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´╗┐Title: The Great Apostasy - Considered in the Light of Scriptural and Secular History
Author: Talmage, James Edward, 1862-1933
Language: English
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D. Sc. D., Ph. D., F. R. S. E.

Press of Zion's Printing and Publishing Company
Independence, Jackson County, Missouri.

Published by the Missions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints in America

BUREAU OF INFORMATION--Temple Block, Salt Lake City, Utah.
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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims the
restoration of the Gospel and the re-establishment of the Church as of
old, in this, the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. Such
restoration and re-establishment, with the modern bestowal of the Holy
Priesthood, would be unnecessary and indeed impossible had the Church
of Christ continued among men with unbroken succession of Priesthood
and power, since the "meridian of time."

The restored Church affirms that a general apostasy developed during
and after the apostolic period, and that the primitive Church lost its
power, authority, and graces as a divine institution, and degenerated
into an earthly organization only. The significance and importance of
the great apostasy, as a condition precedent to the re-establishment
of the Church in modern times, is obvious. If the alleged apostasy of
the primitive Church was not a reality, the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints is not the divine institution its name proclaims.

The evidence of the decline and final extinction of the primitive
Church among men is found in scriptural record and in secular history.
In the following pages the author has undertaken to present a summary
of the most important of these evidences. In so doing he has drawn
liberally from many sources of information, with due acknowledgment of
all citations. This little work has been written in the hope that it
may prove of service to our missionary elders in the field, to classes
and quorum organizations engaged in the study of theological subjects
at home, and to earnest investigators of the teachings and claims of
the restored Church of Jesus Christ.

Salt Lake City, Utah,                     JAMES E. TALMAGE.
    November 1, 1909.


The first edition of "The Great Apostasy" was issued by the Deseret
News, Salt Lake City, in November, 1909, and comprised ten thousand
copies. The author has learned, with a pleasure that is perhaps
pardonable, of the favorable reception accorded the little work by the
missionary elders of the Church, and by the people among whom these
devoted servants are called to labor. The present issue of twenty
thousand copies constitutes the second edition, and is published
primarily for use in the missionary field. The text of the second
edition is practically identical with that of the first.

Salt Lake City, Utah,                     JAMES E. TALMAGE.
    February, 1910.



  _Introduction: The Establishment of the Church of Christ_.

  Conditions at beginning of Christian era.--Religious systems,
  Jewish, Pagan, and Samaritan.--Jewish sects and parties.--Law of
  Moses fulfilled and superseded.--Apostles chosen and ordained.--
  Apostolic administration.--The Church established on the western
  hemisphere.--The "meridian of time."


  _The Apostasy Predicted_.

  The Church has not continued in unbroken succession.--Divine
  fore-knowledge.--The divine purposes not thwarted.--Apostasy from
  the Church compared with the apostasy of the Church.--Specific
  predictions concerning the apostasy.--The Law of Moses a temporary
  measure.--Isaiah's fateful prophecy.--Predictions by Jesus
  Christ.--By Paul.--By Peter.--By Jude.--By John the Revelator.--
  Apostasy on the western hemisphere predicted.


  _Early Stages of the Apostasy_.

  The apostasy recognized in apostolic age.--Testimony of
  Paul.--"Mystery of iniquity."--Summary of Paul's utterances
  concerning early apostasy.--Testimony of Jude.--Of John the
  Revelator.--Messages to the churches of Asia.--Nicolaitanes
  denounced.--Testimonies of Hegesippus.--Early schisms in the
  Church.--Declension of the Church before close of first
  century.--Apostasy on the western hemisphere.--Destruction of
  Nephite nation by the Lamanites.


  _Causes of the Apostasy.--External Causes Considered_.

  Causes of the apostasy, external and internal.--Persecution as an
  external cause.--Judaism and Paganism arrayed against the
  Church.--Judaistic persecution.--Predictions of Judaistic
  opposition.--Fulfillment of the same.--Destruction of Jerusalem.


  _Causes of the Apostasy.--External Causes, Continued_.

  Pagan persecution.--Roman opposition to Christianity, explanation
  of.--Number of persecutions by the Romans.--Persecution under
  Nero.--Under Domitian.--Under Trajan.--Under Marcus Aurelius.--Later
  persecutions.--Persecutions under Diocletian.--Extent of the
  Diocletian persecution.--Diocletian boast that Christianity was
  extinct.--The Church taken under state protection by Constantine the


  _Causes of the Apostasy.--Internal Causes_.

  Diverse effect of persecution.--Imprudent zeal of some.--Return to
  idolatry by others.--"Libels" attesting individual apostasy.--Sad
  condition of the Church in third century.--Testimony as to
  conditions of apostasy at this period.--Decline of the Church
  antedates the conversion of Constantine.--Departure from
  Christianity.--Specific causes of the growing apostasy.


  _Internal Causes.--Continued_.

  First specific cause: "The corrupting of the simple principles of
  the gospel by the admixture of the so-called philosophic systems of
  the times."--Judaistic perversions.--Admixture of Gnosticism with
  Christianity.--Gnosticism unsatisfying.--New platonics.--Doctrine of
  the Logos.--"The World."--Sibellianism.--Arianism.--The Council of
  Nice and its denunciation of Arianism.--The Nicene Creed.--The Creed
  of Athanasius.--Perverted view of life.--Disregard for truth.


  _Internal Causes.--Continued_.

  Second specific cause: "Unauthorized additions to the ceremonies of
  the Church, and the introduction of vital changes in essential
  ordinances."--Simplicity of early form of worship ridiculed.--
  Formalism and superstition increase.--Adoration of images, etc.--
  Changes in baptismal ordinance.--Time of its administration
  restricted.--Ministrations of the exorcist introduced.--Immersion
  substituted by sprinkling.--Infant baptism introduced.--Changes in
  the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.--Fallacy of
  transubstantiation.--Adoration of the "host."--Proof of apostate
  condition of the Church.


  _Internal Causes.--Continued_.

  Third specific cause: "Unauthorized changes in church organization
  and government."--Early form of church government.--Equality of the
  bishops.--Origin of synods or church councils.--Bishops of Rome
  claimed supremacy.--Title of Pope assumed.--Secular authority
  asserted by the Pope.--Indulgences or pardons.--Infamous doctrine of
  supererogation.--The traffic in indulgences.--Tetzel the papal
  agent.--Copy of an indulgence.--The sin of blasphemy.--
  Scripture-reading forbidden to the people.--Draper's arraignment of
  the papacy.


  _Results of the Apostasy.--Its Sequel_.

  Revolts against the Church of Rome.--John Wickliffe in England.--
  John Huss and Jerome of Prague.--The Reformation inaugurated.--
  Martin Luther, his revolt; his excommunication; his defense at
  Worms.--The Protestants.--Zwingle and Calvin.--The Inquisition.--
  Zeal of the reformers.--Rise of the Church of England.--Divine
  over-ruling in the events of the Reformation.--The "Mother Church"
  apostate.--Fallacy of assuming human origin of divine authority.--
  Priestly orders of Church of England declared invalid by "Mother
  Church."--The apostasy admitted and affirmed.--Wesley's
  testimony.--Declaration by Church of England.--Divine declaration of
  the apostasy.--The sequel.--The Revelator's vision of the
  Restoration.--The Church re-established in the nineteenth century.


The Great Apostasy.


**Introduction: The Establishment of the Church of Christ**.

1. A belief common to all sects and churches professing Christianity
is that Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race,
established His Church upon the earth by personal ministration in the
meridian of time. Ecclesiastical history, as distinguished from
secular history, deals with the experiences of the Church from the
time of its establishment. The conditions under which the Church was
founded first claim our attention.

2. At the beginning of the Christian era, the Jews, in common with
most other nations, were subjects of the Roman empire.--(See Note 1,
end of chapter.) They were allowed a considerable degree of liberty in
maintaining their religious observances and national customs
generally, but their status was far from that of a free and
independent people.

3. The period was one of comparative peace,--a time marked by fewer
wars and less dissension than the empire had known for many years.
These conditions were favorable for the mission of the Christ, and for
the founding of His Church on earth.

4. The religious systems extant at the time of Christ's earthly
ministry may be classified in a general way as Jewish and Pagan, with
a minor system--the Samaritan--which was essentially a mixture of the
other two. The children of Israel alone proclaimed the existence of
the true and living God; they alone looked forward to the advent of
the Messiah, whom mistakenly they awaited as a prospective conqueror
coming to crush the enemies of their nation. All other nations,
tongues, and peoples bowed to pagan deities, and their worship
comprised naught but the sensual rites of heathen idolatry.
Paganism--(See Note 2, end of chapter.) was a religion of form and
ceremony, based on polytheism--a belief in the existence of a
multitude of gods, which deities were subject to all the vices and
passions of humanity, while distinguished by immunity from death.
Morality and virtue were unknown as elements of heathen service; and
the dominant idea in pagan worship was that of propitiating the gods,
in the hope of averting their anger and purchasing their favor.

5. The Israelites, or Jews, as they were collectively known, thus
stood apart among the nations as proud possessors of superior
knowledge, with a lineage and a literature, with a priestly
organization and a system of laws, that separated and distinguished
them as a people at once peculiar and exclusive. While the Jews
regarded their idolatrous neighbors with abhorrence and contempt, they
in turn were treated with derision as fanatics and inferiors.

6. But the Jews, while thus distinguished as a people from the rest of
the world, were by no means a united people; on the contrary, they
were divided among themselves on matters of religious profession and
practice. In the first place, there was a deadly enmity between the
Jews proper and the Samaritans. These latter were a mixed people
inhabiting a distinct province mostly between Judea and Galilee,
largely made up of Assyrian colonists who had intermarried with the
Jews. While affirming their belief in the Jehovah of the Old
Testament, they practiced many rites belonging to the paganism they
claimed to have forsaken, and were regarded by the Jews proper as
unorthodox and reprobate.

7. Then the Jews themselves were divided into many contending sects
and parties, among which the principal were the Pharisees and the
Sadducees; and beside these we read of Essenes, Galileans, Herodians,

8. The Jews were living under the Law of Moses, the outward observance
of which was enforced by priestly rule, while the spirit of the law
was very generally ignored by priest and people alike. That the Mosaic
law was given as a preparation for something greater was afterward
affirmed by Paul, in his epistle to the saints at Galatia: "Wherefore
the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ."--(Galatians
3:24.) And the fact that a higher law was to supersede the lower is
abundantly shown in the Savior's own teachings: "Ye have heard that it
was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall
kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, that
whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger
of the judgment: * * * Ye have heard that it was said by them of old
time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you that
whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery
with her already in his heart. * * * Again, ye have heard that it hath
been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but
shall perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, swear not
at all. * * * Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye
and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil.
* * * Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy
neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies,
bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for
them which despitefully use you and persecute you."--(Matthew 5:21-44;
read the entire chapter.)

9. These teachings, based on love, so different from the spirit of
retaliation to which they had been accustomed under the law, caused
great surprise among the people; yet in affirmation of the fact that
the law was not to be ignored, and could only be superseded by its
fulfillment, the Master said: "Think not that I am come to destroy the
law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfill. For
verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one
tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."--
(Matt. 5:17, 18.)

10. It is very evident the Master had come with a greater doctrine
than was then known, and that the teachings of the day were
insufficient. "For I say unto you, that except your righteousness
shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall
in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."--(Verse 20.)

11. Jesus Himself was strict in complying with all rightful
requirements under the law; but He refused to recognize an observance
of the letter alone, however rigidly required, as a substitute for
compliance with the spirit of the Mosaic injunction.

12. The excellent teachings and precepts of true morality inculcated
by the Christ prepared the minds of those who believed His words for
the introduction of the gospel in its purity, and for the
establishment of the Church of Christ as an earthly organization.

13. From among the disciples who followed Him, some of whom had been
honored by preliminary calls, He chose twelve men, whom He ordained to
the apostleship:--"And He ordained twelve, that they should be with
Him, and that He might send them forth to preach."--(Mark 3:14.)
Again: "And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of
them he chose twelve whom also he named apostles."--(Luke 6:13;
compare Matt. 10:1, 2.) The twelve special witnesses of Him and His
work were sent out to preach in the several cities of the Jews. On
this, their first mission, they were instructed to confine their
ministrations to the house of Israel, and the burden of their message
was "The kingdom of heaven is at hand."--(Matt. 10:7; study the entire
chapter.) They were told to use the power with which they had been
invested by ordination, in preaching, in healing the sick, in raising
the dead even, and in subduing evil spirits; the Master's admonition
was, "Freely ye have received, freely give." They were to travel
without money or provisions, relying upon a higher power to supply
their needs through the agency of those to whom they would offer the
message of truth; and they were warned of the possible hardships
awaiting them and of the persecution which sooner or later would
surely befall them.

14. At a later date Christ called others to the work of the ministry,
and sent them out in pairs to precede Him and prepare the people for
His coming. Thus we read of "the seventy" who were instructed in terms
almost identical with those of the apostolic commission.--(Luke 10;
compare with Matt. 10.) That their investiture was one of authority
and power and no mere form is shown by the success attending their
administrations; for, when they returned they reported triumphantly,
"Lord, even the devils are subject to us through thy name."--(Luke

15. The specific commission given unto the apostles at the time of
their ordination was afterward emphasized. They were the subjects of
the particularly solemn ordinance spoken of as the washing of feet, so
necessary that in reply to Peter's objection the Lord said: "If I wash
thee not, thou hast no part with me."--(John 13:4-9.) And unto the
eleven who had remained faithful, the Risen Lord delivered His parting
instructions, immediately before the ascension: "Go ye into all the
world, and preach the gospel to every creature." After our Lord's
departure the apostles entered upon the ministry with vigor: "And they
went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and
confirming the word with signs following."--(Mark 16:14-10; compare
Matt. 28:19, 20.)

16. These scriptures indicate the authority of the apostles to
administer the affairs of the Church after the ascension of the
Resurrected Messiah. That Peter, the senior member of the apostolic
council, was given a position of presidency, appears from the Savior's
special admonition and charge on the shores of the Tiberian sea.--
(John 21:15-17.)

17. That the apostles realized that though the Master had gone He had
left with them authority and command to build up the Church as an
established organization, is abundantly proved by scripture. They
first proceeded to fill the vacancy in the presiding council or
"quorum" of twelve, a vacancy occasioned by the apostasy and death of
Judas Iscariot; and the mode of procedure in this official act is
instructive. The installation of a new apostle was not determined by
the eleven alone; we read that the disciples (or members of the
Church) were gathered together--about a hundred and twenty in number.
To them Peter presented the matter requiring action, and emphasized
the fact that the man to be chosen must be one who had personal
knowledge and testimony of the Lord's ministry, and who was therefore
qualified to speak as a special witness of the Christ, which
qualification is the distinguishing feature of the apostleship.
"Wherefore," said Peter, "of these men which have companied with us
all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning
from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from
us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his
resurrection."--(Acts 1:21, 22; read verses 15-26 inclusive.) We are
further informed that two men were nominated, and that the divine
power was invoked to show whether either, and if so, which, was the
Lord's choice. Then the votes were cast "and the lot fell upon
Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles."

18. It is evident that the apostles considered their council or quorum
as definitely organized with a membership limit of twelve; and that
the work of the Church required that the organization be made
complete. Nevertheless, we read of none others subsequently chosen to
fill vacancies in the council of twelve. Paul, who previous to his
conversion was known as Saul of Tarsus, received a special
manifestation, in which he heard the voice of the Risen Lord declaring
"I am Jesus whom thou persecutest,"--(Acts 9:5; read verses 1-22) and
thereby he became a special witness of the Lord Jesus, and as such was
in truth an apostle, though we have no definite scriptural record that
he was ever made a member of the council of twelve. As showing the
importance of ordination to office under the hands of duly constituted
authorities, we have the instance of Paul's ordination. Though he had
conversed with the Resurrected Jesus, though he had been the subject
of a special manifestation of divine power in the restoration of his
sight, he had nevertheless to be baptized; and later he was
commissioned for the work of the ministry by the authoritative
imposition of hands.--(Acts 13:1-3.)

19. Another instance of official action in choosing and setting apart
men to special office in the Church arose soon after the ordination of
Matthias. It appears that one feature of the Church organization in
early apostolic days was a common ownership of material things,
distribution being made according to need. As the members increased,
it was found impracticable for the apostles to devote the necessary
attention and time to these temporal matters, so they called upon the
members to select seven men of honest report, whom the apostles would
appoint to take special charge of these affairs. These men were set
apart by prayer and by the laying on of hands.--(Acts 6:1-7.) The
instance is instructive as showing that the apostles realized their
possession of authority to direct in the affairs of the Church and
that they observed with strict fidelity the principle of common
consent in the administration of their high office. They exercised
their priestly powers in the spirit of love, and with due regard to
the rights of the people over whom they were placed to preside.

20. Under the administration of the apostles, and others who labored
by their direction in positions of lesser authority, the Church grew
in numbers and in influence.--(See Note 3, end of chapter.) For ten or
twelve years after the ascension of Christ, Jerusalem remained the
headquarters of the Church, but branches, or, as designated in the
scriptural record, separate "churches," were established in the
outlying provinces. As such branches were organized, bishops, deacons,
and other officers were chosen, and doubtless ordained by authority,
to minister in local affairs.--(See Philip. 1:1; compare I Tim.

21. That the commission of the Lord Jesus to the apostles, instructing
them to preach the gospel widely, was executed with promptness and
zeal, is evident from the rapid growth of the Church in the early
apostolic times.--(Acts 6:7; 12:24; 19:20.) Paul, writing about A. D.
64--approximately thirty years after the ascension--declares that the
gospel had already been carried to every nation--"preached to every
creature under heaven,"--(Col. 1:23; compare verse 6) by which
expression the apostle doubtless means that the gospel message had
been so generally proclaimed, that all who would might learn of it.

22. Details as to the organization of the Church in apostolic days are
not given with great fulness. As already shown, the presiding
authority was vested in the twelve apostles; and furthermore, the
special calling of the seventies has received attention; but beside
these there were evangelists, pastors, and teachers;--(Eph. 4:11) and
in addition, high priests,--(Heb. 5:1-5) elders,--(Acts 14:23; 25:6;
I Peter 5:1) bishops,--(I Tim. 3:1; Titus 1:7) etc. The purpose of
these several offices is explained by Paul to be:--"For the perfecting
of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the
body of Christ."--(Eph. 4:12; read also verses 13-16.) The Church with
its graded offices and its spiritual gifts has been aptly compared to
a perfect body with its separate organs and its individual members,
each necessary to the welfare of the whole, yet none independent of
the rest. As in the human organism so in the Church of Christ, no one
with propriety can say to another, "I have no need of thee."--(See I
Cor. 12. See note 4, end of chapter.)

**The Church of Christ on the Western Hemisphere**.

23. We have seen, on the evidence of the Jewish scriptures, how the
Church was established and made strong in Asia and Europe in and
immediately following the meridian of time. The scriptures cited are
such as appeal to all earnest Christians; the authority is that of the
New Testament. We have now to consider the establishment of the Church
amongst those who constituted another division of the house of
Israel--a people inhabiting what is now known as the American

24. For the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with the Nephite
scriptures published to the world as the Book of Mormon, a brief
historical summary is here presented.--(See Note 5, end of chapter.)
In the year 600 B. C., in the reign of King Zedekiah, a small colony
was led from Jerusalem by an inspired prophet named Lehi. These people
were brought by divine assistance to the shores of the Arabian Sea,
where they constructed a vessel in which they crossed the great waters
to the western coast of South America. They landed 590 B. C. The
people were soon divided into two parties, led respectively by Nephi
and Laman, sons of Lehi; and these factions grew into the opposing
nations known in history as Nephites and Lamanites. The former
developed while the latter retrograded in the arts of civilization.
Nephite prophets predicted the earthly advent of the Messiah, and
foretold His ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection.

25. The record states that the Messiah appeared in person among the
Nephites on the western continent. This was subsequent to His
ascension from the Mount of Olives. A foreshadowing of this great
event was given by Christ in a declaration made while yet He lived on
earth. Comparing Himself to the good shepherd who giveth his life for
the sheep, He said: "And other sheep I have, which are not of this
fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there
shall be one fold, and one shepherd."--(John 10:16; read verses 1-18
inclusive. Compare III Nephi 15:21.)

26. According to the Nephite record, certain predicted signs of the
Savior's death had come to pass. Destructive earthquakes and other
dread convulsions of nature had taken place in the west, while the
supreme tragedy was being enacted on Calvary. The people of the land
Bountiful, comprising the northern portion of South America, were
still marveling over the great convulsions that had terrified them a
few weeks earlier, and on a certain occasion, were gathered together
discussing the matter, when they heard a voice as from the heavens
saying: "Behold my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I
have glorified my name: hear ye him."--(III Nephi 11:7; read the
entire chapter.) Looking up, they beheld a man descending. He was
clothed in a white robe, and as He reached the earth He said: "Behold,
I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the
world. * * * Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your
hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails
in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of
Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the
sins of the world."--(Verses 10:14.)

27. Having thus declared Himself, Christ proceeded to instruct the
people in the plan of the gospel as He had preached it, and in the
constitution of the Church as He had established it in the east. He
visited the Nephite people on subsequent occasions, taught them many
of the precepts previously given to the Jews; emphasized the doctrine
of baptism and other ordinances essential to salvation; instituted the
sacrament in commemoration of His atoning death; chose and
commissioned twelve apostles, on whom He conferred authority in the
Church; explained the importance of designating the organization by
its proper name--the Church of Christ; and announced the fulfilment of
the law of Moses and the fact that it was thenceforth superseded by
the gospel embodied within the Church as established by Himself. In
plan of organization, in doctrine and precept, and in prescribed
ordinances, the Church of Christ in the west was the counterpart of
the Church in Palestine.


28. Thus in the meridian of time the Church of God was founded on both
sides of the earth. In its pristine simplicity and beauty it exhibited
the majesty of a divine institution. It is now our saddening duty to
consider the decline of spiritual power within the Church, and the
eventual apostasy of the Church itself.


1. _Conditions at the Beginning of the Christian Era_. "At the birth
of Christ this amazing federation of the world into one great monarchy
had been finally achieved. Augustus, at Rome, was the sole power to
which all nations looked. * * * No prince, no king, no potentate of
any name could break the calm which such a universal dominion secured.
* * * It was in such a unique era that Jesus Christ was born. The
whole earth lay hushed in profound peace. All lands lay freely open to
the message of mercy and love which He came to announce. Nor was the
social and moral condition of the world at large, at the birth of
Christ, less fitting for His advent than the political. The prize of
universal power struggled for through sixty years of plots and
desolating civil wars, had been won at last by Augustus. Sulla and
Marius, Pompey and Caesar, had led their legions against each other,
alike in Italy and the provinces, and had drenched the earth with
blood. Augustus himself had reached the throne only after thirteen
years of war, which involved regions wide apart. The world was
exhausted by the prolonged agony of such a strife; it sighed for
repose." (Cunningham Geikie, "The Life and Works of Christ," New York,
1894; vol. 1, p. 25.)

"The Roman empire, at the birth of Christ, was less agitated by wars
and turmoils than it had been for many years before. For though I
cannot assent to the opinion of those who, following the account of
Orosius, maintain that the temple of Janus was then shut, and that
wars and discords absolutely ceased throughout the world, yet it is
certain that the period in which our Savior descended upon earth may
be justly styled the 'pacific age,' if we compare it with the
preceding times. And indeed the tranquillity that then reigned was
necessary to enable the ministers of Christ to execute with success
their sublime commission to the human race." (Mosheim, "Ecclesiastical
History," Cent. I, Part I; ch. 1:4).

2. _Paganism at the Beginning of the Christian Era_. "Every nation
then had its respective gods, over which presided one more excellent
than the rest; yet in such a manner that this supreme deity was
himself controlled by the rigid empire of the fates, or what the
philosophers called 'external necessity.' The gods of the east were
different from those of the Gauls, the Germans, and the other northern
nations. The Grecian divinities differed widely from those of the
Egyptians, who deified plants, animals, and a great variety of the
productions both of nature and art. Each people also had their own
particular manner of worshipping and appeasing their respective
deities, entirely different from the sacred rites of other countries.
* * * One thing, indeed, which at first sight appears very remarkable,
is, that this variety of religions and of gods neither produced wars
nor dissensions among the different nations, the Egyptians excepted.
Nor is it perhaps necessary to except even them, since their wars
undertaken for their gods cannot be looked upon with propriety as
wholly of a religious nature. Each nation suffered its neighbors to
follow their own method of worship, to adore their own gods, to enjoy
their own rites and ceremonies, and discovered no sort of displeasure
at their diversity of sentiments in religious matters. There is,
however, little wonderful in this spirit of mutual toleration, when we
consider that they all looked upon the world as one great empire,
divided into various provinces, over every one of which a certain
order of divinities presided; and that therefore none could behold
with contempt the gods of other nations, or force strangers to pay
homage to theirs. The Romans exercised this toleration, in the amplest
manner. For, though they would not allow any changes to be made in the
religions that were publicly professed in the empire, nor any new form
of worship to be openly introduced, yet they granted to their citizens
a full liberty of observing in private the sacred rites of other
nations, and of honoring foreign deities (whose worship contained
nothing inconsistent with the interests and laws of the republic) with
feasts, temples, consecrated groves and such like testimonies of
homage and respect." (Mosheim, "Eccl. Hist.," Cent. I, Part I; ch.

3. _Rapid Growth of the Church_. Eusebius, who wrote in the early part
of the fourth century, speaking of the first decade after the Savior's
ascension, says:

"Thus, then, under a celestial influence, and co-operation, the
doctrine of the Savior, like the rays of the sun, quickly irradiated
the whole world. Presently, in accordance with divine prophecy, the
sound of His inspired evangelists and apostles had gone throughout all
the earth, and their words to the ends of the world. Throughout every
city and village, like a replenished barn floor, churches were rapidly
abounding and filled with members from every people. Those who, in
consequence of the delusions that had descended to them from their
ancestors, had been fettered by the ancient disease of idolatrous
superstition, were now liberated by the power of Christ, through the
teachings and miracles of His messengers." (Eusebius, "Ecclesiastical
History," Book I, ch. 3.)

4. _Divine Instrumentality in the Apostolic Ministry_. "When we
consider the rapid progress of Christianity among the Gentile nations,
and the poor and feeble instruments by which this great and amazing
event was immediately effected, we naturally have recourse to an
omnipotent and invisible hand, as its true and proper cause. For,
unless we suppose here a divine interposition, how was it possible
that men, destitute of all human aid, without credit or riches,
learning, or eloquence, could, in so short a time, persuade a
considerable part of mankind to abandon the religion of their
ancestors? How was it possible, that an handful of apostles, who, as
fishermen and publicans, must have been contemned by their own nation,
and as Jews must have been odious to all others, could engage the
learned and mighty, as well as the simple and those of low degree, to
forsake their favorite prejudices, and to embrace a new religion which
was an enemy to their corrupt passions? And, indeed, there were
undoubted marks of a celestial power perpetually attending their
ministry. Their very language, an incredible energy, an amazing power
of sending light into the understanding and conviction into the
heart." (Mosheim, "Ecclesiastical History," Cent. I, Part 1, ch. 4:8.)

5. _Nephites and Lamanites_. The progenitors of the Nephite nation
"were led from Jerusalem 600 B. C., by Lehi, a Jewish prophet of the
tribe of Manasseh. His immediate family, at the time of their
departure from Jerusalem, comprised his wife Sariah, and their sons
Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi; at a later stage of the history,
daughters are mentioned, but whether any of these were born before the
family exodus we are not told. Beside his own family, the colony of
Lehi included Zoram and Ishmael, the latter an Israelite of the tribe
of Ephraim. Ishmael, with his family, joined Lehi in the wilderness;
and his descendants were numbered with the nation of whom we are
speaking. The company journeyed somewhat east of south, keeping near
the borders of the Red Sea; then changing their course to the
eastward, crossed the peninsula of Arabia; and there, on the shores of
the Arabian Sea, built and provisioned a vessel in which they
committed themselves to Divine care upon the waters. Their voyage
carried them eastward across the Indian Ocean, then over the south
Pacific Ocean to the western coast of South America, whereon they
landed (590 B. C.) * * * The people established themselves on what to
them was the land of promise; many children were born, and in the
course of a few generations a numerous posterity held possession of
the land. After the death of Lehi, a division occurred, some of the
people accepting as their leader Nephi, who had been duly appointed to
the prophetic office; while the rest proclaimed Laman, the eldest of
Lehi's sons, as their chief. Henceforth the divided people were known
as Nephites and Lamanites respectively. At times they observed toward
each other fairly friendly relations; but generally they were opposed,
the Lamanites manifesting implacable hatred and hostility toward their
Nephite kindred. The Nephites advanced in the arts of civilization,
built large cities, and established prosperous commonwealths; yet they
often fell into transgression; and the Lord chastened them by making
their foes victorious. They spread northward, occupying the northern
part of South America; then, crossing the Isthmus, they extended their
domain over the southern, central, and eastern portions of what is now
the United States of America. The Lamanites, while increasing in
numbers, fell under the curse of darkness; they became dark in skin
and benighted in spirit, forgot the God of their fathers, lived a wild
nomadic life, and degenerated into the fallen state in which the
American Indians,--their lineal descendants,--were found by those who
re-discovered the western continent in later times." (The Author,
"Articles of Faith," Lect. 14:7, 8.)


**The Apostasy Predicted**.

1. In proceeding with our present inquiry we accept as demonstrated
facts the establishment of the Church of Christ under the Savior's
personal administration and the rapid growth of the Church in the
early period of the apostolic ministry.

2. A question of the utmost importance is: Has the Church of Christ,
thus authoritatively established, maintained an organized existence
upon the earth from the apostolic age to the present? Other questions
are suggested by the first. If the Church has continued as an earthly
organization, where lies the proof or evidence of legitimate
succession in priestly authority, and which among the multitude of
contending sects or churches of the present day is the actual
possessor of the holy priesthood originally committed to the Church by
the Christ, its founder?

3. Again, have the spiritual gifts and graces by which the early
Church was characterized and distinguished been manifest on earth
through the centuries that have passed since the meridian of time; and
if so, in which of the numerous churches of these modern times do we
find such signs following the professed believers?--(See Mark 16:17.)

4. We affirm that with the passing of the so-called apostolic age the
Church gradually drifted into a condition of apostasy, whereby
succession in the priesthood was broken; and that the Church, as an
earthly organization operating under divine direction and having
authority to officiate in spiritual ordinances, ceased to exist.

