"Horn's" Persecution of True Church

"Horn's" Persecution of True Church (XIII)

Let us now inquire into the reasons for the persecution of the true church


Let us now inquire into the reasons for the persecution of the true church. We will let the papal champion, Cardinal Hergenrother, speak for his church:

"Again, the church must condemn liberty of worship based on the ground that the best form of government, which all should aim at, re­quires the complete separation of church and state. This separation has been often con­demned by the church; it is contrary to the nature of things and the general welfare. (Gregory XVI, Enc. 15, Aug. 1832. Pius IX. Alloc. 27, Sept. 1852; Syllab. prop. 55.)"

This is precisely what pagan Rome had de­manded of the early Christian church. The Roman government refused religious freedom to the growing church, hence a multitude of early martyrs resulted. Then when the Catho­lic Church was joined to the Roman state, she adopted the pagan principle of religious intol­erance, and the persecuted became the perse­cutor. This was the illicit union of the Chris­tian church and the state, and hence the spir­itual harlotry, or fornication, of the "little horn," which power was to wear out the saints of the Most High, and Constantine was the instigator of it.

What Emperor Justinian was to the church in the East, Charlemagne was in the West. As early as 794, Charles called a council in the West to meet at Frankfort, which was attended by a great number of bishops from every part of the Western Empire. The council's object was the suppression of new heresies, especially that of the Adoptionists. This Western council rejected the second Council of Nicea; while the East accepted that council. Pope Hadrian had sanctioned, it.

Image worship was prohibited. The restora­tion of the "tithe" was adopted, or the support of the clergy by the endowment of property, lands, etc., supervised by the bishops and the state. Numerous laws regarding the clergy were enacted. The powerful Pope Hadrian, then occupying the papal chair, submitted to the independent legislation of the emperor's council. This legislation for the church was completed by the successor of Charles, Louis the Pious, in the Diet at Aix-la-Chapelle, 817 A. n., when all the laws had been passed by the council for the government of the church. The historian says of this council:

"All of these laws are enacted by the emperor in council for the whole empire, almost tanta­mount to Latin Christendom; of approbation, ratification, confirmation by the pope, not one word!"

We have quoted this to show the principle involved, that the church taught the doctrine of the divine right of rulership of the emperors. Add to this the pagan title Pontifex Maximus, later changed to Pontifex Religionis (see Ar­ticle IV), which in principle was carried from the Eastern emperors into the office of the Western emperors, and it will be seen that the great struggle for supremacy was between two self-styled "divinely appointed" rulers, the pope on one side, the emperor on the other.

Persecution of the Waldenses

In former articles we have shown the result of the struggle, and the temporary victory of the popes over the emperors. It was not until that conflict was over and the Crusades prac­tically in the past that the "little horn" began to assert itself for the extirpation of heresy. In the year 1179, at the third Lateran Council, the French Waldenses, who had been estab­lished by Peter Waldo of Lyons, appeared and asked for license to preach, but were refused. Again they appealed to Rome for authority to preach, but were again refused. Pope Lucius III excommunicated them at the Council of Verona, 1184. But they were still persistent in their demands, and although again con­demned by a Council in Narbonne, they con­tinued preaching, and their sect grew very fast.

Peter Waldo began his spiritual life in Lyons, France, in 1173, and became the leader of the "Poor Men of Lyons," later called Waldenses, after their founder.' The French Waldenses must not be confused with the Italian Vaudois, who were also called Waldenses during the ter­rible persecution which we will merely men­tion. The French Waldenses originated not earlier than 1170 A. D. The Italian Vaudois (Waldenses) trace their descent to the church that fled into the wilderness, but not so with the French branch of the Waldenses. In doc­trine they were almost alike, and during the terrific persecution they suffered as brethren together, until well-nigh exterminated.

One of the bulls for the extermination of the Vaudois was issued by Pope Innocent VIII in the year 1487. He summoned all the Catholics for a crusade against them. Any one slaying a heretic would have remission of sins. Says the historian:

"Forthwith some thousands of volunteers, persons ambitious of distinction, vagabonds, fanatics, men without lawful employment, needy adventurers, plunderers of every descrip­tion, and pitiless robbers and assassins, assem­bled from all parts of Italy to execute the be­hests of the pretended successor of St. Peter. This horde of depredators and brigands, an army worthy of a pontiff whose own life was scandalous, marched upon the valleys, in com­pany with 18,000 regular troops, jointly fur­nished by the king of France and the sovereign of Piedmont."

This army was completely defeated by the Vaudois. Pope Innocent VIII joined himself to the rebel barons who opposed the emperor Frederick III. The barons proclaimed the pope their lord and sovereign. The emperor's troops besieged Rome. The pope was forced to con­clude a peace, and a treaty was signed which the emperor afterward broke, and for which the pope excommunicated the emperor. They were later reconciled.'

Conflict Between Emperors and Popes

Long before the crusade just mentioned we find that Frederick II was in continual conflict with Pope Gregory IX because the emperor was tardy in fulfilling his promise to promote the Crusades, and for publishing libels against the Church of Rome. Gregory excommunicated him September 29, 1227, which excommunica­tion was renewed by a synod held in Rome, March, 1228. The emperor finally agreed to sign a treaty of peace at San Germano, 1230, which he broke, and becoming "intoxicated by his victory over the Lombards at Cortenuova, 27th November, 1237, the emperor drove them by his tyranny to the resistance of despair, took every pretext for jeering at the pope, and multiplied his outrages against the church."

