The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 2


VII. Reign of Guillotine Followed by Wars of Napoleon

Following the overthrow of the monarchy and the abolition of religion in France, accompanied by their fearful massacres, came the enormous destruction of life through the wars of Napoleon. Revolutionary France had had to face armed resistance on the part of Austria and Prussia. In 1792 the first war broke out. In 1793 England and the Dutch Republic entered the conflict. Later, during the war against Austria and Sardinia, Napoleon assumed control of the French Army. In 1796 he crossed the Alps, defeated the Sardinian forces, and entered the Po Valley. He also defeated the Austrians, and they sued for peace at Campo Formio in 1797. Thus the reign of the guillotine was followed by the reign of the sword. PFF2 740.2

With the rise of Napoleon a new era began, and France became the scourge of Europe. The armies of France were now led on an unparalleled career of conquest. Arrogant, unscrupulous, selfish, remorseless, ambitious, and tireless, Napoleon’s military genius and administrative ability was blended with utter disregard of moral considerations. Napoleon sacrificed the lives of millions, overturned the thrones of Europe, and thought to revive the empire of Charlemagne as he strove to obtain the mastery of the Old World. PFF2 740.3

Napoleon’s career as ruler and conqueror divides into two periods; first, his seizure of the reins of power as first consul in 1799. This was followed by a victorious campaign against Austria and the treaty of Luneville in 1801. In the same year Napoleonsigned a concordat with Pope Pius VII, in which it was stated that the first consul nominate the bishops, and the bishops the priests. All have to swear the oath of allegiance and receive a salary from the state. The pope has to recognize the sale of the estates of the church. But, on the other hand, the Catholic clergy is recognized as an official and privileged body in the state. PFF2 740.4

In the second period a third coalition was formed against France, consisting of England, Russia, and Austria, but with Napoleon’s brilliant victory at Austerlitz (1805), Austria had to submit to his terms. In 1806 Prussia was crushed, and in the battle of Friedland (1807) the Russians were defeated. Not the same success, however, followed his forces in Spain. Yet in 1810 he was at the height of his power. Then followed his disastrous invasion of Russia, the rise of Prussia, and his defeat at Leipzig—and finally Waterloo, which closed his career forever. PFF2 741.1

By many voices in different lands and through various vehicles the end of the papal period was perceived as due and under way. The sudden shock of the French Revolution sent the Protestant church back to the Scriptures for the meaning. Thus in the Edinburgh Missionary Magazine for 1796 the fact was publicized that the reign of Antichrist was hastening toward its end. Note it: PFF2 741.2

“By the general consent of prophecy, the reign of Antichrist, is now hastening to an end. The aspect of providence, for some time past, has quickened our expectation of his fall. This will pave the way for the overthrow of every system by which the empire of iniquity and error has been maintained; and this again will be succeeded by the age of righteousness and truth.” 20 PFF2 741.3