5. If therefore the Church of Christ is to be found upon the earth
to-day it must have been re-established by divine authority; and the
holy priesthood must have been restored to the world from which it was
lost by the apostasy of the Primitive Church.--(See Note 1, end of

6. We affirm that the great apostasy was foretold by the Savior
Himself while He lived as a Man among men, and by His inspired
prophets both before and after the period of His earthly probation.
And further, we affirm that a rational interpretation of history
demonstrates the fact of this great and general apostasy.

7. Before we take up in detail the specific predictions referred to,
and the evidence of their dread fulfilment, we may profitably devote
brief attention to certain general considerations.

8. Respecting the foreknowledge of God, let it not be said that divine
omniscience is of itself a determining cause whereby events are
inevitably brought to pass. A mortal father who knows the weaknesses
and frailties of his son may by reason of that knowledge sorrowfully
predict the calamities and sufferings awaiting his wayward boy. He may
foresee in that son's future a forfeiture of blessings that could have
been won, loss of position, self-respect, reputation and honor; even
the dark shadows of a felon's cell and the sight of a drunkard's grave
may appear in the saddening visions of that fond father's soul; yet,
convinced by experience of the impossibility of bringing about that
son's reform, he foresees the dread developments of the future, and he
finds but sorrow and anguish in his knowledge. Can it be said that the
father's foreknowledge is a cause of the son's sinful life? The son,
perchance, has reached his maturity; he is the master of his own
destiny; a free agent unto himself. The father is powerless to control
by force or to direct by arbitrary command; and while he would gladly
make any effort or sacrifice to save his son from the fate impending,
he fears for what seems to be an awful certainty. But surely that
thoughtful, prayerful, loving parent does not contribute to the son's
waywardness because of his knowledge. To reason otherwise would be to
say that a neglectful father, who takes not the trouble to study the
nature and character of his son, who shuts his eyes to sinful
tendencies, and rests in careless indifference as to the probable
future, will by his very heartlessness be benefiting his child,
because his lack of forethought cannot operate as a contributory cause
to dereliction.

9. Our Heavenly Father has a full knowledge of the nature and
dispositions of each of His children, a knowledge gained by long
observation and experience in the past eternity of our primeval
childhood; a knowledge compared with which that gained by earthly
parents through mortal experience with their children is
infinitesimally small. By reason of that surpassing knowledge, God
reads the future of child and children, of men individually and of men
collectively as communities and nations; He knows what each will do
under given conditions, and sees the end from the beginning. His
foreknowledge is based on intelligence and reason; He foresees the
future as a state which naturally and surely will be; not as one which
must be because He has arbitrarily willed that it shall be.

10. But, it may be argued that in the illustrative instance given
above--that of the earthly parent and the wayward son,--the father
had not the power to change the sad course of sin whereby his son is
hastening to ignominy and destruction; while the omnipotent Father can
save if He will. In reply this is to be said: The Father of souls has
endowed His children with the divine birthright of free agency; He
does not and will not control them by arbitrary force; He impels no
man toward sin; He compels none to righteousness. Unto man has been
given freedom to act for himself; and, associated with this
independence, is the fact of strict responsibility and the assurance
of individual accountability. In the judgment with which we shall be
judged, all the conditions and circumstances of our lives shall be
considered. The inborn tendencies due to heredity, the effect of
environment whether conducive to good or evil, the wholesome teachings
of youth, or the absence of good instruction--these and all other
contributory elements must be taken into account in the rendering of a
just verdict as to the soul's guilt or innocence. Nevertheless, the
divine wisdom makes plain what will be the result with given
conditions operating on known natures and dispositions of men; while
every individual is free to choose good or evil within the limits of
the many conditions existing and operative..--(See Note 2, end of

11. Another matter worthy of thought in the present connection is
this: Is the fact of the great apostasy,--the virtual overthrow and
destruction of the Church established by Jesus Christ,--to be regarded
as an instance of failure in the Lord's plans? Is it a case of defeat
in which Satan was victor over Christ? Consider the following. What
mortal has yet measured the standard by which Omniscience gages
success or failure? Who dares affirm that what man hails as triumph or
deplores as defeat will be so accounted when tested by the principles
of eternal reckoning?

12. The history of the world abounds with instances of the temporary
triumph of evil, of justice seemingly miscarried, of divine plans for
the time being frustrated, of God's purposes opposed and their
consummation delayed.

13. We read of the Lord's covenant with Israel? Unto Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob He declared that their descendants should be a people chosen
for His special service among the nations. Through that lineage the
Savior of mankind was to be born; in the posterity of Abraham all
nations of the earth were to be blessed. Blessings beyond the heart of
man to conceive, beyond the mind of man to comprehend, were promised
on condition of loyal allegiance to Him who proclaimed Himself their
God and their King. Moreover the Lord predicted calamity and
suffering, and individual affliction and national disgrace, if Israel
departed from the service of Jehovah and yielded to the enticements of
their heathen neighbors who knew not God. Think you that the Lord was
ignorant of the course His people would choose? Did He fail to foresee
that Israel would follow the evil way, forfeiting the blessings and
reaping the harvest of sorrow? Jehovah's plans failed not, though the
realization of the blessings so abundantly promised has been long
delayed. Equally forceful with the prediction of calamity in case of
sin, was the promise of eventual restoration to favor. The dispersion
of Israel already accomplished, was to be followed by the gathering of
Israel now in progress.--(See the Author's "Articles of Faith,"
lectures 17 and 18.)

14. What would have been the world's verdict as to the success or
failure of the mission of the Christ, had a vote been taken at the
time of the crucifixion? Seemingly His enemies had triumphed; He who
proclaimed Himself the Messiah, the Son of God, the resurrection and
the life, over whom death could not prevail, had suffered the fate of
malefactors, and His body was in the tomb. But the verdict of the
centuries, which is the verdict of the eternities to come, acclaims
that "failure" as the greatest triumph of the ages, the victory of

15. Even so with the Church. For a season the powers of evil
triumphed, and the spirit of apostasy ruled. But beyond the darkness
of the spiritual night the glorious dawn of the restoration was seen
in prophetic vision, and both the night with its horrors, and the
awakening day with its splendor, were foreseen and foretold.

16. In our study of the predictions of the apostasy as embodied in
scripture and of their realization as attested by later history, we
shall recognize two distinct phases or stages of the progressive
falling away as follows:

    (1) Apostasy _from_ the Church; and
    (2) The apostasy _of_ the Church.

17. In the first stage we have to deal with the forsaking of the truth
and severance from the Church by individuals, at times few, at other
times many. Such conditions can scarcely be considered otherwise than
as natural and inevitable. History fails to present any example of
great undertakings upon which multitudes enter with enthusiasm, and
from which many do not desert. Unless such cases of individual
abandonment are so numerous as to show the operation of some vital
cause of disaffection, we would not need the authority of divine
prediction and inspired prophecy to explain the occurrence. We find,
however, that apostasy from the Primitive Church was widespread and
general, and that the causes leading to such a condition were of vital

18. In the second of the two stages already specified we are
confronted with conditions of far greater import than those attending
individual secession from the Church; for here we find the Church
sinking to the degraded level of a human institution, with plan of
organization and mode of operation foreign to the constitution of the
original, without priesthood or authority to officiate in spiritual
ordinances, and devoid of the gifts and graces with which the Savior
endowed His Church at the time of its establishment. In short, we find
the Church itself apostate, boasting of temporal power, making its own
laws, teaching its own dogmas, preserving only a form of godliness,
while denying the power thereof.--(See II Tim. 3:1-6.)

**Specific Predictions of the Apostasy**.

19. The Lord foresaw the great and general departure from the
principles of righteousness, and from the beginning knew that men
would set up their own forms of worship, wrongfully claiming divine
authority for the same. Through the mouths of His chosen prophets He
has repeatedly predicted the inevitable event.--(See note 3, end of

20. Among the prophecies antedating the birth of Christ the following
may be noted. Isaiah beheld in vision the condition of the earth in
the era of spiritual darkness, a period in which all classes would be
involved in a general condition of unrighteousness, a time when the
world of mankind would be in a helpless and practically hopeless
condition. He pictures the earth mourning and languishing in
desolation and assigns the reason for the sad condition as follows:
"The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they
have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the
everlasting covenant."--(Isaiah 24:5; read verses 1 to 6 inclusive.)

21. It may be thought that this prophecy has reference to a violation
of the law of Moses under which ancient Israel lived. Let it be
remembered, however, that the Mosaic law is nowhere called an
everlasting covenant. The covenant between the Lord and Abraham
antedated the giving of the law by four hundred and thirty years, and,
as pointed out by Paul,--(Galatians 3:17; read the entire chapter.) In
his epistle to the Galatians, whom he designates as foolish because of
their confusing the law of Moses and the gospel of Christ, the law
could not nullify the earlier covenant the fulfillment of which could
come only through Christ. The "law," by which the inspired apostle
plainly means the Mosaic statutes, was but a preparation for the
"faith," by which latter expression the gospel as revealed by Christ
is clearly intended. "But before faith came," says Paul, "we were kept
under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be
revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto
Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is
come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are the children
of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been
baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor
Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor
female: for ye are all one in Jesus Christ. And if ye be Christ's then
are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."--(Verses

22. It is evident from the tenor of the entire chapter, that while the
gospel was preached unto Abraham, and covenant made with him relating
to the coming of the Messiah through his posterity, the gospel did not
abide with Israel, and this because of transgression;--(Verse 19.) but
in lieu thereof the Mosaic law was instituted as a disciplinary
measure, temporary in character, destined to be superseded by the
gospel of Christ, and assuredly not an everlasting covenant. On the
other hand, the blood of Christ, through the shedding of which the
atoning sacrifice was wrought, is distinctively called "the blood of
the everlasting covenant,"--(Hebrews 13:20.)

23. It is evident then that Isaiah's fateful prophecy relating to the
breaking of the everlasting covenant could have no reference to a
departure from the Mosaic requirements, but must refer to a then
future condition of apostasy following the establishment of the
everlasting covenant. Moreover, part of the great prediction,
referring to the burnings and widespread calamities,--(See Isaiah
24:6.) yet awaits its complete fulfillment.

24. Another prediction applicable to the period when there should be
no Church of Christ to be found, and when, in consequence there should
be lamentation and suffering, is that of Amos. "Behold, the days come,
saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a
famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of
the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north
even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the
Lord, and shall not find it."--(Amos 8:11, 12.)

25. Christ instructed His followers in terms at once direct and
conclusive, as to the apostasy then impending. In reply to certain
inquiries concerning the signs by which His second advent would be
heralded, He said: "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall
come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many."--(Matt.
24:4, 5.) Then He told of approaching wars and political disturbances,
and added: "And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one
another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall
rise and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the
love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end,
the same shall be saved."--(Verses 10-13. See note 4, end of chapter.)

26. Further specifying the conditions incident to the growing
apostasy, Christ declared to His disciples: "Then shall they deliver
you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of
all nations for my name's sake."--(Verse 9.) And again: "Then if any
man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall
shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that if it were possible, they
shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before.
Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go
not forth; behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it
not."--(Verses 23-26.)

27. After the departure of Christ from earth His apostles continued to
warn the people of the darkness to come. In that memorable address to
the elders of Ephesus, when, as he told them, they were looking upon
his face for the last time, Paul reminded his hearers of the
instructions he had previously given them, and then charged them with
this solemn warning: "For I know this, that after my departing shall
grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of
your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw
away disciples after them."--(Acts 20:29, 30; read verses 17 to 31

28. Not only would outsiders ingratiate themselves with the saints for
purposes of selfish gain,--wolves entering in, and not sparing the
flock,--but schisms and divisions were imminent; and these dissensions
were to come through some then present,--men who would aspire to
leadership, and who would set up their own doctrines, thus drawing
disciples away from the Church and unto themselves.

29. The same apostle warns Timothy of the approaching apostasy, and
refers to some of the erroneous teachings that would be impressed upon
misguided people,--teachings which he calls "doctrines of devils." He
admonishes Timothy to put the brethren in remembrance of these things,
as is becoming in a good minister of Christ, "nourished up in the
words of faith and of good doctrine." Note the inspired prediction:
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some
shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and
doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their
conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding
to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with
thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth."--(I Tim.
4:1-3. See Note 5, end of chapter.)

30. In a second epistle to his beloved Timothy, while laboring under
the premonition that his martyrdom was near at hand, Paul urges zeal
and energy in the preaching of the gospel; for the shadows of the
apostasy were gathering about the Church. His admonition is pathetic
in its earnestness: "I charge thee therefore, before God, and the Lord
Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing
and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season;
reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. For the
time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after
their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching
ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be
turned unto fables."--(II Tim. 4:1-4.)

31. In addressing the Thessalonian saints, Paul warns them against the
error strongly advocated by some that the day of Christ's second
advent was then near at hand. It appears that deception was being
practiced, and that even forgery was suspected, for the apostle
instructs the people that they be not deceived "by word nor by letter
as from us." The admonition is forceful: "Now we beseech you,
brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering
together unto Him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled,
neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the
day of Christ is at hand. 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 worshiped;
so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that
he is God."--(II Thess. 1:2-14.) We shall see how painfully literal
has been the fulfilment of this prophecy in the blasphemous
assumptions of the apostate church, centuries later.

32. The Apostle Peter prophesied in language so plain that none may
fail to comprehend, concerning the heresies that would be preached as
doctrine in the period of the apostasy; and he reminds the people that
there were false teachers in olden times, even as there would be in
times then future: "But there were false prophets also among the
people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily
shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought
them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall
follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall
be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned
words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time
lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not."--(II Peter 2:1-3.
Read the entire chapter, noting the description of conditions existing
in the world today.)

33. Jude, the brother of James, in his general epistle to the saints,
reminds them of earlier warnings: "But, beloved, remember ye the words
which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How
that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who
should walk after their own ungodly lusts."--(Jude 17, 18.)

34. John, who is called the Revelator, saw in vision the state of the
world in the days then future. Describing the spirit of
unrighteousness as a hideous beast, and its author, Satan, as the
dragon, he says: "And they worshiped the dragon which gave power unto
the beast: and they worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the
beast? who is able to make war with him? * * * And he opened his mouth
in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle,
and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war
with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over
all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the
earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of
life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If any man
have an ear, let him hear."--(Rev. 13:4,6-9.)

35. Note another prophecy based on the vision of John the Revelator.
Again referring to latter-day conditions he declares: "And I saw
another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting
gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every
nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice,
Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come:
and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the
fountains of water."--(Rev. 14:6, 7.)

36. While it is true that the scripture last quoted does not
specifically predict the apostasy, the breaking up of the Church is
treated as an event actually accomplished. The Revelator looked beyond
the period of disruption and saw the brighter day of the restoration
of the gospel,--a re-establishment of the Church through the ministry
of an angel. It is illogical to assume that the gospel was to be
brought to earth by a heavenly messenger if that gospel was still
extant upon the earth. Equally unreasonable is it to say that a
restoration or re-establishment of the Church of Christ would be
necessary or possible had the Church continued with rightful
succession of priesthood and power. If the gospel had to be brought
again from the heavens, the gospel must have been taken from the
earth. Thus the prophecy of a restoration is proof of an apostasy
general and complete.

**Apostasy on the Western Hemisphere Predicted**.

37. In the preceding chapter it was shown that the Church of Christ
was established by the Risen Lord among the Nephites of the western
world. It was foreseen that the powers of evil would be permitted to
prevail in the west as in the east. Consider the fateful words of the
prophet Alma addressed to his son Helaman: "Behold, I perceive that
this very people, the Nephites, according to the spirit of revelation
which is in me, in four hundred years from the time that Jesus Christ
shall manifest himself unto them, shall dwindle in unbelief; Yea, and
then shall they see wars and pestilence, yea, famines and bloodshed,
even until the people of Nephi shall become extinct; Yea, and this
because they shall dwindle in unbelief, and fall into the works of
darkness, and lasciviousness, and all manner of iniquities; yea, I say
unto you, that because they shall sin against so great light and
knowledge; yea, I say unto you, that from that day, even the fourth
generation shall not pass away, before this great iniquity shall
come."--(Alma 45:10-12.)

38. An earlier prophecy relating to the degradation of the surviving
remnant of Lehi's descendants, was uttered by Nephi, as a result of a
revelation communicated to him through angelic visitation. He thus
describes his vision of the future: "I beheld and saw that the seed of
my brethren did contend against my seed, according to the word of the
angel; and because of the pride of my seed, and the temptations of the
devil, I beheld that the seed of my brethren did overpower the people
of my seed. And it came to pass that I beheld and saw the people of
the seed of my brethren, that they had overcome my seed; and they went
forth in multitudes upon the face of the land. And I saw them gathered
together in multitudes; and I saw wars and rumors of wars among them;
and in wars and rumors of wars, I saw many generations pass away. And
the angel said unto me, Behold these shall dwindle in unbelief. And it
came to pass that I beheld after they had dwindled in unbelief, they
became a dark, and loathsome, and filthy people, full of idleness and
all manner of abominations."--(I Nephi 12:19-23. For other Book of
Mormon predictions of spiritual decline on the western continent, see
II Nephi 27:1; read also II Nephi 26:19-22, and chapter 29.) The
degraded state of the North American Indians,--descendants of a
prophet-father--is a striking realization of this prophetic

39. The scriptures cited are sufficient to show that widespread
apostasy from the Church was foreseen; that the corruption of the
Church itself was likewise foreknown; and that on both hemispheres a
general apostasy was foretold.


1. _The Church, Primitive and Restored_. The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints declares by its name a distinction from the
Primitive Church as established by Christ and His early apostles. The
essential designation of the restored Church is the Church of Jesus
Christ; its authorized name is the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, the final phrase being added to distinguish the
Church as established in the present dispensation from the Church as
organized by the Savior during the period of His earthly ministry.
This distinction is shown in one of our Articles of Faith: "We (the
Church of today) believe in the same organization that existed in the
Primitive Church."

2. _Man's Free Agency_. The teachings of the restored Church
respecting individual freedom of action are thus summarized: "The
Church holds and teaches as a strictly scriptural doctrine, that man
has inherited among the inalienable rights conferred upon him by his
divine Father, absolute freedom to choose the good or the evil in life
as he may elect. This right cannot be guarded with more jealous care
than is bestowed upon it by God Himself; for in all His dealings with
man, He has left the mortal creature free to choose and to act, with
no semblance of compulsion or restraint, beyond the influences of
paternal counsel and loving direction. True, He has given
commandments, and has established statutes, with promises of blessings
for compliance and dire penalties for infraction; but in the choice of
these, God's children are untrammeled. In this respect, man is no less
free than are the angels and the Gods, except as he has fettered
himself with the bonds of sin, and forfeited his power of will and
force of soul. The individual has a full measure of liberty to violate
the laws of health, the requirements of nature, and the commandments
of God in matters both temporal and spiritual, as he has to obey all
such; in the one case he brings upon himself the sure penalties that
belong to the broken law; as in the other he inherits the specific
blessings and the added freedom that attend a law-abiding life.
Obedience to law is the habit of the free man; 'tis the transgressor
who fears the law, for he brings upon himself deprivation and
restraint, not because of the law, which would have protected him in
his freedom, but because of his rejection of law. The predominant
attribute of justice, recognized as part of Divine nature, forbids the
thought that man should receive promises of reward for righteousness,
and threats of punishment of evil deeds, if he possessed no power of
independent action. It is no more a part of God's plan to compel men
to work righteousness, than it is His purpose to permit evil powers to
force His children into sin. In the days of Eden, the first man had
placed before him commandment and law, with an explanation of the
penalty which would follow a violation of that law. No law could have
been given him in righteousness, had he not been free to act for
himself. 'Nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is
given unto thee; but remember that I forbid it,' said the Lord God to
Adam. Concerning His dealings with the first patriarch of the race,
God has declared in this day, 'Behold I gave unto him that he should
be an agent unto himself.'" (The Author, "Articles of Faith," Lecture
3:1, 2.)

3. _The Testimony of Prophecy to the Apostasy_. "What is prophecy but
history reversed? Nothing. Prophecy is a record of things before they
transpire. History is a record of them after they have occurred; and
of the two prophecy is more to be trusted for its accuracy than
history: for the reason that it has for its source the unerring
inspiration of Almighty God; while history,--except in the case of
inspired historians--is colored by the favor or prejudice of the
writer, depends for its exactness upon the point of view from which he
looks upon the events; and is likely to be marred in a thousand ways
by the influences surrounding him,--party considerations, national
interest or prejudice; supposed influence upon present conditions and
future prospects--all these things may interfere with history; but
prophecy is free from such influences. Historians are
self-constituted, or appointed by men; but prophets are chosen of God.
Selected by divine wisdom, and illuminated by that Spirit which shows
things that are to come, prophets have revealed to them so much of the
future as God would have men to know, and the inspired writers record
it for the enlightenment or warning of mankind, without the coloring
or distortion so liable to mar the work of the historian. Thus Moses
recorded what the history of Israel would be on condition of their
obedience to God: and what it would be if they were disobedient.
Israel was disobedient, and historians have exhausted their art in
attempts to tell of their disobedience and suffering; but neither in
vividness nor accuracy do the histories compare with the prophecy. So
with the prophecy of Daniel in respect to the rise and succession of
the great political powers that should dominate the earth, and the
final triumph of the Kingdom of God. So with well-nigh all of the
prophecies."--(B. H. Roberts, "A New Witness for God," pp. 113, 114.)

4. _Christ's Prediction of the Apostasy_. The forceful prophecy,
couched in terms of vivid description, uttered by our Lord in response
to inquiries by His disciples, has been the subject of diverse opinion
and varied comment, particularly as regard the time to which the
prediction refers. As recorded in the twenty-fourth chapter of
Matthew, a significant sign of the progress of events to precede the
second coming of Christ was stated as follows: "And this gospel of the
kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all
nations; and then shall the end come." (Verse 14.) It is claimed by
many that the "end" referred to in the passage quoted is not
necessarily the close of the final dispensation, not what is commonly
spoken of as the end of the world, but the closing up of the gospel
dispensation then current; and in support of this interpretation it is
urged that following the utterance quoted Christ proceeded to predict
the calamities then awaiting Jerusalem. That during the period covered
by the earthly ministry of the apostles, the gospel was preached in
all the civilized nations of the Eastern hemisphere, is evident alike
from scripture and from the uncanonical writings of repute relating to
that period. Paul speaks of the Gospel as having been carried in his
day to the world, and as having been preached to every creature under
heaven (see Colos. 1:6, 23; compare Romans 10:18; see also Note 3,
following chapter I of this work, page 15.)

In Joseph Smith's version of the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew the
paragraph relating to the preaching of the gospel in all the world as
one of the signs specified by Jesus Christ, is transposed so as to
apply more directly to the modern or last dispensation. (See Pearl of
Great Price, Writings of Joseph Smith, 1.) The scripture under
consideration has direct application to the conditions characteristic
of present times--the period now current and immediately precedent to
the second advent of the Christ. This fact, however, does not
necessarily nullify its application to the earlier period as well.
History repeats itself in many instances in this, "the dispensation of
the fulness of times;" indeed, the very name is expressive of a
summarizing or gathering together of things past, and this involves
recurrence of earlier conditions and re-enactment of laws. The
prediction of world-wide evangelization is not the only instance of a
general prophecy having more than a single limited horizon of
fulfillment. In the apostolic period the gospel was carried to all
nations known to the Lord's ministers; a similar work is in progress
today, on a scale greatly exceeding that of the past, for the world,
as measured by human occupancy, is vastly greater than of old.

5. _Scriptures Relating to the Apostasy_. That the application of the
scriptures cited in the text is proof of the predicted apostasy is not
peculiar to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is shown
by the fact that these predictions are similarly interpreted by
theologians of other churches. Thus, in his "Bible Commentary," Dr.
Adam Clarke annotates Paul's admonition to Timothy as below. First
note the passage: "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the
latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing
spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy;" etc.
Dr. Clarke says:

"_In the latter times_: This does not necessarily imply the last ages
of the world; but any times consequent (subsequent) to those in which
the church then lived."

"_Depart from the faith_: They will apostatize from the faith, i. e.
from Christianity, renouncing the whole system in effect by bringing
in doctrines which render its essential truths null and void; or
denying and denouncing such doctrines as are essential to Christianity
as a system of salvation. A man may hold all the truths of
Christianity, and yet render them of none effect, by holding other
doctrines, which counteract their influence; or he may apostatize by
denying some essential doctrine, though he bring in nothing

"_Speaking lies in hypocrisy_: Persons pretending not only to divine
inspiration, but also to extraordinary degrees of holiness,
self-denial, mortification, etc., in order to credit the lies and
false doctrines which they taught. Multitudes of lies were framed
concerning miracles wrought by the relics of departed saints as they
were termed."


**Early Stages of the Apostasy**.

1. As shown in the preceding chapter a general apostasy from the
Primitive Church was both foreseen and foretold. Prophets who lived
centuries before the time of Christ predicted the great event, as did
also the Savior Himself and the apostles who continued the work of the
ministry after His resurrection and ascension. We are now to inquire
as to the fulfillment of these predictions.

2. Evidence that the apostasy occurred as had been predicted is found
in the sacred scriptures and in the records of history other than
scriptural. From certain utterances of the early-day apostles it is
made plain to us that the great "falling away" had begun even while
those apostles were living. The preaching of false doctrines and the
rise of unauthorized teachers were referred to as conditions then
actually existing in the Church, and not as remote developments of the
distant future.--(See Note 1, end of chapter.)

3. Scarcely had the gospel seed been committed to the soil before the
enemy came, and by night sowed tares amongst the wheat; and so
intimate was the growth of the two that any attempt to forcibly uproot
the weeds would have threatened the life of the grain.--(Study the
parable of wheat and tares, Matt. 13:24-30. See Note 2, end of

4. Paul recognized the fact that the people amongst whom he labored
were losing the faith they had professed, and were becoming victims of
the deception practiced by false teachers. In his letter to the
churches of Galatia he wrote: "I marvel that ye are so soon removed
from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would
pervert the gospel of Christ." And then, to emphasize the sin of those
who thus sought to "pervert the gospel of Christ," he continued: "But
though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you
than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we
said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel
unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."--(Galatians
1:6-9; read the entire chapter. See Note 3, end of chapter.)

5. The context of the passages just quoted shows the nature of the
error into which "the churches of Galatia" were in danger of falling.
They were embroiled in a discussion as to whether they were bound by
certain requirements of the law of Moses, notably that respecting
circumcision. The apostle instructs them to the effect that the gospel
of Christ was superior to the law; and that moreover, they were
inconsistent in contending for one item of the law and neglecting the
rest. We have here indication of the effort so persisted in even by
those who had joined the Church, to modify and change the simple
requirements of the gospel by introducing the elements of Judaism. It
must be remembered that even among the apostles some difference of
opinion had existed as to the necessity of circumcision; but this had
been settled by their prayerful efforts to learn the Lord's will in
the matter; and those who sought to foment dissension on this or any
other matter of authoritative doctrine were declared to be enemies to
the Church, seeking to "pervert the gospel of Christ."

6. In his second epistle to the "church of the Thessalonians" Paul
declares that the spirit of iniquity was then already operative. After
predicting the rise of the apostate church, with its blasphemous
assumptions of power, as a condition antecedent to the second coming
of Christ, the apostle continued as follows: "For the mystery of
iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let until he
be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom
the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy
with the brightness of his coming."--(II Thess. 2:7, 8.)

7. The seemingly obscure expression, "he who now letteth will let,"
may be more readily understood by remembering that in the older style
of English "let" had the meaning of "restrain" or "hinder."--(An
example of this old-time use of the verb "let" is found in
Shakespeare. Hamlet is made to say, "Unhand me, gentlemen. By heaven
I'll make a ghost of him who lets me," i. e., of him who restrains or
hinders me.) The passage therefore may be understood as a declaration
that the spirit of iniquity was already active though restrained or
hindered for a time; and that later even this restraint would be
removed and the evil one would be in power. In the Revised Version of
the New Testament this passage is rendered thus:--"lawlessness doth
already work: only there is one that restraineth now, until he be
taken out of the way."

8. Just who or what is referred to as exercising a restraint on the
powers of iniquity at that time has given rise to discussion. Some
writers hold that the presence of the apostles operated in this way,
while others believe that the restraining power of the Roman
government is referred to. It is known that the Roman policy was to
discountenance religious contention, and to allow a large measure of
liberty in forms of worship as long as the gods of Rome were not
maligned nor their shrines dishonored. As Roman supremacy declined
"the mystery of iniquity" embodied in the apostate church operated
practically without restraint.

9. The expression "mystery of iniquity" as used by Paul is
significant.--(See Note 1, end of chapter.) Prominent among the early
perverters of the Christian faith were those who assailed its
simplicity and lack of exclusiveness. This simplicity was so different
from the mysteries of Judaism and the mysterious rites of heathen
idolatry as to be disappointing to many; and the earliest changes in
the Christian form of worship were marked by the introduction of
mystic ceremonies.

10. Paul's zeal as a missionary and a proselyter is abundantly shown
in scripture; he was equally zealous in seeking to maintain the faith
of those who had accepted the truth. The Pauline epistles abound in
admonitions and pleadings against the increasing influence of false
doctrines, and in expressions of sorrow over the growth of apostasy in
the Church. His words addressed to Timothy are both emphatic and
pathetic. "Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of
me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which
was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost, which dwelleth in us.
This thou knowest, _that all they which are in Asia be turned away
from me_."--(II Timothy 1:13-15; italics introduced; compare 4:10,

11. An excellent summary of important utterances by the Apostle Paul
relating to the beginning of the apostasy as a fact in the early
apostolic age, has been made by one of the latter-day apostles, Orson
Pratt. He writes as follows: "The great apostasy of the Christian
Church commenced in the first century; while there were yet inspired
apostles and prophets in their midst; hence Paul, just previous to his
martyrdom, enumerates a great number who had 'made shipwreck of their
faith,' and 'turned aside unto vain jangling;' teaching 'that the
resurrection was already past,' 'giving heed to fables and endless
genealogies,' 'doubting about questions and strifes of words whereof
came envyings, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men
of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is
godliness.' This apostasy had become so general that Paul declares to
Timothy, 'that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me;' and
again he says, 'at my first answer no man stood with me, but all men
forsook me;' he further says that 'there are many unruly, and vain
talkers and deceivers, teaching things which they ought not, for
filthy lucre's sake.' These apostates, no doubt, pretended to be very
righteous; for, says the apostle, 'they profess that they know God;
but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and
unto every good work reprobate.'"

