The Scarlet Woman or The Revival of Romanism
By I.M. Haldeman, D.D.
[Editor's note:- Dr. Haldeman was one of the great fundamental prophets of the early 20th century. This sermon, which we reprint here, was preached in 1910 in the First Baptist Church, New York City, and indicates his vision and understanding of the anti-Christianity of the Church of Rome. His comment on world events of the time makes it unique and gives us an insight into Biblical Christian thinking in the early years of the last decade of the Millennium. We believe that such preaching against Popery needs to be resurrected and a new era of opportunity created to alert those who have been almost overcome by the false opinions of Rome. When these sermons were first published, the preacher said: "I am convinced that the 'signs of the times' call for a reading and study in this hour as never before. Heaven, and earth, and hell - the professing church, the nations, and, now and then, the clanging of nature's forces, bid us realise that we are on the threshold where the shifting of events, at any moment, may usher in that vast and solemn process, whose terminus ad quem is the Coming and Kingdom of the Son of God." - If this was so at the beginning of our century, how much more now as it ends!]
"So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
"And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones, and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
"And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
"And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her I wondered with great admiration. [...] And the woman which thou sawest is that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth." (Revelation 17: 1-6, 18.)
A woman in scripture is a symbol of the church.
The church, under the figure of a woman, is first espoused, and then presented, as a chaste virgin to Christ. "I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." (II Corinthians 11:12.)
What is written to the Corinthian church is written to "all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours". (I Corinthians 1:2.)
The announcement of the virginal character of the Corinthian church in its standing before God is an affirmation as to the standing of the church in "every place", necessarily in all time, and, therefore, of the church everywhere, and in our time.
It is a symbol of the church universal.
The woman is the church.
The church is also symbolised by a city. "And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.
"And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God." (Revelation 21:9, 10.)
The Lamb is our Lord Jesus Christ.
The bride, the Lamb's wife, when espoused and presented to Him, must have been a chaste virgin. The chaste virgin espoused and presented by Paul to Christ, is the church. As the holy city is the bride of Christ, His wife and, in the nature of the case, must have been espoused and presented to Him as a chaste Virgin, and the chaste virgin when so espoused and presented becomes a bride, a wife, then the holy city, the bride, the Lamb's wife, the wife of Christ, is a symbol of the church. A chaste virgin, a bride, a wife, is a woman; and as the city is the symbol of a wife, then the city is the symbol of a woman. As the woman is the symbol of the church, and the church is symbolised by a city, then the woman is, also, a symbol of the city. The woman is a symbol of the city, the city is a symbol of the woman, and both the woman and the city are symbols of the church; and thus, whether it be a woman or a city, the one identifies the other.
But it is evident that while the woman is exclusively a symbol, and not a real woman, the city is both a symbol and an actual city.
The city is a symbol.
The city is the symbol of a woman, and as a woman is an organised body, and is the symbol of the church, then the city is the symbol of the church as an organised body, a polity, a system.
The city is actual.
A city consists of people and the place in which people dwell.
The church as an organised body, a polity, a system, consists of people and, as such, must have a place to dwell. When, therefore, the Apostle John in vision sees the holy city as the bride, the Lamb's wife, he sees that city both as the people and the place in which they dwell; and the name of the city includes them both. Just as New York signifies the people and the city in which they dwell, so the holy city, the New Jerusalem, signifies the church as a polity, a system, a body of people, and the real and actual place, the real and actual city in which, as real and actual people, they shall dwell, and from whence they shall shine forth as the glorified bride of Christ, the triumphant wife of the Lamb.
In the scripture quoted at the head of this article we have the picture of a woman, and this woman declared to be a city.
What is true of the woman who is the Lamb's bride, who is also a city, is equally true of this woman who is called a city.
The woman is exclusively a symbol, she is not a real woman; the city is both symbolic and actual.
By the preceding evidence of symbolry this scarlet-clad woman and the city, where of necessity she must be centralised, where she must dwell, and from which she must be manifested in her power, both represent a church.
But this woman and this city stand in terrific contrast to the woman and city which set forth the church of Christ.
They contrast and contradict each other. The church is represented by a chaste virgin.
This woman is a bedizened harlot, and is called in plain speech, "the whore."
The church is espoused to one husband. This woman holds promiscuous commerce with the kings of the earth.
The church is the mystery of godliness. This woman is "MYSTERY, BABYLON". The church is called "the pillar and ground of the truth."
This woman is called "Babylon", signifies "confusion", and recalls an unfinished tower. The church offers the cup of salvation and stands for holiness.
This woman holds in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and filthiness.
The church is the mother of the saints. This woman is "THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS".
The church is the bride of Christ.
