Chapter 5

Of the pride and ambition of Antichrist, advancing himself above all that is called God, etc. 

 (1) But Antichrist is not only an enemy to Christ, but also (as our enemies confess), emulus Christi, that is, such an adversary as is opposed unto Christ in emulation of like honor, as the word Antichrist doth also signify. It remaineth therefore that we should speak of the pride and ambition of Antichrist, whereby he seeks to match Christ our Savior, advancing himself as the Apostle speaketh, Above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, insomuch that he sitteth in the temple of God, as God, shewing himself that he is God,[1]or as the Papists themselves translate it, as though he were God. Where (for avoiding of error) we are to understand the pride of Antichrist to be described as a characteristic which accompanies a wretched man, a man of sin, a son of perdition. And the greatest pride that can be associated with any man or creature, be it the devil himself (whose Satanical pride Antichrist was to imitate and not to exceed) is this: to seek to be as God. However, when it is said that Antichrist advances himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, it is not meant that he shall seek to advance himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, it is not meant that he shall seek to advance himself, above God or the deity himself. For since God is infinite in goodness, excellence and power, there cannot be conceived one better, superior or greater. And therefore we cannot imagine how Antichrist should advance himself above God. And it is evident that the height of Antichrist’s pride here spoken of is noted in the words, Insomuch as he shall sit in the temple of God, as God. We are to understand by the phrase, all that is called God, all those to whom the name of God is communicated – not His essence, for that cannot be communicated to any that is not god. Now the name of God is communicated to Angels in heaven, Psalm 8:5; Hebrews 2:7; Psalm 97:7; Hebrews 1:6, and to princes and magistrates on earth, Exodus 22:28; Psalm 82:1 & 6. And whereas it is said he shall advance himself above all that is worshipped, we are to understand by the Greek word σέβασμα[2] not God Himself, but anything that is worshipped as God, or wherein God is worshipped. Thus it is used in Wisdom 15:17 (images), and Acts 17:23 where altars among the heathen are called σεβάσματα.[3] Such [gods which are objects of worship are found] in the church of Rome: Saints, images, the cross, relics of Saints, the eucharist, etc.

By ‘temple of God’ is meant the Church

The meaning of the Apostle is this, that Antichrist being a wicked and wretched man, shall advance himself above all that is called God, as Angels and Kings, or that which is worshipped, as Saints, images and altars, the cross and eucharist itself, insomuch that he shall sit in the temple of God, that is he shall rule and reign in the church of God, challenging a sovereign, universal and divine authority over all those that profess the name of Christ, as if he were a God upon the earth, shewing himself whether by words or by deeds that he is god, or as though he were God, which is the same thing.

The like things were foretold of Antiochus Epiphanes, who is thought to have been a type of Antichrist, Daniel 11:36ff….

That which hinders the Antichrist is the Roman Empire, not the Holy Spirit

(2) I will now apply II Thess. 2:4 to the Pope. First, the Pope advances himself above all that is called God, it is plain, because he lifts himself up not only over Kings and Emperors on earth, but also above the Angels in heaven. Of his lifting himself up above Kings and Emperors is how the testimony of II Thess. 2:4 before explained is to be understood. For the Apostle speaks of such an advancement whereby Antichrist must first be revealed, because he was to be hindered for a time by the Roman Empire. Let us then consider how he advances himself above Kings and Emperors, who are called Gods. The Pope, if you will believe his followers, is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords,[4] by whom Princes reign,[5] and from whom the right of Kings depends.[6]For you must know that as they full solemnly dispute the Empire or temporal rule, as well as the priesthood or ecclesiastical domination is translated unto the successors of Peter,[7] that the right of rule & direct domination of the Empire and kingdom belongs to the Pope,[8] although he commits the exercise thereof to Emperors and Kings; and that Emperors, Kings and all Princes receive their right of governing their kingdoms from the Pope.[9] By him they are confirmed. By him they are deposed. To him Emperors and Kings are but vassals bound to swear allegiance and fidelity.[10] He far surpasses the Emperor as the Sun excels the Moon[11]….as the creator is superior to the creature. Therefore, when Kings and Emperors come into the presence of his holiness, after having performed obeisance to him from three different positions, they must fall down before him and kiss his foot…[Dr. Downame then gives historical examples of the Emperors doing obeisance to the Pope: i.e., the humiliation of Henry by Gregory 7th; Alexander 3rd placing his foot on the neck of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, who had come for the Pope’s pardon; Celestine 3rd kicking the diadem off the head of Henry 6th , whom he had just crowned Emperor, etc.]

