THE ACTS OF CHRIST AND
“What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? Or what company hath light with darkness? Or what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an Infidel?”
"Let no man deceive you by any means; for the Lord shall not come, except there come a departing first, and that that sinful man be opened, the son of perdition, which is an adversary, and is exalted above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he doth sit in the temple of God, boasting himself to be God……That wicked shall be uttered, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the appearance of his coming; even him whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all lying power, signs, and wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness, among them that perish, because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And therefore God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe lies, that all they might be damned which believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
"Little children, it is the last time; and, as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many begun to be antichrists already; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for, if they had been of us, they would no doubt have remained with us."
"Many deceivers are entered into the world, which confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist."
If we diligently consider the admonitions, either of Moses or of the prophets, either of Christ or of his apostles, we shall easily perceive that they were in nothing more diligent than in admonishing us to beware of false prophets, false preachers, false Christs, or antichrists.
For they, being plentifully endued with the Spirit of God and with the knowledge of his holy mysteries, did afore-see what plagues, what pestilences, what wickedness, what abominations, what infections, what diseases, should come to the flock of God through the fleshly persuasions and antichristian doctrines [by these false Christian leaders]. They were not ignorant of the subtleties of Satan, neither was it unknown unto them what [devices] the ministers of Satan commonly use to transfigure and change themselves into angels of light, 2 Cor. 11, that they may the more easily deceive the simple poor Christians, which are not so prudent, wise, and scheming in their profession, as the children of this world are in their generation, Luke 16. They know also right well how these grievous and ravening wolves are accustomed to clothe themselves in sheep's apparel, feigning themselves to be that [which] they are not, Acts 20, that by this means they may with the less difficulty creep into the consciences of men, and breathe into their hearts the pestilent odors of their most pestilent doctrines.
For as they came in their own, that is to say, wolfish apparel, openly defying God, manifestly denying Christ, and that salvation which cometh by faith alone in his passion and death, and deriding or laughing to scorn the mysteries of the Christian religion; so could they never be received, but rather rejected as extreme enemies of God and of all godliness. No man would accompany them, but abhor them. No man would hear them, but flee from them, yea, and hate them worse than the dog and snake, according to the common proverb. But like crafty, subtle, and deceitful workmen, craftily, subtly, and deceitfully they handle the matter, clothing and covering themselves with sheep's apparel, outwardly pretending to be the same in word and work, in profession and conversation, that the true Christians are.
What a goodly sheep's coat is this, with the true and faithful Christians to confess the same God, gospel, faith, law, doctrine, etc., and to receive and use the same sacraments, etc.! All these things do the false prophets and the antichrists. With us they confess one God, one Lord, one faith, one gospel, etc., With us they receive and use the same sacraments. Who will not now acknowledge them to be sheep, that is to say, true and perfect Christians, join hands with them, and receive them into their fellowship, when, notwithstanding, they are grievous and ravening wolves, seeing they deny the virtue and power of all things aforesaid?
As an example, they confess, with the true Christians, that there is but one God, and that this one God ought to be honored of all creatures; but they add that the saints in heaven are also to be worshipped, honored, and called upon. They grant that Christ is our Mediator, Advocate, and Intercessor; but they teach that saints in heaven are also our mediators, advocates, and intercessors, and that by them, and in their name, we must offer up our prayers to God, if we will be heard. They confess the holy scripture to be the word of God; notwithstanding, they make antichrist's decrees and laws to be of equal authority with it, and shame not to say also, that we owe as much faith to unwritten verities as to the holy word of God, and that they are as necessarily to be believed, observed, and kept, as matters manifestly expressed in the sacred scriptures. They grant that Christ is our Saviour: they teach, notwithstanding, that salvation is to be found in their own works, in the merits of religious persons, in the intercessions of saints, in cowls, in caps, in hoods, in masses, in pardons, etc. They affirm that we are purged and cleansed from our sins by the blood of Christ: they hold plainly, notwithstanding, that there is a purgatory after this life; a place of most grievous pains and torments, where the silly souls, that be departed without due satisfaction, shall be most painfully pained, till they themselves have satisfied by suffering those pains, or else amends be made by other that live in this world.