This woman, by the law of symbolry, is a professed church of Christ, and therefore a would-be bride of Christ; but, as she is a harlot, she cannot be the true bride of Christ, she cannot be the true church of Christ. If she is not the true church of Christ but a corrupt and corrupting harlot, then she is a false and corrupt church professing the name of Christ.
The identity of this false and corrupt church is not far to seek.
She is called a city, a city that "reigneth over the "kings of the earth".
A city that reigns over the kings of the earth is a universal city. A universal city is a catholic city. As this universal-catholic city is, also, symbolically, a woman, and this woman a professed church, then this woman is a universal, a catholic church.
This universal, this catholic church, is represented as exceedingly rich in gold, in precious stones and pearls.
The distinctive colour of the woman is scarlet.
She has not only committed fornication herself, but has made the inhabitants drunk with the wine of her fornication. Fornication in the book of the Revelation signifies idolatry, and idolatry is - image worship.
This woman, therefore, is a church whose official and distinguishing colour is scarlet. Just as our schools, colleges and universities, have their colours, so this church has hers - and her colour is scarlet.
This woman is a church which practises, and has taught the people of the earth to practise, idolatry, to engage in the worship of images.
This scarlet-clad woman is drunken with the blood of saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.
It is the picture of a universal, a catholic, church, in the name of Christ, causing the martyrdom of the followers of Christ, and revelling in their blood till she has become frenzied and drunken by it. This woman not only represents a church, but the city in which it dwells and is capitalised, the centre and manifestation of its glory. Just as much as the New Jerusalem represents not only the church, but the central place where she is to reveal her glory, so this woman represents the actual city of her own abode.
The reality and identity of the city are set before us with indelible marks. The Apostle John says it is "that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth".
There was but one city in John's day which reigned over the kings of the earth, and that city was ROME.
That the city was Rome is corroborated topographically. We are told that the woman is seated on seven mountains.
"The seven heads [that is, of the beast] are seven mountains. And there are [they are] seven kings." (Revelation. 17:9, 10.)
The heads are symbolic, but they set forth two real things - mountains and kings. If the kings are real, equally so are the mountains; the mountains indicate the place where the kings rule. The location of the kings, the location of the woman and, therefore, the location of the city, was on seven mountains.
The Rome of Saint John's day, the Rome of our day, is seated on seven hills, and these hills are definitely called mountains; but the city is known in the pages of every history as "the seven-hilled city".
The city, then, which the woman symbolises is Rome; and as the woman is also the symbol of a church, then you have a church in the city of Rome, a church which, like the city, is universal and catholic in its rule. A church in the city of Rome is a Roman church; a catholic church in Rome is, therefore, a Roman Catholic Church. And here you have the riddle read, the symbol told, the identity disclosed. The woman foreseen and described by the Spirit of God in John is - THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.
As the name of the woman is Babylon, and the woman is, symbolically, the city, the name of the city must, also, be Babylon; but, as the city is actual Rome and not the real city of Babylon, then the name Babylon is given to it, as to the woman, simply to set forth the moral character of both.
In Revelation 11:18, Jerusalem is called Sodom and Egypt, so called to mark its moral and spiritual degeneration. This woman and city likewise go by the name of Babylon to set forth the turpitude, the uncleanness and the abomination, both of the city and the system.
The Roman Catholic Church is called Babylon from God's point of view; from God's point of view it is the mystery of abomination.
Go to that city of the seven hills, where every hill is called a "mount", and you will find that from thence the Roman Catholic Church rules over nations, peoples, kindreds and tongues - a universal rule, counting its subjects by the hundreds of millions, and is thus in deed and in very fact a universal church, an actual kingdom over which one man as Pope is head supreme.
Take up history, and you will find that it has reigned over the kings of the earth and made them its willing slaves, holding over them the terrors of excommunication, paralysing the hands that held the sceptre, and forcing the onetime proudest emperor of the world to stand shivering on a winter's day in his penitential shirt at a papal palace door, while the exalted pontiff within turned indifferently away. Examine, and you will find that this church today is rich in gold, in silver, and in precious stones, its buildings storehouses of the world's most coveted wealth.
Visit the "treasuries", fittingly so called, in her great cathedrals, Notre Dame at Paris, the statue-pointed cathedral at Milan, Saint Peter's at Rome, and you will find gold, silver, pearls, and all precious things. You will find them in mitres and crosiers, in chasubles and patens, in cups, in crystals and vestments, as gifts from kings, from emperors and queens; offerings from the richest of earth, wealth enough to make even kings envy.
Look at this church filled with gold, with silver and precious stones, and you will find that its official colour is scarlet, scarlet in the hat of its cardinals, scarlet in the robes of its pontiff and priests, scarlet everywhere - a scarlet-coloured church.
