[1]

 

(DE ANTICHRISTO)

 

Circa A.D. 1385

Translated from the original Latin by Kenneth Bubb

Edited by Rand Winburn

© 2003 Protestant Reformation Publications

 

Third Book, 5th Tract, 5th Division

The Antichrist is not some stranger or foreigner, such as a Jew or Pagan.

 

       To amplify the statement above, it needs be said that even every hypocritical, carnal, and unjust Christian considers it a fundamental necessity to constantly measure himself by personally applying the principles of the life and doctrine of Jesus Christ, His disciples, and the entire Church of the saints. For it is after this perfect standard by which we Christians judge and are judged, test and are tested, if we wish to truly know ourselves and others. And insofar as one finds himself not in agreement with the perfect rule of Christ, be it either to a greater or lesser degree, then has he to that same extent and degree slipped into carnality, siding with the devil, who from the beginning, not standing in the truth, was a liar and the father thereof. Therefore, every professing Christian who does not think, speak or do as Christ teaches in principle, to the degree that he digresses from that principle, is joined to Antichrist, as his member, being Christian in name only.

       And should that man who holds the highest position in the Church, being held to the highest degree and standard of Christ’s truth, should he be a persecutor, an adversary of the truth itself, then is he covertly, to the same correspondingly high position and degree, the Antichrist, being the very head of Antichrist’s body.[2] The magnitude of iniquity and falsehood by which the Antichrist opposes Christ cannot be compared to that of the Jew, Saracen, or Gentile by virtue of the etymology of the name, Antichrist, which presupposes a contrariness to Christ in the highest degree and position. The Greek prefix, anti, denotes one against Christ. Previously, I have proven the principle of truth inherent in the life and doctrine of Christ, by citing His words and deeds. Therefore, in contrast, Antichrist’s life is the principle of falsehood, whereby he hates the truth (in particular, the salvation truth of Jesus Christ). This hatred is manifest by either his silence concerning it, or by attacking it directly through false doctrine, or through neglect of good works. This opposition is expressly known as anti-Christianity because of its contrary nature to the fundamental principles of Christianity.

       From this argument follows the next: any Christian who thinks, speaks or lives evil is contrary to the truth of Jesus. And though he may have confessed at one time, yet if he persists in public sin, he proves himself still against Christ. Furthermore, he that does evil claiming he does good is to a higher degree against the truth of Christ because he has done greater harm to the truth. Such is every Christian hypocrite. And of them 1 John says, If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us….etc.

       Likewise, those who openly engage in evil, professing their desire to do so, are, of course, also contrary to Christ, as is the perverse Christian. However, an important distinction must be made between the two because of the subtlety and craft of the false Christian who nevertheless does, though he vows not to do evil, alleging no desire to engage in works of evil. He is more contrary to Christ, causing more harm, because of his method --- lying in Christ’s name. This can seen in many Christians, especially those in Holy Orders, priests and religious who have taken vows. To these hypocrites Christ addresses His parable which says, There was the father of a family who had two sons, who said to one of them, ‘Go, son, into the vineyard today.’ The son responded, ‘I don’t wish to.’ Yet afterwards, drawn by repentance, he went. And to the older son, he said, ‘Go into the vineyard;’ his son responding, ‘I shall go,’ and did not.

       It is true that he who does not believe the truth, not willing to believe it, is contrary to the truth, as are the pagans and Jews. However, he that vows he believes and has taken on the seals of the faith is, to a much greater extent, contrary to the truth of Christ. Of such are the perverse and unfaithful Christians.

       Likewise, he who does evil, causing himself contempt and confusion as a result, is contrary to Christ, who clearly did only good. But much more contrary to the truth of Christ is he who engages in evil under the pretense of good, all the while deceptively utilizing the glorious and honorable covering of virtue. Such is every hypocrite.

       Likewise, if ignorant, simple people who do evil, though they may not know it, are contrary to Christ, how much more the one who knows the magnitude of evil he does, yet excuses it or regards it as trifling! For this cause the psalmist says, Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men that work iniquity….

       Moreover, from this you may add several other aggravating factors which make the contempt of God the greater, such as the fame and honor of the person who offends, the holiness of the place in which the sin occurs, as well as the time and person who is offended.[3]

       From these propositions we may gather the truth regarding the Antichrist, who is the supreme enemy of the truth of Christ, the life of Christ and the doctrine of Christ. The Antichrist knows that which he does is evil, yet does it anyway, for his evil is hidden under the similitude of goodness, and because of this he receives honor as a righteous man.

       And though he has promised and vowed not to do evil, and will never admit to doing evil in the past or present, lest he lose his glory, it is evil he does, while at the same time presenting himself as a great, worthy and highly respected person among the people. This evil he practices in holy places, through sacred and holy things, in a setting full of [alleged] grace and truth. And in doing this evil against the living God and against the Son of God, now sitting at the right hand of God, the omnipotent Father, he shows his contempt for God, viewing the sufferings and crucifixion of Christ a light thing. Therefore, whatever else his characteristics, you may be sure he is the Antichrist because he is particularly against Jesus Christ.

       And to the extent that this ‘man of sin’ and ‘son of perdition’ will have attained supremacy among the Christian people, because of his [alleged] virtue, truth and justice, then will the prophecy be fulfilled, because without a doubt such a man as this is that supreme and famous Antichrist prophesied and preached among the Christian people. The Apostle, speaking of the Antichrist, said, The son of iniquity will be raised up over everything that is called God, or which is worshipped as God, so that he sits in the Temple of God presenting himself as if he is God. Indeed, [this prophecy teaches that] by nature he is not God, but by virtue of the office he holds shows himself to be God. Nor is he described as God in heaven, but rather God on earth, whom men accept as such. In this sense even the devil is called the god of this world.

