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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 Sermon


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.

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