« הקודםהמשך »
the smoke of the pit, swarms of locusts, to whom was giver. power as the scorpions of the earth, was depicted another adversary, who should now arise, and in whose days men should seek death and not find it, and desire to die, and death would flee from them.
Arabia had known but little of the power of the Gospel. Her people were ingenious and powerful, but groped in darkness. Here appeared the fallen star. Here Mahomet, the wicked impostor opened the bottomless pit, i. e. set up a false religion, which should darken the nations and send forth a host of scorpions, which should desolate some of the fairest portions of Christendom.
Mahomet was originally a tradesman. About the year 608, he formed the bold scheme of setting up a new religion in the earth, and becoming the head of empires. He retired to a cave in Mecca, where as he pretended, with the assistance of an angel, but really of a Jew and a renegado Christian, he wrote the Koran, the only sacred book of the Mahometans.
He declared that there was one God, and that Mahomet was his prophet. To captivate Jews and Christians, he allowed both Moses and Christ to be true prophets; but represented himself as superior to both, in light and power, and sent of God to reform the systems they had established. He compiled his book from oriental tales and fables, from legendary trash of rabbies, and from the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, and made it a strange compound of blasphemy and folly. His ideas of providence were those of the fatalist. He forbade the use of swine's flesh and spirituous liquors, and required occasional fasts; but his morality was of the loosest character, allowing to men the free indulgence of their passions; and he promised to his followers a carnal heaven, where they should eternally indulge in the grossest sensualities.
When he announced himself as the prophet of God, a storm arose against him and he fled from Mecca to Medina. This flight occurred A. D. 622, and is called by the Mahometans, the Hegira; and is regarded as their grand epoch.
An immense multitude soon adhered to the impostor. He waged an exterminating war against all who refused to receive him. His proselytes were made by fire and the sword. No force or power could withstand him, and before his death, which happened A. D. 631, he was complete master of all Arabia.
With him did not end his religion, He had opened the bottomless pit, and forth had issued deadly scorpions. With a zeal equal to their master, his followers every where spread his licentious and bloody system. Syria, Persia, Egypt, and other countries fell under its dominion. Their once flourishing Churches now all found a grave. Jerusalem, where David had sung and Isaiah had prophesied, and our Lord was crucified, and the Spirit had triumphed, fell in 637 before their ravages, and was given up to a long night of dreadful darkness.
In the year 713, the Saracens, as his followers were called, passed from Africa to Spain, reduced to slavery those Christians who had a name to live, but were dead, put an end to the kingdom of the Goths, which had continued for 300 years, and advanced into France, intending to overrun Europe and blot out the Christian name. But to them was given, only " The third part of men.” An opposing power met them in France between Tours and Poictiers, A. D. 734 under Charles Martel, and defeated them with a tremendous slaughter, killing 370,000 in one day.
In a subsequent period, they made themselves masters of the fertile island of Sicily, and spread terror to the very walls of Rome.
In the East, they pushed their conquests to the extremities of India, compelling every people and nation to bow to the crescent. The sufferings of the Church were exceedingly great. They were beheid by the Saracens with the utmost abhorrence, and treated rather like dogs than men. Immense numbers were induced to embrace their religion. Those who refused, were either slain or reduced to such extremities, that the light of Christianity, which once shone bright in Africa and Asia, was soon nearly extinguished.
In the beginning of the 13th century, a new and terrible power appeared in Asia, called the Ottomans, from Othman their leader, but now the Turks. They inhabited the northern coast of the Caspian Sea. The Saracens persuaded them to embrace the religion of Mahomet. Oh! had some Christian missionaries but spread among them the light of the Gospel-but they were deceived by the terrible impostor. They soon contended with their teachers, overthrew the whole Saracen dominion, and became masters of all that fair portion of Asia and Africa, which Mahomet claimed. Composed of four sultanies, they were the four Angels which were bound in the river Euphrates, and let loose to
kill and destroy. Bajazet, the third sovereign from Othman, matured a plan for extinguishing the great empire, and with it the religion of Christ. But when he was just ready to fall upon Constantinople, Tamerlane, one of the mightiest of monarchs and warriors, who reigned over all the north and east of Asia, fell upon him at the head of a million of men; destroyed his army; took him captive, put him in an iron cage and carried him for a show through all his dominions. But Tamerlane with his vast armies, embraced the religion of the false prophet, and treated the Christians in the East with the greatest severities.
The Turks were checked, but not destroyed. They gradually became formidable to the Christians, and about a century after this defeat, A. D. 1453, Mahomet the Great took Constantinople and with it all Greece, where Christianity had for a long period reigned so triumphant.
