Proving the Pope as Antichrist, (5) Of the Pride and Ambition of Antichrist, by George Downame.
May 23, 2018
Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 2 Thess 2:4
But Antichrist is not only an enemy to Christ, but also (as our adversaries confess), aemulus Christi, that is, such an adversary as is opposed unto Christ in emulation of like honour, as the word Antichrist does also signify. It remains therefore that we should speak of the pride and ambition of Antichrist, whereby he seeking to match Christ our Saviour, advances himself as the Apostle speaks above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, insomuch that he sitteth in the temple of God, as God, shewing himself that he is God, or as the Papists themselves read, as though he were God. Where (for avoiding of error) we are to understand the pride of Antichrist to be described such as is incident to a wretched man, a man of sin, a son of perdition. And the greatest pride that is incident not only to any man, but to any creature, be it the devil himself (whose Satanical pride Antichrist was to imitate and not to exceed) is this, to seek to be as God. When as therefore it is said that Antichrist advances himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, it is not meant that he shall seek to advance himself, above God or the deity itself: For God being infinite in goodness, excellency and power, there cannot be conceived a better, a superior, a greater. And therefore we cannot imagine how Antichrist should advance himself above God. And it is evident that the height of Antichrist's pride here spoken of, is noted in these words, insomuch as he shall sit in the temple of God, as God, by all therefore that is called God, we are to understand all those to whom the name of God is communicated: not essence, for that cannot be communicated to any that is not God. Now the name of God is communicated to Angels in heaven, Psal. 8. 5. with Heb. 2. 7. & Psal. 97. 7. with Heb. 1. 6. and to princes and magistrates on earth, Exod. 22. 28, Psal. 82. 1, 6. And whereas it is said that he shall advance himself above all that is worshipped, we are to understand by the word sebasma not God himself, but any thing that is worshipped as God, or wherein God is worshipped. So Wisdom 15. 17 images, and Act. 17. 23 altars among the heathen are called theos. Such in the Church of Rome, are Saints, images, the cross and relics of Saints, the Eucharist, &c. The meaning then of the Apostle is this, that Antichrist being a wicked and wretched man, shall advance himself above all that is called God, as Angels and Kings, or that which is worshipped, as Saints and images and altars, the cross and Eucharist itself, insomuch that he shall sit in the temple of God as God, that is, he shall rule and reign in the Church of God, challenging a sovereign, universal and divine authority over all those that profess the name of Christ, as if he were a God upon earth, shewing himself whether by words or by deeds that he is God, or which is all one, behaving himself tanquam sit Deus, As though he were God.
The like things were foretold of Antiochus Epiphanes, who is thought to have been a type of Antichrist, Dan. 11. 36. But (to come to the application of this prophecy) if Antiochus were comparable to the Pope in advancing himself above all that is called God: or if I shall not prove out of their own (I mean popish) writings, that he has lifted up himself in such manner as is scarcely credible to be incident unto a mortal man; then let not the Pope be deemed Antichrist, but rather look for some other, who shall go beyond him in Antichristian insolency and Satanical pride.
From this place therefore of the Apostle, I argue thus: Whosoever advances himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, insomuch that he sits in the temple of God, as God, taking upon him as though he were a God, he according to the testimony of the Apostle, is Antichrist, that is, Aemulus Christi, such an enemy as in a kind of emulation seeks to match Christ and to be equal to him. But the Pope of Rome (as shall be proved) advances himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, insomuch that he sits in the temple of God as God, taking upon him as though he were a God upon earth, therefore according to this testimony of the Apostle the Pope is Antichrist.
And first that the Pope advances himself above all that is called God, it is plain, because he lifts up himself not only over Kings and Emperors on earth, but also above the Angels in heaven. Of his lifting up himself above Kings and Emperors is the testimony before alleged 2 Thess. 2. 4. especially to be understood. For he speaks of such an advancement whereby Antichrist should be revealed, as was to be hindered for a time by the Roman Empire. Let us then consider how he advances himself above Kings and Emperors who are called gods. The Pope if you will believe him and his followers, is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, by whom Princes reign, and from whom the right of Kings depends. For you must know that as they full solemnly dispute, the Empire or temporal rule, as well as the priesthood or ecclesiastical dominion is translated unto the successors of Peter: that the right of rule and direct dominion of the Empire and Kingdoms belongs to the Pope, howbeit he commits the exercise thereof to Emperors and Kings: that Emperors, Kings, and all Princes receive their right of governing their kingdoms from the Pope, and that by him they are confirmed, and by him deposed: that to him Emperors and Kings as being but his vassals are bound to swear allegiance and fidelity: that he so far surpasses the Emperor as the sun excels the moon, that is, according to their astronomy, seven and fifty times, or rather as the creator is superior to the creature. Therefore Kings and Emperors when they come into the presence of his holiness, must, after obeisance done in three several distances, fall down before him and kiss his foot, even as Mantuan saith of him,
Ense potens gemino, cuius vestigia adorant
Caesar, & aurato vestitimurice reges.
