147

 

Chapter 8

 

That Idolatry is the main character of the Church痴 apostasy, proved by three arguments.

 

Having, therefore, by so many arguments, made apparent, as I hope, what I endeavored to prove; I desire we may observe, among so many corruptions both now and heretofore overwhelming the Church of Christ, what that is wherein the Holy Ghost placeth the essence, and accounteth as the very soul, of the greatest apostasy under the man of sin, and would have us to make the pole-star of our discovery thereof. Not every error, not every heresy, how foul soever, but Doctrines of Demons, idolatry and spiritual fornication. As for other heresies, though accompanying this, yet are they but accidental, and not of the essence of the Great Apostasy which was to come. Even as harlots are seldom without other foul faults, which yet are no parts of whoredom, so hath the spiritual harlot many other heresies, but her whoredom is only idolatry and the Doctrine of Demons.

 

Neither is heresy of itself, no though damnable heresy, a character whereby the Great Apostasy can be known from other sects and blasphemies. Foul heresies were in the first ages of the Church; yet Antichrist and his time were

 

 

148

 

neither of them yet come. When his time approached nearer, the Arians, Macedonians, Nestorians, Eutychians, were abominable heretics; and the Arians possessed for a time the face of the visible Church, yet was not theirs the solemn Apostasy looked for.

 

But Idolatry, or spiritual whoredom, which in that storm the Devil was a-working, this is the only character and note whereby the * Apostasy under the man of sin is discovered and distinguished from all other blasphemies, sects, and heresies, of what age or time soever.

 

Which that I may not seem to ground only upon the exposition of my text, which, whatsoever the probability thereof be, may yet be thought alone too weak to support the weight of so main a conclusion, I desire you to take these arguments for a full confirmation thereof. Some of them have already been intimated, but now all are mustered together.

 

1. That Babylon is entitled, in the Revelation of St. John, not the liar of Babylon, nor the tyrant of Babylon, nor the heretic of Babylon, nor the murderess of Babylon, but the whore of Babylon, yea, that great whore, and the mother of fornications and abominations of the earth. Doth not God, think we, give the name as He accounts

 

覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧

 

 

149

 

the nature? Or is there any one who will deny that this Babylon is that * mystery of iniquity which our Apostle so calleth, as being in opposition to the great mystery of true worship and religion? If any should, Mystery, Babylon, in her forehead, will help to reclaim him. And what whore is that with whom the kings, and nations, and kingdoms of the earth commit fornication? Can it be any other but a spiritual whore? Without question, therefore, St. John means no other thing here than what he foretold in the eleventh chapter. That the 都econd and outmost court of the temple, (which is the second state of the Christian Church,) together with the holy city, should be trodden down and overtrampled by the Gentiles forty-two months: 葉hat is, overwhelmed with the idolatry of the Gentiles, which is the Doctrine of Demons, as long as power shall be given to the beast to make war with the saints, as long as the witnesses must wear sackcloth, and the woman which escaped the fury of the heathen Dragon be fed in the wilderness.

 

2. St. Paul tells us, that the Great Apostasy should enter by strong delusions, by signs, and lying wonders. Consider, then, what corruptions of the Christian faith were thus ushered in. To begin with the beginning and first corruption of that kind. Invocation of saints, with the adoration of their shrines and relics, 揺ow were these advanced in the Church? Was it not by miraculous cures of the sick, healing of the lame,

 

覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧

 

 

150

 

restoring of the blind 遥ea, raising of the dead (as seemed) by only the touch and air sometimes of shrines and relics of souls deceased? Was it not still confirmed by strange apparitions, and other means wonderful to hear, for discovery of bones and relics unknown and forgotten, 遥ea, of men whose names they had never heard of before? 預nd, which, as I shall show better hereafter, no such experience for three hundred years together observed in the Church, until the fatal and fixed time began to enter. The worshipping of images, (the second, in time, of the Church痴 fornications,) was not this also allured, and at length fully ratified by like signs and miracles showed upon those who approached them in their devotions? Read the Legend, and see what store there is of strong delusions, and lying wonders. That which, for a time, came in last, but deserves a place among the foremost, I mean the idolatry of the mass, and adoration of the breaden God, search and see if it also be not thus attended.

 

If all this be true, then would I know what doctrine of theirs besides was installed with these solemnities. There is but one only left for an exception, and that is Purgatory; but what if all the delusions of purgatory, with all the apparitions of purgatorian ghosts, were but an indirect device of Satan, aiming partly to advance the mass into an idol, by the miraculous efficacy, as the ghosts forsooth report, of the oblation thereof for them; partly to install the son of perdition, a demon I yet spake not of, and still a demon, to

 

 

151

 

sit as God in the temple and throne of Christ, with the keys of hell and death, to deliver them? What stronger presumption can there be of this than the event, and that the error of purgatory had so long been working before the Devil seemed to know how to make this use of it, which at length he spied out, and plied lustily with signs and wonders? If all this be true, then it follows still that it is spiritual fornication, which the Holy Ghost in Scripture intended, and the event hath marked out, for the soul of Antichristian abomination and impiety. But of the matter of miracles and lying wonders, more in the second part of my text, which is the proper place thereof.

 

3. And, lastly, the great apostasy is a thing proper to *the latter times; which I will show, when I come to it, to be the last times of the fourth kingdom of Daniel, Daniel 7: 25, and alibi. But amongst all other corruptions, only the spiritual fornication of the Church and Spouse of Christ will be found proper to these times.

 

覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧

 

 

 

Home Contents Previous Next