A Sermon on Antichrist. Preached at Christ-Church, Dublin, November 12th 1676, by Henry Jones.
September 10, 2018
Our Text- 2 Thess. 2. 3-13
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
4 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.
5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
The words read exceed much the now ordinary bounds of a Text, yet being all of a piece, nothing could be well omitted.
The words are a prophecy of evil times to the Church, and to the World, by one here termed a Man of Sin, (v. 3) and who that Man of Sin is, is now the enquiry; and well worthy our enquiry, the import of the matter, and its concern generally considered.
The discovery of this Man of Sin, will appear in the description here given of him, both in his Rise and Fall (his fall, v. 8 and his rise before, v. 3). These make up the parts of my Text.
THE RISE OF ANTICHRIST
His rise is here under four considerations, by which brought together, this Man of Sin will be discovered who he is.
1. Here is the character, condition and quality, what kind of person he is, a Man of Sin, v. 3.
2. He is also considered as to the place, where he is to be found, Sitting in the Temple of God.
3. Here is also the time when he is to appear in grandeur, when he that did then let or hinder should be removed, then shall that wicked be revealed.
4. His actions in the world, when he should be revealed, and by which he should be known above others, he opposing and exalting himself above all that is called God, &c. v. 4.
He to whom all these agree, and in whom all meet together, is that Man of Sin, this Son of Perdition whom we now seek after.
I. His Condition and Quality
His condition and quality is herein to be first considered; that he is a Man of Sin.
A Man of Sin is a Scripture-form of speaking for one above others sinful. The word sinner, sometimes imports the greater sort of sinners; and where the word sinners is first found in Scripture (Gen. 13. 13) it is said of monsters of sin, those of Sodom who were sinners before the Lord exceedingly. And surely a Man of Sin, intends something more than a sinner. Beza renders it merum scelus, that is mere or very wickedness. A Man of Sin (saith Grotius) signifies some person notably and above all others wicked.
And accordingly is this Man of Sin here one above others sinful, both in life and profession. Therefore called spiritually Sodom, (Rev. 11.8) and as to faith and doctrine, an apostate (and what is in that kind worse?) falling away (v. 3.) departing from the faith (1 Tim. 4. 1) denying the Lord that bought them, and bringing in damnable heresies (2 Pet. 2. 1) and doctrines of devils, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, &c. (1 Tim. 4. 1-3.) we know who do so. Of these apostate professors are those also of whom St. John speaks who deny that Jesus is the Christ; adding, he is an Antichrist that denyeth the Father and the Son, whosoever denyeth the Son hath not the Father (1 John 2. 22, 23) And every spirit that confesses not, that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God; and this is that spirit of Antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come, and even now already, is it in the world (1. John 4. 3). Not that Antichrist, or every Antichrist, denyeth Christ come in the flesh; Some did so; nor do all heretics speak the same thing, but whosoever shall say that Christ is not come in the flesh is an Antichrist.
In all is to be observed:
1. That all false doctrines and heresies, whether against the doctrine and truth of Christ, of which the Apostle St. Paul speaks (1 Tim. 4) or against Christ's person or natures, of whom St. John speaks; both these are against Christ, and such as so teach and believe, are therefore (because against Christ) Antichrist, so as every deceiver is an Antichrist (2 John v. 7). I judge saith St. Jerome all chief heretics to be Antichrist, under the name of Christ teaching contrary to Christ.
2. Hereby we find that there are many Antichrists (1 John 2. 18) and of those many that some were then, in the Apostle’s days, in the world. (1. John 4. 3) Apostates from the faith before professed; They went from us, but were not of us saith the Apostle (1. John 2. 18, 19).
3. Observe, that among those many Antichrists there is one chief Antichrist, see both in 1. John 2. 18 Little children, it is the last time, as ye have heard, that Antichrist shall come; even now are there many Antichrists.
In this we find those two sorts of Antichrists distinguished.
(A) In number: Antichrists plurally, and manyAntichrists; the other but Antichrist singly: one among many.
(B)These two also are distinguished in time. Of those many some were already come, and then in the world; but that one Antichrist then not yet come, yet expected (2 Thess. 2) to be revealed in his time (v. 7. 8).
(C) See that one and chief Antichrist above the rest pointed at emphatically, by an article which is in the Greek, not expressed in our English (ἀντίχριστος) that article (ὅτι ἀντίχριστος) or that Antichrist (saith Grotius) points at some one Antichrist among those many more noted. And with like emphasis is this Man of Sin, in the text expressed by that Man of Sin, The Son of Perdition (v. 3) That Wicked (v. 8) and even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan (v. 9).
(D) Observe that great Antichrist in St. John, and this Man of Sin in St. Paul to be intended of the same person; none can doubt but that St. Paul doth speak these things of Antichrist saith St. Augustine, where and else where we find the same person under several names, under diverse considerations, so called Sodom and Egypt (Rev. 11. 8), the great whore (Rev 17.1), Babylon (v. 5) and here that Man of Sin and by St. John, Antichrist. In which variety of names, some one is at present to be principally used, for avoiding confusion; in which I shall choose that of Antichrist, as being a word both Scriptural, and Ecclesiastical, frequently occurring in the Fathers, and Ecclesiastical writers, ancient and modern.
(E) Observe that Man of Sin or Antichrist, although singularly, and emphatically, and as it were, personally pointed at, is not notwithstanding to be understood as terminated in any one individual person whatsoever; but as those many Antichrists make up that wicked society of Apostate Heretics, of what kind soever; so is this great Antichrist a chief of this great Apostasy, but as one in succession, though diverse in persons, so it is said of the Pope and Papacy. That as to the place and office of the Papacy all Popes from first to last, are but as one Pope, so when they say, the Pope is head of the Church, that is not intended of any one Pope alone, but of any and all in that succession.
Thus of Antichrist, as here considered in his person, condition and quality. A Man of Sin, one in profession and faith, also in life and manners sinful exceedingly; and how that is, will appear after in particulars.
II. The Place of Antichrist's Appearing
We have next to see this Man of Sin, as to his place, where he should appear, and is to be expected; sitting in the Temple of God.
1. Which words the Temple of God, some appropriate to Jerusalem, and the Temple there, so understood properly (saith Grotius) in both Testaments. It seems also to make for this; what is instanced of Cajus one of the Roman Emperors, who caused his image or statue to be placed in the Temple at Jerusalem to be worshipped: which agrees (say some) with the text literally, This Man of Sin, sitting in the Temple of God &c. But this Man of Sin, or Antichrist, is intended of an apostate Christian fallen away (v. 3.) such as was not Cajus, a Pagan, and never otherwise, therefore not he this Antichrist.
2. Nor is Antichrist one individual person, but a chief in succession; heading an Antichristian State and Faction, therefore not Cajus nor Simon Magus, or any other such whosoever; which will after appear more fully.
