Proving the Pope is Antichrist, (2) The Place or Seat of Antichrist is Rome, by George Downame.
May 7, 2018
And first as touching the place or seat of Antichrist, I reason thus, Mystical Babylon spoken of in the seventeenth and eighteenth chapters of Revelation, is the seat of Antichrist:
Rome is Mystical Babylon, spoken of in the seventeenth and eighteenth chapters of Revelation. Therefore Rome is the seat of Antichrist.
As touching the proposition, you are to understand that Babylon in the Scriptures is taken sometimes literally, and sometimes mystically: literally, for Babylon either in Chaldea, or in Egypt. Babylon in Chaldea was the metropolis or imperial city of the Babylonian and Assyrian monarchy. Babylon in Egypt is called Babylis and Cayrus, of which some understand the Apostle Peter to speak 1 Peter 5. 13. Babylon mystical in Revelation, is the seat or chief city of Antichrist, resembling the Assyrian Babylon in pride, idolatry, filthiness, and especially in most cruel persecution of the church of God. And for the same causes in Rev 11. 8, is called spiritually, Sodom and Egypt. Sodom, for pride and filthiness: Egypt, for idolatry and for cruelty towards the Israel of God. And as the Church of Christ in Revelation is called Jerusalem mystically, or the holy city: so the Church and especially the metropolis or chief city of Antichrist, is mystically called Babylon. This as it is the received opinion of the faithful, so may it evidently be gathered out of the seventeenth and eighteenth chapters of Revelation, which without all doubt are prophecies concerning Antichrist, and the Antichristian city and seat, as the Papists themselves often confess.
Papist Objection Answered: Babylon is the universal company of the reprobate.
For that which the Papists sometimes object, That by Babylon is meant not any one city or company, but the universal company of the reprobate, it is unworthy the answering. And the argument which our Rhemists bring to prove their assertion, is without sense, to wit in their annotation upon Rev. 18. 21, where the Angel throwing a great stone into the sea, saith, with such violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown, and be found no more. By this (say they) it seems clear, that the Apostle means not any one city, but the universal company of the reprobate, which shall perish in the day of judgment. But I answer, that the destruction of the universal company of the reprobate in the day of judgment, is described afterward at Rev. 20. 11. And this destruction, as appears plainly by the circumstances of the text, especially in the ninth verse, and those which follow unto the eighteenth, shall be before the Day of Judgment, and therefore is not the destruction of the universal company of the wicked. For if the universal destruction of the wicked were here signified, then none of the wicked should survive after this destruction to lament the same, as there shall, verses 9, 10, 17. And that the universal society of the wicked is not meant by Babylon, evidently appears by the whole discourse, chapters 17 & 18, where the Holy Ghost speaks of a city ruling over the princes of the earth, situated upon seven hills, sitting upon many waters, that is, ruling over many people, nations and languages, with whom all princes and inhabitants of the earth have committed fornication, whose destruction is bewailed of all sorts of the wicked, none of which people or princes, or wicked ones that mourn for her, should be of the universal company of the reprobate (as undoubtedly they are) if Babylon signified the whole number of the wicked. And whereas they allege Jeremiah 52, where only the history of the Babylonian captivity is recorded, to prove that Babylon signifies the whole number of God's enemies: it argues, that they have not so much as any show of reason to object against the truth of this proposition, namely that mystical Babylon is the seat, or as they speak, the See of Antichrist, and therefore from henceforth until something further be objected, I will take it for granted.
But let us come to the assumption, viz, that Rome is mystical Babylon: which I will prove by three arguments. First, because the description of Babylon, and of the whore of Babylon set down by the Holy Ghost, Rev. 17 agrees in all points to Rome and the Roman state. But most plainly in these two; First that the whore of Babylon is that great city which in the Apostles time, had the kingdom over the Kings of the earth (Rev 17. 8). And secondly, that this city is situated on seven hills (Rev 17:9): which two notes most properly describe Rome. And so Propertius describes it, That is the city mounted on seven hills, over-ruling the whole world. That Rome was the imperial city of the world, and the Metropolis of the Roman Monarchy, it is out of question, neither is there any of our adversaries either so ignorant or so shameless as to deny it. Therefore I reason thus: That city which in the Apostles time had dominion over the Kings of the earth, is the whore of Babylon. Rome is that city which in the Apostles time, and since also under the Pope, had the dominion over the Kings of the earth: therefore Rome is the whore of Babylon. And that Rome also was situated on seven hills, it is most manifest. Of her Virgil saith, Scilicet & rerum facta est pulcherrima Roma, Septem quae vna sibi muro circumdedit arces. Varro speaking of a festival day, which among the Romans was called Septimontium, he saith it was so called, of the seven hills whereon the city was situated. And Plutarch upon the same occasion calls Rome Septicollem, that is seven hilled. Blondus saith, The hills within the city are seven in number and the names of these seven hills are commonly known, and usually named in Roman authors, viz, Palatinus, Capitolinus, Qutrinalis, Coelius, Esquilinus, Viminalis, and Auentinus.
