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Gnostic and Manichean perfection, which the monks aspire after, is likewise clearly predicted, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats. The doctrines concerning demons, or the worship of the spirits of dead men eminent for their virtue, as Hesiod so clearly describes, and believed to be appointed on that account by the Ruler of the world, to fill the station of mediators, and subordinate governors under him, those doctrines concerning demons, which so manifestly identify Paganism and Popery, are decidedly foretold also, incredible as it must at that time have seemed, that those who professed Christianity should so far relapse into the grossest heathen errors. But there is one mark that the Papists think it impossible can be applied to the Pope, that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Since whatever authority the Pope exercises, he professes to derive from God, they consider the charge to be ridiculous of his usurping the divine authority, or setting himself in the place of God. Notwithstanding this attempt at exculpation, the titles which the Pope has assumed are sufficient to bring home the charge of blasphemy against the ruler of the Romish Church. But without referring to these, which have often been insisted on, it is sufficient to remark, that the temple of God confines the Man of Sin within the pale of the professed Christian Church; that none within that Church, by the Pope's own showing, claims the authority that he does, and therefore the description must apply to him, or to no one else. God rules in his Church by his word; he who sets aside that word, sets aside the authority of God; he who claims infallibility, assumes the authority which belongs only to God; and sitting in the temple of God, and promulgating his decrees, as the head of the Christian Church, and commanding men to obey him rather than God and God’s word, he shows himself that he is God, and demands an idolatrous submission to his authority, still more than if he set up his own image, and commanded all peoples, and nations, and tongues, literally to fall down before it and worship it. XII. With a deep sense of the weakness of the human understanding, we may still wonder how such a system of absurdities could ever have prevailed, after the sun of righteousness had arisen upon the world, and dispelled, in some degree, the darkness of Paganism. A new wonder is, that it should still continue so long to enthral the minds of its votaries, and to survive the wreck of other heresies, which, though more plausible in themselves, have yet had a much briefer existence. The prevalence and continuance of Popery, however, teaches us a deep moral lesson; it casts a stain upon the pride of human nature which can never be effaced. What must the understanding of man be, when not aided from above, seeing how readily it believes, and how obstinately it defends contradictions so palpable in themselves. Deep, however, as Popery has struck its roots throughout the south of Europe, and though it has been deprived of its branches alone by the storms which have assailed it, while the trunk has remained immoveably firm, still there are visible upon it the increasing marks of decay. It has its season of revival and promise, but it never repairs by its after growth the losses which it has undergone. It has not only less vitality within itself, but its roots are continually undermined, and its bulk and solidity, which have resisted former attacks, will only help to bring it to the ground at last with a more ponderous ruin. Infidelity, which, while it was rare and confined to the rich, Popery sometimes encouraged, thinking it safer that men who were disposed to investigate and reason, should rather doubt the truth of Christianity altogether, than question the claims of the Church of Rome in particular; now that it has become so general amongst all ranks of men on the Continent, fills the mind of the Romish priesthood with serious and merited alarm. Not that infidelity prefers any other form of superstition to that of Rome; but Popery has so entwined itself with whatever is established, that it is necessarily at open war with every species of innovation, whether political or religious. It is too much indebted to ignorance, ever, in sincerity, to be the friend of true knowledge. Popery, according to the prophecy of Wolsey, must destroy the press, or be destroyed by it. If all things could remain as they are, Popery might yet hope to survive for many ages, though stripped in some degree of its splendour, and curtailed in its power. But all things are changing, and its days are numbered. The Son of Man is approaching with the brightness of his coming. The angels of vengeance are ready for their work. The fuel which will burn for ever is heaped up; the breath of the Lord has but to kindle it, and the modern Babylon shall become, like the ancient—a desolation, a hissing, and an astonishment for ever,
I. As POPERY PROCEEDS FROM POLY THEISM, SO MYSTICISM FROM PANTHEISM.–II. MYSTICISM FLOURISHING IN THE EAST.-III. MYSTICISM LESS PREVALENT IN THE WEST.-IV. PANTHEISTIC MYSTICISM. W. EMANATIVE MYSTICISM.–WI. DEWOTIONAL MYSTICISM.-VII. MYSTICISM NOW RATHER PRACTICAL THAN SPECULATIVE.-VIII. MYSTICISM NATURAL TO THE MIND.-IX. ITS NEAR RESEMBLANCE TO TRUTH, AND ITS ESSENTIAL DIFFERENCE.-X. MYSTICISM FIRST FAVOURABLE TO THE REFORMATION OF RELIGION, THEN ADVERSE.
I. As the polytheism of the ancient popular superstition put on a Christian disguise, and became Popery, so it was natural to expect that the pantheism of the heathen philosophers should equally survive, and re-appear under a new name, and with a somewhat different aspect. It had so long and so deeply infected the speculative theories of all the ancient nations, that it was impossible it could be at once eradicated. The system of the one universal Being, as the very groundwork of Gentile wisdom, met