« PreviousContinue »
arraign and condemn as apoftasy and rebellion in the Jewish church. The Jews never totally rejected the true God, but only worshipped him through the medium of some image, or in conjunction with fome other beings : and are not the members of the church of Rome (5) guilty of the same idolatry and apoftafy in the worship of images, in the adoration of the host, in the invocation of angels and faints, and in the oblation of prayers and praises to the virgin Mary, as much or more than to God blessed for ever? This is the grand corruption of the Christian church, this is the apostasy as it is emphatically called, and deserves to be called, the apostasy that the Apostle had warned the Thessalonians of before, the
apostasy that had also been foretold by the prophet Da· niel.
If the apostasy be rightly charged upon the church of Rome, it follows of confequence that the man of sin is the pope, not meaning this or that pope in particular, but the pope in general, as the chief head and supporter of this apostasy. The apoftafy produces him, and he again promotes the apostasy. He is properly the man of fin, not only on account of the fcandalous lives of many popes, but by reason of their more fcandalous doctrins and principles, difpensing with the most necessary duties, and granting or rather selling pardons and indulgences to the most abominable crimes. Or if by fin be meant idolatry particularly as in the Old Testament, 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 groffest kind. He also, like the false apostle Judas, is the son of perdition, whether actively as being the cause and occasion of destruction to others, or passively as being destined and devoted to destruction himself. He opposeth; he is the great adversary to God and man, excommunicating and anathematizing, persecuting and destroying by croisadoes and inquisitions, by massacres and horrid executions, those fincere Christians, who prefer the word of God to all the authority of men, The Heathen emperor of Rome may have sain his thou
(5) See Stilling fleet's Discourse of Rome, Chap. 1 and 2. Vol. 5, qf concerning the Idolatry of the church his works.
sands of innocent Christians, but the Christian bishop of Rome hath flain his ten thousands. There is scarce any country, that hath not at one time or other been made the stage of these bloody tragedies: scarce any age, that hath not in one place or other seen them acted. He eralteth himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped; not only above inferior magistrates, but likewise above bishops and primates, exerting an abfolute jurisdiction and uncontrolled supremacy over all; nor only above bishops and primates, but likewise above kings and emperors, deposing fome, and advancing others, obliging them to prostrate themselves before him,* to kiss 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 likewise above Christ and God hiinself, 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 scriptures in the vulgar tongue, and the like, and also commanding or allowing what God hath forbidden, as idolatry, perfecution, works of supererogation, and various other instances. So that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, sewing himself that he is God. He is therefore in profession a Christian, and a Christian bishop. His fitting in the temple of God plainly implies his having a feat or cathedra in the Christian church: and he sitteth there as God, especially at his inauguration, when he fitteth upon the high altar in St. Peter's church, and maketh the table of the Lord his footstool, and in that position receiveth adoration. At all times he exerciseth divine authority in the church, showing himself that he is God, affecting divine titles and attributes as holiness and infallibility, assuming divine powers and prerogatives in condemning and absolying men, in retaining and forgiving lins, in aflerting his decrees to be of the same 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 deric I. VII. did to Henry IV. .
(8) As Celestin did to Henry VI. (7) As Alexander III. did to Fre.
or or greater damnation. Like another Salmoneus he iš proud to imitate the state and thunder of the Almighty; and is stiled, and pleased to be (9) ftiled, Our Lord • God the pope; another God upon earth; king of ! kings, and lord of lords. The same is the dominion I of God and the pope. To believe that our Lord God
the pope might not decree, as he decreed, it were a ' matter of heresy. The power of the pope is greater • than all created power, and extends itself to things
celestial, terrestrial, and infernal. The pope doeth "whatsoever he listeth, 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 least 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, showing himself that he is God.