12. Jude admonished the saints to be on their guard against men who
were in the service of Satan seeking to corrupt the Church. Addressing
himself "to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved
in Jesus Christ," he said: "It was needful for me to write unto you,
and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which
was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in
unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation,
ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and
denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ."--(Jude 3, 4.
See Note 5, end of chapter.) It is plain that Jude considered "the
faith which was once delivered unto the saints" as in danger; and he
urges the faithful to contend for it and openly defend it. He reminds
the saints that they had been told "there should be mockers in the
last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts;" and adds
"These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the
Spirit."--(Verses 18, 19.) Clearly he is referring to the apostates of
such time, who, because of sensual appetites and lustful desires, have
separated themselves from the Church.

13. During the banishment of John the Revelator on the Isle of Patmos,
when nearly all the apostles had been taken from the earth, many of
them having suffered martyrdom, the apostasy was so widespread that
only seven "churches," _i. e._, branches of the Church, remained in
such condition as to be considered deserving of the special
communication John was instructed to give. In a marvelous vision he
beheld the seven churches typified by seven golden candlesticks, with
seven stars representing the presiding officers of the several
churches; and in the midst of the golden candlesticks, with the stars
in his hand, stood "one like unto the Son of Man."

14. The church at Ephesus was approved for its good works,
specifically for its rejection of the Nicolaitean heresies;
nevertheless reproof was administered for disaffection and neglect,
thus:--"thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence
thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will
come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his
place, except thou repent."--(Rev. 2:4,5.)

15. To the church at Pergamos John was commanded to write, denouncing
the false doctrines of certain sects and teachers, "which thing I
hate," said the Lord.--(See verses 12-16.) The church of the
Laodiceans was denounced as "lukewarm," "neither hot nor cold," and as
priding itself as rich and not in need, whereas it was in reality
"wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked."--(Rev. 3;
see verses 14-21.)

16. The foregoing scriptures are ample as proof that even before the
ancient apostles had finished their earthly ministry, apostasy was
growing apace. The testimony of the early "Christian fathers" who
wrote in the period immediately following the passing of the apostles,
is to the same effect. According to the generally accepted chronology,
the prophetic message of John the Revelator to the churches of Asia
was given in the last years of the first century.--(Probably about
A. D. 96; see Oxford Bible, margin.)

17. Among the historians of that period whose writings are not
regarded as canonical or scriptural, but which are nevertheless
accepted as genuine and reliable, was Hegesippus, who "flourished
nearest the days of the apostles." Writing of the conditions marking
the close of the first century and the beginning of the second,
Eusebius cites the testimony of the earlier writer as follows:--"The
same author, [Hegesippus] relating the events of the times, also says,
that the Church continued until then as a pure and uncorrupt virgin;
whilst if there were any at all that attempted to pervert the sound
doctrine of the saving gospel, they were yet skulking in dark
retreats; but when the sacred choir of apostles became extinct, and
the generation of those that had been privileged to hear their
inspired wisdom had passed away, then also the combinations of impious
error arose by the fraud and delusions of false teachers. These also,
as there were none of the apostles left, henceforth attempted, without
shame to preach their false doctrine against the gospel of truth. Such
is the statement of Hegesippus."--(Eusebius, "Ecclesiastical History,"
Book III, chapter 32.)

18. There can be little doubt that the false teachers referred to in
the testimony last cited, were professed adherents of the Church, and
not outside opponents, inasmuch as they were restrained by the
influence and authority of the apostles, and waited the passing of the
authorized leaders as an opportunity to corrupt the Church by evil

19. A later writer, commenting on the schisms and dissensions by which
the Church was rent in the latter part of the first century--the
period immediately following that of the apostolic ministry, says: "It
will easily be imagined that unity and peace could not reign long in
the Church, since it was composed of Jews and Gentiles, who regarded
each other with the bitterest aversion. Besides, as the converts to
Christianity could not extirpate radically the prejudices which had
been formed in their minds by education, and confirmed by time, they
brought with them into the bosom of the Church more or less of the
errors of their former religions. Thus the seeds of discord and
controversy were easily sown, and could not fail to spring up soon
into animosities and dissensions, which accordingly broke out and
divided the Church."--(Mosheim, "Eccl. History," Cent. I, Part II;
chap. 3:11. See Note 4, end of chapter.)

20. Another recognized authority on ecclesiastical history, and one
whose avowed purpose was to present the truth respecting the Church in
its most favorable light, is Joseph Milner, author of a comprehensive
"History of the Church of Christ." He comments on the state of the
Church at the close of the first century in this wise: "Let us keep in
view what that [the spirit of the gospel] really is. The simple faith
of Christ as the only Savior of lost sinners, and the effectual
influences of the Holy Ghost in recovering souls altogether depraved
by sin--these are the leading ideas. When the effusion of the Holy
Ghost first took place, these things were taught with power; and no
sentiments which militated against them could be supported for a
moment. As, through the prevalence of human corruption and the crafts
of Satan, the love of truth was lessened, heresies and various abuses
of the gospel appeared; and in estimating them we may form some idea
of the declension of true religion toward the end of the [first]
century." The same writer continues: "Yet a gloomy cloud hung over the
conclusion of the first century. The first impressions made by the
effusion of the Spirit are generally the strongest and the most
decisively distinct from the spirit of the world. But human depravity,
overborne for a time, arises afresh, particularly in the next
generation. Hence the disorders of schism and heresy. Their tendency
is to destroy the pure work of God."--(Milner, "Church History," Cent.
I, ch. 15.)

21. The purpose of this chapter has been that of demonstrating the
early beginning of the apostasy, so soon to become general, and later,
universal. The specific causes directly contributing to the
degradation of the Church are reserved for future consideration.

**The Growth of Apostasy on the Western Hemisphere**.

22. Now let us see what was the condition of the Church established by
the Resurrected Lord among the descendants of Lehi on the American
Continent. In this undertaking we shall not restrict ourselves to the
beginning of the disruption alone. Inasmuch as the course of apostasy
among the Nephites was so rapid, and the period intervening between
the establishment of the Church and the destruction of the nation was
so brief, we shall consider the history of the Church to its close,
and thus obviate the necessity of recurring to the subject in later
chapters. We read that the Church had prospered until about 200 A. D.
Then apostasy became general, as evidence of which note the following:

23. "And now in this two hundred and first year, there began to be
among them those who were lifted up in pride. * * * And they began to
be divided into classes, and they began to build up churches unto
themselves, to get gain, and began to deny the true Church of Christ.
And it came to pass that when two hundred and ten years had passed
away there were many churches in the land; yea, there were many
churches which professed to know the Christ, and yet they did deny the
more parts of his gospel, insomuch that they did receive all manner of
wickedness, and did administer that which was sacred unto him to whom
it had been forbidden, because of unworthiness. And this church did
multiply exceedingly, because of iniquity, and because of the power of
Satan, who did get hold upon their hearts. And again, there was
another church which denied the Christ; and they did persecute the
true Church of Christ because of their humility, and their belief in
Christ; and they did despise them because of the many miracles which
were wrought among them."--(IV Nephi 1:24-29; read the entire

24. The Book of Mormon record is definite in its specifications of the
immediate reasons for, or causes of the great apostasy on the western
hemisphere. While the members of the Church remained faithful to their
covenants and obligations, they as individuals and the Church as an
organization prospered; and their enemies were unable to prevail
against them. With prosperity, however, came pride and class
distinctions, the rich dominated the poor, and earthly gain became the
object of life.--(See IV Nephi 1:2-7 and compare with verses 25, 26.)
Secret organizations of evil purpose flourished,--(Verse 42.) the
people were divided into two opposing factions, those who still
professed a belief in Christ being known as Nephites and their enemies
as Lamanites, without regard to actual descent or family relationship.
With the growth of pride and its attendant sins, the Nephites became
as wicked as the non-professing Lamanites;--(Verse 45.) and in their
wickedness these people sought each other's destruction. Consider the
pathos and dire tragedy expressed in the words of Moroni, the solitary
survivor of a once blessed and mighty nation:

25. "Behold, four hundred years have passed away since the coming of
our Lord and Savior. And behold, the Lamanites have hunted my people,
the Nephites, down from city to city, and from place to place, even
until they are no more; and great has been their fall; yea, great and
marvelous is the destruction of my people, the Nephites. And behold,
it is the hand of the Lord which hath done it. And behold also, the
Lamanites are at war one with another; and the whole face of this land
is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the
end of the war. And now behold, I say no more concerning them, for
there are none, save it be the Lamanites and robbers that do exist
upon the face of the land; and there are none that do know the true
God, save it be the disciples of Jesus,--(See III Nephi 28:1-7.) who
did tarry in the land until the wickedness of the people was so great,
that the Lord would not suffer them to remain with the people; and
whether they be upon the face of the land no man knoweth."--(Mormon


1. _The Early Apostasy Recognized_. The fact of the early beginning of
the apostasy is generally recognized by theologians and authorities on
biblical interpretation. Clarke's commentary on the declaration of
Paul as to the "mystery of iniquity" then at work (See II Thess. 2:7)
is as follows:

"_For the mystery of iniquity doth already work_: There is a system of
corrupt doctrine which will lead to the _general apostasy, already in
existence; but it is a mystery_; it is as yet hidden; it dare not show
itself because of that which hindereth or withholdeth. But when that
which now restraineth is taken out of the way, then shall that wicked
one be revealed; it will then be manifest who he is and what he is."

2. _Early Dissensions in the Church_. As instances of the
disagreements and differences that troubled and disturbed the Church
even in apostolic days Mosheim says: "The first of these
controversies, which was set on foot in the church of Antioch,
regarded the necessity of observing the law of Moses, and its issue is
mentioned by St. Luke in the Acts of the Apostles (chap. 15). This
controversy was followed by many others, either with the Jews who were
violently attached to the worship of their ancestors, or with the
votaries of a wild and fanatical sort of philosophy, or with such as,
mistaking the true genius of the Christian religion, abused it
monstrously to the encouragement of their vices, and their indulgence
of the appetites and passions. St. Paul and the other apostles have in
several places of their writings, mentioned these controversies, but
with such brevity that it is difficult at this distance of time to
come at the true state of the question in these various disputes. The
most weighty and important of all these controversies was that which
certain Jewish doctors raised at Rome, and in other Christian Churches
concerning the means of justification and acceptance with God, and the
method of salvation pointed out in the word of God. The apostles,
wherever they exercised their ministry, had constantly declared all
hopes of acceptance and salvation delusive, except such as were
founded on Jesus the Redeemer, and His all-sufficient merits; while
the Jewish doctors maintained the works of the law to be the true
efficient cause of the soul's eternal salvation and felicity. This
latter sentiment not only led to many other errors extremely
prejudicial to Christianity, but was also injurious to the glory of
the divine Savior."--(Mosheim, "Ecclesiastical History," Cent. I, Part
II, 11-12.)

3. _Unauthorized Writings in the Apostolic Age_. Paul's reference to
"another gospel" in his epistle to the Galatians (1:6) suggested to
Dr. Adam Clarke the following commentary on the passage:

"_Another gospel_: It is certain that in the very earliest ages of the
Christian Church, there were several spurious gospels in circulation;
and it was the multitude of these false or inaccurate relations that
induced St. Luke to write his own (see Luke 1:1). We have the names of
more than seventy of these spurious narratives still on record, and in
ancient writers many fragments of them remain; these have been
collected and published by Fabricius in his account of the apocryphal
books of the New Testament (3 vols, 8 vo.) In some of these gospels
the necessity of circumcision and subjection to the Mosaic law, in
unity with the gospel, were strongly inculcated."--(Clarke, "Bible

4. _Some Authorities on Ecclesiastical History_. Among the authorities
cited in the text are those named below. A brief note as to each may
be of interest.

_Eusebius_: Eusebius Pamphilus, bishop of Caesarea in Palestine. He
lived from about 260 to about 339 A.D., though there is some
uncertainty as to the exact time of his death. He was an eye witness
of and a participant in some of the sufferings incident to heathen
persecution of the Christians, and has been called the "Father of
Church History." He was the author of several works, among them one of
the earliest on "Ecclesiastical History." The quotations from this
work by Eusebius, as given in the text, are from the version
translated from the Greek by C. F. Cruse.

_Mosheim_: Dr. J. L. von Mosheim, chancellor of the University of
Gottingen; a German writer, noted for his contributions to church
history. He is the author of an exhaustive work on "Ecclesiastical
History" (6 vols.), dated 1755. The excerpts from Mosheim's
"Ecclesiastical History" given in the text are taken from the version
translated into English by Dr. Archibald Maclaine, dated 1764.

_Milner_: Rev. Joseph Milner. An English authority on church history,
and author of a comprehensive "History of the Church of Christ" (5
vols.) from which the excerpts in the text are taken.

5. _Commentary on the Passage from Jude_:--The passage quoted in the
text--"For there are certain men crept in unawares, _who were before
of old ordained to this condemnation_, ungodly men." etc. (Jude 4),
has given rise to discussion, the question at issue being as to
whether the principles of pre-appointment or fore-ordination is here
involved. A hasty and casual reading of the passage may suggest the
inference that the "ungodly men" referred to had been appointed or
"ordained" in the providence of God to sow the seeds of discord and
dissension in the Church. A careful study of this scripture shows that
no such inference is warranted. The "ungodly men" "who were before of
old ordained to this condemnation" were men who had already, i. e.,
previously, been denounced, proscribed and condemned for the very
heresies which now they were endeavoring to perpetuate in the Church,
they having crept in unawares, or in other words, they having become
members of the Church by false pretenses and profession, and being
able because of their membership, to spread their false teachings more
effectively. Dr. Adam Clarke, in his Bible Commentary, thus treats the
passage under consideration:

"_For there are certain men crept in unawares_." They have got into
the church under specious pretenses, and when in, began to sow their
bad seed.

"_Before of old ordained_: Such as were long ago proscribed and
condemned in the most public manner; this is the import of the
[original] word in this place, and there are many examples of this use
of it in the Greek writers."

"_To this condemnation_: To a similar punishment to that about to be

"In the sacred writings all such persons, false doctrines and impure
practices have been most openly proscribed and condemned, and the
apostle immediately produces several examples, viz., the disobedient
Israelites, the unfaithful angels, and the impure inhabitants of Sodom
and Gomorrah. This is most obviously the apostle's meaning, and it is
as ridiculous as it is absurd, to look into such words for a decree of
reprobation, etc., such a doctrine being as far from the apostle's
mind as from that of Him in whose name he wrote."--(Clarke, "Bible
Commentary," Jude 4.)

In the Revised Version of the New Testament the passage is rendered
thus: "I was constrained to write unto you exhorting you to contend
earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the
saints. For there are certain men crept in privily, even they who were
of old set forth unto this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the
grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying our only Master and
Lord, Jesus Christ."


**Causes of the Apostasy.--External Causes Considered**.

1. We are now to consider some of the principal causes contributing to
apostasy from the Primitive Church and leading later to the apostasy
of the Church as an earthly institution; and we are to study the
manner in which those causes have operated.

2. In the scriptures before cited as proof of the early beginning of
the apostasy, many of the contributing causes are indicated, such as
the rise of false teachers, the spread of heretical doctrines, and the
growth of the power of Satan in general. These may be classed as
internal causes, originating within the Church itself. In contrast
with these there were other conditions operating upon the Church from
without; and such may be classed as external causes. For convenience
in study we shall consider the subject in the following order of
treatment: (1) External causes; (2) Internal causes.

**External Causes of the Great Apostasy**.

3. External conditions operating against the Church, tending to
restrict its development and contributing to its decline may be
designated by the general term; _persecution_. It is a matter of
history, undisputed and indisputable, that from the time of its
inception to that of its actual cessation, the Church established by
Jesus Christ was the object of bitter persecution, and the victim of
violence. The question as to whether persecution is to be regarded as
an element tending to produce apostasy is worthy of present
consideration. Opposition is not always destructive; on the contrary
it may contribute to growth. Persecution may impel to greater zeal,
and thus prove itself a potent factor of advancement. A proverb still
in favor declares that "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the
Church." But proverbs and adages, aphorisms and parables, while true
as generalities, are not always applicable to special conditions.

4. Undoubtedly the persistent persecution to which the early Church
was subjected caused many of its adherents to renounce the faith they
had professed and to return to their former allegiances, whether
Judaistic or pagan. Church membership was thus diminished; but such
instances of apostasy from the Church may be regarded as individual
desertions and of comparatively little importance in its effect upon
the Church as a body. The dangers that affrighted some would arouse
the determination of others; the ranks deserted by disaffected
weaklings would be replenished by zealous converts. Let it be repeated
that apostasy from the Church is insignificant as compared with the
apostasy of the church as an institution. Persecution as a cause of
apostasy has operated indirectly but none the less effectively upon
the Church of Christ.--(See Notes 1 and 2, end of chapter.)

5. We have considered briefly the testimony of early church historians
showing that schisms, contention, and perversion of doctrine invaded
the Church immediately after the passing of the apostles; we have seen
how wolves had awaited the departure of the shepherds that they might
the more effectively worry the flock. It cannot be denied that the
early persecutions were directed most particularly against the leaders
of the people; the sharpest shafts were aimed against the officers of
the Church. In the fierce battle between Christianity and its allied
foes--Judaism and heathendom--the strong men who stood for Christ were
the first to fall. And with their fall, the traitors within the
Church, the ungodly and the rebellious, those who had crept in
unawares, and whose sinister purpose it was to pervert the gospel of
Christ, were relieved of restraint, and found themselves free to
propagate their heresies and to undermine the foundations of the
Church. Persecution, operating from without, and therefore essentially
an external cause, served to set in motion the enginery of disruption
within the Church, and therefore must be treated as an effective
element contributing to the great apostasy.

6. A further purpose in introducing here a brief summary of the
persecutions of which the early Church was the victim, is that of
affording a basis of ready comparison between such and the
persecutions waged by the apostate church itself in later centuries.
We shall find that the sufferings of the Church in the days of its
integrity, are surpassed by the cruel inflictions perpetrated in the
name of Christ. Moreover, a study of the early persecutions will
enable us to contrast the conditions of opposition and poverty with
those of ease and affluence as affecting the integrity of the Church
and the devotion of its adherents.

7. The persecution to which the Primitive Church was subjected was
two-fold; viz., Judaistic and pagan. It must be remembered that the
Jews were distinguished from all other nations of antiquity by their
belief in the existence of a living God. The rest of the world before
and at the time of Christ was idolatrous and pagan, professedly
believing in a host of deities, yet with no recognition of a Supreme
Being as a living personage. The Jews were bitter in their opposition
to Christianity, which they regarded as a rival religion to their own;
and moreover, they recognized the fact that if Christianity ever came
to be generally accepted as the truth, their nation would stand
convicted of having put to death the Messiah.

**Judaistic Persecution**.

(See Note 3, end of Chapter.)

8. Opposition to Christianity on the part of those who belonged to the
House of Israel was rather Judaistic than Jewish. The conflict was
between systems, not between peoples or nations. Christ was a Jew: His
apostles were Jews, and the disciples who constituted the body of the
Church at its establishment and throughout the early years of its
existence were largely Jews. Our Lord's instructions to the chosen
twelve on their first missionary tour restricted their ministry to the
House of Israel;--(See Matt. 10:5, 6.) and when the time was
propitious for extending the privileges of the gospel to the Gentiles,
a miraculous manifestation was necessary to convince the apostles that
such extension was proper.--(See Acts, chapters 10 and 11.) The Church
was at first exclusively and for a long time pre-eminently Jewish in
membership. Judaism, the religious system founded on the law of Moses,
was the great enemy of Christianity. When therefore we read of the
Jews opposing the Church, we understand that Judaistic Jews are
meant--defenders of Judaism as a system, upholders of the law and
enemies of the gospel. With this explanation of the distinction
between the Jews as a people and Judaism as a system, we may employ
the terms "Jews" and "Jewish" according to common usage, keeping in
mind, however, the true signification of the terms.

9. Judaistic opposition to the Church was predicted. While Jesus
ministered in the flesh He specifically and repeatedly warned the
apostles of the persecution they would have to meet. In answering
certain inquiries Christ said to Peter and others: "But take heed to
yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils, and in the
synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers
and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them."--(Mark 13:9;
compare Matt. 10:16-18; 24:9-13; Luke 21:12.)

10. Shortly before His betrayal the Lord repeated the warning with
solemn impressiveness, citing the persecutions to which He had been
subject, and declaring that His disciples could not escape: "If the
world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye
were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are
not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore
the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The
servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they
will also persecute you."--(John 15:18-20.)

11. The extreme of depravity to which the bigoted persecutors would
sink is set forth in these further words of the Savior: "They shall
put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever
killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things
will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor
me."--(John 16:2, 3; compare 9:22, and 12:42.)

12. These predictions had speedy and literal fulfilment. From the time
of the crucifixion, Jewish malignity and hatred were directed against
all who professed a belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ. In the
early stages of their ministry several of the apostles were
imprisoned--(Acts 5:18; compare 4:3.) and the priestly leaders sought
to take their lives.--(Acts 5:33.) Stephen was stoned to death because
of his testimony;--(See Acts 6:8-15; 7:54-60.) and the persecution
against the Church became general.--(See Acts 8:1.) James, the son of
Zebedee, was slain by order of Herod,--(Acts 12:1, 2.) and Peter was
saved from a similar fate only by a miraculous intervention.--(Verses
3:10.) The scriptural record informs us as to the ultimate fate of but
few of the apostles; and secular history is likewise incomplete. That
Peter would be numbered with the martyrs was made known by the
resurrected Lord.--(See John 21:18, 19.) Paul sets forth the fact that
the apostles lived in the very shadow of death--(I Cor. 4:9.) and that
persecution was their heritage.--(Verses 11-13; see also II Cor. 4:8,
9; 6:4, 5.)

13. Not only did the Jews wage relentless persecution against those of
their number who professed Christ, but they sought to stir up
opposition on the part of the Romans, and to accomplish this end
charged that the Christians were plotting treason against the Roman
government. Even during the personal ministry of the early apostles,
persecution of the saints had spread from Jerusalem, throughout
Palestine and into the adjacent provinces. In this evil work the Jews
sought to incite their own people living in the outlying parts, and
also to arouse the opposition of the officers and rulers of the Roman
dominions. As evidence of this phase of the persecution, partly Jewish
and partly pagan, instigated by Jews and participated in by others,
the following quotation from Mosheim may suffice:

14. "The Jews who lived out of Palestine, in the Roman provinces, did
not yield to those of Jerusalem in point of cruelty to the innocent
disciples of Christ. We learn from the history of the Acts of the
Apostles, and other records of unquestionable authority, that they
spared no labor, but zealously seized every occasion of animating the
magistrates against the Christians, and setting on the multitude to
demand their destruction. The high priest of the nation and the Jews
who dwelt in Palestine were instrumental in inciting the rage of these
foreign Jews against the infant Church, by sending messengers to
exhort them, not only to avoid all intercourse with the Christians,
but also to persecute them in the most vehement manner. For this
inhuman order they endeavored to find out the most plausible pretexts;
and therefore, they gave out that the Christians were enemies to the
Roman emperor, since they acknowledged the authority of a certain
person whose name was Jesus, whom Pilate had punished capitally as a
malefactor by a most righteous sentence, and on whom, nevertheless,
they conferred the royal dignity."--(Mosheim, "Ecclesiastical
History," Cent. I, Part I, 5:2.)

15. In the latter half of the first century, the scene of Judaistic
persecution of the church had shifted from Jerusalem to the outlying
provinces; and the cause of this was the general exodus of Christians
from the city whose destruction had been decreed.--(See Note 4, end of
chapter.) Our Lord's predictions as to the fate of Jerusalem and His
warnings to the people--(See Luke 21:5-9, 20-24.) had been very
generally heeded. Eusebius--(Eusebius, "Ecclesiastical History," Book
III, ch. 5.) informs us that the body of the Church had moved from
Jerusalem into the provinces beyond the Jordan, and thus largely
escaped the calamities of the Jews who remained.


1. _Persecution in Different Dispensations_. It may be argued that,
judging from the history of the re-established Church in the present
dispensation, may tend to strengthen rather than to weaken the Church,
and that therefore violent opposition in earlier times cannot be
considered a true cause leading to final disruption. In reply it may
be said that the present is the dispensation of the fulness of
times,--a period in which the Church shall triumph, and during which
the powers of evil are limited and restrained in their opposition;
whereas the period of the apostasy was one of temporary victory for
Satan. Our belief in the eventual triumph of good over evil must not
blind us to the fact that evil is frequently allowed a short-lived
success, and a seeming victory. The permanency of the Latter-day
Church has been not less surely predicted than was the temporary
duration of the Primitive Church. Satan was given power to overcome
the saints in former days, and the persecutions he waged against them
and the officers of the Church contributed to his passing success. It
has been decreed that he shall not have power to destroy the Church in
the last dispensation, and his persecution of the saints today will be
futile as a means of bringing about a general apostasy in these latter

2. _Persecution as a Possible Cause of Apostasy_. "Let it not be a
matter of surprise that I class those persecutions as among the means
through which the church was destroyed. The force of heathen rage was
aimed at the leaders and strong men of the body religious; and being
long-continued and relentlessly cruel, those most steadfast in their
adherence to the Church invariably became its victims. These being
stricken down, it left none but weaklings to contend for the faith,
and made possible those subsequent innovations in the religion of
Jesus which a pagan public sentiment demanded, and which so completely
changed both the spirit and form of the Christian religion as to
subvert it utterly. Let me further ask that no one be surprised that
violence is permitted to operate in such a case. The idea that the
right is always victorious in this world, that truth is always
triumphant and innocence always divinely protected, are old, fond
fables with which well-meaning men have amused credulous multitudes;
but the stern facts of history and actual experience in life correct
the pleasing delusion. Do not misunderstand me. I believe in the
ultimate victory of the right, the ultimate triumph of truth, the
final immunity of innocence from violence. These--innocence, truth and
the right--will be at the last more than conquerors; they will be
successful in the war, but that does not prevent them from losing some
battles. It should be remembered always that God has given to man his
agency; and that fact implies that one man is as free to act wickedly
as another is to do righteousness. Cain was as free to murder his
brother as that brother was to worship God; and so the pagans and Jews
were as free to persecute and murder the Christians as the Christians
were to live virtuously and worship Christ as God. The agency of man
would not be worth the name if it did not grant liberty to the wicked
to fill the cup of their iniquity, as well as liberty to the virtuous
to round out the measure of their righteousness. Such perfect liberty
or agency God has given man; and it is only so variously modified as
not so thwart His general purposes." (B. H. Roberts, "A New Witness
for God," pp. 47, 48.)

3. _Early Persecutions by the Jews_. "The innocence and virtue that
distinguished so eminently the lives of Christ's servants the
apostles, the purity of the doctrine they taught, were not sufficient
to defend them against the virulence and malignity of the Jews. The
priests and rulers of that abandoned people not only loaded with
injuries and reproach the apostles of Jesus and their disciples, but
condemned as many of them as they could to death, and executed in the
most irregular and barbarous manner their decrees. The murder of
Stephen, of James the son of Zebedee, and of James surnamed the Just,
bishop of Jerusalem, furnished dreadful examples of the truth of what
we here advance. This odious malignity of the Jewish doctors against
the heralds of the gospel, was undoubtedly owing to a secret
apprehension that the progress of Christianity would destroy the
credit of Judaism, and bring on the ruin of their pompous ceremonies."
In a footnote to the foregoing, references appear as follows. "The
martyrdom of Stephen is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles 7:55; and
that of James the son of Zebedee, Acts 12:1, 2, and that of James the
Just, bishop of Jerusalem, is mentioned by Josephus in his Jewish
Antiquities, book XX, chap. 8; and by Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical
History, book II, chap. 23."--(Mosheim, "Ecclesiastical History,"
Cent. I, Part I, 5:1.)

4. _Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans_. "A rebellious disturbance
among the Jews gave a semblance of excuse for a terrible chastisement
to be visited upon them by their Roman masters, which culminated in
the destruction of Jerusalem, A. D. 71. The city fell after a six
months' siege before the Roman arms led by Titus, son of the Emperor
Vespasian. Josephus, the famous historian, to whom we owe most of our
knowledge as to the details of the struggle, was himself a resident in
Galilee and was carried to Rome among the captives. From his record we
learn that nearly a million Jews lost their lives through the famine
incident to the siege; many more were sold into slavery, and uncounted
numbers were forced into exile. The city was utterly destroyed, and
the site upon which the temple had stood was plowed up by the Romans
in their search for treasure. Thus literally were the words of Christ
fulfilled, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that
shall not be thrown down.--(Matt. 24:1, 2; see also Luke 19:44.)" (The
Author, "The Articles of Faith," Lecture 17:18.)


**Causes of Apostasy.--External Causes, Continued**.

1. As already pointed out, it is convenient to study the causes
leading to the great apostasy as belonging to two classes, external
and internal, or (1) causes due to conditions operating against the
Church from without; and (2) causes arising from dissension and heresy
within the Church itself. We have summarized external causes under
the general term persecution; and we have drawn a distinction between
Judaistic and pagan persecution waged against the Church. Having dealt
with the opposition suffered by the early Christians at the hands of
the Jews or through Jewish instigation, we have now to consider the
persecution brought upon the believers in Christ by pagan nations.

**Pagan Persecution**.

2. The term "pagan" as here used may be taken as a synonym of
"heathen," and is to be understood as referring to persons or peoples
who did not believe in the existence of the living God, and whose
worship was essentially idolatrous. The motives impelling
non-believing Jews to oppose the establishment and spread of
Christianity may readily be understood, in view of the fact that the
religion taught by Christ appeared as a rival of Judaism, and that the
growth and spread of one meant the decline if not the extinction of
the other. The immediate motive leading to bitter and widespread
persecution of the Christians by heathen peoples is not so easy to
perceive, since there was no uniform system of idolatrous worship in
any single nation, but a vast diversity of deities and cults of
idolatry, to no one of which was Christianity opposed more than to
all. Yet we find the worshipers of idols forgetting their own
differences and uniting in opposition to the gospel of peace,--in
persecution waged with incredible ferocity and indescribable
cruelty.--(See Note 1, end of chapter.)

3. Unfortunately, historians differ widely in their records of
persecution of Christians, according to the point of view from which
each writer wrote. Thus, in a general way, Christian authors have
given extreme accounts of the sufferings to which the Church and its
adherents individually were subjected; while non-Christian historians
have sought to lessen and minimize the extent and severity of the
cruelties practiced against the Christians. There are facts, however,
which neither party denies, and to which both give place in their
separate records. To make a fair interpretation of these facts,
drawing just and true inferences therefrom, should be our purpose.

