Page images
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

of Mankind to that Love of God from which they were fallen, by Humility, Mortification, and bearing the Crofs. For when the Emperors embraced Chriftianity, and the Church began to enjoy the Favour and Protection of the Secular Powers, that Primitive Love and Fervour which fhone fo visibly amongst them in the hottest Perfecutions and Oppofitions of their Enemies began fenfibly to cool and languish, and more carnal Inclinations to ftart up in their room. The diftinguishing Marks of Favour and Honour which were put upon the Governors of the Church began fenfibly to foften and corrupt that Holy Severity that had fo long flourished amongst them; they began much more to afpire after Honours, Riches, and Authority, and the Church it felf was early beginning to be modelled according to the Form of the Civil Government in the Empire, which was one chief Occafion of the many Quarels amongst the Bishops about their Sees; and of their afpiring to a worldly Dignity fuitable to the Places of their Refidence. This Ambition and Strife of the Clergy produced also a fatal Degeneracy in their Manners, much complained of by Ancient Writers; having entertained wrong Notions of their Power of binding and loofing, inflicting of Cenfures, diftributing the Charity of the People, and determining of Controverfies in Civil Matters voluntarily refered to them according to the Apoftles Advice, they laid the Early Foundations of the Antichriftian Preheminence now vifible in the Papacy.

I a


See Soz. Lib. 6.


Ep. 203. Papacy. St. Austin inveighs feverely against the worldly Pomp of Ecclefiafticks in his Time, and accordingly in conjunction with the reft of the African Bifhops affembled in Council, paffed their Cenfure Con. Car- upon it. As did alfo St. Jerom. and St. thag. 4. Bafil, fo did alfo St Chryfoftom but partiCan. 16. cularly St. Bernard, in his Memorable Sermon de malis Paftoribus. The Church in Cap. 16 fhort became too like a Worldly Kingdom, even in the worst respects, especially when Mat. 10. Kings and Emperors became over lavish in their Liberality to purchase Pardons for their Sins; whereupon a Learned Man obferved, that the Difcipline of the Church was very much relaxed, in recompence as it were, for the large Endowments received from them. This Profpect of Riches, Honours, and the Good Things of the World was an Encouragement to Men of worldly and corrupt Minds to get themfelves into Places of Truft and Authority in the Church, where refolving to enjoy them to the Heigth, they quickly fought out fuch Gloffes and Expofitions of thofe places of Holy Scriptures which witneffed against their Corruption, as might reconcile their Religion with their Inclinations, fo verily making the Word of God of none Effect by their Traditions, which were fo effectually conveyed to Pofterity, both by Precept and Example, that at length the Face of Religion was quite changed, and under the Name and Profeffion of Chriftianity, the very Design of it, (viz. the Reftoring Mankind to the Love of God, by the

Tim. Hom, 50

the Mortification of themselves) was utterly undermin'd and fabverted, till it pleafed God about the beginning of the 15th Century, to raife up fome who boldly and refolutely bore their Testimony against many Corruptions, and began fuch a Reformation, as would (if the Primitive Standard had been closely obferved) have been moft glorious.



S5. Now all thefe Corruptions were no That the doubt Antichriftian, and fo far as the Ro- Charge of mish Church abetted and maintained that ftianifm is Idolatry and Superftition, that infolent not approand Blafphemous Ufurpation of a God-like priated to Supremacy, in oppofition to the Supremacy the Church of Chrift and the Civil Magiftrate, that of Rome. bloody and perfecuting Temper towards thofe that witneffed against her Corruptions, which are the plain and diftinguishing Characters of Antichrift, fo far fhe might *See Dan. properly be called Antichriftian, and the II. 37Pope as the Vifible Head of the Apoftacy, 1 Tim. 4 might (according to what was before laid 1-4. down) be properly called Antichrift; which Dan. 7. 8, has been learnedly defended by Mr. Mede, 11, 20,25, Dr. More, &c. But that Antichriftianifm fhould be fo far confined to the Church of 11.36. Rome, as to exempt all the other different 2 Thefs. 2. Communions of Chriftendom from that 4 Charge, is hardly juftifiable. It might be reckoned an invidious Design to offer to expofe and lay open the Failures and Deficiencies of the Reformed Churches as to their Conftitution and Difcipline, many of which we lament, and wish to reform; but the Iniquity of the Times will not fuffer it. Whilft Policy and Worldly-Wisdom make

8.9, 14,

23, 24,25.

I 3


Men unreasonably afraid of giving Scandal by the Reftitution of that Difcipline, which others were not afraid to give by abolishing it. However, this may with too much Juftice be faid, and is too evident to be denyed, That the Spirit of Antichriftianifm reigns at this Day far and wide amongst much the greater part of the Members even of the best conftituted and pureft Church, and other Congregations of the ReformatiThat the on. For the Antichriftian Spirit of Error Spirit of and Delufion has fo far infinuated it felf inAntichrift reigns alfo to almoft all forts of Profeffions, that under in the re- the cover and pretext of Religion, and the formed Caufe of God, they ftand in direct OppoChurches. fition to the Great End and Defign of Reli

gion; depending in the mean time upon their Blind Zeal for each of their particular Schemes and Difcipline, and (that Grand Idol of the Reformation)hearing of Sermons, which one part is come to that abuse at this day, as to juftle out an effential part of Christian Worship, the Celebration of the Holy Eucharift, without which the Service of the Church is imperfect, (as hath been learnedly proved) and which doth too appofitely fall in with one of the Characters of Antichrift, viz. the taking away of the daily Sacrifice or Oblation. Though at the fame time it must be confeffed to our Grief and Shame, that even that most Sacred Symbol of Christianity is as capable of being abufed as any of the other, and actually is fo. With these outward Duties and Forms (as they make them) of Christianity (though few doc obferve even these“) Men




are amufed, and made to believe that they are good Christians, though really in their Hearts they have not one of the Qualities of the Spirit of Jefus Chrift. This is a Truth too melancholy to be infifted upon, and too plain to be denyed. And all thofe Perfons who are in this Spirit, who either practice, encourage, or fupport thefe Corruptions, are properly Members of the myftical Body of Antichrift, of whom when a (perhaps determined) number fhall have filled up the Measure of their Iniquities, they fhall produce as the Genuine Fruit of their compleat Apoftacy, an embodied or Perfonal Antichrift, who fhall be the Reverse or Oppofite of the Bleffed Jefus; fo that as the Perfection of Goodness was lodged in the Perfon of our Lord. Jefus Chrift; fo the Perfection of Evil fhould be in him who is called Antichrift; and as the One is the Son of God, fo the other is the Son of Satan. So Origen tells Celfus.


Lib. 6. p: 306. Edit.



The Autho

§ 6. Now this Opinion of a Perfonal Antichrift is (I.) plainly the Doctrine of Scrip-rities for a ture, in fome places whereof there is an Proof of a indifputable clearnefs, and others (that perfonal have been controverted, and by the Modern Antichrift, Writers upon that Subject have been applied to the Papacy have been fo understood by the Ancients. II. It was the uncontroverted Doctrine of the Primitive Church. III.It was a common Doctrine amongst the Jews, which is to this Day retain'd by thofe among them who treat of this Subject.

I. THE Remarkably fingular Epithets From Scripe given in Scripture do plainly point out a ture.




[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »