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christ would have fallen before now, (A. D. 1739.) The rise of Antichrist was gradual. The christian church corrupted itself in many things presently after Constantine's time; growing more and more superstitious in its worship, and by degrees bringing in many ceremonies into the worship of God, till at length they brought in the worship of saints, and set up images in their churches. The clergy in general, and especially the bishop of Rome, assumed more and more authority. * * * At length he claimed the power of universal bishop over the whole christian church; wherein he was opposed for a while, but afterwards was confirmed in it by the civil power of the Emperor, in the year six hundred and six. After that he claimed the power of a temporal prince, and so was wont to carry two swords, to signify that both the temporal and spiritual sword was his. He claimed more and more authority, till at length, as Christ's vicegerent on earth, he claimed the very same power that Christ would have done, if he was present on earth, reigning on his throne; or the same power that belongs to God, and was used to be called God on earth; to be submitted to by all the princes of Christendom. He claimed power to crown princes, and to degrade them at his pleasure; and this power was owned-yea, kings and emperors used to kiss his feet. The emperors received their crowns at his hands ; and princes were wont to dread the displeasure of the Pope as they would dread a thunderbolt from heaven. If the Pope was pleased to excommunicate a prince, all his subjects were at once freed from their allegiance to him; and
obliged not to own him any more, on pain of excommunication : and not only so, but any man might kill him wherever he found him. Further, the Pope was believed to have power to damn men at pleasure; for whoever died under his excommunica: tion, was looked upon as certainly damned. Several emperors were actually deposed, and ejected, and died miserably by his means; and if the people of any state or kingdom did not please him, he had power to lay that state or kingdom under an interdict, which was a sentence pronounced by the Pope against it, whereby all sacred administrations among them could have no validity. There could be no valid baptisms, or sacraments, or prayers, or preaching, or pardons, till that interdict was taken off; so that that people remained, in their apprehension, in a miserable, damnable state, and therefore dreaded the Pope's interdict as they would a storm of fire and brimstone from heaven. And in order to execute his wrath on a prince or people with whom he was displeased, other princes must also be put to a great deal of trouble and expense.
And as the Pope and his clergy robbed the people of their ecclesiastical and civil liberties and privileges, so they also robbed them of their estates, and drained all Christendom of their money. They engrossed most of their riches into their own coffers, by vast revenues, besides pay for pardons and indulgences, baptisms and extreme unctions, deliverance out of purgatory, and a hundred other things. See how well this agrees with the prophecies, 2 Thess. 2: 3, 4. Dan. 7:20, 21. Rev. 13:6, 7; and chap 17: 3, 4.
During this time also superstition and ignorance more and more prevailed. The holy Scriptures by degrees were taken out of the hands of the laity, the better to promote the unscriptural and wicked designs of the Pope and the clergy; and instead of promoting knowledge among the people, they industriously promoted ignorance. It was a received maxim among them, That ignorance is the mother of devotion : and so great was the darkness of those times, that learning was almost extinct in the world. The very priests themselves, most of them, were bar. barously ignorant as to any commendable learning, or any other knowledge than their hellish craft in oppressing and tyrannizing over the souls of the people. The superstition and wickedness of the church of Rome, grew worse and worse till the very time of the Reformation, and the whole Christian world were led a way into this great defection, except the remains of the christian church in the Eastern Empire that had not been utterly overthrown by the Turks. The Greek church, and some others, were also'sunk into great darkness and gross superstition, excepting also those few that were the people of God, who are represented by the woman in the wilderness, and God's two witnesses, of which more hereafter. -This is one of those two great kingdoms which the devil in this period erected in opposition to the kingdom of Christ, and was the greatest and chief.
2. The Mohammedan kingdom is another of mighty power and vast extent, set up by Satan against the kingdom of Christ. He set this up in the Eastern empire, as he did that of Antichrist in the Western. Mohammed was born in the year of Christ 570,
in Arabia. When he was about forty years of age he began to announce that he was the great prophet of God; and proceeded to teach his new-invented religion, of which he was to be worshiped as the head next under God. He published his Alcoran, which he pretended he received from the angel Gabriel ; and being a subtle crafty man, possessed of considerable wealth, and living among a people who were very ignorant and greatly divided in their opinions on religious matters, he, by subtilty and fair promises of a sensual paradise, gained a number to be his followers. He set himself up as their prince, propagated his religion by the sword, and made it meritorious of paradise to fight for him. By such means his party grew, and went on fighting till they conquered and brought over the neighboring countries; and so his party gradually increased till they overran a great part of the world. First the saracens were some of his followers, who were a people of Arabia, where Mohammed lived, and who, about the year 700, dreadfully wasted the Roman empire. They overran a great many countries belonging to the empire, and continued their conquests for a long time. These are supposed to be meant by the locusts mentioned in the 9th chapter of Revelation.
And then the Turks, who were originally different froin the Saracens, became followers of Mohammed, and conquered all the Eastern empire. They began their empire about the year of Christ 1296; began to invade Europe in the year 1300; took_Constantinople
, and so became masters of all the Eastern empire, in the year 1453. And thus all the cities' and countries where stood those famous churches of which we read in the New Testament, as Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus, Corinth, &c. now became subjeci to the Turks. These are supposed to be prophesied of by the horsemen in Rev. 9:15, &c. And the remains of the Christians in those parts of the world, who are mostly of the Greek church, are in miserable slavery under these Turks; are treated with a great deal of barbarity and cruelty, and are become mostly very ig. norant and superstitious.
Thus I have shown what great works of Satan were wrought during this space of time in opposition to the kingdom of Christ.
II. I come now to show how the church of Christ was upheld through this dark time.
1. It is to be observed, that towards the former part of this space of time, some of the nations of Christendom held out a long time before they complied with the corruptions and usurpations of the church of Rome. Though all the world wondered after the beast, yet all nations did not fall in at once. Many of the principal corruptions of the church of Rome were brought in with a great deal of struggle and opposition; and particularly when the Pope gave out that he was universal bishop, many churches greatly opposed him in it; and it was a long time before they would yield to his exorbitant claims. When the worship of images was first brought into the churches there were many who greatly opposed it, and long held out against it. And so with respect to other corruptions of the church of Rome. Those who dwelt nearer to the city of Rome complied sooner ; but some that were more remote were a long time before they could be