4. Among pagan persecutors of the Church, the Roman empire is the
principal aggressor. This may appear strange in view of the general
tolerance exercised by Rome toward her tributary peoples; indeed, the
real cause of Roman opposition to Christianity has given rise to many
conjectures. It is probable that intolerant zeal on the part of the
Christians themselves had much to do with their unpopularity among
heathen nations. This subject is conservatively summed up by Mosheim
as follows:

5. "A very natural curiosity calls us to inquire, how it happened that
the Romans, who were troublesome to no nation on account of their
religion, and who suffered even the Jews to live under their own laws,
and follow their own methods of worship, treated the Christians alone
with such severity. This important question seems still more difficult
to be solved, when we consider, that the excellent nature of the
Christian religion, and its admirable tendency to promote both the
public welfare of the state, and the private felicity of the
individual, entitled it, in a singular manner, to the favor and
protection of the reigning powers. One of the principal reasons of the
severity with which the Romans persecuted the Christians,
notwithstanding these considerations, seems to have been the
abhorrence and contempt with which the latter regarded the religion of
the empire, which was so intimately connected with the form, and
indeed, with the very essence of its political constitution. For,
though the Romans gave an unlimited toleration to all religions which
had nothing in their tenets dangerous to the commonwealth, yet they
would not permit that of their ancestors, which was established by the
laws of the state, to be turned into derision nor the people to be
drawn away from their attachment to it. These, however, were the two
things which the Christians were charged with, and that justly, though
to their honor. They dared to ridicule the absurdities of the pagan
superstition, and they were ardent and assiduous in gaining proselytes
to the truth. Nor did they only attack the religion of Rome, but also
all the different shapes and forms under which superstition appeared
in the various countries where they exercised their ministry. From
this the Romans concluded, that the Christian sect was not only
insupportably daring and arrogant, but, moreover, an enemy to the
public tranquillity, and every way proper to excite civil wars and
commotions in the empire. It is probably on this account that Tacitus
reproaches them with the odious character of haters of mankind, and
styles the religion of Jesus as destructive superstition; and that
Suetonious speaks of the Christians and their doctrine in terms of the
same kind.

6. "Another circumstance that irritated the Romans against the
Christians, was the simplicity of their worship, which resembled in
nothing the sacred rites of any other people. The Christians had
neither sacrifices, nor temples, nor images, nor oracles, nor
sacerdotal orders; and this was sufficient to bring upon them the
reproaches of an ignorant multitude, who imagined that there could be
no religion without these."--(Mosheim, "Eccl. Hist.," Cent. 1, Part 1,
ch. 5:6, 7.)

7. Persecution of the Church by Roman authority may be said to have
begun in the reign of Nero (A. D. 64) and to have continued to the
close of Diocletian's reign (A. D. 305.) Within this range of time
there were many periods of diminished severity, if not of comparative
tranquillity; nevertheless, the Church was the object of heathen
oppression for about two and a half centuries. Attempts have been made
by Christian writers to segregate the persecutions into ten distinct
and separate onslaughts; and some profess to find a mystic relation
between the ten persecutions thus classified, and the ten plagues of
Egypt, as also an analogy with the ten horns mentioned by John the
Revelator.--(See Rev. 17:14.) As a matter of fact attested by history,
the number of persecutions of unusual severity was less than ten;
while the total of all, including local and restricted assaults, would
be much greater.--(See Note 2, end of chapter.)

8. _Persecution under Nero_. The first extended and notable
persecution of Christians under the official edict of a Roman emperor
was that instigated by Nero, A. D. 64. As students of history know,
this monarch is remembered mostly for his crimes. During the latter
part of his infamous reign, a large section of the city of Rome was
destroyed by fire. He was suspected by some of being responsible for
the disaster; and, fearing the resentment of the infuriated people, he
sought to implicate the unpopular and much-maligned Christians as the
incendiaries, and by torture tried to force a confession from them. As
to what followed the foul accusation, let us consider the words of a
non-Christian writer, Tacitus, whose integrity as a historian is held
in esteem.

9. "With this view, he (Nero) inflicted the most exquisite tortures on
those men who, under the vulgar appellation of Christians, were
already branded with deserved infamy. They derived their name and
origin from Christ, who, in the reign of Tiberius had suffered death
by the sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate. For a while this
dire superstition was checked but it again burst forth; and not only
spread itself over Judea, the first seat of this mischievous sect, but
was even introduced into Rome, the common asylum which receives and
protects whatever is impure, whatever is atrocious. The confessions of
those that were seized discovered a great multitude of their
accomplices, and they were all convicted, not so much for the crime of
setting fire to the city, as for their hatred of human kind. They died
in torments, and their torments were embittered by insults and
derision. Some were nailed on crosses; others sewn up in the skins of
wild beasts and exposed to the fury of dogs; others, again, smeared
over with combustible materials, were used as torches to illuminate
the darkness of the night. The gardens of Nero were destined for the
melancholy spectacle, which was accompanied with a horse-race, and
honored with the presence of the emperor, who mingled with the
populace in the dress and attitude of a charioteer. The guilt of the
Christians deserved indeed the most exemplary punishments, but the
public abhorrence was changed into commiseration, from the opinion
that those unhappy wretches were sacrificed, not so much to the public
welfare as to the cruelty of a jealous tyrant."--(Tacitus, Annals,
Book 15, ch. 44.)

10. There is some disagreement among historians as to whether the
Neronian persecution is to be regarded as a local infliction,
practically confined to the city of Rome, or as general throughout the
provinces.--(See Note 3, end of chapter.) The consensus of opinion
favors the belief that the provinces followed the example of the
metropolis, and that the persecution was common throughout the Church.

11. This, the first persecution by Roman edict, practically ended with
the death of the tyrant Nero, A. D. 68. According to tradition handed
down from the early Christian writers, the Apostles Paul and Peter
suffered martyrdom at Rome, the former by beheading, the latter by
crucifixion, during this persecution; and it is further stated that
Peter's wife was put to death shortly before her husband; but the
tradition is neither confirmed nor disproved by authentic record.

12. _Persecution under Domitian_. The second officially appointed
persecution under Roman authority began 93 or 94 A. D. in the reign of
Domitian. Both Christians and Jews came under this prince's
displeasure, because they refused to reverence the statues he had
erected as objects of adoration. A further cause for his special
animosity against Christians, as affirmed by early writers, is as
follows. The emperor was persuaded that he was in danger of losing his
throne, in view of a reputed prediction that from the family to which
Jesus belonged there would arise one who would weaken if not overthrow
the power of Rome. With this as his ostensible excuse, this wicked
ruler waged terrible destruction on an innocent people. Happily, the
persecution thus started was of but few years duration. Mosheim and
others aver that the end of the persecution was caused by the
emperor's untimely death; though Eusebius, who wrote in the fourth
century, quotes an earlier writer as declaring that Domitian had the
living descendants of the Savior's family brought before him, and that
after questioning them he became convinced that he was in no danger
from them; and thereupon dismissed them with contempt and ordered the
persecution to cease. It is believed that while the edict of Domitian
was in force the Apostle John suffered banishment to the isle of

13. _Persecution under Trajan_. What is known in ecclesiastical
history as the third persecution of the Christian Church took place in
the reign of Trajan, who occupied the imperial throne from 98 to 117
A. D. He was and is regarded as one of the best of the Roman emperors,
yet he sanctioned violent persecution of the Christians owing to their
"inflexible obstinacy" in refusing to sacrifice to Roman gods. History
has preserved to us a very important letter asking instructions from
the emperor, by the younger Pliny, who was governor of Pontus, and the
emperor's reply thereto. This correspondence is instructive as showing
the extent to which Christianity had spread at that time, and the way
in which believers were treated by the officers of the state.

14. Pliny inquired of the emperor as to the policy to be pursued in
dealing with the Christians within his jurisdiction. Were young and
old, tender and robust, to be treated alike, or should punishment be
graded? Should opportunity be given the accused to recant, or was the
fact that they had once professed Christianity to be considered an
unpardonable offense? Were those convicted as Christians to be
punished for their religion alone, or only for specific offenses
resulting from their membership in the Christian Church? After
propounding such queries the governor proceeded to report to the
emperor what he had done in the absence of definite instructions. In
reply the emperor directed that the Christians were not to be hunted
nor sought after vindictively, but if accused and brought before the
judgment seat, and if then they refused to denounce their faith, they
were to be put to death.--(See Note 4, end of chapter.)

15. _Persecution under Marcus Aurelius_. Marcus Aurelius reigned from
161 to 180 A. D. He was noted as one who sought the greatest good of
his people; yet under his government the Christians suffered added
cruelties. Persecution was most severe in Gaul (now France.) Among
those who met the martyr's fate at that time, were Polycarp, bishop of
Smyrna, and Justin Martyr, known in history as the philosopher. With
reference to the seeming anomaly that even the best of rulers
permitted and even prosecuted vigorous opposition to Christian
devotees, as exemplified by the acts of this emperor, a modern writer
has said: "It should be noted that the persecution of the Christians
under the pagan emperors sprung from political rather than religious
motives, and that is why we find the names of the best emperors, as
well as those of the worst, in the list of persecutors. It was
believed that the welfare of the state was bound up with the careful
performance of the rites of the national worship; and hence, while the
Roman rulers were usually very tolerant allowing all forms of worship
among their subjects, still they required that men of every faith
should at least recognize the Roman gods, and burn incense before
their statues. This the Christians steadily refused to do. Their
neglect of the service of the temple, it was believed, angered the
gods, and endangered the safety of the state, bringing upon it
drought, pestilence, and every disaster. This was the main reason of
their persecution by the pagan emperors."--(General History by P. V.
N. Myers, edition of 1889, p. 322.)

16. _Later Persecutions_. With occasional periods of partial
cessation, the Christian believers continued to suffer at the hands of
heathen opponents throughout the second and third centuries. A violent
persecution marked the reign of Severus (193-211 A. D.) in the first
decade of the third century; another characterized the reign of
Maximin (235-238 A. D.) A period of unusual severity in persecution
and suffering befell the Christians during the short reign of Decius
known also as Decius Trajan (219-251 A. D.) The persecution under
Decius is designated in ecclesiastical history as the seventh
persecution of the Christian Church. Others followed in rapid
succession. Some of these periods of specific oppression we pass over
and come to the consideration of the

17. _Diocletian Persecution_, which is spoken of as the tenth, and
happily the last. Diocletian reigned from 284 to 305 A. D. At first he
was very tolerant toward Christian belief and practice; indeed it is
of record that his wife and daughter were Christians, though "in some
sense, secretly." Later, however, he turned against the Church and
undertook to bring about a total suppression of the Christian
religion. To this end he ordered a general destruction of Christian
books, and decreed the penalty of death against all who kept such
works in their possession.

18. Fire broke out twice in the royal palace at Nicomedia, and on each
occasion the incendiary act was charged against the Christians with
terrible results. Four separate edicts, each surpassing in vehemence
the earlier decrees, were issued against the believers; and for a
period of ten years they were the victims of unrestrained rapine,
spoliation and torture. At the end of the decade of terror the Church
was in a scattered and seemingly in a hopeless condition. Sacred
records had been burnt; places of worship had been razed to the
ground; thousands of Christians had been put to death; and every
possible effort had been made to destroy the Church and abolish
Christianity from the earth. Descriptions of the horrible extremes to
which brutality was carried are sickening to the soul. A single
example must suffice. Eusebius, referring to the persecutions in
Egypt, says: "And such too was the severity of the struggle which was
endured by the Egyptians, who wrestled gloriously for the faith at
Tyre. Thousands, both men, and women and children, despising the
present life for the sake of our Savior's doctrine, submitted to death
in various shapes. Some, after being tortured with scrappings and the
rack, and the most dreadful scourgings, and other innumerable agonies
which one might shudder to hear, were finally committed to the flames;
and some plunged and drowned in the sea, others voluntarily offering
their own heads to their executioners, others dying in the midst of
their torments, some wasted away by famine, and others again fixed to
the cross. Some, indeed, were executed as malefactors usually were;
others, more cruelly, were nailed with the head downwards, and kept
alive until they were destroyed by starving on the cross
itself."--(Eusebius, "Eccl. Hist.," Book 8, ch. 8.)

19. A modern writer, whose tendency ever was to minimize the extent of
Christian persecution, is Edward Gibbon. His account of the conditions
prevailing during this period of Diocletian outrage is as follows:
"The magistrates were commanded to employ every method of severity
which might reclaim them from their odious superstition, and oblige
them to return to the established worship of the gods. This rigorous
order was extended, by a subsequent edict, to the whole body of
Christians, who were exposed to a violent and general persecution.
Instead of those salutary restraints which had required the direct and
solemn testimony of an accuser, it became the duty as well as the
interest of the imperial officers to discover, to pursue, and to
torment the most obnoxious among the faithful. Heavy penalties were
denounced against all who should presume to save a proscribed sectary
from the just indignation of the gods and of the emperors."--(Gibbon,
"Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," ch. XVI.)

20. So general was the Diocletian persecution, and so destructive its
effect, that at its cessation the Christian Church was thought to be
forever extinct. Monuments were raised to commemorate the emperor's
zeal as a persecutor, notably two pillars erected in Spain. On one of
them is an inscription extolling the mighty Diocletian "_For having
extinguished the name of Christians who brought the Republic to
ruin_." A second pillar commemorates the reign of Diocletian, and
honors the imperator "_for having everywhere abolished the
superstition of Christ; for having extended the worship of the gods_."
A medal struck in honor of Diocletian bears the inscription "_The name
of Christian being extinguished_."--(Milner, "Church History," Cent.
IV, ch. 1:38.) To the fallacy of these assumptions subsequent events

21. The Diocletian oppression was the last of the great persecutions
brought by pagan Rome against Christianity as a whole. A stupendous
change, amounting to a revolution, now appears in the affairs of the
Church. Constantine, known in history as Constantine the Great, became
emperor of Rome A. D. 306, and reigned 31 years. Early in his reign he
espoused the hitherto unpopular cause of the Christians, and took the
Church under official protection. A legend gained currency that the
emperor's conversion was due to a supernatural manifestation, whereby
he saw a luminous cross appear in the heavens with the inscription,
"By this sign, conquer." The genuineness of this alleged manifestation
is doubtful, and the evidence of history is against it. The incident
is here mentioned to show the means devised to make Christianity
popular at the time.

22. It is held by many judicious historians that Constantine's
so-called conversion was rather a matter of policy than a sincere
acceptance of the truth of Christianity. The emperor himself remained
a catechumen, that is, an unbaptized believer, until shortly before
his death, when he became a member by baptism. But, whatever his
motives may have been, he made Christianity the religion of state,
issuing an official decree to this effect in 313. "He made the cross
the royal standard; and the Roman legions now for the first time
marched beneath the emblem of Christianity." (Myers.)

23. Immediately following the change there was a great competition for
church preferment. The office of a bishop came to be more highly
esteemed than the rank of a general. The emperor himself was the real
head of the Church. It became unpopular and decidedly disadvantageous
in a material sense to be known as a non-Christian. Pagan temples were
transformed into churches, and heathen idols were demolished. We read
that twelve thousand men and a proportionate number of women and
children were baptized into the Church of Rome alone within a single
year. Constantine removed the capital of the empire from Rome to
Byzantium, which city he re-named after himself, Constantinople. This,
the present capital of Turkey, became headquarters of the state

24. How empty and vain appears the Diocletian boast that Christianity
was forever extinguished! Yet how different was the Church under the
patronage of Constantine from the Church as established by Christ and
as built up by His apostles! The Church had already become apostate as
judged by the standard of its original constitution.


1. _Cause of Pagan Opposition to Christianity_. "The whole body of
Christians unanimously refused to hold any communion with the gods of
Rome, of the empire, and of mankind. It was in vain that the oppressed
believer asserted the inalienable rights of conscience and private
judgment. Though his situation might excite the pity, his arguments
could never reach the understanding, either of the philosophic or of
the believing part of the pagan world. To their apprehensions, it was
no less a matter of surprise that any individuals should entertain
scruples against complying with the established mode of worship, than
if they had conceived a sudden abhorrence to the manners, the dress,
or the language of their native country. The surprise of the pagans
was soon succeeded by resentment; and the most pious of men were
exposed to the unjust but dangerous imputation of impiety. Malice and
prejudice concurred in representing the Christians as a society of
atheists, who, by the most daring attack on the religious constitution
of the empire, had merited the severest animadversion of the civil
magistrate. They had separated themselves (they gloried in the
confession) from every mode of superstition which was received in any
part of the globe by the various temper of polytheism; but it was not
altogether so evident what deity or what form of worship they had
substituted to the gods and temples of antiquity. The pure and sublime
idea which they entertained of the Supreme Being escaped the gross
conception of the pagan multitude, who were at a loss to discover a
spiritual and solitary God, that was neither represented under any
corporeal figures or visible symbol, nor was adored with the
accustomed pomp of libations and festivals, of altars and sacrifices."
(Gibbon, "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," chap. XVI.)

2. _As to the Number of Persecutions by the Romans_. "The Romans are
said to have pursued the Christians with the utmost violence in ten
persecutions, but this number is not verified by the ancient history
of the church. For if, by these persecutions, such only are meant as
were singularly severe and universal throughout the empire, then it is
certain that these amount not to the number above mentioned. And, if
we take the provincial and less remarkable persecutions into the
account, they far exceed it. In the fifth century, certain Christians
(were) led by some passages of the holy scriptures and by one
especially in the Revelations (Rev. 17:14), to imagine that the church
was to suffer ten calamities of a most grievous nature. To this
notion, therefore, they endeavored, though not all in the same way, to
accommodate the language of history, even against the testimony of
those ancient records, from whence alone history can speak with
authority." (Mosheim, "Ecclesiastical History," Cent. I, Part I; ch.

Speaking on the same subject, Gibbon says: "As often as any occasional
severities were exercised in the different parts of the empire, the
primitive Christians lamented and perhaps magnified their own
sufferings; but the celebrated number of ten persecutions has been
determined by the ecclesiastical writers of the fifth century, who
possessed a more distinct view of the prosperous or adverse fortunes
of the church from the age of Nero to that of Diocletian. The
ingenious parallels of the ten plagues of Egypt and of the ten horns
of the Apocalypse first suggested this calculation of their minds; and
in their application of the faith of prophecy to the truth of history
they were careful to select those reigns which were indeed the most
hostile to the Christian cause." (Gibbon, "Decline and Fall of the
Roman Empire," ch. XVI.)

3. _Extent of the Neronian Persecution_. "Learned men are not entirely
agreed concerning the extent of this persecution under Nero. Some
confine it to the city of Rome, while others represent it as having
raged throughout the whole empire. The latter opinion, which is also
the most ancient, is undoubtedly to be preferred; as it is certain
that the laws enacted against the Christians were enacted against the
whole body, and not against particular churches, and were consequently
in force in the remotest provinces." (Mosheim, "Ecclesiastical
History," Cent. I. Part I, 5:14.)

4. _Correspondence Between Pliny and Trajan_. The inquiry of the
younger Pliny, governor of Pontus, addressed to Trajan, emperor of
Rome, and the imperial reply thereto, are of such interest as to be
worthy of reproduction in full. The version here given is that of
Milner as appears in his "History of the Church of Christ," edition of
1810, Cent. II, ch. 1.

"_Pliny to Trajan, Emperor_:

"Health.--It is my usual custom, Sir, to refer all things, of which I
harbor any doubts, to you. For who can better direct my judgment in
its hesitation, or instruct my understanding in its ignorance? I never
had the fortune to be present at any examination of Christians, before
I came into this province. I am therefore at a loss to determine what
is the usual object either of inquiry or of punishment, and to what
length either of them is to be carried. It has also been with me a
question very problematical,--whether any distinction should be made
between the young and the old, the tender and the robust;--whether any
room should be given for repentance, or the guilt of Christianity once
incurred is not to be expiated by the most unequivocal retraction;--
whether the name itself, abstracted from any flagitiousness of
conduct, or the crimes connected with the name, be the object of
punishment. In the meantime, this has been my method, with respect to
those who were brought before me as Christians. I asked them whether
they were Christians: if they pleaded guilty, I interrogated then
twice afresh with a menace of capital punishment. In case of obstinate
perseverance I ordered them to be executed. For of this I had no
doubt, whatever was the nature of their religion, that a sudden and
obstinate inflexibility called for the vengeance of the magistrate.
Some were infected with the same madness, whom, on account of their
privilege of citizenship, I reserved to be sent to Rome, to be
referred to your tribunal. In the course of this business,
informations pouring in, as is usual when they are encouraged, more
cases occurred. An anonymous libel was exhibited, with a catalogue of
names of persons, who yet declared that they were not Christians then,
nor ever had been; and they repeated after me an invocation of the
gods and of your image, which, for this purpose, I had ordered to be
brought with the images of the deities. They performed sacred rites
with wine and frankincense, and execrated Christ,--none of which
things I am told a real Christian can ever be compelled to do. On this
account I dismissed them. Others named by an informer, first affirmed,
and then denied the charge of Christianity; declaring that they had
been Christians, but had ceased to be so some three years ago, others
even longer, some even twenty years ago. All of them worshiped your
image, and the statues of the gods, and also execrated Christ. And
this was the account which they gave of the nature of the religion
they had once professed, whether it deserves the name of crime or
error,--namely--that they were accustomed on a stated day to meet
before daylight, and to repeat among themselves a hymn to Christ as to
a god, and to bind themselves by an oath, with an obligation of not
committing any wickedness;--but on the contrary, of abstaining from
thefts, robberies, and adulteries;--also of not violating their
promise or denying a pledge;--after which it was their custom to
separate, and to meet again at a promiscuous harmless meal, from which
last practice they however desisted, after the publication of my
edict, in which, agreeably to your order, I forbade any societies of
that sort. On which account I judged it the more necessary to inquire,
by torture, from two females, who were said to be deaconesses, what is
the real truth. But nothing could I collect except a depraved and
excessive superstition. Deferring, therefore, any further
investigation, I determined to consult you. For the number of culprits
is so great as to call for serious consultation. Many persons are
informed against of every age and of both sexes; and more still will
be in the same situation. The contagion of the superstition hath
spread not only through cities, but even villages and the country. Not
that I think it impossible to check and correct it. The success of my
endeavors hitherto forbids such desponding thoughts; for the temples,
almost once desolate, begin to be frequented, and the sacred
solemnities, which had long been intermitted, are now attended afresh;
and the sacrificial victims are now sold everywhere, which once could
scarcely find a purchaser. Whence I conclude that many might be
reclaimed were the hope of impunity, on repentance, absolutely

The emperor's reply follows:

"_Trajan to Pliny_:

"You have done perfectly right, my dear Pliny, in the inquiry which
you have made concerning Christians. For truly no one general rule can
be laid down, which will apply itself to all cases. These people must
not be sought after. If they are brought before you and convicted, let
them be capitally punished, yet with this restriction, that if any one
renounce Christianity, and evidence his sincerity by supplicating our
gods, however suspected he may be for the past, he shall obtain pardon
for the future, on his repentance. But anonymous libels in no case
ought to be attended to; for the precedent would be of the worst sort,
and perfectly incongruous to the maxims of my government."


**Causes of the Apostasy.--Internal Causes**.

1. The cruel persecution to which the adherents of Christianity and
the Church as an organized body were subjected during the first three
centuries of our era have been treated as external causes,
contributing at least indirectly to the general apostasy. Details of
Judaistic and heathen opposition have been given with sufficient
fulness to show that the unpopular Church had a troubled existence,
and that such of its members as remained faithful to the tenets and
principles of the gospel were martyrs in spirit if not in fact.

2. As would naturally be expected, the immediate effect of persistent
persecution on those who professed a belief in the divinity of the
Lord Jesus was diverse and varied; indeed it ranged from unrestrained
enthusiasm expressed in frenzied clamoring for martyrdom, to ready and
abject apostasy with ostentatious display of devotion in idolatrous

3. Many of the Christian devotees developed a zeal amounting to mania,
and, disregarding all prudence and discretion, gloried in the prospect
of winning the martyr's crown. Some who had been left unassailed felt
themselves aggrieved, and became their own accusers; while others
openly committed acts of aggression with intent to bring resentment
upon themselves.--(See Note 1, end of chapter.) These extravagances
were doubtless encouraged by the excessive veneration accorded the
memories and the bodily remains of those who had fallen as victims in
the cause. The reverential respect so rendered developed later into
the impious practice of martyr worship.

4. Commenting on the imprudent enthusiasm of the early Christians,
Gibbon says: "The Christians sometimes supplied by their voluntary
declaration the want of an accuser, rudely disturbed the public
service of paganism, and, rushing in crowds round the tribunal of the
magistrates, called upon them to pronounce and to inflict the sentence
of the law. The behavior of the Christians was too remarkable to
escape the notice of the ancient philosophers; but they seem to have
received it with much less admiration than astonishment. Incapable of
conceiving the motives which sometimes transported the fortitude of
believers beyond the bounds of prudence and reason, they treated such
an eagerness to die as the strange result of obstinate despair, of
stupid insensibility or of superstitious frenzy."--(Gibbon, "Decline
and Fall of the Roman Empire," ch. XVI.)

5. But there is another side to the picture. While imprudent zealots
invited dangers from which they might have remained exempt, others,
affrighted at the possibility of being included among the victims,
voluntarily deserted the Church and returned to heathen allegiances.
Milner, speaking of conditions existing in the third century, and
incorporating the words of Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, who lived at
the time of the incident described, says: "Vast numbers lapsed into
idolatry immediately. Even before men were accused as Christians, many
ran to the forum and sacrificed to the gods as they were ordered; and
the crowds of apostates were so great, that the magistrates wished to
delay numbers of them till the next day, but they were importuned by
the wretched suppliants to be allowed to prove themselves heathens
that very night."--(Milner, "Church History," Cent. III, ch. 8.)

6. In connection with this individual apostasy of Church members under
the pressure of persecution, there arose among the provincial
governors a practice of selling certificates or "libels" as these
documents were called, which "attested that the persons therein
mentioned had complied with the laws and sacrificed to the Roman
deities. By producing these false declarations, the opulent and timid
Christians were enabled to silence the malice of an informer, and to
reconcile, in some measure, their safety with their religion."--
(Gibbon, "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," ch. XVI.) A
modification of this practice of quasi-apostasy consisted in procuring
testimonials from persons of standing certifying that the holders had
abjured the gospel; these documents were presented to the heathen
magistrates, and they, on receipt of a specified fee, granted
exemption from the requirement of sacrificing to the pagan gods.--(See
Milner, "Church History," Cent. III, ch. 9.) As a result of these
practices, whereby under favorable circumstances the wealthy could
purchase immunity from persecution, and at the same time maintain a
semblance of standing in the Church, much dissension arose, the
question being as to whether those who had thus shown their weakness
could ever be received again into communion with the Church.

7. Persecution at most was but an indirect cause of the decline of
Christianity and the perversion of the saving principles of the gospel
of Christ. The greater and more immediate dangers threatening the
Church must be sought within the body itself. Indeed, the pressure of
opposition from without served to restrain the bubbling springs of
internal dissension, and actually delayed the more destructive
eruptions of schism and heresy.--(See Note 2, end of chapter.) A
general review of the history of the Church down to the end of the
third century shows that the periods of comparative peace were periods
of weakness and decline in spiritual earnestness, and that with the
return of persecution came an awakening and a renewal in Christian
devotion. Devout leaders of the people were not backward in declaring
that each recurring period of persecution was a time of natural and
necessary chastisement for the sin and corruption that had gained
headway within the Church.--(See Note 3, end of chapter.)

8. As to the condition of the Church in the middle of the third
century, Cyprian, the bishop of Carthage, thus speaks: "If the cause
of our miseries be investigated, the cure of the wound may be found.
The Lord would have his family to be tried. And because long peace had
corrupted the discipline divinely revealed to us, the heavenly
chastisement hath raised up our faith, which had lain almost dormant:
and when, by our sins, we have deserved to suffer still more, the
merciful Lord so moderated all things, that the whole scene rather
deserves the name of a trial than a persecution. Each had been bent on
improving his patrimony; and had forgotten what believers had done
under the apostles, and what they ought always to do:--they were
brooding over the arts of amassing wealth:--the pastors and the
deacons each forgot their duty: Works of mercy were neglected, and
discipline was at the lowest ebb.--Luxury and effeminacy prevailed:
Meretricious arts in dress were cultivated: Frauds and deceit were
practiced among brethren.--Christians could unite themselves in
matrimony with unbelievers; could swear not only without reverence,
but even without veracity. With haughty asperity they despised their
ecclesiastical superiors: They railed against one another with
outrageous acrimony, and conducted quarrels with determined
malice:--Even many bishops, who ought to be guides and patterns to the
rest, neglecting the peculiar duties of their stations, gave
themselves up to secular pursuits:--They deserted their places of
residence and their flocks: They traveled through distant provinces in
quest of pleasure and gain; gave no assistance to the needy brethren;
but were insatiable in their thirst of money:--They possessed estates
by fraud and multiplied usury. What have we not deserved to suffer for
such conduct? Even the divine word hath foretold us what we might
expect.--'If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my
judgments, I will visit their offenses with the rod, and their sin
with scourges.' These things had been denounced and foretold, but in
vain. Our sins had brought our affairs to that pass, that because we
had despised the Lord's directions, we were obliged to undergo a
correction of our multiplied evils and a trial of our faith by severe
remedies."--(As quoted by Milner, "Church History," Cent. III, ch. 8.)

9. Milner, who quotes approvingly the severe arraignment of the Church
in the third century as given above, cannot be charged with bias
against Christian institutions, inasmuch as his declared purpose in
presenting to the world an additional "History of the Church of
Christ" was to give due attention to certain phases of the subject
slighted or neglected by earlier authors, and notably to emphasize the
piety, not the wickedness, of the professed followers of Christ. This
author, avowedly friendly to the Church and her votaries, admits the
growing depravity of the Christian sects, and declares that toward the
end of the third century the effect of the Pentecostal outpouring of
the Holy Spirit had become exhausted, and that there remained little
proof of any close relationship between Christ and the Church.

10. Note his summary of conditions: "The era of its actual declension
must be dated in the pacific part of Diocletian's reign. During this
whole century the work of God, in purity and power, had been tending
to decay. The connection with philosophers was one of the principal
causes. Outward peace and secular advantages completed the corruption.
Ecclesiastical discipline, which had been too strict, was now relaxed
exceedingly; bishops and people were in a state of malice. Endless
quarrels were fomented among contending parties, and ambition and
covetousness had in general gained the ascendency in the Christian
Church. * * * The faith of Christ itself appeared now an ordinary
business; and here _terminated_, or nearly so, as far as appears, the
first great effusion of the Spirit of God, which began at the day of
Pentecost. Human depravity effected throughout a general decay of
godliness; and one generation of men elapsed with very slender proofs
of the spiritual presence of Christ with His Church."--(Milner,
"Church History," Cent. III, ch. 17.)

