Proving the Pope is Antichrist, (3) The Time of the Revealing of Antichrist, by George Downame.
As from the place we gather the Pope to be Antichrist, because the seat of Antichrist is Rome christened, or professing herself the Church of Christ: So the consideration of the time joined with that of the place, does make this truth much more evident. Rome Christened is the seat of Antichrist: but when does Antichrist sit, that is, reign there?
Who is he that hinders?
I answer that he could not exercise Antichristian dominion there, whiles the Emperors had their seat in Rome. But when the Emperors were removed and the Empire in the West dissolved: then did Antichrist succeed them in the seat, that is, in the government of Rome. And this may be proved first, by the testimony of St. Paul 2. Thess. 2. 8. And then that outlaw, meaning Antichrist, shall be revealed. And when is that? When he that hinders shall be taken out of the way. And who is that which hinders the revelation of Antichrist for a time, that he might be revealed in his due time? Who this was, the Apostle had told the Thessalonians by word of mouth, and therefore forbear for just causes to tell them by writing which they knew already, to wit, that he might not incur the needless hatred of the Romans. But that which he had told them, in all likelihood, was continued in the Church. For although this place in itself be most difficult, yet generally it is understood of the Empire and Emperors of Rome by most of the ancient writers of the Church.
Tertullian: who shall be taken out of the way, but the Roman state? whose departure being divided among ten Kings shall bring in Antichrist.
Ambrose, After the decay of the Roman Empire, Paul saith that Antichrist shall appear.
Chrysostom on these words, Only he that holds that is (as he expounds) hinders now until he be taken out of the way: that is, the Empire of Rome, when it shall be taken out of the way, then he (meaning Antichrist) shall come, and worthily. For whiles men shall be in awe of the Empire, none will hastily be brought in subjection to Antichrist. But when the Empire shall be dissolved he shall seize upon the vacancy, and shall challenge to himself the Empire or rule both human and divine.
Jerome speaking of these words, And now what hinders you know, that he might be revealed in his time: that is (saith he) what the cause is why Antichrist comes not yet, you know very well. Neither could he plainly say that the Roman Empire is to be destroyed, which the Emperors think is eternal. Wherefore according to the Revelation of John, there is written in the forehead of the harlot clothed with purple, a name of blasphemy, that is, Romae aeternae, to Rome eternal. And afterwards these words only he which holds now must hold until he be taken out of the way, and then that outlaw shall be revealed, he expounds thus, only that the Roman Empire which now holds (that is, governs) all nations, depart and be taken out of the way, and then Antichrist shall come.
Cyril, Antichrist shall come, when the times of the Roman Empire shall be fulfilled. Primasius, The kingdom of the Romans shall be taken out of the way, before Antichrist be revealed: Theophylact, when the Roman Empire shall be taken out of the way, then shall Antichrist come. The Greek scholiast on those words, that which holds &c. he means saith he that which letteth and hindereth. And what is that? Many understand the Holy Ghost, others the Roman Empire, whose judgment is the better? For until that be dissolved, Antichrist shall not come. And for this cause blessed Paul spake so obscurely, because he would not incur unseasonable enmity with the Romans. For when they should hear that the Empire of the Romans shall be dissolved, they would persecute him and all the faithful, as being such as looked for the dissolution of the Empire. But if he had spoken of the Holy Ghost, what letted him to have said plainly, that the grace of the Holy Ghost did hinder him that he should not appear? To which we may add, that in the sixth verse the Apostle speaks in the neuter gender, and in the seventh in the masculine: the former whereof may signify the Empire, the latter the Emperor, of whom the Holy Ghost speaks, as of one man as he uses to speak sometimes of Antichrist and we of the Pope; although both by the one and the other is signified not one man, but a state or succession.
Augustine indeed saith of these words, but he that hindereth shall hinder. I do confess that I am utterly ignorant what he saith. Some think that this is spoken of the Roman Empire, and that Paul the Apostle would not therefore write it plainly, least he should incur this slander that he was an ill willer to the Roman Empire; which men hoped to be eternal. Notwithstanding this seems to have been his judgement also, for afterwards he thinks those words may thus be expounded of the Empire of Rome, only he which reigneth must reign (for so katecho also may signify, and to the same purpose Primasius expoundeth those words, only he which holdeth now, to wit the Empire) until he be done, that is taken, out of the way; and then that outlaw shall be revealed, whom no man doubteth to signify Antichrist.