(4) And thus hath the Pope lifted up himself above all that is called God upon earth, that is to say, Kings and Emperors. Let us now consider whether he exalteth himself above those which are called Gods in the heavens, that is to say, the Angels.

First, it is avowed by himself and his authoritative writers “that the power of the Pope is greater than all other created power.”[12]  That unto him is given all power above all powers, as well of heaven as of the earth.[13] That to the vicar of the creator, the Pope, every creature is subject.[14] And more particularly, that he hath Christ’s vicarship, not only concerning things in heaven, earth and hell, but also above the Angels, both good and bad.[15]That the Pope hath rule over the Angels and Devils.”[16]That he hath power to command the Angels.[17]

Not only does he challenge greater honor and reverence to be done to himself then is due to the angels (for he admits to being adored, men falling down before him, which the angels refuse because they are our fellow servants), but also the Pope taketh upon himself to command the holy Angels at his pleasure to remove souls departed out of Purgatory into heaven. Clement 6th , in his bull concerning those which should come to celebrate the Jubilee, he commandeth the Angels of heaven that if any of them should die in that journey, to bring their souls, having been wholly freed from Purgatory, into the glory of Paradise.

(5) It remaineth that I should shew how the Pope advances himself above the things wherein God is worshipped, or which are worshipped as God in the church of Rome, as are the Saints, the cross, the altar and their God of bread. As for the Saints, they are subject to the Pope for canonization,[18] awaiting the courtesy and free disposition of the Pope whether to be deified, or in their terminology ‘canonized,’ or to be deposed. For such is the authority (if you will believe him) in canonizing of Saints, that he can canonize whom he will; yea, of a damned person cast into hell he can make a Saint of heaven. Contrarily, he can ‘unsaint’ those which before were canonized.

The cross which they say is to be worshipped with divine worship, is notwithstanding made an ensign of the Pope’s authority, and is borne before him as the mace before the magistrate, or the sword before the Prince. When their procession is completed the cross is laid under the Pope’s feet.

And that he may be known even literally to sit in the material temple as if he were a God, it is to be noted that his seat in St. Peter’s is above the altar.

But their chief God worshipped is their God of bread, which because they imagine it to be Christ Himself, it is worshipped among them as their maker and redeemer, notwithstanding in the Pope’s processions and journeys it is made subject to his holiness. For example, Pope Gregory 7th did cast the Host into the fire when it refused to answer his demands….The Pope rides upon a magnificent steed under a stately canopy, or is carried upon noble men’s shoulders in a chair of gold, while the Host, their Christ, is carried upon a simple nag in comparison. [Dr. Downame then cites examples of the Pope’s pride, whereby he seeks to equal Christ and God being called God upon earth, Our Lord God the Pope, both allowing to be called as such and publishing works in which he is called by these names.]

 These examples are more than sufficient to prove that the Pope taketh upon him as if he were a God, although in word he does not actually affirm any such thing of himself. But so shameless is this Antichrist that he affirms the like things to himself. As namely that those things he does are done by a divine power….

(7) But as I said, the name Antichrist signifieth such a one as seeketh to match Christ. Let us therefore consider how this agrees to the Pope. For if the Pope does seek to match himself with Christ, then by this argument alone, if there were no other, he may certainly be convicted to be Antichrist. Using Christ as our model, let us consider the Pope’s nature and offices. As touching his nature, if you will believe their blasphemies, the Pope “as well as Christ is god, a being of the second intention compounded of god and man.[19]And as Christ is greater than man in respect of the one nature [as God], and in regard of the other [as man] less than God, so they say of the Pope, “He is, as it were, a god upon earth, greater than a man, and less than god, having the fullness of power.”[20]That he is a man, I shall not need to prove, howbeit some of his followers don’t know what to make of him. They say he is the wonderment of the world, “neither God nor man, but a neuter between both.”[21]

That he would be supposed and acknowledged as a God it appeareth also by the divine properties which are attributed to the Pope. His Holiness (that is to say) the Pope, (for his holiness is himself) is the god of revenge,[22] true without error, yea, without possibility of error, for he cannot err, whose will must stand for reason as if it were the rule of justice.[23] And therefore it were no better than sacrilege to call in question any of his doings.