3. The Temple of God in the text is interpreted the Christian Church, by the Fathers St. Augustine, Chrysostom, Jerome, Hilary, Theophylact, Theodoret, and others; also by Thomas Aquinas and others of the Schoolmen.
4. Notwithstanding what is confidently averred by some, that in both Testaments, the Temple of God is intended of that Temple in Jerusalem, the contrary appears; and that the Christian Church is also in that pointed at in both Testaments. So in Zech. 6. 12, 13 Behold the man whose name is the Branch (meant of Christ, Zech. 3. 8, Isa. 14. 1, & Jer. 3, 8 & Jer. 33. 15) he shall grow out of his place, and he shall build the Temple of the Lord, even he shall build the Temple of the Lord, and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne. In which is not intended the Temple of Jerusalem, as if built by Christ, whose destruction he declared; those days also of its destruction being the time of the Lord's coming to judge that people, and then setting up his Temple of the Christian Church, where he would be worshipped in spirit and in truth; not any longer in types and sacrifices, as in Jerusalem (John 4. 20, 21, 23). And the Christian Gospel-Church taken as Catholic, and of both Nations, is called the household of God, built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone, in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord, in whom they are also builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Eph. 2. 19, 20, 21, 22).
And as by the Temple, so by Jerusalem also is the Gospel-Church of Jew and Gentile signified, and that also, as the Church is Militant and Triumphant; Jerusalem which is above being mother of us all, (Gal. 4.25, 26, 27).
In which it is to be observed that the state of the Christian Church is set forth in Revelation by two Visions of two Women. One, the Holy Christian Church, represented in a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of 12 stars, she travailing with child (shewing her numerous issue) who was before barren (Isa. 54. 1) she also, and hers prosecuted and persecuted by the dragon, but preserved (Rev. 12.1, 2, 3, 6.13, 14, 15, 16, 17.) But the other woman, signifying the Church Antichristian, persecuting the true professors, and drunk with the blood of the Saints, and with the blood of the Martyrs of Jesus (Rev. 17.1, 2, 4, 5, 6).
Observe also that these two women (or the Church under these 2 states and conditions) are also represented by two Cities, the great city Babylon and Jerusalem: that city named Babylon (Rev. 17.5, 18.) being for that Antichristian State: but the other city Jerusalem (Rev. 20. & 21, & 22) for the Church of God, the New Jerusalem and Temple; no wonder then if by Jerusalem and the Temple the Christian Church be signified.
5. And, that Jerusalem and the Temple there, could not be the place where that man of sin or Antichrist was to sit, appears, in that Babylon, the city contrary to Jerusalem, is declared Antichrist's seat: Also, that the description given to that City (the seat of Antichrist) no way suits with Jerusalem, see for that (Rev. 17. 6, 7, 8, 18) where, by Babylon, the Romanists (we need go no further) intend Rome, and for that the Rhemists earnestly contend in their Annotations on 1 Pet. 5.1 3 The Church that is at Babylon saluteth you (saith St. Peter) which is their Scripture proof for St. Peter’s being at Rome. Also Cardinal Baronius speaking of the name Babylon in the Revelation, Certissimum est, &c. it is most certain (saith he) that by the name Babylon, the City Rome is signified; and Cardinal Bellarmine, by Babylon’s description, agreeing to Rome, concludes out of Tertullian, Notissimum est, &c. (saith he) It is most evident and acknowledged, that Rome is built on seven hills, nor was there any other city, which in the days of St. John, had dominion or reigned over the Kings of the earth, but Rome only: Rome (saith he) and no other city; not Constantinople, which although after styled Rome, or new Rome, being also seated on hills, yet did not that then in St. John’s days reign over the Kings of the Earth. And as to Jerusalem, nothing of all that could be said of it, neither that it was so situated on seven hills, nor then reigning over the Kings of the Earth, Jerusalem being then with her children in bondage (Gal. 4. 25) and that to the Romans; and by the Romans soon after destroyed.
And if Rome be the City for that malignant state, then must the Temple of God be understood to be there, and Rome to be the place for Antichrist's sitting. But it is objected, how the Church of Rome should be then called the Temple of God where Antichrist sits.
Resolution: So was Jerusalem also once the Faithful City. And even when at worst, after their crucifying the Lord, it was then called the Holy City (Matt. 27. 53) having that name from what before it was. So was Rome once famous over the world for its faith (Rom. 1. 8) and the Church there was the Temple of God. And it was an honour to the Church of Rome, that it held out longer than some other churches, and opposed the heresies rising and prevailing in the Eastern churches; yet as those famous churches of Asia, fell from their purity (particular churches may fail) so did Rome itself after, and that once faithful city became an harlot (Rev 17. 5) as was said of Jerusalem, and their silver was become dross, and their wine mixt with water (Isa. 1. 21, 22) once pure, now mixed and corrupt with errors, and they even apostate from that faith professed by their forefathers; yet from what once was, and from what is yet there left of good (though mixed and corrupt) that Church is called by the Apostle here the Temple of God and there Antichrist sitting.
The sum of all is, that Babylon, which is acknowledged to be Rome, and the Temple of God there, or the Church of Rome apostate from the faith formerly professed, is the place where Antichrist is to be expected and found, which was the second circumstance here considerable for Antichrist's discovery: his place: sitting in the Temple of God.
III. The Time of Antichrist's Appearing
The next is that of time, when he should appear.
Little difference is between the Romanists and us, as to the place; but the question is of the time, for as the Jews speak of Christ yet to come, so do they of Rome concerning Antichrist, and that he is expected about the end of the world and at Rome, when Rome shall turn apostate, but we assert that Antichrist is already come; and that long since; and that he is even now in the world acting as is said of him: which is to be now examined.
The time for Antichrist's appearing is thus in the text expressed (v. 5, 6, 7, 8.) Remember ye not, saith the Apostle, that when I was yet with you I told you these things? and now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time, for the Mystery of Iniquity doth work already, only he who now letteth, will let, until he be taken out of the way, and then shall the wicked be revealed.
Unto this is to be added that in Rev. 17 (both places joined, making up this whole matter). For in Rev. 17 we read of a woman sitting on a beast with 7 heads (that woman being that great City Rome, and those 7 heads interpreted both 7 hills, on which that City is seated, And also 7 Governments called 7 Kings; Kingly or supreme. Of which 7 Governments of Rome, it is said that 5 are fallen, and one is, and the other not yet come; and that when he cometh, he must continue a short space, and that the beast that was, and is not, and yet is, which is added (v. 8) even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition v. 10, 11.