How the old Roman Empire hindered and the new supports Antichrist
But what need I to be so diligent in gathering testimonies for the confirmation of this truth, seeing it is not only confirmed by the former assertion (for how could Antichrist reign in Rome while the Roman Emperors remained or reigned there) but also is confessed by Bellarmine himself, namely that by this let, is to be understood the Empire of Rome. Rather let us consider whether the Empire that hindered, be taken out of the way, or not. Bellarmine understands this taking away, of an utter abolishing of the Roman Empire, so that there should not remain so much as the name of the Emperor or King of the Romans. From whence he would prove that Antichrist is not yet come, because the Roman Empire is not yet abolished. We confess that the Roman Empire which hindered the revelation of Antichrist was to be dissolved, and also divided among ten, that is many kings (for so this number of ten is often used indefinitely): which is all that can be gathered either out of the scriptures or fathers. But that there should be such an utter abolishment of the Roman Empire, as that there should not remain so much as the name or title of the Emperor or King of the Romans, we do utterly deny. It is sufficient that the Emperor was so far forth taken out of the way as it hindered the revelation or dominion of Antichrist, And so much the phrase of the Apostle seems to import, (Gk ginomai) until he be done out of the way, (or as the Rhemists themselves do read, until he be taken out of the way) as may appear by conference of like places. Let us then consider, in what sense the Roman Empire did hinder, and was to be taken away, and in what sense it hindered not, and was to remain: For the better understanding whereof we are to distinguish betwixt the old Empire and the new. The old Empire, as it hindered the dominion of Antichrist, was to be taken out of the way, that it might be no more an hinderance thereunto. The new Empire in the West erected by the Pope hinders not the dominion of Antichrist, but rather supports him, and therefore together with Antichrist was to remain. Neither does the Apostle speak of the new Empire, but of the old, as shall appear by these reasons:
First the Apostle speaks of the Empire which hindered or held then, and of that only: for so he saith, only he which now letteth will let until he be taken out of the way. And Jerome expounds those words, and now what hindereth, you know, after this manner, You know very well what the cause is that Antichrist cometh not now: But the old Empire hindered them and not the new. And therefore the Apostle speaks of the taking away of the old Empire and not of the new, Again when he saith the Empire hindered, he means the imperial authority and dominion, and that at Rome, not the title or name thereof in Germany. For it is not the name or title of an Emperor in Germany, that can hinder the dominion of Antichrist at Rome, and much less at Jerusalem, where the Papists say his seat shall be.
Secondly, Antichrist appeared and shewed himself (and in that sense was revealed) before the erection of the new Empire. For the new Empire is the image of the former beast: which Antichrist the second beast Rev. 13. causes to be made. And whereas Antichrist is (as the Papists also consent) the seventh head of the beast which has heads, the Empire renewed (which is the beast that was and is not though it be) is the eighth in order, though in name it is one of the seven and in that sense is to be referred to the sixth head, namely the Emperors.
Thirdly, the whore of Babylon, that is the Antichristian state, was to sit upon the beast which afterwards was to ascend, that is, the Empire renewed. Therefore with Antichrist there was to remain an imperial state, though much abased under him.
Fourthly, the Empire renewed is the beast whereon the whore of Babylon sits. And therefore is so far from hindering Antichrist, that it supports him, as the beast does the rider. And to that end indeed was this Empire erected in the West, that it might support the Church of Rome. For when as the Church of Rome was oppressed by the king of the Lombards, it sought aid of the Emperors of Constantinople; and when they would not defend the Church, the Pope translated the Empire to the French King: and from him upon the same occasion to the Germans, and that to this end, that the king of the Almaines might be Emperor, and patron of the See Apostolic. And for the same cause the Emperor is called of them the proctor or defender of the Church of Rome.
Fifthly, the Papists themselves do hold that the Empire which now is, shall continue unto the end of the world. For they say that in Daniel Chapter 2 (as many others also have said) is described a succession of the chief kingdoms or monarchies of the earth, which should continue until the end of the world: the last whereof is the Roman Empire.
