The Fourth Chapter

Of the conditions of Antichrist and his opposition unto Christ

 (1)……….Let us consider what manner of enemy Antichrist is according to the Scriptures. First, he is an apostate or rebel; secondly, a disguised enemy or hypocrite; that is, one who has fallen, indeed, from God and his truth, as it were a star from heaven, yet retains the name and profession of Christ. Under this name and profession he oppugns Christ and his truth, even as a rebellious subject, when he presumes without commission to levy a power of men against his Sovereign, and so that he may deceive the rest of the subjects, abuses the name and authority of his prince to color and hide his rebellious practices….

Apostasy a token of the Antichrist

(2) First, I say he is an apostate, yea, the head of that Apostasy or falling away from the truth, mentioned 2 Thess. 2:3. In this way, also, do the learned Chrysostom, Augustine, Theodoret, Theolphylact, and Oecumenius understand Antichrist by that Apostasy. Yea, Bellarmine himself affirms that by Apostasy in that verse is Antichrist to be most fitly understood. But the Papists, who falsely hold that the visible church of Christ cannot err and much less fall away, expound this apostasy or defection to be a revolt or falling away from the Roman Empire. Neither do we deny but that also there hath bin a defection from the Roman Empire, however, we deny it pertains to this place….But the testimony of the Church Fathers aside, the holy Ghost, who is the best expounder of himself, sheweth what kind of defection he speaketh of. For afterwards in the same chapter he notes this Apostasy to be of those, who because they have not loved nor believed the truth that they might be saved (but have taken pleasure in unrighteousness) are therefore given over by the just judgment of God to believe the lies of Antichrist, to their damnation. But more plainly the same Apostle speaking of that Apostasy which in these latter times was to accompany the revelation of Antichrist, he saith, 1 Tim. 4:1-3:

The spirit speaketh evidently that in the latter times some shall make an Apostasy from the faith, attending to erroneous spirits and doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared.

 (3) Now the Papists are as ready to object this Apostasy to us, as we to them. How then shall we discern whether we or they are the ones to whom the prophecy applies? The Apostle in the same place sets down two of those doctrines of devils, as certain notes whereby those of whom this Apostasy speaks may be discerned,

Forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from meats which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving.

The former note Jerome also perceived to be a mark of Antichrist. But these notes do not apply to us. We neither forbid marriage, nor command abstinence from any meats for religion sake. As for the Papists, (especially since the time of Gregory VII), they for bid marriage to some men at all times, and certain meats to some men sometimes, and both for religion’s sake. They esteem marriage by clergy worse that adultery or Sodomy, and eating of flesh during Lent, or other forbidden times, as a mortal sin. And as touching the falling away of the Church, it is certain that although neither the invisible church in general, nor any sound member thereof can fall away from the faith either totally or finally, yet not only the members of visible churches, but also the churches themselves consisting of hypocrites, whose members are the greater part, may fall away. This is seen in the Church of England which in King Edward’s days revolted from Christ to Antichrist in Queen Mary’s time. Likewise has the church of Rome (which once was famous for her faith) as may appear not only by those notes set down by the Apostle, 1 Timothy 4:3, and some others which hereafter shall be noted; but also in those innumerable particulars both in doctrine and morals wherein they have revolted from the purity of the primitive Church. And of this catholic Apostasy, the Pope is the head.

Antichrist an enemy disguised as a Christian friend.
The Pope fulfills this necessary aspect of Antichrist.