       Let us consider how it is possible the Antichrist shows himself to be God by virtue of his office. Sacred Scripture explains this enigma in quite a few places. For example, they are called ‘gods’ who hold the place of God before men, being set up as the highest level of truth, justice and virtue in the land, as it is written, God, the Lord God, has spoken, and, indeed, he judges the gods in his midst; and again, I have spoken: you are gods. Then follows the promise, in anticipation of the Antichrist: You will indeed die as men, and fall as one of the leaders. Who is that one leader, both so notable and unique, whom the prophet, speaking in the Spirit, calls the distinguished leader? Who, indeed, but that worst Christian, namely, the Antichrist, who will obtain the highest crown as sole ruler of the Church of God through the work of Satan!

       The name, ‘Antichrist,’ fits this leader and no other because there is no other in the church his equal. For this ruler surpasses all in terms of his sublimity, dignity and honor, holding a position of nobility, having the riches and glory of the world, while in reality, he is full of all wantonness and falsehood. If, indeed, there is a principle to be taken from the specific meaning of the term, ‘Antichrist,’ it is this: What is expressed as superabundance can fit only one person.

       From these arguments it is plausible to conclude that the single, supreme Antichrist cannot be some Saracen or powerful gentile tyrant. Nor can he be a Jew or any other outside the Christian religion. There are several reasons for this:

       (1) Though they may possess much more intelligence than the average man, they do not claim to supercede the wisdom of their God or Gods, a necessary trait of the Antichrist, who will also consider himself above every order, dignity and authority of holy Church.

       (2) Though there have been many tyrants throughout history, such as the Roman emperors, these cannot be considered Antichrists, in the proper sense of the term, though they have persecuted the Church of the saints.

(3) These tyrants lack the necessary characteristic of feigned piety and Christ-like righteousness, as would a priest, under which to cloak iniquity. Unparalleled evil consists of masking anti-Christianity under the guise of a lord Pope or a Christian emperor.

(4) Not do these profess the Christian religion, a necessary mark of the Antichrist. Logicians teach that true opposites must be of the same kind. For instance, black and white, hot and cold, though contrary to each other, are of the same class. From this we learn it is illogical and inconsistent to call black and hot contraries or opposites, as it is also to call white and cold contraries or opposites. In like manner we are to understand Christ and Antichrist. Both profess the same kind of religion, Christianity, yet they are contrary and opposed to each other.

(5) Furthermore, if the Antichrist were a Jew, gentile, or infidel, he could not have the power to deceive and defraud the saints, for his impiety and infidelity would be manifest and well recognized by the Church of God.

(6) Moreover, the Antichrist is come or will come attacking the saints, the chosen of God, through every kind of deceitful mastery. Of this there are three kinds, namely: 1. Tyranny or secular power, as evidenced by the gentile Roman Caesars; 2. Doctrines which please the flesh, countering Christ and Scripture, as is the manner of heretics; 3. Sham justice and feigned holiness which is external only, not founded in truth. Of such are the hypocrites, the craftwork of Satan.

Therefore, the Antichrist either is come, or will come against the saints, fortified with every deceit imaginable, as is clearly held in the Gospels and Epistles. Besides acquiescing to the abundance of malice and deception in the times of the Antichrist, the truth speaks thusly: And there will be great tribulation, such as never was since the time men began to exist on earth, nor has been, nor will be……so that even the chosen are led into error, if that is possible.

 

Christianity is Antichrist’s armor, used to conceal his true identity.

        

       It is equally true, that, if the Antichrist were a famous Jew or pagan, (or any other person outside professing Christianity), and he openly attacked the Church of God, it would comprise nothing new or unusual in terms of the persecution which the Church has already undergone, historically speaking, by the Jews and pagans. In fact, it has been by such persecutions that the holy Church glorified God, as if tried and made pure by fire.

       For this reason Satan will not form his Antichrist in this fashion, for he knows well, through centuries of experience, that neither by a modest or outrageous deception will he prevail against the saints. Thus, he will once again return to his tried and true method of attacking God’s people: by concealing Antichrist’s iniquity under the armature of pure religion, in which he will occupy the supreme seat by means of displaying his apparent wisdom and many virtues, though he will be a hypocrite. In this manner will Satan arm the son of iniquity. But then, in time, his injustice will reveal him to be most cruel.

       Indeed, the deception of the devil preceding the final coming of Christ will be similar to the deception he used prior to Christ’s first Advent in that he deceived through religion. In the latter case, it was by the religion of the Jews, in the former it will be by the Christian religion. For it was in the days of Christ’s incarnation that Satan, the god of this world, held sway, both in the power and authority of the temple and priesthood and in the secular power and authority of the Romans. By means of feigned holiness, as well as an evil interpretation of God’s law, Satan catered to every hope and dream of the hypocrites, by assaulting, persecuting and executing Christ Jesus. Thus, it is certain that in the time of the Antichrist, Satan will attack the virtue and wisdom of the Lord through adopting similar ingenious methods used successfully in the past, and by which he will strive to destroy. For according to Christ’s narration in Mark, the strong man, the devil armed, guards the entry to his house, silent in times of peace, encountering no opposition, everything secure in his possession, until the Lord Jesus, stronger though crucified, comes to challenge the weaker Satan. Then, by overcoming the devil, Christ takes away his arms, divides his spoil, casting him outside the house or world, the unjust leader. Thus, with peace established for His chosen, Christ then leaves for a far country. But Satan, though once unarmed and outside, will certainly attack the family of Christ with a thousand variations. In times past he has tested the fortitude of the woman, the spouse of the Lamb, by innumerable ways and means. But always she is victorious, trampling Satan’s head, using his methods against him and to the advantage of the Elect. And behold, because of the delay of the returning bridegroom, all the virgins, both prudent and foolish, have fallen asleep, allowing Satan to achieve a high position through his Antichrist, whom no one knows, except he who formed him. By him, Satan has again taken up the arms of religion, gathering the spoils, amassing both property and slaves. Wherefore, finding the house of the church falsely cleansed and adorned with the pretence of pure religion, in which hypocrisy has multiplied infinite times, charity having cooled and iniquity abounding, Satan has crept back into the church with seven additional spirits, the result more evil than before, poisoning and infecting the congregation with his mysteries, which he calls ‘rites.’