Sixthly, the destruction of the Roman Empire (which the fathers say shall go before the revelation of Antichrist), is the dissolution and division thereof among ten kings, which indeed long since happened to the old Empire, but cannot happen to the new: unless we can imagine that ten mighty kings shall arise out of the bare name and title of an Emperor divided among them. When as the Papists therefore teach us not to expect Antichrist until the Empire that now is either be divided into ten kingdoms, they are ridiculous; or utterly abolished which they say shall continue to the end, they are absurd, and in both impious, making (as it may seem) a scorn of the prophecies concerning Antichrist, which they make to imply impossibilities and contradictions.
How the Roman Empire that hindered Antichrist was taken out of the way
By this which has been said it plainly appears, that howsoever the old Empire in the West, which hindered the dominion of Antichrist, was to be taken out of the way before Antichrist should be revealed; yet notwithstanding even with, and under Antichrist there was to be an imperial state in name and title, which is the beast whereon the whore of Babylon sits, and therefore is so far from hindering Antichrist, as that it supports him. Let us then consider how the Empire which hindered the revelation of Antichrist was taken out of the way, and how afterwards Antichrist was revealed. Of the taking away of the Emperor, as also of the revelation of Antichrist there are two degrees. The Roman Emperor was first taken out of the way, when the imperial seat was by Constantine the Great translated from Rome to Byzantium or Constantinople, and that to this end, as they have set down in the forged donation of Constantine, that he might leave Rome to the Pope. Because forsooth where the princehood of priests, and head of Christian religion was by the heavenly Emperor placed, there it is not just that the earthly Emperor should have power.
Secondly, after the death of Constantine the great, and of Flauius Valerius Constantinus his son, the Roman Empire being divided into two parts the Eastern and the Western, and by division being weakened, the Western was overthrown in the year of our Lord 475 and Rome itself taken by the Goths. So that neither in Rome any Roman afterwards had his seat of authority, until the Pope took upon him the sovereignty: neither in the West was there any Roman Emperor until Charles the Great, that is to say, from the year 475 unto the end of the year 800. In the mean time Italy was governed first by the Goths, and afterwards a great part thereof by the Lombards. And howsoever the Emperors of the East had recovered Rome, and some part of Italy, which because they governed by Exarches having their seat in Ravenna, was called the Exarchat of Ravenna, the Lombards, enjoying the rest: yet before the renewing of the Empire in the West, the Emperor of the East had lost all Italy and Rome, and that by the Pope’s means. For when as Leo III called Isaurus, Emperor of Greece, had held a council at Constantinople of 330AD. Bishops, wherein was decreed that all images within the Empire should be destroyed and burnt: and afterwards put the same decree in execution: the Popes of Rome first Gregory II and after Gregory III excommunicated him, forbid tributes to be paid him out of Italy and Rome, absolve his subjects from their allegiance unto him, and having stirred up not only the Italians, but Lombards also against him, the Exarch of Ravenna is slain, and the Emperor deprived of all his dominion and revenues in Italy and Rome. So that howsoever the Empire in the East stood all this while: yet according to the prophecy of the Apostle, he which hindered the revelation of Antichrist, that is to say, the Emperor of Rome, was taken out of the way; First, by removing to Constantinople from Rome, where Antichrist could not usurp that dominion and sovereignty whiles the Emperor had his seat there, which afterwards he did. Secondly, because the Empire of the West, which properly was the Empire of Rome, was dissolved, and the Emperor of the East lost his title and interest in Italy and Rome.
Degrees of revelation of Antichrist in reigning and his acknowledgment.
(i) Antichrist reigning
Of the revelation of Antichrist there be also two degrees. The first, of his reigning and shewing himself in his colours: the second, of his acknowledgement. Of his reigning there be two degrees also. The first, when he challenged supreme authority over the universal Church of Christ. Which he did when he usurped the title of universal or ecumenical Bishop or head of the universal Church: which was done as we said about the year 607AD. About which time besides other prodigious sights there appeared a terrible comet, then we hold that Antichrist (to wit, the head of the Antichristian body) was born. True it is that the seeds of Antichristianism were sown before his time: and even from the Apostles time the Mystery of Iniquity, that is, Antichristianism, was working although more covertly, and preparation was made towards the birth of the great Antichrist, partly by heresies and some declinations in the Church of Rome in religion from the purity of the primitive church, partly by the ambition of divers of the Bishops of Rome, who advancing themselves as Socrates saith, beyond the limit of priesthood into foreign dominion, contended to have the primacy above all other churches (and that is the chief scope of many of their Epistles decretal) and to the same end forged a Canon of the Council of Nice, when their ambition was curbed by other general councils. And lastly by the indulgence of devout Emperors and Princes, who have by great devotions and privileges advanced that Church. Notwithstanding we hold that Antichrist was not revealed, until he shewed himself by usurping an universal dominion over the church of God.