(4) Secondly, Antichrist is not an open and outward enemy, but is covert and disguised, oppugning Christ and his Church, not by open violence, but with all deceivableness of unrighteousness. For he is not so foolish as to profess himself to be Antichrist. As Radulphus Flaviacensis says, “Neither could that be which the Apostle testifieth that Antichrist should attain unto ecclesiastical honors in the Temple of God, which is the society of the faithful, and take the chair of honor, unless having first pretended a kind of conformity with the faithful, he should by this deceive those of whom he is to be ordained.”[1] Therefore, Antichristianity is called the mystery of iniquity, whereupon the Gloss[2] saith, “The impiety of Antichrist is mystical, that is, cloaked under the name of godliness.” And, as was written in the Pope’s miter, so also in the whore of Babylon’s forehead, was the word, mystery. And Antichrist is deciphered as a hypocrite, “sitting in the temple of God, professing himself and his followers to be the only true church of God, using the two testaments, pretending himself to be the Prince of the covenant,” as Jerome saith. And consequently head of the Church, deceiving unsound Christians with a glorious profession of religion (signified by the golden cup)[3] and with a shew of counterfeit holiness (otherwise he could never so effectually deceive many Christians, so that even the elect would be in danger of being seduced)[4] speaking lies in hypocrisy,[5]oppugning Christ and his truth under the outward shew and profession of Christian religion, having two horns like the lamb,[6] counterfeiting in some things the humility and meekness of Christ, and yet challenging that double power both spiritual and temporal which belongeth to Christ the Lamb as our chief priest and king. And not only that, but speaking also like the dragon,[7]which is to be partly understood of his blasphemous speeches which he doth utter, party of the doctrines of devils which he doth teach, partly of those hellish curses which he thundereth against the true professors of the faith,[8] partly of those great promises which likewise the prince of the world[9] maketh to those that will adore him. These things need no explanation as to who and why they apply for those to whom the disguising and more than pharisaical hypocrisy of the Pope and Papists is already known.

For must not His Holiness be called sanctissimus, ‘most holy’, though he is most wicked? Doth not he call himself, the Servant of servants, when in truth he maketh himself the King of kings and Lord of lords?.....He counterfeits the Lamb in calling himself the vicar of Christ, exercising the very same office which Christ himself had while upon the earth. And because in the Scriptures ‘horn’ often signifies ‘power,’ he may be said to have two horns like the Lamb, for he challenges the two-fold power which is unique to Christ the Lamb, as our King and Priest; while he usurps the two swords, both spiritual and temporal. He speaketh like the Dragon in teaching those doctrines of devils mentioned in 1 Tim. 4:3; in belching forth most horrible blasphemies in his devilish curses of the Saints, and Satanical promises of the world and kingdoms thereof to them that will adore him….And whereas Jerome commenting on 1 Tim. 4 wrote these words, “They speak in hypocrisy who, being not continent, would seem to be so chaste as they condemn marriage, and so abstemious as they judge those who use the creature sparingly; whereas themselves are given over to belly cheer,” what could have be spoken more fitly to shew forth the hypocrisy of the Pope and Papists?

For do they not, while condemning and contemning marriage, under the show of vowed chastity, practice all uncleanness?; and while they condemn all moderate eating of flesh, do not they under a color of fasting, feast and feed themselves with the choicest dainties? Do not many of them, under the pretence of voluntary poverty gather infinite riches? And doth not all their religion stand in ‘Opere operato’,[10] in the bare performance in the outward work, that is to say, in hypocrisy?.....

Antichrist opposes Christ.
How the Pope fulfills this prophecy.

(5) Thus you see what manner of adversary Antichrist is. Now we must shew in particular wherein he is opposed to Jesus Christ. He is opposed unto him as he is Christ and as he is Jesus; that is, as he was anointed of God to be our Prophet, our King and our Priest. In this respect is he especially called Antichrist. But he is also opposed unto him as he is Jesus; that is to say, as he is our Saviour. Thus, Antichrist opposes himself to both the offices of Christ signified in the name, Christ, and also to the benefits signified in the name, Jesus. Now these things also most fitly agree to the Pope, who opposeth himself to Christ in all these respects. Not, indeed, as an open and professed enemy, (for such a mark does not become the Antichrist, who was to be a hypocrite sitting in the Church of God, etc.), but covertly and cunningly. For we must remember that Antichristianity is the mystery of iniquity, wherein Christ was in word and outward appearance to be professed, but in deed and in truth, denied.