And if they be in presence when he takes horse, the Emperor or chiefest Prince that is present must hold his right stirrup, and when he is mooted must hold the bridle, and play the lackey for a certain space, and likewise when he lights off, must hold the right stirrup; which if he happen to mistake as being not used to service, he must look for a check, as we read of Hadrian IV who bitterly checked Frederick the Emperor for holding the stirrup on the wrong side. Or if it be his pleasure to be carried aloft on men's shoulders, the Emperor, Kings, and Princes that are present, must put under their shoulder and help to carry his holiness for a space, and whiles he is on foot the Emperor or chiefest Prince must bear up his train. If the Emperor be at the Pope's feast, his duty is before dinner to hold the Pope's water to wash his hands, and to bring in the first mess. For indeed Imperator est minister Papae, The Emperor is the Pope's minister.
These are but matters of ceremony. But as he vaunts that all the right of Kings depends on him, so he challenges authority and power to translate kingdoms, to create and depose Kings, to translate the Empire from nation to nation, and to give the same to whom it pleases him. The Emperor (saith he) is Emperor by us. Whence has he the Empire but from us? Behold the Empire is in our power to give it to whom we will. And accordingly he has deposed diverse Kings and Emperors, and created others, as I shall not need to prove, for both they and their followers boast thereof. And if you desire some other examples of their insolent and Antichristian behaviour towards Emperors and Kings, did not Gregory VII make Henry the Emperor, who came in all humility to submit himself unto him with his wife and child, dance attendance at his gate bare-foot and bare head by the space of three days, before he would grant them any access unto him? When as the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa was excommunicated by the Pope, and his son taken prisoner in Venice, he came to the Pope Alexander III, into the church of Saint Mark there, to the end that he might be absolved, and his son restored. Where, before all the people, the Pope having commanded the Emperor to prostrate himself upon the ground and so to ask pardon, he sets his foot in the neck of the Emperor, saying, it is written, Super aspidem & basiliscum ambulabis, & conculcabis Leonem & Draconem, Thou shalt walk upon the Asp and Cockatrice, and shalt tread upon the Lion and the Dragon. Which indignity when the Emperor being not well able to brook, made answer, Not to thee but to Peter, the Holy Father treading on the Emperor's neck replied, Et mihi & Petro, Both to me and to Peter. And when as Henry VI came to be crowned Emperor, and to that end kneeled before Celestin III sitting in his pontisical chair, did not he after he had set the imperial diadem on his head, and as some say with his feet, kick it of with his foot again? What should I tell you of Innocentius II, how he caused his own with the Emperor's picture to be set up in the Palace of Laterane, himself sitting in his pontifical throne, and the Emperor kneeling before him and holding up his hands as unto God, with these verses subscribed,
Rexvenit ante sores, iurans prids vrbis honores,
Pòst homo sit Papae, sumit quo dante coronam,
The King of the Romans comes before the gates,
swearing first to the honours and privileges of the city,
afterward he becomes the Pope’s man,
of whose gift he receives the imperial crown.
The Pope exalting himself above those which are called gods in heaven
And thus has the Pope lifted up himself above all that is called God upon earth, that is to say, Kings and Emperors: let us now consider whether he exalts himself above those which are called gods in heaven, that is to say, the Angels. First, in general it is avouched by himself and his approved writers, that the power of the Pope is greater then all other created power. Potestas Papaemaior est omni alia potestate creata: That unto him is given all power above all powers as well of heaven as of the earth. Qui totum dicit nihil excludit, He that saith all excludeth nothing: that to the vicar of the creator, that is the Pope, every creature is subject: and more particularly, that he has viriatum Christi, Christ’s vicarship, not only about things in heaven, in earth, in hell, but also above the Angels both good and bad: Pontificem Romanus habere imperium in angelos ac daemonas, That the Roman Pontiff hath rule over the Angels and Devils. That he has power to command the Angels, for so they say, Papa Angelis habet imperare, Angels are ruled by the Pope & Papa angelis praecipit, The Pope commands angels. And according to these testimonies which avouch his right, is the Pope’s practise. For not only he challenges greater honour and reverence to be done to himself then is due to the angels (for he admits of adorations and fallings down before him, which the angels refuse because they are our fellow servants:) but also he takes upon him to command the holy angels at his pleasure to remove souls departed out of purgatory into heaven. Clement VI in his bull concerning those which should come to Rome to celebrate the Jubilee, he commands the angels of heaven, that if any of them should die in that journey, to bring their souls being wholly freed from Purgatory into the glory of Paradise. His words be these: Prorsus mandamus angelis paradisi, quatenus animam à purgatorio penitus absolutam, in paradisi gloriam introducant.
The Pope setting himself above things worshipped
It remains that I should show how the Pope advances himself above sebasma, that is the things wherein God is worshipped, or which are worshipped as God in the Church of Rome, as namely the Saints, the cross, the altar, and their god of bread. As for the saints they are subject to the Pope quad canonizationem (the canonisation), standing at the curtesy and free disposition of the Pope whether to be deified that is as they speak to be canonized, or to be deposed. For such is his authority (if you will believe him) in canonizing of Saints, that he can canonize whom he will, yea of a damned person cast into hell he can make a saint in heaven, and contrariwise he can unsaint those which before were canonized. The cross which they say is to be worshipped with divine worship, is notwithstanding made an ensign of the Pope’s authority, and is borne before him as the mace before the magistrate, or the sword before the prince, and when their procession is at an end it is laid under his feet. And that he may be known even literally so to sit in the material temple as if he were a God, it is to be noted that his seat in the Church is above the altar. But their chief theos is their god of bread, which because they imagine it to be Christ himself it is worshipped among them as their maker and redeemer, notwithstanding in the Pope’s processions and journeys it is made an attendant on his holiness. For I shall not need to tell you now which you heard before, how Pope Hildebrand, when it did not answer his demands as being not used to speak, did cast it into the fire. It is worthy to be remembered which is reported by Joannes Monlucius the Bishop of Valence, who was the French King's Ambassador at Rome, and testified by others, that when the Pope is to travel abroad, three or four days before, he sends the Eucharist (that is Christ their maker) on horseback accompanied with muletors and horsekeepers, and courtesans and cooks with sumpterhorses and all the baggage of his court. Afterwards the Pope who professes himself his vicar follows, attended with Cardinals, Primates, Bishops, and Potentates. And when he comes near to the place whether he travels, their Christ is brought to meet him on the way that it may be carried before him into the town. But with what difference of honour is he and his attendant carried in such solemn processions? The Pope either rides on a goodly white horse under a stately canopy, or else is carried aloft upon noble men’s shoulders in a chair of gold, when the Christ of the Papists, the Pope’s attendant is carried upon a simple hackney in comparison, with no such magnificence and yet that hackney is the Pope’s vicar appointed in his steed to carry the Monstrame. In a word, he is supremus numen in terris the chief or supreme power on earth that is to be worshipped on earth.
The Pope lifted up above all that is called God
But let us come to the height of Antichrist's pride, For it is not sufficient for the Pope to be lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, unless he take upon him as if he were God, and seek to match himself with Christ, as the name Antichrist imports: that unto him the height of Antichrist’s pride may also be applied, which is described in these words, insomuch that he sitteth in the temple of God as God, behaving himself as if he were God, or (which is all one) shewing himself that he is God. For of his followers and flatterers he is said to be all and above all, the cause of causes, and the first cause. Bald in his work Ecclesia Vt Lite Pendente says that he is numen quoddam, visibilem quendam Deum praese serens, that is a certain divine majesty shewing himself to be a certain visible God. Agreeable to the prophecy 2. Thess. 2. 4, and of some he is called terrenus Deus or Deus in terris, that is a God upon earth. In the Council of Laterane it was said to him, and he heard it willingly, Tu es alter Deus in terris, that is thou art another God upon earth: in honour of that hellhound Sixtus IV it was written, and presented to his view, that he is worthily believed to be a God upon earth:
Orac'lo vocis mundi moderaris habenas,
Et meritò in terris crederis esse Deus.
By the oracle of thy voice thou governs the world,
and worthily art thou believed to be a god upon earth.
The Canonists call him, Our Lord God the Pope. For so it is written not only in diverse old editions, but also in that new edition which by the authority of Pope Gregory XIII was corrected and published,
To believe that our Lord God the Pope the author of this, and the aforesaid decretal, could not decree as he hath decreed, it ought to be deemed heretical.
And as they willingly hear themselves called God (and not only themselves hear or read it, but by their authority appoint the same to be published unto the world) so they are content to be worshipped and adored as God. Neither was the complaint of Frederic II untrue;
Pontifices Romanos affectare dominationem & diuinitatem, atquevt ab hominibus haud aliter, imó, magis quàm Deus timeantur,
That the Popes of Rome affect Lordship, and divinity and that they may be feared of men no otherwise, yea more than God.
Franciscus Zabarella a Cardinal of Rome saith, The Popes have been made to believe (such is their pride) that they can do all things what they list, even unlawful things, and that they are plusquam Deus, more than God. These are more than sufficient to prove that the Pope takes upon him as if he were a God, although he should not in word affirm any such thing of himself. But so shameless is this Antichrist, that he affirms the like things of himself. As namely that those things which he does, be done by a divine power: and the reason is given by his Lawyers, because the Pope canonically elected, is a God upon earth. Whereupon Innocentius III uses these words, vt nostrum prodeat de Dei vultu iudicium that our judgement may proceed from the face of God: That Peter and consequently his successor the Pope (for to that purpose it is alleged) is assumed into the fellowship of the undivided unity. And in one place he not only affirms, but by testimony also confirms that he is God.
Satis euidenter (saith he) ostenditur, a seua∣ri potestte non ligart prorsus, nee soli posse pontifice, due constata pio principe Constantino Deus appellatus: nec posse Deus ab hominibus iudicari manifestus est.
Where the Pope proves he cannot be judged by any secular power, by this reason. God cannot be judged of men. The Pope is god, therefore the pope may not be judged of men assumption he approves by the forged testimony of Constantine.
And therefore not unworthily by a worthy Bishop in Auentinus, the Pope is said to be Antichrist, in whose forehead this name of blasphemy is written: Deus sum, errare non possum.I am God, I cannot err.
The Pope Seeking to Match Christ in Natures and Offices
But as I said, the name Antichrist signifies such a one as seeks to match Christ. Let us therefore farther consider how this agrees to the Pope. For if the Pope does seek to match himself with Christ, then by this argument alone if there were no more, he may be certainly convinced to be Antichrist. In Christ we consider his natures and his offices.
The Natures of Christ
As touching his nature the Pope if you will believe their blasphemies, aequè ac Christus Deus est, ens secundae intentionis compositum ex Deo & homine
As well as Christ he is god, a being of the second intention compounded of god and man. And as Christ in respect of the one nature is greater than man, and in regard of the other less than God, so they say of the Pope, Est quasi deus in terris, maior homine, & minor Deo, plenitudi∣nem obtinens potestatis. He is as it were a god upon earth, greater than a man, and less than god, having the fulness of power. That he is a man I shall not need to prove, howbeit some of his followers cannot well tell what to make of him. They say he is the wonderment of the world, neither God nor man, but a neuter betwixt both. That he would be supposed and acknowledged as a God, besides all the allegations in the former section, it appears also by the divine properties which are attributed to the Pope. His holiness (that is to say) the Pope, (for his holiness is himself,) is Deus vindictae the god of revenge, true without error, yea without possibility of erring, for he cannot err, whose will must stand for reason as if it were the rule of justice. For even as some of his friends say he often beats upon that of the Satyre, Sic volo sic iubeo, sit proratione volunt as that is: So I will, so I command, my will must stand for reason.
And therefore it were no better than sacrilege to call in question any of his doings. For power, whether you understand potestatem, or potentiam, that is authority or might, he would seem to be infinite in respect of both, for infinite power is given unto him. And if unto Christ was given all power in heaven and in earth, then the Pope who is his vicar has the same power. He forsooth is the cause of causes, of whose power none must enquire, seeing of the first cause there is no cause: yea to doubt of his power, is no better then sacrilege. Excepto peccato potest quasi omnia facere quae potest Deus, Sin excepted, the Pope may do all things as it were which God may do. He can change the nature of things, yea of nothing he can make something, and of unjustice righteousness, for he has the fulness of power.
The Offices of Christ
Office of Prophet
If you respect his office he has the same which Christ had whiles he was on the earth, howbeit there is great odds in their outward estates. For it is not fit that the Pope should resemble Christ who now is glorified in heaven, as he was contended, but as the Pastor of the whole world supernal and heavenly, and as he shall come to be our judge, to whom it is certain that all men of necessity must obey. For it is evident that the work of redemption being accomplished, the power of Christ was extended as well in heaven as in earth. Mat. 28. All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Which power is translated unto his Vicar, &c. In respect of his office therefore, he is the foundation, the head, the husband, the Lord of the universal church, in unction Christ, and is therefore to be called Christus Domini, the Lord’s Christ. Now if it be objected that Christ alone is the head of the Catholic Church and so of the rest: answer is made, that Christ and the Pope in the Church are vnus & idem caput, one and the same head, and do make one and the same consistory: for it were a monstrous thing that the Church should have two heads. And to the same purpose saith a Cardinal of Rome, The judgement of the Pope is reputed the judgement of God, and his sentence, and his consistory, the consistory of God: and therefore Christ and the Pope are not properly two heads, but one, as Boniface VIII declares, In extrav. c. vnam sanctam. But to speak more particularly of his offices. For prophecy, he is the universal or ecumenical Bishop, and Pastor of Pastors, the Ordinary or Bishop of the whole world: Who is come a light into the world, but men have loved darkness more than light, who has the supreme authority of interpreting the scriptures, who is the supreme judge in controversies of religion, having an heavenly arbitrament, and as it were a divine and infallible judgement, who is above general councils, for although in a general council the universal Church is represented, in so much that nothing is greater then the Council, Tamen Papa eidem omnimoda supereminet authoritate, Notwithstanding the Pope surpasses the same in all manner authority, whose judgement is to be preferred before the judgement of the whole world, insomuch that if the whole world should determine against the Pope, we must stand to his sentence, for so they say, Papae sententia totius orbis pluto prefertus: And again, Si totus mundus sentiret (or as the gloss readeth senteniaret) contra Papam, videtur quòd sen∣tenae Papae standum esset, vt 24. q. 1. haec est fides, haec gloss. who is of greater authority than all the Saints, and in respect thereof is of great perfection than the whole body of the Church besides. But it is not sufficient for this Antichrist to prefer himself above the whole Church which is the body of Christ, unless also he sought in respect of the prophetical office to match himself with Christ the head of the church, yea and in some respects to overmatch him.
He seeks to match himself with Christ:
1. In taking upon him to make new articles of faith, and to propound doctrines not contained in the Scriptures as necessary unto salvation.
2. In making five Sacraments more than Christ appointed, (some whereof he prefers above baptism) and those two which Christ has ordained he has so altered and changed as that the one is scarcely, the other not at all the same. And whereas Christ ordained the Sacrament of his body and blood in two kinds, they not withstanding his institution will have it administered to the people but in one kind. For so it is professed in the Council of Constance, that although Christ administered this venerable sacrament unto his Disciples under both kinds of bread and wine, and although in the primitive church this sacrament was received of the faithful in both kinds, notwithstanding this custom of receiving the bread only was upon good reason brought in, for the avoiding of some dangers and scandals.
3. In making their own devises, decretals and traditions of equal authority with the word of God. Innocentius III commanded that the words of the canon of the Mass should be held equal to the words of the gospel. Agatho the Pope decreed that all the constitutions of the See Apostolic are to be received, as authorized by the divine voice of Peter himself. And in the same distinction, this is the title or argument of one chapter, Inter canonic as Scripturas, decretales epistolae connumerantur, that is, Among the Canonical scriptures the decretal epistles are numbered. Which in the chapter itself is absurdly proved out of Augustine misalleged. And as touching traditions (whereby are meant all points of popery, which as themselves confess are not contained in the written word) the holy Council of Trent has ordained that they are to be received, and honoured Pari pitatis affectu ac reuerentia, With as great affection of piety and reverence, as the written word of God. Which decree when as a certain Bishop misliked, Ceruinus the Pope’s legate (who afterwards was Pope, called Marcellus II) caused him to be expelled out of the Council. And lastly, least he should seem in any thing to be inferior to Christ our Prophet, he confirms his doctrines by miracles as they call them.
And thus the Pope matches himself with Christ our Prophet: let us now consider how he advances himself above him. Which he manifestly does in preferring his own and the Church's authority above the Scriptures. And if the church be above the Scriptures, then much more is he. For he not only virtualiter est tota ecclesia, that is, virtually the whole church, but also his power alone exceeds the power of all the whole church besides. Now that the authority of the Church and much more of the Pope who is superior to the Church, is above the Scripture, it is both generally affirmed and by some particulars confirmed, Cardinal Cusanus entitles his book, De Authoritative Ecclesia & Concili Supra & Contra Scriptura, Of the authority of the Church & council above & against the Scripture. Sylvester Prierias master of the Pope’s palace saith, That indulgences are warranted unto us, not by the authority of the Scripture, but by the authority of the Church and Pope of Rome, which is greater. Boniface the Archbishop of Mentz saith, That all men so reverence the Apostolic See of Rome, that they rather desire the ancient institution of Christian religion from the Pope, than from the holy Scriptures. This saying the Pope has so approved, that he has caused it to be inserted into the Canon Law. The particulars which prove the Pope to advance himself above the Scriptures are these:
First, because he has as they say authority to add to the Canonical Scriptures, other books that are not in the Canon. And that those which be in the Canon, have their Canonical authority from him. In the 19th distinction cap. Si Romanorum, Pope Nicolas not only matches their decretal Epistles with the holy Scriptures, but also affirms that the Scriptures are therefore to be received, because the Pope hath judged them canonical. Another saith, Whosoever rests not on the doctrine of the Roman Church and Bishop of Rome as the infallible rule of God, à qua sacra scriptura robur trabis & authoritatem, From which the sacred Scripture draws strength and authority, he is an Heretic. Eckius saith, Scriptura nisiecclesiae authoritate non est authentica, that is The Scripture is not authentical but by the authority of the Church. For I will not tell you how some of them have not been ashamed to say, that the Scripture without the authority of the Church, is of itself no better worth then Aesop’s fables. Pighius saith, The authority of the Church is above the Scriptures, because the authority of the Church hath given the Scriptures canonical authority.
Secondly, whereas the Scriptures are not the words and syllables, but the true sense and meaning thereof. They teach that the Scriptures are to be understood according to the interpretation of the Pope and Church of Rome: and that sense which the Pope assigns to the Scriptures, must be taken for the undoubted word of God. The Pope (saith one) has authority so to expound the scriptures, that it is not lawful to hold or think the contrary. A Cardinal of Rome saith, If any man have the interpretation of the Church of Rome concerning any place of scripture, although he neither know nor understand whether and how it agrees with the words of the scripture, notwithstanding he hath ipsimum verbum Dei, the very word of God: And if the sense, which they give, be diverse according to the variety of their practise and diversity of times, we must acknowledge that the Scripture is to follow the Church and not the Church to follow the Scriptures. Whereupon Cardinal Cusanus, It is no marvel (saith he) though the practise of the Church expound the Scriptures at one time one way and at another time another way. For the understanding or sense of the Scripture runneth with the practise. And that sense so agreeing with the practise is the quickening spirit. And therefore the Scriptures follow the Church, but contrariwise the Church follows not the Scriptures. And this is that which one who was no small fool in Rome avouched, The Pope saith he may change the holy gospel, and may give to the gospel according to place and time another sense. And to the same purpose was the speech of that blasphemous Cardinal, that if any man did not believe that Christ is very God and man, and the Pope thought the same, he should not be condemned. To conclude therefore with Cardinal Cusanus, This is the judgement (saith he) of all them that think rightly, that found the authority and understanding of the Scriptures in the allowance of the Church: and not contrariwise lay the foundation of the Church in the authority of the Scriptures.