       Whence a very new tribulation is happening to the church. It is the worst kind - this cannot be overstated --- much worse than previously because Satan no longer attacks from without through infidels, but from within, feigning he is Christ’s advocate, yet at the same time he increases the intensity of spiritual warfare against believers by means of excessive and intolerable oppression, all in the name of Christ. So, it is not as if Satan is defenseless, bereft of weapons, invading the church by obvious means through the simple and ignorant in Christ, or through the crimes of public sinners. No. Rather, he is heavily armed, hiding his Antichrist under the subterfuge of all-knowledge in the areas of art, religion and holiness. He will paint Antichrist as the apex of virtuosity, possessing the highest sanctity. This miracle Satan will accomplish in an astonishing and unspeakable manner, so much so, that, when the people afterward recognize the man of lawlessness, the wicked one, the supreme hypocrite, they will bewail the fact they themselves were duped.

       Indeed, above all others, placed in the highest seat of power and authority in the Church, will be that famous Antichrist. Therefore, it is inappropriate for him to come as a gentile or anyone else admittedly outside professing Christianity. For if he were to come as an unbeliever, openly denying Christ, outside the Church, though possessing all splendor of riches and fleshly, worldly honors, as well as performing signs and wonders by the power of Satan, it would be of little help in his campaign against the faithful of Jesus Christ, who would easily discern his identity as Christ’s enemy. By such a man Satan could never successfully launch such an attack against the Chosen of God, so that, if it were possible, they themselves could be led into error, even if, by chance, he were to succeed in the deception of the unbelievers, as, for example, with the gentiles and Jews, or worthless carnal Christians, who could care less about the devil or his devices. For these are already the devil’s own, not precious to Christ, not being His, nor having his Spirit. Therefore, Satan’s focus is on the saints first and foremost, who, by sowing seeds through his Antichrist, ultimately desires to corrupt the holy ones, to devour them as food for himself. They are the ones the devil pants after, to whom he directs his undivided attention and tireless efforts, as it is written of Behemoth in Job 40:23: The river will overflow and he will not marvel, but trust [in his strength], though the Jordan should flow into his mouth.

       Thus, Satan’s principal and foremost plan is to seduce the Elect by means of arming Antichrist and his accomplices with that which is not easily discerned, but is, instead, ingeniously subtle. He will admit evil into the Church both openly and disguised, under the pretence of goodness and holiness, its wickedness brilliantly hidden from view. As I have stated earlier in the first tract, it is by this method Satan has always seduced those who imitate righteousness. Truly, if the Antichrist were to come as an unbeliever, a persecutor of the Christian religion, though he were to do signs and wonders, this would be nothing extraordinary, inasmuch as similar deceivers have already come and gone in the persons of Simon Magus, Saroen, Arphaxat and Julian the Apostate, all of whom performed awesome signs and wonders by the working of evil spirits. There is not now, nor will there ever be, a tyrant Antichrist who is not a professing believer in Christ.  

 

Antichrist Described

 

       Furthermore, we are not to expect the Antichrist to be limited to a single, powerful Christian tyrant, an obvious persecutor of Jesus Christ. Admittedly, it is difficult for one to imagine how such evil can be perpetrated under the appearance of sanctity, in the name of the Christian religion, or how the saints could be deceived by him because such a person has never heretofore existed. Yet Antichrist is the fullness of iniquity, who introduces into the church contempt both for the wisdom of God and the virtue of Jesus Christ. He must ascend to the highest position in the Church not from without, but from within. A stranger and usurper from outside the Church would cause the priests to sound the alarm, warning the flock. Besides, the Church has fought powerful open adversaries in the past. This mode of attack by Satan would be nothing new, and would avail the devil little to repeat this strategy.

       Neither will the Antichrist be indifferent to wielding power in the name of Christianity because in lacking authority he would be at great disadvantage in persuading the simple people who highly regard show of authority. Nor would he be able to do serious harm to the Church hierarchy, whose power and influence over the people would surpass his by far, as heretics of the past discovered.

       Likewise, neither will the Antichrist be one single particular person concealed under the cloak of Christianity, no matter how great his authority in ruling over others, or how abundant his riches, or how extensive his power. There are two proofs this is true. First, it is impossible that one person, operating alone with no assistance whatsoever, can deceive the multitudes for any length of time. Someone, somewhere, will expose him as the unjust contriver he really is, though he may have ascended to the highest seat in the Church. Such a deceitful officeholder cannot sustain his reign, as is seen in the past with heretical enemies who attempted to pose as Christian rulers, yet were soon discovered and removed from power. Secondly, if the Antichrist were to attempt injury through occupying one lone seat in the Church, his efforts would be in vain due to the diversity and expansiveness of the Church throughout the world.