Yea but say our English Rhemists (on Rev 17:9), The Angel himself here speaketh these seven hills to be alone with the seven heads, and the seven kings. And yet the heretics take them literally for seven hills: whereas the number of seven is mystical, signifying universally all of that sort. And they might mark, that the prophet’s visions here are most by seven, whether he talk of heads, horns (which notwithstanding are not seven but ten) candlesticks, churches, kings, hills. For answer whereunto, we must know that the beast whereon the whore of Babylon sits, is generally the Empire of Rome, but more specially vrbs Romae, the City of Rome, which was the imperial, and is the Papal Seat. This beast is said to have seven heads: which the Holy Ghost expounds two ways. The seven heads of the city, are seven hills: the seven heads of the Empire or people subject to Rome (which also are compared to waters whereon the whore sits) are seven kings, that is seven several regiments, or heads of government, (for so the Holy Ghost elsewhere calls them,) whereby the Empire or people of Rome has at divers times been governed: to wit, Kings (which also were seven) Consuls, Decemvirs, Tribunes (not tribuni plebis, but tribunt militum consulari potestate), Dictators, Emperors, and Popes. Now the Apostle does not say, the seven heads are seven hills, and the seven hills are seven Kings: but the seven heads are seven hills, and they (namely seven heads) are (also) seven kings, as Bellarmine also acknowledges. For this interpretation which they give to the Angel, First, is inconvenient. For heads do more fitly resemble kings which are the heads of the body politick, then hills do. And secondly false, for if the hills be kings, then the city which is the woman (verse 18) sits upon the seven kings, for she sits on the hills, verse 9. Neither is this interpretation of seven heads, that they be seven hills, any interpretation at all, except we understand hills properly. Moreover both the hills and kings are said to be seven, not because seven is a mystical number, signifying all the kingdoms of persecutors, but because they are seven indeed. Which also may be said of the seven candlesticks and seven churches. Rev. 1. & 2. & 3. which they bring for an instance. Of the hills there is no question: and it is as true of the Kings, and therefore the Angel numbers them (verse 10). Five (saith he) are fallen, one is, and the other is not yet come (Rev. 17.10): which is verified of these seven regiments whereof I spake. For the regiments of Kings, Consuls, Decemvirs, Tribunes, Dictators, were ceased in the Apostles time: One (that is of the Emperors) then was, and the seventh, that is to say, of the Popes, was not yet come. And as touching the Roman Empire erected and revived by the Pope: it is the beast that was a flourishing imperial state, but is not (Rev. 17.8) indeed and in truth the Empire of Rome, but rather an image of it. Rev. 13. although it be in name and title the Empire of Rome. This beast that was and is not, it is also the eighth head or regiment, and is one of the seven, namely of Emperors (Rev. 17.11).
Secondly that Rome is mystical Babylon, it may be proved by the testimonies of very good authors. Jerome saith, that the City of Rome is called Babylon specially, in the Revelation of John, and Epistle of Peter. Augustine calls Rome the second Babylon, and Babylon of the West. To these we may add Tertullian, Primasius, Victorinus (who saith, the seven heads are the seven hills on which the woman, that is, the City of Rome does sit) Prosper, and many others, Sibylla also oftentimes expressly calls Rome Babylon.
Thirdly, by the confession of our adversaries themselves. For first to prove that Peter was at Rome, they say, that by Babylon mentioned, 1. Pet. 5. 13. is meant Rome: although there can no sufficient reason be given, why the Apostle if he had meant Rome, should not rather have used the name of Rome, than of Babylon. Secondly, the Rhemists convicted with clearness of truth writing on the last verse of the 17th chapter of Revelation confess, that if by Babylon is meant any one city (which before we have proved) it is most like to be old Rome. And on the 5th verse they do confess, that as the persecuting Emperors, which (as they say) were figures of Antichrist, did principally sit in Rome; so it may well be, that the great Antichrist shall have his seat there. And again on the 18th verse they allege a reason for (say they) by the authority of the old Roman Empire, Christ was put to death first: applying the prophecy of the 11th Chapter verse 8 to Rome: thereby at unawares confessing that Rome is that great city, which as in the 17th Chapter of the Revelation is called Babylon mystically, so in that place is termed spiritually Sodom and Egypt, where our Lord was also crucified. Thirdly, the author of the Wardword, not knowing how to deny this so evident truth, is content thus far to agree with us, that Rome is Babylon. For not only St. John (saith he) in the Revelation, but Peter also in his Epistle does call Rome Babylon, and we doe not deny it. Bellarmine also confesses so much, that by the whore of Babylon is to be understood Rome, and proveth the same by the testimony of Tertullian and Jerome. Therefore seeing mystical Babylon is the chief city and See of Antichrist, as our adversaries cannot deny with any show of reason: and seeing Rome is mystical Babylon, as has been proved not only by reason and testimonies, but also by the confession of our adversaries: the conclusion must necessarily be inferred, that Rome therefore is the seat of Antichrist.