For opening both which Texts together:
1. It is granted, that Rome is that great City seated on seven hills and ruling over the Kings of the Earth.
2. That these seven heads or Governments, are Rome’s seven Governments also.
3. Of those seven Governments of Rome, it is said that five are fallen: so in St. John’s time were those first five fallen, that is, 1. Kings, 2. Consuls, 3. Dictators, 4. Decemvirs, 5. Tribuni militum (those vested with Consular and Supreme power) which five are so by Livy distinctly mentioned; What (saith he) the Romans did, first under their Kings, after under their Consuls, Dictators, Decemvirs, and Consular Tribunes, whether as to wars abroad, or suppressing troubles at home, I have (said he) set forth in five books. (Tit. Liv. lib. 6.) All which their first five chief Governments were fallen away, and not then in St. John's time of writing, in being.
4. Where it is said, that one is; in that is Rome’s sixth form of Government, next following those five before fallen, this sixth being that of Caesars, or Emperors, which is, or then was, when this was written, the Roman Emperors then, and hundreds of years after, reigning in the world, and over the Kings of the Earth.
5. That there was another yet to follow, being Rome’s seventh form of Government, not then yet come, when that was written, but expected: concerning which I shall show:
(i) What kind of Government this is, and how distinct or differing from the former;
(ii) That for introducing this seventh form of Government, the last foregoing, the sixth, was to be removed; and was removed accordingly; and
(iii) That on the removing of the sixth, this seventh succeeded.
(i) What kind of Government this is, and how distinct or differing from the former
What kind of Government this seventh is, and how distinct and differing from the former: As to Rome’s former six Governments, they were all civil and military. This seventh is principally Hierarchical or Pontifical. Such a kind of Government was that Priestly and Macchabaean, among the Jews after the captivity, which continued until near the time of Christ's coming; about which time it was by Herod suppressed.
And that Antichrist's dominion in Rome should be such, is implied in his sitting (that is in-chief) in the Temple of God, the Temple of God denoting as the place, so the person also as to his condition and quality, that he should be Clerical. He shall attain Ecclesiastical dignities, and in the Temple of God shall he sit, holding there the seat or chair of Eminency, saith Radulphus Flaviacensis de Antichristo (Levit. c. 1.) apud Magdeburg. (Cent. 10. c. 4.) Also Pope Gregory the Great styles Antichrist, Sacerdotem Universalem, the Universal Priest, for whom (saith he) an Army of Priests is prepared, shewing his Army and Arms spiritual, other than before.
Of which Rome’s Pontificality, it is said (Rev, 17. 8, 11) that it was and is not, and yet is, and that being an eighth, it should yet be of the seventh, that is:
1. That this Pontificality was, as is said, that which is now in Rome, is what was also there before under former Governments.
For as to matters referring to Religion, the Romans had of old, instituted by Numa Pompilius, their Pontifices or Under-priests; and over them a chief Priest called (Pontifex Maximus) which lower Priests were exempt from civil jurisdiction, and only ordered by him who was Pontifex Maximus, he himself not being accountable to any.
2. Of this Roman Pontificality which was of old under the first five Governments; It is said also, that it is not: (Rev. 17.8.) i. e. then under the sixth Government, that of Caesars (which was that in being when that was declared to St. John) then was it said that this is not, or then it was not; for the Roman Emperor conceiving the privileges of the Pontifex Maximus overgreat, and not safe in any hand but his own, it being independent: therefore he assumed and annexed it to the Imperial Crown; so as it became one of the Imperial Titles, to be Pontifex Maximus, thus continuing until it was, by Gratian a Christian Emperor, altogether abolished; so as that office of Pontifex Maximus which was under the 6th Government was changed from what it was at first by Numa Pompilius, Swallowed up in the person of the Emperor, and after quite abolished, therefore that which was, now is not, or then was not, when that was by St. John written.
3. Yet is it added (Rev. 17. 8) that what was, and is not, and yet is, there the present is for the future, as is usual in speaking of things to be, It is, i. e. it shall be again, or as now to us, it may be said that it is: being in the Romish Pontificate restored; not as before; before it was an honourable office among the first five Governments; they were supreme, under which this was, although independent. Nor is it now as it was after under the 6th Government, that of Caesars: it having been then annexed to the Imperial Crown; but now in the Romish Pontificate, this that was, and after was not, now is, being restored and created supreme, where we find even the very title of Pontifex Maximus retained, and the privileges also, which the Pontifices, or under priests, had of old, now again to them reserved; they being, as much as may be, exempted from civil power, and only accountable to him the now Pontifex Maximus, and he himself to none other.
4. It follows to see, how this becomes an eighth head in that Government, yet but of the seventh (Rev. 17. 11) that is so by the Pope's advancing his spiritual dominion and title above all powers, the Emperor not excepted, and being in his spiritual capacity the seventh, he becomes now in that exalted power an eighth, the Priesthood the seventh, being in his exalted power raised to an eighth head, yet of the seventh, being in his exalted power raised to an eighth head, yet of the seventh notwithstanding; as to nature and kind this is the seventh, but an eighth, also in degree and power.
(ii) That for introducing this seventh form of Government, the last foregoing, the sixth, was to be removed; and was removed accordingly
But to the introducing this seventh head in the Government of Rome, was the last foregoing (the sixth that of Caesars) to give place, and to be first taken out of the way, this is next to be considered, see it so in the text (v. 5, 6, 7, 8.) which now come in.
This required wary expressions, not thereby to raise persecutions to the Christians from the Emperor; that being a crime Laesae Majestatis. This the Jews objected to Christ and to his Apostles. (Acts. 17.7 & 25. 8). Therefore we find the Apostle here very circumspect in declaring himself in it, not speaking all, but referring to what he had before told them in the ear, Remember ye not what I told you of these things when I was yet with you? (2 Thess 2. 5) and being now to write of the same thing, how darkly is that done? not naming Emperor or any thing that way, only when he that now letteth shall be taken out of the way, which indeed was the Emperor, by whom that former office of Pontifex Maximus was taken out of the way, and the Emperor also being likely to oppose any other over topping power in that kind; Therefore in order to Rome’s 7th Head or Government was the sixth to be removed, and that it was so accordingly we find it.
1. In Constantine the Great, (the first Christian Emperor) his changing the seat of the Empire, which was Rome anciently, and removing to Constantinople; thereby leaving the City of Rome, as it were vacant.
2. When by succeeding Emperors the Roman Empire was divided, and the Roman Eagle before under one head, having after two heads: and spread into Eastern and Western Empires, and that also the seat of the Western Empire was other where than at Rome, thereby was that place left to the Bishops of Rome in a yet farther degree than before.
3. But yet more, when in 475AD the Western Empire had quite expired, and indeed in Augustulus (as it began in Augustus) the Empire having been invaded by the Goths and other barbarous nations, by whom also Rome itself was taken, and possessed about 50 years, the Pope himself being also expelled and put to seek, for a time, another habitation, hereby was the Western Empire determined, and so continued 325 years.
This was the 2nd head proposed, the first removing him that did let, for making way for him that was to succeed.
(iii) That on the removing of the sixth, this seventh succeeded.
It follows to show the others succeeding accordingly, and that gradually coming on according to the steps of the former's receding.
1. For on Constantine's leaving Rome, and making Constantinople the seat of his Empire thereby (Sede vacante) the Bishop of Rome entered on the possession of the City of Rome; (the Romanists add): by donation from Constantine, with addition of other large territories, held in fee, and in demesne for ever. This I pass; it not being my work at present to examine it. In this state things stood about 300 years, Rome’s Government being in that time by its Bishops, yet subjected to the Emperor, by which they were kept within their bounds, for Rome being but one of the 5 Patriarchs, although chief among them, was not yet above them.
2. So continued it until the Empire determined in Augustulus, in 475AD after which in 607AD Boniface III obtained from Phocas Emperor of the East, that not the Patriarch of Constantinople (who contended for being Chief) but the Bishop of Rome should be Universal Bishop. This Gregory I Bishop of Rome had before condemned in John Patriarch of Constantinople, and by his but attempting it, concluded him, or any so doing, to be Antichrist or his forerunner, and that Antichrist himself was not far off. And now was the title of Pope appropriated to the Bishop of Rome, which was before communicated to other Patriarchs, and Bishops also indifferently.
And hitherto reached Rome’s Episcopal and Patriarchal Government, of which it was said that it should continue a short space, Rev. 7. 10 which was about 300 years, that being but short compared with what followed from Boniface III when the title began to swell to its greatness, they being thenceforth Universal Bishops, and Popes above all.
3. But after Boniface III Pope Leo III in 800AD made a farther essay of his power, in deposing the lawful King of France, and advancing Pipin his subject to be King, and after created Charlemagne Emperor; both as champions for the Church, to expel the Barbarians, who had invaded Italy, out of whose hands Rome was recovered, and restored to the Pope, with addition of other large territories.
4. But all this while, the Pope’s power, was in some things restrained by those Emperors of their own making, who reserved to themselves the choosing and placing of Bishops, and the approbation even of the very Popes also.
In this, Gregory VII contended with Henry IV Emperor, whom he excommunicated and deposed, stirring up against him his subject Rodulphus, naming him Emperor, and giving the Crown, with PETRA DEDIT PETRO, PETRUS DIADEMA RODULPHO. (The Rock gave the crown to Peter, Peter giveth it to Rodulphus)
Of the troubles, blood, and destruction to Germany in that, I speak not, only that to this Gregory VII is by Popish writers that glory given, that he was Imperii Pontificii fundator; others his predecessors attempted the reaching at the temporal power, but was not till now attained.
And after, the Emperor Henry V coming to Rome to be crowned by Pope Paschals II the Pope would not consent to his coronation, he first did give over all right of election of Popes, and of investitures of Bishops by Staff and Ring; In which, although that Pope failed then of his end, yet was that after attained.
5. And although, in all this the Pope had gained the point of temporal sovereignty, and the gaining also out of temporal hands into the Popes' power, the investitures of Bishops, by which he was in that kind absolute, yet could not that satisfy, while the Pope was over-topped by a General Council, by which he had been oft threatened, awed and sometimes deposed.
The removing this therefore, was to be next attempted, and was at length also by Pope Leo X compassed, so far as the Pope’s Council at Lateran could do towards it; of which Bellarmine thus triumphantly; The last Lateran Council under Leo X expressly and professedly teaches that the Pope is above all Councils, and reproves a contrary decree in the Council of Basil, (citing the words of the Council, to which he adds) To this nothing can be answered, unless it be that this was no General Council, or that it was not received by the Church, or that this was not their decree de fide. (Belarm. de concil. l. 2 c. 17).
6. But one thing yet remained (shewing, as the Pope’s power, so his being in that, very Antichrist) which is the confirming those Romish erroneous positions which had been long creeping into the Church, as tares mixed with the wheat: and had long passed loose, and undetermined, being only disputable, controverted, and oft opposed.
These were after, in the Councils of Constance, Lateran, and of Trent, concluded and decreed for Doctrines, and Articles of Faith; and an Additional Creed of 12 Articles of them composed, which were by Pius IV his Bull imposed to be subscribed or sworn unto.
In all see:
1. The removal of Rome’s 6th Head or Government, that of Emperors.
2. See also the introducing and growing up of the 7th from its infancy to its full growth; The Church of Rome being before, but as others, a branch only of the Catholic Church, now itself passing for the Catholic Church, and she the root out of which all other churches derive and spring, others on this depending, and by that influenced: so doth that Church now boast of herself, of which the Apostle St. Paul in his Epistle to that Church had forewarned them, (Rom. 11.18, 19, 20.) Boast not against the branches, but if thou boast thou bearest not the root, but the root thee; Thou wilt say, the branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in; well, because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith, be not high-minded but fear, for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed that he also spare not thee. In which is the Apostles prophecy concerning that Church.
But before this be shut up, one doubt is to be removed, of the Empire being not yet taken out of the way, which we now see in being.
Resolution. 1. Of that Empire which was in the Apostles days, is that by the Apostle intended, that it should be first taken out of the way, the standing of that being an hinderance to the succeeding Government. But that Empire was long since extinguished. 2. The present Empire is of another kind, being of the Pope’s own erection, for restoring, promoting and preserving his greatness; His hand being in that throughout.
So Bellarmine writing of the translation of the Roman Empire in 3 books, he makes the sum of his first book, The Roman Empire being by authority of the Pope, translated from the Grecians to the French. And the sum of his 2nd book, The Roman Empire passing from the family of Charles the Great, and the French, unto the family of Otto, and the Saxons, by Authority of the Bishop of Rome. The title also of his 3rd book is, The 7 Electors of the Empire to have been instituted by Pope Gregory V. See the Pope's hand in all; he also even now approving and crowning the Emperor elected.
And therein we find that fulfilled which was prophesied of this Second Beast (the Papacy) its setting up an image of the former beast which had a wound by a sword, that it should live, speak and be worshipped (Rev. 13. 12, 14, 15.) For that first beast (the Emperor) having in Augustulus, the last Emperor of that race, received its deadly wound; It, was by the 2nd beast that succeeded (the Pope) again restored, and an image of the former, made by him an Empire, set up; to which he gave life, so as to speak, and be worshipped, that is, honoured and followed.
3. But thirdly observe, that this is but an image: so is the now Roman Emperor, compared with what was.
The now Roman Emperor is but an image of the Ancient Empire, (saith Salmeron) and the majesty of the people of Rome, by which the world was of old governed, is now taken away from the Earth, and the Emperor is now but an empty title, and is but a shadow only; So Eberhardus in Aventinus the Emperor of Rome is now but a bare title without substance. Neither indeed is that his title, he is not now styled Emperor of Rome, but what is, is only of Germany; Rome being left for the Pope.
I shall, before I conclude this, add a little touching the greatness of this 7th Head, or Government of Rome, the Papacy, and that it falls not short of the greatness of the former Emperors of Rome, according to the estimate made of both by the Romanists.
For whereas Justus Lipsius his book of the greatness of the Roman Empire, meaning that of old, is styled Admiranda: Thomas Stapleton, (professor at Lovaine) entitles his book of the Papal greatness, Vere Admiranda; shewing that for extent, strength and power over Princes, the greatness of the Papal Empire, is far surpassing; for no marvel (saith he) if the Roman Emperor armed with 30 or 40 Legions, had many Kings at command; but that the Pope a person unarmed should give laws to the world, and even to Kings, advancing and deposing them at pleasure, this is indeed marvellous. He instances in Leo III his giving the Empire to Charles the Great.
Leo I called the Great, Bishop of Rome, speaks thus of the greatness of Rome then, compared with what was before under the Caesars, and its former governments. Thou art (saith he of Rome) a royal and priestly city; By the seat of St. Peter and Paul in thee, thou art become the head of the world; thy rule is more by religion than by earthly dominion. For although thou didst formerly extend thine Empire by many victories by sea, and land, yet is that less which was by warlike prowess subdued, than what is by Christian peace subjected to thee. (Leo. Serm. 1. in natali Apostolorum Petri & Pauli:)
Prosper's verse in his book De Ingratia, Rome the Seat of Peter, being the head of pastoral honour in the world, whatsoever country she possessth not by arms, she holds by her religion.
1. We see the Papacy, Rome’s Pontifical head raised above itself, and from a 7th raised even to an 8th Head.
2. See the 7th Head immediately succeeding the next preceding (the Emperor) to be the Pope.
3. That this 7th Head so next succeeding, to be that Man of Sin, that Wicked (so saith the Text, v. 8.) that he who letteth or hindereth being taken out of the way, then shall that wicked be revealed (2 Thess. 2. 7, 8). On which thus St. Chrysostom: when the Empire of Rome is dissolved or removed, Antichrist shall invade that vacant place, and snatch at the Empire both of God and Man (Chrysostom in 2. Thess. 2. Hom. 4.)
4. If the Emperor be removed, and that long since, and that Man of Sin was next following; Therefore must Antichrist be already come, and that long since, and is now in the World.
5. Therefore who would not conclude the Pope next succeeding the Emperor to be that Man of Sin, and Antichrist?
Which will appear yet further in the next circumstance.
IV. Antichrist Known by his Actions
Antichrist’s actings in the world when appearing, by which he might be known among and above others: of that we read here (in v. 4, 9) He opposing and exalting 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, whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs, and lying wonders.
These with others mentioned are signs given for Antichrist’s discovery; when in the world, which are to be considered particularly.
1. Antichrist sitting in the Temple of God.
2. Exalting himself above all called God.
3. Shewing himself that he is God.
4. Concerning after the working of Satan.
5. Shewing himself to be Antichrist, an opposer.
6. And in all to be that Man of Sin, that Wicked, that Son of Perdition.
Some may think the Pope not concerned in these; but what if he be? What if these taken together are all to be found in him; and in him alone, and in none other? Then surely will appear, this Man of Sin, this Antichrist who he is.
1. As to Antichrist sitting in the Temple of God: of that I have spoken; his sitting there speaks him as chief there, which being by the Pope challenged, and asserted by his, as his propriety, of that needs no more to be spoken, the Pope’s so acting; and he alone, and no other in the world beside him.
2. As to his exalting himself above all called God. And who are they that are called gods? This is in Scripture said of Princes and Magistrates, I have said that ye are gods, but ye shall die like men (Psalm 82. 6, 7) they are but called gods, not so indeed, for they die like men, and that I have said ye are gods, shows their title to that their high name of gods, that it is, from God, who saith it so of them, that is, from his word; he calls them gods to whom the word of God came (John 10. 34, 35, 36) that is, by God commissioned and ordained (Romans 13. 12) standing in his place, and so, to be subjected to, according to their degrees in Government, whether to the King as supreme, or unto Governors under him (1 Pet. 2. 13, 14) and from this subjection are none exempted; let every soul be subject &c. The Apostles were not exempted, nor is the Pope: This God commands; yet see in this, the Pope exalting himself above all called Gods, even Emperors as vassals to him, causing them to hold his stirrup, and kiss his feet; Celestine III crowned the Emperor Henry III with his toe; Popes also setting their feet on the necks of Emperors, as did Pope Adrian IV and Alexander III. Also disposing crowns, and deposing, and advancing at pleasure; which by Aventinus is said of the Popes from Gregory VII to his time Hildebrand who is Gregory VII, first founded the Papal Empire, which his successors for 450 years carried on, notwithstanding the oppositions of the world, and Emperors resisting, so as high and low were brought under and subjected to their yoke; according to their will they cast down from heaven to hell, and exalt from hell to heaven again.
And what in this they practise they avow as due and proper to them, and to them alone; of which therefore I need say no more. In the Pope therefore, and in him alone, and in none other is this sign of Antichrist found, that he exalteth himself above all called gods.
3. It follows, his sitting in the Temple of God, shewing himself that he is God:Tu es alter Deus in terra, Thou art another God upon Earth was the speech of Christophorus Marcellus in the very Council of Lateran to Pope Julius II the Pope himself being present, (Council Lateran. Sess. 4.)
And in the gloss on the Canon Law he is called our Lord God the Pope. And whereas the word God, (so said of the Pope) was by some thought too much, and in some Editions omitted, we find the censure of the gloss by Pope Pius V; and the gloss of the Canon Law revised by Cardinals and learned men deputed for it by Pope Gregory XIII in both, the word God before omitted, to have been restored and put in again, and that by the Pope’s allowance: now it being what was, our Lord God the Pope.
Nor can it be otherwise intended, but that the Pope should be so esteemed, while they stick not to ascribe to him Attributes proper to God, as Omnipotence and Infiniteness. The Pope (say they) may do whatsoever God doth; nor can it be known what the Pope can do, for the power of the Pope is infinite, and what is infinite is not known; and what the Pope doth is reputed as done of God, for what the Pope doth, he doth as God, not as man. Which the Pope’s omnipotence is by them averred by Scripture; all power in Heaven and Earth is given me; which was said by Christ of himself (Mat. 28.8) and that is said of the Pope also; that power of Christ being challenged by the Pope his Vicar; nor that as to Heaven, and Earth only, but (beside their Purgatory) even to Hell also; so as his power seems to extend so far as to deliver from Hell (whence is no redemption) and to forbid and command, when they please, and whom they think fit to be kept from thence,— We declare it our pleasure, that the punishment of Hell be not inflicted on such as are signed by the cross (those employed by the Pope on his business).
