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THE POPE THE VICAR OF THE DRAGON.
AND THE DRAGON GAVE HIM HIS POWER AND HIS SEAT AND GREAT AUTHORITY."-Verse 2.
THE Bishop of Rome claims to be God's Vicegerent upon earth, and Vicar of Jesus Christ. But the Scriptures give a very different account. St. John tells us that he is in truth the Vicar of the Dragon. "The DRAGON gave him his power and his seat, and great authority." In the preceding chapter we learn who this Dragon is. He is, ο Δρακων ο μέγας, ο όφις Το αρχαίος, ο καλεμενος Διαβολος, και ο Σατανας. He is, the Dragon, that great one, the Serpent, that old one, he that is called Devil, even Satan. The Pope is the Vicar of this great Dragon, this old Serpent, even of the Devil, the Satan, the accuser and calumniator of God's people.
The Bishop of Rome claims also to be the successor of St. Peter. But this passage shews us that if he succeeds St. Peter at all, it is in the reproof pronounced upon him by Christ, "Get thee behind me, Satan,
thou art an offence unto me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." (Matt. xvi. 23.)
It is said of Pietro di Morone, afterwards Pope Celestine V., that the cave in which he dwelt had been the refuge of a dragon, who obsequiously resigned it to his human successor. When however
he exchanged the cave for the Papal throne, he only exchanged one dragon's seat for the seat of another. He then most emphatically sat in "the Dragon's Seat," with the Dragon's "Power and great Authority.' Pietro di Morone was a man of prayer. He abhorred "the Dragon's Seat: "he loathed "the Dragon's Power:" and, after tasting of it for only five months, pronounced his solemn resignation of the "great authority" of the Papacy.
The Dragon's seat was not long vacant. It was quickly filled by one who was indeed a Vicar of the Dragon, concerning whom a certain versifier wrote as follows:
'Ingreditur Vulpes, regnat Leo, sed Canis exit;
We shall have occasion to speak of Boniface VIII. hereafter. We will in this place only notice his treatment of his predecessor, who had resigned the Pontificate. Boniface sent him under a guard of soldiers to the castle of Fumone, where the old hermit was shut up in a hideous dungeon, and his rest was interrupted by the jailors, who nightly disturbed his sleep. He sent this message to Boniface, 'I am
content: I desired a cell: and a cell you have given me.' After an imprisonment of ten months, Celestine died of a fever, most probably contracted by the unworthy treatment which he had received. (Waddington's Hist. p. 430. Milner's Hist. Vol. iii. p. 183.)
It would seem that Gregory XIII. gloried that he sat in the Dragon's Seat, with the Dragon's Power, and Great Authority. He removed the simple cross which was upon the top of his tiara, and replaced it by a most brilliant emerald, supported by two golden DRAGONS, causing his own coat-of-arms to be quartered therewith, and his own name and titles to be placed above in letters of diamonds,
GREGOR. XIII. PONT. OPT. MAX.
'Is not this,' says Mr. Rabett, an heraldic and hereditary, I might say, scriptural acknowledgment of the Seat of the Dragon?' Indeed it is. If the Pope had wished to point himself out in the clearest manner, as the Vicar of the Dragon, to whom the Dragon had given his power and his seat, and great authority,' he could not have devised a better expedient. We observe, however, that the force of Mr. Rabett's remark is in a great measure lost, if, with him, we suppose the Pope to be the Second Beast. Because it is of the First Beast, and not of the Second, that it is written, And the Dragon gave him his power and his seat and great authority.'
The form of Celestine's resignation was as follows: -I, Celestine V., resign the Papacy freely and
voluntarily; and renounce that office and dignity, &c.' In resigning the Papacy, Celestine ceased to sit in the Dragon's Seat. He left the office of Vicar of the Dragon' to be held by Boniface.
We will close this chapter in the words of the celebrated Lightfoot, in a sermon preached on this very text, And the Dragon gave him his power and his seat and great authority," in Ely Cathedral, on November 5, 1669.
Rome is the Devil's Seat, his deputy and vicegerent: one that the Devil hath invested in his own throne and power, and set it as Vice-Devil upon earth. It is no wonder if fire and gunpowder, mischief and destruction come from this city, when it is, as it were, the Deputy-Hell that the Devil hath constituted on earth, to act his authority and power. "Glorious things are spoken of the city of God!" but what things are to be spoken of the city of the Devil! . . . . If you look for anything but devilishness and mischief from it, you look for grapes of thorns and figs of thistles.... when you read that the Devil said, "All these will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me," how agreeable is it with that text, that that seat, authority and power' was the Dragon's, but, after Christ had refused it, he gave it to that Beast'... And why did the Devil give his seat, and power and authority' to it? You may easily guess for what-viz.-that it should be an enemy to that and them to whom he himself was chiefly an enemy— Christ, and his Gospel, and his People.'
is strong, but not stronger than scrip
ture. It will be made clearer if we draw a distinction between the seat and him who sits in it, in other words, between Rome and the Pope of Rome. Rome is the Devil's seat: the Pope is the Devil's deputy and vicegerent.' The Pope is one that the Devil hath invested in his own throne and power, and set as Vice-Devil upon earth.' That 'seat and authority and power' which was the Dragon's, after Christ had refused to accept it, the Dragon gave to the Pope. It has been given to the Pope on the condition that he be opposed to Christ, and his Gospel, and his People.' The Pope, therefore, whilst in profession he is the Vicar of Christ, is in reality the Vicar of the Dragon.