Papist Objections Answered - Heathenish Rome and Rome Christened
What then what can the Papist answer to this syllogism?
Mystical Babylon is the seat of Antichrist,
Rome is mystical Babylon,
Therefore Rome is the seat of Antichrist.
It may well be, say the Rhemists, that the great Antichrist shall have his seat there. And we do not deny saith the author of the Wardword, but that Rome is Babylon. And Bellarmine doth not only say it, but prove it. How then? Forsooth we must distinguish of Rome. For Rome is either Heathenish or Christened. Heathenish Rome under the persecuting Emperors was Babylon: But Rome Christened is the Apostolic See, and as it were the Jerusalem of the Christians. But this evasion of theirs, howsoever they please themselves in it, is frivolous and absurd, as shall appear by these reasons. For first, if Rome be Babylon, as now at the length they confess, and consequently the seat of Antichrist, as they cannot deny with any show of reason: I would fain know of them, whether under the heathenish Emperors Rome could be called the seat of Antichrist, because Antichrist did then sit in Rome, or because he was to sit there after the Heathenish Emperors were removed. If they say, because he sat there then, their answer is ridiculous, and contrary to all that themselves hold concerning Antichrist. Therefore they must needs confess, that Rome is called Babylon and the seat of Antichrist; not because Antichrist sat there whiles it was heathenish, but because he was to sit there after the Emperors were removed.
And that the Holy Ghost by Babylon does not mean Heathenish Rome under the persecuting Emperors, either only or principally, but Rome christened under the Pope, it may further appear out of the whole discourse of Saint John in the seventeenth and eighteenth chapters of Revelation. The whore of Babylon is the great city, which in the Apostles time, and since under the Popes, reigned over the kings of the earth; called a whore, and the mother of fornications: not only because herself has by spiritual fornications played the strumpet, according to that which is said of Jerusalem: Fidelis ciuit as fact a est meretrix, The faithful city is become an harlot: but also infected all kings and nations, subject unto her, with her superstition and idolatry. But Rome heathenish, which neither dealt by whorish sleights and allurements, but by martial policy and power, neither had professed herself to be the Church and spouse of Christ, could not so fitly be called an harlot, whereby is signified an adulterous and apostatical state. And besides, Heathenish Rome for the most part permitted to every country their own religion: and was so far from enforcing her religion upon other nations subject unto her, that as in her was erected the Pantheon in honour of all the gods (which Boniface IV having obtained of Phocas consecrated to the Virgin Mary and all the Saints) so she admitted the idols, religions, and superstitions almost of all other countries, excepting the religions of the Egyptians and the Jews, because they did not forsooth beseem the majesty of the Empire. But Popish Rome, of Bethel is become Bethaven, and of a faithful city an harlot, exceeding all others in whorish enticements, relationships, impudences, cruelties, and all filthiness: insomuch that we may truly say with Mantuan, Roma est iam tota lupanar, Rome wholly is become a stewes: and with Petrarch, that she is scelerum aetque dedecorum omnium sentina, The sink and sewer of all vile and shameful practises: and has not only played the harlot herself, but is become the mother of all fornications, that is, idolatry and superstitions, and the fountain of all other abominations in the Christian world. With which the cup of her fornications inebriates (which more argues the sottishness of the Romish religion) all kings and people that consent unto her, and with fire and sword, obtrudes her superstitions and idolatrous religion, unto all nations that they can make subject to that See.