But if the bishop of Rome be the man of fin, it may seem somewhat strange that the apostle should mention these things in an Epistle to the Thessalonians, and not rather in his Epistle to the Romans. But this Epistle was written four or five years before that to the Romans, and there was no occasion to mention the same things again in another epistle. What was written to the Thelfalonians or any particular church, was in effect written to all the churches, the epistles being designed for general edification, and intended to be read publicly in the congregations of the faithful. When St. Paul wrote his Epistle to the Romans, he had not been at Rome, and confequently could not allude to any former discourse with them, as with the Thessalonians: and these things
(9) Dominus Deus nofter papa. nalia. Papa facit quicquid libet, Alter Deus in terra. Rex regum, etiam illicita, et est plus quam Deus. dominus dominorum. Idem elt do. See these and the like instances quoted minium Dei et pape. Credere Do. in Bishop Jewel's Apology and Deminum Deum nostrum papam non fense, in Downham's treatite de Antipotuiffe ftatuere, prout statuit, hære- chrifto, and Poole's English Annotaticum cenferetur. Papæ poteftas eft tions. See likewise Barrow's treatise major omni potestate creata, extendit. of the Pope's Supremacy in the Intro'que fe ad cæleftia, terrestria, et infer- duction,
were not proper to be fully explained in a letter, and especially in a letter addre!sed to the Christian converts at the capital city of the empire. The apostles with all their prudence were represented as enemies to government, and were charged with turning the world upside down; (Acts XVII. 6.) but the accusation would have been founded higher, if St. Paul had denounced openly, and to Romans too, the destruction of the Roman einpire. However, he admonished them to beware of apostasy, (Rom. XI. 20, 22.) and to continue in God's goodness, or otherwise they shall be cut off : and afterwards when he visited Rome, and alwelt there two whole years, (Acts XXVIII. 30.) he might have frequent opportunities of informing them particularly of these things. It is not to be supposed, that he discoursed of these things only to the Thessalonians. It was a matter of concern to all Christians to be forewarned of the great corruption of Christianity, that they might be neither surprised into it, nor offended at it; and the caution was the more necessary, as the mystery of iniquity was already working. The feeds of popery were fown in the apostle's time; for even then idolatry was stealing into the church, (1 Cor. X. 14.) and a roluntary humility and worshipping of angels, (Col. II. 18.) frifeand divisions, (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, (i Tim. VI. 5. Tit. I. 11.) a' vain obfervation of festivals, (Gal. IV. 10.) a vain distinction 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 particular was so lively a type and figure of the wicked one, that he hath been mistaken, as we see, for the wicked one him. felf.
The foundations of popery were laid indeed in the apostle's days, but the superstructure was raised by de. grees, and several ages pailice before the building was completed, and the man of fin was revealed in full perfection, St, Paul having communicated to the Thessa
pery were loquity was alre
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 in part it to other Christians as freely as to the Thessalonians; and the Thessalonians and other Christians might deliver it
to their fucceffors, and so the tradition might generally ' prevail, and the tradition that generally prevailed was
that what hindered was the Roman empire : and therefore the primitive Christians in the public offices of the church prayed for its peace and welfare, as knowing that when the Roman empire should be diffolved and broken into pieces, the empire of the man of sin would be raised 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 Constantinople, the Roman empire began " to decline, but the church of Rome augmented as fast. “ Nevertheless, until the coming in of the Lombards, " all Italy being under the dominion either of emperors " or kings, the billops assumed no more power than 66 what was due to their doctrin and manners ; in civil « affairs, they were subject to the civil power. ---But
Theodoric king of the Goths fixing his feat at Ra66 venna, was that which advanced their interest, and 16 inade them more considerable in Italy; for there be"ing 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 several 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 Constantinople and the Lom" bards bare him a respect, so that the Romans (by me“ diation of their pope) began to treat and confederate “ with Longinus (the emperor's lieutenant] and the
« Rom: For boopportunitaly into the Lonn
(1) Machiavel's Hift. of Florence, Book 1. p. 6, &c. of the English tandation.