« PreviousContinue »
his followers, adds that " he shall increase glory, and give them power over many, and shall divide the land gratis.” i The land which the prophet had so much at heart, the holy land, flowing with milk and honey, the land especially blessed from heaven, and emphatically deserving of the appellation of the land, was to become the prey of Antichrist; and so contemptuously would he treat it, that he would divide it gratis, as if it were worth nothing, to his rapacious followers.
8th Mark.—The Antichrist must establish a kingdom, which, though
small in the beginning, should grow into a very large empire.
The prophet Daniel declares this most distinctly. First, he represents the Antichrist and his kingdom as a little horn; then he adds, that “at the presence of this little horn three of the first ten horns were plucked up,” which is thus explained by the angel: “ The ten horns shall be ten kings; and another shall rise up after them, and he shall be mightier than the former, and he shall bring down three kings.” He repeats much the same in the next chapter, where he says, that “the little horn became great against the south, and against the east, and against the strength,"3 which is thus interpreted by the angel: “ There shall arise a king of a shameless face, and understanding dark sentences, and his power shall be strengthened .. and he shall lay all things waste, and shall prosper, and do more than can be believed.” 4 From these prophecies we learn, that the kingdom of the Antichrist, small in the beginning, was to subjugate three of the ten kingdoms which were shown to the prophet in the vision; and that when those three kingdoms should be overthrown the little kingdom should acquire their dominion, and should thus become a vast empire at their own expense; that it should extend towards the south and the east and the north, and comprehend many nations under its sway. St. Jerome assures us that this interpretation is supported by the constant and general tradition of the early Church, in the following words: “Let us therefore say, what hath been handed down to us by all ecclesiastical writers : that in the latter days of the world, when the Roman empire shall have been destroyed, ten kings shall arise who shall parcel out the Roman territory between themselves; after which an eleventh king shall arise, small in his beginnings, who shall subdue three of those other kings." And here St. Jerome adds—what he could only have learned from the same tradition which he tells us prevailed in the early Church-that the three kings referred to were " those of Egypt, Africa, and Ethiopia, or the interior of Asia." i
1 Dan. xi. 39. 3 Ib. viii. 9.
2 Ib. vii. 24.
SECTION IX. 9th Mark.—The Antichrist must propagate his religion and his
kingdom by brutal force. This is proved : 1. By those words of Daniel, where he says, that “the fierce king—the Antichrist —will lay all things waste.” 2. By that other passage of the same prophet, where he predicts that the same fierce king “shall worship the god Maozim in the place of the true God." St. 1 Hieron. in Dan. cap. vii.
2 Dan. xi. 38.
Jerome informs us that Maozim signifies strongholds, forces. This shows that the god of the Antichrist must be emphatically a god of forces, of strongholds, of physical force. His implement for extending his religion as well as his temporal kingdom must be one and the same instrument, the sword.
10th Mark.—The Antichrist must be animated by a most violent
hatred against Christianity, which he must also infuse into his followers.
This is expressly declared by Daniel, where he speaks of the cruel war which the Antichrist must wage against the saints. In the seventh chapter he says that the Antichrist “shall crush the saints of the Most High.” In the next chapter he adds, that “ he was to throw down of the strength of the stars and tread upon them;" which, being explained by the angel, means that “he was to destroy the mighty and the people of the saints." St. John, in the Apocalypse, speaking of the beast which he saw coming out of the sea, says, that "it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them.”i
From these passages there can be no doubt that the Antichrist and his followers must be animated by the fiercest hatred against the saints. What the name saints here means is plain from the language of Holy Scripture, and especially in the apostolic epistles, where this term is applied to Christians, that is, to the members of God's true Church, who by the laver of baptismal regeneration are cleansed from all sin, and incorporated with Christ, the source and model of all
sanctity. And though, unhappily, many lose their baptismal innocence, yet they all possess in the sacrament of penance and in the other sacraments, which are so many channels of Divine grace, the means of recovering their baptismal robe, and of rising to a still higher degree of sanctity; so that they may well be termed by the prophets of God saints.
The Marks which must characterize the Antichrist, considered
in reference to the Popes. Before the writer of these pages had become personally acquainted with English sentiments and English literature, he could not believe that in this our age and in this country, which makes so much boast of enlightenment and civilization, any man of good sense and education could be really persuaded that the Pope is the Antichrist predicted in Holy Scripture. The thing seemed to him so unreasonable, and so repugnant to the teaching of Holy Writ, that he thought that it could not be believed except by the greatest bigots, or by ignorant and uneducated persons. Such being his feeling, the reader may judge his great surprise and grief when, after coming in contact with English people and reading English books, he found that this false and absurd notion was still pre-eminent in the minds and hearts of many, not only amongst the lower classes, but also in the higher stations of life, not excepting those who assume to be teachers in Israel, and others also who pretend to enlighten the public by their writings. Alas! how easily the human mind in our present fallen state is misled from truth to imbibe error! How easily poor mortal man turns away his hearing from the truth, and turns it unto fables.”
But let us return to the subject and examine attentively the Protestant theory by the light of revealed truth. Protestants assert that the Catholic Church fell at a very early period into error, and from that time forward “the Pope, or rather the line of the Roman pontiffs, became preeminently and exclusively the Antichrist.” They say that at the time of the supposed fall the whole of Christendom, headed by the Roman pontiff, was corrupted, that its doctrine was perverted, and its practice became idolatrous. To this awful charge against the Catholic Church; and her sovereign pontiffs, we answer first in general that, if true, it would not only annihilate the claims of Catholicity, but it would also overthrow those of Christianity itself; because it would prove that Christ has been false to his promise, and that He Himself led His followers into error, obliging them under pain of eternal damnation to obey a corrupted Church which had become a sink of iniquity, a synagogue of Satan, as she is called by them. For has not Christ clearly declared, in Holy Scripture, the existence, the visibility, the extent, the duration, and the unerring authority of His spiritual kingdom—the Church ? Has He not pronounced that she should ever stand unshaken as a rock in defiance of the gates of hell, and that both He and the Holy Ghost would remain with her till the consummation of ages? Has He not most solemnly declared, that she is “the Church of the living God, the pillar and the ground of the truth ?” Has He not enjoined all Christians to hear and to obey her as Himself,