Thirdly, the Pope challenges authority above the Scriptures, when he takes upon him to dispense with the word and law of God. For whosoever takes upon him to dispense with the law of another challenges greater authority than the others, and it is a rule among themselves, In praecepto superioris, non debet dispensare inferior, the inferior may not dispense with the commandment of the superior. That the Pope does dispense with the laws of God it is evident. For scarcely is there any sin forbidden there, where with he does not sometimes dispense, nay whereof he will not, if it be for his advantage, make a meritorious work. Incest is an horrible sin, forbidden by the law of God and by the law of nature. And yet there is no incest, excepting that which is committed betwixt the parents and the children, which he has not authority forsooth to dispense with: for as they say, he may dispense against the law of nature. The Pope dispensed with Henry VIII to marry his sister in law, and with Philip the late king of Spain, to marry his own niece. Pope Martin V dispensed with a certain brother that married his own sister. And Clement VII licensed Petrus Aluaralus the Spaniard for a sum of money, to marry two sisters at once &c. Disobedience to parents, perjury that is breaking of lawful oaths, rebellion against lawful princes, murdering of a sacred prince, are condemned by the law of God as heinous offences. But if children shall cast of their parents to enter into a Sodomitical cloister, if the Pope shall absolve the subjects from their oaths and forbid them to obey their Princes, if he shall excommunicate a lawful Prince, or suborn a wicked traitor, to murder his Sovereign: then disobedience to parents, perjury and rebellion in subjects, murdering of sacred Princes, is not only a warrantable but also a meritorious act. For as you have heard Papa ex iniustitia potest facere iustitiam. The Pope of sin can make righteousness. And that the Pope may thus dispense with the word of God, his Canonists and Divines do diversely dispute. One saith, Potestas in diuinas leges ordinariè in Romano pontifice residet. Power over the laws of God remains ordinarily in the Pope of Rome. Others say, Papa potest dispensare contra ius diuinum. Priuilegium contra ius diuinum concedi potest. The Pope may dispense, or grant a privilege against the law of God: that is, as another saith, he may dispense against the law of God in particular, but not in general. Papa potest dispensare contra Apostolum, the Pope may dispense against the Apostle. The Pope may dispense against the New Testament upon a great cause. The Pope may dispense against the Epistles of Paul. And to put this matter out of doubt which is so doubtfully handled by some popish writers, this question in summa angelica is determined and decided, out of diverse authors approved in the Church of Rome, That as in the precepts of the second table the Pope cannot dispense universally (for that were not to dispense with them, but wholly to abrogate the laws themselves) but in particular cases vbi ratio legis desicit, where the reason of the law fails: so he may dispense with all the precepts of the Old and New Testament. But how shall we know where the reason of the law fails? This may partly be known by those examples in the Scripture where God himself dispensed with his laws. But where there is no example of God’s dispensation in the like case, then it appertains to the Pope alone to declare, when and in what particular case the reason of the law fails. And I firmly believe (saith the author of that book) that if any man, craving a dispensation in any case against the law of God, interpose not importunity of reward or suite, but simply put himself into the hands of the Pope by declaring his case, that God will not suffer his Vicar to err in dispensing. So that whereas the laws and commandments of God are to be understood with this exception only Nisi Deus ipse aliter voluerit, unless God himself otherwise appoint, because he alone may dispense with his own laws: notwithstanding by the Popish divinity they are to be understood with this exception, unless the Pope otherwise appoint: that is, we are bound to keep every commandment of God, unless the Pope interpose his authority betwixt God and us (as the tribunes of the commonality among the Romans were wont to intercede against other magistrates) and exempt us from the obedience thereof.
And as the Pope may dispense with all the laws of God, so in the last place, he may and does take away some, and abrogate others. Papa potest tollere ius diuinum ex parte non in totum: the Pope may take away the law of God in part, but not in whole. Thus he takes away the second commandment out of the decalogue, because with it his idolatry cannot stand: and to make up the full number of ten he divides the last commandment into two, against all reason and authority of antiquity. But that commandment concerning images and diverse others the Pope also abrogates by his countermands. God forbids us either to worship or to serve any but himself. Mat. 4. 10. 1. Sam. 7. 3. Ex. 20. 3. The Pope commands us to worship Angels and Saints, yea and the relics of Saints. God forbids the making and worshipping of images, the Pope commands the contrary. God condemns stews, the Pope allows them, yea one of them built a famous stew. God condemns concupiscence as a sin, the Pope allows it for no sin. God commands all the faithful to drink of the cup in the Lord’s Supper: the Pope forbids the same. God commands every soul to be subject to the higher powers: the Pope exempts his clergy a iugo seculari, from the secular yoke. God commands all to marry, who have not the gift of continence: the Pope forbids all his clergy, though never so incontinent, to marry. Besides, it is evident that the Pope's laws in the Church of Rome are in greater estimation than the laws of God, the obedience of them being more straightly urged, and the disobedience thereof more severely punished, than of God’s laws. As for example, it is more safe for a man in the Church of Rome to be a mere atheist and a worshipper of no God, than not to be a worshipper of their god of bread, though otherwise a good Christian: better for a priest to be a Sodomite, than to marry: better to be a drunkard and whoremonger than to eat flesh in Lent: better with the begging Friers to set forth a new gospel (which they called the gospel of the holy ghost and the eternal gospel, wherein they taught that Christ is not God, and that his gospel is not the true gospel, and no more to be compared with their gospel then the nutshell is to be compared with the kernel) then for that learned man Guilielmus des Amore to write against them and their gospel, for him the Pope disgraded and deposed from all his dignities when he would not suffer them to be disgraced: him he sent into exile, when he retained them in his high favour. Yet because he had rather be Antichrist, than seem so, he caused the Friers' Gospel, when it was complained of, to be burnt, yet secretly; that his Friers might not be disgraced nor scandalized. Better for private men to read any books of ribaldry or any villany whatsoever, then to read any part of the Scriptures in their own tongue. To these, many other particulars might be added wherein the Pope advances his own laws above the commandments of God, and his own authority above the authority of the Scriptures. Let us therefore humbly conclude according to the popish humility, that as the Pope is above the Church, so the Church is above the Scriptures. Humiliter confitemur (saith a Papist) ecclesiae authoritatem esse supra Euangelium:We humbly confess that the authority of the Church is above the Gospel.