As for his power, whether you understand by it authority or might, he would seem to be infinite in respect to both, for infinite power is given unto him. And if Christ was given all power in heaven and earth, then the Pope, who is his vicar, hath the same power, yea, to doubt of his power is sacrilege. “Sin excepted, the Pope may do all things as it were which God may do.”[24]He can change the nature of things, yea, of nothing he can make something, and of injustice righteousness, for he hath the fullness of power.

(8) In respect of the Pope’s office, he is the foundation, the head, the husband, the Lord of the universal church, and, in anointing, Christ. Therefore, he is to be called, The Lord’s Christ.[25]Now if it be objected that Christ alone is the head of the Catholic [universal] Church, the Papists respond, “that Christ and the Pope are one and the same head in the Church, and do make one and the same consistory: for it were a monstrous thing that the Church should have two heads.”[26]

But to address the issue of the Pope’s offices, as Prophet he is the universal of ecumenical Bishop, and Pastor of Pastors, the Ordinary or Bishop of the whole world, who hath the supreme authority of interpreting the scriptures, who is the supreme judge in controversies of religion, having a divine and infallible judgment, who is above general councils, whose judgment is to be preferred before the judgment of the whole world, insomuch that if the whole world should determine against the Pope, we must stand in his sentence. He is of greater authority than all the Saints, and in this respect is of greater perfection than the whole body of the Church.

(9) The Pope seeks to match Christ: 1 In making new articles of faith, and to propound doctrines not contained in the Scriptures as necessary unto salvation. 2 In making five more Sacraments than Christ appointed (some he prefers above baptism) and those two ordained of Christ he hath so altered and changed as that the one is scarcely the same, the other not at all the same. And whereas Christ ordained the Sacrament of His body and blood in two kinds, [bread and wine], they not withstanding his institution will have it administered to the people in one kind only [bread]. 3 In making their own devices, decretals and traditions of equal authority with the word of God. Innocent 3rd commanded that the words of the Mass should be held equal to the words of the Gospel. Agatho the Pope decreed that all the constitutions of the Apostolic See are to be received as authorized by the divine voice of Peter himself…..As touching traditions (whereby is meant all points of popery, which they themselves confess are not contained in the written word) the holy Council of Trent hath ordained that they are to be received and honored as the written word of God….And lastly, lest he should seem inferior to Christ our Prophet in any capacity, the Pope confirms his doctrine by miracles as they call them.

(10) And thus the Pope matches himself with Christ our Prophet. Let us now consider how he advances himself above Christ. This he manifestly does when he prefers his authority and the authority of his church above the Scriptures….Sylvester Prierias, master of the Pope’s palace, says, That indulgences are warranted unto us, not by the authority of the Scripture, but by the authority of the Church and the Pope of Rome, which is greater.[27] The particulars which prove the Pope advances himself above the Scriptures are these: 1 Because he hath, as they say, authority to add other books to the Canonical Scriptures that are not in the Canon. Those which are in the Canon have their canonical authority from him…..In the same place, Sylvester Prierias also says, Whosoever rests not in the doctrine of the Roman church and Bishop of Rome as the infallible rule of God, from which the sacred Scripture draws strength and authority, he is an Heretic…. 2 They teach that the Scriptures are to be understood according to the interpretation of the Pope and Church of Rome; and that sense which the Pope assigns to the Scriptures must be taken for the undoubted word of God…And if the sense which they give be diverse according to the variety of their practice and diversity of the times, we must acknowledge that the Scripture is to follow the church and not the church to follow the Scriptures.[28]…..

(11) Thirdly, the Pope assumes authority greater than that of the Scriptures when he takes upon himself the right to dispense with the word and law of God. For whosoever takes upon him to dispense with the law of another challenges greater authority than the others. It is even a rule amongst Papists that the inferior may not dispense with the commandment of the superior. That the Pope doth dispense with the laws of God it is evident. For scarcely is there any sin forbidden in the Scripture with which he doth not at some time dispense; nay, whereof he will not, if it be for his advantage make a meritorious work.

