Let the reader remember that the portraiture he has been studying is not ours, but Paul's. And, when he lifts his eyes from the picture, let him cast them around and try if he can discover the original of this likeness. The features are so vividly depicted, so sharply cut, that surely there can be no difficulty in detecting him, whose image they present.
Paul did not paint at random. His is no vague sketch which may fit loosely any or most of the systems of error which have arisen in the course of the ages. When we read his prophecy, we have the overwhelming impression that Paul has in his eye some one grand, sharply-featured, long-lived, daringly wicked, and fearfully blasphemous confederacy, which, under the mask of friendliness, was to wage undying war against the Gospel.
We are blind, indeed, if we cannot find the original of Paul's portraiture.
Here is one who has erected his throne in the Christian temple; who has usurped all the titles and functions of Christ; who has professed to mediate between God and man; to hold the keys of heaven and hell; to do great wonders, and make fire come down from heaven; who has changed laws, spoken "great words, ' forbidden to marry, commanded to abstain from meats, has clothed his priests in purple and scarlet and fine linen, decked with gold and precious stones; one who has made war with the saints, and been drunk with the blood of martyrs; who has put his foot on the neck of kings; nay, has clothed himself with the robe of the Eternal King; infallibility even; in fine, one who has said: I am Vice-Christ; I am vice-God. We go up to this man, and we say to him, "Thou art the Antichrist."
Let who will cringe and bow before thee; let who will patch anew thy vizor which begins to wax thread-bare and to permit the horrid features that lurk beneath it to shine through; let who will palliate thy crimes, and deny that ever thou didst persecute, and though simulating the meekness and innocence of the lamb, art a ravening wolf.
Let who will befriend thee in the arrogant and blasphemous claims thou art still putting forth, we say of thee, "Thou art he of whom Paul in old time, writing by the Holy Ghost, spoke. Hear what he called thee! He named thee, 'The Man of Sin,' and 'Son of Perdition.'"
Ah! You re-adjust your mask; and double the folds of your mantle; and looking down on the kings of earth once more at your feet, you say, "Am not I God?"
We know thee who thou art.
Thou art the fallen apostle!
The minister of Lucifer!
Thou camest from the abyss, and to the abyss shalt thou return!
We do not hesitate to say, that we have nearly as full and convincing evidence that the Roman Papacy is the Antichrist, as we have that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ.