Roman Catholicism seems to adapt itself to every circumstance. It is black in one place, and white in another, and grey in another, just as the civilization of the people will permit. In thoroughly ignorant Catholic countries, as Cuba, Spain and Mexico, it openly sells indulgences for sin covering almost every crime conceivable, and in many instances these are printed and for sale at regularly graded prices. These are some of the black spots, and the shaded influence of priest-craft has kept those nations over which it has obtained control, far behind other nations in progress and civilization, though at one time they had superior advantages. In civilized lands where it comes in conflict and comparison with liberty and general intelligence, Romanism wears a garment of light (2 Cor. 11:13-15); and repudiating indulgences by that name, she has a more refined way of collecting the same revenue. Here she demands more priestly prayers and masses for some sins than others, and can thus run up the bill of charges for forgiveness as well as in the case of the printed indulgences of other lands.
Long has Rome realized that intelligence is her foe; and hence in priest-ridden countries such as we have named, the population is ignorant in the extreme; as for illustration, the Catholic districts of Ireland, and in Spain, Portugal, Italy, etc. In none of these countries where Romanism has had a strong foothold for centuries, has she shown any disposition or energy to educate the masses of the people. But in civilized lands where Protestants predominate, the Church of Rome is full of zeal for the education of the masses. She conceals the real cause of her animosity to the public school system of this country, which thus far she has failed to overthrow, by establishing parochial schools for the children of Roman Catholics, claiming that a secular education from which religious instruction is excluded, is a serious evil, and that therefore they cannot send their children to the public schools.
By religious instruction they evidently do not mean, such as comes from the good example of moral teachers; for such most of the public schools have. Nor do they mean the simple lesson of reverence for God; for they objected to the reading of a chapter from the Bible, though the Bibles used by Catholics and Protestants are practically alike. And they object too, to the repetition of the Lord's Prayer by the school: hence we must conclude that when they say that the children should have a religious training, they mean by that, a course of instruction in Catholic doctrines, and histories specially prepared to deceive relative to the past and present attitude of the Church of Rome. They do not wish to have the rising generations instructed in the plain facts of reliable history, which reveals the true character of the Church of Rome, the dawn of the Reformation, etc. These facts, if they must be alluded to, must first receive the gloss of Catholic writers.
We mention these matters that it may be seen as a very peculiar change of front, that recently in one of the public school wards of Pittsburg, a Roman Catholic Priest, of St. Malachi's Church, was elected and installed as Principal. What a strange procedure! How well the symbol "leopard", applied to that system in holy writ, illustrates its spotted or varied character.—Rev. 13:2.
It was not strange that a ward in which Roman Catholics predominate should prefer a Catholic to a Protestant for Principal, all other conditions, education, etc., being equal, but it was strange, that a man should be thought capable as a school Principal whose time may well be supposed to be urgently needed in pastoral services over a large flock of deluded and ignorant sheep and goats, for whose ignorance and that of their parents for centuries past, the Church of Rome is directly chargeable.
But the most strange fact of all is, that this gentleman would accept the position; and that the church he represents, should permit his course, after so long and so bitterly crying out against these very schools as her enemies, and as institutions of the devil. This priest is too well educated to be ignorant of the objections all along urged by his church against the public schools. He must also have been aware, before accepting the office of Principal, that he would have no power either to introduce Roman Catholic instruction, or even to change the text-books and routine of studies. So then, these "wicked" "infidel" public schools which Roman Catholics have so often cursed, are really unchanged by the election of a priest for Principal, yet as soon as the priest was installed, Catholic children were ordered to attend them. This was merely another evidence of the "leopard," or scheming [spotted] policy of Roman Catholicism. The next stealthy step, designed no doubt, was to get the entire control of each school into the hands of local boards, and then change text-books, exercises, studies, etc., to suit themselves.
But the scheme miscarried for the present, by reason of the failure of the nuns selected by this Principal to be the new teachers under him, to pass the rigid examination to which public school teachers are subjected here. Rather than carry on the schools without the nuns as teachers, the priest resigned the Principalship and started the Catholic schools as before. The plan is not considered dead, but merely sleeping until a more convenient season, when preparations will be more complete. We might as well add that we favor purely secular schools, from which all religious teaching and worship would be excluded. Less than thirty hours each week, and that for but a few years, is spent in the school room, and surely priests, nuns and others, have plenty of time to pour into childhood's ears their confusing mixtures of truths and errors, without intruding upon these few precious hours, or upon each other's sectarian prejudices.