Again, if John had spoken of old Rome, which then openly persecuted the Saints, then had he not spoken of a mystery (as he does) neither would he so greatly have wondered to see the whore of Babylon's either idolatry or cruelty, against the Saints (as he does verse 6) if by the whore were meant old Rome, whose idolatry and cruelty to John was not strange. And further that the Holy Ghost by Babylon means Popish Rome, it may be proved out of the rest of the 17th chapter beginning at the 8th verse: where the Angel declares unto John the mystery of the beast, whereon the woman sits, which has the seven heads and ten horns. For although this beast, as appears by conference with the thirteenth chapter, may signify in general the Roman state as it is opposed to Christ, which in respect of the regiment, has been subject to seven heads of government, in respect of the imperial city is seated on seven hills, and in respect of the Empire was divided in the Apostles time, into ten provinces or kingdoms, as Strabo and others testify: yet, here the Angel speaks especially of the Roman state and Empire renewed, and as it were revived by the Pope. To the which, as also to the Papacy (which is the second beast in the 13th Chapter of the Revelation) though they be either of them but several heads of the beast (verse 10, & 11) yet the Holy Ghost gives the name of the beast. For this beast saith he, on which the woman sits, was and is not, and shall arise out of the depth: and again, that it is the beast which was and is not, though it be. And verse 11 having shown that the seven heads of this beast signify both the imperial seat standing on seven hills, and also seven kings, that is, seven chief governments: he saith, that this beast which was and is not, is the eighth (namely head of government), for he speaks in the masculine and is one of the seven, namely of Emperors. All which cannot be understood of the Roman Empire, as it was heathenish, but as it is Popish. For this head which had been and after was not (for it lay void from the time of Augustus unto Charlemagne, the space of 325 years, viz, from the year 475, unto the year 800) was after to arise being revived by the Pope, who was to put life into the image of the former beast. For this Empire erected by the Pope, although it hath the name of the beast ascribed unto it, yet it is but the image of the former beast, and therefore is not, in truth and imperial authority and dominion, the Empire of Rome, although in title it be. And further it is said, that this beast is the eighth head, and is one of the seven which cannot be understood of the heathenish Emperors but of the Popish. If therefore this beast whereupon the whore of Babylon sits, ruling and guiding the same, as the rider doth the beast on which he sits, be not the old Empire but the new, erected by the Pope: then the whore of Babylon is not old Rome under the heathenish Emperors, but Rome christened under the Pope. But the first is true, therefore the last.
And fifthly the ten horns (saith the Angel) which thou sawest are ten kings, that is, the chief governors of the ten provinces or kingdoms, who before the dissolution of the Empire in the west, had not as yet received the kingdom; because they still remained as proconsuls or propraetors, that is deputies and lieutenants under the Emperor. But after the Empire was dissolved in the West, they received power as kings about the same time with the beast Antichrist the Pope (for so Antichrist both in the 13th Chapter & in the 17th is considered, 1. as a head of the beast, & 2. as a beast by itself.) For albeit neither he could reign in Rome, nor they in the provinces, by sovereign authority, while the Empire stood in the West, and flourished; yet when it was once decayed, (but especially when the Emperor also of the cast had by the Pope's means lost his title in Italy and Rome, and was by him bereaved, as the author of the book called fasciculus temporum saith, of the Western Empire) then he seizes on Rome, and a great part of Italy, and they on the several provinces. And that these ten horns are the heads of ten kingdoms, which together with the beast (meaning Antichrist) shall divide among them the Roman Empire, (for that is signified when it is said that they receive power as kings, that is, sovereign authority, the same hour with the beast) it is the received opinion of the best writers. Yea Bellarmine himself saith, John does say that the ten kings which shall divide among them the Roman Empire, shall hate the harlot arrayed with purple, that is (saith he) Rome, and shall make her desolate. And therefore the Holy Ghost in that place speaks not of Rome as it was under the Heathenish Emperors, nor of the Empire as it was Heathenish, for then it was not dissolved; and long before the dissolution, had Rome ceased to be Heathenish: but of the Empire erected and renewed by the Pope; which although it neither enjoys Rome itself the imperial seat, nor yet the provinces which in times past belonged to the Empire, yet has the name and title thereof. And consequently, he speaks of Rome as she should be, not only after the dissolution of the old Empire in the West, but also after the erection of the new, that is to say of Rome Popish.
Of these ten horns it is further said, that they have all one mind, being all of the same Popish religion, all of them with one consent wholly devoted to the Pope, and sworn unto him. To whom for a time they give over themselves, and their whole power to help and support the beast, thinking themselves bound (as he has persuaded them) to exercise their temporal sword, that is, their civil power, for the church, meaning himself, and at his beck and commandment. And being joined to him and united one with another by holy leagues (as they call them) make holy wars, forsooth, against Christ the lamb in his true members. But when as Christ shall begin to consume Antichrist with the preaching of his word, (as he is sure to overcome because he is the Lord of Lords) then these ten horns which before had joined with Antichrist, and had committed spiritual fornication with the whore, shall begin to hate the whore and to leave her desolate and naked. Which cannot be understood of old Rome, but of that which now is, whereof this prophecy already is in part fulfilled. For since the revelation of Antichrist in these latter times, the Pope had lost, as Bellarmine complains, a great part of Germany, al Sueuia, Gothland, Norway, Denmark, a good part of England, (but he might as well have said all England, and thereunto added, Scotland and Ireland) a good part of France, Helvetia, Polonia, Boemia, & Pannonie. So that diverse of these ten Kings have already forsaken the whore of Babylon, and have bereaved her of a great part of her maintenance, and left her, as much as in them lies, naked, and the rest in God’s good time will accomplish his will.
