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our Lord, in John x. 34. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said ye are gods? If he called them gods unto whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken--Say ye of him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said I am the Son of God?
The next words of the prophecy, 9 obaqua or that is worshipped,” may also refer to the civil worship which was paid to kings, and especially to the Roman emperors under the title oefactos" august” or “venerable.”
If then, it can be shown that the Papacy has insolently lifted itself above the highest kings and princes, and trampled under foot every earthly dignity, it will be sufficiently evident, that the whole clause which declares that Antichrist shall exalt himself " above all that is called God, or that is worshipped," is applicable in a strict and legitimate sense to the Papal power. Now that all these particulars were fulfilled in that power, I shall prove, by selecting various facts from history, whereby it will be made manifest, that the Papacy has not contented itself with trampling upon all human magistracies, but has blasphemously arrogated to itself, titles and an authority which belong to God only, so that the Pope has been as God, sitting in the temple of God, showing himself that, he is God.
In the eighth century, Leo the. Isaurian, emperor of the East, issued an edict, proscribing the adoration of images, and commanding the images to be pulled down in the city of Constantinople. He afterwards extended the order to the Churches of Rome and Italy. Gregory the II. who then filled the Papal chair, thereupon addressed two epistles to the Emperor, in the first of which he uses the following language.
“ When thou didst run well, who hath sounded into thine ears and perverted thy heart like a crooked bow; so that thou hast looked to those things that are behind ? For ten years, through the goodness of God, thou didst walk well, and madest no mention of the sacred images: but now thou sayest that they are idols, and that they who honour them are idolaters; and hást applied thyself to overthrow, and utterly destroy them. Neither hast thou feared the judgment of God, when offences should assail the hearts not of the faithful only, but also of infidels.Christ truly warns thee, that thou shouldst
not offend one little child; and that men will, for a very small scandal, be cast into eternal fire; but thou hast offended the whole world, as if thou art not to undergo death, and render an unhappy account."
In another part of the epistle, the Pope gives an account of the origin of the images which were then worshipped. After mentioning the incarnation of our Lord, his entrance into Jerusalem, and the works he did there, he goes on thus:-“Men from every part of the world, flying like eagles, began to resort to Jerusalem as the Lord said in the gospels, wheresoever the carcase shall be, there will the eagles be assembled. Now Christ is the carcase, and pious Christ-loving men are the eagles flying on high; who, when they had seen the Lord, painted him as they saw him, for the purpose of looking at him; when they had seen James the brother of the Lord, they painted him as they saw him,” , &c. 26.Whether does it seem good to thee, o emperor, to honour these images or the errors of the Devil? When Christ dwelt at Jerusalem, Abgarus, then king of Edessa, having heard of his miracles, wrote to Him: and the Lord sent an answer with his own hand, together with an
impression of his sacred and glorious face. Wherefore send to that image not made with hands, and behold, thither there resort multitudes of people from the East to adore," &c.—“We beseech thee, as thy brethren in Christ, to return again into the truth, from which thou hast departed; cast away thy lofty imaginations, put off thy obstinacy, write to all in every quarter; raise up those to whom thou hast been a stumbling block, and whom thou hast blinded, although by reason of thy excessive stupidity, thou accountest it as nothing."'_“Go into the schools where the first elements are taught, and say, 'I am a destroyer and persecutor of images,' and immediately the children will throw their books at thy head, so that what thou couldst not be taught by wise men, thou mayest learn from babes.” “Dost thou not consider that this thy effort, whereby thou hast risen up against images, is a turbulent, an insolent, and a proud act of wickedness? When the churches of God enjoyed a profound peace, thou hast raised up fightings, and hatreds, and offences."
The Pope afterwards commends the women who had slain an imperial officer when in the act of breaking an image of Christ, and he thus justifies the double crime of sedition and murder committed in defence of idolatry. The epistle concludes as follows :“ May God himself infuse his fear into thy heart, and convert thee from those things which thou hast perversely brought into the world; and let me receive letters from thee as soon as possible, announcing thy conversion; and may that God who came down from heaven and entered into the womb of the holy virgin, Mother of God, for our salvation, dwell in thy heart, and drive out those who now dwell in thee, and bring in offences, and may he give peace to all the Christian Churches, world without end, Amen."*
On the reception of the imperial edict for the destruction of images, the Pope armed against the Emperor, his Sovereign, as against an enemy; and at his call, Ravenna, Venice, and other cities, flew to arms. From this period Rome and Italy were lost to the eastern empire, and though the Exarch was permitted to reside within the walls of Ravenna, it was as a captive rather than a master. Pope Gregory afterwards convened a
* For the original epistle from which I have translated these extracts, see Sacro-Sancta concilia, ad Regiam Edit. Exacta. Lutitiæ Parisiorum, 1671, Tom. VII. p. 3–22.