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LIBERTY OF RELIGIOUS CONSCIENCE THREATENED BY ROMAN CATHOLICISM AND THE APOSTATE PAPACY (PART 2)

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LIBERTY OF RELIGIOUS CONSCIENCE THREATENED BY ROMAN CATHOLICISM AND THE APOSTATE PAPACY (PART 2)

Post by sol_drethedon on Tue Jan 07, 2014 8:04 pm

It is true that there are real Christians in the Roman Catholic communion. Thousands in that church are serving God according to the best light they have. They are not allowed access to His word, and therefore they do not discern the truth. They have never seen the difference between a living heart service and around of mere forms and ceremonies. God looks with pitying tenderness upon these souls, educated as they are in faith that is delusive and unsatisfying. He will cause rays of light to penetrate the dense darkness that surrounds them. He will reveal to them the truth as it is in Jesus, and many will yet take their position with His people.

But Romanism is no more in harmony with the gospel of Christ now than at any former period of her history. The protestant churches are in great darkness or they would discern the signs of the times. The Roman Church is far reaching in her plans and modes of operation. She is employing every device to extend her influence and increase her power in preparation for a fierce and determined conflict to gain control of the world, to re-establish persecution, and to undo all that Protestantism has done. Catholicism is gaining ground upon every side. See the increasing number of her churches and chapels in Protestant countries. Look at the popularity of her colleges and seminaries in America, so widely patronized by Protestants. Look at the growth of ritualism in England and the frequent defections to the ranks of the Catholics. These things should awaken the anxieties of all those who prize the pure principles of the gospel.

Protestants have tampered with and patronized popery; they have made compromises and concessions which papists themselves are surprised to see and fail to understand. Men are closing their eyes to the real characters of Romanism and the dangers to be apprehended from her supremacy. The people need to be aroused to resist the advances of this most dangerous for to civil and religious liberty.

Many Protestants suppose that the Catholic religion is unattractive and that its worship is a dull, meaningless ceremony. Here they mistake. While Romanism is based upon deception, it is not course and clumsy imposture. The religious service of the Roman Church is a most impressive ceremonial. Its gorgeous display and solemn rites fascinate the senses of the people and silence the voice of reason and of conscience. The eye is charmed. Magnificent churches, imposing processions, golden altars, jeweled shrines, choice paintings, and exquisite sculpture appeal to the love of beauty. The ear also is captivated. The music is unsurpassed. The rich notes of the deep toned organ, blending with the melody of many voices as it swells through the lofty domes and pillared aisles of her grand cathedrals, cannot fail to impress the mind with awe and reverence.

This outward splendor, pomp and ceremony, that only mocks the longings of the sin-sick soul, is an evidence of inward corruption . The religion of Christ needs not such attractions to recommend it. In the light shining from the cross, true Christianity appears so pure and lovely that no external decorations can enhance its true worth. It is the beauty of holiness, a meek and queer spirit, which is of value with God.

Brilliancy of style is not necessarily an index of pure, elevated thought. High conceptions of art, delicate refinement of taste, often exist in things that are earthly and sensual. They are often employed by Satan to lead men to forget the necessities of the soul, to lose sight of the future, immoral life, to turn away fro their infinite Helper, and to live for their world alone.

The religion of externals is attractive to the unrenewed heart. The pomp and ceremony of the Catholic worship has a seductive bewitching power, by which many are deceived; and they come to look at the Roman Church as the very gate of heaven. None but those who have planted their feet firmly upon the foundation of the truth, and whose hearts are renewed by the spirit of God, are proof against her influence. Thousands who have not an experimental knowledge of Christ will be led to accept the forms godliness without the power. Such a religion is just what the multitudes desire.

The church's claim to the right to pardon leads the Romanist to feel at liberty to sin; and the ordinance of confession, without which her pardon is not granted tends also to give license to evil. He who kneels before fallen man, and opens in confession the secret thoughts and imaginations of his heart, is debasing his manhood and degrading every noble instinct of his soul. In unfolding the sins of his life to a priest,--an erring and sinful mortal, and to often corrupted with wine and licentiousness,--his standard of character is lowered, and he is defiled in consequence. His thought of God is degraded to the likeness of fallen humanity, for the priest standard as a representative of God. This degrading confession of man to man is the secret spring from which has flowed much of the evil which is defiling the world and fitting it for final the destruction. Yet to him that loves self-indulgence, it is more pleasing to confess to a fellow mortal than to open the soul to God. It is more palatable to human nature to do penance than renounce sin; it is easier to mortify the flesh by sackcloth and nettles and galling chains than to crucify fleshy lusts. Heavy is the yoke which the carnal heart is willing to bear than bow to the yoke of Christ.