Seventhly, It is apparent that John's treatise of Rome, extends until the destruction thereof. If therefore by Babylon is meant only heathenish Rome under the persecuting Emperors; then the destruction which the Holy Ghost denounces against the whore of Babylon, did befall Rome, whiles it was heathenish. But it is absurd to say that this destruction befell Heathenish Rome. For first this destruction is an utter and final destruction. Rev. 18. 21. 22. 23. And before this destruction the Empire was to be divided into ten kingdoms, which first should join with Antichrist, and afterward oppugn him. Which is utterly false of Rome heathenish, but yet is begun to be fulfilled of Rome Popish, and will in due time be accomplished. And again it is most plain that John entreats of the state and condition of Rome, as it shall be in the time of Antichrist. But Antichrist, as the Papists themselves confess, was not to come whiles Rome was heathenish, but after the dissolution of the Roman Empire. And lastly, Jerome and other of the fathers, in whose times Rome was not heathenish, do notwithstanding call it Babylon. Not that then it was, or had been before, but because it should be according to the prophecies of the Holy Ghost, the seat of Antichrist, whose coming he and other of the fathers supposed not to be far of: and therefore Jerome in his Epistle to Marcella, uses this argument as the principal to persuade her to come from Rome (which then was not heathenish) because it is Babylon.
These arguments might suffice to prove that not Rome heathenish under the Emperors, but Rome christened under the Popes, is mystical Babylon the chief city and See of Antichrist. But yet for better evidence of this truth, and for the clearer manifestation of Antichrist, I will further prove unto you, that Rome christened and professing herself to be the Church of Christ, is the seat of Antichrist. For if Antichrist shall sit at all in Rome, then shall he sit in Rome Christened professing herself to be the Church of Christ. But he shall sit in Rome (as has been proved in part and shall further be cleared) therefore in Rome christened, and professing herself to be the Church of God. The proposition is built upon this foundation, that Antichrist shall sit in the Church of God, and therefore if Antichrist shall sit at Rome, he shall sit in Rome professing herself the Church of God. Now then that Antichrist shall sit in the Church of God, I prove by the testimony of Saint Paul, affirming 2. Thess. 2. 4. that Antichrist shall sit in the temple of God. But because the Papists labour by might and main to extort this place from us, as serving rather to prove their conceit, that Antichrist shall sit in the temple of God at Jerusalem: I will therefore deliver the place from their corruptions, and also make good our interpretation. For first, the temple at Jerusalem, and city itself, as it was a type of the Church of Christ: so when the Church of Christ was once planted by the preaching of the gospel throughout the world, it was utterly and finally to be abolished, according to the prophecy of our Saviour Christ, Mat. 24. 14. And then shall be the end, namely of the temple and city of Jerusalem. For after the temple was once utterly destroyed by Titus Vespasian, as Christ had foreshowed, it is never to be remedied. For as Daniel saith, according to the vulgar translation, which with the Papists is the only authentic text of Scripture, Chap. 9. 27. Et eritin templo abominatio desolationis, & vsque ad consummatio∣nem & finem perseuerabit desolatio, And there shall be in the temple the abomination of desolation, and unto the consummation and end, the desolation shall continue: or as Jerome speaketh more plainly, The desolation shall continue unto the consummation and end of the world. Our Saviour Christ also Luke 21. 22, 24 foretold, that Jerusalem being destroyed by the Romans, should be trodden under foot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled, that is until the second coming of Christ, which in the next words is described. Wherefore when as Julian the Apostate endeavoured by the Jews to remedy the temple that he might convince the preaching of Christ of falsehood, which he could not do, unless Christ had taught that it should not be remedied. Our Saviour Christ by fire first from heaven, and after out of the earth, and by a fearful earthquake hindered this enterprise, thereby approving his godhead, and shewing that he was not pleased, as Sozomen saith, with the renewing of the temple. It seems also to have been the judgment of Cyril with many others in the primitive church, that the temple should never be rebuilt: and Jerome saith, that the opinion which is for the restoring of the temple, is a Jewish fable. Whereas therefore the Papists teach, that Antichrist shall cause this temple to be built, and that he shall have his seat there, which they know shall never be: what do they else but make a mockery of all the prophecies of the Holy Ghost concerning the coming of Antichrist, and with Julian go about to give the lie to Daniel and our Saviour Christ.