Office of Priest
To his prophetical office let us add his priesthood. For the Pope forsooth is Pontifex Optimus Maximus (an epithet which the Heathen give to their chief god Jupiter) he is that great priest according to the order of Melchisedec, whose foot must be reverently kissed of his Cardinals when he rides into any city in his Pontificalibus, and the Bishop of the City beginning this anthem, Ecce sacerdos Magnus, Behold the great Priest. He is the Prince of Priests, and head of the Christian religion. He is that Priest of Priests, who remits both fault and punishment both to quick and dead: whereas Christ remits only to the living: and (as they say) forgives the fault but not the punishment, neither does this indulgent father grant pardon alone for sins past, but also for offences to come.
Office of King
But I hasten to his kingly office. For he forsooth is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, to whom all power is given in heaven and in earth, yea and under the earth. For as he hath a triple crown, so he hath a triple Empire, in heaven and in earth, and (where Christ hath none) in purgatory. His power is greater than all other created power, extending itself in some sort unto things celestial, terrestrial and infernal: So that of his power that may be verified which is said in the Psalm of Christ, and that aptly because he is Christ’s vicar, Thou hast put all things under his feet. The beasts of the field, that is, men living on the earth: the fishes of the sea, that is to say, the souls in purgatory: the fouls of heaven, that is to say, the angels and the souls of the blessed. Another wrote and taught that the Pope is the Lord of things in heaven, on the earth, and under the earth. In heaven, for as you have heard he has power over the Angels and Saints, and souls departed. Papa angelis praecipit, & potestatem habet in mortuos, The Pope commands the Angels, and hath power over the dead. In earth, for he is, Totius orbis Dominus, the Lord of the whole earth, having bcaelestis & terrestris potestatis Monarchiam, The Monarchy of the heavenly and earthly power, obtaining the kingdom of the whole world, unto whom forsooth belongs that prophecy, Dominabitur à mari ad mare & à flumine vs que adterminos orbis: He shall rule from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the world: his power reaches over all the faithful principally, and secondarily also over the infidels: for under his feet, that is, under his jurisdiction are put the beasts of the field that is the Pagans, oxen that is Jews and Hereticks, and sheep that is Christians, and it extends itself unto all the parts of the world, not only known but also unknown, insomuch that the parts of the new found world are at his disposition to distribute and bestow. And that the Pagans are subiect to the Pope it appears, because the Pope rules the world instead of Christ. But Christ has full jurisdiction over every creature. Seeing therefore the Pope is Christ's vicar, no man may lawfully withdraw himself from his obedience, even as none may lawfully withdraw himself from the obedience of God. Anton. part. 3. tit. 22. §. 8. The Deacon which invested the Pope was wont to use these words, I invest thee into the Papacy that thou mayst rule both the city and the world. And likewise the Cardinal Bishop that anoints him, uses this form of words.
Now this Empire or Monarchy which the Pope hath over the whole world is twofold, for he has the two swords as it is stoutly proved out of the gospel, where one of Christ's disciples saith, Ecce duo gladij,behold two swords, Civil and Ecclesiastical. For as Pope Nicolas saith, Christ hath given to blessed Peter the key bearer of eternal life (and so to the Pope) the right both of the earthly and heavenly Empire. Civil, as has been shewed over all Kings and Rulers, in respect whereof he writeth himself King of Kings, for all secular power is immediatly given to the Pope: and he is above Kings even in temporal matters, yea he alone is the true Lord of temporal things. Wherefore Pope Boniface VIII, sent unto Philip the French King and told him, That he was Lord both in spiritual and also in temporal matters, throughout the world. And therefore that the King should hold his kingdom at his hand, and honour and worship him, Vt dominum regni sui, as the Lorde of his Realm. Stenchus for otherwise to think and hold (he said) it was heresy. And as touching the Roman Empire, the government thereof belongs to the Pope, being God's Vicar on earth: as unto him by whom Kings do reign. And surely whosoever denies the temporal sword to be in the power of Peter, does full ill attend to the word of the Lord, saying unto him, Put up thy sword into the sheath. And did not the Lord I beseech you (as some of the Pope's favourites full solemnly dispute) command Peter Luk. 5. 4. to launch into the deep, that he might signify the height of power in Peter. And again, Why did the Lord send Peter only to the Sea to fish with an angle or hook, but that he would insinuate that he intended to set Peter over the whole surging Sea of this tempestuous world? and why doth he command him to fish with an iron hook, but that he was disposed to commit unto him the sword both of the spiritual and temporal Empire? Hereunto we may add that worthy dispute of Antoninus Archbishop of Florence (part. 3. tit. 22. cap. 5. §. 17) That the Pope being the vicar of Jesus Christ in the whole world, hath, instead of the living God, the universal jurisdiction both of spiritual and temporal things. But the immediate administration of temporal things he receives not unless in the regions of the Western Empire by reason of the grant made to the Church by Constantine. Now, that he uses not the temporal administration in other countries, but only in the parts of Italy &c. this is not for want of authority, but that he would nourish in his sons the bond of peace and unity. For since the Empire was divided, and of diverse in diverse parts diversely and tyrannically usurped, the Church to avoid the scandal of the Jews has made herself tributary with Peter &c. And as touching those which say the Pope has dominion over the whole world, not in temporal matters but in spiritual only, they are like the counsellors of the King of Syria, who said 1. King. 20. their gods are gods of the mountains and not of the valleys. For so they say the Popes are gods of the mountains, that is of spiritual goods, but they are not gods of the valleys, because they have not the dominion of temporal goods. And in the same place he adds; That from the sentence of all Kings and Princes men may appeal to the Pope. As touching his ecclesiastical authority which (as some say) is the foundation of the Church, he is superior and greater than all the residue of the universal Church, and this is proved by seven arguments,