The Church of Rome is assiduously endeavoring to make herself popular and to commend herself to liberty lovers, trusting that they will forget the past and present of her despotic rule of ignorance and superstition in other lands. It is for this reason that she now appears to favor free schools, whereas the fifteen centuries of the past emphasize the fact that she is the bitterest enemy of everything which even looks toward liberty of conscience. She lays her clammy hand caressingly and patronizingly upon America's free institutions, that at an unsuspected moment she may throttle them and use them to her own unchanged purposes and schemes. She therefore for the moment changes her policy to suit the circumstances and seeks to pose before the public as the champion of true Christian liberty, even going so far as to put the Bible (which once she condemned and prohibited, except for the "clergy") into the hands of the people. This she did at the last Plenary Council in Baltimore, in Oct. '86. Could we see in these changes real reform, we would rejoice, but since it is ever Rome's boast that she is infallible and never changes, we are forced to believe that she is really the same as ever, and that merely her policy is now changing for purposes of expediency.
"What Father Walker says (i.e., that he would as soon administer the sacraments to a dog as to Catholics who send their children to the public schools) is only what has been said over and over again by the bishops in their pastorals all over the world, and we heartily indorse it."—N.Y. Tablet.
"No Bible shall be held or read except by priests. No Bible shall be sold without a license, except upon the pains and penalties of that mortal sin that is neither to be forgiven in this world nor in the next."—Council of Trent.
"Moreover we confirm and renew the decrees delivered in former times by apostolic authority, against the publication, distribution, reading and possession of books of the Holy Scriptures translated into the vulgar tongue."—Pope Gregory XVI.
Rome has no new love for the Bible, which she has learned to fear, as the "Sword of the Spirit," from whose wound in the hands of the early Protestants, she has not yet fully recovered. (Rev. 13:3.) But she has learned that that sword is comparatively harmless when there are so few brave defenders of "the faith once delivered to the saints," to wield it. She has learned that even the "two-edged sword" of God's Word, when sheathed in the scabbard of human tradition, is not to be feared even in the hands of the masses. She has seen the children of those early Protestors—Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc., sheath this Sword of the Spirit to smite with merely the scabbards of human tradition, and though they bear it continually, that thus they appear more like soldiers of the cross, though in fact they are not. And this appearance is another element of power Rome desires, and therefore she adds this to her policy. She thinks that in the same way, she can handle the Bible as safely as do the Protestants.
If all the Protestant sects can with a show of liberty put the Bible into the hands of their followers, and yet make [R995 : page 6] void the Scriptures through their traditions, cannot she as safely as Protestants use the Bible and appear to study it, without permitting its truths to destroy her false system, traditions, and doctrinal errors? This is the reason why Papacy has finally concluded to appear as liberal as Protestantism. And so, the Bible may now be read by Catholics, and the Church of Rome thus quietly makes another move representing herself as the friend of the Bible and of freedom. This is necessary for her hold upon her subjects here, who are used to the air of freedom, and could not be trampled upon as in Roman Catholic countries, for instance Spain, where recently an American citizen was assaulted by a priest in the streets of Madrid, because he would not remove his hat and salute one of the numerous Catholic processions. It is the same in Mexico, and in the Central and South American countries, where all who will not manifest reverence for those processions are obliged to dodge into by-streets, to avoid being mobbed for their exercise of that slightest of liberties.
The Church of Rome is seeking to favorably impress the worldly irreligious classes—which includes most of the wealthy, that in the troublous times already begun, she may pose before them as the only Church capable of controlling the people. She desires thus to turn present and coming labor troubles to her own advantage. Already she requests donations from large manufacturing firms, and gets them, as we have learned from their own lips, on the ground that she has more influence with the ignorant classes than any other power and can best conserve the interests of the wealthy.