There is a striking similarity between the Church of Rome and the Jewish Church at the time of Christ's first advent. While the Jews secretly trampled upon every principle of the law of God, they were outwardly rigorous in the observance of its precepts, loading it down with exactions and traditions that made obedience painful and burdensome. As the Jews professed to rever the law, so do Romanists claim to reverence the cross. They exalt the symbol of Christ's suffering, while in their lives they deny Him whom it represents.

Papists place crosses upon their churches, upon their altars, and upon their garments. Everywhere is seen the insignia of the cross. Everywhere it is outwardly honored and exalted. But the teachings of Christ are buried beneath a mass of senseless traditions, false interpretations and rigorous exactions. The Savior's words regarding the bigoted Jews apply with still greater force to the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church: "They bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay therm on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers." Mathew 23:4. Conscientious souls are kept in constant terror fearing the wrath of an offended God, while many of the dignitaries of the church are living in luxury and sensual pleasure.

The worship of images and relics, the innovation of saints, and exaltation of the pope are images of Satan to attract the minds of people from God and from His Son. To accomplish their ruin, he endeavors to turn their attention from Him through whom alone they can find salvation. He will direct them to any object that can be substituted for the One who has said: "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." Mathew 11:28

It is Satan's constant effort to misrepresent the character of God, the nature of sin and the real issues at stake in the great controversy. His sophistry lessens the obligations of the divine law and gives men license to sin. At the same time he forces them to cherish false conceptions of God so that they regard Him with fear and hate rather than with love. The cruelty inherent in his own character is attributed to the Creator; it is embodied in systems of religion and expressed in models of worship. Thus the minds of men are blinded, and Satan secures them as his agents of war against God. By perverted conceptions of the divine attributes, heathen nations were meant to believe human sacrifices necessary to secure the favor of Deity; and horrible cruelties have been perpetrated under the various forms of idolatry.

The Roman Catholic Church, uniting the forms of paganism and Christianity,and, like paganism, misrepresenting the character of God, had resorted to practices no less cruel and revolting. In the days of Rome's supremacy, there were instruments of torture to compel assent to her doctrines. There was the stake for those who could not concede to her claims. There were massacres at a scale that will never be known until revealed at judgment. Dignitaries of the church studied, under Satan, their
master, to invent means to cause the greatest possible torture and not end the life of the victim. In many cases the infernal process was repeated to the utmost limit of human endurance, until nature gave up the struggle and the sufferer hailed death as sweet release.

Such was the fate of Rome's opponents. For her adherents she had the discipline of the scourge, of famishing hunger, of bodily austerities, in every conceivable, heart-sickening form. To secure the favor of Heaven, penitents violated the laws of God by violating the laws of nature. They were taught to sunder the ties which He has formed to bless and gladden man's earthly sojourn. The churchyard contains millions of victims who spent their lives in vain endeavors to subdue their natural affections, to repress, as offensive to God, every thought and feeling of sympathy with their fellow creatures.

If we desire to understand the determined cruelty of Satan, manifested for hundreds of years, not among those who never heard of God, but in the very heart and throughout the extent of Christendom, we have only to look at the history of Romanism. Through this mammoth system of deception, this prince of evil achieves his purpose of bringing dishonor to God and wretchedness to man. As we see how he succeeds in disguising himself and accomplishing his work through the leaders of the church, we may better understand why he has so much antipathy to the Bible. If that Book is read, the mercy and love of God will be revealed; it will be seen that He lays upon man none of these heavy burdens. All that He asks is a broken and contrite heart, a humble, obedient spirit

Christ gives no examples in His life for men and women to shut themselves in monasteries in order to become fitted for heaven. He has never taught that love and sympathy must be repressed. The Savior's heart overflowed with love. The nearer man approaches to moral perfection, the keener are his sensibilities, the more acute in his perfection of sin, and the deeper his sympathy for the afflicted. The pope claims to be the vicar of Christ; but how does his character bear comparison with that of our Savior? Was Christ ever known to consign men to the prison or the rack because they did not pay him homage as the King of heaven? Was His voice heard condemning to death those who did not accept Him? When he was slighted by the people of the Samaritan village, the apostle John was filled with indignation, and inquired: "Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them even as Elias did?" Jesus looked with pity upon His disciple, and rebuked his harsh spirit saying:"The son of man has not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." Luke 9:54,56. How different from the spirit manifested by Christ is that of His professed vicar?

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sol_drethedon

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