11. If further evidence be wanted as to the fires of disaffection
smoldering within the Church, and so easily fanned into destructive
flame, let the testimony of Eusebius be considered with respect to
conditions characterizing the second half of the third century. And,
in weighing his words, let it be remembered that he had expressly
recorded his purpose of writing in defense of the Church, and in
support of her institutions. He bewails the tranquillity preceding the
Diocletian outbreak, because of its injurious effect upon both
officers and members of the Church. These are his words: "But when by
excessive liberty we have sunk into indolence and sloth, one envying
and reviling another in different ways, and we were almost, as it
were, on the point of taking up arms against each other, and were
assailing each other with words, as with darts and spears, prelates
inveighing against prelates, and people rising up against people, and
hypocrisy and dissimulation had arisen to the greater heights of
malignity, then the divine judgment, which usually proceeds with a
lenient hand, whilst the multitudes were yet crowding into the Church,
with gentle and mild visitations began to afflict its episcopacy; the
persecution having begun with those brethren that were in the army. *
* * But some that appeared to be our pastors, deserting the law of
piety, were inflamed against each other with mutual strifes,
accumulating quarrels and threats, rivalry, hostility, and hatred to
each other, only anxious to assert the government as a kind of
sovereignty for themselves."--(Eusebius, "Ecclesiastical History,"
Book VIII, ch. 1. See note 4, end of chapter.)

12. As further illustrative of the decline of the Christian spirit
toward the end of the third century, Milner quotes the following
observation of Eusebius, an eye-witness of the conditions described:
"The heavy hand of God's judgment began softly, by little and little,
to visit us after His wonted manner; * * * but we were not at all
moved with His hand, nor took any pains to return to God. We heaped
sin upon sin, judging like careless Epicureans, that God cared not for
our sins, nor would ever visit us on account of them. And our
pretended shepherds, laying aside the rule of godliness, practiced
among themselves contention and division." He adds that the "dreadful
persecution of Diocletian was then inflicted on the Church as a just
punishment, and as the most proper chastisement for their
iniquities."--(Milner, "Church History," Cent. III, ch. 17.)

13. It will be remembered that the great change whereby the Church was
raised to a place of honor in the state, occurred in the early part of
the fourth century. It is a popular error to assume that the decay of
the Church as a spiritual institution dates from that time. The
picture of the Church declining as to spiritual power in exact
proportion to her increase of temporal influence and wealth has
appealed to rhetoricians and writers of sensational literature; but
such a picture does not present the truth. The Church was saturated
with the spirit of apostasy long before Constantine took it under his
powerful protection by according it official standing in the state.
In support of this statement, I quote again from Milner, the avowed
friend of the Church: "I know it is common for authors to represent
the great declension of Christianity to have taken place only after
its external establishment under Constantine. But the evidence of
history has compelled me to dissent from this view of things. In fact,
we have seen that for a whole generation previous to the [Diocletian]
persecution, few marks of superior piety appeared. Scarce a luminary
of godliness existed; and it is not common in any age for a great work
of the Spirit of God to be exhibited but under the conduct of some
remarkable saints, pastors, and reformers. This whole period as well
as the whole scene of the persecution is very barren in such
characters. * * * Moral and philosophical and monastical instructions
will not effect for men what is to be expected from evangelical
doctrine. And if the faith of Christ was so much declined (and its
decayed state ought to be dated from about the year 270), we need not
wonder that such scenes as Eusebius hints at without any
circumstantial details, took place in the Christian world. * * * He
speaks also of the ambitious spirit of many, in aspiring to the
offices of the Church, the ill judged and unlawful ordinations, the
quarrels among confessors themselves, and the contentions excited by
young demagogues in the very relics of the persecuted Church, and the
multiplied evils which their vices excited among Christians. How sadly
must the Christian world have declined which could thus conduct itself
under the very rod of divine vengeance? Yet let not the infidel or the
profane world triumph. _It was not Christianity, but the departure
from it_, which brought on these evils."--(Milner, "Church History,"
Cent. IV, ch. 1. The italics are introduced by the present writer.
See also Note 5, end of chapter.)

14. The foregoing embodies but a few of the many evidences that could
be cited in demonstration of the fact that during the period
immediately following the apostolic ministry--the period covered by
the persecutions of the Christians by the heathen nations,--the Church
was undergoing internal deterioration, and was in a state of
increasing perversion. Among the more detailed or specific causes of
this ever widening departure from the spirit of the gospel of Christ,
this rapidly growing apostasy, the following may be considered as
important examples:

(1). The corrupting of the simple principles of the gospel by the
admixture of the so-called philosophic systems of the times.

(2). Unauthorized additions to the ceremonies of the Church, and the
introduction of vital changes in essential ordinances.

(3). Unauthorized changes in Church organization and government.

15. We shall consider in due order each of the three causes here
enumerated. It may appear that the conditions set forth in these
specifications are more properly to be regarded as effects or results,
than as causes, incident to the general apostasy,--that they are in
the nature of evidences or proofs of a departure from the original
constitution of the Church, rather than specific causes by which the
fact of apostasy is to be explained or accounted for. Cause and
effect, however, are sometimes very intimately associated, and
resulting conditions may furnish the best demonstration of causes in
operation. Each of the conditions given above as a specific cause of
the progressive apostasy was, at its inception, an evidence of
existing unsoundness, and an active cause of the graver results that
followed. Each succeeding manifestation of the spirit of apostasy was
at once the result of earlier disaffection, and the cause of later and
more pronounced developments.


1. _Inordinate Zeal Manifested by Some of the Early Christians_: "The
sober discretion of the present age will more readily censure than
admire, but can more easily admire than imitate, the fervor of the
first Christians; who, according to the lively expression of Sulpicius
Severus, desired martyrdom with more eagerness than his own
contemporaries solicited a bishopric. The epistles which Ignatius
composed as he was carried in chains through the cities of Asia,
breathe sentiments the most repugnant to the ordinary feelings of
human nature. He earnestly beseeches the Romans that when he should be
exposed in the amphitheatre, they would not by their kind but
unreasonable intercession, deprive him of the crown of glory, and he
declares his resolution to provoke and irritate the wild beasts which
might be employed as the instruments of his death. Some stories are
related of the courage of martyrs who actually performed what Ignatius
had intended: who exasperated the fury of the lions, pressed the
executioner to hasten his office, cheerfully leaped into the fires
which were kindled to consume them, and discovered a sensation of joy
and pleasure in the midst of the most exquisite torture."--(Gibbon,
"Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," ch. XVI.)

2. _Internal Dissensions During Time of Peace_. As stated in the text,
the early part of Diocletian's reign--the period immediately preceding
the outburst of the last great persecution to which the Christians
were subjected--was a time of comparative freedom from opposition, and
this period was characterized by internal disturbances and dissensions
within the Church. Illustrative of the tolerance shown by the emperor
before he became hostile to the Church, and the accompanying decline
of spiritual earnestness among the Christians themselves, Gibbon says:
"Diocletian and his colleagues frequently conferred the most important
offices on those persons who avowed their abhorrence of the worship of
the gods, but who had displayed abilities proper for the service of
the state. The bishops held an honorable rank in the respective
provinces, and were treated with distinction and respect, not only by
the people, but by the magistrates themselves. Almost in every city
the ancient churches were found insufficient to contain the increasing
multitudes of proselytes; and in their place more stately and
capacious edifices were erected for the public worship of the
faithful. The corruption of manners and principles so forcibly
lamented by Eusebius, may be considered not only as a consequence, but
as a proof, of the liberty which the Christians enjoyed and abused
under the reign of Diocletian. Prosperity had relaxed the nerves of
discipline. Fraud, envy, and malice prevailed in every congregation.
The presbyters aspired to the episcopal office, which every day became
an object more worthy of their ambition. The bishops who contended
with each other for ecclesiastical preeminence, appeared by their
conduct to claim a secular and tyrannical power in the church; and the
lively faith which still distinguished the Christians from the
Gentiles, was shown much less in their lives than in their
controversial writings."--(Gibbon, "Decline and Fall of the Roman
Empire," ch. XVI.)

3. _The Effect of Peace on the Early Church_. "Disastrous as the
persecutions of the early Christian centuries were, still more
mischievous to the Church were those periods of tranquillity which
intervened between the outbursts of rage which prompted them. Peace
may have her victories no less renowned than those of war; and so,
too, she has her calamities, and they are not less destructive than
those of war. War may destroy nations, but ease and luxury mankind
corrupt--the body and the mind. Especially is peace dangerous to the
church. Prosperity relaxes the reins of discipline; people feel less
and less the need of a sustaining providence; but in adversity the
spirit of man feels after God, and he is correspondingly more devoted
to the service of religion. We shall find the early Christians no
exception to the operation of this influence of repose. Whenever it
was accorded them, either through the mercy or the indifference of the
emperors, internal dissensions, the intrigues of aspiring prelates,
and the rise of heresies, characterized those periods."--(B. H.
Roberts, "A New Witness for God," p. 70.)

4. _Schisms and Heresies in the Early Church_. Eusebius, whose
writings date from the early part of the fourth century, cites the
writings of Hegesippus, who lived in the first quarter of the second
century, as follows: "The same author [Hegesippus] also treats of the
beginning of the heresies that arose about this time, in the following
words: 'But after James the Just had suffered martyrdom, as our Lord
had for the same reason, Simeon, the son of Cleophas, our Lord's
uncle, was appointed the second bishop [of Jerusalem] whom all
proposed as the cousin of our Lord. Hence they called the Church as
yet a virgin, for it was not yet corrupted by vain discourses.
Thebuthis made a beginning, secretly to corrupt it on account of his
not being made bishop. He was one of those seven sects among the
Jewish people. Of these also was Simeon, whence sprang the sect of
Simonians; also Cleobius, from whence came the Cleobians; also
Dositheus, the founder of the Dositheans. From these also sprung the
Gortheonians from Gortheoeus; and also Masbotheans from Masbothoeus.
Hence also the Meandrians, the Marcionists, and Carpocratians and
Valentinians, and Basilidians, and the Saturnillians, every one
introducing his own peculiar opinions, one differing from the other.
From these sprung the false Christs and the false prophets and false
apostles, who divided the unity of the Church by the introduction of
corrupt doctrines against God and against His Christ."--(Eusebius,
"Ecclesiastical History," Book IV, ch. 22.)

5. _Early Decline of the Church_: Milner, summing up the conditions
attending the Church at the end of the second century, says: "And here
we close the view of the second century, which, for the most part
exhibited proofs of divine grace, as strong, or nearly so, as the
first. We have seen the same unshaken and simple faith of Jesus, the
same love of God and of the brethren; and--that in which they
singularly excelled modern Christians--the same heavenly spirit and
victory over the world. But a dark shade is enveloping these divine
glories. The Spirit of God is grieved already by the ambitious
intrusions of self-righteous, argumentative refinements, and Pharisaic
pride; and though it be more common to represent the most sensible
decay of godliness as commencing a century later, to me it seems
already begun."--(Milner, "Church History," Cent. II, ch. 9.)

Mosheim, writing of conditions attending the closing years of the
third century, says: "The ancient method of ecclesiastical government
seemed in general still to subsist, while, at the same time, by
imperceptible steps, it varied from the primitive rule and degenerated
toward the form of a religious monarchy. * * * This change in the form
of ecclesiastical government was soon followed by a train of vices,
which dishonored the character and authority of those to whom the
administration of the Church was committed. For, though several yet
continued to exhibit to the world illustrative examples of primitive
piety and Christian virtue, yet many were sunk in luxury and
voluptuousness, puffed up with vanity, arrogance and ambition,
possessed with a spirit of contention and discord, and addicted to
many other vices that cast an undeserved reproach upon the holy
religion of which they were the unworthy professors and ministers.
This is testified in such an ample manner by the repeated complaints
of many of the most respectable writers of this age, that truth will
not permit us to spread the veil, which we should otherwise be
desirous to cast over such enormities among an order so sacred. The
bishops assumed in many places a princely authority, particularly
those who had the greatest number of churches under their inspection,
and who presided over the most opulent assemblies. They appropriated
to their evangelical function the splendid ensigns of temporal
majesty. A throne, surrounded with ministers, exalted above his equals
the servant of the meek and humble Jesus; and sumptuous garments
dazzled the eyes and the minds of the multitude into an ignorant
veneration of their arrogated authority. The example of the bishops
was ambitiously imitated by the presbyters, who, neglecting the sacred
duties of their station, abandoned themselves to the indolence and
delicacy of an effeminate and luxurious life. The deacons, beholding
the presbyters deserting thus their functions, boldly usurped their
rights and privileges, and the effects of a corrupt ambition were
spread through every rank of the order sacred."--(Mosheim,
"Ecclesiastical History," Cent. III, Part II, ch. 2:3, 4.)


**Internal Causes.--Continued**.

1. First among the specific causes of disturbance operating within the
Church, and contributing to its apostasy, we have named: "_The
corrupting of the simple principles of the gospel by the admixture of
the so-called philosophic systems of the times_."

2. The attempted grafting of foreign doctrines on the true vine of the
gospel of Christ was characteristic of the early years of the
apostolic period. We read of the sorcerer Simon, who professed belief
and entered the Church by baptism, but who was so devoid of the true
spirit of the gospel that he sought to purchase by money the authority
and power of the priesthood.--(See Acts 8:9, 13, 18-24.) This man,
though rebuked by Peter, and apparently penitent, continued to trouble
the Church, by inculcating heresies and winning disciples within the
fold. His followers were distinguished as a sect or cult down to the
fourth century; and, writing at that time, Eusebius says of them:
"These, after the manner of their founder, insinuating themselves into
the Church, like a pestilential and leprous disease, infected those
with the greatest corruption, into whom they were able to infuse their
secret, irremediable, and destructive poison."--(Eusebius,
"Ecclesiastical History," Book II, ch. 1.) This Simon, known in
history as Simon Magus, is referred to by early Christian writers, as
the founder of heresy, owing to his persistent attempts to combine
Christianity with Gnosticism. It is with reference to his proposition
to purchase spiritual authority that all traffic in spiritual offices
has come to be known as simony.

3. Through the mouth of the Revelator, the Lord reproved certain of
the churches for their adoption or toleration of doctrines and
practices alien to the gospel. Notably is this the case with respect
to the Nicolaitanes, and the followers of the doctrines of
Balaam.--(See Rev. 2:15; compare verse 6; see also verse 20. See Note
1, end of chapter.)

4. The perversion of true theology thus developed within the Church is
traceable to the introduction of both Judaistic and pagan
fallacies.--(See Note 2, end of chapter.) Indeed, at the opening of
the Christian era and for centuries thereafter, Judaism was more or
less intimately mixed with pagan philosophy, and contaminated with
heathen ceremonies. There were numerous sects and parties, cults and
schools, each advocating rival theories as to the constitution of the
soul, the essence of sin, the nature of Deity, and a multitude of
other mysteries. The Christians were soon embroiled in endless
controversies among themselves.

5. Judaistic converts to Christianity sought to modify and adapt the
tenets of the new faith so as to harmonize them with their inherited
love of Judaism, and the result was destructive to both. Our Lord had
indicated the futility of any such attempts to combine new principle
with old systems, or to patch up the prejudices of the past with
fragments of new doctrine. "No man," said He, "putteth a piece of new
cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up
taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men
put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine
runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new
bottles, and both are preserved."--(Matt. 9:16, 17.) The gospel came
as a new revelation, marking the fulfilment of the law, it was no mere
addendum, nor was it a simple reenactment of past requirements; it
embodied a new and an everlasting covenant. Attempts to patch the
Judaistic robe with the new fabric of the gospel could result in
nothing more sightly than a hideous rent. The new wine of the covenant
could not be bottled in the time-eaten leathern containers of Mosaic
libations. Judaism was belittled and Christianity perverted by the
incongruous association.

6. Among the early and most pernicious adulterations of Christian
doctrine is the introduction of the teachings of the Gnostics. These
self-styled philosophers put forth the boastful claim that they were
able to lead the human mind to a full comprehension of the Supreme
Being, and a knowledge of the true relationship between Deity and
mortals. They said in effect that a certain being had existed from all
eternity, manifested as a radiant light diffused throughout space, and
this they called the _Pleroma_. "The eternal nature, infinitely
perfect and infinitely happy, having dwelt from everlasting in a
profound solitude, and in a blessed tranquillity produced at length
from itself, two minds of a different sex, which resembled their
supreme parent in the most perfect manner. From the prolific union of
these two beings, others arose, which were also followed by succeeding
generations; so that in process of time a celestial family was formed
in the Pleroma. This divine progeny, immutable in its nature, and
above the power of mortality, was called, by the philosophers,
_Aeon_--a term which signifies, in the Greek language, an eternal
nature. How many in number these Aeons were was a point much
controverted among the oriental sages."--(Mosheim, "Ecclesiastical
History," Cent. I, Part II, 1:7.)

7. Then one of the Aeons, distinctively called the Demiurge, created
this world, and arrogantly asserted dominion over the same, denying
absolutely the authority of the supreme parent. The Gnostic doctrine
declares man to be a union of the body, which, being the creation of
the Demiurge, is essentially evil, and a spirit, which, being derived
from Deity, is characteristically good. The spirits thus imprisoned in
evil bodies will be finally liberated, and then the power of the
Demiurge will cease, and the earth will be dissolved into nothingness.

8. Our justification for introducing here this partial summary of
Gnosticism is the fact that early efforts were made to accommodate the
tenets of this system to the demands of Christianity; and that Christ
and the Holy Ghost were declared to belong to the family of Aeons
provided for in this scheme. This led to the extravagant absurdity of
denying that Jesus had a body even while He lived as a man; and that
His appearance as a corporeal being was a deception of the senses
wrought by His supernatural power.--(See Note 3, end of chapter.)

9. That the doctrines of the Gnostics were unsatisfying even to those
who professed to believe therein is evident from the many cults and
parties that came into existence as subdivisions of the main sect; and
it is interesting to note that in modern times certain free-thinkers
have prided themselves in assuming a title expressing the full
antithesis of the name Gnostics, viz. Agnostics.

10. The practical effect of the principles of Gnosticism in the lives
of its adherents is strangely diverse. One division of the sect
followed a life of austerity, embracing rigorous self-denial, and
bodily torture, in the vain belief that the malignant body could thus
be subdued, while the spirit would be given added power and increased
freedom. Another cult sought to minimize the fundamental difference
between right and wrong, by denying the element of morality in human
life; and these abandoned themselves to the impulses of the passions
and the frailties of the bodily nature without restraint, on the
assumption that there was no such relation between body and soul as
would cause injury to the latter through bodily indulgences and

11. Another sect or school whose doctrines were in a measure
amalgamated with those of Christianity was that of the New Platonics.
The ancient sects of Platonists or Platonics were allied in some
points of doctrine with the Epicureans, and were rivals if not
opponents of the Stoics. The early Platonics held that unorganized
matter has existed from all eternity, and that its organizer, God, is
similarly eternal. As God is eternal, so also His will or intelligence
is without beginning, and this eternal intelligence existing as the
will or intent of Deity, was called the _Logos_. Such precepts had
been taught long before the Christian era, and the philosophy
professed by some of the contending sects among the Jews in the time
of Christ had been influenced thereby.

12. As the principles of Christianity became generally known, certain
leaders in the sect of Platonics found in the new doctrine much to
study and admire. By this time, however, Platonism itself had
undergone much change, and the more liberal adherents had formed a new
organization and distinguished themselves by the appellation New
Platonics. These professed to find in Jesus Christ the incarnation of
the Logos, and accepted with avidity the declaration of St. John: "In
the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word
was God. * * * And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among
us."--(John 1:1, 14.) According to the Eclectic or New Platonic
philosophy, the "Word" referred to by St. John was the "Logos"
described by Plato.

13. The Platonic conception of the Godhead as consisting of the Deity
and the Logos, was enlarged in accordance with Christian tenets to
embrace three members, the Holy Ghost being the third. Thence arose
bitter and lasting dissension as to the relative powers of each member
of the Trinity, particularly the position and authority of the Logos
or Son. The many disputes incident to the admixture of Platonic theory
with Christian doctrine continued through the centuries, and in a
sense may be said to trouble the minds of men even in this modern age.

14. It is wholly beyond our purpose to classify or describe the hybrid
offspring resulting from the unnatural union of pagan philosophy and
Christian truth; nor shall we attempt to follow in detail the
dissensions and quarrels on theological points and questions of
doctrine. Our purpose is achieved when by statement of fact and
citation of authority, the reality of the apostasy is established. We
shall consider therefore only the most important of the dissensions by
which the Church was troubled.--(See Note 4, end of chapter.)

15. About the middle of the third century, Sibellius, a presbyter or
bishop of the church in Africa, strongly advocated the doctrine of
"trinity in unity" as characterizing the Godhead. He claimed that the
divine nature of Christ was no distinct nor personal attribute of the
man Jesus, but merely a portion of the divine energy, an emanation
from the Father, with which the Son was temporarily endowed; and that
in like manner the Holy Ghost was a part of the divine Father. These
views were as vigorously opposed by some as defended by others, and
the disagreement was rife when Constantine so suddenly changed the
status of the Church, and brought to its support the power of the
state. Early in the fourth century the dispute assumed a threatening
aspect in a bitter contention between Alexander, bishop of Alexandria,
and Arius, one of the subordinate officers of the same church.
Alexander proclaimed that the Son was in all respects the equal of the
Father, and also of the same substance or essence. Arius insisted that
the Son had been created by the Father, and therefore could not be
co-eternal with His divine Parent; that the Son was the agent through
whom the will of the Father was executed, and that for this reason
also the Son was inferior to the Father both in nature and dignity. In
like manner the Holy Ghost was inferior to the other members of the

16. Arianism, as the doctrine came to be known, was preached with
vigor and denounced with energy; and the dissension thus occasioned
threatened to rend the Church to its foundation. At last the emperor,
Constantine, was forced to intervene in an effort to establish peace
among his contending churchmen. He summoned a council of church
dignitaries which assembled in the year 325, and which is known from
its place of session as the Council of Nice. This council condemned
the doctrine of Arius, and pronounced sentence of banishment against
its author. What was declared to be the orthodox doctrine of the
universal or Catholic church respecting the Godhead was promulgated as

17. "We believe in one God, the Father, Almighty, the maker of all
things visible and invisible; and in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son
of God, begotten of the Father, only begotten, (that is) of the
substance of the Father; God of God, Light of Light; Very God of Very
God; begotten not made; of the same substance with the Father, by whom
all things were made, that are in heaven and that are in earth: who
for us men, and for our salvation, descended and was incarnate, and
became man; suffered and rose again the third day, ascended into the
heavens and will come to judge the living and the dead; and in the
Holy Spirit. But those who say there was a time when he [the Son] was
not, and that he was not before he was begotten, and that he was made
out of nothing, or affirm that he is of any other substance or
essence, or that the Son of God was created, and mutable, or
changeable, the Catholic Church doth pronounce accursed."

18. This is the generally accepted version of the Nicene Creed as
originally promulgated. In form it was somewhat modified, though left
practically unchanged as to essentials, by the council held at
Constantinople half a century later. What is regarded as a restatement
of the Nicene Creed has been attributed to Athanasius, one of the
chief opponents of Arianism, though his right to be considered the
author is questioned by many and emphatically denied by some
authorities on ecclesiastical history. Nevertheless, the statement
referred to has found a place in literature as the "Creed of
Athanasius," and whether rightly or wrongly named it persists as a
declaration of belief professed by some Christian sects today. It has
a present place in the prescribed ritual of the Church of England. The
"Creed of Athanasius" reads as follows:

19. "We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither
confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance. For there is one
person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy
Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is all one:
the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is, such
is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreate, the Son
uncreate and the Holy Ghost uncreate. The Father incomprehensible, the
Son incomprehensible and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father
eternal, the Son eternal, the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet there are
not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three
incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated; but one uncreated, and one
incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son
Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty; and yet there are not three
Almighties, but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God,
and the Holy Ghost is God, and yet they are not three Gods but one

20. The Council of Nice is known in ecclesiastical history as one of
the most famous and important gatherings ever assembled as an official
body concerned with church administration. Not only was the Arian
dispute disposed of, so far as ecclesiastical decree could dispose of
a question vitally affecting the individual conscience, but many other
subjects of controversy were similarly quieted for the time. Thus the
long-standing dispute as to the time of celebrating Easter was settled
by vote, as was also the question agitated by Novatus and his
followers--as to the propriety of re-admitting repentant apostates to
the Church; and the schism caused by Meletius, a bishop of Upper
Africa, who had refused to recognize the superior authority of the
bishop of Alexandria. From the number and diversity of the questions
brought before the Nicene Council for adjudication, we may safely
conclude that the newly enthroned Church was not characterized by
unity of purpose nor harmony of action. However, compared with the
bitter contentions that follow, the dissensions in the reign of
Constantine were but as the beginnings of trouble.

21. The moral effect of the potent spirit of apostasy operating
through the first three centuries of the Church's existence and
nourished by the contributions of heathen philosophy, proved, as was
inevitable, highly injurious and evil. Some of the most pernicious of
these effects it becomes our duty to consider.

22. _Perverted Views of Life_. One of the heresies of early origin and
rapid growth in the Church was the doctrine of antagonism between body
and spirit, whereby the former was regarded as an incubus and a curse.
From what has been said this will be recognized as one of the
perversions derived from the alliance of Gnosticism with Christianity.
A result of this grafting in of heathen doctrines was an abundant
growth of hermit practices, by which men sought to weaken, torture,
and subdue their bodies, that their spirits or "souls" might gain
greater freedom. Many who adopted this unnatural view of human
existence retired to the solitude of the desert, and there spent their
time in practices of stern self-denial and in acts of frenzied
self-torture. Others shut themselves up as voluntary prisoners,
seeking glory in privation and self-imposed penance. It was this
unnatural view of life that gave rise to the several orders of
recluses, hermits and monks.

23. Think you not that the Savior had such practices in mind, when,
warning the disciples of the false claims to sanctity that would
characterize the times then soon to follow, He said: "Wherefore if
they shall say unto you, Behold he (Christ) is in the desert; go not
forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not."--(Matt.

24. When the Church came into the favor of the state under Constantine
in the fourth century, there sprang up many orders of recluses who
"maintained that communion with God was to be sought by mortifying
sense, by withdrawing the mind from all external objects, by
macerating the body with hunger and labor, and by a holy sort of
indolence, which confined all the activity of the soul to a lazy
contemplation of things spiritual and external." Mosheim, the author
just quoted, continues: "The Christian church would never have been
disgraced by this cruel and unsocial enthusiasm, nor would any have
been subjected to those keen torments of mind and body to which it
gave rise, had not many Christians been unwarily caught by the
specious appearance and the pompous sound of that maxim of the ancient
philosophy: 'That in order to the attainment of true felicity and
communion with God, it was necessary that the soul should be separated
from the body, even here below; and that the body was to be macerated
and mortified for this purpose.'"--(Mosheim, "Eccl. Hist.," Cent. IV,
Part II, ch. 3:12, 13.)

25. The fruit of this ill-sowing was the growth of numerous orders of
monks, and the maintenance of monasteries. Celibacy was taught as a
virtue, and came to be made a requirement of the clergy, as it is in
the Roman Catholic church to-day. An unmarried clergy, deprived of the
elevating influences of home life, fell into many excesses, and the
corruption of the priests has been a theme of reproach throughout the
centuries. "The Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be
alone; I will make him an help meet for him,"--(Gen. 2:18.) and again,
"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall
cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."--(Verse 24.) His
inspired apostle proclaimed: "Neither is the man without the woman,
neither the woman without the man, in the Lord."--(I Cor. 11:11.
Compare I Tim. 4:3.) Nevertheless an apostate church decrees that its
ministers shall be forbidden to follow the law of God.

26. _Disregard for Truth_. As early as the fourth century, certain
pernicious doctrines embodying a disregard for truth gained currency
in the Church. Thus, it was taught "that it was an act of virtue to
deceive and lie, when by that means the interests of the church might
be promoted."--(Mosheim, "Eccl. Hist.," Cent. IV, Part II, ch. 3:16.)
Needless to say, sins other than those of falsehood and deceit were
justified when committed in the supposed interests of church
advancement, and crime was condoned under the specious excuse that the
end justifies the means. Many of the fables and fictitious stories
relating to the lives of Christ and the apostles, as also the spurious
accounts of supernatural visitations and wonderful miracles, in which
the literature of the early centuries abound, are traceable to this
infamous doctrine that lies are acceptable unto God if perpetrated in
a cause that man calls good.--(See Note 5, end of chapter.)


1. _The Nicolaitanes_. This sect is mentioned specifically in the
divine communication wherein John the Revelator was instructed to
write to the churches of Asia (Rev. 2:6, 15); and the reference proves
the abhorrence with which the Lord regarded the teachings and
practices of the cult. The attempt to corrupt Christianity by the
introduction of Nicolaitan ceremonies was a real danger threatening
the Church. The following extract from Smith's Bible Dictionary is

"The sect itself comes before us as presenting the ultimate phase of a
great controversy, which threatened at one time to destroy the unity
of the Church, and afterward to taint its purity. The controversy
itself was inevitable as soon as the Gentiles were admitted in any
large numbers into the Church of Christ. Were the new converts to be
brought into subjugation to the whole Mosaic law? The apostles and
elders at Jerusalem met the question calmly and wisely. The burden of
the Law was not to be imposed on the Gentile disciples. They were to
abstain, among other things, from 'meats offered to idols,' and from
'fornication' (Acts 15:20, 29), and this decree was welcomed as the
great charter of the Church's freedom. Strange as the close union of
the moral and positive commands may seem to us, it did not seem so to
the synod at Jerusalem. The two sins were very closely allied, often
even in the closest proximity of time and place. The messages to the
churches of Asia, and the later Apostolic Epistles (II Peter, and
Jude,) indicate that the two evils appeared at that period also in
close alliance. The teachers of the Church branded them with a name
that expressed their true character. The men who did and taught such
things were followers of Balaam (II Peter 2:15; Jude II.) They, like
the false prophet of Pethor, united brave words with evil deeds. In a
time of persecution, when the eating or not eating of things
sacrificed to idols was more than ever a crucial test of faithfulness,
they persuaded men more than ever that it was a thing indifferent
(Rev. 2:13, 14). This was bad enough, but there was a yet worse evil.
Mingling themselves in the orgies of idolatrous feasts, they brought
the impurities of those feasts into the meetings of the Christian
Church. And all this was done, it must be remembered, not simply as an
indulgence of appetite, but as part of a system supported by a
'doctrine,' accompanied by the boast of a prophetic illumination (II
Peter 2:1)."