And as Omnipotence and Infiniteness, God's attributes, are attributed to the Pope; so is Adoration also, which God challenges as proper to himself only. I am the Lord, that is my name, and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images: God speaking of his worship (Is. 42. 8) He only is to be served, or worshipped (Math. 4. 10) but to the Pope are religious adorations given in a most solemn manner, while the new elected Pope is placed on an Altar: and there seated in his Chair, with his Crown, and in his Pontificalibus, adored by all present Cardinals, Ambassadors of Princes, and all of all degrees descending from their places, and with prostrations worshipping him. And is not this a sitting in the Temple of God, as God, shewing himself that he is God?
4. Further, a mark and sign of that wicked one is, that his coming and acting, is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs, and lying wonders; and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved; for this cause God shall send them strong delusions, that they should believe a lie. 2 Thess. 2. 9, 10, 11.
This (say some) shows Antichrist to be a conjurer and compactor with the devil, and such (saith they) was Simon Magus, and he Antichrist. But such we knew were Popes also, as (to mention no more) Sylvester II, Benedictor IX and Gregory VII which I pass at present.
Neither insist I on those wonders by these acted, whether seeming real by Satan’s working with them or for them; or that they be lying wonders, whether feigned, or imposed as true; or lying, serving for confirming lies and untrue doctrines of men; nor speak I of those ridiculous fables, with which their legends of saints are stuffed, such as may be wondered how learned and prudent men should give credit to them (if they do) and if they do; it must be surely from God’s giving them over, judicially to believe a lie; they not receiving the love of the truth (so is the Text:) The seat of the beast on which the Angel poured out his vial, and his Kingdom is full of darkness (Rev. 16. 10).
But I look on this here rather as a sign, and mark of Antichrist by which he should act, and be known in the world, his Antichristian Church boasting of wonders, making miracles a sign of the true Church, and upbraiding us with our want (they say) of miracles.
To which we say. 1, That for the first introducing of truth, miracles might be necessary, but that truth being once received, such miracles were after unnecessary; such were in the first planting of the Gospel, done by Christ and his Apostles, which we challenge as ours. But that truth then delivered to the saints being received and believed, what now need we more, or any renewed miracles? For, miracles and wonders, as tongues, &c. are for unbelievers, not for them that believe, (1 Cor. 14. 22) and it shows a novelty in those Popish doctrines, that need fresh confirmations, and shows them unbelievers that seek such. But in this is a proper mark of that Antichristian Church, that and no other sort of professors or people in the world, but Rome only and the Pope, adhering so to miracles.
5. But to proceed, another mark of this Man of Sin, by which he is known, is, that he opposeth himself; that is, to Christ; therefore called Antichrist.
Objection: But how, can that be said of the Pope; he being for Christ, and his Vicar: for him, and not against him?
Response: But the word Antichrist may signify both pro and con, for and against; and both here applicable.
1. For Christ; (Anti Christos) sometimes signifies for, or in the place and room of another; so Archelaus reigned (Anti) in the room of his father Herod (Mat. 2. 22). So pretends the Pope to be for Christ, in his place and stead, his Vicar on earth.
This is agreeable to what we read of Antichrist, what kind of adversary he is: not such as is the Turk, an open and declared enemy to Christ and Christians; but such an one as sits in the Temple of God; professing to be for Christ, yet to Him an underhand enemy; so saith Anselm: they seem or pretend themselves servants of Christ, and of his family, when in truth they are the Ministers of Antichrist (on 2 Thess. 2. 2) they therefore who contend earnestly for the Turks being Antichrist, must be greatly mistaken.
2. And yet while this Antichrist pretends himself thus for Christ, and for being his Vicar, see him even then opposing, he that opposeth, is his description 2 Thess. 2. 4 under the name of Christ acting for Anti∣christ, as was said of Gregory VII who was pointed at as Antichrist. As hath been shown out of Aventinus.
And to show the Pope to be this Antichrist opposing Christ and contrary to him, see him contradicting and countermanding Christ's will and commands: I instance only at present in those Christ's two ordinances, his Word and Sacraments.
1. His Word. We are by Christ our Lord commanded to search the Scriptures, for in them we have eternal life (John 5.39) unto which ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light shining in a dark place; saith St. Peter. (2. Pet. 1.19) and we find Timothy commended by St. Paul, that from a child he had known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make wise to salvation, they being profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction, in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works (2. Tim. 3. 15, 16, 17).
Hear now the Pope in this; Search the Scripture (saith Christ) do not search them, saith the Pope; It is well done that you do it, saith St. Peter, it is not well done saith the Pope. They are profitable, saith St. Paul, they are dangerous saith the Pope. They are a light shining in a dark place, saith St. Peter, they are dark saith the Pope. St. Paul commends Timothy for being from a child acquainted with the Scriptures, they are not for children, saith the Pope, and much more of that kind; see him in this Antichrist opposing Christ his Word and commands, contradicting and countermanding, and whom in this we should obey, God or man, judge ye (Acts 4. 19).
2. As to the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, our Lord gave the bread broken, a sign of his body broken, and after that the cup; the wine poured out being his blood in his death shed for us, commanding so to do till his coming again: and as to the Cup particularly (foreseeing what would be after by opposers to the contrary) our Lord added in that ministration, Drink ye all of this (Math. 26. 27) it being said, that accordingly, they did all drink of it, (Mark 14. 23) which, all to drink; and all drinking, is in the wine expressed; and implied only in the bread. Which institution and command of Christ our Lord in that, being his Will and Testament left to his Church, is to be as his Last Will, observed to the last, and ought not to be changed in the least, no, although it had been but man’s testament only (Gal. 3. 5) yet see Christ in that by Antichrist opposed, Take the Bread, and also the Cup (saith Christ) not so saith the Pope, the Cup may be spared; for Christ’s blood is in his body by concomitancy; and taking his body, ye have by consequence his blood: But here it is understood that his body is given broken, and his blood shed, both setting forth the Lord’s death, and not otherwise; which countermand to Christ’s command in that, is with a non obstante; licet —. Although that Christ and the primitive Church did administer the Sacrament in both kinds; notwithstanding, is this custom of but one kind to be held for a law unreproveable (so is it ordered in the Council of Constance. Sess. 13.) and the Council of Trent after; This Synod being taught by the Holy Ghost; and the custom and judgment of his Church doth declare and teach that the Laity and Clergy not celebrating, are not obliged to take the Sacrament of the Eucharist under both kinds, notwithstanding that Christ did institute this Sacrament under both kinds, and so gave it to his Apostles (Concil. Trident. sess. 21. c. 1). And is not the Pope in this an Antichrist? to Christ an opposer? he that opposeth? Text v. 4.
VI. Rightly therefore is this that Man of Sin, that wicked here intended, which is his next mark here: and how agreeing to the Pope, notwithstanding his holiness, remains now to be shown.