But notwithstanding this great title and authority, Antichrist was yet but in his nonage, and under the government not only of the Emperor, but also, for a time, of the Emperors Lieutenant in Italy the Eparch of Ravenna, by whom the election of the Pope (made by the clergy and people of Rome) was of necessity to be ratified and confirmed, until Benedict II, obtained this privilege from the Emperor Constantine IV called Pogonatus, that the election of the Pope by the clergy and people of Rome should be good without the confirmation of the Emperor. Upon which privilege obtained, the Pope began to care little for the Emperor, holding himself henceforth to be 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 or rather as the Apostle speaks (anthropos hamartia) without law, and subject to the judgement of no man, as they profess in divers of their canons. Not long after they began to advance themselves both against and above the Emperor. Constantine suffers the Emperor Justinian II to kiss his feet, about the year of our Lord 710. Within three years after the same Pope Constantine sets himself against the Emperor Philippicus Bardanes in defence of images, as did his two successors Gregory II and Gregory III against Leo Isaurus in the same quarrel. In whose three times, (that we may know Rome to be the mother of spiritual fornications) were held three Councils at Rome, wherein worshipping of images is approved and the oppugners there of excommunicated. And we must note that about this time (saith the author of the book called Fasciculus Temporum) the Popes began above their want to oppose themselves even in temporal matters against the Emperors: because of their unsoundness in the faith (for so he calls their oppugning of images) and to translate the Empire from nation to nation, as time required. As for Gregory II he was the first which announced himself superior to the Emperor; who also excommunicated Leo III because he sought to abolish the idolatry of his time, which they call worshipping of images. But his successor Gregory III not only excommunicated the said Emperor for the same cause, but also forbad any tributes or duties to be paid unto him out of Italy and Rome, and absolved his subjects from their allegiance unto him. Whereupon Rome (being then a Duchy) with divers other cities in Italy, revolting from the Emperor, sware obedience to the Pope, Who by the defection of the Italians, and help of the Lombards, dispossesses the Emperor of all his revenues in Italy; and consequently (as the popish author of the book called Fasciculus Temporum saith), He took from him the whole kingdom of the West. But when as the Lombards held the Exarchat of Ravenna which the Pope intended to himself, and sought to rule over all Italy as the Goths had done, not exempting Rome or those other cities which had revolted to the Pope; first, Gregory III when Rome was besieged by Luitprendus, used the friendship of Carolus Martellus to free him from the siege. Whereupon the Pope removes the tuition of the Church of Rome from the Emperor of Greece unto Carolus Martellus the great Master of France, and to his son Pipinus after him. Whom that the Pope might bind unto him, and find a sufficient defence against his enemies, he (namely Zacharias) having (as themselves testify) deposed Childeric the King of France from his kingdom, and absolved his subjects from their allegiance (because forsooth he was too simple to rule) makes him (namely Pipin) King of France. Who afterwards when his help was intreated by Pope Steven III, against Aistulphus the King of Lombards, enforced the said King to yield up the Exarchat of Ravenna, and Pentapolis, which he gave to the Pope. This donation his son Charles the Great confirmed and enlarged with a plentiful addition (reserving notwithstanding to himself the royalties of those possessions) when he had at the intreaty of Adrian the Pope overthrown the Kingdom of the Lombards in Italy. For which cause, as also for that he assisted the Pope Leo III, against the insurrections of the people of Rome, punished his adversaries, and caused the people of Rome to swear allegiance to the Pope: The Pope (namely Leo III) crowned him Emperor of Rome, translating that title from the Emperor of the East to him, and in him renewing the Empire of the West, which had been void since the time of Augustus. And as he made him Emperor, so to him was committed by Adrian and Leo, the confirmation of those which were elected to the Papacy. Which yoke as the Popes following oft struggled against: so at the last, they shook it off. And whereas, in former times, the Pope was subject to the Emperor, and being elected was confirmed by him, afterwards it came to pass that as the Empire was renewed in