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head was written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth.”
It is not uncandid to say that this is no unfair character of the church and court of Rome. The undue stress which the Catholics are taught to lay on their endless superstitious practices naturally make them respect much less than they would otherwise do the obligations of morality; and when men know that they can have absolution and indulgences for money, whatever crimes they commit, they will make themselves easy on the subject, thinking themselves sure to go to heaven, though they should be least fit for it. It is universally acknowledged that the court of Rome was for ages the most corrupt of any in the world, and several of the
popes themselves have been the most debauched, and in all respects the most flagitious, of men. For several centuries the priests in general, being forbidden to marry, were allowed for a small fine to have as many concubines as they pleased, women whom they took and dismissed at pleasure. In monaf: 3
teries the most unnatural lufts were often indulged without restraint.
Several of the vices mentioned by the apostle Paul (2 Tim. iii. 1) as prevalent in the latter days, are those that are peculiarly countenanced and practised by the Catholics. One of them is a want of natural affection, and the priests having no lawful wives or families, must have been in a great measure devoid of it; the object of the restriction they were laid under having been to prevent their having any natural attachment to families or to countries, that they might attach themselves to the church, and to the pope as its head. The apostle also says that they would be truce-breakers; and the breach of treaties, and the violation of oaths and vows, were avowedly authorized on many occasions by the pope and the clergy, whenever it was convenient for their interest that they lhould be broken. Men were also, according to the apostles, to be traitors, heady, and high-minded; and the
frequently authorised rebellions against lawful princes, and encouraged factions and disturb
ances in states, to answer their political purposes. With all this they were to have " a form of godliness, but denying the power of it.” And the Catholics, not with. standing the vicious practices above mentioned, pretend to a character of peculiar holiness, and to hold the keys of the kingdom of heaven, from which they think that all besides themselves will be excluded,
11. This antichristian power was to be an enemy to marriage, and to enjoin restrictions in the use of meats. In Dan. xxvii.
king who was to do according to his will,” would not " regard the desire of women ;" and " the man of sin,” in Paul's epistles, would “ forbid to marry, and command to abstain from meats, which God had created to be received with thanksgiving."
These circumstances are well known to mark the church of Rome. Their priests are universally forbidden to marry, and their limitations with respect to the laws of marriage are numerous, in order to make difpensations necessary. Also their rules with respect to fasting, and abstinence from particular kinds of food, make their religion exVOL, III.
ceedingly ceedingly burdensome, and to require frequent dispensations, which, however, may always be purchased.
DISCOURSE VII. PART II.
12. THE greatest enormity with which this antichristian power is charged in prophecy is, that it would be a persecuting power ; and different degrees of persecution are mentioned in the prophecies concerning it. In Rev. xiii. 1, the beast, which represents this
“causes that no man should buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” In Dan. vii. 25, it is said to “ wear out the saints of the most high,” and that they shall be given into his hands till a time, times, and the dividing of time.” Of the same beast that forbad buying or selling, except to its followers, it is said (Rev. xiii. 1), that “ it Thall be given to him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them, and that power was given him over all
kindreds, and tongues, and nations ;" and in Rev. xvii. 6, the woman which represents the same power is said to be “ drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of God.” Of the city called Babylon, when it was fallen, it is said (Rev. xviii. 24), that “ in her was found the blood of the prophets and of the saints, and of all that were slain upon
the earth.” Never was any prophecy more fully and more literally fulfilled than this has been in Rome papal. By a decree of Gregory VII. no person was allowed to bay or sell who disobeyed the holy see. The same was confirmed by Alexander III, and other
popes, with a particular prohibition of their having any communication with Catholics. Farther than this, permission was given to the Catholics by papal decrees to deprive heretics of their goods. A father was even required to disinherit an heretical fon, and a son was authorized to take the property of an here- . tical father ; servants might refuse to obey an heretical master, and Catholics were not to be subject to an heretical king. In consequence of excommunication, G g 2