They affirm one baptism with us; yet do they mingle with the same their own leaven, as exorcisms or conjurations, salt, spittle, cream, oil, candlelight, hallowed water, etc. They grant the Lord's supper, which they commonly call the sacrament of the altar; but how miserably they abuse it, who knoweth not? Of a memorial of Christ's body they make it the natural body of Christ, and compel the people to honor it as God, or else they most cruelly burn them and put them to death. Of a remembrance of Christ's sacrifice they make it the self-same sacrifice which Christ offered in his own person on the altar of the cross for the sins of the world, making the one of as great virtue as the other. Again, whereas Christ commanded that the bread should be broken in the remembrance of his body-breaking, and the wine drunken in the remembrance of his blood-shedding, they hold it up above their heads, as a spectacle; they hang it up with a rope till it be molded and eaten with worms; they carry it about in public processions; and otherwise greatly abuse it, unto the great dishonor of God, and unto the high profanation of the holy mystery. They grant that Christ is the head of the church: notwithstanding they make an idol of their own appointment here in earth, Christ's vicar, Peter's successor, and supreme head of the universal church of Christ throughout the world. They say also, that the secular powers are to be obeyed and reverenced; yet will they acknowledge no obedience to be due to the temporal rulers any further than the bishop of Rome shall permit and appoint them. If anything be attempted of the civil magistrates contrary to the Romish bishop's decrees, then will they not only not obey, but also resist the higher powers, yea, and move battle and war against them, pronouncing the war to be godly and holy, the warriors to be God's knights; insomuch that, if any die in that conflict, they be precious martyrs in the sight of God, and their souls placed in heaven before their blood be cold.
Thus, we see by these few things aforesaid (and I pass over many other matters, yea, and those innumerable) what grievous wolves these false prophets and mere antichrists are; so that it is not without a cause that Moses and the prophets, Christ and the his apostles, do so earnestly and diligently exhort us to beware of false prophets.
Of this company, even from the beginning of the world, there hath always been great abundance, so that they have lacked in no age; as histories both divine and profane do manifestly dec1are. Neither lack we examples in this our time, as I may speak nothing of the Arians, of the Anabaptists, of the Davidians, of the Libertines, of the Epicures, of the free-will men, etc. But among all these false prophets and antichrists, the Papists, more than these eight hundred years, have not occupied the least or the last place, being indeed either the inventors or the maintainers of all heresies and wicked doctrines; in so far as the catholic and apostolic doctrine is to be found among them. This sect of Antichrist is so much the more pernicious, because it will be counted alone the true church of Christ, and condemneth as heretics and schismatics so many as agree not with them in doctrine and opinion; when, notwithstanding, who knoweth not that the church of the Papists is the right synagogue of Satan, and the very church malignant, of whom David speaketh on this manner: I hate the church of the malignant; and with the ungodly I will keep no company, Psalm 46?
But, to the end that both the popish antichrists, and all other of that affinity and sort may the better be known; again, that all men may know where to find Antichrist, not in one private person, as the dream hitherto hath been, but in multitudes, yea, in them that most of all brag of Christ, of Christ's church, of God and of his godly mysteries; I have thought good, as the shortness of time did serve, to gather together the acts of Christ and of antichrist, concerning both their life and doctrine, that the diligent reader, perusing this little treatise, may easily perceive where Antichrist is to be found, and who is the true Antichrist, and by this means be occasioned to forsake Antichrist, with all his wicked and false prophets, and only to cleave to Christ and to the faithful, true, and uncorrupt preachers of his doctrine, whose word is truth, and abideth for evermore, roar devil, rage world, John 17; Isaiah 40……
From Canterbury, the first day of August. In the year of our Lord, 1563.