Charlemagne, and after revived in Otto the Great, and that to this end that it might support the Papacy; so the Pope (namely John XII, aliâs XIII.) causes the Emperor to swear unto him to that end, takes order for the election of the Emperor, appointing seven electors, reserving the coronation of the Emperor and confirmation of the election unto himself; and at the length subjects the Emperor unto him as his vassal, challenging both swords and usurping an universal dominion and sovereignty over all the Christian world, not only over ecclesiastical persons, as Bishops and Priests, but also civil, as Princes, Kings, Emperors, whom he esteems as his vassals, and makes them kiss his feet, as we shall show more fully when we come to speak of his Antichristian pride. Unto this Monarchy (as they call it) not only of spiritual but also of temporal power, they long aspired, but never fully attained, until the time of Gregory VII, in whom Antichrist was come to his full growth, wherein he flourished, until our Saviour Christ the King of Kings and Lord of Lords began to waste and consume him with the breath of his mouth. This is that which Auentine saith, Hildebrand who also is called Gregory VII, first established the Pontifical Empire which his successors for the space of 450 years (that is to Auentine and also Luther’s time) so held, in spite of the world, and maugre the Emperors, that they have brought all both in heaven and hell into bondage &c. at their pleasure they cast men headlong from heaven to hell, and again from hell advance to heaven. The Emperor from henceforth is nothing but a bare title without body or show.
(ii) Antichrist acknowledged
But no sooner was Antichrist come to his full growth (whereby he plainly revealed & discovered himself) but straightways he began to be acknowledged, which is the second part of his revelation, whereof also there are degrees. For first he was acknowledged particularly by diverse learned and godly men in the time of Gregory VII and in every age since until the time of Luther.
As for example, the Bishops of Germany affirm Gregory VII to be Antichrist. Under the name & title of Christ (say they) he contrives the business of Antichrist: he sits in Babylon in the temple of God: he extolls himself above all that is worshipped, as if he were a God, he boasteth that he cannot err. And afterward Auentin either in his own name or in the person of Sigeberius, speaking of the times of Gregory VII, All men almost (saith he) that were good, open-hearted, just, ingenuous, and single hearted, have left in writing, that the Empire of Antichrist did then begin, because they saw those things which our Saviour Christ so many years before had prophecied unto us, to happen in that time.
The Bishop of Florence, in the time of Paschalis II, preached that Antichrist was come, meaning the Pope. (1119AD)
Honorius Augustudonensis applies the prophecies in Revelation concerning Antichrist, to the Pope and Church of Rome, (Dialog. de lib. arb. & praedest.)
Bernard in his time acknowledges a general apostasy, and complains of the state of the church as Antichristian.
Joannes Sarisburiensis taught that the Pope is Antichrist, and the city of Rome the whore of Babylon. About the same time Petrus Blesensis wrote, that Rome is that very Babylon whereof John speaks in Revelation.
Gerhardus and Dulcinus Nauarrensis preach that the Pope is Antichrist, and that the clergy and prelates of Rome were the very whore of Babylon prefigured in Revelation.
In the time of Alexander III, the Waldenses teach that the Pope is Antichrist, and Rome Babylon.
Joachim the Abbot, being demanded of Richard I King of England, now going towards the holy land, concerning Antichrist, answered thus; Antichrist is already born in the city of Rome, and is advanced in the See Apostolic. And in certain German verses also published at Frankfurt, he affirmed that the Pope and his priests are Antichrists.
Eberhardus Archiepiscopus Luuacensis, Hyldebrand (saith he) about a 170 years ago did first, under the show of religion, lay the foundation of Antichrist’s kingdom. And straightways after, those priests of Babylon (saith he) covet to reign alone, they cannot endure an equal. Neither will they cease until they have trodden all under their feet, and do sit in the temple of God, and be extolled about all that is worshipped. Their hunger after wealth, and thirst for honour, is insatiable &c. he that is the servant of servants desires to be the Lord of Lords, as if he were a god. And again, he wastes and spoils, he deceives and kills, I mean that man of perdition whom they call Antichrist, in whose forehead a name of blasphemy is written, I am God, I cannot err, he sits in the temple of God, he rules far and wide.