       Therefore, the Antichrist now is, or will be, a fraud who is contrary to the truth of the life and doctrine of Christ, who bears a false Christian name, maintaining a level of supreme authority in the Church, having an equally supreme authority over all persons, both clerical and lay, possessing a glorious plenitude of power, ruling the highest offices of both the wealthy and wise throughout the universal Church, not only by his own diabolical, cunning efforts, but by the working of Satan.[4] Thus, he enjoys unparalleled honor as he brings all into agreement with his will and ultimate goals, while at the same time taking dominion over all the world’s riches. Also included under his authority are those spiritual riches of Christ Jesus, such as the Scriptures, sacraments and outward appearance of Christianity, which he abuses, twisting them so they appeal to the flesh, that he might glorify himself, satiating his own lust. Those things which are given the Church by Christ Jesus pertaining to salvation, the Antichrist subtly and secretly perverts so that Christians might be led astray from the truth and virtue of Christ, turning instead to the obvious dangers of avarice [5] and pride of the world [6] which scatters and does not gather.[7]

       Indeed, the Antichrist will not threaten or perfect these errors by himself. He will have able assistance from demonic spirits who will introduce similar hypocrisies, multiplied frequently throughout the whole Church.[8] In addition, it is not necessary that to successfully invade the Church the Antichrist draw upon the support of certain sects, disciples, special interest groups, or apostles who agree with his evil pursuits. Nor will he depend on personally preaching his own deviant doctrine in his own name, as did Mahomet among the Saracens.  He will not employ such obvious, tyrannical and ignorant methods. If he foolishly did so, he would in no way subtly deceive the people, enabling him to lead them into error. Nor would he pose any potential threat in deceiving the elect, if it were possible they could be deceived.[9] By using the aforementioned possible methods of seduction, the Antichrist would be using strikingly similar designs utilized by previous infidel tyrants or by the past leaders of obviously impious and evil Christians. Rather than rely on such obvious, historic scenarios already experienced by the Church, the Antichrist will come with a fresh strategy – the ultimate - one much more subtle, yet unspeakably worse than anything in the past. And to all appearances the devil’s hand in this will be hidden. Indeed, the Apostles prophesied the coming of the Antichrist to be according to the working of Satan and his demons![10]

       Therefore, we are to believe that Satan, whose position and power is infinitely greater than all earthly power, and long before his own evil spirits have taken part in the deception, will inspire a multitude of lukewarm Christians,[11] as well as those who have strayed after the flesh,[12] before treading down the universal Church with 7 evil spirits more wicked than the last. Thus, gaining power in the Church by enticing the flesh of men, Satan will at last ascend to the highest offices, ruling over the multitudes, including the clergy and magistrates, having either won over the entire Church or the vast majority of its most influential members by means of his duplicitous eloquence, wisdom, riches and glorious fame. The devil himself, I say, will carry out his plan of seduction through efficacious, yet disguised, pseudo-spiritual works, by utilizing his own body, which is both great and extensive, modeled after the mystical body of Christ, whose members are ordained and formed together in the precise manner granted him by God. Once complete, he will then dare reveal the head of his mystical body, imitating a thief and robber whose secret plans and devices to do evil are unknown to his victims until he robs them. Satan will not presume to publicly reveal his head until he is certain there is no one competent to oppose him. In summation, it comes down to this: though once a concealed thief and robber, Satan will now, through his Antichrist, openly introduce evils, inflicting grave harm to the Church, until, at the last, he becomes the unjust leader and tyrant he really is. As a certain astute pirate boldly responded to Alexander the Great: “I am called ‘pirate,’” he said, “because I despoil with one ship, in secret and in private. You, on the other hand,  though you publicly despoil the entire world with a fleet and use even greater force, are called ‘ruler.’”

       Indeed, Satan has already secretly formed, into one, the mystical body of the Antichrist, expanding it afar. It is described as a beast ascending from the sea, upon whom are fitted together several heads,[13] united in a mystical and successive manner. The learned man taught by the Spirit of Christ will easily understand the identity of the beast and its members.[14] He who leaves Christ,[15] impiously desisting from His faith, is of the body of Antichrist, in whom he trusts. Like an eagle, he will be gathered to his own body.[16] To such an one Christ comes as a thief, as it is written in Rev. 16:[17] Behold, he comes as a thief. Blessed is he who watches and guards his steps, lest he appear nude and his baseness seen. And our Jesus, after having spoken many things about those days, added this truth: Watch, because you know not at what hour your Lord will come.[18] And then He follows immediately with this theme: Indeed, know this: If the father of the family knew at what hour the thief were to come, he would certainly watch and not allow his house to be robbed.[19]

       Christ is warning us in our day that those in charge of the Lord’s household will be truly imbued with the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.[20] Not only will these hypocrites not understand the difference between Christ and Antichrist, but they will receive the Antichrist for Christ, zealously joining him, becoming persecutors of Jesus Christ and His followers, hurling the worst insults and causing much injury.

       Christ, who knows all, including the depths of Satan,[21] forewarns us that there will be those professing Christians who know Him not, who, turning their ears away from the truth, will instead turn to fables;[22] or, on the other hand, despite having the virtue and truth of Christ known to them, they will fall away,[23] backwards.[24]

       Daniel also wrote concerning the time of the Antichrist: The wicked will act wickedly, and all the wicked will not understand; but, in turn, the learned will understand.[25] 

 

Concerning those who will preach against the Antichrist.

 

       And note, if you can, those things found in Daniel’s prophecy which reflect on the present time concerning the oblation of the continuous sacrifice, in that he reckons the time in which the abomination of desolation occurs in the Temple, as well as the time of reparation of the sacred Church, the exposition of which I consider in the first tract of this book. I now exegete Daniel wherein he prophesies the restoration of holy church in some unique way after its preceding miseries.