By and by, as Romanism rises in apparent love of liberty and progress, under the growing feeling that so many sects of so-called Christians is a weakness, and under the pressure of the growing desire of religionists, and the apparent necessity in the minds of capitalists and kings for a STRONG RELIGIOUS POWER to hold the [R994 : page 7] people down to the old laws and customs of the past, favorable to those now in power financially and socially, the aspirations of the Church of Rome will again begin to be realized; and she will begin to gather to her fold the wealthy and the conservative, convincing them that her influence is necessary to the preservation of their interests, financial and political, just as she long ago conquered Italy and then all Europe, on the same terms.
And this is sound logic; it certainly appeals to business men as such. No other power on earth can and will, so successfully and so long, resist the spirit and rule of the new incoming dispensation of justice, equal rights, fullest liberty of conscience, and the general diffusion of truth and righteousness as the Church of Rome. Whether she will seek to stand entirely alone or whether she will affiliate to some extent with leading Protestant systems, is at present difficult to determine. It seems however from the views given in Revelation that she will stand separate, and yet be allied in interest with Protestants.
Already we see tokens of the growing popularity of Romanism, and a desire for one strong church, among men of influence. At the recent celebration of the Constitutional Centennial in Philadelphia, the "cradle of liberty," a representative of this old and implacable foe of liberty took the most prominent religious part: Cardinal Gibbon, who, as previously announced, offered prayer and pronounced a benediction in his official robes, was the FIRST dignitary called upon by the President of the United States, upon his arrival; and they were afterward as representatives of the CHURCH and the NATION publicly introduced upon the platform, "amid the deafening applause of the immense throng present, which lasted unusually long."
Let us not be misunderstood. We do not claim that the President had not the right to visit the Cardinal; for though his office gives him no privileges not enjoyed by all citizens, neither does it rob him of any liberties possessed by others. He had a right to visit whom and when he pleased, but we merely note this as one of the straws which indicate the tendencies of our times. Mr. Cleveland's courtesy to the Cardinal does not indicate that Mr. Cleveland is at heart a Romanist, but merely that he was shrewd enough to remember the political influence of the large class of voters represented by the Cardinal.
Nor should we be understood as believing that choice should have been made of a minister from some other sect, or without official robes, instead of Cardinal Gibbon, to offer the Centennial prayer. On the contrary, we hold that the mixing of religion and politics is wholly wrong. The church and its sacred services should be kept entirely separate from the world and its political trickery, and misrule. The Master said: Ye are not of the world. If ye were of the world the world would love his own; but I have chosen you out of [to be separate from] the world; therefore the world hateth you. (John 15:19.) The world does not love God, nor his faithful children; for their ways and teachings reprove the world.—John 15:22.
The idea of opening political Conventions with prayer, and appointing Chaplains to offer regular prayers in Congress, and before Legislative Assemblies, is farcical and hypocritical in the extreme. The politicians, "children of this age," do not want God's will done, and do not really consult God's will. No one will gainsay the statement, that if there be any really consecrated children of God, any real saints in politics, they are surely but few. The majority are unbelievers, though profiting by Mr. Ingersol's experience, in losing office, they do not parade their unbelief.
Under the instructions first given by Papacy, and never fully escaped from by Protestants, the world has been taught to hypocritically ape Christianity—Kings, Queens, Emperors, etc., each claims to reign by Divine appointment, because Papacy authorized such rulers, under the claim that she represented God, and that her appointment or recognition of a ruler, was a divine recognition. If the kingdoms of this world call themselves Christian Kingdoms (Kingdoms authorized and governed by Christ), it is but natural that they should carry out that deception—that they should formally acknowledge God in their official acts, especially if thereby they can strengthen their governments, and the more firmly hold the people under them. Hence no matter how wicked and selfish the wars in which they engage, no matter whose rights and liberties they seek to subvert, chaplains are always sent along to pray with the men who go forth to murder others, and to steal from them their God-given rights, to give to the soldiers and sailors the idea that they are engaged in a Christian warfare, waged for righteousness' sake by a Christian nation.
Politicians generally abominate such hypocritical shams, and continue them, not for their influence upon God, but for their influence upon the people. It is time that true Christians should know that such Pharisaical worship with lips while the heart is far from him, is an abomination to the Lord.