How the Popes promote incest and other sins

Incest is a horrible sin, forbidden by the law of God and by the law of nature. And yet there is no incest which he hath not authority to dispense with, the lone exception being between parent and child. For, as the Papists say, the Pope may dispense against the law of nature. The Pope gave dispensation so Henry 8th could lawfully marry his sister-in-law. He did the same for Philip, the late king of Spain, to marry his own niece. Pope Martin 5th gave dispensation that a certain brother could marry his sister. Clement 7th licensed Petrus Alvaradus, the Spaniard, for a sum of money, to marry two sisters at once.

Disobedience to parents, perjury, that is, the breaking of lawful oaths, rebellion against lawful princes and murdering of a sacred prince are all condemned by the law of God as heinous offenses. But if children shall cast off their parents to enter into a Sodomite cloister; if the Pope shall absolve the subjects from their oaths and forbid them to obey their Princes; if he shall excommunicate a lawful Prince, or suborn a wicked traitor to murder his sovereign: then disobedience to parents, perjury and rebellion in subjects, murdering of sacred Princes, is not only warranted, but is considered meritorious. The highest authorities of the Roman Church agree that though he may not universally abrogate the law of God, he may in particular instances where the reason of the law fails, so he may dispense with all the precepts of the old and new testament…….Thus, in effect, according to Romanist theology, we are bound to keep every commandment of God, unless the Pope interpose his authority betwixt God and us, and exempt us from the obedience thereof!

The Pope commands Idolatry

(12) And lastly, as the Pope may dispense with all the laws of God, he may also take away some and abrogate others. “The Pope may take away from the law of God in part, but not in whole.”[29]Thus, out of the Decalogue he taketh away from the second commandment because with it his Idolatry cannot stand. So to complete the ten laws, he divides the last commandment into two, against all reason and authority of antiquity. But that commandment concerning images and other matters, the Pope also abrogates by his countermands.

·       God forbids us either to worship of serve any but Himself, Matt. 4:10; 1 Samuel 7:3; Exod. 20:3. But the Pope commands us to worship Angels and Saints; yea, and the relics of Saints.

·       God forbids the making and worshipping of images, but the Pope commands the contrary.

·       God condemns brothels, but the Pope allows them; yea, one of them even built a famous brothel.

·       God condemns concupiscence as a sin, but to the Pope it is no sin and allows it.

·       God commands all the faithful to drink of the cup in the Lord’s supper, but the Pope forbids it.

·       God commands every soul be subject to the higher powers, but the Pope exempts his clergy from the secular yoke.

·       God commands all to marry, who have not the gift of continency, but the Pope forbids all his clergy to marry, though they be never so incontinent.

Downame enumerates hypocrisy in the Church of Rome

 Besides, it is evident that the Pope’s laws in the church of Rome are held in greater esteem than the laws of God, the obedience of them being more strictly urged, and the disobedience thereof more severely punished. As for example:

·       It is safer to be a mere Atheist and worshipper of no God then not to be a worshipper of their God of bread, though otherwise a good Christian.

·       It is better for a priest to be a Sodomite then to marry.

·       It is better to be a drunkard and whoremonger then to eat flesh in Lent.

·       It is better with the begging friars to set forth a new gospel (which they call the gospel of the Holy Ghost and the eternal gospel, wherein they taught that Christ is not God, and that His gospel is not the true gospel…) then for the learned man, William St. Amore, to write against them and their gospel, for the Pope degraded and deposed him of all dignities when he would not allow the heretics to be so disgraced. William was sent into exile while the heretics found favor with the Pope.

·       It is better for private men to read any books of ribaldry or any villainy whatsoever then to read any part of the Scriptures in their own tongue…..

(13) To his prophetic office let us add his priesthood. For the Pope is Pontifex Optimus Maximus (an epithet which the Heathen give their chief God, Jupiter). He is that great priest according to the order of Melchizedek, whose foot must be reverently kissed by his Cardinals. He is the Prince of Priests and head of the Christian religion. He is that Priest of Priests who remits both fault and punishment both to the quick and the dead, whereas Christ remits only to the living. Neither does this indulgent father grant pardons for past sins only, but for offences to come.

