Sermons On Antichrist For Advent: Who Is Antichrist According To Vulgar Opinions Of Heretics
Who is Antichrist according to vulgar opinions of heretics.
IT hath been oft showed that our Protestant Reformers have not settled belief in anything, nor in which be found any agreement even with their own brethren. Whereof Frusius in his Epigrams makes this pithy interrogation:
Vna fides cum fit, quam nos docuere parentes, Cur nunc tot fidibus luditur vna fides?
One holy faith our Godly Parents knew alone: why now a new belief forgets a part each one?
It has been manifested manifold in other matters, and is now to be shown at this point. In which you must first be persuaded that among heretics, each one is termed Antichrist by whom they are condemned; as to Rebels, each king is a tyrant; to thieves each Judge a murderer; to the impious, each godly man an idiot. And so for this purpose which we have in hand, to the Brownists, the Puritans are soldiers of Antichrist; and to the Puritans, the profession now in England, is Antichristian; The Calvinists to the Lutherans, and the Lutherans to the Calvinists &c. This therefore is their first opinion, the one of themselves to the others of his brethren, co be Antichrist or Antichristian, when they iarr together.
The second opinion of heretics would have the Turk to be ipsisimum Antichristum, the most assured Antichrist. In which were Bucer, Melanithon, and Fox.
The third opinion of heretics is, that the Pope of Rome is Antichrist. So saith both Luther, and Calvin, never having any author of their opinion even among Heretics, before Peter John, who lived anno. 1194. as may appear in Guido Carmelit. To whom would fain also accord the whole group of Lutherans, and Calvinists, and other heretics at this time : but they can not resolve which Pope, or weather all ehre Popes together, they would have to be Antichrist; or from which of them they might begin to accompt the succession of Antichrist. In this they are long consulting, but can not as yet come to any determination.
Some would have Gregorie the 7. who lived anno. 274. to be Antichrist so thought Francis Junius, and Downham, expressly affirming: Gregory the seventh was the first Pope who was openly acknowledged to
be Antichrist. But this being said so openly known is contradicted first by Bullinger, supposing the fatal year of Antichrists beginning to have been 763. Secondly is contradicted by Fulke; Downham, and Willet specifying Boniface the anno. 607. to be Antichrist.
Thirdly it is contradicted by Osiander affirming S. Augustin first preacher to the English to have subjected England to the lust of Roman Antichrist; who then anno 600. was S. Gregorie the great. But Whitaker impugn this, saying: Dicimus Gregorian Magnum fuiffe vltimum uerum dapium illius Ecclefie E- cótra. Bellar. Pifcopum.&c. Quienim fecuti funt veri fuerunt Antichrifti. Gregorie was a very honest man, but his immediate successors were Antichrists. This time, saith he, do we determine to be the beginning of Antichrist. Fourthly, all this is contradicted by Whitakar himself, agreeing with Beza, that Pope Leo anno. 440. was. Antichrist, and breathed the arrogance of the Anti-christian Roman Sea. Fifthly, all this is overthrown by Melancehon who resolutely affirmeth Zozim anno 420. to be the first Antichrist; as also by Naper defining the year to be anno: 313. Sixth, there formed Church of Transylvania (as it is termed by Hokenin his Ecclesiastical policy) overreach all these, and would have Antichrist to have first appeared anno. 200. Seventh, Sebastiane Francus disliking all these opinions would have the visible Church immediately after the apostles times, to have been suppressed by the Antichrist.
Eightly, Beza thinking he might be as forward as the best, and affirm with as much reason as the former whatsoever he listed, concluded, in the very time of the Apostles, Antichrist to have begun. Which in plain and sincere terms is to affirm the whole profession of Papists to have begun in the Apostles.
And for that cause the Centurists, and Calvin, although they do not term S. Peter Antichrist, yet as they might, they calumniate his person, and cavil with his profession, registering 16. notable defects in him, & his doctrine. By which it is demonstrated, that our Reformers have little interest in the Apostles whom they so endeavor to blemish.
Ninth, all this clear doctrine could not hinder Couel, & Powel plainly to confess, that Protestants can not agree when this defection began of Antichrist; which truly is the truest opinion of all the former.
Lastly notwithstanding all this uncertainty, repugnance,& impossibility, the late Calvinian Synod at Gap. anno. 1603, made an article of their profession of faith that the Pope without all doubt was Antichrist, Even Clement the eight whom S.Edwin Sands in his Relation assures to be a good man, a good prince and a good Prelate, and with whom, his Majesty denied not civil correspondence.
But the said Sinodists, understanding that the King of FRANCE, took in evil part (as well he might) that his subjects should have any article of belief, that he was a slave of Antichrist: upon better deliberation, they revoked the said Article; as the Puritans do accuse others in England, now to fall from that opinion of the Popes being Antichrist, being (according their Imagination) a strange error & absurdity.
Therefore the fourth opinion of Heretics is, that Antichrist is not yet come, nor to conme until the Roman Empire be suppressed. So determine m Bullinger, Zanchius,Schelico, Frăciscus Lambertus, Vicelius, and divers others, as acknowledgeth D. Doue, saying: some Protestants make a doubt, whether Antichrist be yet revealed, or not.
So that, as I said in the beginning, it now appeareth, that they can not certainly, either believe, or not believe whether the Pope be Antichrist, or who else is, or whether he be past, when he was or when he is to come.
This may suffice for the opinion of Heretics: although this last opinion is but borrowed from us, after their despair to prove their damnable error that the Pope should be Antichrist.