Go into its wonderful buildings, some of them monuments of the mightiest architectural genius of the world; visit them, and you will find them full of images, images of the virgin mother, images of the saints.
Stand inside Saint Peter's on a festal day. The vast building sweeps upward through mighty pillar and colossal arch to the sublime, impending dome. On every side are chapels, in themselves monster buildings, vast churches. There is the exalted altar, the countless lights, the smoking incense, the chanting choirs, the scarlet-robed priests, the voice of intonation, prayer and confession, the echoing ora pro nobis, and everywhere kneeling devotees, bowing down to marble images, doing penance and lifting up petitions before their lifeless faces. There are churches specially devoted to the worship of the virgin; her images are covered with gold and silver tributes. In one church the image is piled about with crutches and almost hidden under the offerings of those who believe themselves to have been healed or blessed by her interposition and intercession. Before that stony figure, men and women and little children kneel in rapt adoration.
It is idolatry - pure and simple.
Cast your eyes over the past centuries and you will come upon an era when the rule of this church was so supreme; when she so clutched the throat of the nations with her almost omnipotent hand; so stifled all learning and spiritual knowledge, that by common consent that age has been called the dark age, the midnight of the world's moral, intellectual and spiritual life - so dark and cruel was this time, so full of idolatry, that the Arab, as he swept a victor into Europe, paused at the doors of Catholic churches, then turned and fled as though he were in that very temple of heathen idolatry from which his religion bade him to flee. And it is of this time and this Arab that Mrs. Browning sings when she says that knowledge was at last "thrust into the eye of Europe upon the point of a Paynim's spear".
Read history, not the history written by one author, but by all, and in their pages you will learn how men and women were led into torture chambers or buried in dismal dungeons. You will read how beautiful women were stripped before black masked judges gloating over unprotected shame, and were led away to racks and stretched till their delicate limbs were snapped and their tender flesh torn into shreds. You will read how men and women were broken on the wheel, or flayed alive, their eyes put out, their tongues plucked forth by the roots, their feet placed in boots filled with boiling oil, bags thrust down their throats and then filled with water till they agonised with slow and calculated strangulation, legs placed between boards and the boards driven together by wedges till the bones were crushed little by little to a pulp, nails wrenched from the fingers, bodies sawn asunder as you might saw a log in two, members of the body cut off one at a time, now a hand, then an arm, first one leg, then another, till the victim was a mere quivering, though still living, trunk; men and women taken to the stake and burned alive, the wood dampened, or green wood used, that the fire might burn slowly and the agony and torture of the victim be lengthened. Try and count, if you can, the men and women driven from their homes, their houses burned, their property confiscated, and themselves hunted on the mountains and pursued through the valleys like beasts of prey.
Look at the blood flowing like water from the martyred bodies of men and women, whose only crime was that they loved the Lord Jesus Christ, believed in His finished redemption on the Cross, refused to buy their salvation by penance or good works, rejected the intercession of a human priest, or a woman, no matter how good, claimed the Lord Jesus Christ as their sin-bearer and Saviour at the right hand of the Father, owned Him their only high-priest and intercessor and would not, even at the price of their own life, deny Him who died for them and rose again. And remember, while you read, that these martyrs were led to agony and to death by the authority and express command of the Roman Catholic Church; a church that did all this in the name of that most fiendish of all inventions, the "Holy Inquisition"; a church whose Pope at so late a date as the massacre of Saint Bartholomew's caused a special celebration to be sung in all the churches as a thanksgiving to God that the enemies of Romanism had been thus cruelly and cowardly slain, stabbed in their beds, thrown from the windows of upper stories into stone courts below, or stricken from behind as they walked in the streets; a massacre so horrible, so revolting in all its details, that, even at this hour, when you pass by the gilded gates in front of the Louvre at Paris, it is impossible not to recall the picture of the piled up bodies of the murdered Huguenots flung in the gutter there and weltering in their own blood; it is impossible not to lift the eyes, involuntarily, and look at that Catholic church of Auxerrois just across the way, from whose tower the tocsin, which was to give the signal for the awful night of blood, sounded forth its brazen knell of doom. Bring all this to mind as you read, and you will recognise the perfect accuracy of the Spirit's description when he says that this scarlet-clad, this universal, this catholic church of Rome was drunken with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.
In the vision the woman is seen to be seated upon a seven headed, ten-horned, scarlet-coloured beast. This scarlet-coloured beast is identical with the fourth beast of Daniel's vision. Daniel says: "After this I saw in the night visions, and, behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth; it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it; and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns."
An angel explains the vision to Daniel: "Thus he said, the fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise." (Daniel 7:23, 24.)