       Consider the principle whereby a day represents a year, according to the scripture which states, I have given you a day for a year,[26]and if we begin our count from the incarnation of the Lord Jesus, as that event which is expressed by Daniel, then those whom the prophet calls ‘blessed’ are those who are present in that time after the 1335th year of our Lord.[27] There is little doubt then that this time of blessing occurred before the year 1340 or 45, which year is well past.[28] Therefore, we must now live in this time of God’s prophetic blessing. I encourage the reader to test the validity of this postulate, insofar as it is consistent with the truth and can be established within this framework.

       And likewise will the docile easily be able to see, by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the nature of the working of Satan, as it is manifest in the body of the Antichrist himself, namely its spirit which has been operating from long before, and expressly designated in numerous scriptures, including 2 Thess. 2, where it is said, For the mystery of iniquity is already working – that is to say, secretly, by way of introducing its wickedness through Christians, all being done under the appearances of religion and holiness – only he who now holds fast, let him hold fast until he is taken out from the midst.[29] Paul speaks to those of you whose obedience to Christ is total, having been raised up from out of the midst of evils from the middle of Antichrist’s body unto future eternal life. He also speaks of one being placed in the middle of Christ’s body, which is a position of rest and quiet, from which the proverb, ‘I wish to be in the middle’ has its origin. And thus will the Antichrist be raised up in the midst of an unsuspecting Church, by the will of Christ Jesus, of whom we next read, And now that iniquitous one will be revealed whom the Lord Jesus will kill by the spirit of his mouth.[30]

       However, there is a second kind of killing of the Antichrist, both his head and body, which is inferred by this particular verse, but which may not be as easily discerned. For we may also understand by this that the Lord Jesus will inspire His chosen priests and preachers, filling them with the spirit of Elijah and Enoch,[31] that is to say, with the spirit of zeal and innocence, with a spirit of fervor and purity, and with a spirit of vigor and devotion. And such as these the Lord will multiply, sending them as angels through the world to gather out all scandals from his kingdom.[32] He will even move heaven and earth by them.[33] These events are imminent. And by them He will kill the anticipated Antichrist, that is to say, the whole multitude of God and Magog,[34] who even until now continuously and powerfully surround the camp of the saints. Through their hypocritical word and example, as well as by virtue of their authority in the Church, they adversely affect the chosen of God by leading many away from the truth of God, compromising the simple with false arguments.

       And as foreshadowed in the Old Testament, the Lord’s modern-day priests and Levites,[35] Christians most beloved in Christ, His friends, will themselves strike down the whale in the sea and divide his body.[36] This they do because the compromisers in authority seek their own things,[37] and not the things of Jesus Christ, namely, the safety of souls. Wherefore those sent by Christ will gain many souls drawing them from out of the body of the Antichrist, incorporating them into Jesus Christ forever. This very thing is prophesied in Job 41: Friends will kill him, merchants will divide him. And these are those who will multiply in the fertile old age of the Church, who will endure unto the end,[38] in order that by their preaching[39] they shall restore all things.[40] And these preachers are those angels who will gather out all scandals from the kingdom of God, converting the hearts of the fathers to their sons, and the hearts of the sons to their fathers.[41] And so, by the one, unified Spirit of Christ working through us, blowing on the dry bones; that is to say, the dead faith of many, strewn throughout the plains of the ecclesial culture, which are covered with carnal flesh, will live again, clothed with the faith of the Son of God. Many will pour, united, into the life of Jesus, bound in the bonds of burning charity, the common people lovingly and obediently following their fathers in the faith. Moreover, the fathers, that is, the priests who are also called curates, will faithfully rule, cherishing those whom they oversee, nourishing them with care through the word and the sacraments.

       Thus, it is also in this way that Christ Jesus will kill the Antichrist by the breath of His mouth, that is, through the mouth of His preachers breathing the fire of zeal and charity, devouring their enemies, as did Moses’ serpent devour the serpents of Pharaoh’s wise men.[42] The apostle says, And Christ will destroy, by the appearance of his coming, him whose coming is according to the working of Satan in all virtue, signs and lying miracles, with every seduction of iniquity in them that perish because they did not receive the love of the truth in order to become saved. God will send them the working of error that they should believe falsehood and be punished for it because they did not believe the truth, but instead consented to iniquity.[43]

 

Just as the Antichrist comes through successive long periods of time,

even so will he be destroyed over time.

Also, On the false signs of the Antichrist.

 

       Those scriptures which prophesy of the Antichrist infer his destruction by the ever-multiplying preachers and true witnesses of Christ Jesus. This is to begin gradually, starting moderately with small success, increasing in strength, while the Antichrist, in contrast, becomes increasingly weaker until he dies. The Lord, through Ezekiel, describes Antichrist’s gradual death when speaking enigmatically of those who destroy him as dry bones,[44] and waters flowing from the right side, which increase in height.[45] Besides these, it is also written, He that believeth shall not make haste.[46]

       One must carefully observe the fact that Satan was long before busy gradually introducing the evil and mystery of Antichrist into the Church[47] under the guise of good. By so doing he has been able to lead the people of God astray, abusing lawful rites, multiplying errors in ever-increasing numbers, spreading them far and wide among the holy chosen ones of God. This the Antichrist will do until he leavens nearly all the glories of the Church with hypocrisy, coloring them with the appearance of sanctity and piety, while transforming God’s grace to business transactions steeped in avarice, vain glories, and carnal concupiscence. In this way he introduces horrendous vices into the Church under noble appearances, even through persons of the highest ranks. Thus, Christians unwittingly commit evil, having been rendered incorrigible, sleep soundly in a false state of security, though they hasten to hell. Behemoth himself, that is, the devil, rests unperturbed in the infinite multitude of religious hypocrisies in which only the appearance of godliness exists; true religion and holiness being absent, as it is written, Having the form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.[48] Again, another scripture describes this evil: He sleeps under the shady trees which cover him with their shadow;[49] that is, the appearance of holiness protects his excuses for sin. Alas, this gross deception holds true today as it did then; alas, as one can now see!

