A Sermon on Antichrist. Preached at Christ-Church, Dublin, November 12th 1676, by Henry Jones.
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 many Antichrists; 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.)