He is opposed to Christ, our Prophet, partly as he oppugns the prophecy of Christ, and partly as he himself is a false Prophet. He oppugns the prophecy of Christ in two ways: First, in denying Christ to be our only prophet, (whose voice in the canonical Scriptures concerning matters necessarily to be believed unto salvation we ought only to hear), while he and his fellows do teach that the Scriptures are not perfect, and that besides the Apocryphal writings (which they have equated to like authority as the canonical) their own traditions are also necessary, and of equal authority with the Scriptures.

Secondly, by withholding from the people the Scriptures (which contain the whole doctrine of Christ, our Prophet) in a strange language,[11] and also by reading and preaching unto them their own fancies and inventions, out of the legends and lives of saints, and festivals, etc., instead of the sincere truth of God. And by these two practices, the Pope takes the office of Prophet to himself, though he allows that Christ is our Prophet, but it is in name only that Christ is Prophet.

Again, he is opposed to Christ, our Prophet, since he himself is that false prophet spoken of in the Apocalypse,[12] teaching Antichristian errors and doctrines of devils. For true it is, that as many errors taught and held by the Pope and Church of Rome, are as many oppositions between him and Christ, our Prophet. Of the errors of the Romish Church there be many centuries or hundreds, and many of them fundamental in nature. In this respect we may truly say that the Catholic Apostasy (for so I call the Romish religion) is the common sewer of many gross heresies.

Antichrist must deny Christ.
How the Pope denies Christ.

(6) But it will be argued that although the Pope may hold diverse errors, yet he does not teach those noted by the Holy Ghost as doctrines peculiar to Antichrist….The first doctrine of Antichrist (our adversaries say) is to deny Jesus to be Christ. They prove this from 1 John 2:22 & 4:3, and 2 John 7. But the Pope, say they, doth not deny Jesus to be Christ. To the proof of the proposition I answer, These places quoted of the Apostle John do not speak properly of the grand Antichrist, who is the head of the Antichristian body, but of certain petite Antichrists, or heretics of those times, which denied either of the natures of Christ, (for he speaketh of such as were then already come into the world) and, therefore, from thence it cannot be proved that the great Antichrist shall directly and expressly deny Jesus to be Christ. Notwithstanding, seeing they are called Antichrists not only because they belong to the Antichristian body as inferior members thereof, but also as it may be thought, that they did also, after a fashion, deny Christ, as the great Antichrist also should do, although not after the same manner. I do thus far grant the proposition itself, that Antichrist was in some sort to deny Christ. For John speaketh not of the manner how he doth deny Christ. Neither are we to think that Antichrist will deny him in every way possible. It will be consistent in some way with the mystery of iniquity, suitable to the rest of his lying and deceit. That is to say, in outward show and semblance to profess Christ (as did those Antichrists, of whom John speaketh), but in deed and in truth to deny him. To come, therefore, to the assumption: let us consider whether the Pope and church of Rome do not in some way deny Christ. Christ may be denied in either in deeds or words. Augustine taught, “Whosoever in deeds denieth Chris, he is Antichrist. Let us, therefore, mark who it is that denieth, and let us not attend to his tongue, but his works. I regard not what he speaketh, but how he liveth. Works do speak, and do we require words? He is the more lying Antichrist, who with his mouth professes Jesus to be Christ, and by deeds denieth him.”[13]According to the Lawyers’ rule, it is more weighty to testify of a matter by deeds than by words……And as Antichrist was thus to deny Christ, both as the man of sin and an adversary oppugning Christ and his church, so doth the Pope, though in word he professes Christ. For even the devils themselves have in word confessed Christ, whom, by their deeds, they deny. If, therefore, the Pope be a man of sin (which we shall prove anon) and an adversary opposed to Christ (which now we will prove), then it cannot be denied, but that, indeed, he denieth Christ.