The first three beasts are identical with the three kinds of metal forming part of the image which Nebuchadnezzar saw in a dream and which Daniel by the wisdom of God interpreted, as recorded in the second chapter of the prophecy that bears his name. In that dream the image had a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, and belly and thighs of brass. The golden head, Daniel tells us, represents the Babylonian kingdom. "Thou art," says Daniel, "this head of gold." As the first beast in the vision which Daniel records in the seventh chapter is, also, the first kingdom, and is a lion, then the golden head and the lion are the equivalent symbols of the first kingdom.
The second beast is a bear, and is equivalent to the second kingdom represented by the silver breast and arms of the image. This second kingdom comes in after Babylon and, necessarily, overcomes it, takes it. This kingdom is identified for us in the fifth chapter of Daniel's prophecy, as it is written:
"And Darius the Median took the kingdom" (that is, the kingdom of Babylon). (Daniel 5:31.)
The second beast as thus identified is the Medo-Persian kingdom.
The third beast is a winged leopard and is equivalent to the third kingdom represented in the image by the belly and thighs of brass. This brazen-leopard kingdom, in the order of succession, is the kingdom which overcomes the second, or Medo-Persian kingdom.
Daniel gives us the name of that third kingdom. He has a vision in which he sees a ram standing by a river and then pushing its way westward till a rough he-goat from the west rushes upon him with great fury, overcomes him, and tramples him with his feet. Daniel is perplexed as to the meaning of the vision till an angel appears and gives the interpretation: "And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the appointed time the end shall be. The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia." And the rough goat is the king of Grecia." (Daniel 8:19-21.)
The first three beasts then are identified by the Word of God.
They are: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece.
The fourth beast is the fourth kingdom and is represented in the image by the legs of iron. The iron in the image is matched by the iron in the teeth of the beast: it had great iron teeth.
Iron then is the symbol and character of the fourth beast kingdom.
What great world kingdom is symbolised by iron, is known as the iron kingdom ?
All history answers, every student of history knows, the veriest tyro at school knows, every lip is ready to speak the name - it is ROME.
It is of Rome and Rome alone that iron is used as the symbol - we speak of the iron legions of Rome.
But it is not necessary to go to history to identify the fourth beast, to find the name of the fourth kingdom. The New Testament answers the question and gives the affirmation. The New Testament tells us that Rome was the wide ruling world power in the day when Christ was born. It was, under God, by the edict of a Roman Caesar that the mother of Christ came to Bethlehem, where he was to be born in fulfilment of Holy Scripture.
The fourth kingdom then is Rome; and this Rome included all the territory that once comprised Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece. Rome was the legatee and heir of the three first kingdoms, and thus by right of succession is, as foretold, the fourth kingdom as it is the symbolic fourth beast.
This fourth beast is identical with the beast of John's vision, the scarlet-coloured beast that marries the Babylonian woman.
This scarlet-coloured beast is a composite symbol. In it are the elements of a leopard, a bear and a lion.
"And the beast which I saw (the beast described in the l7th chapter) was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion." (Revelation 13:2.)
The leopard has been seen to be the third beast, and, therefore, the third kingdom; and has been shown by Daniel in the eighth chapter of his prophecy to be one with the he-goat which overcame the ram, in other words the kingdom of Greece.
The bear has been identified and named, both by symbol and by Darnel's actual statement, as the Medo-Persian kingdom.
The lion is the first symbolic beast in Daniel's vision, is equivalent to the golden head of the image, and is Babylon.
The fact that the three beasts, the lion, the bear, and the leopard, are seen comprised in one beast, is the symbolic, but clear statement that the beast of John's vision is a fourth beast, including the three that preceded it. As Daniel's fourth beast is the symbol of Rome and includes the three preceding kingdoms, Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece, then John's beast and the beast of Daniel are identical, and both agree in the one testimony that this is Rome.
As the woman who sits upon the beast has been not only symbolically, but topographically identified as Rome, the fact that the very beast upon which she sits is civil and govern mental Rome, becomes the repeated and doubly corroborative demonstration that the city and system of which the woman is a symbol - is Rome.
There is further identification of the two beasts in the fact that each, the beast of Daniel and the beast of John, has ten horns. The ten horns in Daniel's vision are ten kings, so declared by the angel. The ten horns in John's vision are, likewise by an angel, declared to be ten kings.
THIS REVIVAL HAS ALREADY BEGUN.
It began in the hour when the Protestant Reformation was at its zenith. Protestantism rose up, smote Catholicism and drove it from Germany headlong to the Mediterranean. It seemed as though it were about to be flung as with a millstone about its neck into the depths of the sea, when, suddenly it halted, stood still, recovered its strength, shook itself free from the hands of its assailants and began steadily to return to the lands from whence it had been so fiercely expelled.