2. _Imitation of Heathen Mysteries, and the Result_. The worship of
God by the early Christians was decried and ridiculed because of its
simplicity and the absence of mystic ceremonies. True, the zeal of
persecutors soon made necessary a prudent secrecy in religious service
and worshipping assemblies, but aside from such necessity, there was a
voluntary effort to feign a secrecy that was uncalled for. On this
point Gibbon remarks as follows: "The precautions with which the
disciples of Christ performed the offices of religion were at first
dictated by fear and necessity; but they were continued from choice.
By imitating the awful secrecy of the Eleusinian mysteries, the
Christians had flattered themselves that they should render their
sacred institutions more respectable in the eyes of the pagan world.
But the event, as it often happens to the operations of subtle policy,
deceived their wishes and their expectations. It was concluded that
they only concealed what they would have blushed to disclose. Their
mistaken prudence afforded an opportunity for malice to invent, and
for suspicious credulity to believe, the horrid tales which described
the Christians as the most wicked of human kind, who practiced in
their dark recesses every abomination that a depraved fancy could
suggest, and who solicited the favor of their unknown God by the
sacrifice of every moral virtue. There were many who pretended to
confess or to relate the ceremonies of this abhorred society."--
(Gibbon, "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," chap. XVI.)

3. _Ebionites and Gnostics._ "Beside the general design of fixing on a
perpetual basis the divine honors of Christ, the most ancient and
respectable of the ecclesiastical writers have ascribed to the
evangelic theologian [St. John] a particular intention to confute two
opposing heresies, which disturbed the peace of the primitive Church.
I. The faith of the Ebionites, perhaps of the Nazarenes, was gross and
imperfect. They revered Jesus as the greatest of the prophets, endowed
with supernatural virtue and power. They ascribed to His person and to
His future reign all the predictions of the Hebrew oracles which
relate to the spiritual and everlasting kingdom of the promised
Messiah. Some of them might confess that He was born of a virgin; but
they obstinately rejected the preceding existence and divine
perfections of the Logos, or Son of God, which are so clearly defined
in the Gospel of St. John. * * * II. The Gnostics, who were
distinguished by the epithet of Docetes, deviated into the contrary
extreme, and betrayed the human while they asserted the divine, nature
of Christ. Educated in the school of Plato, accustomed to the sublime
idea of the Logos, they readily conceived that the brightest Aeon or
Emanation of Deity, might assume the outward shape and visible
appearance of a mortal; but they vainly pretended that the
imperfections of matter are incompatible with the purity of a
celestial substance. While the blood of Christ yet smoked on Mount
Calvary, and the Docetes invented the impious and extravagant
hypothesis that, instead of issuing from the womb of the Virgin, he
had descended on the banks of the Jordan in the form of perfect
manhood; that he had imposed on the senses of His enemies and of His
disciples, and that the ministers of Pilate had wasted their impotent
rage on an airy phantom, who seemed to expire on the Cross, and, after
three days, to rise from the dead."--(Gibbon, "Decline and Fall of the
Roman Empire," ch. XXI.)

4. _Admixture of Pagan Doctrines With Christianity_. The following
statements by modern writers as to the effect of pagan "philosophy" on
the Church are worthy of attention. Summarizing conditions prevailing
in the latter part of the second century, Milner says: "We have
hitherto found it no hard matter to discover, in the teachers and
writers of Christianity, the vital doctrines of Christ. We shall now
perceive that the most precious truths of the gospel begin to be less
attended to, and less brought to view. Even Justin Martyr, before the
period of eclectic corruption, by his fondness for Plato, adulterated
the gospel in some degree, as we have observed particularly in the
article of free will. Tatian, his scholar, went bolder lengths, and
deserved the name of heretic. He dealt largely in the merits of
continence and chastity; and these virtues, pushed into extravagant
excesses, under the notion of superior purity, became great engines of
self-righteousness and superstition; obscured men's views of the faith
of Christ, and darkened the whole face of Christianity. Under the
fostering hand of Ammonius and his followers, this fictitious holiness
disguised under the appearance of eminent sanctity, was formed into a
system; and it soon began to generate the worst of evils. * * * St.
Paul's caution against philosophy and vain deceit, it appears, was now
fatally neglected by the Christians. False humility, 'Will-worship,'
curious and proud refinements, bodily austerities mixed with high,
self-righteous pretensions, ignorance of Christ and of the true life
of faith in Him, miserably superseded by ceremonies and
superstitions,--all these things are divinely delineated in the second
chapter to the Colossians; and, so far as words can do it, the true
defense against them is powerfully described and enforced."--(Milner,
"Church History," Cent. II, ch. 9.)

"The schisms and commotions that arose in the church, from a mixture
of the oriental and Egyptian philosophy with the Christian religion
were, in the second century, increased by those Grecian philosophers
who embraced the doctrine of Christ. The Christian doctrine,
concerning the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and the two natures united
in our blessed Savior, were by no means reconcilable with the tenets
of the sages and doctors of Greece, who therefore endeavored to
explain them in such a manner as to render them comprehensible.
Praxeas, a man of genius and learning, began to propagate these
explications at Rome, and was severely persecuted for the errors they
contained. He denied any real distinction between the Father, Son, and
Holy Ghost; and maintained that the Father, sole Creator of all
things, had united to Himself the human nature of Christ. Hence his
followers were called Monarchians, because of their denying a
plurality of persons in the Deity; and also Patropassians, because,
according to Tertullian's account, they believed that the Father was
so intimately united with the man Christ, His Son, that He suffered
with Him the anguish of an afflicted life and the torments of an
ignominious death. However ready many may have been to embrace this
erroneous doctrine, it does not appear that this sect formed to
themselves a separate place of worship, or removed themselves from the
ordinary assemblies of Christians."--(Mosheim, "Ecclesiastical
History," Cent. II, Part II, ch. 5:20.)

5. _Spurious Writings in the Apostolic Period_. "Not long after
Christ's ascension into heaven, several histories of His life and
doctrines, full of pious frauds and fabulous wonders, were composed by
persons whose intentions, perhaps, were not bad, but whose writings
discovered the greatest superstition and ignorance. Nor was this all:
productions appeared which were imposed upon the world by fraudulent
men, as the writings of the holy apostles. These apocryphal and
spurious writings must have produced a sad confusion, and rendered
both the history and the doctrine of Christ uncertain, had not the
rulers of the church used all possible care and diligence in
separating the books that were truly apostolical and divine from all
that spurious trash."--(Mosheim, "Ecclesiastical History," Cent. I,
Part II, ch. 2:17.)


**Internal Causes.--Continued**.

1. As one of the effective causes leading to the apostasy of the
Primitive Church we have specified: _Unauthorized additions to the
ceremonies of the Church, and the introduction of vital changes in
essential ordinances_.

2. The ridicule heaped upon the early Church by the pagans on account
of the simplicity of Christian worship has already received mention.
This cause of reproach was none the less emphasized by Judaistic
critics, to whom rituals and ceremony, formalism and prescribed rites,
figured as essentials of religion. Very early in its history, the
Church manifested a tendency to supplant the pristine simplicity of
its worship by elaborate ceremonies, patterned after Judaistic ritual
and heathen idolatries.

3. As to such innovations, Mosheim writes as follows, with reference
to conditions existing in the second century: "There is no institution
so pure and excellent which the corruption and folly of man will not
in time alter for the worse, and load with additions foreign to its
nature and original design. Such in a particular manner was the fate
of Christianity. In this century many unnecessary rites and ceremonies
were added to the Christian worship, the introduction of which was
extremely offensive to wise and good men. These changes, while they
destroyed the beautiful simplicity of the gospel, were naturally
pleasing to the gross multitude, who are more delighted with the pomp
and splendor of external institutions than with the native charms of
rational and solid piety, and who generally give little attention to
any objects but those which strike their outward senses."--(Mosheim,
"Eccl. Hist.," Cent. II, Part II, ch. 4.) The author just cited
explains that the bishops of that day increased the ceremonies and
sought to give them splendor "by way of accommodation to the
infirmities and prejudices of both Jews and heathen."--(See Note 1,
end of chapter.)

4. To more effectually reconcile the gospel requirements with Jewish
prejudice, which still clung to the letter of the Mosaic law, the
officers of the Church in the first and second centuries took to
themselves the ancient titles; thus, bishops styled themselves chief
priests, and deacons, Levites. "In like manner," says Mosheim, "the
comparison of the Christian _oblation_ with the Jewish _victim_ and
_sacrifice_, produced a multitude of unnecessary rites, and was the
occasion of introducing that erroneous notion of the _eucharist_,
which represents it as a real sacrifice, and not merely as a
commemoration of that great offering that was once made upon the cross
for the sins of mortals."--(Mosheim, "Eccl. Hist.," Cent. II, Part II,
ch. 4:4.)

5. In the fourth century we find the Church still more hopelessly
committed to formalism and superstition. The decent respect with which
the remains of the early martyrs had been honored degenerated or grew
into a superstitious reverence amounting to worship. This practice was
allowed in deference to the heathen adoration paid to deified heroes.
Pilgrimages to the tombs of martyrs became common as an outward form
of religious devotion; and the ashes of martyrs as well as dust and
earth brought from places said to have been made holy by some uncommon
occurrence were sold as sovereign remedies against disease and as
means of protection against the assaults of malignant spirits.

6. The form of public worship was so changed during the second and
third centuries as to bear little resemblance to the simplicity and
earnestness of that of the early congregations. Philosophic discourses
took the place of fervent testimony bearing and the arts of the
rhetorician and controversial debater supplanted the true eloquence of
religious conviction. Applause was allowed and expected as evidence of
the preacher's popularity. The burning incense, at first abhorred by
Christian assemblies because of its pagan origin and heathen
significance, had become common in the Church before the end of the
third century.

7. In the fourth century the adoration of images, pictures, and
effigies, had been given a place in the so-called Christian worship;
and the practice became general in the century following. An effort to
check the abuses arising from this idolatrous practice in the eighth
century, actually led to civil war.--(See Mosheim, "Eccl. Hist.,"
Cent. VIII, Part II, ch. 3:9, 10.)

8. In considering such evidences of pagan ceremonial and superstitious
rites taking the place of the simple procedure incident to genuine
worship characteristic of the Church in the days of its integrity, who
can question the solemn and awful fact of actual apostasy?--(See Note
2, end of chapter.) But more important yet, more significant still
than mere additions to the ritualistic ceremonial, are the perversions
and changes introduced into the most sacred and essential ordinances
of Christ's Church. As it is common with ecclesiastical authorities to
consider the most essential ordinances of the gospel originally
established by Christ and maintained by His apostles, as comprising
baptism and the sacrament of the Lord's supper, we shall examine into
these alone as examples of the unauthorized alterations now under
consideration. In this restriction of our illustrative examples we do
not admit that baptism and the sacrament named were the only
ordinances characterizing the Church; indeed, there is abundant proof
to the contrary. Thus, the authoritative imposition of hands for the
bestowal of the Holy Ghost in the case of baptized believers was
equally essential with baptism itself,--(See Acts 8:5-8, 12, 14-17;
also 19:1-7; see also 2:38; Matt. 3:11; and Mark 1:8.) and was
assuredly regarded as a vital ordinance from the first.--(See Matt.
3:11.) Furthermore, ordination in the priesthood, whereby men were
commissioned by divine authority was indispensable to the maintenance
of an organized Church. The examples selected, however, will be
sufficient for the purposes of our present inquiry.

**The Ordinance of Baptism Changed**.

9. First, then, as to baptism,--in what did the ordinance originally
consist, as to purpose and mode of administration, and what changes
did it undergo in the course of progressive apostasy through which the
Church passed? That baptism is essential to salvation calls for no
demonstration here; this has been generally held by the Christian
Church in both ancient and modern times.--(For a concise treatment of
this subject, see the author's "Articles of Faith," Lecture 6:8-29.)
The purpose of baptism was and is the obtaining of a remission of
sins; compliance with the requirement has been from the first the sole
means of securing admission to the Church of Christ.--(See Mark 1:4
and Luke 3:3; also Acts 2:38; I Peter 3:21; and Acts 22:16. Compare II
Nephi 31:17.)

10. In the early Church, baptism was administered on profession of
faith and evidence of repentance, and was performed by immersion--(See
Note 3, end of chapter) at the hands of one invested with the
requisite authority of priesthood. There was no delay in administering
the ordinance after the eligibility of the candidate had been shown.
As instances we may cite the promptness with which baptism was
administered to the believers on that eventful day of Pentecost;--
(Acts 2:37-41) the baptism administered by Philip to the Ethiopian
convert immediately following due profession of faith;--(Acts 8:26-39)
the undelayed baptism of devout Cornelius and his family;--(Acts
10:47, 48) and the speedy baptism of the converted jailer by Paul, his
prisoner.--(Acts 16:31-33.)

11. In the second century, however, priestly mandate had restricted
the baptismal ordinance to the times of the two Church festivals,
Easter and Whitsuntide, the first being the anniversary of Christ's
resurrection, and the second the time of Pentecostal celebration. A
long and tedious course of preparation was required of the candidate
before his eligibility was admitted; during this time he was known as
a _catechumen_, or novice in training. According to some authorities a
three years' course of preparation was required in all but exceptional
cases.--(Schlegel, Book VIII, ch. 32.)

12. During the second century the baptismal symbolism of a new birth
was emphasized by many additions to the ordinance; thus the newly
baptized were treated as infants and were fed milk and honey in token
of their immaturity. As baptism was construed to be a ceremony of
liberation from the slavery of Satan, certain formulas used in the
freeing of slaves were added. Anointing with oil was also made a part
of the ceremony. In the third century the simple ordinance of baptism
was further encumbered and perverted by the ministrations of an
exorcist. This official indulged in "menacing and formidable shouts
and declamation" whereby the demons or evil spirits with which the
candidate was supposed to be afflicted were to be driven away. "The
driving out of this demon was now considered as an essential
preparation for baptism, after the administration of which the
candidates returned home, adorned with crowns, and arrayed in white
garments, as sacred emblems,--the former of their victory over sin and
the world; the latter of their inward purity and innocence."--
(Mosheim, "Eccl. Hist.," Cent. III, part II, ch. 4:4.) It is not
difficult to see in this superstitious ceremony the evidence of pagan
adulteration of the Christian religion. In the fourth century it
became the practice to place salt in the mouth of the newly baptized
member, as a symbol of purification, and the actual baptism was both
preceded and followed by an anointing with oil.

13. The form or mode of baptism also underwent a radical change during
the first half of the third century,--a change whereby its essential
symbolism was destroyed. Immersion,--(See Note 3, end of chapter)
typifying death followed by resurrection, was no longer deemed an
essential feature, and sprinkling with water was allowed in place
thereof. No less an authority than Cyprian, the learned bishop of
Carthage, advocated the propriety of sprinkling in lieu of immersion
in cases of physical weakness; and the practice thus started, later
became general. The first instance of record is that of Novatus, a
heretic who requested baptism when he thought death was near.--(As to
the scriptural doctrine of baptism, the mode of its administration and
the symbolism thereof, see the author's "Articles of Faith," Lecture

14. Not only was the form of the baptismal rite radically changed, but
the application of the ordinance was perverted. The practice of
administering baptism to infants was recognized as orthodox in the
third century, and was doubtless of earlier origin. In a prolonged
disputation as to whether it was safe to postpone the baptism of
infants until the eighth day after birth--in deference to the Jewish
custom of performing circumcision on that day--it was gravely decided
that such delay would be dangerous, as jeopardizing the future
well-being of the child should it die before attaining the age of
eight days, and that baptism ought to be administered as soon after
birth as possible.--(See Milner, "Church History," Cent. III; ch. 13.)
A more infamous doctrine than that of the condemnation of unbaptized
infants can scarcely be imagined, and a stronger proof of the heresies
that had invaded and corrupted the early Church need not be sought.
Such a doctrine is foreign to the gospel and to the Church of Christ,
and its adoption as an essential tenet is proof of apostasy.--(For a
discussion of infant baptism, see the author's "Articles of Faith,"
Lecture 6. See Note 4, end of chapter.)

**Changes in the Ordinance of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper**.

15. The sacrament of the Lord's Supper has been regarded as an
essential ordinance from the time of its establishment in the Church
by Jesus Christ. Yet in spite of its sanctity it has undergone radical
alteration both as to its symbolism and its accepted purpose. The
sacrament, as instituted by the Savior and as administered during the
days of the apostolic ministry, was as simple as it was sacred and
solemn. Accompanied by the true spirit of the gospel, its simplicity
was sanctifying; as interpreted by the spirit of apostasy its
simplicity became a reproach. Hence we find that in the third century,
long sacramental prayers were prescribed, and much pomp was
introduced. Vessels of gold and silver were used by such congregations
as could afford them, and this with ostentatious display. Nonmembers
and members "who were in a penitential state" were excluded from the
sacramental service--in imitation of the exclusiveness accompanying
heathen mysteries. Disputation and dissension arose as to the proper
time of administering the sacrament--morning, noon, or evening; and as
to the frequency with which the ordinance should be celebrated.--(See
Note 5, end of chapter.)

16. At a later date the doctrine of _Transubstantiation_ was
established as an essential tenet of the Roman Church. This briefly
summarized, is to the effect that the species--i. e., the bread and
wine used in the sacrament--lose their character as mere bread and
wine, and become in fact the flesh and blood of the crucified Christ.
The transmutation is assumed to take place in such a mystical way as
to delude the senses; and so, though actual flesh and actual blood,
the elements still appear to be bread and wine. This view, so strongly
defended and earnestly reverenced by orthodox members of the Roman
Church, is vehemently denounced by others as "an absurd tenet,"--
(Milner) and a "monstrous and unnatural doctrine."--(Mosheim.)

17. There has been much discussion as to the origin of this
doctrine,--(See Note 6, end of chapter.) the Roman Catholics claiming
for it a great antiquity, while their opponents insist that it was an
innovation of the eighth or ninth century. According to Milner it was
openly taught in the ninth century;--(Milner, "Church History," Cent.
IX, ch. 1.) was formally established as a dogma of the Church by the
Council of Placentia A. D. 1095,--(The same, Cent. XI, ch. 1) and was
made an essential article of creed, belief in which was required of
all by action of the Roman ecclesiastical court about 1160.--(The
same, Cent. XIII, ch. 1.) An official edict of the pope, Innocent III,
confirmed the dogma as a binding tenet and requirement of the Church
in 1215;--(Mosheim, "Eccl. Hist.," Cent. XIII, Part II, ch. 3:2.) and
it remains practically in force in the Roman Catholic Church today.
The doctrine was adopted by the Greek Church in the seventeenth
century.--(The same. Cent. XVII, Part II, ch. 2:3.)

18. The consecrated emblems, or "host," being regarded as the actual
flesh and blood of Christ, were adored as of themselves divine. Thus,
"a very pernicious practice of idolatry was connected with the
reception of this doctrine. Men fell down before the consecrated host,
and worshipped it as God; and the novelty, absurdity, and impiety of
this abomination very much struck the minds of all men who were not
dead to a sense of true religion."--(Milner, "Church History," Cent.
XIII, ch. 1.) The "elevation of the host,"--i. e., the presentation of
the consecrated emblems before the congregation for adoration, is a
feature of the present day ritual of worship in the Roman Catholic
Church. The celebration of the mass is taught to be an actual though
mystic sacrifice, in which the Son of God is daily offered up anew as
a constantly recurring atonement for the present sins of the assembled
worshippers. A further perversion of the sacrament occurred in the
administration of bread alone, instead of both bread and wine as
originally required.

19. Thus was the plain purpose and assured efficacy of the sacrament
hidden beneath a cloud of mystery and ceremonial display. Contrast
such with the solemn simplicity of the ordinance as instituted by our
Lord,--He took bread and wine, blessed them and gave to His disciples
and said, "This do in remembrance of me."--(Luke 22:19, 20; compare
Matt. 26:27, 28.) Of the bread He said, "This is my body;" of the
wine, "This is my blood;" yet at that time His body was unpierced, His
blood was unshed. The disciples ate bread, not flesh of a living man,
and drank wine, not blood; and this they were commanded to do in
remembrance of Christ.--(For a general treatment of the Sacrament of
the Lord's Supper, see the author's "Articles of Faith," Lecture 9.)
The perversion of the sacrament is evidence of departure from the
spirit of the gospel of Christ, and when made an essential dogma of a
church is proof of the apostate condition of that church.

20. Behold, "_they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance,
broken the everlasting covenant_."--(See Isaiah 24:4-6.)


1. _Ceremonies Added as a Compromise_. "Both Jews and heathens were
accustomed to a vast variety of pompous and magnificent ceremonies in
their religious service. And as they considered these rites as an
essential part of religion, it was but natural that they should behold
with indifference, and even with contempt, the simplicity of the
Christian worship, which was destitute of those idle ceremonies that
rendered their service so specious and striking. To remove then, in
some measure, this prejudice against Christianity, the bishops thought
it necessary to increase the number of rites and ceremonies, and thus
to render the public worship more striking to the outward senses. This
addition of external rites was also designed to remove the opprobrious
calumnies which the Jewish and pagan priests cast upon the Christians
on account of the simplicity of their worship, esteeming them little
better than atheists, because they had no temples, altars, victims,
priests, nor anything of that external pomp in which the vulgar are so
prone to place the essence of religion. The rulers of the Church
adopted, therefore, certain external ceremonies, that thus they might
captivate the senses of the vulgar, and be able to refute the
reproaches of their adversaries." (Mosheim, "Ecclesiastical History,"
Cent. II, Part II, ch. 4:2, 3.)

A note appended to the foregoing excerpt by the translator, Dr.
Archibald Maclaine, reads as follows:

"A remarkable passage in the life of Gregory, surnamed Thaumaturgus,
i. e., the wonder worker, will illustrate this point in the clearest
manner. The passage is as follows: 'When Gregory perceived that the
ignorant multitude persisted in their idolatry, on account of the
pleasures and sensual gratifications which they enjoyed at the pagan
festivals, he granted them a permission to indulge themselves in the
like pleasures, in celebrating the memory of the holy martyrs, hoping
that in process of time, they would return of their own accord to a
more virtuous and regular course of life.' There is no sort of doubt,
but that by this permission, Gregory allowed the Christians to dance,
sport, and feast at the tombs of the martyrs upon their respective
festivals, and to do everything which the pagans were accustomed to do
in their temples during the feasts celebrated in honor of their gods."

The Gregory referred to in the note last quoted flourished about the
middle of the third century. He acquired the title Thaumaturgus from
his fame as a worker of miracles, the genuineness of which
achievements is disputed by many authorities. He was bishop of New
Caesarea, and a man of great influence in the Church. His sanction of
ceremonies, patterned after pagan rites, was doubtless of far-reaching

2. _Church Ceremonial in the Fifth Century_. "The sublime and simple
theology of the primitive Christians was gradually corrupted, and the
Monarchy of heaven, already clouded by metaphysical subtleties, was
degraded by the introduction of a popular mythology, which tended to
restore the reign of polytheism. As the objects of religion were
gradually reduced to the standard of the imagination, the rites and
ceremonies were introduced that seemed most powerfully to affect the
senses of the vulgar. If, in the beginning of the fifth century,
Tertullian or Lactantius had been suddenly raised from the dead, to
assist at the festival of some popular saint or martyr, they would
have gazed with astonishment and indignation on the profane spectacle,
which had succeeded to the pure and spiritual worship of a Christian
congregation. As soon as the doors of the Church were thrown open they
must have been offended by the smoke of incense, the perfume of
flowers, and the glare of lamps and tapers, which diffused, at
noonday, a gaudy, superfluous, and, in their opinion a sacriligious
light. If they approached the balustrade of the altar, they made their
way through the prostrate crowd, consisting for the most part, of
strangers and pilgrims, who resorted to the city on the vigil of the
feast; and who already felt the strong intoxication of fanaticism, and
perhaps of wine. Their devout kisses were imprinted on the walls and
pavements of the sacred edifice; and their fervent prayers were
directed, whatever might be the language of their church, to the
bones, the blood, or the ashes of the saints, which were usually
concealed by a linen or silken veil from the eyes of the vulgar. The
Christians frequented the tombs of the martyrs, in the hope of
obtaining, from their powerful intercession, every sort of spiritual,
but more especially of temporal blessings. * * * The same uniform
original spirit of superstition might suggest, in the most distant
ages and countries, the same methods of deceiving the credulity, and
of affecting the services, of mankind; but it must ingeniously be
confessed that the ministers of the Catholic Church imitated the
profane model which they were impatient to destroy. The most
respectable bishops had persuaded themselves that the ignorant rustics
would more cheerfully renounce the superstitions of Paganism, if they
found some resemblance, some compensation, in the bosom of
Christianity. The religion of Constantine achieved, in less than a
century, the final conquest of the Roman empire; but the victors
themselves were insensibly subdued by the arts of their vanquished
rivals."--(Gibbon, "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," ch.

3. _Early Form of Christian Baptism_. History furnishes ample proof
that in the first century after the death of Christ, baptism was
administered solely by immersion. Tertullian thus refers to the
immersion ceremony common in his day: "There is no difference whether
one is washed in a sea or in a pool, in a river or in a fountain, in a
lake or in a channel; nor is there any difference between those whom
John dipped in Jordan, and those whom Peter dipped in the Tiber. * * *
We are immersed in the water."

Justin Martyr describes the ceremony as practiced by himself. First
describing the preparatory examination of the candidate, he proceeds:
"After that they are led by us to where there is water, and are born
again in that kind of new birth by which we ourselves were born again.
For in the name of God, the Father and Lord of all, and of Jesus
Christ, our Savior, and of the Holy Spirit, the immersion in water is
performed; because the Christ hath also said, 'Except a man be born
again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.'"

Bishop Bennet says concerning the practices of the early Christians:
"They led them into the water and laid them down in the water as a man
is laid in a grave; and then they said those words, 'I baptize (or
wash) thee in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost;' then they
raised them up again, and clean garments were put on them; from whence
came the phrases of being baptized into Christ's death, of being
buried with Him by baptism into death, of our being risen with Christ,
and of our putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, of putting off the old
man, and putting on the new."

"That the apostles immersed whom they baptized there is no doubt. * *
* And that the ancient church followed their example is very clearly
evinced by innumerable testimonies of the fathers."--(Vossius.)

"Burying as it were the person baptized in the water, and raising him
out again, without question was anciently the more usual
method."--(Archbishop Seeker.)

"_Immersion_ was the usual method in which baptism was administered in
the early Church. * * * Immersion was undoubtedly a common mode of
administering baptism, and was not discontinued when infant baptism
prevailed. * * * Sprinkling gradually took the place of immersion
without any formal renunciation of the latter."--(Canon Farrar.)

4. _Historical Notes on Infant Baptism_. "The baptism of infants, in
the first two centuries after Christ, was altogether unknown. * * *
The custom of baptizing infants did not begin before the third age
after Christ was born. In the former ages no trace of it appears; and
it was introduced without the command of Christ."--(Curcullaeus.)

"It is certain that Christ did not ordain infant baptism. * * * We
cannot prove that the apostles ordained infant baptism. From those
places where baptism of a whole family is mentioned (as in Acts 16:33;
I Cor. 1:16) we can draw no such conclusion, because the inquiry is
still to be made, whether there were any children in the families of
such an age that they were not capable of any intelligent reception of
Christianity; for this is the only point on which the case turns. * *
* As baptism was closely united with a conscious entrance on Christian
communion, faith and baptism were always connected with one another;
and thus it is in the highest degree probable that baptism was
performed only in instances where both could meet together, and that
the practice of infant baptism was unknown at this (the apostolic)
period. * * * That not till so late a period as (at least certainly
not earlier than) Irenaeus, a trace of infant baptism appears; and
that it first became recognized as an apostolic tradition in the
course of the third century, is evidence rather against than for the
admission of its apostolic origin."--(Johann Neander, a German
theologian who flourished in the first half of the nineteenth

"Let them therefore come when they are grown up--when they can
understand--when they are taught whither they are to come. Let them
become Christians when they can know Christ."--(Tertullian, one of the
Latin "Christian Fathers;" he lived from 150 to 220 A. D.)
Tertullian's almost violent opposition to the practice of pedo-baptism
is cited by Neander as "a proof that it was then not usually
considered an apostolic ordinance; for in that case he would hardly
have ventured to speak so strongly against it."

Martin Luther, writing in the early part of the sixteenth century,
declared: "It cannot be proven by the sacred scriptures that infant
baptism was instituted by Christ, or begun by the first Christians
after the apostles."

"By _tekna_ the Apostle understands, not infants, but posterity; in
which significance the word occurs in many places of the New Testament
(see among others John 8:39); whence it appears that the argument
which is very commonly taken from this passage for the baptism of
infants, is of no force, and good for nothing."--(Limborch, a native
of Holland, and a theologian of repute; he lived 1633-1712.)

5. _Summary of Changes in the Sacrament as an Ordinance_. "Errors
concerning the sacrament, and its signification, and the manner of
administering it, grew rapidly in the professed Christian churches
during the early centuries of the Christian era. As soon as the power
of the priesthood had departed, much disputation arose in matters of
ordinance, and the observance of the sacrament became distorted.
Theological teachers strove to foster the idea that there was much
mystery attending this naturally simple and most impressive ordinance;
that all who were not in full communion with the Church should be
excluded, not only from participation in the ordinance, which was
justifiable, but from the privilege of witnessing the service, lest
they profane the mystic rite by their unhallowed presence. Then arose
the heresy of transubstantiation,--which held that the sacramental
emblems by the ceremony of consecration lost their natural character
of simple bread and wine, and became in reality flesh and
blood,--actually parts of the crucified body of Christ. Arguments
against such dogmas is useless. Then followed the veneration of the
emblems by the people, the bread and wine--regarded as part of
Christ's tabernacle, being elevated in the mass for the adoration of
the people; and later, the custom of suppressing half of the sacrament
was introduced. By the innovation last mentioned, only the bread was
administered, the dogmatic assertion being that both the body and the
blood were represented in some mystical way in one of the 'elements.'
Certain it is, that Christ required His disciples to both eat and
drink in remembrance of Him."--(The Author, "Articles of Faith,"
Lecture 9, Note 4.)