7. Secondly, Christ may be denied in word and doctrine, either indirectly and by consequent, or else directly and expressly. He that denieth Christ by consequent, no matter how openly he confesses him, doth indeed deny him, as do those who deny either of his natures, or any of his offices. For such is the necessary coherence of truth within itself, as nothing can by necessary consequent be deducted from it, which is not also true. And therefore, it is impossible that the consequent should also be false, the antecedent being true. Whereupon it follows that whosoever denies the consequent denies the antecedent. For example, Jesus is Emmanuel, and consequently God and Man. He is Christ, and consequently anointed of God to be our King, our Priest and our Prophet. He, therefore, who denies any of these, denies Jesus to be Christ. And further, is Christ truly God? Then is he also Jehovah, one that is of and from himself; namely, as he is God, then is he also the Lord and creator of all things, governing all things with his presence and providence. Is he truly man? Then hath he a true body consisting of three dimensions, length, breadth, thickness, circumscribed, visible, continuous at one place at one time, as being one body, not discontinuous. Is he the true Messiah and Mediator between God and man? Then he is the only mediator, for there is but one.

Wherefore, whosoever saith that Christ is not God of himself, he denieth him to be God. Or if he prefer any creature before him, either in heaven or in earth, he denieth him to be the Lord and maker of all. Or if he assigns a vicar unto him to supply his absence on earth, denieth his omnipresence. Again, whosoever saith that Christ’s body does not consist of 3 dimensions, that it is not circumscribed, that it is not visible, that it is not contained in one place as all other bodies - yea, as are all other finite natures – he denieth Jesus to be truly man, and consequently denieth him to be Christ. Lastly, whosoever adjoin other mediators unto Christ, and in some respects prefers others above him, denieth him to be the only mediator, and therefore deny him to be the true mediator; for there is but one. The consequence is the denial of Jesus to be Christ. And, thus, the Antichrists whereof John speaketh did,[14] (according to Bellarmine’s own exposition), and as the grand Antichrist (according to our confession) doth deny Christ, not only in deed, but also in word and doctrine, although not openly and expressly, yet indirectly and by consequent, so doth the Pope and church of Rome deny Jesus to be Christ.

For what a God and Lord, what a creator and governor of all things the Pope and Papists make our Saviour Christ, you may easily conceive.

First, when they deny him to be God of himself they deny him to be Jehovah. For whosoever is Jehovah is of and from himself.[15] It is true, indeed, that Christ is son of and from his Father, but he is also God of and from himself, namely as he is God……..Therefore, to conclude, Christ is God of God, in respect of his person, and he is also God of himself in respect of his essence which is of itself. He is God of God, the name God being used personally and relatively (for he is God the Son, of God the Father; and God begotten, of God begetting) and is God of himself, the name God being taken essentially and absolutely, namely as he together with the Father and the Holy Ghost is one and the same eternal Jehovah and only true God. In which respect if the Papists deny Christ to be God of himself, as they do when they accuse our doctrine of heresy, denying him to be God of himself as we affirm, they do also deny him to be God.

Secondly, they deny Jesus to be God in heaven when they set his mother above him in heaven, whom they call Queen of Heaven, desiring her to command him, and to show herself to be a mother as though Christ were, as they paint him, still a baby under his mother’s governing.

Thirdly, they deny Jesus to be God on earth when every shaveling[16] priest can, by breathing out a few words from his unclean mouth, create his maker (for so they teach ‘the priest is maker of his maker’, and also, ‘He which made you, gave you power to make him) and when he hath so done, offer him up to his Father. Wherein every priest among them, being the sacrificer, is, in a manner of speaking, preferred above Christ, who is the sacrifice.

Fourthly, when they appoint unto Christ a vicar to supply his absence, a vicar unto whom they assign all power which is in heaven and earth, yea, infinite power, which they say is translated from Christ unto him, what do they make of Christ but a titular king,[17] and with the Epicureans an idle God[18], who hath, as it were, resigned all his right and authority to the Pope.

