It was the Roman emperors who paganized the church, and as the pagans always observed Sunday,the Sabbath was set aside as far as the church authorities, the priests and the emperors, were concerned. The pagans cared nothing for the Sabbath. They were not taught its sacredness, and the few Christians who tried to keep the holy day were lost in the multitude. Soon the Sabbath services were a thing of the past. This was accomplished by 508 A.D. This satanic act paved the way and the papacy was set up in 538. The pope was made the absolute ruler, king of kings, and a corrector of heretics by his so-called divine authority. The scheme was for the perpetuity of the false doctrines, and to keep the truth underfoot forever. It is a most mysterious thing, the way the old enemy of mankind has succeeded in deceiving the strongest intellects. He enthralls them to their own destruction. Thus it has been in every age.
As previously explained, Rome at first persecuted the Christians. But when the old dragon saw that persecution could not overthrow their faith, he reversed his plan, and devised a more subtle satanic scheme to destroy the church. He worked, as always, through the natural heart, using the human tool to carry out a deception unseen by mortal eye.
"Gibbon's Rome," Vol. 2, pp. 273, 274, says: "By the edicts of toleration, he [Constantine], removed the temporal disadvantage which had hitherto retarded the progress of Christianity; and its active and numerous ministers received a free permission, a liberal encouragement, to recommend the salutary truths of revelation by every argument which could affect the reason or piety of mankind. The exact balance of the two religions [Christian and Pagan], continued but a moment.... The cities which signalized a forward zeal by the voluntary destruction of their temples [the Pagan's] were distinguished by municipal privileges, and rewarded with popular donatives.... The salvation of the common people was purchased at an easy rate, if it be true that, in one year, twelve thousand men were baptized at Rome, besides a proportionable number of women and children, and that a white garment, with twenty pieces of gold, had been promised by the emperor to every convert.... This was a law of Constantine, which gave freedom to all the slaves who should embrace Christianity."
In this manner, Rome paganized the church, and what persecution failed to do, donatives and privileges accomplished. As
Shepherd's Rod book, Vol. 2 134
the victorious Christians were pressing forward against the impregnable persecuting wall which was supported by the devil he suddenly drew back, allowing it to collapse. Thus, as the persecution ceased, it caused them to fall as it were, by their own force. So what the satanic power failed to do by persecution, he accomplished by a sudden retreat. When the old dragon saw that he could not overthrow that spiritual house by persecution, he reversed the scheme and employed his power to undermine the apostolic foundation by donatives and various inducements to the pagans in favor of the Christians. As the pagans rushed to join the church, the current of apostasy turned against the Christians. Instead of the church Christianizing the world, the world paganized the church. In this way the Christians fell under the power of the "dragon" and thereby were swallowed by his heads (paganized). But as satan designed to fully insure his plan he turned the persecution toward the pagans, fearing that the true Christian spirit would revive if the two sects, Christian and Pagan, were in existence.
Gibbon says: "Under his [Athanasius'] reign, Christianity obtained an easy and lasting victory; and as soon as the smile of royal patronage was withdrawn, the genius of Paganism, which had been fondly raised and cherished by the arts of Julian, sunk irrevocably in the dust." -- "Gibbon's Rome," Vol. 2, p. 521.
"A special commission was granted to Cynegius, the Preatorian prefect of the east, and afterwards to the Counts Jovius and Gaudentius, two officers of distinguished rank in the West; by which they were directed to shut the temples, to seize or destroy the instruments of idolatry, to abolish the privileges of the priests, and to confiscate the consecrated property for the benefit of the emperor, of the church, or the army.... Many of those temples were the most splendid and beautiful monuments of Grecian architecture; and the emperor himself was interested not to deface the splendor of his own cities, or to diminish the value of his own possessions.... In Syria, the divine and excellent Marcellus, as he is styled by Theodoret, a bishop animated with apostolic fervor, resolved to level with the ground the stately temples.... But when a sentence of destruction against the idols of Alexandria was pronounced, the Christians set up a shout of joy and exultation whilst the unfortunate Pagans, whose fury had given way to consternation, retired with hasty silent steps.... Theophilus proceeded to demolish the temple of Serapis,... and to content himself with reducing the edifice itself to a heap of rubbish, a part of which was soon afterwards cleared away, to make room for a church, created in honor of the Christian martyrs." -- "Gibbon's Rome," Vol. 3, pp. 140-146.
Shepherd's Rod book, Vol. 2 135
Thus the Pagans joined the Christian church through force and bribery instead of conviction of sin, and thereby Christianity gave way to idolatry. Says Gibbon: "Both religions had been alternately disgraced by the seeming acquisition of worthless proselytes, of those votaries of the reigning purple, who could pass, without a reason, without a blush, from the church to the temple, and from the altars of Jupiter to the sacred table of the Christians." -- Id., Vol 2, p. 522.
The church in her purity, filled with the spirit of the meek and lowly Jesus, battled against oppression and torture. They prayed for those who would take their lives, saying, "Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do." They, like Stephen, kneeled down under a rain of stones, pleading, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." But the Christians who were once zealous for the pure standard of the church, took the crown of civil authority, and compelled the Pagans to join their ranks.
As the Pagans and the Christians became one, the dragon wielded his power and great authority into the papacy. By this concentrated ecclesiastical monarchy he erased the Seventh-day Sabbath from the law of God, and in its stead he inserted the pagan Sunday. At this point he directed his power against disloyalty to the demands of the papacy. This pontifical authority continued to wear out the saints of the Most High, as in Daniel 7:25. As Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Babylon, and Daniel in Medo-Persia, prevented the establishment of an ecclesiastical government, and brought to naught the king's decree, just so Luther abolished the pontifical monarchy, and brought to an end the papal authority. As Luther's blow weakened his power and Protestantism continually irritated his wound, the pope, by the hand of Berthier, was put behind prison bars.