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Chapter 9

 

Two exceptions against the foregoing assertion, that Idolatry should rather be laid upon the Pagans. —This answered and proved, that Pagan Idolatry is not meant, nor the Saracen or Turk the Antichrist meant, in Scripture. —That Antichristianism cannot be charged upon those that acknowledge the true God and Christ. —The answer to this, wherein is interwoven the Author’s serious and pathetical expostulation with the Church of Rome. —That Antichrist is a counter-christ, and his coming a counter-resemblance of the coming of Christ, shown in several particulars.

 

          But you will still allege for her behalf who seems all this while to be charged, that Antichrist and the Man of Sin is set forth in Scripture as the most hateful and execrable thing that can be in the eyes of God Almighty; but how can such a thing be said, and comparatively be, where the true God, with Christ his Son, God and man, are in any sort acknowledged and worshipped? (h)

 

          Lord! that the whole train of Scripture, in the prophets especially, and the example of the Church of Israel, should not cure this web, and take this film from the eyes of men! Doth not the Lord say of Israel, that He had chosen them to be a special people to himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth? Deuteronomy 7: 6. You only have I known, saith he, of all the families of earth. (Amos 3: 2) And is not Christ the Lord of Christians, and is not

 

 

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the Church his Spouse? *This is a great mystery. Ephesians 5: 32 No marvel, then, where this mystery is not considered, if the mystery of iniquity be not understood.

 

          Alas, poor Church of Israel! thy case, it seems, must have been a very hard one. For what nation in the world ever suffered so much rebuke, so many plagues, so much wrath as thou hast done? Yet couldst thou say for thyself, thou never forsookest the true God altogether, but wast still called by His name; only thou wouldst fain worship Him in calves and images, as other nations, thy neighbors, did their Gods; thou wouldst needs follow the fashion, and this was thine error. Thou never meantest to cast off thy Jehovah altogether, but still wouldst have him to be thy God, and thyself to be his people; yet thou tookest this liberty, to have other Gods besides the Lord thy God, viz., thy Baalims and demon-gods of other nations about thee; and yet hopedst that Jehovah the God of heaven, thy only Sovereign God, would not be offended thereat, since thou retainedst him still in chief place and honor with thee.

 

          Why was thy God, then, so unkind and cruel unto thee, to call thee whore and prostitute so often; all his prophets continually baiting thee with that so foul and odious a name of abominable harlot? Why did he scatter thee, and even drive thee naked among the nations, before his jealousy would be satisfied? For it seems He is

 

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far more indulgent to his second wife, the Church of the Gentiles. For she worships her God in images and crucifixes, yea, calls a piece of bread her Lord and her God; and yet saith, He is no whit jealous of her, bet well pleased. She, though espoused to Christ Jesus, the Son of the living God, as her sole mediator and intercessor in the presence of God his Father, yet thinks she may fall down to Saints and Angels, yea to as many images of them as ever the Jews had of their Baalims, or the Gentiles of their demons. And yet, forsooth, because she makes her Lord the chiefest still in the honor of her affection, and uses the rest of her lovers no farther than she may still yield the first and chief place to him, she verily supposes he is no whit offended with her: whereas Israel would have been called a whore a thousand times over for as little as this; yea and like enough to have been cast off too, and her nose slit, (Ezekiel 23: 25,) long before this time.

 

          Nay, but she wipes her mouth, and asks why her Lord should be angry; for she calls him still her Lord, and acknowledges and professes him still to be her husband. If He hath a mind to be angry with any, let him go to the Turks, Tartars, and other Mohammedans, or to the Pagans, who will not acknowledge him at all to be their Lord, though he hath offered himself, and perhaps wooed some of them; but they would none of him, but have married themselves to other husbands: here, if he will be jealous, is matter for his jealousy.

 

 

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But, thou Christ-Apostatical strumpet, knowest thou not the first commandment of thy Christian decalogue to be, thou shalt have no other Christs but me? What doest thou, then, with so many Christlings? Knowest thou not that an husband is more grieved and dishonored by his wife’s adultery, than if any other woman whatsoever, yea suppose his kinswoman and daughters, should play the harlot?

 

          What are Turks, Tartars, or any other unbelieving nation under heaven, unto thy Lord and Savior?* Are they not all as strangers to him, and He to them? But as for thee, He had chosen thee out of many nations to espouse thee to himself; so that thou mayest say with Israel, (Isaiah 63: 19,) We are thine; but as for them, thou never bearest rule over them; they were not called by thy name. But to thee, to use the words of Ezekiel, chapter 16: 8, &c., he sware an oath, and entered into a covenant with thee, and thou becamest his, and wert called, and wilt still be called, by his name. Thee he washed with water, yea, thoroughly washed from the pollution of thy birth, and anointed thee with oil. Thou wast decked with gold and silver, and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey and oil, and wast exceedingly beautiful, and

 

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didst prosper into a kingdom. And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty; for it was perfect through the comeliness which the Lord thy God had put upon thee. But thou didst trust in thy own beauty, and played the harlot because of thy renown, and poured out thy fornications upon every one that passed by.