Nothing is more impressive than the recovery of Romanism from what seemed to be its death-blow. It reads on the page of history like a veritable resurrection of the dead.
And this resurrection has been followed by an immense and ever increasing vitality, by a propaganda that extends to every kingdom, nation and tongue. Austria is Catholic to the core. Germany is filled with devotees of the church, and her supporters may be counted by the millions. The progress in Protestant England is astounding. A year ago all London poured into the streets to see for the first time since the Reformation the triumphant march of a Roman Catholic procession extending for miles, while thousands on either side of the immense column bowed the knee in adoration as the sacred symbols of the church were held aloft. Recently, in this same London, there has been dedicated with imposing ceremonies a stupendous and costly cathedral. Everywhere throughout England the Romish priest is a power, the chapels and churches are filled to overflowing; daily, converts from the Church of England go over to the Church of Rome, and that by easy steps, as though the English church itself had become a half-way house. The non-conformist oath once administered to English kings on the day of coronation has been repealed. The official head of English Protestantism has ceased to protest. Enthusiastic Romanists consider the day not far distant when England will return officially to the faith and be received by Rome as a long wandering, but sincerely repentant and beloved daughter of the church.
In this country Romanism is advancing with giant strides. A little over one hundred years ago there were only 33 priests and less than 50,000 Catholics, scarcely a decent church building, one college and no schools. Today there are nearly twenty millions of communicants, one cardinal, 14 archbishops, 77 bishops, 14 church provinces, nearly 20, 000 priests, to say nothing of the thousand on thousands of oath-bound nuns, between 15,040 and 20,000 church buildings, some of them models of architecture and of immense cost of construction. There are 7 great universities, 80 seminaries, or theological institutions, 213 colleges for boys, over 700 academies for girls (to which Protestant mothers send their daughters, and where the daughters become converted to Romanism and furnish the church in turn with Catholic mothers), and nearly 5,000 private schools, each school a protest against the public school system of the Nation. While the population of the United States has increased twenty-five times, the Roman Catholic population, in a little over a century, has increased 320 times, nearly twelve times as fast.
The solidarity of the church is amazing; it seems miraculous.
Out of the fifteen or twenty millions in this country, there is not a Catholic, in the final analysis, who would be disloyal to the church. Whatever his private opinion, in the end, he submits to her as the supreme authority over his conscience and soul. This solidarity extends around the globe. A Catholic church in one place is a duplicate of a Catholic church in every other. What you see in New York you will find in China and in the isles of the sea. Wherever a Catholic sees a Romish church and the cross upon its spire, he knows, whatever may be his nationality or tongue, in that church he will find the same faith, the same worship, which was taught him in his native land, at his mother's knee, and in the hour of his first communion.
This solidarity finds its significance in contrast to the division, the confusion, and the uncertainty of Protestantism.
In this country Romanism has conquered social distinction and an accepted standing.
Not many years ago and the Catholic church was a sort of social pariah, looked down upon with disdain, its services rejected, and its priests regarded with aversion. There was a time when for an American to be a Catholic, was sufficient to ostracise him from family and friends as though he were a religious and social leper. To-day, the Catholic finds all doors open, from the hovel to the palace. The most exclusive sets welcome the priest, invite him to marry their sons and daughters and dedicate private chapels in city homes or summer villas. Where Romanism once stood as the symbol of that which was foreign and alien, it is, today, represented by American families, their names recorded on its marriage books, its birth and baptismal registers. In no land has the Roman Catholic Church more loyal, more devoted, or more liberal supporters than those who claim to be Americans and to the manor born. And startling still is the f act that the Roman Catholic Church is steadily taking the place of the most eloquent defender of the Bible. Startling, indeed! The church which has always been afraid of the Bible; the church which has martyred men and women in cold blood for even daring to read it; the church which is careful in this day to give only an expurgated edition for the common laity to read, and legislates the most severe penalties against the indiscriminate use of the book; the church which has been the actual enemy of the Bible, bitter, deadly, inveterate, exercising all its hatred against it as the source of Protestantism, the arsenal of its weapons, and its mightiest stronghold, this ancient antagonist is now taking the place of Holy Scripture's most uncompromising apologist, rallying to its defence its keenest logicians, its most intellectual writers, its most brilliant orators.
And the Roman Catholic Church is coming into this place, not only by its own seeking, but by reason of the undisguised and wide spread infidelity of the Protestant Church.