6. _As to the Antiquity of the Doctrine of Transubstantiation_. As
stated in the text, the date of origin of the Catholic doctrine of
transubstantiation has been debated. The following summary is
instructive. "Protestants combatting the Catholic idea of the real
presence of the flesh and blood in the eucharist--transubstantiation--
have endeavored to prove that this doctrine was not of earlier origin
than the eighth century. In this, however, the evidence is against
them. Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, writing early in the second
century, says of certain supposed heretics: 'They do not admit of
eucharists and oblations, because they do not believe the eucharist to
be the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, who suffered for our sins.'
(Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrneans.) So Justin Martyr, also writing
in the first half of the second century: 'We do not receive them [the
bread and the wine] as ordinary food or ordinary drink, but as by the
word of God, Jesus Christ, our Savior, was made flesh and took upon
him both flesh and blood for our salvation, so also the food which was
blessed by the prayer of the word which proceeded from Him, and from
which our flesh and blood, by transmutation, receive nourishment, is,
we are taught, both the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made
flesh.' (Justin's Apology to Emperor Antoninus.) After Justin's time
the testimony of the fathers is abundant. There can be no doubt as to
the antiquity of the idea of the real presence of the body and blood
of Jesus in the eucharist; but that proves--as we said of infant
baptism--not that the doctrine is true, but that soon after the
apostles had passed away, the simplicity of the gospel was corrupted
or else entirely departed from."--(B. H. Roberts, "Outlines of
Ecclesiastical History," p. 133.)


**Internal Causes.--Continued**.

1. Among the controlling causes leading to the general apostasy of the
Church, we have specified as third in the series: _Unauthorized
changes in Church organization and government_.

2. A comparison between the plan of organization on which the
Primitive Church was founded and the ecclesiastical system which took
its place will afford valuable evidence as to the true or apostate
condition of the modern Church. The Primitive Church was officered by
apostles, pastors, high priests, seventies, elders, bishops, priests,
teachers, and deacons.--(See Luke 6:13 and Mark 3:14; Eph. 4:11; Heb.
5:1-5; Luke 10:1-11; Acts 14:23; 15:6; I Peter 5:1; I Tim. 3:1; Titus
1:17; Rev. 1:6; Acts 13:1; I Tim. 3:8-12.) We have no evidence that
the presiding council of the Church, comprising the twelve apostles,
was continued beyond the earthly ministry of those who had been
ordained to that holy calling during the life of Christ or soon after
His ascension. Nor is there record of any ordination of individuals to
the apostleship, irrespective of membership in the council of twelve,
beyond those whose calling and ministry are chronicled in the New
Testament, which, as a historical record, ends with the first century.

3. Ecclesiastical history other than the holy scriptures informs us,
however, that wherever a branch, or church, was organized, a bishop or
an elder (presbyter) was placed in charge. There is no doubt that
while the apostles lived, they were recognized and respected as the
presiding authorities of the Church. As they established branches or
churches, they selected the bishops, and submitted their nominations
to the vote of the members. As already stated, the principle of
self-government, or common consent, was respected in apostolic days
with a care amounting to sacred duty. We read that the bishops were
assisted in their local administration by presbyters and deacons.

4. After the apostles had gone, bishops and other officers were
nominated by, or at the instance of, the existing authorities. The
affairs of each church or branch were conducted and regulated by the
local officers, so that a marked equality existed among the several
churches, none exercising or claiming supremacy except as to the
deference voluntarily paid to those churches that had been organized
by the personal ministry of the apostles. Throughout the first and the
greater part of the second century, "the Christian churches were
independent of each other; nor were they joined together by
association, confederacy, or other bonds but those of charity. Each
Christian assembly was a little state, governed by its own laws, which
were either enacted, or, at least, approved by the society."--
(Mosheim, "Eccl. Hist.," Cent. II, Part II, ch. 2:2.)

5. As with the churches, so with their bishops,--there was a
recognized equality among them. Late in the second, and throughout the
third century, however, marked distinctions and recognitions of rank
arose among the bishops, those of large and wealthy cities assuming
authority and dignity above that accorded by them to the bishops of
the country provinces. The bishops of the largest cities or provinces,
took to themselves the distinguishing title of Metropolitans,--(See
Mosheim, "Eccl. Hist.," Cent. II, Part II, ch. 2:3; also Cent. IV,
Part II, ch. 2:3, and compare Cent. I, Part II, ch. 2:14.) and assumed
a power of presidency over the bishops of more limited jurisdiction.

6. The second century was marked by the custom of holding synods or
church councils; the practice originated among the churches in Greece,
and thence became general. These councils grew rapidly in power, so
that in the third century we find them legislating for the churches,
and directing by edict and command in matters which formerly had been
left to the vote of the people. Needless to say that with such
assumptions of authority came arrogance and tyranny in the government
of the Church. As the form of church government changed more and more,
many minor orders of clergy or church officers arose; thus in the
third century we read of sub-deacons, acolytes, ostiars, readers,
exorcists, and copiates. As an instance of the pride of office, it is
worthy of note that a sub-deacon was forbidden to sit in the presence
of a deacon without the latter's express consent.

7. Rome, so long the "mistress of the world" in secular affairs,
arrogated to herself a pre-eminence in church matters, and the bishop
of Rome claimed supremacy. It is doubtless true that the church at
Rome was organized by Peter and Paul. Tradition, founded on error,
said that the apostle Peter was the first bishop of Rome; and those
who successively were acknowledged as bishops of the metropolis
claimed to be, in fact, lineal successors of the presiding apostle.
The high but none the less false claim is made by the Catholic Church
in this day, that the present pope is the last lineal successor--not
alone to the bishopric but to the apostleship.

8. The rightful supremacy of the bishops of Rome, or Roman pontiffs as
they came to be known, was early questioned; and when Constantine made
Byzantium, or Constantinople, the capital of the empire, the bishop of
Constantinople claimed equality. The dispute divided the Church, and
for five hundred years the dissension increased, until in the ninth
century (855 A. D.) it developed into a great disruption, in
consequence of which the bishop of Constantinople, known distinctively
as the patriarch, disavowed all further allegiance to the bishop of
Rome, otherwise known as the Roman pontiff. This disruption is marked
today by the distinction between Roman Catholics.

9. The election of pontiff, or bishop of Rome, was long left to the
vote of the people and clergy; later the electoral function was vested
in the clergy alone; and in the eleventh century the power was lodged
in the college of cardinals, where it remains vested today. The Roman
pontiffs strove with unremitting zeal to acquire temporal as well as
spiritual authority; and their influence had become so great that in
the eleventh century we find them claiming the right to direct
princes, kings, and emperors in the affairs of the several nations. It
was at this, the early period of their greatest temporal power, that
the pontiffs took the title of _pope_, the word meaning literally papa
or father, and applied in the sense of universal parent. The power of
the popes was increased during the twelfth century, and may be said to
have reached its height in the thirteenth century.

10. Not content with assumed supremacy in all church affairs, the
popes "carried their insolent pretensions so far as to give themselves
out for lords of the universe, arbiters of the fate of kingdoms and
empires, and supreme rulers over the kings and princes of the
earth."--(Mosheim, "Eccl. Hist.," Cent. XI, Part II, ch. 2:2.) They
claimed the right to authorize and direct in the internal affairs of
nations, and to make lawful the rebellion of subjects against their
rulers if the latter failed to keep favor with the papal power.

11. Compare this arrogant and tyrannical church of the world with the
Church of Christ. Unto Pilate our Lord declared, "My kingdom is not of
this world."--(John 18:36.) and on an earlier occasion, when the
people would have proclaimed Him king with earthly dominion,--(John
6:15.) He departed from them. Yet the Church that boasts of its divine
origin as founded by the Christ, who would not be a king, lifts itself
above all kings and rulers, and proclaims itself the supreme power in
the affairs of nations.

12. In the fourth century the Church had promulgated what has been
since designated as an infamy, viz.: that "errors in religion, when
maintained and adhered to after proper admonition, were punishable
with civil penalties, and corporal tortures."--(Mosheim, "Eccl.
Hist.," Cent. IV, Part II, ch. 3:16.) The effect of this unjust rule
appeared as more and more atrocious with the passage of the years, so
that in the eleventh century, and later, we find the Church imposing
punishment of fine, imprisonment, bodily torture, and even death, as
penalties for infraction of church regulations, and, more infamous
still, providing for mitigation or annulment of such sentences on
payment of money. This led to the shocking practice of selling
_indulgences_ or pardons, which custom was afterwards carried to the
awful extreme of issuing such before the commission of the specific
offense, thus literally offering for sale licenses to sin, with
assurance of temporal and promise of spiritual immunity.

13. The granting of indulgences as exemptions from temporal penalties
was at first confined to the bishops and their agents, and the
practice dates as an organized traffic from about the middle of the
twelfth century. It remained for the popes, however, to go to the
blasphemous extreme of assuming to remit the penalties of the
hereafter on payment of the sums prescribed. Their pretended
justification of the impious assumption was as horrible as the act
itself, and constitutes the dreadful _doctrine of supererogation_.

14. As formulated in the thirteenth century, this doctrine was thus
set forth: "That there actually existed an immense treasure of
_merit_, composed of the pious deeds and virtuous actions which the
saints had performed _beyond what was necessary for their own
salvation_, and which were therefore applicable to the benefit of
others; that the guardian and dispenser of this precious treasure was
the Roman pontiff, and that of consequence he was empowered to assign
to such as he thought proper a portion of this inexhaustible source of
merit, suitable to their respective guilt, and sufficient to deliver
them from the punishment due to their crimes."--(As cited by Mosheim;
see "Eccl. Hist.," Cent. XII, Part II, ch. 3:4.)

15. The doctrine of supererogation is as unreasonable as it is
unscriptural and untrue. Man's individual responsibility for his acts
is as surely a fact as is his agency to act for himself. He will be
saved through the merits and by the atoning sacrifice of our Redeemer
and Lord; and his claim upon the salvation provided is strictly
dependent on his compliance with the principles and ordinances of the
gospel as established by Jesus Christ. Remission of sins and the
eventual salvation of the human soul are provided for; but these gifts
of God are not to be purchased with money. Compare the awful fallacies
of supererogation and the blasphemous practice of assuming to remit
sins of one man in consideration of the merits of another, with the
declaration of the one and only Savior of mankind: "But I say unto
you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give
account thereof in the day of judgment."--(Matt. 12:36.) His inspired
apostles, seeing in prophetic vision the day of awful certainty,
solemnly testifies, "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before
God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is
the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which
were written in the books, _according to their works_. And the sea
gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the
dead which were in them: _and they were judged every man according to
their works_."--(Rev. 20:12, 13. Italics intro.)

16. The scriptures proclaim the eternal fact of individual
accountability;--(For a concise treatment of the doctrine of man's
responsibility see the author's "Articles of Faith," Lecture 3.) the
Church in the days of its degeneracy declares that the merit of one
may be bought by another and paid for in worldly coin. Can such a
Church be in any measure the Church of Christ?

17. In illustration of the indulgences as sold in Germany in the
sixteenth century, we have the record of the doings of John Tetzel,
agent of the pope, who traveled about selling forgiveness of sins.
Says Milner: "Myconius assures us that he himself heard Tetzel declaim
with incredible effrontery concerning the unlimited power of the pope
and the efficacy of indulgences. The people believed that the moment
any person had paid the money for the indulgence he became certain of
his salvation; and that the souls for whom the indulgences were bought
were instantly released out of purgatory. * * * John Tetzel boasted
that he had saved more souls from hell by his indulgences than St.
Peter had converted to Christianity by his preaching. He assured the
purchasers of them, their crimes, however enormous, would be forgiven;
whence it became almost needless for him to bid them dismiss all fears
concerning their salvation. For, remission of sins being fully
obtained, what doubt could there be of salvation?"--(Milner, "History
of the Church," Cent. XVI, ch. 2.)

18. A copy of an indulgence written by the hand of Tetzel, the vendor
of popish pardons, has been preserved to us as follows: "May our Lord,
Jesus Christ, have mercy upon thee and absolve thee by the merits of
His most holy passion. And I, by His authority, that of His Apostles
Peter and Paul, and of the most holy pope granted and committed to me
in these parts, do absolve thee, first from all ecclesiastical
censures, in whatever manner they have been incurred; and then from
all the sins, transgressions, and excesses, how enormous soever they
may be, even for such as are reserved for the cognizance of the holy
see; and as far as the keys of the holy church extend, I remit to thee
all the punishment which thou deservest in purgatory on their account;
and I restore thee to the holy sacraments of the church, to the unity
of the faithful, and to that innocence and purity which thou
possessedst at baptism; so that when thou diest, the gates of
punishment shall be shut, and the gates of the paradise of delight
shall be opened; and if thou shalt not die at present, this grace
shall remain in full force when thou art at the point of death. In the
name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost."--(Milner,
"Church History," Cent. XVI, ch. 2.)

19. By way of excuse or defense, it has been claimed for the Roman
Catholic Church that a profession of contrition or repentance was
required of every applicant for indulgence, and that the pardon was
issued on the basis of such penitence, and not primarily for money or
its equivalent; but that recipients of indulgences, at first
voluntarily, and later in compliance with established custom, made a
material offering or donation to the Church. It is reported, moreover,
that some of the abuses with which the selling of indulgences had been
associated were disapproved by the Council of Trent, about the middle
of the sixteenth century. Nevertheless, the dread fact remains that
for four hundred years the Church had claimed for its pope the power
to remit all sins, and that the promise of remission had been sold and
bought.--(See Note 1, end of chapter.)

20. The awful sin of blasphemy consists in taking to one's self the
divine prerogatives and powers. Here we find the pope of Rome, the
head of the only church recognized at the time, assuming to remit the
punishment due in the hereafter for sins committed in mortality. A
pope assuming to sit in judgment as God Himself! Is this not a
fulfilment of the dread conditions of apostasy foreseen and foretold
as antecedent to the second advent of Christ? Read for yourselves:
"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, shewing himself that he is
God_."--(Thess. 2:3, 4. Italics introduced. See Note 4, end of

21. Another abuse perpetrated by the councils through which assemblies
the supreme pontiffs exercised their autocratic powers, is seen in the
restrictions placed on the reading and interpretation of scripture.
The same Council of Trent, which had disclaimed authority or blame for
the acts of church officials regarding the scandalous traffic in
indulgences, prescribed most rigid regulations forbidding the reading
of the scriptures by the people. Thus: "A severe and intolerable law
was enacted, with respect to all interpreters and expositors of the
scriptures, by which they were forbidden to explain the sense of these
divine books, in matters of faith and practice, in such a manner as to
make them speak a different language from that of the church and the
ancient doctors. The same law further declared that the church alone
(i. e., its ruler, the Roman pontiff) had the right of determining the
true meaning and signification of scripture. To fill up the measure of
these tyrannical and iniquitous proceedings, the church of Rome
persisted obstinately in affirming, though not always with the same
imprudence and plainness of speech, that _the holy scriptures were not
composed for the use of the multitude, but only for that of their
spiritual teachers_; and, of consequence, ordered these divine records
to be taken from the people in all places where it was allowed to
execute its imperious demands."--(Mosheim, "Eccl. Hist.," Cent. XVI,
Part I, ch. 1:25. The italics are introduced by the present writer.)

22. Is it possible that a church teaching such heresies can be the
Church established by Jesus Christ? The Lord Jesus commanded all:
"_Search the scriptures_; for in them ye think ye have eternal life:
and they are they which testify of me."--(John 5:39; compare verse 46;
also Isaiah 8:20; Luke 16:29; and Acts 17:11.)

23. Surely a pall of darkness had fallen upon the earth. The Church of
Christ had long since ceased to exist. In place of a priesthood
conferred by divine authority, a man-created papacy ruled with the
iron hand of tyranny and without regard to moral restraint. In a
scholarly work Dr. J. W. Draper gives a list of pontiffs who had stood
at the head of the Church from the middle of the eighth to the middle
of the eleventh centuries, with biographical notes of each.--(See Note
3, end of chapter.) And what a picture is there outlined! To win the
papal crown no crime was too great, and for a period of centuries the
immoralities of many of the popes and their subordinates are too
shocking for detailed description. It may be claimed that the author
last cited, and whose words are given below, was an avowed opponent of
the Roman Catholic Church, and that, therefore, his judgment is
prejudiced; in reply let it be said that the attested facts of history
support the dread arraignment. In commenting on the facts set forth,
Dr. Draper says:

24. "More than a thousand years had elapsed since the birth of our
Savior, and such was the condition of Rome. Well may the historian
shut the annals of those times in disgust. Well may the heart of the
Christian sink within him at such a catalogue of hideous crimes. Well
may we ask, Were these the vicegerents of God upon earth--these, who
had truly reached the goal beyond which the last effort of human
wickedness cannot pass? Not until several centuries after these events
did public opinion come to the true and philosophical conclusion--the
total rejection of the divine claims of the papacy. For a time the
evils were attributed to the manner of the pontifical election, as if
they could by any possibility influence the descent of a power which
claimed to be supernatural and under the immediate care of God. * * *
No one can study the development of the Italian ecclesiastical power
without discovering how completely it depended on human agency, too
often on human passion and intrigue; how completely wanting it was of
any mark of the divine construction and care--the offspring of man,
not of God, and therefore bearing upon it the lineaments of human
passions, human virtues, and human sins."--(Draper, "Intellectual
Development of Europe;" Vol. 1, p. 382.)

25. By increasing changes and unauthorized alterations in organization
and government, the earthly establishment known as "the Church," with
popes, cardinals, abbots, friars, monks, exorcists, acolytes, etc.,
lost all semblance to the Church as established by Christ and
maintained by His apostles. The Catholic argument that there has been
an uninterrupted succession of authority in the priesthood from the
Apostle Peter to the present occupant of the papal throne, is
untenable in the light of history, and unreasonable in the light of
fact. Authority to speak and act in the name of God, power to
officiate in the saving ordinances of the gospel of Christ, the high
privilege of serving as a duly commissioned ambassador of the court of
Heaven,--these are not to be had as the gifts of princes, nor are they
to be bought for money, nor can they be won as trophies of the bloody
sword. The history of the papacy is the condemnation of the Church of
Rome.--(See Notes 2 and 3, end of chapter.)


1. _The Roman Church Responsible for the Traffic in "Indulgences_." In
view of the claim asserted by some defenders of the Roman Church, to
the effect that the shameful traffic in indulgences was not sanctioned
by the church, and that the church cannot be held accountable for the
excesses to which its subordinates may go in their alleged official
acts, the following remarks by Milner, the judicious authority on
Church History (Cent. XVI, chap. 2.), may be of interest: "It does not
appear that the rulers of the hierarchy ever found the least fault
with Tetzel as exceeding his commission, till an opposition was openly
made to the practice of indulgences. Whence it is evident, that the
protestants have not unjustly censured the corruption of the court of
Rome in this respect. * * * The indulgences were farmed to the highest
bidders, and the undertakers employed such deputies to carry on the
traffic as they thought most likely to promote their lucrative views.
The inferior officers concerned in this commerce were daily seen in
public houses enjoying themselves in riot and voluptuousness
(Maimbourg, p. 11). In fine, whatever the greatest enemy of popery
could have wished, was at that time exhibited with the most
undisguised impudence and temerity, as if on purpose to render that
wicked ecclesiastical system infamous before all mankind."

The author proceeds to comment on the graded prices by which these
indulgences were placed within the pecuniary reach of all classes, and
finds in the wholesale traffic proof of profound ignorance and dire
superstition, and then points out the need of a new gospel
dispensation as follows: "This, however, was the very situation of
things _which opened the way for the reception of the gospel_. But who
was to proclaim the gospel in its native beauty and simplicity? The
princes, the bishops, and the learned men of the times saw all this
scandalous traffic respecting the pardon of sins; but none was found
who possessed the knowledge, the courage, and the honesty, necessary
to detect the fraud, and to lay open to mankind the true doctrine of
salvation by the remission of sins through Jesus Christ." Milner finds
the inauguration of a new era in the "Reformation" during the
sixteenth century. It is sufficient for our present purpose to know
that he recognized the need of preparation whereby the way would be
opened "for the reception of the gospel."--(Milner, "Ch. Hist.,"
Cent. XVI, ch. 2; italics introduced.)

2. _Three Popes at One Time_. "One of the severest blows given both
the temporal and the spiritual authority of the popes, was the
removal, in 1309, through the influence of the French king, Philip the
Fair, of the papal chair from Rome to Avignon, in Provence, near the
frontier of France. Here it remained for a space of about seventy
years, an era known in church history as the Babylonian Captivity.
While it was established here, all the popes were French, and of
course all their policies were shaped and controlled by the French
kings. * * * The discontent awakened among the Italians by the
situation of the papal court at length led to an open rupture between
them and the French party. In 1378 the opposing factions each elected
a pope, and thus there were two heads of the church, one at Avignon
and the other at Rome. The spectacle of _two rival popes_, each
claiming to be the rightful successor of St. Peter, and the sole
infallible head of the church, very naturally led men to question the
claims and infallibility of both. It gave the reverence which the
world had so generally held for the Roman See a rude shock, and one
from which it never recovered. Finally, in 1409, a general council of
the church assembled at Pisa, for the purpose of composing the
shameful quarrel. The council deposed both popes, and elected
Alexander V as the supreme head of the church. But matters, instead of
being mended hereby, were only made worse; for neither of the deposed
pontiffs would lay down his authority in obedience to the demands of
the council, and consequently _there were now three popes instead of
two_. In 1414 another council was called, at Constance, for the
settlement of the growing dispute. Two of the claimants were deposed
and one resigned. A new pope was then elected--Pope Martin V. In his
person the Catholic world was again united under a single spiritual
head. The schism was outwardly healed, but the wound had been too deep
not to leave permanent marks upon the church."--(P. V. N. Meyers,
"Gen. Hist.," pp. 457, 458. Italics introduced.)

The rupture between the French and Italian factions, referred to by
Meyers in the quotation given above, is known in history as the Great
Schism. It may be regarded as the decisive beginning of decline in the
temporal power of the popes.

3. _The Papacy Condemns Itself._ The line of succession in the papacy
for a limited period as referred to in the text, is given by Draper as

"To some it might seem, considering the interests of religion alone,
desirable to omit all biographical reference to the popes; but this
cannot be done with justice to the subject. The essential principle of
the papacy, that the Roman pontiff is the vicar of Christ upon earth,
necessarily obtrudes his personal relations upon us. How shall we
understand his faith unless we see it illustrated in his life? Indeed,
the unhappy character of those relations was the inciting cause of the
movements in Germany, France, and England, ending in the extinction of
the papacy as an actual political power, movements to be understood
only through a sufficient knowledge of the private lives and opinions
of the popes. It is well, as far as possible, to abstain from
burdening systems with the imperfections of individuals. In this case
they are inseparably interwoven. The signal peculiarity of the papacy
is that, though its history may be imposing, its biography is
infamous. I shall, however, forbear to speak of it in this latter
respect more than the occasion seems necessarily to require; shall
pass in silence some of those cases which would profoundly shock my
religious reader, and therefore restrict myself to the ages between
the middle of the eighth and the middle of the eleventh centuries,
excusing myself to the impartial critic by the apology that these were
the ages with which I have been chiefly concerned in this chapter.

"On the death of Pope Paul I, who had attained the pontificate A. D.
757, the Duke of Nepi compelled some bishops to consecrate
Constantine, one of his brothers, as pope; but more legitimate
electors subsequently, A. D. 768, choosing Stephen IV, the usurper and
his adherents were severely punished; the eyes of Constantine were put
out; the tongue of the Bishop Theodoras was amputated, and he was left
in a dungeon to expire in the agonies of thirst. The nephews of Pope
Adrian seized his successor, Pope Leo III, A. D. 79, in the street,
and, forcing him into a neighboring church, attempted to put out his
eyes and cut out his tongue; at a later period, this pontiff, trying
to suppress a conspiracy to depose him, Rome became the scene of
rebellion, murder and conflagration. His successor, Stephen V, A. D.
816, was ignominiously driven from the city: his successor, Paschal I,
was accused of blinding and murdering two ecclesiastics in the Lateran
Palace; it was necessary that imperial commissioners should
investigate the matter, but the pope died, after having exculpated
himself by oath before thirty bishops. John VIII, A. D. 872, unable to
resist the Mohammedans, was compelled to pay them tribute; the Bishop
of Naples, maintaining a secret alliance with them, received his share
of the plunder they collected. Him John excommunicated, nor would he
give him absolution unless he would betray the chief Mohammedans and
assassinate others himself. There was an ecclesiastical conspiracy to
murder the pope; some of the treasures of the church were seized; and
the gate of St. Pancrazia was opened with false keys, to admit the
Saracens into the city. Formosus, who had been engaged in these
transactions, and excommunicated as a conspirator for the murder of
John, was subsequently elected pope, A. D. 891; he was succeeded by
Boniface VI, A. D. 896, who had been deposed from the diaconate, and
again from the priesthood, for his immoral and lewd life. By Stephen
VII, who followed, the dead body of Formosus was taken from the grave,
clothed in the papal habilaments, propped in a chair, tried before a
council, and the preposterous and indecent scene completed by cutting
off three of the fingers of the corpse and casting it into the Tiber;
but Stephen himself was destined to exemplify how low the papacy had
fallen: he was thrown into prison and strangled. In the course of five
years, from A. D. 896 to A. D. 900, five popes were consecrated.
Leo V, who succeeded in A. D. 904, was in less than two months
thrown into prison by Christopher, one of his chaplains, who usurped
his place, and who, in his turn, was shortly expelled from Rome by
Sergius III, who, by the aid of a military force, seized the
pontificate, A. D. 905. This man, according to the testimony of the
times, lived in criminal intercourse with the celebrated prostitute
Theodora, who, with her daughters Marozia and Theodora, also
prostitutes, exercised an extraordinary control over him. The love of
Theodora was also shared by John X: she gave him first the
archbishopric of Ravenna, and then translated him to Rome, A. D. 915,
as pope. John was not unsuited to the times; he organized a
confederacy which perhaps prevented Rome from being captured by the
Saracens, and the world was astonished and edified by the appearance
of this warlike pontiff at the head of his troops. By the love of
Theodora, as was said, he had maintained himself in the papacy for
fourteen years; by the intrigues and hatred of her daughter Marozia he
was overthrown. She surprised him in the Lateran Palace; killed his
brother Peter before his face; threw him into prison, where he soon
died, smothered, as was asserted, with a pillow. After a short
interval Marozia made her own son pope as John XI, A. D. 931. Many
affirmed that Pope Sergius was his father, but she herself inclined to
attribute him to her husband, Alberic, whose brother Guido she
subsequently married. Another of her sons, Alberic, so called from his
supposed father, jealous of his brother John, cast him and their
mother Marozia into prison. After a time Alberic's son was elected
pope, A. D. 956; he assumed the title of John XII, the amorous Marozia
thus having given a son and a grandson to the papacy. John was only
nineteen years old when he thus became the head of Christendom. His
reign was characterized by the most shocking immoralities, so that the
Emperor Otho I was compelled by the German clergy to interfere. A
synod was summoned for his trial in the Church of St. Peter, before
which it appeared that John had received bribes for the consecration
of bishops; that he had ordained one who was but ten years old, and
had performed that ceremony over another in a stable; he was charged
with incest with one of his father's concubines, and with so many
adulteries that the Lateran Palace had become a brothel; he put out
the eyes of one ecclesiastic, and castrated another, both dying in
consequence of their injuries; he was given to drunkenness, gambling
and the invocation of Jupiter and Venus. When cited to appear before
the council, he sent word that 'he had gone out hunting;' and to the
fathers who remonstrated with him, he threateningly remarked 'that
Judas, as well as the other disciples, received from his Master the
power of binding and loosing, but that as soon as he proved a traitor
to the common cause, the only power he retained was that of binding
his own neck.' Hereupon he was deposed, and Leo VIII elected in his
stead, A. D. 963; but subsequently getting the upper hand, he seized
his antagonists, cut off the hand of one, the nose, finger, tongue of
others. His life was eventually brought to an end by the vengeance of
a man whose wife he had seduced.

"After such details it is almost needless to allude to the annals of
succeeding popes: to relate that John XIII was strangled in prison;
that Boniface VII imprisoned Benedict VII and killed him by
starvation; that John XIV was secretly put to death in the dungeons of
the Castle of St. Angelo; that the corpse of Boniface was dragged by
the populace through the streets. The sentiment of reverence for the
sovereign pontiff, nay, even of respect, had become extinct in Rome;
throughout Europe the clergy were so shocked at the state of things,
that, in their indignation, they began to look with approbation on the
intention of the Emperor Otho to take from the Italians their
privilege of appointing the successor of St. Peter, and confine it to
his own family. But his kinsman Gregory V, whom he placed on the
pontifical throne, was very soon compelled by the Romans to fly; his
excommunications and religious thunders were turned into derision by
them; they were too well acquainted with the true nature of those
terrors; they were living behind the scenes. A terrible punishment
awaited the Anti-Pope John XVI. Otho returned into Italy, seized him,
put out his eyes, cut off his nose and tongue, and sent him through
the streets mounted on an ass, with his face to the tail, and a
winebladder on his head. It seemed impossible that things could become
worse, yet Rome had still to see Benedict IX, A. D. 1033, a boy of
less than twelve years, raised to the apostolic throne. Of this
pontiff, one of his successors, Victor III, declared that his life was
so shameful, so foul, so execrable, that he shuddered to describe it.
He ruled like a captain of banditti rather than a prelate. The people
at last, unable to bear his adulteries, homicides, and abominations
any longer, rose against him. In despair of maintaining his position,
he put the papacy up at auction. It was bought by a presbyter named
John, who became Gregory VI, A. D. 1045."--(J. W. Draper,
"Intellectual Development of Europe," Vol. 1, ch. XII, pp. 378-381.)

4. _Commentary on the Passage from II Thess. 2:3, 4_. It should be
remembered that the application of Paul's declaration as to the
apostasy made in the text, is the one generally made by theologians of
Protestant denominations. It is in no way peculiar to the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Let us read the passage again: "Let
no man deceive you by any means: for that day [the day of Christ's
promised advent] 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, shewing
himself that he is God."

In his Bible Commentary, Dr. Adam Clarke says of this scripture: "The
general run of Protestant writers understand the whole as referring to
the popes and church of Rome, or the whole system of the papacy. * * *
Bishop Newton has examined the whole prophecy with his usual skill and
judgment. * * * The principal part of modern commentators follow his
steps. He applies the whole to the Romish church: the apostasy, its
defection from the pure doctrines of Christianity; and the 'man of
sin,' etc., the general succession of the popes of Rome." An
abridgment of Bishop Newton's interpretation is then added; this, in
part, is as follows:

"_For that day shall not come except, etc._--The day of Christ shall
not come except there come the apostasy first. The apostasy here
described is plainly not of a civil, but of a religious nature; not a
revolt from the government, but a defection from the true religion and
worship. * * *

"_So that he as God sitteth in the temple, etc._--By the temple of God
the apostle could not well mean the temple of Jerusalem, because that,
he knew, would be destroyed within a few years. After the death of
Christ, the temple of Jerusalem is never called the temple of God; and
if, at any time, they make mention of the house or temple of God, they
mean the church in general or every particular believer. Whoever will
consult I Cor. 3:16, 17; II Cor. 6:16; I Tim. 3:15; Rev. 3:12, will
want no examples to prove that under the gospel dispensation, the
temple of God is the Church of Christ; and the man of sin's sitting
implies his ruling and presiding there. * * *

"Upon this survey, there appears little room to doubt of the general
sense and meaning of the passage. The Thessalonians, (as we have seen
from some expressions in the former epistle,) were alarmed as if the
end of the world was at hand. The apostle, to correct their mistake
and dissipate their fears, assures them that a great apostasy or
defection of the Christians from the true faith and worship must
happen before the coming of Christ. This apostasy, all the concurrent
marks and characters will justify us in charging upon the church of
Rome. The true Christian worship is the worship of the only true God,
through the one only Mediator, the man Jesus Christ, and from this
worship the church of Rome has most notoriously departed, by
substituting other mediators, and invoking and adoring saints and
angels; nothing is apostasy if idolatry be not. * * * If the apostasy
be rightly charged upon the church of Rome, it follows, of
consequence, that the 'man of sin' is the pope, not meaning any pope
in particular, but the pope in general, as the chief head and
supporter of this apostasy."