       Therefore, we are taught that just as Satan gradually introduces the mysteries of his Antichrist into the Church, forming them, spreading them far and wide, concealing their snares, saying, Who will see them?, [50] contrarily the Lord Jesus, through a gradually increasing multitude of  preachers, having descended into His beloved disciples during successive Church ages before the final Day of Judgment, will at the last night of blindness rush upon the tribes of God and Magog, typifying the innumerable multitude of hypocrites throughout the whole church, as did Gideon have the victory over the Midianites with the crash of pitchers and ‘lightning.’[51] It is then that the Lord will restore his own continuous sacrifice; that is to say, the daily or repeated eating and drinking of his body and blood among the Christian commoners, which for a long time had been taken away by the antichrists. He will at time reinstate, in abundance, those who love Him and gratefully await His coming.[52] And then there will be preached the sermon which was written concerning the bread coming from Gideon’s camp which would will lay waste the entire multitude of Midianites, which dream foretold the restoration of the people of Israel to its pristine freedom.[53]

       And so in this manner it will come to pass that the Lord Jesus will, in successive order, by the appearance of His coming, destroy him whose coming is after the work of Satan in all virtue and signs and false wonders;[54] that is, that these things will be performed by the liars, pretenders, and disseminators, all in the name of Christ, which things are not grounded in reality, but are really the illusory, lying, secret work of Satan. These most foul hypocrites will gather to themselves the people for their profit, to the loss of their souls. Of these hypocrites it is written, Matt.7: On that day many will say to me, Lord, Lord, in your name have we not cast out demons? And in your name did we not perform many virtuous works? [55] Did you not teach in our streets? [56] To whom the Son of man will respond: Depart from me, workers of iniquity, I do not know you.

       Woe, therefore, to those who, for their personal glory, spread these evil signs and portents which will occur in the final days; especially so 1290 years after the birth of the Lord.[57] For it is prophesied that at this time the wicked will do wickedly through the working of Satan so much so, that despite their carnal and lukewarm lives, (inhuman compared to Christ’s life!), they are made strong, being glorified by men, to the end that they and their legions of allies, as well as the simple people, will fall victim to these demonic portents, having been subtly seduced by their own greed and aggrandizement. These signs and omens reportedly happen in the name of Christ, which is particularly dangerous in seducing the simple into error. Whether these false wonders encompass images of Christ, or relics of the saints, or holy places of pilgrimage, all are effectual in leading the people away from the truth of the Church’s sacraments. Forgetting the crucified Christ, they inquire into those things which will be of no use to their justification and salvation, irrevocably following instead the superstitious stories and inventions of men which brings business into the house of God.

       Therefore, it is Satan’s strategy that by such signs and wonders he confirms his servants, the hypocrites, in the eyes of the gullible and greedy. Wherefore Christ warned of this when He prophesied, For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.[58] Christ spoke of these errors, all propagated in the name of Jesus Christ, and which occur over an extended period during the time of the Antichrist,  whose seductions meet with such great success, He warns the chosen of their being led into error. Wherefore it is corroborated by the Apostle Paul, And in every seduction of iniquity for those who perish by reason of their not receiving the love of the truth in order to be saved. Thus, God will send them the working of error, creating a lie, so that all who did not believe the truth, but who instead consented to iniquity will be avenged. [59]

       Behold God’s judgment on ungrateful Christians, heartless and uncaring regarding Christ’s humility and ignominy on the cross. It is upon them that God will allow Satan to work so great a seduction, for when they knew him to be God, they glorified him not as God, nor thanked him; but they became vain in their reasoning,[60] returning to works of the flesh, putting their works before Christ and His sacraments, showing contempt for His Body and Blood by putting away the frequent and highly acceptable eating of the Lord Himself, which they themselves admit.

       Furthermore, the word of God, all divinely inspired scripture becomes for them too commonplace, old and of little weight, as if they were fables or a song which sweetly sounds. For, indeed, they hear, but do not; they speak, but with lies. They confess they know God, but deny Him by their works. The life and virtues of Jesus and His blessed Apostles and martyrs are abused and cause for nausea in these worthless Christians. And so, with a burden-free spirit they hear and make assent with the word of God, yet not as is worthy, with fear and trembling.

       Hence, it is true today that the devil has received this great power from the Lord, whereby he deceives, arranging for every kind of seduction, and that secretly. For the mysteries of the Antichrist are those which are working in the Church, in the name of Christ, through holy things, even the images of Christ, and the bones and relics of the saints. Satan’s signs and lying wonders he does in these things in consecrated places because God has given him the power to do so. This judgment is the vengeance of God dealt by evil men for the destruction of evil men. Is this not similar to the power received from God which enabled Satan to handle the Lord’s Body in the temptation, and then at the last to spit on Him, beat and kill Him while in the Jews hands? And did not Satan receive similar power from God over the saints of Christ, who, though full of the Holy Spirit, were beaten in the manner of blessed Anthony? And did he not crucify many of them by means of evil men?