1. And that the Pope is that Man of Sin, and wicked exceedingly, even above others, appears in his mouth of blasphemy; though looking like a lamb, or like Christ the Lamb, yet speaking as a Dragon, Rev. 13. 11 or as that Dragon the Devil; what else is that his shewing himself as God, exalting himself above all called God, &c. before mentioned? What other is his Antichristian commanding and opposing contrary to Christ’s will and commands?
2. And as speaking like a Dragon, so acting also like him in all cruelty, drunk with the blood of Saints and Martyrs of Jesus; particularly of the Waldenses, Albigenses, and others, long before Luther's opposing Popish errors, and with their lives witnessing for the truth against Popery. There are extant accounts of above one hundred thousand of them (that number is by some doubled) suffering by the tyranny and cruelty of Pope Innocent III. Vergerius also, well acquainted with the method and actings of the Inquisition, speaks of one hundred and fifty thousand in less than 30 years so suffering.
And from the first rising of the Jesuits, to the year 1580, about 30 years, are about fourscore and ten thousand Protestants said to have been destroyed. In France alone, in the Massacre of Paris and elsewhere, in 1532. The French King’s letters to the Pope, glories of 70,000 (he said) heretics slain in few days; but to the lasting shame of Popish cruelty and perfidy to generations.
And can the bloody butcheries of poor Protestants by the cruel Irish in Ireland be in this forgotten, when about one hundred thousand perished in 1641? yet to that impudence is that now risen, as to disavow any such rebellion of the Irish, or such their murders of the innocent Protestants in Ireland; but daring to aver on the contrary, that they themselves were the sufferers, and that by the English and Protestants: Of which, if there shall be opportunity offered by an answer to this subject, which is expected, this shall be then verified to the world.
And if the invasion in 1588 or the horrid Gunpowder-Treason, Nov. 5. 1605 had taken effect, more of their cruelty would have appeared. Such is that Antichristian cruelty; and that yet worse, in its being grounded on their very Doctrine, Religion, and Faith; they being taught, that they ought so to do: thereby thinking that they do God service (John 16.2) and that to themselves also, in so acting meritoriously.
Which blood-thirsty cruelty against the worshippers of Christ, sticks as a distinguishing mark of this Romish and Babylonian Antichrist, in being drunk with the blood of the Saints, and Martyrs of Jesus. Which is peculiar to those alone, not to be found in any other party of the Christian world beside. In that is this a Man of Sin above others, and wicked exceedingly.
3. Add that the being a Man of Sin, is as it were fixed to the very Papacy itself, so as even its very office, incapacitates to goodness. They cannot do good if they would, in reforming what they are convinced is evil.
Adrian VI convinced of the corruptions objected by the Germans to the Court of Rome, and resolving to reform, at least in part, and in some; and declaring himself for it, was by Franciscus Soderinus, Cardinal of Preneste, called Cardinal of Volaterra, diverted from attempting any thing in that kind, but directed rather to the ways of his predecessors, with fire and sword to prosecute those, who objected those errors to the Court. His oration to the Pope to that purpose is extant.
On which, Pope Adrian discoursing after, privately, with William Excourt, whom he after created Cardinal; and Theodorick Hesius, his familiar and trusty friend, said, That the condition of Popes was miserable, seeing it was plain that they could not do good, though they desired and endeavoured to do it.
Which agrees with what Onuphrius writes of Pope Marcellus II who on something a like debate with his Cardinals, and they dissenting from what the Pope proposed for good, he striking the table with his hand, said, I see not how those can be saved, who are in this high place in which I am.
Platina also writes of Pope Celestinus V that he deposed himself, and gave up the Papacy, Vt salvus esse possit, that he might be saved; which was said to have been cunningly suggested to him, as by a voice from heaven by the artifice of Benedictus Cajetanus, who thereby made way for succeeding him as Pope, by the name of Bonifacius VIII (Plat. in Vit. Celest. V & Bonifac. VIII).
4. And lastly, as to Holiness, which is the Pope’s title, let no man think of finding holiness among them; For if they prove but indifferent good, or not so evil as other mortals use to be, they are accounted most holy, saith Papirius Massonus (De Episc. Urbis l. 6. in Julio 3).
To which add what Sir Edwin Sands observes of a proverb in Italy, (and proverbs founded on observation, have a strange tendency to truth) that of the Italians, the Romans are the worst Christians; of the Romans the worst are made Priests, of the Priests the worst chosen Cardinals, and of Cardinals the worst commonly elected Popes. (Spec. Europae.)
In which we see him, as Antichrist, so a Man of Sin also.
The sum of all is:
I. That what that great city Babylon of the Chaldeans was, as to oppression and cruelty, to God’s people of old (Jer. 51. 34, 35) .That should be to the Christian Church, another great city called also in a Mystery Babylon the Mother of the Abominations of the Earth, drunk with the blood of the Saints and Martyrs of Jesus. (Rev. 17.5, 6.)
II. That this great city Babylon, described a woman sitting on 7 mountains, and reigning over the Kings of the Earth (Rev. 17. 9, 18.) is acknowledged to be Rome. They therefore who send us to Jerusalem, or Constantinople for the place, put us out of the way in that enquiry.
III. That in Rome, should sit one, by whom (after the faith there settled) the inhabitants of the Earth should be seduced, and drawn into damnable heresies: and that he the author of those miseries and mischiefs to the Church, should be a Man of Sin commonly called Antichrist. This the Romanists themselves acknowledge.
IV. That in so doing, this Antichrist should sit in the Temple of God, as being of the Church, and over the Church in chief, pretending for Christ, he the while acting against Christ. A seeming friend, but secret enemy; a secret, not an open, declared and professed enemy to Christ and his followers. Therefore cannot this be the Turk, or any such.
V. That this Antichrist, sitting in the Temple of God, should be in the capacity of a seventh head of the Government of Rome, next succeeding the sixth Head or Government there, (that of Caesars). This brings it home to the Papacy, that and none other being the 7th and that also long since on the Emperors removal settled. Vain therefore are allegations for any others being this Antichrist, not being of Rome, nor there so qualified.
VI. That the Pope sitteth in the Temple of God, as God, shewing himself there as God, and exalted above all that is called God, and worshipped.
VII. Here is to be added what is (in Rev. 17.3, 4.) said of that woman, that great City, and Babylon: That she did sit on a scarlet coloured beast: and that she (the woman) was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold. In which she is described as to her very habit; the proper attire both of Popes and Cardinals.