The opinion of Dr. MacKnight is also cited with approval by Clarke. In
his "Commentary and Notes"--(Vol. III, p. 100, etc.) MacKnight says:
"As it is said, the man of sin was _to be revealed in his season_,
there can be little doubt that the dark ages, in which all learning
was overturned by the irruption of the northern barbarians, were the
season allotted to the man of sin for revealing himself. Accordingly
we know, that in these ages, the corruptions of Christianity, and the
usurpations of the clergy, were carried to the greatest height. In
short, the annals of the world cannot produce persons and events to
which the things written in this passage can be applied with so much
fitness as to the bishops of Rome."


**Results of the Apostasy.--Its Sequel**.

1. The thoroughly apostate and utterly corrupt condition of the Church
of Rome as proclaimed by its history down to the end of the fifteenth
century,--(See Note 1, end of chapter.) was necessarily accompanied by
absence of all spiritual sanctity and power, whatever may have been
the arrogant assumptions of the Church as to authority in spiritual
affairs. Revolts against the Church, both as rebellion against her
tyranny and in protest against her heresies, were not lacking. The
most significant of these anti-church agitations arose in connection
with the awakening of intellectual activity which began in the latter
part of the fourteenth century. The period from the tenth century
onward to the time of the awakening has come to be known as the dark
ages--characterized by stagnation in the progress of the useful arts
and sciences as well as of fine arts and letters, and by a general
condition of illiteracy and ignorance among the masses.

2. Ignorance is a fertile soil for evil growths, and the despotic
government and doctrinal fallacies of the Church during this period of
darkness were nourished by the ignorance of the times. With the change
known in history as "the revival of learning" came the struggle for
freedom from churchly tyranny.

3. One of the early revolts against the temporal and spiritual
despotism of the papal church was that of the Albigenses in France
during the thirteenth century. This uprising had been crushed by the
papal autocracy with much cruelty and bloodshed. The next notable
revolt was that of John Wickliffe in the fourteenth century. Wickliffe
was a professor in Oxford university, England. He boldly assailed the
evergrowing and greatly abused power of the monks, and denounced the
corruption of the Church and the prevalence of doctrinal errors. He
was particularly emphatic in his opposition to the papal restrictions
as to the popular study of the scriptures, and gave to the world an
English version of the Holy Bible translated from the Vulgate. In
spite of persecution and sentence, he died a natural death; but years
afterward the Church insisted on revenge, and in consequence, his
bones were exhumed and burned, and the ashes scattered to the winds.

4. On the continent of Europe the agitation against the Church was
carried on by John Huss and by Jerome of Prague, both of whom reaped
martyrdom as the harvest of their righteous zeal. These instances are
cited to show that though the Church had long been apostate to the
core, there were men ready to sacrifice their lives in what they
deemed to be the cause of truth.

5. Conditions existing at the opening of the sixteenth century have
been concisely summarized by a modern historian as follows: "Previous
to the opening of the sixteenth century there had been comparatively
few--though there had been some, like the Albigenses in the south of
France, the Wickliffites, in England, and the Hussites, in
Bohemia--who denied the supreme and infallible authority of the bishop
of Rome in all matters touching religion. Speaking in very general
manner it would be correct to say that at the close of the fifteenth
century all the nations of Western Europe professed the faith of the
Latin or Roman Catholic Church and yielded obedience to the Papal
See."--(Myers, "Gen. Hist.," p. 520.)

**The Reformation**.

6. The next notable revolt against the papal Church occurred in the
sixteenth century, and assumed such proportions as to be designated
the Reformation. The movement began in Germany about 1517, when Martin
Luther, a monk of the Augustinian order and an instructor in the
University of Wittenberg, publicly opposed and strongly denounced
Tetzel, the shameless agent of papal indulgences. Luther was
conscientious in his conviction that the whole system of church
penances and indulgences was contrary to scripture, reason, and right.
In line with the academic custom of the day--to challenge discussion
and debate on disputed questions--Luther wrote his famous ninety-five
theses against the practice of granting indulgences, and a copy of
these he nailed to the door of Wittenberg church, inviting criticism
thereon from all scholars. The news spread, and the theses were
discussed in all the scholastic centers of Europe. Luther then
attacked other practices and doctrines of the Roman Church, and the
pope, Leo X, issued a "Bull" or papal decree against him, demanding an
unconditional recantation on pain of excommunication from the Church.
Luther publicly burned the pope's document, and thus declared his open
revolt. The sentence of excommunication was pronounced.

7. We cannot follow here in detail the doings of this bold reformer.
Suffice it to say, he was not long left to fight singlehanded. Among
his able supporters was Philip Melancthon, a professor in Wittenberg.
Luther was summoned before a council or "Diet" at Worms in 1521. There
he openly declared for individual freedom of conscience. There is
inspiration in his words: "I cannot submit my faith either to the pope
or to the council, because it is as clear as the day that they have
frequently erred and contradicted each other. Unless, therefore, I am
convinced by the testimony of scripture, or by the clearest
reasoning--unless I am persuaded by means of the passages I have
quoted,--and unless they thus render my conscience bound by the word
of God, I cannot and will not retract, for it is unsafe for a
Christian to speak against his conscience. _Here I stand, I can do no
other, may God help me! Amen!_"

8. The religious controversy spread throughout Europe. At the Second
Diet of Spires (1529) an edict was issued against the reformers; to
this the representatives of seven German principalities and other
delegates entered a formal _protest_, in consequence of which action
the reformers were henceforth known as _Protestants_. John, Elector of
Saxony, supported Luther in his opposition to papal authority, and
undertook the establishment of an independent church, the constitution
and plan of which were prepared at his instance by Luther and
Melancthon. Luther died in 1546, but the work of revolution, if not in
truth reformation, continued to grow. The Protestants, however, soon
became divided among themselves, and broke up into many contending

9. In Switzerland, Ulrich Zwingle led in the movement toward reform.
He was accused of heresy, and when placed on trial, he defended
himself on the authority of the Bible as against papal edict, and was
for the time successful. The contest was bitter, and in 1531 the
Catholics and Protestants of the region engaged in actual battle, in
which Zwingle was slain, and his body brutally mutilated.

10. John Calvin next appeared as the leader of the Swiss reformers,
though he was an opponent of many of Zwingle's doctrines. He exerted
great influence as a teacher, and is known as an extremist in
doctrine. He advocated and vehemently defended the tenet of absolute
predestination, thus denying the free agency of man. In France,
Sweden, Denmark, and Holland, leaders arose and the Protestants became
strong in their opposition to the Roman Church, though the several
divisions were antagonistic to one another on many points of doctrine.

11. One effect of this Protestant uprising was the partial awakening
of the Roman Church to the need of internal reform, and an
authoritative re-statement of Catholic principles was attempted. This
movement was largely accomplished through the famous Council of
Trent--(1545-1563), which body disavowed for the Church the extreme
claims made for "indulgences" and denied responsibility for many of
the abuses with which the Church had been charged. But in connection
with the attempted reform came a demand for more implicit obedience to
the requirements of the Church.

12. Near the end of the fifteenth century, in the reign of Ferdinand
and Isabella, the court of the Inquisition, then known as the Holy
Office, had been established in Spain. The prime purpose of this
secret tribunal was the detection and punishment of heresy. Of this
infamous institution as operative in Spain, Myers says: "The Holy
Office, as the tribunal was styled, thus became the instrument of the
most incredible cruelty. Thousands were burned at the stake, and tens
of thousands more condemned to endure penalties scarcely less
terrible. Queen Isabella, in giving her consent to the establishment
of the tribunal in her dominions, was doubtless actuated by the purest
religious zeal, and sincerely believed that in suppressing heresy she
was discharging a simple duty, and rendering God good service. 'In the
love of Christ and His Maid-Mother,' she says, 'I have caused great
misery. I have depopulated towns and districts, provinces and
kingdoms.'"--(Myers, "Gen. Hist." p. 500.)

13. Now, in the sixteenth century, in connection with the attempted
reform in the doctrines of Catholicism, the terrible Inquisition
"assumed new vigor and activity, and heresy was sternly dealt with."
Consider the following as throwing light on the condition of that
time: "At this point, in connection with the persecutions of the
Inquisition, we should not fail to recall that in the sixteenth
century a refusal to conform to the established worship was regarded
by all, by Protestants as well as Catholics, as a species of treason
against society and was dealt with accordingly. Thus we find Calvin at
Geneva consenting to the burning of Servetus (1553) because he
published views that the Calvinists thought heretical; and in England
we see the Anglican Protestants waging the most cruel, bitter, and
persistent persecutions, not only against the Catholics but also
against all Protestants that refused to conform to the Established
Church."--(Myers, "Gen. Hist.," p. 527.)

14. What shall be said of a Church that seeks to propagate its faith
by such methods? Are fire and sword the weapons with which truth
fights her battles? Are torture and death the arguments of the gospel?
However terrible the persecutions to which the early Church was
subjected at the hands of heathen enemies, the persecutions waged by
the apostate church are far more terrible. Can such a church by any
possibility be the Church of Christ? Heaven forbid!

15. In the revolts we have noted against the Church of Rome, notably
in the Reformation, the zeal of the reformers led to many fallacies in
the doctrines they advocated. Luther, himself, proclaimed the doctrine
of absolute predestination and of justification by faith alone, thus
nullifying belief in the God-given rights of free agency, and
impairing the importance of individual effort.--(See the Author's
"Articles of Faith," Lecture 5.) Calvin and others were no less
extreme. Nevertheless their ministry contributed to the awakening of
individual conscience, and assisted in bringing about a measure of
religious freedom of which the world had long been deprived.--(See
note 2, end of chapter.)

**Rise of the Church of England**.

16. At the time of Martin Luther's revolt against the Church of Rome,
Henry VIII reigned in England. In common with all other countries of
western Europe, Britain was profoundly stirred by the reformation
movement. The king openly defended the Catholic Church and published a
book in opposition to Luther's claims. This so pleased the pope, Leo
X, that he conferred upon King Henry the distinguishing title,
"Defender of the Faith." This took place about 1522, and from that
time to the present, British sovereigns have proudly borne the title.

17. Within a few years after his accession to this title of
distinction, we find King Henry among the bitterest enemies of the
Roman Church, and the change came about in this wise. Henry desired a
divorce from his wife, Queen Catherine, to give him freedom to marry
Anne Boleyn. The pope hesitated in the matter of granting the divorce,
and Henry, becoming impatient, disregarded the pope's authority and
secretly married Anne Boleyn. The pope thereupon excommunicated the
king from the Church. The English parliament, following the king's
directions, passed the celebrated Act of Supremacy in 1534. This
statute declared an absolute termination of all allegiance to papal
authority, and proclaimed the king as supreme head of the Church of
Britain. Thus originated the Church of England, without regard for or
claim of divine authority, and without even a semblance of priestly

18. At first there was little innovation in doctrine or ritual in the
newly formed church. It originated in revolt. Later a form of creed
and a plan of organization were adopted, giving the Church of England
some distinctive features. During the reigns of Edward VI, Queen Mary,
and Queen Elizabeth, persecutions between Catholics and Protestants
were extensive and violent. Several non-conformist sects arose, among
them the Puritans and the Separatists. These were so persecuted that
many of them fled to Holland as exiles. From among these came the
notable colony of the Pilgrim Fathers, who crossed in the Mayflower to
the shores of the then recently-discovered continent, and established
themselves in America.

19. The thoughtful student cannot fail to see in the progress of the
great apostasy and its results the existence of an overruling power,
operating toward eventual good, however mysterious its methods. The
heart-rending persecutions to which the saints were subjected in the
early centuries of our era, the anguish, the torture, the bloodshed,
incurred in defense of the testimony of Christ, the rise of an
apostate church, blighting the intellect and leading captive the souls
of men--all these dread scenes were foreknown to the Lord. While we
cannot say or believe that such exhibitions of human depravity and
blasphemy of heart were in accordance with the divine will, certainly
God willed to permit full scope to the free agency of man, in the
exercise of which agency some won the martyr's crown, and others
filled the measure of their iniquity to overflowing.

20. Not less marked is the divine permission in the revolts and
rebellions, in the revolutions and reformations, that developed in
opposition to the darkening influence of the apostate church. Wycliffe
and Huss, Luther and Melancthon, Zwingle and Calvin, Henry VIII in his
arrogant assumption of priestly authority, John Knox in Scotland,
Roger Williams in America--these and a host of others builded better
than they knew, in that their efforts laid in part the foundation of
the structure of religious freedom and liberty of conscience,--and
this in preparation for the restoration of the gospel as had been
divinely predicted.

21. From the sixteenth century down to the present time, sects
professedly founded on the tenets of Christianity have multiplied
apace. They are now to be numbered by hundreds. On every side the
claim has been heard, "Lo, here is Christ," or "Lo, there." There are
churches named after their place of origin--as the Church of England;
other sects are designated in honor of their famous promoters--as
Lutherans, Calvinists, Wesleyans; others are known from some
peculiarity of creed or doctrine--as Methodists, Presbyterians, and
Baptists; but down to the beginning of the nineteenth century there
was no church even claiming name or title as the Church of Christ. The
only Church existing at that time venturing to assert authority by
succession was the Catholic Church, which as shown was wholly without
priesthood or divine commission.

22. If the "Mother Church" be without divine authority or spiritual
power, how can her children derive from her the right to officiate in
the things of God? Who dares affirm the absurdity that man can
originate for himself a priesthood which God shall honor and respect.
Granted that men may, can and do, create among themselves societies,
associations, sects, and churches if they choose so to designate their
religious organizations; granted that they may formulate laws,
prescribe rules, and construct elaborate plans of organization and
government, and that all such laws, rules and schemes of
administration are binding upon those who voluntarily assume
membership,--granted all these powers and rights--whence can such
human creations derive the authority of the holy Priesthood, without
which there can be no Church of Christ? If the power and authority be,
by any possibility, of human origin, there never has been a Church of
Christ on earth, and the alleged saving ordinances of the gospel have
never been other than empty forms.

23. Our review of the Great Apostasy as presented in this treatise,
does not call for any detailed or critical study of the Roman Catholic
Church as it exists in modern times, nor of any of the numerous
Protestant denominations that have come into existence as dissenting
children of the so-called "Mother Church." The apostasy was complete,
as far as actual loss of priesthood and cessation of spiritual power
in the Church are concerned, long prior to the sixteenth century
revolt, known in history as the Reformation. It is instructive to
observe, however, that the weakness of the Protestant sects as to any
claim to divine appointment and authority, is recognized by those
churches themselves. The Church of England, which, as shown,
originated in revolt against the Roman Catholic Church and its pope,
is without foundation of claim to divine authority in its priestly
orders, unless, indeed, it dare assert the absurdity that kings and
parliaments can create and take unto themselves heavenly authority by
enactment of earthly statutes.

24. The Roman Catholic Church is at least consistent in its claim that
a line of succession in the priesthood has been maintained from the
apostolic age to the present, though the claim is utterly untenable in
the light of a rational interpretation of history. But the fact
remains that the Catholic Church is the only organization venturing to
assert the present possession of the holy priesthood by unbroken
descent from the apostles of our Lord. The Church of England, chief
among the Protestant sects, and all other dissenting churches, are by
their own admission and by the circumstances of their origin, man-made
institutions, without a semblance of claim to the powers and authority
of the holy priesthood.

25. As late as 1896 the question of the validity of the priestly
orders in the Church of England was officially and openly discussed
and considered, both in England and at Rome. Lord Halifax, chairman of
the English Church Union, conferred with the Vatican authorities to
ascertain the possibility of bringing about closer union between the
Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England. This involved the
question of the recognition of the priestly orders of the Anglican
Church by the pope and Church of Rome. The movement was favored in the
interests of unity and peace by the English premier, Mr. Gladstone.
The pope, Leo XIII, finally issued a decree refusing to recognize in
any degree the authority of the Anglican orders, and expressly
declaring all claims to priestly authority by the Church of England as
absolutely invalid.

26. Assuredly the Church of Rome could take no other action than this
and maintain the consistency of its own claim to exclusive possession
of the priesthood by descent. Assuredly the Church of England would
have sought no official recognition of its priestly status by the
Church of Rome had it any independent claim to the power and authority
of the priesthood. The Roman Catholic Church declares that all
Protestant denominations are either apostate organizations, or
institutions of human creation that have never had even a remote
connection with the church that claims succession in the priesthood.
In short, the apostate "Mother Church" aggressively proclaims the
perfidy of her offspring.

**The Apostasy Admitted**.

27. The fact of the great apostasy is admitted. Many theologians who
profess a belief in Christianity have declared the fact. Thus we read:
"We must not expect to see the Church of Christ existing in its
perfection on the earth. It is not to be found thus perfect, either in
the collected fragments of Christendom or still less in any one of
those fragments."--(Smith's "Dictionary of the Bible.")

28. John Wesley, who lived from 1703 to 1791 A. D., and who ranks as
chief among the founders of Methodism, comments as follows on the
apostasy of the Christian Church as evidenced by the early decline of
spiritual power and the cessation of the gifts and graces of the
Spirit of God within the Church: "It does not appear that these
extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit--(See I Cor., ch. 12.) were
common in the Church for more than two or three centuries. We seldom
hear of them after that fatal period when the Emperor Constantine
called himself a Christian, and from a vain imagination of promoting
the Christian cause thereby heaped riches and power and honor upon
Christians in general, but in particular upon the Christian clergy.
From this time they almost totally ceased, very few instances of the
kind being found. The cause of this was not, as has been supposed,
because there was no more occasion for them, because all the world was
become Christians. This is a miserable mistake; not a twentieth part
of it was then nominally Christians. The real cause of it was that the
love of many, almost all Christians, so-called, was waxed cold. The
Christians had no more of the spirit of Christ than the other
heathens. The Son of Man, when He came to examine His Church, could
hardly find faith upon earth. This was the real cause why the
extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were no longer to be found in
the Christian church--because the Christians were turned heathens
again, and only had a dead form left."--(John Wesley's Works. Vol.
VII, 89:26-27. See Note 3, end of chapter.)

29. The Church of England makes official declaration of degeneracy and
loss of divine authority in these words: "Laity and clergy, learned
and unlearned, all ages, sects, and degrees, have been drowned in
abominable idolatry most detested by God and damnable to man for eight
hundred years and more."--(Church of England 'Homily on Perils of
Idolatry,' p. 3.) The "Book of Homilies," in which occurs this
declaration by the Church of England, dates from about the middle of
the sixteenth century. According to this official statement,
therefore, the religious world had been utterly apostate for eight
centuries prior to the establishment of the Church of England. The
fact of a universal apostasy was widely proclaimed, for the homilies
from which the foregoing citation is taken were "appointed to be read
in churches" in lieu of sermons under specified condition.

30. _The great apostasy was divinely predicted; its accomplishment is
attested by both sacred and secular writ_.

31. To the faithful Latter-day Saint, a concluding proof of the
universal apostasy and of the absolute need of a restoration of
Priesthood from the heavens will be found in the divine reply to the
inquiry of the boy prophet, Joseph Smith, as to which of all the
contending sects was right: "I was answered that I must join none of
them, for they were all wrong; and the personage who addressed me said
that all their creeds were an abomination in His sight; that those
professors were all corrupt; that 'they draw near to me with their
lips, but their hearts are far from me; they teach for doctrines the
commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the
power thereof.'"--(Pearl of Great Price, p. 85, par. 19.)

**The Sequel**.

32. The sequel of the Great Apostasy is the Restoration of the Gospel,
marking the inauguration of the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times.
This epoch-making event occurred in the early part of the nineteenth
century, when the Father and the Son manifested themselves to man, and
when the Holy Priesthood with all its powers and authority was again
brought to earth.

33. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims to the
world this glorious restoration,--at once the consummation of the work
of God throughout the ages past, and the final preparation for the
second advent of Jesus, the Christ. The Church affirms that after the
long night of spiritual darkness, the light of heaven has again come;
and that the Church of Christ is authoritatively established. The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stands alone in the
declaration that the Holy Priesthood is operative upon earth, not as
an inheritance through earthly continuation from the apostolic age,
but as the endowment of a new dispensation, brought to earth by
heavenly ministration. In this restoration, divinely predicted and
divinely achieved, has been witnessed a realization of the Revelator's

"_And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the
everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to
every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud
voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment
is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and
the fountains of waters_."--(Rev. 14:6, 7. For treatment of the
Restoration of the Gospel see the Author's "Articles of Faith,"
Lecture 11. See Notes 4 and 5, end of chapter.)


1. _Papist Testimony to the Corruption of the Church_. "The judicious
student of ecclesiastical history will observe that I constantly
endeavor to draw my proofs from the most unexceptionable sources. For
example: To prove the corrupt state of the clergy, and the abominable
practices of the Roman See, I would produce the evidence of George of
Saxony, a most bigoted papist, whom the Roman Catholics always reckon
among the most sincere and most active of the holy defenders of their
religion. Now, as with them the assertions of Luther and the other
reformers go for nothing but exaggerations, misrepresentations, or
direct falsehoods, let them listen at least to this duke, their steady
friend and advocate, who generally, in religious concerns, opposed his
relation, the elector of Saxony, and who also entirely approved of
Luther's condemnation at Worms. This George of Saxony exhibited to the
Diet twelve heads of the grievances which called loudly for reform.
Two of these are briefly as follows: 1. Indulgences, which ought to be
obtained by prayers, fastings, benevolence towards our neighbor, and
other good works, are sold for money. Their value is extolled beyond
all decency. The sole object is to gain a deal of money. Hence the
preachers, who are bound to set forth truth, teach men nothing but
lies and frauds. They are not only suffered to go on thus, but are
well paid for their fraudulent harangues. The reason is the more
conviction they can produce among their hearers, the more money flows
into the chest. Rivers of scandalous proceedings arise from this
corrupt fountain. The officials of the bishops are equally attentive
to scrape money together. They vex the poor with their censures for
great crimes, as whoredom, adultery, blasphemy; but they spare the
rich. The clergy commit the very same crimes, and nobody censures
them. Faults which ought to be expiated by prayers and fastings are
atoned for by money, in order that the officials may pay large sums to
their respective bishops, and retain a portion of the gain for
themselves. Neither when a mulct is inflicted, is it done in a way to
stop the commission of the same fault in future, but rather so that
the delinquent understands he may soon do that very thing again,
provided he be but ready to pay. Hence, all the sacraments are sold
for money; and where that is not to be had, they are absolutely
neglected. 2. Another distinct head of the grievances produced by this
zealous duke was expressed thus: 'The scandalous conduct of the clergy
is a very fruitful source of the destruction of poor souls. There must
be a universal reformation; and this cannot be better effected than by
a general council. It is therefore, the most earnest wish of us all
that such a measure be adopted.'"--(Milner, "Church History," Cent.
XVI, ch. 6. Footnote.)

2. _Extremes Incident to the Reformation_. "What were the reproaches
constantly applied to the Reformation by its enemies? Which of its
results are thrown in its face, as it were, unanswerable? The two
principal reproaches are, first, the multiplicity of sects, the
excessive license of thought, the destruction of all spiritual
authority, and the entire dissolution of religious society; secondly,
tyranny and persecution. 'You provoke licentiousness,' it has been
said to the Reformers: 'you produce it; and, after being the cause of
it, you wish to restrain and repress it. And how do you repress it? By
the most harsh and violent means. You take upon yourselves, too, to
punish heresy, and that by virtue of an illegitimate authority.'"--

"The Sectarian dogma of Justification by Faith alone has exercised an
influence for evil since the early days of Christianity. The idea upon
which this pernicious doctrine was founded, was at first associated
with that of an absolute predestination, by which man was foredoomed
to destruction, or to an utterly undeserved salvation. Thus, Luther
taught as follows: 'The excellent, infallible, and sole preparation
for grace, is the eternal election and predestination of God.' 'Since
the fall of man, free-will is but an idle word.' 'A man who imagines
to arrive at grace by doing all that he is able to do, adds sins to
sin, and is doubly guilty.' 'That man is not justified who performs
many works; but he who without works has much faith in Christ.' (For
these and other doctrines of the Reformation see D'Aubigne's 'History
of the Reformation,' Vol. I, pp. 82, 83, 119, 122.) In Milner's
'Church History' (Vol. IV, p. 514) we read: 'The point which the
reformer Luther had most at heart in all his labors, contests and
dangers, was the justification by faith alone.' Melancthon voices the
doctrine of Luther in these words: 'Man's justification before God
proceeds from faith alone. This faith enters man's heart by the grace
of God alone;' and further, 'As all things which happen, happen
necessarily, according to the divine predestination, there is no such
thing as liberty in our wills.'--(D'Aubigne, Vol. III, p. 340.) It is
true that Luther strongly denounced, and vehemently disclaimed
responsibility for, the excesses to which this teaching gave rise, yet
he was not less vigorous in proclaiming the doctrine. Note his words:
'I, Doctor Martin Luther, unworthy herald of the doctrine of our Lord
Jesus Christ, confess this article, that faith alone without works
justifies before God; and I declare that it shall stand and remain
forever in despite of the emperor of the Romans, the emperor of the
Turks, the emperor of the Persians,--in spite of the pope and all the
cardinals, with the bishops, priests, monks and nuns,--in spite of
kings, princes and nobles, and in spite of all the world and of the
devils themselves; and that if they endeavor to fight against this
truth they will draw the fires of hell upon their heads. This is the
true and holy gospel, and the declaration of me, Doctor Luther,
according to the teachings of the Holy Ghost.'"--(See the Author's
"Articles of Faith," Lecture V, Note 2.)

3. _Diverse Views Concerning Continuance or Decline of Spiritual
Gifts_. "Protestant writers insist that the age of miracles closed
with the fourth or fifth century, and that after that the
extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost must not be looked for. Catholic
writers, on the other hand, insist that the power to perform miracles
has always continued in the Church; yet those spiritual manifestations
which they describe after the fourth and fifth centuries savor of
invention on the part of the priests, and childish credulity on the
part of the people; or else, what is claimed to be miraculous falls
short of the power and dignity of those spiritual manifestations which
the primitive Church was wont to witness. The virtues and prodigies,
ascribed to the bones and other relics of the martyrs and saints, are
puerile in comparison with the healings by the anointing with oil and
the laying on of hands, speaking in tongues, interpretations,
prophecies, revelations, casting out of devils in the name of Jesus
Christ; to say nothing of the gifts of faith, wisdom, knowledge,
discerning of spirits, etc.--common in the Church in the days of the
apostles--(I Cor. 12:8-10). Nor is there anything in the scriptures or
in reason that would lead one to believe that they were to be
discontinued. Still this plea is made by modern Christians--explaining
the absence of these spiritual powers among them--that the
extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were only intended to accompany
the proclamation of the gospel during the first few centuries, until
the Church was able to make its way without them, and they were to be
done away. It is sufficient to remark upon this that it is assumption
pure and simple, and stands without warrant either of scripture or
right reason; and proves that men had so far changed the religion of
Jesus Christ that it became a form of godliness without the power
thereof."--(B. H. Roberts, "Outlines of Ecclesiastical History," Part
II, Sec. 5:6-8.)

4. _Commentary on the Revelator's Vision of the Restoration_. It is
instructive to inquire into the interpretation given by biblical
students to the prophecy voiced by John the Revelator predicting the
advent of the angel "having the everlasting gospel." Dr. Clarke offers
the following reflections on the passage: "_And I saw another angel
fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel_: Whether
this angel means any more than a particular dispensation of providence
and grace, by which the gospel shall be rapidly sent through the whole
world; or whether it means any especial messenger, order of preachers,
people, or society of Christians, whose professed object it is to send
the gospel of the kingdom throughout the earth, we know not. But the
vision seems truly descriptive of a late institution, entitled 'The
British and Foreign Bible Society,' whose object it is to print and
circulate the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments through all the
habitable world, and in all the languages spoken on the face of the
earth."--(Clarke, "Bible Commentary," Rev. 14:6.)

The learned commentator is to be commended for his frank avowal as to
uncertainty regarding the precise interpretation of this scripture,
and for the provisional and tentative manner in which he indicates a
possible application to the wide distribution of the Holy Bible
through the efforts of a most worthy and influential society. It is to
be noted that Dr. Clarke wrote his famous commentary on the Bible
shortly before the actual restoration of the gospel through angelic
agency which resulted in the establishment of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints. Of necessity his search for the
fulfillment of the prediction was unsatisfactory, and, indeed,
unsuccessful, inasmuch as the fulfillment had not then occurred. The
commendable work of the Bible Society was a preparation for the
fulfillment of the momentous prophecy, but not the fulfillment itself.

5. _Restoration of the Church_. "In the first ten centuries
immediately following the ministry of Christ, the authority of the
priesthood was lost from among men, and no human power could restore
it. But the Lord in His mercy provided for the re-establishment of His
Church in the last days, and for the last time, and prophets of olden
time foresaw this era of renewed enlightenment, and sang in joyous
tones of its coming."--(See Dan. 2:44, 45; 7:27; Matt. 24:14; Rev.
14:6-8.) "This restoration was effected by the Lord through the
prophet, Joseph Smith, who, together with Oliver Cowdery, in 1829,
received the Aaronic Priesthood under the hands of John the Baptist,
and later the Melchizedek Priesthood under the hands of the former-day
apostles, Peter, James and John. By the authority thus bestowed, the
Church has been again organized with all its former completeness, and
mankind once more rejoices in the priceless privileges of the counsels
of God. The Latter-day Saints declare their high claim to the true
Church organization, similar in all essentials to the organization
effected by Christ among the Jews; these people of the last days
profess to have the Priesthood of the Almighty, the power to act in
the name of God, which power commands respect both on earth and in
heaven."--(The Author, "Articles of Faith," Lecture 11:12.)

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