(14) But I hasten to his kingly office. For he is authoritatively called by numerous doctors of the church, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, to whom all power is given I heaven and in earth; yea, and under the earth. This power is symbolized in his triple crown, for he hath a triple Empire – in heaven, earth and purgatory, though Christ rules only in heaven and earth……Now this Empire or Monarchy is twofold, for he hath the two swords, civil and ecclesiastical,[30] as is stoutly proved out of the gospel, say the Papists, where one of Christ’s disciples saith, Behold, two swords.[31]Pope Nicholas saith, Christ hath given to the Pope, through blessed Peter, the key to eternal life and rule over both the earthly and heavenly Empire.

Respecting his civil authority, he claims rule over all Kings, which is evident in his title, King of Kings, for all secular power has been given the Pope, even in temporal matters….And as touching the Roman Empire, the government thereof belongeth to the Pope, as God’s vicar on earth, and by whom Kings reign.

(15) As touching his ecclesiastical authority which , as some say, is the foundation of the Church, he is superior and greater than all others in the universal church, proved by 7 arguments:

·       Because he is the Pastor of the universal Church.

·       Because he is the head of the universal Church.

·       Because he is that prelate which hath authority over the whole Church.

·       Because he is the Prince of the universal Church.

·       Because he hath supreme power in the Church.

·       Because he alone hath the fullness of power in the Church.

·       Because he is Christ’s vicar-general in the whole universal Church.

….He is the head, the root, the Monarch, the fountain of ecclesiastical power having the same consistory with God, as well as judgment seat with Christ….

(16) There remaineth a third part of his kingdom, that of Purgatory. The Pope’s power in Purgatory has proved problematic for him. For the question has been raised, whether the Pope may empty all purgatory wholly and at once. The Archbishop of Florence, Antonius, has, in attempting answer this dilemma, has created a three-fold distinction between his absolute power, whereby the Pope may empty Purgatory, and his orderly execution thereof, whereby he cannot and ought not. Truly, it so obvious that the Pope is not pleased to let any escape the pains of Purgatory unless he be well pleased by the sale of indulgences and pardons. I must confess it was a cheap year of souls when Pope Leo 10th sent Torelius about with his pardons, offering for the payment of ten shillings to set at liberty the soul of anyone which they should name in Purgatory…..

And thus it appeareth evident that the Pope is Antichrist, not only because he is an adversary opposed to Christ, as was proved in the former chapter, but also because he is emulus, as it were a counterfeit Christ, who, seeking to match our Savior Christ, advances himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, insomuch that he sitteth in the temple of God as god, shewing and demeaning himself as though he is a God upon the earth.

Part Four >> Table of Contents >> Title Index

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[1] II Thess. 2:4.

[2] Strong’s 4574.

[3] Strong’s 4574.

[4] Paulus 4. ad ducim Floret. in Bulla. Rod. Cupers. merito rex reg. & dominus dominantium cenfeiut Papa, etc.

[5] Lib. Carem.

[6] Clem. 5 in Council of Vienna.

[7] R. Cupers. P. 251.

[8] Idem. pp. 52 & 251.

[9] Idem. p. 28.

[10] c. tibi domino. Dist. 63.

[11] c. solitae de major & obed.

[12] Antonin. sum . part 3. tit. 22. c.5. 

[13] Lateran Council, Leo 10, sess.10.

[14] Innocent Papa, extr. de constit., R. Cupers., p. 28.

[15] Felinus apud Iuell.

[16] Nicolaus Eg. mundanus apud Bal. de vit. pont.

[17] Gregor. Haimburg. in appellat .Sigism. apud Iuell.

[18] Antonin. part 3. tit. 22. cap 5. §5 & 6.

[19] Extrav. in Ioan. 22.

[20] Ioan. a Capistr. de Pape & ecclesie. authoritate.

[21] Nec deus es, nec homo: quasi neuter es inter utrumque.

[22] Psalm 94:1. Rod. Cupers de ecclesia, p. 61.

[23] Sub finem tit. de censib exact. & procure. in Clement. ad verbum volumus, etc..

[24] Panormit. ex Hostiensi. extr. de transl. prelate. c. quanto & de electi. c. licet.

[25] R. Cupers. de eccl.

[26] R. Cupers. de eccl. p. 128.

[27] Contra Lutheri conclusions de potestate Papae.

[28] Cardinal Nicol. Cusanus ad Bohem. epist. 7.

[29] Felinus de maior. & obed. cap. fin.

[30] Boniface 8th, unam sanctum.

[31] Luke 22:38.