Fifthly, what kind of a man they make our Saviour Christ, we know not. For they hold that his body is multi-present, that is, present in many or rather infinite places at once discontinuously. With fire and fagot they persecute those who will not hold this to be true! They say that though his body is in heaven, it is really and corporally present upon the earth wheresoever their Mass is celebrated or their host reserved[19]….which is to assign many or rather innumerable bodies to our Savior Christ. Furthermore, they teach that his very body, which they say is really present in the Mass, is void of quantity and quality, not circumscribed, not visible, nor in any way discernible by the senses, and so by consequent, no body. The effect of such doctrine is as much as to deny that Christ is come in the flesh, which is the doctrine of that Antichrist whereof John speaketh. And here note the absurdity of Papists who circumscribe[20] the deity of the Father when they represent him by pictures or images, and yet deny the humanity of the son to be circumscribed, and so by consequent, against all reason, make the deity finite and the humanity infinite.

Sixthly, what kind of mediator they make Christ you may easily judge when they join infinite others with him. For the Apostle saith that there is but one mediator between God and man,[21] and this alone is our Saviour Christ, or else he is none at all.

Though Antichrist is to deny Christ first and foremost covertly, many Popes denied Him openly.

(8) Again, Christ may be denied directly and expressly, and that profession may be done either secretly in private, or else openly in public. Antichrist was not to deny Christ as the latter because he was to be a hypocrite and disguised enemy, as has already been proved. However, many of the Popes did deny Christ expressly and directly. For though they made public profession of Christ (as do the devils, so it proves nothing), yet privately and among their favorers they have denied Christ, showing themselves to mere Atheists and devils incarnate. For if we omit John 22 (whom some call the 23rd or 24th), who denied the immortality of the soul, were not Alexander 6, Sixtus 4, Julius 2, and Paulus 3, with others, very Atheists? Were not more than twenty of them known Necromancers and sorcerers? Did not Sylvester 2, Benedict 9, and Gregory 5 all renounce Christ our Saviour, taking to themselves the devil? Did not Gregory 7 in a rage cast the Eucharist, which Papists believe to be the very body of Christ, into the fire because it did not answer his questions? And what may we think of Clement 7 who, when he was at death’s door, said he should now be certain of three things which he had doubted all his life: whether there be a God, whether the soul be immortal, and whether there be life after this life….As for Pope Leo 10, he did plainly deny Christ when he more than once called the Gospel the fable of Christ. For when he had received an incredible sum of money for indulgences, he said to Bembus, “O how much that fable of Christ hath profited us!” ……If, therefore, denial of Christ be a property of Antichrist, it cannot be avoided, but that according to our adversaries own grounds, the Pope, who in so many ways denies Christ, is Antichrist…….

Part Three >> Table of Contents >> Title Index

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[1] Downame quotes the Magdeburg Centuries, Century 10, Catalogue of Witnesses who opposed the Papacy, many of whom were within the upper ranks of the Roman Church, as was this man, Radulphus.

[2] Roman Catholic commentary on the Bible written in the Middle Ages and carrying great authority with the Catholic Magisterium.

[3] Rev. 17:4.

[4] Matt. 24:24.

[5] 1 Tim. 4:2.

[6] Rev. 13:11.

[7] Rev. 13:11.

[8] Rev. 10:3-4.

[9] I.e., Satan.

[10] A Roman Catholic Latin theological term which refers to the efficacy of their sacraments: “by virtue of the work done.”

[11] I.e., Latin.

[12] Rev. 13:11ff.

[13] Tract 3 in his commentary upon John’s Epistle.

[14] 1 John 2:2.

[15] I.e., self-existing.

[16] I.e., tonsured.

[17] I.e., “existing in name only.” (Webster)

[18] In the sense of ‘useless’ and ‘worthless.’

[19] I.e., displaying of the consecrated host for worship.

[20] I.e., “to set limits or bounds.” (Webster) In this case, with the infinite Father.

[21] 2 Tim. 2:5.