Go into so-called, up-to-date Protestant churches, listen to some of their most advanced thinkers and preachers. You will hear them striking at the very foundation of Protestantism, repudiating the only authority on which it can rest the Word of God - the written Word. You will hear them with oracular utterance and much-claimed scholarship rejecting the Old Testament, ridiculing its statements and demonstrating in modern formula that its personages are fictitious, its history worthless, its prophecies unfulfilled, its cosmogony, astronomy and geology unscientific, and the laughing-stock of the learned. You will hear them deny the infallibility of the New Testament, prove its human and not divine inspiration, and set before you a Christ who was limited in knowledge, who was not always sure of his mission, was sometimes filled with vacillation, who was, nevertheless, a good man, and whose death on the cross was simply the tragedy of one too gentle for the times, a good man torn to pieces at last by "the whirling wheel of the world's evil". You will hear them preach the all-Fatherhood of God, the sonship of all men, both good and bad, scout the idea that man is a lost sinner, laugh at the fable of hell and the danger of future punishment, and conclude with the self-satisfied postulate that the great saving force in the earth is the law of evolution; that each man is working out in his own way his own problem; that each man is an avatar of God; that salvation is the reformation of society and the final deliverance of the race from the impedimenta of religiousness, superstition and ignorance. Science, they declare, is the true God and civilisation is its handmaid. In short, in a Protestant pulpit and, specially, if that pulpit is occupied by a recent graduate of an advanced theological institution, you are liable to hear utterances as treasonable to the Word of God and the revealed mission of Jesus Christ, as ever fell from the lips of the most pronounced, most blatant, but unconcealed, infidel and enemy of the church of God.
You will listen in vain to hear such utterances in a Catholic church, be the preacher never so learned, never so bright or brilliant. On the contrary, and with rare sagacity, considering the state of Protestantism, you will hear the Catholic pulpits now echoing with addresses which exalt the Bible as the Word of God, handed over, it is true, to the custody and authoritative interpretation of the church still, but proclaimed, nevertheless, with increasing emphasis as the inspired thought of the living God.
Rome is wise enough to seize the strategic moment and, at the same time, take advantage of the differing opinions, the confusion, and the infidelity among Protestants, to draw attention to the favourite thesis of the church, that the Bible can be read and understood only when under the strict surveillance and inspired interpretation of the church; and that Protestantism with its undivine hands has wrested the Scriptures to its own damnation and the damnation of all who have been led into Protestantism. By this subtle seizure of the opportune moment Romanism places itself in the forefront, not only as the defender of the Bible, but as its only true, sane, and authoritative interpreter.
Not only is the Catholic church taking the place of defender of Holy Scripture and seeking to rescue it from profane hands; it is rapidly rising as the bulwark of the family, the champion of the home. The Roman Catholic Church stands four-square against the growing iniquity and excuseless wickedness of divorce.
The Protestant Church takes no such stand. There is no unity in the Protestant Church concerning this shame. There are to be found Protestant ministers who will, without hesitation, marry a divorced man, or a divorced woman, or both. In some Protestant churches the representative men and women - men and women who are the most liberal supporters of the church and foremost in its work - are divorced people. Condemned as they are by the Word of God and the legislative utterances of our Lord Jesus Christ, they find in the church which professes his name, the church which has been "espoused to him as one husband " instead of judgement, the place of honour and, often, of exalted fellowship.
Not so in the Catholic church. The priest will not marry, baptize or receive into communion those who are living in open defiance of the law and testimony of God. To the Roman Catholic Church marriage is a sacrament, is inviolable, and cannot be annulled by the laws or acts of man. The divorced man or woman may enter a Protestant church and find shelter there. The Roman church shuts its doors and stands like an insurmountable barrier against the inflood of the tide that would shipwreck the home and destroy the sacredness of such holy titles as husband and wife, father and mother.
Unified in faith, defending the Bible, standing against divorce, loyally supported by liberal contributions, the poor being taught to give in the same proportion as the rich, counting among its membership some of the most representative families of America, with stately buildings, schools, colleges and universities, numbering its followers by millions, those millions increased by every steamship that lands its load of emigrants on our shores, and guided by a wisdom, a genius that makes her ready to meet each new demand that will strengthen her cause, absolutely cosmopolitan - Italian in Italy, Spanish in Spain, English in England, Irish in Ireland and, pre-eminently, American in America, she is steadily and marvellously moving on.
Nor is this advance confined alone to religious lines.
Nay, the march is far away beyond that! The Roman Catholic Church in this country is an immense political organisation, holds the balance of voting power, on the eve of a presidential election defeated the candidate whom all the world expected to be successful, and can, if she will, name the next man who shall sit in the Presidential chair.
