This book begins with a cursory overview of historicist eschatology, to place the information about Romanism in its prophetical context.
For modern readers, the discussion of the place of Islam in this eschatological overview may be of special interest. Some select quotations from this section, giving the general sense of interpretation, are as follows:
- "The vision, Revelation 9:1-11; delineates the origin and success of Mohammedanism. When the trumpet resounded, the Prophet saw a star fall from heaven, which held the key of the bottomless pit; and having opened it, a dense black smoke issued, that darkened the sun and the air. That smoke is most properly interpreted to mean, those confounding and pernicious heresies which obscure the pure light of divine revelation" (pp. 22-23).
- "Locusts strictly signified the Saracen armies. They originated in the same regions. In numbers they were almost incalculable, and they spread desolation through all the Roman empire" (p. 23).
- "A locust lives precisely five months; and for the same prophetical duration, were those men permitted to torture the nations. Accordingly, from the public declaration of Mohammed's delusions, 150 years elapsed, before Bagdad, the city of peace, was erected; then the locusts terminated their conquests, and their power gradually declined. The crowns denoted their turbans and other badges of majesty, with the extension of their sway. Their faces exhibited a manly beard, while their hair was decorated after the fashion of women. Lion teeth prefigured their enraged force. Iron breast-plates bespoke their energy in self-defence. Wings lucidly developed the fury of their assaults, and the rapidity of their victories. Their scorpion-stings diffused the Imposter's poison, which generated more injury to the souls, than their barbarities inflicted misery upon the bodies of men. The title of their king was peculiarly emphatic and applicable; Abaddon, the destroyer -- for they murdered man in his enjoyments, in his hopes and in his doom" (p. 24).
But the main focus of discussion is, of course, upon the Papal religion, and its role in history. The true followers of Jesus Christ, and their witnessing against the Popish Antichrist, also play an important role in this history:
"The Apostle depicts the character of those, who in all ages should oppose the Papal authority and supremacy; and 'follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.' Three angels then arise in succession; one flies in the midst of heaven with the everlasting gospel; the early Waldenses and Albigenses. The second angel followed, crying, 'Babylon is fallen;' the Bohemians and others, who after the former witnesses were nearly or totally slain, more plainly and boldly proclaimed the wrath of God against the persecutors of the saints. The third angel thundered with increased vehemence, and with augmented wo in his denunciations; Luther, Zuinglius, Calvin, Cranmer, and Knox, with their coadjutors and successors, who shall not cease to protest against the infernally erroneous principles and practices of the Latin hierarchy, until the last witness is murdered for the sake of Jesus Christ" (p. 40).
A major feature of historicist eschatology is the 1260 year period of apostasy that began when the Papacy achieved a place of ecclesiastical and civil dominance. Over the years, a number of different dates in the seventh and eighth centuries have been suggested as the starting point of the 1260 year period.
As this book points out in discussing these suggested dates, "It appears, therefore, to be a reasonable inference, that the year 606 is the earliest, and the Papal acquisition of the independent civil power, about 756, the latest date possible, which can be fixed for the entrance upon the 1260 years" (p. 47).
If the 756 date is correct, then the 1260 year period would end in 2016, ushering in the events predicted to occur at that time.
After the eschatological overview, the book continues with a chapter describing, from an historical perspective, the rise of the Papacy with its various attendant traditions and false doctrines. This section contains valuable and interesting information.
For example, during the ninth century, there was "the unique fact in the Papal history, the predominance of a woman as Pope; who, under the name of John VIII., was honored as the Vicar of Christ, about the years 855 and 856.
That narrative was neither disputed nor denied until after the Reformation. A lewd woman was elected Pope; she was delivered of a child in public, amid one of the idolatrous processions; and she died almost instantly. Those are facts attested by fifty ancient Papal writers" (p. 94).
The end of this chapter includes a Chronological Table, listing important events in the rise of the Papacy from 65 A.D. to 1517. Subsequently, the power of the Papacy is discussed. It is noted that "Politianus thus addressed Pope Alexander VI.: 'We rejoice to see you raised above all human things, and exalted even to Divinity itself, seeing there is nothing except God, which is not put under you.' The canonists often blasphemously ascribe the names and attributes of Christ to the Popes" (p. 131).
The Papacy also claims authority over the civil rulers of the earth. The "Popes have claimed jurisdiction over all countries known and unknown; thus they divided the East and the West between the Portuguese and the Spaniards" (p. 133). "All the commotions and wars of Europe, from the seventh century to the sixteenth, were either directly instigated or indirectly encouraged by the Italian Pontiffs. The power of Rome was first evolved amid public calamities; it was continually strengthened by crime and treachery; and it was finally cemented by persecution and massacre" (p. 133).
Discussions of the "damnable heresies" of popery, the "lying wonders and strong delusion" of popery, and other dreadful aspects of popery, including the Jesuits follow the historical section.
A long section recounts persecutions and murders undertaken on behalf of various Popes. Clearly, the Papacy is "drunk with the blood of the saints."
A section entitled "Decrees and Canons of the Council of Trent" is included as an appendix, pp. 456-497.
This is a significant work on the Papacy, its place in Scripture, and its role in history.