As before stated, the Edict of Milan, March, A.D. 313, granted “to the Christians, and to all, the free choice to follow that mode of worship which they may wish.” It decreed “that no freedom at all shall be refused to Christians to follow or to keep their observances or worship, but that to each one power be granted to devote his mind to that worship which he may think adapted to himself.” This freedom was “absolutely granted to them.” It was “also granted to others to pursue that worship and religion they wish, . . . that each may have the privilege to select and to worship whatsoever divinity he pleases.”A.T. Jones, Review and Herald, May 15, 1900
As freedom of religion and worship, without any interference whatever on the part of the State, was thus decreed, and absolutely granted, this act was the formal surrender of the Roman imperial power to the principle announced by Jesus and maintained by his disciples through two hundred and eighty years, against all the power that the Roman empire could employ to suppress it — the principle of the total separation of religion and the State: the rendering to Caesar only that which is Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.
It is perfectly plain, therefore, that, at this point, upon this question, the Roman State stood exactly as the United States stood at the formation of the national government with it total and Constitutional separation of religion and the State. Here, as there, the supreme law of the State disavowed any authority in matters of religion and worship. That is the only instance of such a thing in ancient times: this of the United States is the only instance of such a thing in modern times. It is true that in the ancient instance, the principle was immediately subverted, and the good intent and proper results of that supreme law were destroyed by the apostate church being able, through the political necessity of the State, to force herself upon the state.
It is likewise true that, though in this modern instance the freedom guaranteed in the supreme law of the State has continued longer than that anciently was allowed to continue, yet it is equally true that here, also, the principle has been subverted. In that ancient instance, as we have seen, the principle was subverted by interpreting into the supreme law a meaning which, on its face, was not there; and in this modern instance the principle has been subverted also, by interpreting into the supreme law a meaning, which not only on its face was not there, but which, by its positive terms, was entirely excluded.
The supreme law of the United States said that “no religious test” should “ever be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the United States;” that Congress should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” and that “the government of the United States is not in any sense founded upon the Christian religion.” By an interpretation, Feb. 29, 1892, the Supreme Court of the United States declared it to be the “meaning” of the Constitution of the United States that it is “the voice of the entire” people of this nation, speaking in “organic utterances” that “this is a Christian nation;” and that “the establishment of a Christian religion was one of the purposes” of those who made the Constitution and formed the nation.
As we saw in last week’s study of that ancient course of procedure which made the Beast, the supreme authority of the State was shortly required to decide who were Christians, and the decision was that only those of the Catholic Church were Christians, in the eyes of the State; and that next, the State was required to decide who were Catholic Christians: and it decided that only those were Catholic Christians who were in communion with the bishop of Rome.
These points have not, in actual fact, been brought yet to a decision in the United States. But that things are swiftly shaping unto the point where these steps will have to be taken, is plain. And this has been in progress here ever since the Supreme Court declared this to be “a Christian nation.”
In a very short time after that declaration was made by the Supreme Court of the United States, a letter from the Vatican, announcing the plans of Leo XIII respecting the United States, said that “what the church has done in the past for others, she will now do for the United States.”
Then very shortly after this announcement from the Vatican, a permanent apostolic delegate was sent from the Vatican, and established at the capital of the United States, with the assurance beforehand, under the seal of “the fisherman’s ring,” that whatever he does shall be confirmed by the pope.
Then, within a year from that, Sept. 5, 1893, at the world’s Catholic Congress, Chicago, this same apostolic delegate – Satolli – delivered to “the Catholics of America” the following message from Leo XIII:–
‘In the name of Leo XIII I salute the grate American republic; and I call upon the Catholics of America to go forward, in one hand bearing the book of Christian truth, and in the other the Constitution of the United States. . . . Bring your fellow-countrymen, bring your country, into immediate contact with that great secret of blessedness – Christ and his church. . . . Here you have a country which will repay all effort not merely tenfold, but aye! a hundredfold. And this no one understand better than the immortal Leo. And he charges me his delegate, to speak out to America words of hope and blessing, words of joy. Go forward! in one hand bearing the book of Christian truth,–the Bible,–and in the other the Constitution of the United States.’
The real secret and true inspiration of this message of the pope can be discerned from the following consideration. In the Catholic World, the representative Catholic review in this country, for the month of September, 1871, was printed a leading article, in which the Constitution of the United States was referred to in the following words:–
‘As it is interpreted by the liberal and sectarian journals that are doing their best to revolutionize it, and is beginning to be interpreted by no small portion of the American people, or is interpreted by the Protestant principle, so widely diffused among us, . . . we do not accept it, or hold it to be any government at all, or as capable of performing any of the proper functions of government; and if it continued to be interpreted by the revolutionary principles of Protestantism, it is sure to fail. . . . Hence it is, we so often say, that if the American republic is to be sustained and preserved at all, it must be by the rejection of the principle of the Reformation, and the acceptance of the Catholic principle by the American people.’ – Page 736
Contrast that now Leo’s command by Satolli “to the Catholics of America” to “go forward” on their “hundredfold” rewarded mission, “bearing in one hand the book of Christian truth–the Bible,–and in the other the Constitution of the United States;” and inquire, What has caused this change of the attitude of Rome toward the Constitution?