In the year 1902, the mission of the present incumbent of the White House to the Vatican was a political one. He was to all intents and purposes accredited from these United States as Ambassador to the Pope of Rome. He had instructions from the Secretary of State which said: "Any negotiations which you may desire on the part of the officers of the civil court or of military officers to enable you to perform your negotiation with the Vatican will be afforded"; and this high Commissioner from the United States acted and spoke in Rome as the special envoy of the great American Republic to the Catholic Church. He was received and accepted by the ambassadors to the Pope as one of themselves; and in a remarkable ceremony at Saint Peter's, he was invited as an ambassador to the Roman Catholic Church, and took his place in the diplomatic tribune. Besides all that, an agreement was entered into between the Pope and himself concerning the Catholic Church in the Philippines and, although the contract failed, yet, as a recent writer, himself a Catholic, has said: "This does not destroy the fact that Washington was ready to enter into a regular treaty with the Pope, similar to those existing between the Vatican and the leading Catholic governments of the world."
Today, Romanism is politically, as well as religiously, entrenched in the great cities of our land and, from its university centre at Washington, exercises its mysterious and far-reaching power. Romanists confidently expect the time to arrive when the whole land will be under its political control; when the machinery of office and legislation will be in the power of the church and when, with her astounding increase of numbers, she will be the religious and political dictator of the new world.
The grasp of Rome is on the sceptre of temporal power. It is true, France has separated her from the State and, for a time, refuses to carry her; it is true, the Vatican and the Quirinal are at odds in Italy, and the Pope still styles himself "prisoner" in Rome; it is true that Spain is in the throes of an issue whether the civil or the religious power shall dominate. But, while the separation has taken place in France, that "eldest daughter of the church", a sentiment has been aroused and a partisanship for Rome emphasized such as has not been seen since the days when Versailles and the Vatican were in intimate touch. Italy is loyal to the king, proud of the day when Garibaldi broke through the walls of the "holy" city and gave her the right of civic liberty; but Italy is Catholic even to frenzy, and no matter how many millions may be spent on the new capitol, or how far Paganism may be glorified in the re-opening of the Appian Way, to the Italian, the dome of Saint Peter's still overtops the Parthenon and the palace of the king. Spain may advance sufficiently out of the gloom of candle-light into the glare of the electric light; she may allow the breath of Twentieth Century toleration to breathe through her streets, permitting Protestants to write the name of their church on the walls of their buildings; she may, in an issue, exalt the civil authority into its due place, but the born Catholic in Spain looks upon Spain as the kingdom of Jesus Christ and blindly and fanatically, even unto death, believes that in the Roman Church Jesus Christ is alone to be found; and that, in final terms, Spain and the kingdom of the Roman Church are one. Should the issue for one moment depart from the civil and become religious, the government would be overthrown in a night and Alphonse and his English Queen repudiated as foes to the faith.
It is true that Germany has protested against the last encyclical, but this very protest is a witness that the Germany of today is not the Germany of Luther, nor the days of the Great Elector; that she does no more than protest is a witness that the political power of Rome has been felt upon the banks of the Spree, and that the Protestant Emperor of the birth land of Protestantism is satisfied to go no further than the limits of diplomacy permit. And it is because of this that Rome with her soft tread and more than mortal wisdom has accepted the protest, explained the encyclical, and given orders that it shall not be read in German churches. It is the answer, not of a trembling suppliant, but of a church that feels itself sufficiently strong in the headquarters of the Reformation to meet diplomacy with diplomacy.
Rome may be turned back for a moment, for a season be deflected from her course, but her course is onward. Those who hail the present separation of church and state in Europe as a witness of the waning power of the church as a political factor have only to reflect that separation in this country is more radical, more absolute, than it is, or ever can be, in Europe; and that in this country, in spite of the separation, the church increases in population, adds to her wealth, and is to-day the mightiest force at the polls; it is only necessary to contemplate the results of separation here, to see that separation in Europe is no evidence of the diminution of her strength, but is, really, in the sympathy and partisanship which it is sure to arouse, one of the guarantees of her final ascension to sovereignty and power.
While Protestantism is at war with itself - is full of treason to Holy Scripture, and is breaking up into new and more absurd denominational factions every day - Rome, systematically, unrelentingly, and yet smoothly, secretly, and without noise, is marching to her ordained place.
Protestantism lifts up the banner of guess, of doubt, of dethroned authority, and stands insistently for organised uncertainty.
Rome speaks with certainty, with authority and relentless fixity.
Protestantism seeks favour of the unbelieving world, apologises for her creeds, and would establish herself by denying them.
Romanism hurls anathema at the unbeliever, magnifies her office, and claims to be wholly divine.
Protestantism builds schools, and endows universities, that she may teach the rising generation to reckon doubt as the beginning of wisdom, and unbelief as the sign-patent of knowledge.