Robert Grosthead, the worthy Bishop of Lincoln, on his deathbed complaining of the Pope, and bewailing the loss of souls which happened through the avarice of the Pope’s court, with sighs he said; Christ came into the world to gain souls: therefore if any fear not to destroy souls, is not he worthily to be called Antichrist?
Guilielmi de Sancto Amore, a master of Paris and chief ruler of that university, called the monks and priests the subjects of Antichrist.
One Lawrence also an Englishman and master of Paris, proved the Pope to be Antichrist, and the synagogue of Rome the great Babylon. About the same time Maenardus Tyrolius in a public edict calls the Pope’s effeminate Antichrists. And again, if they be not Antichrists, I pray you what are they?
Michael Cesenas principal of the Gray Fryers, wrote against the pride, tyranny and primacy of the Pope, accusing him to be Antichrist, and the Church of Rome the whore of Babylon drunken with the blood of Saints.
Hayabalus a fryer in the time of Clement VI, preached (and that, as he said, by commandment from God) that the Church of Rome is the whore of Babylon, and that the Pope with his Cardinals is the very Antichrist.
Wilhelmus Occomensis, as Auentine calls him, wrote a book against Charles and Clement VI, wherein he calls the Pope Antichrist.
Bridget (1370AD), whom the Papists worship as a canonized Saint, called the Pope a murderer of souls, more cruel then Judas, more unjust then Pilate, worse then Lucifer himself. She prophecies that the See of Rome shall be thrown down into the deep like a milestone, (according to the prophecy of Saint John, Rev. 18. 21). About the same year, Matthias Parifiensis, a Bohemian, writing a book of Antichrist, proves that he is already come, and notes him to be the Pope.
Franciscus Petrarch, in many places of his writings, calls the court of Rome the whore of Babylon, the mother of the fornications and abominations of the earth.
Urbanus VI, and Clement VII two Popes at once, call one the other Antichrist. As Bernard before had called Anacletus, against whom Innocentius II was chosen as Antipope. That beast saith he in Revelation, to whom is given a mouth speaking blasphemies, and to war with the Saints (meaning Antichrist), occupies the chair of Peter, as a lion ready for the prey.
But most effectually does our godly and learned countryman John Wycliff discover the enormities and heresies of the Pope whom he pronounced to be Antichrist. Article 30.
His judgement as in other things, so also in this, that worthy Martyr of Christ John Huss followed. Who affirms in his book de ecclesia, that he was troubled because he preached Christ, and discovered Antichrist. That the Censures of the Romish church were Antichristian, and proceeding from Antichrist: and (as Gerson & the Parisians object against him Art. 16) that in those times and many ages before, there had been no true Pope, nor true Roman church: but the Popes were Antichrists and the Church of Rome the synagogue of Satan. Whose judgement many in Bohemia followed.
Sir John Oldcastle, the Lord Cobham, that famous and noble martyr of Christ, professed to Henry V that by the Scriptures he knew the Pope to be the great Antichrist, the son of perdition &c.
Girolamo Savanarola taught that the Pope is Antichrist, because he did attribute more to his own indulgences and pardons then to Christ’s merits.
About the year of our Lord 1517 Luther began to preach against the Pope’s indulgences, and afterwards against other errors and abominations of the Pope and Church of Rome, discovering more plainly than any had done before him, that Rome is Babylon, and the Pope Antichrist. Since whose times this truth hath been almost generally acknowledged by the true and reformed Churches of Christ.
Seeing therefore we have proved, that Antichrist was to sit in Rome professing herself the church of God, and that after the taking away of the Roman Emperor whom he was to succeed in the government of Rome, and there to be revealed both by his own shewing himself in his colours, and also by the acknowledgement of others: it cannot be avoided but that the Pope is Antichrist. For he and none but he sits, that is reigns in Rome, professing herself the Church of God, and that after the taking away of the Roman Emperor, (not only by the removing of the imperial seat, but also by the dissolution of the Empire in the West) whom he succeeds in the government of Rome, where he has been revealed not only by his own showing himself in his colours, but also by the acknowledgement of others.
Antichrist's revealing proven from the Apocalypse
Unto the former place of the Epistle to the Thessalonians we will add two other places out of Revelation, from whence both the place and time of Antichrist may be jointly gathered.
