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by Dr. John Thomas
"Justinian," says Gibbon, "sympathized with his subjects in their superstitious reverence for living and departed saints; his code, more especially his novels, confirm and enlarge the privileges of the clergy; and in every dispute between the monk and the layman, the partial judge was inclined to pronounce, that truth and innocence are always on the side of the church.
In his public and private devotions, he was assiduous and exemplary; his prayers, vigils, and fasts displayed the austere penance of a monk; his fancy was amused by the hope, or belief, of personal inspiration; he had secured the patronage of the Virgin, and St.
Michael the archangel; and his recovery from a dangerous disease was ascribed to the miraculous succour of the holy martyrs, Cosmas and Damian.
Among the titles of imperial greatness, the name of Pious was most pleasing to his ear; to promote the temporal and spiritual interest of the (Greco-Roman) church was the serious business of his life; and the duty of father of his country was often sacrificed to that of defender of the faith -- While the Barbarians invaded the provinces, while the victorious legions marched under the banners of Belisarius and Narses, the successor of Trajan, unknown to the camp, was content to vanquish at the head of a synod".
"The reign of Justinian was a uniform yet various scene of persecution; and he appears to have surpassed his indolent predecessors, both in the contrivance of his laws, and rigour of their execution.
The insufficient term of three months was assigned for the conversion or exile of all heretics; and if he still connived at their precarious stay, they were deprived, under his iron yoke, not only of the benefits of society, but of the common birthright of men and Christians".
Antiochus Epiphanes and Justinian represent "the king" as he will be manifested, when, as the king of the north, he appears upon the arena, standing up to contend with the Prince of princes, on the field of Armageddon; for he is to "prosper till the indignation be accomplished" against Israel.
Impious and cruel as Antiochus, and superstitious and fanatical as Justinian, with the arrogance, ambition, and profanity of the Roman Bishop in his halcyon days, this incarnation of the sin-power in the crisis of its fate, will fully answer to all that has been predicated of the king who does according to his will, and "for whom Tophet is ordained of old".
At present he is represented by the Sultan, who "divides the land for gain".
But when the Little Horn's sceptre is wrested from his feeble grasp by the Autocrat, we shall see in him a potentate, unrivalled in presumption and impiety by any of his fathers, not excepting Pharaoh of the olden time.
In times past, the little horn of the goat has admirably illustrated the prophecy concerning him.
"Through his policy he shall cause craft to prosper by his power".
In studying the reign of Justinian this is remarkably apparent.
But before the Horn could find scope for the promotion of the species of craft referred to, it was necessary that he should "disregard all the gods of his fathers," that is, embrace some other religion than Paganism; in other words, become a Greco-Roman Catholic, such as Justinian, who occupied the throne, but did not inherit the peculiar superstition of the Cęsars.
Having discarded the gods of his fathers, it suited the Horn's policy to bestow his patronage upon another, who should be a god upon the earth, and residing in Rome instead of above the heights of Olympus.
The testimony of Daniel is that "In his estate he shall honour the god of forces"; or more intelligibly, "In his kingdom shall he do honour to a god of guardians".
The word rendered "guardians" is mahuzzim and signifies munitions.
Hence, any real, or supposed, persons adopted as protectors, guardians, or patrons, are mahuzzim, or munitions of strength and safety.
Now the god whom the Little Horn of the Goat honoured in his kingdom, was a god of guardian saints, who are regarded by his worshippers as protectors and towers of strength and security against all "the ills that flesh is heir to".
Such a god is the Bishop of Rome; who to the pagan officials of the Little Horn, was unknown, being in their reign only a simple bishop, undistinguished from the rest of his class, save that he flourished in the capital, and they in the provinces, of the empire.
He is therefore styled in the scripture, "a god whom his (the Little Horn's) fathers knew not"; hence he is also termed "a strange god".
But though "strange" and unknown to Trajan and the Antonines, he was afterwards brought into notice by Constantine and his successors.
In 313, he was made chief magistrate of Rome, or, as we would say, Lord Mayor, for life.