Romanism spends her wealth in establishing schools and institutions of learning that she may lay hold of the rising youth and teach them that the church is the symbol of God, and that the highest wisdom is to obey her commands.
Protestantism, in its reaction from ritualism, has turned the church into a lecture room and destroyed the feeling of reverence.
Romanism sanctifies her buildings and creates a feeling of awe within the shadow of her churches.
The Protestant enters his church as one might enter a concert room or a hall of debate.
The Romanist bows on the threshold of his church as the sanctuary of God.
Protestantism has stepped down on to the high road of the natural and the commonplace.
Romanism more and more exalts itself into the realm of the supernatural.
Protestantism prides itself on the denial of miracles.
Romanism claims to work them.
Protestantism carries with it the impression of newness and divisibility.
Romanism is covered with the dust of centuries, has in it the echo of the distant ages, and is superior to schism.
As the present age goes on, multitudes will turn away from the interrogation points of Protestantism, to the unqualified assertion and assurance of Romanism, to her gorgeous ritual, her spectacular worship, the glamour of her two thousand years of unbroken history, and the fact that, on the edge of eternity, she offers to take the whole responsibility of a human being, prepare him for the hour and the article of death, go with him into the shadows, keep with him by her power and influence in the unseen world, nor quit him till she has delivered him from danger, and secured him, as she claims, in the mercy of God.
Some years ago, while on an ocean trip, I became acquainted with a versatile Irishman, a graduate of Dublin university, and a world wide traveller. He had eaten rice with the Chinese, tasted salt with the Arabs of the desert, clinked his glass in the offices of the Quai d'Orsay, was able to express his suggestive thoughts in the fluency of some half dozen languages beside his own, and was as much at home in one as in another. He was, when I met him, in the employ of the British Government, and had been a commissioner to this country. He was witty, at times full of pathos, mercurial and, frequently, overflowing with wordy heat. He was a scholar. He was abreast of the times. He claimed to be an agnostic. His speech was spiced with satire against the Christian religion. He said nothing coarse, but his assaults were keen, far-reaching and, often, cut me to the heart. One night as we drew near to the Irish coast, we sat together in the aft of the ship where we could see the phosphorescent glow in the waves. He was in a reflective mood. He spoke of the brevity and the uncertainty of life and, then, of the eternity beyond. Suddenly he turned to me and said, calling me by name: "When I die, I am going to die a good Catholic. I am going to have mass said for my soul. I have made provision for that." Seeing my amazement and that I was, evidently, puzzled to know whether he was seeking to outdo himself in travesty, he said earnestly: "Do not misunderstand me; I am an unbeliever, but I am superstitious. I have been brought up a Catholic. As I look about me in the world, the Church is the only thing which has seemed to stand in the midst of changing mentality and the reversal of human knowledge. To stand unmoved in the swirl of such conditions counts for something. The Church comes with an audacious claim of authority and the power of completeness. She leaves nothing for me to do. She takes all the responsibility for my soul - for the past and the future. You may call it what you please, but I tell you, her position counts in the end, and I am going to give my soul, if I have one, over into her hands. She is the only thing that offers certainty when you are about to leave this world."
It was pitiful, but it was, and is, an illustration of how thousands feel, and how that feeling is likely to grow in the increasing infidelity and guess of Protestantism, in its total surrender of all final authority, and in its suicidal determination to wash its hands of the soul's future.
It is this appeal to the latent superstition in man, this splendid and uncompromising assertion, this unfaltering claim of authority, this unity of faith, together with the most perfect organisation on earth, and the unalterable purpose to be supreme in the world, that will give the Catholic Church her underhold in the final religious and political struggle of the age.
Everything is making for that hour when Rome, once more seated on the back of human government, will rule the earth.
The revival of Romanism is, then, a sign of the times. It is a sign that the world is hastening on to its Roman and Antichristian climax; and, by just so much, it is an increased and solemn warning that at any moment the Lord may descend in his unheralded secrecy, and snatch away from earth to Himself all who are truly His. It is the solemn warning that, at any moment, those who have made a mere profession of His Name; who have no real knowledge of Him in the heart; who, in spite of the profession they make, still walk according to "the course of this world", will be left behind to the judgements of the Great Tribulation, and the righteous wrath of a long suffering God.
Well, indeed, may we heed the admonition of the Apostle Peter: "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure." (II Peter 1:10.)
It is fitting that we should hear the searching words of Paul: "It is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation [that is, the redemption and glorifying of our bodies at the Coming of the Lord] nearer than when we believed.
"The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
"Let us walk honestly, as in the day [the day of Christ]; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
"But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." (Romans 13:11-14.)