The First Symbol of
Describe the first beast of Revelation 13.
"And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion." Rev. 13:2.
NOTE: The leopard beast of Daniel 7 represented Grecia (verse 6); the bear, Media and Persia (verse 5); and the lion, Babylon (verse 4). The characteristics of all these beasts are found in the beast of Revelation 13, which would seem to show that it would extend its territory over all the countries occupied by these kingdoms. The Roman government absorbed all these countries, and ruled over them. Other comparisons show that the first beast of Revelation 13 is the papacy, which controlled the governments of these countries by virtue of its ecclesiastical power.
From what was the papacy developed?
"Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition." 2 Thess. 2:3.
In what was shown the first tangible evidence of "falling away" from the truth of God?
The adoption of heathen rites and customs. "The bishops augmented the number of religious rites in the Christian worship, by way of accommodation to the infirmities and prejudices, both of Jews and heathens, in order to facilitate their conversion to Christianity... For this purpose, they gave the name of mysteries to the institutions of the gospel, and decorated particularly the holy sacrament with that solemn title. They used in that sacred institution, as also in that of baptism, several of the terms employed in the heathen mysteries, and proceeded so far, at length, as even to adopt some of the ceremonies of which those renowned mysteries consisted." Maclaine's Mosheim, cent. 2, part 2, chap. 4, paragraphs 2, 5.
How early was this tendency manifested?
"This imitation began in the eastern provinces; but, after the time of Adrian [emperor from 117-138 A.D.] , who first introduced the mysteries among the Latin's, it was followed by the Christians who dwelt in the western parts of the empire." Ibid., para. 5.
What has been the great characteristic of the papacy?
A union of church and state, or a religious power dominating the civil power to further its own ends.
When was the union of church and state formed, from which the papacy grew?
In the reign of Constantine, 312-337 A.D.
What was the condition and work of most of the bishops at that time?
"Worldly minded bishops, instead of caring for the salvation of their flocks, were often but too much inclined to travel about, and entangle themselves in worldly concerns." Neander's History of the Christian Religion and Church, translated by Prof. Torrey, vol. 2, page 16.
What did the bishops determine to do?
"This theocratical theory was already the prevailing one in the time of Constantine; and... the bishops voluntarily made themselves dependent on him by their disputes, and by their determination to make use of the power of the state for the furtherance of their alms." Ibid., page 132.
NOTE: The "theocratical theory" was that of a government administered by the direct power of God.
What was the outgrowth of that theory among the Roman bishops?
"Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin 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." 2 Thess. 2:3, 4.
When and by whom was the Council of Nice convened?
The Emperor Constantine, 325 A.D.
Under what authority were its decrees published?
"The decrees... were published under the imperial authority, and thus obtained a political importance." Torrey's Neander, vol. 2, page 133.
What was one of the principal objects in calling that council?
"The question relating to observance of Easter, which was agitated in the time of Anicetus and Polycarp, and afterward in that of Victor, was still undecided. It was one of the principal reasons for convoking the Council of Nice, being the most important subject to be considered after the Arian controversy." Boyle's Historical View of the Council of Nice, page 22, ed. of 1839.
What was the particular question to be settled concerning Easter?
"It appears that the churches of Syria and Mesopotamia continued to follow the custom of the Jews, and celebrated Easter on the fourteenth day of the moon, whether falling on Sunday or not. All the other churches observed that solemnity on Sunday only, viz., those of Rome, Italy, Africa, Lydia, Egypt, Spain, Gaul, and Britain." Ibid.
How was the matter finally decided?
"Easter day was fixed on the Sunday immediately following the new moon which was nearest after the vernal equinox." Ibid., page 23.
In his letter to the churches, urging the observance of this decree, what singular reason did Constantine assign for its observance?
"Let us then have nothing in common with the most hostile rabble of the Jews." Ibid., page 52.
What did Sylvester, bishop of Rome under Constantine's reign, do by his "apostolic" authority, and with the approval of Constantine?
"That he indeed changed the names of all the days of the week into festal days; as Polydorus mentions in book 6, chapt. 5. Metaphrastes, however, relates that he retained the names of the days familiar to the Hebrews; but that the name of the first day alone was changed, which he called the Lord's day." Historia Ecclesiastica per M. Ludovicum Lucium, cent. 4, cap. 10, pages 739, 740, ed. Basilea, 1624. Library of Andover Theological Seminary.
What was decreed by the Council of Laodicea in 364 A.D.?
That the churches should keep the Sunday, and that if they persisted in resting on the Sabbath, "let them be accursed." See Andrew's History of the Sabbath, page 362.
What petition was made to the emperor by a church convention, in 401 A.D.?
"That the public shows might be transferred from the Christian Sunday, and from feast days, to some other days of the week." Neander, vol. 2, page 300.
What was the object of these state laws?
"That the day might be devoted with less interruption to the purposes of devotion." "That the devotion of the faithful might be free from all disturbance." Ibid., pages 297, 301.
How was their "devotion" disturbed?
"Church teachers... were, in truth, often forced to complain, that in such competitions the theater was vastly more frequented than the church." Ibid., page 300.
When the church had received help from the state to this extent, what more did she demand?
That the civil power should be exerted to compel men to serve God as the church should dictate.
What did Augustine, the father of this theory, teach concerning it?
"Who doubts but what it is better to be led to God by instruction, than by fear of punishment or affliction? But because the former, who will be guided only by instruction, are better, the others are still not to be neglected... But many, like bad servants, must often be reclaimed to their master by the rod of temporal suffering, ere they can attain to this highest stage of religious development." Ibid., pages 214, 215.
What is Neander's conclusion regarding this?
"It was by Augustine, then, that a theory was proposed and founded, which, tempered though it was, in its practical application, by his own pious, philanthropic spirit, nevertheless contained the germ of that whole system of spiritual despotism, of intolerance and persecution, which ended in the tribunals of the inquisition." Ibid., page 217.
NOTE: It was thus that the union of church and state was formed, out of which was developed "the beast" (papacy) which made "war with the saints" and overcame them.