The principle upon which the Constitution was founded in its total separation of religion from the notice of the national government, was definitely and intentionally the Protestant principle. In the discussions which led up to the making of the Constitution as it reads in this respect, and in the discussions upon the Constitution in the conventions which made it, this point was especially dealt with, and the Protestant principle was the one chosen and made the principle of the Constitution. In the documents of that time, and which are an essential part of the history of the Constitution, this was the crucial point considered; and the Protestant principle was made the principle of the Constitution. In fact, it was plainly said not only that “it is impossible for the magistrate to adjudge the right of preference among the various sects which profess the Christian faith, without erecting a claim to infallibility, which would lead us back to the Church of Rome;” but it was also said that “to judge for ourselves, and to engage in the exercise of religion agreeably to the dictates of our own conscience, is an unalienable right which, upon the principles on which the gospel was first propagated and THE REFORMATION FROM POPERY CARRIED ON, can never be transferred to another.”
Therefore it is the undeniable truth of the only history on the question, that the Constitution of the United States was founded upon the Protestant principle. And while it was held so, no Catholic was ever commanded by any pope to take that Constitution in one hand and the Bible in the other for any purpose under the sun. On the contrary, they openly declared that so long as the Constitution was held to that principle, Catholics did “not accept it,” nor hold this government “to be any government at all.”
But as soon as the Supreme Court of the United States had interpreted the Constitution by the papal principle,–the principle of “the establishment of the Christian religion,”–as soon as the Supreme Court thus rejected “the principle of the Reformation,” and accepted “the Catholic principle”–
First, Then it was, and not till then, that there was published to the United States the purpose of Leo XIII, that what the Church has done for other nations, she will now do for the United States.
Second, Then it was, and not till then, that Leo XIII, pope, sent his permanent apostolic delegate here in his name, to “call upon the Catholics of America to go forward, in one hand bearing the book of Christian truth, and in the other the Constitution of the United States,” upon their hundredfold rewarded mission to bring this “country into immediate contact with the Church” of Rome.
Immediately following this, in the same month, Sept. 24, 1893, it was declared, in the Chicago World’s Congress of Religions, that the United States is “a nation that shall find its perfection in Catholic Christianity.”
In less than a month after that, Oct. 18, 1893, at the jubilee of Cardinal Gibbons, celebrated in Baltimore, Archbishop Ireland exclaimed:–
‘I preach the new, the most glorious crusade. Church and age! Unite them in mind and heart, in the name of humanity, in the name of God. Church and age! . . . Monsignor Satolli, the church, and the age. Rome is the Church; America is the age.‘
Sept. 21, 1894, Bishop Keane, on his return from Rome, announced that:–
‘The policy of the pope, in view of the late overtures in Italy, is the union of the Church with the great democratic powers of the future–that is, America and France. This is his hope, and toward it all his remarkable energies are bent.’
Three days later, September 24, the newspaper dispatches states that Bishop Keane was “the bearer of a rescript from Pope Leo XIII,” of which the import was the following:–
‘The papal rescript elevates the United States to the first rank as a Catholic nation. Heretofore this country has stood before the church as a missionary country. It had no more recognition officially at Rome than had China. . . . By the new rescript the country is freed from the propaganda and is declared to be a Catholic country. . . . The importance, not only to Catholics, but to all citizens of the United States, of this radical change in the relations to Rome of the Church in America, can scarcely be overestimated.’
Much more to this same effect might be quoted; but this is enough for the present, to show the aims of Rome, and how ready she is to repeat here, and now, the very thing which she did yonder in the fourth century. And it is evident that such progress can not be much further made before a decision shall be drawn forth as to just what is the Christianity of this “Christian nation.” And this is made even the more certain just now, since the United States has taken possession of Cuba, Porto Rico, and the Philippines, which are solidly Catholic, and in connection with which there must inevitably arise, sooner or later, and sooner much rather than later, an issue which will call for a decision. This is peculiarly the situation, and the present prospect, in the Philippines.
Bear in mind that, when such a decision shall be called forth, we do not say that the decision will be that Roman Catholicism is the Christianity of this “Christian nation.” The decision may, indeed, be in favor of Protestantism; but, which way the decision may go, is not material; for, whichever way it shall be decided, it will be in the perfect image of the making of the Beast, and will be a mighty stride in the further making of the Image of the Beast.
And if there be soon no actual decision of that question, it is perfectly plain that at the past and present rate of progress of Rome in the affairs of the United States, and especially with her now great advantages through the affairs of Cuba, Porto Rico, and the Philippines, Rome will be in a position where, even without an actual decision, she can assert her claims with such advantage and power as to amount practically to a decision in her favor.
In any event, therefore, it is perfectly plain that the making of the Image of the Beast is steadily progressing before the very eyes of the whole people of the United States and the world. This is plain from only this one item; but there are others equally as marked, yet to be noticed.