Again, if the Apostle had by temple meant such a temple as should be built by Antichrist, he would not have called it the temple of God, but rather of the Devil. Non enim templum alicuius idoli (saith Augustine) aut daemonis, templum Dei Apostles diceret,for the temple of some idol or devil, the Apostle would not call the temple of God. Neither are we by the temple of God to understand a material building, for such (as Bellarmine truly saith) are not called the temple of God in the New Testament. And therefore the more gross is he to understand it of a material temple, and of a corporal sitting. For first, material temples in the writings of the Apostles are not called the temples of God: but the congregations of God’s people are the temple of God. See 1. Cor. 3. 16. 17. 2. Cor. 6. 16. Eph. 2. 21. Rev. 3. 12. And according to the Scriptures phrase speaketh Lactanus, It is the catholic Church alone which retains the true worship: this is the wellspring of truth, this is the house of faith, this is the temple of God. The temple of God therefore signifies the congregation or company of them which profess the name of Christ. In this temple Antichrist sits, that is, rules and reigns. For we are not to understand it of the corporal gesture, as appears by that which follows, he shall sit in the temple of God as God, that is, he shall rule and reign as if he were a God: for that is meant by God’s sitting, who does not sit after a corporal manner. In the temple of God therefore, which is his Church, Antichrist sits, that is rules and governs, challenging a sovereign and universal dominion over all those that profess the name of Christ, as being the head, husband and Lord of the universal church: which agrees most fitly and properly to the Popes of Rome. Neither are we to omit the phrase of sitting. For whereas princes are said to reign so many years, the Popes are said to sit, and the chief place of his dominion is called his Sedes, that is See or seat.
The Testimony of the Ancients
And this our interpretation is confirmed by the testimonies of the ancient. The temple of God (saith Theodoret) he calls the churches, wherein Antichrist shall challenge to himself the first seat, endeavouring to show himself to be God. And again, The temple of God he calls the churches. Jerome, And he shall sit in the temple of God, either at Jerusalem as some think, or in the church, as we more truly suppose. Chrysostom, He saith not in the temple at Jerusalem, but in the churches of God. And likewise Theophylact, not in the temple which is at Jerusalem specially, but simply in the churches and in every temple of God. Augustine of these words saith, But in what temple of God he shall sit as God, it is uncertain; whether in that ruin of the temple which King Solomon built, or else in the church. For the Apostle would not call the temple of an idol or devil, the temple of God.Whereupon some (to whose judgment not only Augustine in this place, but Primasius also subscribes) I say by Antichrist in this place will have understood not the prince himself, but his whole body after a sort, that is the multitude of men pertaining unto him together with the prince himself. And they think it might better be read in the latin as it is in the Greek, non in templo Dei, sed in templum dei sedeat, tanquam ipse sit templum Dei quod est ecclesia. Sicut dicimus sedet in a∣micum. i. velut amicus, &c. He sits not in the temple of God, but as the temple of God, as if he were the temple of God which is the church, even as we say sedet in amicum, that is, he sit as a friend. Which exposition most fitly agrees to the Pope, and Church of Rome who esteem themselves alone to be the catholic church, and all others professing the name of Christ, to be heretics and schismatics. By this which has been said, it is plain that by the temple we are to understand the Church of God. And yet this does no more prove the Church of Rome to be the true church of God, than they can prove the temple of Antichrist at Jerusalem, where they say he should sit, to be the temple of God. It is sufficient that the church where Antichrist sits, has been the true church, and still is in title and profession; although in truth it be but an apostatical church. For Antichrist, as he was to sit in the Church, so he was to be the head of the Apostasy, and of those that fall from God: who notwithstanding (according to that exposition in Augustine) shall sit in templum Dei as though they alone were the true Church of God.
Papist Objection Answered: Jerusalem as the Seat of Antichrist
But the Papists confirm their exposition, viz, that the temple of God signifies the temple at Jerusalem, out of Rev 11. 8. Where John shows (say they) That the bodies of Enoch and Elias being slain by Antichrist, shall lie in the streets of Jerusalem. Whereunto I answer, that John in that place neither speaks of Enoch and Elias, not yet of Jerusalem. And whether he speak of the persecution of Antichrist, there may be some doubt; because he seems in verses 2. & 7. to speak of the same persecution of the holy city that is the Church, under the heathen; and namely the persecuting Emperors, for 42. months, which is mentioned Revelation 13. 5. But supposing it to be understood of Antichrist his persecution, let us consider the force of their argument. Where the two witnesses of God are slain by Antichrist, there is (say they) the seat of Antichrist: At Jerusalem the two witnesses of God shall be slain, therefore at Jerusalem shall be the seat of Antichrist. The proposition they take for granted, the which notwithstanding is not generally true. For the two witnesses of God may be slain in that place by the authority and commandment of Antichrist, where his proper seat is not. For as our Saviour Christ was put to death, by the authority of the Roman Empire, at Jerusalem, where notwithstanding was not the imperial seat of the Emperor: So the witnesses of our Saviour Christ might be slain by the authority and commandment of the Antichrist of Rome, either at Jerusalem or else where, where notwithstanding is not the proper seat of Antichrist, this alone is sufficient to overthrow their whole argument. For if their proposition be not generally true, then their whole argumentation from a particular proposition is mere sophistry.
