred to each other, only anxious to assert the government as a kind of sovereignty for themselves.PTUK February 13, 1896, page 101.11

    The scripture was fulfilled. There had come a falling away; there was a self-exaltation of the bishopric; and THE TIME WAS COME WHEN THE MAN OF SIN SHOULD BE REVEALED. 2 Thessalonians 2:3.PTUK February 13, 1896, page 101.12

    A. T. JONES.

    Larger font
    Smaller font
    Copy
    Print
    Contents