Calling earthly and often sensual and devilish people and governments by the name Christian, has already worked great mischief, and made that holy name Christian, almost a synonym for hypocrisy and double-dealing. However, the poor world does not see the delusion under which it labors, and the Church of Rome, with a master policy, stands ready now to take advantage of the situation and to hold up before politicians and financiers her strong, powerful system, as the one best suited to the present and prospective emergency.
Statesmen and financiers are looking with anxiety "after those things coming upon the earth" [society] as they see that a great shaking, a great storm is brewing in the heavens [among the ruling powers, civil and ecclesiastical]; "for the powers of the heavens shall be [and are being] shaken." Statesmen fear the result of the breaking up of the ecclesiastical control: they see what the masses do not see—that with the removal of religious bigotry and superstition, will come a reaction which will lead to an excess of freedom for a time—to lawlessness and anarchy. It is this "fear," as she sees this tendency, that is leading Protestant Prussia (so called) to strengthen her relations with the Church of Rome—the strongest power in the ecclesiastical heavens, and the one which will withstand the shaking longest. The same influence is at work in Italy and in every nation, tending to strengthen the hands of Papacy for the moment, as the power most able and most willing to assist in any scheme which seems to forward her own influence, and increase her own power.
Protestants generally, having dropped the original ground of protest—the right of individual private judgment in the understanding of the Scriptures—and having adopted church governments copied largely after that of Papacy, are not far from even being good Catholics now. Since Papacy now advocates the use of the Bible in the same manner that Protestants do—granting liberty to read but not to believe it, except where it agrees with the Confession of Faith handed with it—what is now to prevent harmony if not union, between Catholics and (so called) Protestants? Nothing but the pictures and images, and the worship of the Virgin Mary, and doubtless these can be explained out of the way to many ere long.
Recall now a fact to which we have heretofore directed attention—that not long since many Episcopalians were moving for a change of name, preferring the name Catholic, and that they entertained a motion looking to the offer of what is termed the right of Apostolic benediction and succession, to other Protestants. Remember also the trend of thought among Presbyterian and Methodist ministers as represented by the words of Bishop Foster, of the M.E. Church, and Rev. E. [R996 : page 7] R. Donehoo, Presbyterian, of this city, which we here repeat. Mr. Donehoo said in a discourse before his congregation: "Wince as you will, you must admit that this [the Catholic Church] is the Mother Church. She possesses an unbroken history extending back to the times of the Apostles. For every fragment of religious truth which we prize, we are indebted to her as the depository. If she has no claims to being the true church, then are we bastards and not sons....Talk about missionaries to labor amongst Romanists! I would as soon think of sending missionaries amongst Methodists and Episcopalians and United Presbyterians and Lutherans, for the purpose of converting them into Presbyterians."
And Bishop Foster before the M.E. Conference, Nov. '86, addressing twelve bishops and forty lay delegates together with a large audience, said, and that without creating a ripple of opposition, "The popular idea is that the Church of Rome is antichrist. I don't agree with the popular belief. I regard that wonderful institution as a GREAT CHRISTIAN CAMP."
We do not expect a complete union between Catholics and Protestants, but a fraternization by which the majority of Protestants (measurably consolidated) will stand shoulder to shoulder in aim and profession with the Church of Rome, embracing generally the capitalists, kings and great ones of earth, while the true liberty lovers and saints will be shaken out. But great Babylon shall never recover her former power and prestige. Only for a little moment shall she seem to succeed and be able to say—I sit a queen and shall see no sorrow; for "Strong is the Lord God who judgeth her." (Rev. 18:8.) The true Christ and his Kingdom shall supplant anti-christ and the Kingdoms of this world, falsely called Christendom.
The Lord shall smite the nations and slay anti-christ with the truth—the sword which proceedeth out of his mouth. It is TRUTH, on various subjects, which is now stirring up the masses of the people to demand their natural rights and liberties. [Often, too, they ignorantly make unreasonable demands.] And many who mentally recognize their rights, through fear and selfishness will not acknowledge them, but often oppose them. Nevertheless, in this battle, truth and right shall come off victorious, though at great cost to all engaged. God will judge the hypocritical Christian Kingdoms of the earth by their professions, and with what measure they have measured out justice and consideration to the people, with that same measure shall their judgment be measured to them in this day of the judgment of the nations. They all shall fall, as tried in the balances they are found wanting; but with some the fall will be intensified to a dashing to pieces.