       Why then, I ask, do men find it amazing that Satan has such power to work evil today through his servants, the worthless hypocrites? For it is prophesied that by his power, signs and lying wonders, which today are seen in our images of Christ, as well as bones of the saints, those who perish are to be led astray by every seduction, because they have not received the love of the truth to be saved. So God will send them the working of error, so that all will believe the lie, all who have not believed the truth, but have held to iniquity. For Satan can do not only these miracles, but even greater things, if and insofar as it is permitted him by the Lord. It is therefore, indeed true, what is written in Rev. 2, Who knows the depth of Satan? [61]

       Therefore, to combat those hypocrisies, devilish frauds and infinite seductions which satanically work in and through those things sought by Christians for their salvation, yet are stumbling blocks multiplied with errors, it is necessary that men come with the qualities of eagles,[62] who know well Satan’s strategies and schemes; men who can expose the Antichrist, revealing his hidden secrets, and thus, take away all scandals from the kingdom of Christ.[63] And these men are His preachers whom He foretold would come in glory. It is they who will destroy the Antichrist by the Spirit, as the mouthpiece of Jesus Christ, dispersing, devouring and incorporating Antichrist’s body into the Body of Christ.

 

In the primitive Church the Antichrist was weak.

 

       Indeed, it most be noted that in a unique, yet appropriate way, the Antichrist was said to be the son of iniquity not only because of some singular iniquity, but because in him was to be found the superabundance of every iniquity. The Lord prophesied as much that iniquity shall abound.[64] And so, the devil, the first murderer, can be called the father of iniquity. It is because of his envy that sin entered the world. Christ told the truth about him when He said, He is a liar and the father of it.[65] Therefore, the devil begets and produces an abundance of iniquity in conjunction with the concupiscence of men. For thus is it written in Ezekiel, Your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.[66]

       Therefore, with these propositions in mind, and having stated above the distinct timeframe prophesied by Daniel, now is the opportune time to point out that famed Antichrist, taking a reasonable and common sense approach.

       (1) First, we must investigate the quality, character and nature of the times in which we live.[67]

       Behold, in the beginning of the Gospel’s proclamation, the virtue and wisdom of God were endowed on the Church from above,[68] and he multiplied the sons of virtue and wisdom; that is, the Apostles and martyrs, every true and faithful seed. And then, indeed, the iniquity of the devil conceived the Antichrist, about whom it was admirably written in the Gospel: Lord, you have sown good seed in your field, have you not? [69] This is immediately followed-up by the question, From whence then hath it tares? By this parable we are taught the beginning of the Antichrist is to be found in pseudo-Christians, first from the Jews and Greeks, about whom John spoke, Even now there are many antichrists.[70] I ask the reader to look carefully at John’s statement. He did not call the antichrists Jews or Gentiles. Rather he called them false and hostile Christians.[71] But because the sons of God, possessing the virtue and wisdom of God, having put on the Lord Jesus Christ,[72] in His strength holding the rule in the supreme ranks and bishoprics of the holy Church, administering all public offices justly and piously, they tightly bound iniquity. This can be clearly seen in the case of bold Simon Peter’s dealings with deceitful Ananias and Sapphira,[73] as well as Paul’s curse of Elymas the sorcerer,[74] lest they harm present or future believers. And so, because of such men and their efforts, it was not possible for iniquity to abound because the Church of Christ forthrightly struck its manifest worse offspring against the rock that is Christ, who is the virtue and wisdom of God, as it is written, Blessed is he who will hold and strike you little ones against the rock.[75]

       And thus it was, according to my judgment in what I can elicit from the prophets, that for the first 1200 years of the Church every iniquity and mortal sin was punished and eradicated, so that it was not possible for the people to gain the strength to overturn the public, common good. Likewise evil Christians or heretics were by no means strong enough to multiply in the Church, at least as far as the Catholic, Apostolic Church was concerned. Nor was the head of Antichrist, the devil, able to rise. Just as Christ is the head of the saints, truly the head of Christ is God.[76] In like manner, Antichrist is the head of the church of the malignant,[77] and the head of Antichrist is the devil,[78] with his seven spirits more wicked than himself.[79] He has been conquered by Christ Jesus, thrown outside the world, ground under the feet of the Apostles of Christ, as was stated above in Chapter 2. Wherefore neither the devil nor his minions was able to rule in the Church during this time because men possessing the wisdom and virtue of God, having the authority, power and pure rule in Christ, had captured, conquered, excommunicated and punished such wicked men. During this time excommunication was especially prevalent, having thunderstruck mortal sins and other such notorious crimes with equity, justice and holiness.

       Sins and sinners adhere together according to that passage of the Gospel, If your brother has sinned against you,[80]etc., and a little afterwards, If he will not listen to you, tell the church. If, indeed, he will not listen to the church, let him be to you as a heathen and a publican.[81] And then follows the doctrine concerning excommunication of such men: Amen, I say, whatsoever you will bind on earth will be bound also in heaven. And whatsoever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.[82] Likewise, the same truth is expressed in that passage, If your hand or foot causes scandals, cut it off and cast it from you.[83] This needs be understood of excommunication of the wicked by the Church. I have already expounded this in my 4th Treatise, Article 3, Chapter 5, found in this book. This same doctrine of excommunication is taught in I Cor. 5, where it is clearly said, I have written you in a letter, he said, not to mix with fornicators, though not completely with the fornicators of this world, or with the greedy, or extortionists, or those serving idols, for then you would have to leave this world. Now I have written you not to keep company; if any man who is called a brother among you is a fornicator, or is greedy, or serves idols, or is a slanderer, or a drunk, or violent, you should not be with him, nor take food with him.

