Holy David the king, had given to him the full spirit of prophecy; and he, seeing the coming of antichrist, his living, and his fall, marked five hideous assaults which he shall commit against the servants of God.
Assault One: Constitution
The first assault of antichrist, is constitution, as the prophet saith. Lord, suffer thou to ordain a law maker upon thy people, in pain of their sin, for they will not consent to the truth. That is to mean, antichrist uses false, lucrative, or winning laws, as absolutions, indulgences, pardons, privileges, and all other heavenly treasure that is brought to sale, to spoil the people of their worldly goods; and principally these new constitutions, by whose strength antichrist interdicts churches, examines preachers, and deprives them of their benefices; curses hearers, and takes away the goods of them that further the preaching of a priest, yea, though it were an angel of heaven, unless that priest show the mark of the beast, which is turned into a new name, and called a special letter of license, for the more blinding of ignorant people.
Assault Two: Tribulation
The second assault of antichrist is tribulation, as the prophet saith, antichrist vexes the people by might, and hunting them to doing of idolatry. God saith by the prophet, Isaiah v. Wo to you that say good is evil, and evil is good, putting light into darkness, and darkness into light, turning sweet into bitter, and bitter into sweet. And thus doth antichrist, when he transposes virtues into vices, and vices into virtues; as pilgrimage into outrage, and outrage into pilgrimage.
Assault Three: Inquisition
The third assault of antichrist is, inquisition, as the prophet saith, antichrist inquires, searches, hearkens where he may find any man or woman that writes, reads, learns, or studies God’s law, in their mother tongue, to lead their hfe after the pleasing will of God, and soon he catches them in his censures and afterwards smites, as he may most grievously hurt them. But he shall not make this inquisition after the greatness of his wrath, for God shall refrain, and abridge the power of his malice, so that he shall do no more than God shall suffer him.
Assault Four: Persecution
The fourth assault of antichrist is, persecution. Antichrist sitteth and sotteth in the peace of this world, with rich men in their dens. But the poor, meek, simple, and lowly, them he espies and pursues, and destroys them both bodily and spiritually. Ever in a country that is fat and abounding with worldly goods, there antichrist with his clerks build their nests, and if thou look about thee thou shalt find them among woods and waters, [The writer then applies Rev. 16:13. as betokening the monastic orders.] They purchase of lords that are above them much part of their goods, with the tongue of flattering and feigned hypocrisies; and of the commons about them, they beguile into their hands much l)art of their goods. What they have won they hold fast against the authority of God’s laws; and with these riches they nourish wild, sturdy, and lawless men, who pursue those that say ought against this cursed sin. But God, in this persecution, comforts his servants, and saith, Psalm 46. Our God is help in tribulations. True men shall not be abashed, though proud fleshly men are confedered to antichrist, and help him and his persecutions.
Assault Five: Execution
The fifth assault of antichrist is, execution. When he seeth that he avails not in these torments, then he executes his malice against Christ’s chosen. In this time of execution, the vicious part of the laity, fi-om the highest to the lowest, shall consent to execute the wickedness of this vicious part of the clergy. Then shall this prophecy be fulfilled, Psalm 79. They shall shed out innocent blood, and no man shall dare to bury their bodies. But, as St. Augustine declares, “When antichrist deems that he has lordship over all the servants of God, roaring upon them, with divers devices of tormenting, then shall he fall to open reproof forevermore.” [Various references to the period of three years and a half, the time of the slaying of the witnesses Revelation 11 then follow.] Let no man look after Enoch and Elijah in person, for then he may be beguiled, but in spirit and in power, now they are come to make men’s hearts ready before Christ’s doom, to whom be glory, now and forever. Amen.