While the gathering of Babylon as tares for the burning is progressing thus, the true wheat must also be gathering—and they are being gathered, not into a sect, nor into one place, but into harmony and oneness with the Lord, and with one another as members of his body. And so the Prophet was caused to write concerning the peculiar people, the royal priesthood, the holy nation," saying:—
"Gather yourselves together, yea gather together, O nation not desired [despised by the world because of your faithfulness to God and the truth]. Before the decree bring forth [its results] for the day will pass [quickly, as when] chaff [burneth]; before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you, before the day of the Lord's anger come upon you, Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have obeyed his commands; seek righteousness [the right, the truth,] seek meekness; it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger....Wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger; for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. For then will I turn to the people a pure language [unmixed with falsity and error as now] and they shall all call upon the name of the Lord to serve him with one consent." (Zeph. 2:1-3 and 3:8,9.) Thus we have the two gatherings, the one for favor and blessing, the other for national destruction. To what standard and with what class am I being gathered? each should ask himself. See the right and seek it meekly—the time is short.
To illustrate the growing sentiment unfavorable to growth in knowledge of the truth, and the desire to have some pope or something like a Vatican Council to positively pronounce the doctrines held by various large sects, as all truth, and the whole truth—neither to be added to nor diminished, (just what Papacy claims to be able to decide,) we quote some of the remarks made at a meeting of the "American Board of Foreign Missions" at Springfield, Mass., Oct. 5, 1887, as reported in the daily Press.
"During the debate a returned missionary from Turkey said, 'The effect on the missionary field would be terrible, if men were sent there with loose ideas of Bible interpretation'. Dr. Eddy, of Detroit, said: 'Don't send out any more creeds, for the Lord's sake! We could wish there were a Vatican Council in Boston to SETTLE all difficult questions.'" "It was decided not to call Councils to deal with difficult cases," and "the present" was characterized as "a period of THEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL."
How significant are these wishes, so publicly expressed, in such prominent official bodies of Protestantism, and by their leading men, for a strong statement of doctrines and defining of heresies which would authorize and appear to justify the silencing of all independent thought in the study of God's word, as thoroughly as Papacy ever did, even though a higher civilization might not permit the terrible tortures and vile indignities of the Inquisition, once heaped upon those whom the truth makes free by the "Mother." The desire is for the power and authority to bind upon men in the name of God and the Bible, doctrines of devils; such as the doctrine of the everlasting torture of [R993 : page 8] the great majority of God's creatures—of all who are not believing saints. Many do not and cannot believe the "good tidings of great joy" because it has been covered and made to appear bad tidings of great misery to all people, by the preaching of human traditions, largely obtained by Protestants from what Luther termed "the dunghill of Roman decretals."
Protestants see that divisions are contrary to the Bible, but they do not see where the fault lies. They vainly suppose that the fault is a lack of organization—that they should have a stronger organization with a more rigidly fixed creed, like Rome has. This is their great mistake; in this they are ignorantly striving against God. Instead of having too little organization and an insufficient creed, they already are too much organized and have creeds a hundred fold too strong already; especially since they lack the support of the Bible or reason.
The various degrees of growth in knowledge, cause men to have various stages of belief; and God intended that the organization should be very loose, and so arranged for the early church through the Apostles, so that in the Church of believers all might be able to stand, who believe in our Lord's ransom-sacrifice for their sins, and who are consecrated to his service.
This simple creed would keep out none who have a right to be among the redeemed sheep, but would afford room for growth in grace and knowledge built upon this foundation, to all grades of mental endowment, so that while there might be wide differences as to attainments in the lengths and breadths, the heights and depths of knowledge, each would still recognize the other as a member of the one Church which Christ purchased with his own precious blood. This Church which is the only, the ONE CHURCH recognized by God, includes all the truly consecrated believers in Christ as our Redeemer, wherever they may be. Alas! many of them, starved and lean, are in Babylon's narrow streets (sects) instead of being outside in the liberty of the green pastures of God's Word. He is now calling to such saying, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not of her plagues." He is now gathering together such in heart-union with himself and each other. He is sealing them in their foreheads, giving them an intellectual appreciation of himself and his plan. The Master saith "My sheep hear [obey] my voice and follow me," and by this we may be able to recognize them.