       From these scriptures it is explicit how, in the early Church, they cut off the anti-Christians from heaven by the sword of their power. And, incidentally, it need be noted here that scriptural references to the Antichrist, or the beast rising from the sea, or Gog and Magog surrounding and striking the camp of the saints of God, or the harlot presiding over the scarlet beast, or the gold chalice full of abominations, and many other similar prophetic references, all pertain to persons and events which happen within the Church of Christ, and are not to be looked for outside the Church or in the world, as we call it. The fulfillment of these prophecies will be by means of evildoers, who, in name only, call themselves Christians,[84] of whom the Apostle speaks quite notably: What are they for me to judge, who are outside? Do you not judge them that are within? For God will judge those who are outside.[85] Then he asserts, Take away the evil from yourselves. Therefore, although the holy scripture speaks of many things pertaining to the Antichrist and other evils, it does not consider, nor judge, nor speak of those outside the Church, nor, indeed, would it be of benefit to the Church to do so. Rather, scripture speaks of those professing Christians who commit evil within the Church, whose numbers are ever increasing. Of this sacred scripture is primarily concerned. History will verify in fact that which today is seen in the Spirit.

       But now let us return to my proposition which states that in the primitive Church the saints ruled mightily in virtue and wisdom. All crimes, even the least, but especially those made public, were soon corrected. The wicked were excommunicated without delay and, thus, the son of iniquity was not able to gain strength. As a consequence he was not to be revealed at that time. And, as was posited further above in the example given us of the thief, men follow the wicked one’s works secretly, listening to his instructions while they sleep, as it is also written in John 3: Evil who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light so that his works are not brought to the light. However, he who does the truth comes to the light so that his works are manifest because they were done in God.[86]

       Therefore, there has always been some sort of sin in the Church of the crucified Christ, though not always so large as to readily appear as evil, yet in the assembly of Christians it was always discerned and viewed as dreadful. Consequently, the little ones in Christ Jesus have easily avoided all scandals because just as there was light in the songs of Israel, though under the domination of Egyptian darkness, they, too, persevered. So it is true today that everyone in the Church who follows Christ does not walk in darkness, but has the light of life.[87]

 

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[1] Regulae veteris et novi Testamenti : Rules of the Old and New Testament; Ed., Vlastimil Kybal (Innsbruck: Wagner, 1911), volume III.

[2] As Christ is the Head of his Body, so Antichrist is the head of his body.

[3] I.e., a priest who fondles a parishioner during confession.

[4] II Thess. 2:9.

[5] 1 Timothy 6:10.

[6] 1 John 2:16.

[7] Luke 11:23.

[8] 1 Timothy 4:1.

[9] Matthew 24:24.

[10] II Thess. 2:9; 1 Timothy 4:1.

[11] Rev.3:15-16.

[12] 1 John 2:15.

[13] Rev. 13:1.

[14] Rev. 13:18; 17:9.

[15] 1 John 2:18-19.

[16] Matt. 24:18.

[17] Rev. 16:15.

[18] Matt. 24:42.

[19] Matt. 24:43.

[20] Luke 12:1.

[21] Rev. 2:24.

[22] II Tim. 4:4.

[23] Hebrews 6:6.

[24] John 18:6.

[25] Daniel 12:10.

[26] Ezek. 4:6.

[27] Daniel 12:11-12. Matthew considers the Temple sacrifice ‘taken away’ by the birth of Jesus. Others believe it ‘taken away’ or ‘ceasing’ by His crucifixion. Others still understand it to mean the destruction of the Temple in  A. D. 70.  Thus, the range of years could possibly be interpreted as A. D. 1335 – A. D. 1405.

[28] Matthew wrote circa 1385.

[29] 2 Thess. 2:7.

[30] 2Thess. 2:8.

[31] Rev. 11:3 is implied. Commentators from the Middle Ages frequently identified these two witnesses as Elijah and Enoch. Matthew understands that the witnesses in Rev. 11 testify the truth against the Antichrist.

[32] Matt. 13:41. 

[33] Matt. 24:29; Rev. 11:13.

[34] Rev. 20:8. Matthew viewed Satan as loosed in his day, after having been bound for 1,000 years.

[35] 1 Peter 2:5.

[36] Isaiah 27:1.

[37] Philippians 2:21.

[38] Matt. 24:13.

[39] Matt. 24:14.

[40] Matt. 17:11.

[41] Malachi 4:5-6.

[42] Exodus 7:10-12.

[43] II Thess. 2:8-12.

[44] Ezek. 37:1 ff.

[45] Ezek. 47:1 ff.

[46] Isaiah 28:16b (KJV).

[47] II Thess. 2:7a.

[48] II Timothy 3:5.

[49] Job 40:21-22.

[50] Psalm 64:5.

[51] Judges 7.

[52] II Tim. 4:8. One of the main points of controversy in Matthew’s day was that which surrounded the limitation of receiving the Body of Christ to but once a month. Matthew and his advocates argued for daily reception.

[53] Judges 7:13-14.

[54] II Thess. 2:9.

[55] Matt. 7:22.

[56] Luke 13:26.

[57] Daniel 12:11; speaking of the setting up of the Abomination of Desolation.

[58] Matt. 24:24. (KJV)

[59] II Thess. 2:10-11.

[60] Romans 1:21.

[61] Rev. 2:24.

[62] Matt. 24:28

[63] Matt. 13:41.

[64] Matt. 24:12a.

[65] John 8:44.

[66] Ezek. 16:3.

[67] Matt. 16:3.

[68] John 3:37.

[69] Matt. 13:27.

[70] I John 2:18.

[71] Cf. I John 2:19….They went out from us.

[72] Romans 13:14.

[73] Acts 5:1ff.

[74] Acts 13:8ff.

[75] Psalm 137:9.

[76] I Cor. 11:3.

[77] Rev. 17:3.

[78] Rev. 13:4.

[79] Matt. 12:45.

[80] Matt. 18:15.

[81] Matt. 18:17.

[82] Matt. 18:18.

[83] Mark 9:43.

[84] Matt. 24:5.

[85] I Cor. 5:12-13.

[86] John 3:20-21.

[87] John 8:12.