« PreviousContinue »
arraign and condemn as apoftafy and rebellion in the Jewish church. The Jews never totally rejected the true God, but only worshipped him through the medium of fome image, or in conjunction with fome other beings: and are not the members of the church of Rome (5) guilty of the fame idolatry and apoftafy in the worship of images, in the adoration of the hoft, in the invocation of angels and faints, and in the oblation of prayers and praifes to the virgin Mary, as much or more than to God bleffed for ever? This is the grand corruption of the Christian church, this is the apoftafy as it is emphatically called, and deferves to be called, the apoftafy that the apoftle had warned the Theffalonians of before, the apoftafy that had alfo been foretold by the prophet Da
If the apoftafy be rightly charged upon the church of Rome, it follows of confequence that the man of fin is the pope, not meaning this or that pope in particular, but the pope in general, as the chief head and fupporter of this apoftafy. The apoftafy produces him, and he again promotes the apoftafy. He is properly the man of fin, not only on account of the fcandalous lives of inany popes, but by reafon of their more fcandalous doctrins and principles, difpenfing with the moft neceffary duties, and granting or rather felling pardons and indulgences to the moft abominable crimes. Or if by fin be meant idolatry particularly as in the Old Teftament, it is evident to all how he hath corrupted the worship of God, and perverted it from spirit and truth to fuperftition and idolatry of the groffeft kind. He alfo, like the falfe apoftle Judas, is the fon of perdition, whether actively as being the caufe and occafion of deftruction to others, or paffively as being deftined and devoted to destruction himself. He oppofeth; he is the great adverfary to God and man, excommunicating and anathematizing, perfecuting and destroying by croifadoes and inquifitions, by maffacres and horrid executions, thofe fincere Chriftians, who prefer the word of God to all the authority of men. The Heathen emperor of Rome may have flain his thou
(5) See Stillingfleet's Difcourfe of Rome, Chap. 1 and 2. Vol. 5, of concerning the Idolatry of the church his works.
fands of innocent Chriftians, but the Chriftian bishop of Rome hath flain his ten thousands. There is fcarce any country, that hath not at one time or other been made the stage of thefe bloody tragedies: fcarce any age, that hath not in one place or other feen them acted. He eralteth himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped; not only above inferior magiftrates, but likewife above bithops and primates, exerting an absolute jurifdiction and uncontrolled fupremacy over all; nor only above bishops and primates, but likewife above kings and emperors, depofing fome, and advancing others, obliging them to proftrate themselves before him, to kifs his toe, to hold his ftirrup, to (6) wait bare-footed at his gate, treading (7) even upon the neck, and (8) kicking off the imperial crown with his foot; nor only above kings and emperors, but likewife above Chrift and God himfelf, making the word of God of none effect by his traditions, forbidding what God hath commanded, as marriage, communion in both kinds, the use of the fcriptures in the vulgar tongue, and the like, and alfo commanding or allowing what God hath forbidden, as idolatry, perfecution, works of fupererogation, and various other inftances. So that he as God fitteth in the temple of God, fhewing himself that he is God. He is therefore in profeffion a Chriftian, and a Chriftian bishop. His fitting in the temple of God plainly implies his having a feat or cathedra in the Chriftian church: and he fitteth there as God, efpecially at his inauguration, when he fitteth upon the high altar in St. Peter's church, and maketh the table of the Lord his footftool, and in that pofition receiveth adoration. At all times he exercifeth divine authority in the church, showing himself that he is God, affecting divine titles and attributes as holiness and infallibility, affuming divine powers and prerogatives in condemning and abfolving men, in retaining and forgiving fins, in afferting his decrees to be of the fame or greater authority than the word of God, and commanding them to be received under the penalty of the fame
(6) As Hildebrand or Gregory VII. did to Henry IV.
(7) As Alexander III. did to Fre
(8) As Celeftin did to Henry VI.
or greater damnation. Like another Salmoneus he is proud to imitate the ftate and thunder of the Almighty; and is ftiled, and pleased to be (9) ftiled, 'Our Lord God the pope; another God upon earth; king of kings, and lord of lords. The fame is the dominion of God and the pope. To believe that our Lord God the pope might not decree, as he decreed, it were a ' matter of herefy. The power of the pope is greater than all created power, and extends itself to things celeftial, terreftrial, and infernal. The pope doeth whatfoever he lifteth, even things unlawful, and is more than God.' Such blafphemies are not only allowed, but are even approved, encouraged, rewarded in the writers of the church of Rome; and they are not only the extravagances of private writers, but are the language even of public decretals and acts of councils. So that the pope is evidently the God upon earth: at leaft there is no one like him, who exalteth himself above every God; no one like him, who fitteth as God in the temple of God, Jhowing himself that he is God.