Gregory renewed the excommunication of Frederick, March 20, 1239, which had no effect on the emperor. After the death of Gregory, Innocent IV ascended the chair, but was com­pelled to flee from his see to Lyons in France. This case has been cited to show that notwith­standing the pope had excommunicated the em­peror twice, yet the emperor was the most cruel despot in extirpating heresy during his whole reign.

One more case: Louis of Bavaria, having been excommunicated by Pope John XXII, paid no attention to the thunders from the papal court in Avignon, France, but proceeded slowly with his army to Rome, which he entered January 7, 1327, where he was crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by four syndics elected by the people. He next proceeded to excommunicate Pope John XXII, and pronounce him a heretic and antichrist. A new pope was elected, who assumed the name of Nicholas V. A college of cardinals was created, and nuncios and legates were appointed, etc.' The reign of this antipope, whose court was in Pisa, was short-lived, for on August 25, 1330, with a halter around his neck, he appeared before the pope in public consistory. He was confined in an apartment in the papal court, but died in 1333. So ended the career of Nicholas V.

Some popes were tolerant toward heretics. For instance, Alexander III was lenient to the Cathari; Alexander VI tolerated the Walden­sians. There were also emperors and kings who manifested a tolerant spirit toward here­tics. Frederick of Naples confirmed Wal­densian privileges. Charles de Banville was tolerant. During the "seventy years' captivity" of the popes in Avignon, the papal court was under the control of the French monarchs, but, according to the historians, it was so corrupt that it beggars description.

Little Horn Supreme 1260 Years

Limited space prohibits going further, but we ask anyone to read with care the historic works, both civil and ecclesiastical, by the fol­lowing authors, Catholic and Protestant: Mil-man, Neander, Mosheim, Lagarde, Gieseler, Lea, Ranke, Moeller, Bower, Muston, Allix, Du­chesne, D'Aubign6, Alzog, Hergenrother, Hefele, Gibbon, Hodgkin, Bryce, all standard author­ities in church and civil history, and he will reach the inevitable conclusion that popes ex­communicated popes, popes excommunicated emperors, and emperors imprisoned and ex­communicated popes.

Nevertheless, whether emperors were in su­preme control of the government, whether popes ruled emperors, or whether popes and emperors were united in the government, the "little horn" of Daniel 7:25, which is a union of church and state, the state being subservient to the church in executing its decrees, func­tioned to perfection in wearing out the saints of the Most High, and for 1260 years, from 538-1798, never lost its supremacy. Prophecy stands vindicated before the supreme test of history. Our interpretation must fit into genu­ine history. We dare not force history to fit into some theory of interpreting prophecy. Multiplied thousands of Christians were put to death during the years of the Inquisition be­fore and after the Reformation, as Lea, Lim­borch, Llorente, and Torquemada testify in their works on the Inquisition. Many of the Chris­tians were killed by the armies of the emperors and kings in the Holy Roman Empire.

In conclusion, we approach the prophecy of Matthew 24:21, 22, which declares that the tribulation should be shortened, or no flesh would be saved. The Dominicans were the first to have control of the Inquisition. The Franciscans had partial control of it, but later the Jesuits became the Inquisitors in Europe. The Jesuits as an order were suppressed in Portugal in 1759 by Joseph I, and were de­clared outlaws, and banished from Portuguese territories. They were suppressed in France by the parliaments of Paris, Normandy, and Brittany, in the year 1764. They were sup­pressed in Spain, Venice, and Genoa in 1767; in Naples, Malta, and Parma in 1768; and in Bohemia and Denmark in 1766.8

The final blow against the order of Jesuits was given by Pope Clement XIV, who, on July 21, 1773, issued a brief for the abolition of the Jesuits.' The emperor of Austria, Joseph II, issued his famous decree on the liberty of con­science to all in his dominion in the year 1780 A. D.') Governmental persecution had practically ceased in 1780 in all the Catholic countries in Europe.

(To be continued)


1 Hergenrother, "Church and State," Vol. II, p. 370.

2 Milman, "Latin Christianity," Vol. II, p. 522. (See also pages 498-522.)

3 Muston, "Israel of the Alps," Vol. II, p. 508 ; Lea, "History of the Inquisition," Vol. I, pp. 76-88. Id., Vol. I, p. 31.

4 Bower, "History of the Popes," Vol. III, pp. 254­258.

5 Hergenrother, "Church and State," Vol. II, p. 29. (See also pp. 20-32.)

6 Lea, "History of the Inquisition," Vol. III, pp. 134-152.

7 Mosheim, "Ecclesiastical History," Vol. III, pp. 486-490, Murdock-Soames-Stubbs edition.

8 Ranke, "History of the Popes," Vol. III, p. 149, revised edition, The Colonial Press, New York ; Bower, "History of the Popes," Vol. III, pp. 382, 383. "" Bower, Vol. III, p. 417.

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus


June 1935

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

Obey God Rather Than Man—No. 1

An editorial on loyalty to God.

The Outflow of the Spirit

Fourth Study on the Holy Spirit

Topic No. 4 Making Doctrinal Preaching Spiritual

Symposial discussion from St. Louis.

Eating the Bittersweet Book

Digested food gives life.

Editorial Keynotes

Presbyterian Crisis Over the Machen Case—No. 1

Editorial Postscripts

From the Ministry back page.

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up
Advertisement - RevivalandReformation 300x250

Recent issues

See All