(i) Revelation 13
The former place is in Rev. 13, where two beasts are described, signifying two estates of the Roman government as they are opposed unto Christ: the former represents the persecuting Emperors, the latter Antichrist. Of the former he saith thus, I saw a beast arising out of the sea (that is, of many and divers peoples which it had vanquished.) Now the description of this beast contains in it the resemblances of those four kingdoms which are described in Daniel, the Roman Empire far surpassing them all. The first of the beasts in Daniel, signifying the kingdom of the Babylonians, is compared to a Lion: The second resembling the kingdom of the Medes and Persians, to a Bear: The third representing the monarchy of the Macedonians, to a Leopard: The fourth figuring the kingdom of the Seleucidae and Lagidae, to a beast with ten horns, resembling so many of their kings, who should tyrannize over Jewry. The Empire of Rome therefore, as if it were compounded of them all, is resembled to a beast having ten horns with so many diademes upon them, both in respect of the ten persecuting Emperors, answering the ten Seleucedae & Lagidae, as also in regard of the ten kingdoms or provinces whereinto the Roman Empire in those times was divided; being also like a Leopard, having the feet or paws as it were of a Bear, and the ravening mouth of a Lion. And besides all this, is said to have seven heads, which afterwards (Rev. 17.) are expounded to be seven hills, and also seven heads of government &c. and to this beast was given authority or power, over every tribe, language and nation &c. all which are proper to the Empire of Rome. The former beast therefore signifies the Roman state, especially as it was under the persecuting Emperors, as Bellarmine confesses.
(ii) Revelation 17
The second beast, described (Rev 17.11) and so forward to the end of the chapter, is (as Bellarmine saith all men do confess) Antichrist: who also is, by the confession of the said Bellarmine, one of the heads of the former beast. By the description of this beast (that we may now note that which serves for the present purpose, reserving the residue until their due time & place) it is apparent, that there is one and the same principal seat of both the beasts, that in that seat the second beast succeeds the former, practising all the power or authority of the former beast and that before him, that is to say, even at Rome: and that his chief endeavours tend to magnify the beast, that is the Roman state; as in making men to worship it, in causing men to make an image of and to the beast, whereunto he gives spirit speech, and enforcing men to worship the same: finally in compelling men to take upon them the mark of the beast, his name, and number of his name. All which as they argue Antichrist to be a Roman, succeeding the Emperors in the government of Rome: so also they fitly and properly agree to the Pope, who succeeds the Emperors in the government of Rome, where he usurps all and more then all the power of the Emperors, challenging a more universal and sovereign, or rather divine authority, then belonged to them; whose main endeavours are to advance the Roman state, which he calls the See Apostolic, and which he makes all men to worship: causing them also to make an image of the Empire (which was the head that had received the deadly wound) to and in behalf of the Roman state; an image I say, partly in the Emperor of Almaine, resembling the title ornaments and shew of the former Emperors: partly in his own courts not only in Rome, but in all other countries representing the former imperial authority and tyranny both in Rome itself, and in the provinces thereunto belonging. This image both in the Empire and popish courts he animates and authorises. For as there is no question to be made hereof in respect of his courts, so is it as true in respect of the Empire, if that be true which themselves profess. Namely, that what the Emperor has, he has it wholly from them: that the Empire in the West was renewed by the Pope, who translated the title of the Emperor of Rome from the Emperor of the East, first to the French, and after to the Germans: that the Pope caused this new Emperor to be made, that he crowned and authorized him, that he appointed seven Electors in Germany, reserving the confirmation of the election and coronation of the Emperor to himself: of which points we shall hereafter speak more at large. Further, he causes all men to worship the image by him erected, and compels all men to receive the mark of the beast, as also the name of the beast (which can be no other but either Roman or Latin,) and the number of his name to live in subjection to the See of Rome, and to profess themselves to be Romans and Latins in respect of their religion, as hereafter shall be showed.