Such is a brief history of that terrific dominion which was let loose in the seventh century, from the bottomless pit. It was early rent by violent factions, there are now two principal sects of Mahometans, who differ concerning the right of succession to Mahomet; the Sheichs or Shiites, who are chiefly Persians, and the Sonnites, inhabiting East Persia, Arabia, Turkey, and Independent Tartary. There are about fifteen millions of Mahometans in Hindostan. A new and powerful sect has recently sprung up in Arabia, called Wahabees, who profess to be reformers. But all the different sects and factions have ever united in opposition to Christianity, and given it a blow in the Eastern world and in beautiful Greece, from which it has never yet recovered. Mahometanism now extends over Turkey, Tartary, Arabia, Africa, Persia, and the dominions of the Grand Mogul, embracing about 100 millions of devoted subjects. It is an awful mystery in the providence of God. Oh why is it permitted? When will all these vast nations bow at the feet of Jesus? The time is assuredly and rapidly approaching, “ He that will come, shall come, and will not tarry," Mahomet shall be destroyed, and Asia, Africa, and Greece be free.
Prophecies relating to the Papacy. Its gradual rise. Grant of Phocas. Causes of the
vast increase of Papal dominion. Ignorance, Superstition, and Corruption of the age. Tradition substituted for the Bible. Subjection of Heathen nations. Subserviency of the Monks. Papal Rome Idolatrous, and a Temporal Power, the Little Horn. Sup. posed time of her Continuance. Election of Popes. Efforts at Supreme Dominion. Hildebrand's treatment of Henry Thomas a Becket. Interdiction. The power given to the Beast.
About the same time that Mahometanism appeared in the east, the Papal power arose in the west; a power, which, while it pretended to support Christianity, was scarcely less destructive to vital godliness.
This power, also, was described with wonderful accuracy, ages before, by the spirit of prophecy. It is the little Horn spoken of by Daniel, which should arise after the ten horns, and speak great words against the Most High, wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws. It is the Man of Sin, who, Paul told the Thessalonians, should be revealed; the Son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. It is the Antichrist, described by John; the terrible Beast in the Revelation, which opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, and to whom it was given to make war with the saints, and to overcome them, and to have power over all kindreds and tongues and nations,—the Woman arrayed in purple and scarlet color, upon whose forehead was a name writtenMYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS, AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
The Mahometan power rose suddenly, and, by the sword, spread rapidly over the earth; but the Papal was, for more than five centuries, coming to its full growth. It sprang out of an early violation of that fundamental principle of Christ's kingdom, which ought ever to be sacredly mainlained-THE PERFECT PARITY OF THE MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL.
Of the immediate causes of this violation we have no certain knowledge. Probably a serious regard to the welfare of the Church, induced the early Christians to form an association around every metropolis, and to give a sort of preeminence to the minister of Christ who resided there; and that soon, those thus elevated above their brethren, for pru
dential purposes, claimed a superiority of office; took into their hands the sole power of ordaining, and began to prescribe, as the delegates of Christ, rules of faith, and rites and ceremonies. In support of their pretensions, they shrewdly plead the form of the Jewish priesthood; asserting that they were the natural successors of the High Priest, while the presbyters succeeded to the priests, and the deacons to the Levites.
In the third century, we find the bishops of Rome, Antioch, and Alexandria, commanding great respect and reverence, as bishops of primitive and apostolic Churches, and assuming a place above all other bishops; and the bishop of Rome exercising a pre-eminence of order, though not as yet of power, over the other two.
When Constantine made Christianity the religion of the state, he effected but little alteration in the government of the Church. The chief that he did, was to place himself at its head and make its government, in some measure, like that of the empire. The four bishops of Rome, Antioch, Alexandria and Constantinople, answered to his four pretorian prefects; under these were the exarchs or patriarchs, who govern several provinces; then came the archbishops, who ruled over certain districts; then the bishops of dioceses and pastors of Churches.
As Rome was the emporium of the world, its bishopric increased perpetually in grandeur, opulence and power. Its revenues, became princely. Its dependents, like those of a monarchy. All the splendid trappings of royalty surrounded the incumbent. He sat on his throne, covered with sumptuous garments, attracting the admiration of the ignorant multitude. It became, therefore, a most seducing object of ambition. When a new bishop was to be elected, the whole city was agitated. Dissensions, tumults and cabals were witnessed, which would have disgraced the election of a worldly chieftain.
But the bishop of Rome met with a sudden and serious check in his progress towards spiritual dominion. Constantine had removed the seat of empire from Rome to Constantinople, and given the bishop of his capital a rank equal to that of any other spiritual power. Rome, however, did not surrender the ground it had taken. These two prelates at once became rivals. A contest was carried on for ages, which resulted in sundering entirely the Greek and Latin Churches.