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firft Epistle brings it as an Argument to prove that they were in the last Times, or under the Dispensation of the Messiah, Heb. 1, 2. because the Mystery of Antichristianism was then working, and there were many that denyed that Jesus Christ was come in the Flesh, 1 Eph. 2. 18, 22, 23, Chap. 4. 1, 2, 3. This iš Antichrist that denyeth the Father and the Son *He that denyeth the Son, auny bath_not_ the Father, i.e. doth not believe in trainiano ore the Father. Which denying, or not Confefling, the Son, (I believe) doth express a denying that Christ had appeared in the Flesh; notwithstanding what some Learned Men have said to prove that this Text was levellid at the Gnofticks, amongst whom it was a received Principle, that they might lawfully sa deny Christ in time of Perfecution, if at other times of Freedom and Security they profeffed him; Forasmuch as that absolute denying Christ's Appearance in the Flesh, was much more fatal to the Interests of Christianity, and consequently
much more Antichristian than the other. For if Christ were not come, then by consequence all the Obligations to strict Obedience, Morcification, and the Crofs, drawn from his Life and Doctrines, are null and void ; and 2dly, They must be forced to look for another, who should appear in a State more agreeabletotheirPrejudices concerning him, which was a fatal Step to Delusion, John s. 43. 2 Thef. 2. 10, 11, 12. And those very Persons who, Chap 4. 3. are said to be in the Spirit of Antichrift, are for that reason, Chap. 2. 18. called Antichrifts. (Even as
They that are led by the Spirit of God, are the Sons of God. Rom. 8. 14. and they to whom the aózo came, or who were Partakers of the abye, were called Gods, John 10.35. and Partakers of the Divine Nature. 2 Pet. 1. 4.) But ever since the Doctrines of Christianity have been clearly vindicated, and the fame Antichriftian Spirit has been fettled in different Forms and Measures in such Children of Darkness, who sheltering themselves under the Name and Profession of Christianity, have either by their Doctrines or Practices, or both, endeavoured to undermine and o verthrow that very Religion which they profess. And Antichristianism was not such a professed Enmity as was that of the Jews and Heathens, but generally speaking, they were false Brethren who either broached pernicious Doctrines in the Church, or lived very scandalous Lives to the Reproach of their Religion; who when they were at last discovered by the Illuminated Governors or the Church were ejected out of it. of which we have many Instances in St. Paul's Epistles, and from that time did commence a professed Opposition. These were called Hereticks, such as went out from the Church, but were not of it; for if they had been, of itno doubt they would have continued in it; but they went forth that they might be made
i John 2. 19. And in the progress of the great Apostacy, the Poison link yer deeper, and discovered it felf not so much in any Opposition to the Received Doctrincs of Christanity, as to the great End and Design of it, viz. The Restitution
of Mankind to that Love of God from which they were fallen, by Humility, Mortification, and bearing the Cross. For when the Emperors embraced Christianity, and the Church began to enjoy the Favour and Protection of the Secular Powers; that Primitive Love and Fervour which shone so visibly amongst them in the hottest-Persecutions and Oppositions of their Enemies began fenfibly to cool and languish, and more carnal Inclinations to start up in their
room. The distinguishing Marks of Fa: vour and Honour which were put upon the
Governors of the Church began sensibly to soften and corrupt that Holy Severity that ! had so long flourished amongst them; they began much more to aspire after Honours, Riches, and Authority, and the Church it self was early beginning to be modelled according to the form of the Civil Government in the Empire, which was one chief Occasion of the many Quarels amongst the Bishops about their Sees; and of their aspiring to a worldly Dignity suitable to the Places of their Residence. This Ambition and Strife of the Clergy produced also a i fatal Degeneracy in their Manners, much ,
complained of by Ancient Writers; having entertained wrong Notions of their Power of binding and loosing, inflicting of Censures, distributing the Charity of the People, and determining of Controversies in Civil Matters voluntarily refered to them according to the Apostles Advice, they laid the Early Foundations of the Antichristian Preheminence now visible in the
10. in 1 Tim. Hom, so
? EP. 203. Papacy: St. Austin * inveighs severely a
gainst the worldly Pomp of Ecclesiasticks in his Time, and accordingly in conjunction with the rest of the African Bishops ar.
fembled in Council, passed their Censure + Con. Car- upon it. † As did allo St. Jerom. and St. thag. 4. Bafil, ll so did also St Chrysostom t. but partiCan. 16. cularly St. Bernard, in his Memorable Serll See Soz.
mon de malis Paftoribus. The Church in Cap. 16 short became too like a Worldly Kingdom, + Hom. even in the worst respects, especially when Nat. 10. Kings and Emperors became over lavish in
their Liberality to purchase Pardons for their Sins; whereupon a Learned Man oba served, that the Discipline of the Church was very much relaxed, in recompençe as it were, for the large Endowments received from them. This Prospect of Riches, Honours, and the Good Things of the World was an Encouragement to Men of fedły and corrupt Minds to get them. selves into Places of Trust and Authority in the Church, where resolving to enjoy them to the Heigth, they quickly sought out such Glosses and Expositions of those places of Holy Scriptures which witnessed against their Corruption, as might recon cile their Religion with their Inclinations, fo verily making the Word of God of none Effect by their Traditions, which were fo effe&tually conveyed to Posterity, 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 Mortification of themselves) was utterly undermin'd and subverted, till it pleased God about the beginning of the 15th Century, to raise up some who boldly and resolutely bore their Testimony against many Corruptions, and began fuch a Reformation, as would (if the Primitive Standard had been closely observed) have been moft glorious.
S5. Now all these Corruptions were no That the doubt Antichristian, and so far as the Ro-Charge of mish Church abetted and maintained that pianifmis Idolatry and Superstition, that infolent not approand Blasphemous Usurpation of a God-like priated to Supremacy, in oppofition to the Supremacy of Christ and the Civil Magistrate, that of Rome. bloody and perfecuting. Temper towards those that witnessed against her Corruptions, which are the plain and distinguishing Characters of Antichrist, * so far she might * see Dar, properly be called Antichristian, and the . 37– Pope as the Visible Head of the Apostacy, might (according to what was before laid 1-4. down) Be properly called Antichrist; which Dar. 7. 8, has been learnedly defended by Mr. Mede, '; 20,25,
8.9, Dr. More, &c. But that Antichristianism should be so far confined to the Church of 11.36. Rome, as to exempt all the other different 2 Thefs. 2, Communions of Christendom from that 4. Charge, is hardly justifiable. It might be reckoned an invidious Design to offer
to expose and lay open the Failures and Deficiencies of the Reformed Churches as to their Conftitution and Discipline, many of which we lament, and wish to reform; but the Iniquity of the Times will not suffer it. Whilft Policy and Worldly-Wisdom maķe
1 Tim. 4:
23, 24, 25.