The same is proved out of Rev. 17 where be reckoned seven heads, that is seven kinds of principal rulers as it were heads of government, whereby Rome has been governed, every one succeeding another. The sixth head being the Emperors, the seventh Antichrist which is the Pope. For Antichrist is one of the seven heads of the beast which hath seven heads and ten horns. And this beast signifies the Roman state, therefore Antichrist is a head of the Roman state. All which Bellarmine after a sort confesses. Now it is most certain that Antichrist is none of the first five heads, for they were past in the Apostles time: neither is he the sixth head which was of the Emperors, that then was; for that was to be done out of the way, as the Papists themselves do teach, before the revelation of Antichrist. It remains therefore that the seventh head which is the Pope is Antichrist. The eighth head, which also is one of the seven, is the Empire renewed by the Pope, and is said to be the beast, which was and is not though it be, whereon the whore of Babylon sits. If it be objected that the seventh head whereby Antichrist is signified, was to continue but a short time, as it is said verse 10: and that this therefore cannot agree to the Pope, who hath reigns already in Rome many 100 years: I answer that this is spoken of purpose to arm the faithful with patience, who otherwise would think the reign of Antichrist very long, and our Saviour Christ also to be slow in coming. Whereas in truth neither is our Saviour Christ slow in coming as Peter shows, neither is the kingdom of Antichrist long. But in respect of God with whom a 1000 years are as one day, and in comparison of the eternal kingdom of Christ (with whom the faithful are to reign after they have suffered under Antichrist,) it is to be accompanied very short. And surely if the whole time from the ascension of of our Saviour until his return unto judgement, is noted in the Scriptures to be very short, and that to this end that we should not think it long, then is the reign of Antichrist (which is but part of this time) much more short. The Holy Ghost in the beginning of Revelation signifies that the time of fulfilling the prophecies therein mentioned was at hand. And our Saviour Christ promises by the Apostle, that after a very little while he would come: and in the last chapter of Revelation, he saith, yea, I come quickly. And John likewise in his Epistle notes that the whole time of Antichrist was but a part of the last hour.
And further whereas the Papists object, in respect of the time, that Antichrist is not yet come, because the Roman Empire is not yet dissolved, and consequently that the Pope is not Antichrist: it may notwithstanding evidently be showed out of the same chapter of Revelation compared with the event, both that the Empire is dissolved, and that Antichrist is already come. For the Empire is then known to be dissolved, when it is divided among ten who shall have received power as kings, as John notes, the fathers teach, and the Papists themselves confess. But it is most certain that the old Empire of of Rome is divided among ten kings at the least, who before the dissolution had not sovereign authority: and that the Empire which now is, being but a title, and containing no such kingdoms, is not capable of such a partition. And that Antichrist also is come it is as evident. For those ten horns which in the Apostles time had not received the kingdom nor sovereign authority, but were governors of the provinces by deputation from the Emperor, were after the dissolution of the Empire to receive power as kings with the beast; or, as the Papists read, after the beast, that is Antichrist, If therefore the governors of the kingdoms whereinto the Roman Empire was divided, have received power as kings, then it is certain that Antichrist is already come. For other after him, or at least with him they were to receive their sovereignty. It is as certain therefore that Antichrist is come, as it is sure that the governors of the provinces which once belonged to the Empire are sovereign princes and not lieutenants under the Emperor. And that this Antichrist which is already come is the Pope, it is plain enough by the same chapter. For whosoever succeeds the Emperors (who were the sixth head) in the government of Rome, as the seventh head of the Roman state, he is Antichrist. But the Pope as the seventh head of the Roman state succeeds the Emperors (who were the sixth head) in the government of Rome; therefore he is Antichrist. If you say, the seventh head was not come in the Apostles time verse 10. and yet there were Bishops of Rome then: I answer that the Bishops of Rome, in the first three hundred years, were mean men in respect of their outward estate, and nothing less than heads of the Roman state. And that howsoever afterwards they obtained great authority, and more and more aspired unto the sovereignty: notwithstanding, until the sixth head was taken out of the way, the seventh was not revealed. But after the sixth head was gone, the seventh succeeded in the government of Rome. Insomuch that now for a long time the city of Rome has so wholly belonged to the Pope, as that the Emperor has no manner of right therein. To conclude therefore, If Antichrist was to sit in Rome professing herself the Church of God, and that after the taking away of the Roman Emperor whom he was to succeed in the government of Rome, as has been proved: it follows necessarily, seeing these notes agree to the Popes of Rome and to none but them, that therefore the Pope is Antichrist.
In our next instalment from Bishop Downame we shall look at the the conditions of Antichrist, and his opposition unto Christ.