Antichrist is the adversary of Christ; an adversary really, a friend pretendedly: So then, Antichrist is one that is against Christ; one that is for Christ, and one that is contrary to him: (And this is that mystery of iniquity (2Th 2:7). Against him in deed; for him in word, and contrary to him in practice. Antichrist is so proud as to go before Christ; so humble as to pretend to come after him, and so audacious as to say that himself is he. Antichrist will cry up Christ; Antichrist will cry down Christ: Antichrist will proclaim that himself is one above Christ. Antichrist is the man of sin, the son of perdition; a beast, [that] hath two horns like a lamb, but speaks as a dragon (Rev 13:11).
Christ is the Son of God; Antichrist is the son of Hell.
Christ is holy, meek, and forbearing: Antichrist is wicked, outrageous, and exacting.
Christ seeketh the good of the soul: Antichrist seeks his own avarice and revenge.
Christ is content to rule by his word: Antichrist saith, The word is not sufficient.
Christ preferreth his Father's will above heaven and earth: Antichrist preferreth himself and his traditions above all that is written, or that is called God, or worshiped.
Christ has given us such laws and rules as are helpful and healthful to the soul: Antichrist seeketh to abuse those rules to our hurt and destruction.
Antichrist may be considered either more particularly, or more generally.
1. More particularly: And so there are many Antichrists (1Jo 2:18).
2. More generally: And so the many maketh but one great Antichrist, one man of sin, one enemy, one great whore, one son of perdition (2Th 2:3; Rev 19:2).
Again, Antichrist must be distinguished, with respect to his more internal and external parts; and so there is the spirit, soul, or life (1Jo 4:3); and also the body and flesh of Antichrist (2Th 2:7). The spirit, or soul, or life of Antichrist, is that spirit of error, that wicked, that mystery of iniquity, that under colour and pretence of verity, draweth men from truth to falsehood. The body or flesh of Antichrist, is that heap of men, that assembly of the wicked, that synagogue of Satan that is acted and governed by that spirit. But God will destroy both soul and body; He
“shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body: [or from the soul, even to the flesh] and they shall be [both soul and body] as when a standard-bearer fainteth” (Isa 10:18).
Antichrist therefore is a mystical man, so made, or begotten of the devil, and sent into the world, himself being the chief and highest of him. Three things therefore go to the making up of Antichrist, the head, body, and soul. The devil he is the head; the synagogue of Satan, that is the body; that wicked spirit of iniquity, that is the soul of Antichrist. Christ then is the head of his church; the devil is the head of Antichrist; the elect are the body of Christ; the reprobate professors are the body of Antichrist; the Holy Ghost is the spirit of life that actuateth Christ's body; that wicked spirit of iniquity, is that which actuateth the body of Antichrist. Thus therefore are the two great mighties set forth before us, who are the heads of those two bodies; and thus are these two bodies set before us, who are to be actuated by these two spirits.
The reason why Christ came into the world, was, That he might destroy all the works of the head of Antichrist, and they which he endeavoureth to complete by his wicked spirit working in his body (1Jo 3:8). And the reason why Antichrist came into the world, was, That the church, which is the body of Christ, might be tried, and made white by suffering under his tyranny, and by bearing witness against his falsehoods. For, for the trial of the faithful, and for the punishment of the world, Antichrist was admitted to come: But when he came, he first appeared there where one would have thought there had been no place nor corner for his reception.
The devil then, made use of the church of God to midwife this monster into the world, as the Apostle plainly shews, there he first sat, shewing himself (2Th 2:4). Here therefore was his first appearance, even in the church of God: Not that the church of God did willingly admit him there to sit as such; he had covered his cloven foot; he had plumbs in his dragon's mouth, and so came in by flatteries; promising to do for Christ and his church, that which he never meant to perform. For he shewed himself that he was God, and in appearance, set his heart to do as the heart of God (Eze 28:2-6). And who could have found in their hearts to shut the door upon such an one? True, he came, when he came thither, out of the bottomless-pit; but there came such a smoke out thence with him, and that smoke so darkened the light of the sun, of the moon, of the stars, and of the day, that had they [the church] been upon their watch, as they were not, they could not have perceived him from another man. Besides, there came with him so many locusts to usher him into the house of God (Rev 9:2, 3), and they so suited the flesh and reason of the godly of that day, that with good words and fair speeches, by their crafty and cunning sleights, whereby they lay in wait to deceive, they quite got him in, and set him up, and made him a great one, even the chief, before they were aware. Further, He quickly got him a beast to ride on, far, for sumptuous glory, beyond (though as to nature, as assish a creature as) that on which Baalam was wont to ride: And by this exaltation he became not only more stately, but the horns of the beast would push for him (Rev 17:3-6).
Again, This man of sin, when he came into the world, had the art of metamorphosing, and could change himself, both in form and shape, into the likeness of a beast, a man, or woman; and the kings of the earth, with the inhabitants of the world, began then to love such women dearly; wherefore they went to her into the bed of love, and defiled themselves with the filthiness of her fornications, gave her their troth, and became her husbands, and beloved sons; took up helmet and shield, and stood to defend her; yea, though Christ himself, and some of the chief of his followers, cried out of her shame, and of the evil of their doings; yet would she be audacious.
Also this woman had now arrayed herself in flesh-taking ornaments, of the colour of purple and scarlet, and was decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls, after the manner or attire of harlots. Thus came she to them, and lay in their bosoms, and gave them out of her golden cup of the wine of her fornication; of the which they bibbed till they were drunken; and then, in requital, they also gave her of such liquors as they could, to wit, to drink of the blood of saints, and of martyrs of Jesus, till she, like these beasts, was drunken also.
Now when they were drunken, they did as drunkards do, revel, roar, and belch out their own shame, in the sight of them that were sober: Wherefore they cried out upon such doings, and chose rather to die, than to live with such company. And so 'tis still with them where she yet sitteth, and so will be till she shall fall into the hands of the strong Lord, who will judge her according to her ways. And that she must do, as is implied by this, That her fornications are in a cup; she has therefore but her cup to be drank out; wherefore when it is empty, then, whether she will or no, the Lord God will call her to such a reckoning, that all the clothes on her back, with what pearls and jewels she has, shall not be able to pay the shot.