VIII. Nor is to be omitted; what is (Rev. 17. 5) said in a way of further description of that Woman; that upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots, and Abominations of the Earth. Concerning which is observed, that as the High Priest under the Law, had in the front his Miter engraven, HOLINESS TO THE LORD (Exod. 29. 36, 37.) So the summus Pontifex, the Pope, had also in his tiara, that name, Mystery. Which having been observed and objected by King James of blessed memory, in that his Excellent Work on the Revelation, Lessius, his Antagonist, denies it not, but labours to put it off slidingly: nor could it be denied, there being many eye-witnesses to aver it (Down. de Antichr. l. 1. c. 7), which his name of Mystery, well agrees with that Mystery of Iniquity, by which his evil and secret workings are described, (2 Thess. 2. 7) one (not unlikely) referring to the other. But from God it is (surely) providentially, that that word mystery should so be seen in the Whore's forehead, shewing who she is; notwithstanding that they who contrived it, might have had other ends in it; as that the Pope’s Triple Crown, pointed to that mystery of his triple power and dominion in Heaven, and in Earth, and in Purgatory.
So as in the Papacy concur all these Scripture-marks of Antichrist, and although some may be applicable otherwise, yet are the principal proper to the Pope alone; and taken altogether, not meeting in any other but in the Pope only. Therefore on the whole, who would not conclude the Popes being Antichrist; the Man of Sin; and Son of Perdition.
THE FALL OF ANTICHRIST
By which last, his being said to be a Son of Perdition, I am brought from Antichrist’s rise, to the last consideration here concerning him, Antichrist's down fall, which follows on the other necessarily; for if he be a Man of Sin, he must be a Son of Perdition.
Of this his fall it is here said, that the Lord shall consume him with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy him with the brightness of his coming (v. 8) that they all might be damned who believe not the truth (v. 12), where is destruction:
I. To him, and
II. To his.
I. To himself
• 1. His being consumed
• 2. Destroyed
1. That he consumed by the breath of the Lord’s mouth; The breath of the Lord’s mouth is the preaching of the Gospel which is the Word of God so generally interpreted; And to be consumed implies a lingering wearing away, and by degrees wasting, and decaying; not a violent and sudden destruction, such as was Simon-Magus his down-fall, said to have been on St. Peter's breath or prayers against him.
Of this consumption of the Papal power and greatness by the preaching of the Word and Gospel in the world, we have apparent evidence. I shall give it as by Bellarmine expressed, he by that waning in the Papacy, arguing, against the Popes being Antichrist, Antichrist’s greatness and prevailing in the world, being much spoken of, whereas his fall and declining state, is also described as is his greatness. Bellarmine’s words are these:
Since that time when ye (Protestants) say the Pope began to be Antichrist, the Papal Empire was so far from increasing, that thenceforth it every day more and more declined, and (as you would have it) Antichrist reigning, the Roman See hath by little and little decayed, it having lost almost all Africa, a great part of Asia: all Greece and even in our very days a great part of Germany, Sweden, Gothland, Norway, and all Denmark, a good part of England, France, Helvetia, Poland, Bohemia, and part of Hungary are fallen away. (Bellarm: de Rom: Pontif. l. 3. c. 21.) This was by Bellarmine written in 1577, as appears in the preface to that work, so as that decay in the Papal Empire was then within the space of 60 years, accounting from the year 1517, the time of Luther’s preaching (of which he speaks) declaring the Pope to be Antichrist: What then may be the consumption and decay there at this time, being 150 years since?
2. But that consumption of this Son of Perdition, shall end also in destruction, utter and irrecoverable: whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.
See this Rev. 17, where the ten horns of that scarlet coloured beast, on which that woman Rome sitteth, are expounded, ten Kings which had not then received their Kingdom, but were to receive power as Kings one hour with the Beast (v. 12.) These were states of the Western Empire, which on the decay of the Empire did setup for themselves, all with one mind giving their power and strength unto the beast, and making war with the Lamb, who shall overcome them (v. 14) But those ten horns shall hate the whore, and make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh and burn her with fire (v. 16.) For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill his will, and to agree and give their Kingdom unto the Beast, till the word of God should be fulfilled (v. 17.)
Which fall of Antichrist in several degrees is declared by several Angels in that employed.
(i) An Angel preaching the everlasting Gospel (Rev. 14. 6) the beginning of Antichrist’s fall, and gradual consumption.
(ii) Another Angel declaring the downfall of that Antichristian state (Rev. 14. 8).
(iii) An Angel forbidding the worshipping the beast or his image, and receiving his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, denouncing judgments on such (Rev. 14. 9, 10, 11).
(iv) An Angel calling out of Babylon, and to separate from her, not to partake of her sins and plagues, (Rev. 18.4, 6).
(v) And another Angel giving a sign of irrecoverable destruction, by casting as it were a milestone into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great City Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all (Rev. 18. 21).
Thus of Babylon, Rome, and Antichrist's fall, as to it self considered.
II. See that also as to their Adherents, in which our charitable thoughts of them have been by wrong measures mistaken to some disadvantage: that which we say in that, is:
1. That there was a time when Antichristianism was a mystery, not understood, Antichrist not being yet so declared as after.
2. And that after Antichrist was pointed at in the Church of Rome, yet while erroneous doctrines there were but disputable, not imposed, as after in the Council of Trent, to be de fide, with an Anathema to such as thought of them otherwise, and to such as did not understand the reach and depth of those evils; and where the light of the Gospel is shut out, as in some places, and the knowledge of that denied, and persecuted. For these, is our charity grounded, to say well of them, as of those of Thyatira, who had not known the depths of Satan, as they speak (Rev 2.24) and those of Pergamus, dwelling even where Satan's seat is; yet (saith our Lord) thou hast held fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas my faithful Martyr was slain among them where Satan dwelleth (v. 12.) To be among Heretics, and not to believe Heretics, or not being led by them, is St. Augustine's distinction in that case; such ignorance may excuse.
3. But as to ignorance affected, having light, and means of knowledge, and when called on to come out of Babylon, its ruin being declared, and communion there declared perilous; To such we say, that their continuing so in that state, is hazardous and full of danger: Nor can such rely on ignorance, it not in that case excusing. For in this is condemnation, where light is come; and men love darkness rather than light (John 3. 19.) and where the leaders of the people cause to err, they that are led of them are destroyed (Is. 9.16.) and the blind by them so led; both fall into the ditch. (Math. 15. 14.)
4. But as to those who are knowing and who defend and plead for Baal, seducing, and being seduced, and so continuing, the state of such is declared damnable; that they all may be damned, saith the Text who believe not the truth but have pleasure in unrighteousness (v. 12.) and to such belongs that evil by the Angel declared, if any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation, and he shall be tormented &c. Rev. 14.9, 11 let such consider their state seriously and seasonably.
And now to conclude with a word to ourselves, that as we are to bless God for calling us out of that state of evil, so to be confirmed in the truth, and not to fall back, whatever the temptation be, good, or evil, saving life, or loosing it; and that we desire the Lord’s grace in that for help and support. All which I shall shut up in the words of the Apostle, next after my Text (v. 13, 14, 15, 16, 17) We are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth whereunto he hath called you by our Gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ: Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or by our Epistle: Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God even our Father, who hath loved us, and given us everlasting consolation, and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good word and work: Amen.