1. Because he is the Pastor of the universal Church.
2. Because he is the head of the universal Church.
3. Because he is that prelate which has authority over the whole Church.
4. Because he is the prince of the universal Church.
5. Because he hath supreame power in the Church.
6. Because he alone hath fulness of power in the Church.
7. Because he is Christ's vicar general in the whole universal Church.
For in the Apostolick See the Lord has placed the princehood of the whole Church, and therefore worthily is he called Ecclesiae princeps ac rex regus tore, The Prince of the Church & King of the Kings of the earth; yea Princeps optimus maximus, Of whom the salvation of the church universal after God depends. He is the head, the root, the Monarch, the fountain of ecclesiastical power, having the same consistory with God, and judgment seat with Christ For so they write: Idem tribunal Christs & Papa erris: Inter Papam & Deum vnum & idem fit tribunal, vnumque & idem consistorlum. He makes laws which bind the conscience and that with guilt of mortal sin, he is the living law, yea he has all laws in the closet of his breast, and he can dispose above law and retains the fulness of power so as he needs no addition, he alone has the fulness of power, as being the prince of the church's laws. And even as the first mover governs the church triumphant, so does the Pope rule the church militant. For seeing in the church triumphant there is one sovereign prince to whose obedience that whole church is most perfectly subject, that is to say, God: it follows necessarily that one sovereign prince rules over the whole militant church, that is to say the Pope, whose commandments all are bound to obey. And thus much of the Pope's power, in heaven and in earth: in respect whereof it is said that the jurisdiction and care of the whole world is committed to the Pope, not only as by the name of the world is imported the earth, but also as by the name of the world is imported heaven, because he has received jurisdiction over heaven and earth.
There remains the third part of his kingdom which he has in purgatory. For as one of their approved authors saith, Purgatorium est peculium Papae, Purgatory is the Pope's peculiar: where, as also in hell he hath so great authority, as that by his indulgences he is able to deliver thence so many souls as it pleases him, and to place them in heaven and in the seats of the blessed. Insomuch as this is become a problem in the Church of Rome, whether the Pope may empty all purgatory wholly and at once: and by Antoninus the Archbishop of Florence it receives this determination under a threefold distinction, namely, that in respect of his absolute jurisdiction the Pope may be communicating his indulgences absolve all that are in purgatory from that pain, and so make a gaol delivery. For seeing Gregory the Pope by his prayer absolved Trajan from the pain of hell which is infinite, therefore much more may the Pope by communication of indulgences absolve all that are in purgatory from that punishment which is but finite. And forasmuch as Christ may take away all pain, therefore the Pope also who is his vicar may. This the Pope may do in respect of his absolute power. But if you regard the orderly execution thereof, in that respect the Pope may not nor ought so to do. Neither in deed is he pleased to let out any from the pains of purgatory unless he be well pleased for his indulgences and pardons. Howbeit I must needs confess, it was a cheap year of souls when Leo X sent Torelius about with his pardons, offering to every one for the payment of ten shillings (but not a penny under) to set at liberty the soul of any one which they should name in purgatory. And lastly if you respect God's acceptation, that is, whether God would take it well that the Pope should release all that be in purgatory at once, or not, Antoninus answers, he cannot tell. And to conclude this kingly office of the Pope with that venerable acclamation of the reverend fathers in the Council of Laterane, Thou art all and above all, to thee all power is given in heaven and in earth. And again, In the Pope is all power above all powers in heaven and in earth.
And thus it appears evidently that the Pope is Antichrist, not only an adversary opposed unto Christ, as was proved in the former chapter, but also because he is aemulus and as it were a counterchrist, who seeking to match our Saviour Christ, advances himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, insomuch that he sits in the temple of God as God, shewing and demeaning himself as though he were a God upon earth.