 

          And of thy garments thou didst take, and decked thy high places with divers colors, and played the harlot thereupon. Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of thy Lord’s gold, and of thy Lord’s silver, which he had given thee, and made to thyself images of men, and didst commit whoredom with them; and took thy broidered garments, and covered them; and thou hast set the Lord’s oil and his incense before them. (Ezekiel 16: 13-19.)

 

          Judge now between the Lord and his people, ye that have wives; give sentence, ye husbands, —whether of the two in question hath most dishonored our Lord and Savior; which of the two is most likely to fret him, and kindle the coals of fury and jealousy— those who never were in covenant with him, nor yet are called by his name; or whether his spouse, his darling and beloved one, to whom he was betrothed and married. Judge according to the manner of wedlock, and the notorious precedent of Israel. He that is a father, we say, is best able to understand the love of a father, and, therefore, God’s love to his children. For the like reason, he that is an husband is sensible of the jealousy of an husband; and so of the case of Christ, with his

 

 

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unfaithful and treacherous spouse, the Christian Jezebel.

 

          The decision and sum of all is this. That the whoredom of the Church of God is a spiritual adultery; and, therefore, between the idolatry of Christians and that of Infidels and Paynims is as much difference, in God’s esteem, as is between adultery and simple fornication. The one, as equal to murder, was in the law punished with death; the other with a much lighter punishment. Whence in Ezekiel, on whose words I have dwelt so long, chapter 16 verse 38, God saith to Jerusalem, for their idolatry, that he would judge her as women that break wedlock, and shed blood, are judged; he would give her blood in fury and jealousy. And this was the resolution of God himself against Israel. (Amos 3: 1, 2.) “Hear this word that the Lord hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, saying, You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore, will I punish you for all your iniquities.” And the same will be the judgment of the Christian Jezebel, howsoever Pagans and Infidels speed, when great Babylon shall come in remembrance before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.

 

          This I would have well considered and weighed by those whom the Mohammedan blasphemy hath so dazzled, that they can hardly believe so hated and execrable a name as that of Babylon should belong unto any other, unless there be yet to come some other like barbarous tyrant and seducer after them. The cause of which error

 

 

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is, that men have fancied another Antichrist than the Holy Ghost meant of; and placed their eyes far wide of the ground of God’s hatred, and of the nature of that mystery of abomination. But Israel’s apostasy, God’s jealousy, and their unparalleled punishment on account of it, such as no nation in the world, how idolatrous soever, endured besides themselves, are in this case the only pole-star to direct us.

 

          But even this mistake, which is and hath been, of the mystery of iniquity, is itself a kind of mystery, or not without one: for Antichrist is a counter-Christ, and therefore his coming to be a counter-resemblance of the coming of Christ.

 

          Christ was both to come, and accordingly looked for, in the last times; that is, in the time of the fourth kingdom of Daniel. So Antichrist and his mystery of impiety was to be in the latter times of those last times, that is, as I shall better show hereafter, in the last times or last scene, as I may so speak, of the fourth kingdom of Daniel. *

 

          When Christ came, the scepter was to depart from Judah, and that commonwealth to be dissolved: so when Antichrist was to come, the Roman empire was to fall, and he that hindered was to be taken out of they way. II Thessalonians 2: 7.

 

          The Jews expected Christ to come when he did come, and yet knew him not when he was come; because they had fancied the manner and quality of his coming like some temporal monarch, with armed power to subdue the earth before

 

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him. So the Christians, God’s second Israel, looked that the coming of Antichrist should be at that time when he came indeed, and yet they knew him not when he was come; because they had fancied his coming as some barbarous tyrant, who should with armed power not only persecute and destroy the Church of Christ, but almost the world; that is, they looked for such an Antichrist as the Jews looked for a Christ.

 

          Wherefore, as Christ came unto his own, and his own received him not; so Antichrist came upon those who were not his own, and yet they eschewed him not: but yet as some Jews, though few, knew Christ when he came, and received him; so did some Christians, though but few, keep themselves from the pollution of Antichrist.

 

          Lastly, as the Jews ere long shall acknowledge and run unto him, whom they pierced as not knowing him: so hath the Christian Church, for a great part, discovered that Son of Perdition, whom a long time they had ignorantly worshipped, because they knew him not. O, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

 

          But for our part, seeing our case is so like unto that of the Jews, let their lamentable and woeful error, in mistaking their Messiah by wrongly fancying him, be a warning and caveat unto us, that we likewise, upon like conceits and prejudice, mistake and misdeem not the Man of Sin.

 

 

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