Notwithstanding, their assumption is also to be denied, because the Holy Ghost speaks not of Jerusalem (as Jerome proves) but of Rome, or rather of the Empire of Rome. Yea but (say they) Christ also was crucified where the two witnesses should be slain: at Jerusalem Christ was crucified, and not at Rome, therefore at Jerusalem the two witnesses should be slain. I answer to the assumption: Christ was crucified at Jerusalem, and in the great city also, that is to say, within the Roman Empire, wherein and by authority where of our Saviour Christ was put to death. In which sense the Rhemists seem to apply this prophecy to Rome. If by the great city (say they) is meant any one city, it is most like to be old Rome, For by the authority of the old Roman Empire Christ was put to death first. Whereunto I might add, that even in Rome itself Christ has been crucified in his members: and that within Jerusalem Christ was not crucified (Heb. 13. 12). Now that Jerusalem is not here meant, but Rome, or rather, the Roman Empire, I prove; first, because it is called the great city. By which title throughout the Revelation is meant Babylon or Rome, as appears by conference of these places. Rev. 14. 8. and 16. 19. & 18. 10, 16. 18, 19. 21. but especially Rev. 17. 18, where the woman, that is, the whore of Babylon is said to be the great city which reigns over the kings of the earth: And of this great city Empire of Rome (which as it is called Sodom, which is the name of a city, so also Egypt, which is the name of a kingdom) the streets may fitly signify the cities or towns of the several provinces. Once only is this title given to Jerusalem, and then not to the earthly Jerusalem, but to the heavenly, Rev. 21. 10. And so Augustine expounds this place, in the streets of the great city, that is, in the midst of the church. Saving that by the name church; he must needs understand an adulterous and apostatical church (which elsewhere is called the whore of Babylon), because as it follows in the text, it is called spiritual Sodom or Egypt.
For even as in the midst of the Church even at Jerusalem Christ was crucified, so also the two witnesses of Christ were to be slain in the midst of the Church, and even in that city which professes herself to be as it were the Jerusalem of Christendom. Secondly, the great city whereof he speaks, is called spiritually Sodom or Egypt. Sodom, for her pride and uncleanness, Egypt for her idolatry and cruelty towards the Israel of God. Which titles most fitly agree to Rome: which is not inferior either to Sodom in pride and uncleanness, or to Egypt in gross idolatry, and savage cruelty towards the church of God. But they are not in this place ascribed to Jerusalem, which in Revelation and elsewhere in the New Testament, is called the holy city, even then when it had crucified our Saviour Christ. And not to seek further, even in Rev 11. 2 neither is the city of Jerusalem in Revelation any where spoken of in the ill part. This is also Jerome’s argument in his Epistle to Marcella. None of the holy scripture (saith he) can be contrary to itself, and much less the same place of scripture. For about ten verses before, Jerusalem is called the holy city. Now if it be called the holy city even after the passion of our Lord, how is it again called spiritually Sodom and Egypt? But Bellarmine answers, that Jerome did not write this in good sooth: by which answer it were easy to elude any testimony: as though Jerome made no conscience to write untruths, especially in so weighty a matter, although in the name of others. Thirdly, before the time of this revelation which was in the latter end of Domitian's reign, the temple and city of Jerusalem were utterly destroyed, and never so to be rebuilt as to become the seat of Antichrist, therefore this place cannot be understood of Jerusalem. Wherefore these objections notwithstanding, our assertion remains fine and stedfast, that Antichrist was to sit in Rome christened, and professing herself the Church of God. Even as the Bishops of Germany in Auentinus applying both this prophecy of Paul, and that of John (Rev 17), to the Antichrist of Rome, In Babylonia say they, in temple Dei sedet: he sitteth in Babylon in the temple of God.