But if the bishop of Rome be the man of fin, it may feem fomewhat strange that the apoftle thould mention these things in an Epiftle to the Theffalonians, and not rather in his Epiftle to the Romans. But this Epistle was written four or five years before that to the Romans, and there was no occafion to mention the fame things again in another epiftle. What was written to the Theffalonians or any particular church, was in effect written to all the churches, the epiftles being defigned for general edification, and intended to be read publicly in the congregations of the faithful. When St. Paul wrote his Epiftle to the Romans, he had not been at Rome, and confequently could not allude to any former difcourfe with them, as with the Theffalonians: and these things
(9) Dominus Deus nofter papa. Alter Deus in terra. Rex regum, dominus dominorum. Idem eft dominium Dei et papæ. Credere Do minum Deum noftrum papam non potuiffe ftatuere, prout ftatuit, hæreticum cenferetur. Papæ poteftas eft major omni poteftate creata, extendit que fe ad coeleftia, terreftria, et infer
nalia. Papa facit quicquid libet, etiam illicita, et eft plus quam Deus. See these and the like inftances quoted in Bishop Jewel's Apology and Defenfe, in Downham's treatife de Antichrifto, and Poole's English Annotations. See likewife Barrow's treatise of the Pope's Supremacy in the Introduction.
were not proper to be fully explained in a letter, and efpecially in a letter addreffed to the Chriftian converts at the capital city of the empire. The apoftles with all their prudence were reprefented as enemies to government, and were charged with turning the world upfide down; (Acts XVII. 6.) but the accufation would have been founded higher, if St. Paul had denounced openly, and to Romans too, the deftruction of the Roman empire. However, he admonished them to beware of apoftafy, (Rom. XI. 20, 22.) and to continue in God's goodness, or otherwife they shall be cut off: and afterwards when he vifited Rome, and dwelt there two whole years, (Acts XXVIII. 30.) he might have frequent opportunities of informing them particularly of thefe things. It is not to be fuppofed, that he discoursed of these things only to the Theffalonians. It was a matter of concern to all Christians to be forewarned of the great corruption of Chriftianity, that they might be neither furprised into it, nor offended at it; and the caution was the more neceffary, as the mystery of iniquity was already working. The feeds of popery were fown in the apostle's time; for even then idolatry was ftealing into the church, (1 Cor. X. 14.) and a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, (Col. II. 18.) ftrife and divifions, (1 Cor. III. 3.) an adulterating and handling of the word of God deceitfully, (2 Cor. II. 17. IV. 2) a gain of godliness, and teaching of things for filthy lucre's fake, (1 Tim. VI. 5. Tit. I. 11.) a vain obfervation of festivals, (Gal. IV. 10.) a vain diftinction of meats, (1 Cor. VIII. 8.) a neglecting of the body, (Col. II. 23.) traditions, and commandments, and doctrins of men, (Col. II, 8, 22.) with other corruptions and innovations. All heretics were in a manner the forerunners of the man of fin; and Simon Magus in particu lar was fo lively a type and figure of the wicked one, that he hath been mistaken, as we fee, for the wicked one himfelf.
The foundations of popery were laid indeed in the apoftle's days, but the fuperftructure was raised by de grees, and feveral ages paffel before the building was completed, and the man of fin was revealed in full perfection, St. Paul having communicated to the Theffa
lonians what it was that hindered his appearance, it was natural for other Chriftians also who read this Epistle, to inquire what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time; and the apostle without doubt would impart it to other Chriftians as freely as to the Theffalonians; and the Theffalonians and other Chriftians might deliver it to their fucceffors, and fo the tradition might generally prevail, and the tradition that generally prevailed was that what hindered was the Roman empire: and therefore the primitive Chriftians in the public offices of the church prayed for its peace and welfare, as knowing that when the Roman empire fhould be diffolved and broken into pieces, the empire of the man of fin would be raïfed on its ruins. How this revolution was effected, no writer can better inform us than (1) Machiavel. "The emperor of Rome quitting Rome to hold his re"fidence at Conftantinople, the Roman empire began "to decline, but the church of Rome augmented as faft. "Nevertheless, until the coming in of the Lombards, "all Italy being under the dominion either of emperors "or kings, the bishops affumed no more power than "what was due to their doctrin and manners; in civil "affairs, they were fubject to the civil power.-But "Theodoric king of the Goths fixing his feat at Ra"venna, was that which advanced their intereft, and "made them more confiderable in Italy; for there being no other prince left in Rome, the Romans were "forced for protection to pay greater allegiance to "the pope. And yet their authority advanced no far"ther at that time, than to obtain the preference before the church of Ravenna. But the Lombards having invaded, and reduced Italy into feveral cantons, the pope took the opportunity, and began to hold up his "head. For being as it were governor and principal at
Rome, the emperor of Conftantinople and the Lom"bards bare him a refpect, fo that the Romans (by me"diation of their pope) began to treat and confederate "with Longinus [the emperor's lieutenant] and the
(1) Machiavel's Hift. of Florence, Book r. p. 6, &c. of the English translation.