Now let us further consider what other evasions they use to avoid this truth. First they say, that Babylon did not signify any one city, but the whole society of the wicked. Secondly, if it signified any one city, that then it was old Rome. Now thirdly, if the whore of Babylon do signify Rome christened, that yet notwithstanding it is not (as Bellarmine is not ashamed to say) the seat of Antichrist. But if Rome christened or Church of Rome be the whore of Babylon (as we have proved though our adversaries should not confess it) then is it so called because she is an adulterous and apostatical church, which hath fallen from Christ to Antichrist, whom instead of Christ she acknowledges to be her husband and head: then is she the mother both of all fornications, that is of all superstitious and idolatrous worship, and also of all abominations, as Atheism, Machiavellism, Sodomy and Antichristian heresies, with whom the Kings and inhabitants of the earth have committed fornication, being made drunk and intoxicated with the golden cup of her fornications, that is, of her glorious idolatries and Antichristian heresies: who as she is clothed with scarlet, so is she died red, and drunk with the blood of the Saints, and with the blood of the Martyrs of Jesus: as being that city and church wherein the two witnesses of Christ are put to death. Rev. 11. And can she then be the whore of Babylon, and not the Antichristian city and state? especially considering these two things which the Papists themselves are forced to confess, first, that the state of Rome is here figured as it shall be in the time of Antichrist: secondly, that Antichrist shall be one of the seven heads, and name∣y the last head of the Roman beast, and consequently shall have Rome for his principal seat. Let us see then whether the Jesuit be able to bring so much as a show of reason against this truth. For it may be you expect his proof. Antichrist, saith he, making his collection out of Rev. 17. 16. shall hate Rome, and shall fight with her, and shall make her desolate, and burn her. Whereupon it follows manifestly, that Rome shall not be the seat of Antichrist. But it should seem the Jesuit was in a dream when he framed this argument. For it is evident that not Antichrist, but the ten horns, that is the ten Kings, shall hate the whore, that is, the Antichristian city and president thereof: and accordingly Tertullian, Prostituta illa ciuitas, à decemregib dignos exitus referet, That city which hath prostituted herself to play the harlot, shall from the ten Kings receive her deserved end. And so in another place himself being better awaked reasons from that place. The ten kings (saith he) which shall divide among them the Roman Empire, and in whose time Antichrist shall come, shall hate the purple harlot that is Rome and make her desolate, how then shall she be the seat of Antichrist? Whereunto I answer, that the very contrary is to be inferred upon that place: where it is said that the ten horns, that is the ten kings, which shall divide among them the Roman Empire, shall indeed for a time join with Antichrist, and give their power unto him. But when as Christ shall begin to waste and to weaken him with the spirit of his mouth, that these ten Kings shall oppose themselves against the Antichristian city and the head thereof. Which, event and experience in part hath proved to be true in some of these ten Kings, as has before been shown. From that place therefore we may reason thus; The purple harlot which the ten Kings shall assault is the city of Antichrist. Rome is that purple harlot, as the adversary himself confesses, therefore Rome is the city of Antichrist.
Final Papist Objection Answered - Rome Christened does not stand on seven hills.
Their last refuge is this: that Rome Christian, where the Pope sits, does not stand upon seven hills, but is removed from the seven hills into the plain of Campus Martius: and that the Pope sits on the other side of the river upon the mount Vatican. Saunders therefore thought it to be but a childish argument to prove from the seven hills that the seat of Antichrist is at Rome. But we would know of him whether it be the same Rome where they say Peter sat or not. If it be the same, then it stands on seven hills, if it be not the same, how is it then the Apostolic seat and chair of Peter? True indeed it is, that in the time of the Emperors the Pomarium of the city was enlarged, so that it enclosed a good part of Campus Martius: and that since some more ancient parts of the city being decayed, the greatest part of private buildings stand in the plain. Yet notwithstanding even to this day, the seven hills are enclosed within the walls of the city, and upon them there do yet remain, besides some of the Pope's palaces and courts, divers churches and houses of religion and other buildings of note: as that learned divine of blessed memory Dr. Fulke particularly shows in his answer to the Rhemists. Neither does the enlarging of the city in one part, and the decaying of it in another, prove it not to be the same city. And although the Pope do live in the Vatican, or in any other palace of his wheresoever: yet who knows not, that Rome is the Papal or as they call it the Apostolic seat, appointed as they say by Christ himself. Neither can the Pope as they teach change his seat: or if he should, he should cease to be the successor of Peter. For whosoever is chosen Bishop of the city of Rome, he (say they) is the successor of St. Peter, the vicar of Christ, and Bishop of the world. And as Rome in general is the Pope's seat, or See; so more specially the cathedral church of Laterane, whereof more properly the Pope is Bishop, as the husband of one wife. In which respect they say, that as St. Peter and his successors be the head of the whole church or university of the faithful, so the Laterane church being referred to other material churches, is the head of all churches of the world. Unto this church was adjoined the chief palace of the Pope, which was inhabited by them until the time of Boniface IX as Onuphrius testifies, that is to say 1400 years almost after Christ: howsoever since the time of Leo X who lodged therein, it is within these last hundred years decayed. Now it is well known that the palace and church of Laterane stands on the mount Coelius in the most remote part of the city, and furthest distant from the Vatican. So that all these shifts and evasions of the Papists notwithstanding, it is evident, that Rome, which we have now proved to be the seat of the Pope, is by the former reasons alleged, the seat of Antichrist.
In the next chapter from Bishop Downame's work we will consider the time of the revelation of Antichrist.