Anti-Christ Part Three B

Antichrist Part Three B

by William Law

Edited with Commentary by Fred Pruitt

(This is a continuation of the William Law “AntiChrist” Series. The most recent installment was on June 18, 2022. Click link to read Part Three A to review or for the first time. Read Three A)

Law Continues …

As to the present fallen state of universal Christendom, working under the Spirit and Power of the great fiery Dragon, it is not my intention, in any thing I am here [speaking] upon, to show how any part of it can subsist, or preserve itself from being devoured by every other part, but by its own Dragon Weapons.

[FP Notes – Law often uses the term, “Christendom,” to be the collective name for most European nations at the time. Almost all of them were monarchies and claimed to be “Christian kingdoms.” During the early period of the Reformation, (mid 1500s) western Europe was divided between Protestant and Catholic kingdoms.

The result coming out of those times was that mainly northern and western kingdoms became Protestant, while southern Europeans remained mostly Roman Catholic. (Eastern Europe was mostly Orthodox or Islamic.)

The “Reformation” was a violent time, during which both camps acted towards the others with hatred and vitriol along with bloody persecutions. Catholics controlled the governments in their countries. Protestants controlled the governments in their countries. So right away the Protestant Church doesn’t just join up with the governments, they became the governments. Monsters beget monsters.  Catholics would be put to death in Protestant countries (often by burning or decapitation), while Protestants would suffer the same fate in Catholic countries.

Whatever glorious and holy that had fallen on them at the start of either of those camps, had long since been forgotten. There were those in both camps that had fallen by forgetting the Life of Spirit (if indeed any of them had ever known it) in each believer and replacing LIFE with dead laws, letter codes and rituals and liturgies, as determined by the wisdom of men, and thus made themselves empty shells devoid of Life.

The book of Numbers contains that wonderful story of the Israelites healed from the bites of “fiery serpents” by gazing at the bronze serpent raised up on a pole, made by Moses following the instructions of the Lord. Jesus refers to it in his late-night chat with Nicodemus, telling Nicodemus the story referred to Him, that those who believed on Him would be delivered from The Serpent’s bite. (Num 21: 5-19, John 3: 14-15).

After that incident, the Israelites saved the serpent on the pole and kept it as an object of remembrance first and then later as an object of adoration. It continued like that until the reign of King Hezekiah, when the King brought about in renewal of the faith with all the people. One of the things Hezekiah threw out, because it had become an idol, was the brass serpent on the pole. He called it, “Nahushtan,” meaning something like, “It is only a thing.”

The implication in his actions was that the people, including the priests and Levites, had replaced true faith in God with idol worship of images devoid of life. And just as the objects or images have no life in them but only fill up space as a substitute, so are those who worship them.

A little more personal history. When I belonged to a ministry in the ancient days, some of us put together a new Christian publication. After we had gotten the first edition printed we gathered together at a summer camp and assembled the magazines and sorted them for the mailing list over a couple of days. I remember the Spirit brought to mind this incident with King Hezekiah and the notion of “Nahushtan.”

Therefore, it came on me to say something like this to the group: “The magazine we’re putting out is a breath of the Spirit and will be used of God as long as that remains true. It – the publication – can only survive as long as it remains the Spirit’s possession and never our own. If at some point that changes for whatever reason, we cannot continue to keep it alive, because of two things. Sometimes things come to an end. To try to keep alive something the Spirit has moved on from is laboring in vain on a house the Lord is not building. And this “publication” without the Spirit is “Nahushtan,” only a thing!

What is the danger there? It is this. When a work of the Spirit starts up it is always out of freedom as an individual expression of the love and mind of Christ, bound only by the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. It is most often a “commission” of the Spirit, either to an individual or a group of believers, and is for a certain time and place as the Spirit directs. When the commission is completed in its purpose and time, the Spirit moves on and that “moment” is over. What often happens, however, is that when things reach their natural end so that it’s time to move on to something new, people become attached to what they’ve gotten used to and don’t want to give it up. Instead, they want to shore it up and give it a little extra razzle-dazzle to make the enthusiastic crowds come back and be like it was in the boom times. It has become a THING that must be protected and provided for and even shiny new stuff added to make it better than before. What originally was to be a useful tool in the revelation of God’s Word for the people’s edification, has now become the THING-Nahushtan that we must keep alive and going at all costs because we have to have that platform to do what we do. What started as a means to communicate the Truth to people has changed. In its new revised format the people have become the means to keep the “ministry” going. Spreading the Truth was the original goal. Once it becomes Nahushtan it changes to getting and keeping the people as the means to keep it going. It was created to serve the people not eat them.

Another point to remember is that even though Law’s subject in this section has to do with Christian nations warring each other, “war” is not his point. His point, from beginning to end, is the Church is “fallen” not because of its works or deeds, but because it has largely left its Holy Spirit-beginnings and therefore remains only as a construct of the wisdom of men. What has resulted has been an exact replay of the Scribes and Pharisees among the Jews of Jesus’ day, described by Paul in his day toward some Greek-Gentile believers as, “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”  (2 Tim 3:5)]

Law continues …

But the Christendom which I mean, that neither wants, nor allows [enters] War, is only that where Christ is King, and His Holy Spirit the only governor of the wills, affections, and designs of all that belong to it.

[FP Notes – William Law had a way of encapsulating authoritative truth couched inside simple no-frills statements. The statement above is clean, concise and unambiguous. To him (and to this writer’s mind), the Kingdom has come in its ultimate manifestation, so that the inner is openly known and manifest outwardly in sight and sound, ONLY “where Christ is King and His Holy Spirit the only governor of the wills, affections, and designs of all that belong to it.” Many will say we live in that completed kingdom even now, but as my friend, Dave from California used to say when we arrived somewhere, “Lock your door, Pruitt. It’s not ‘The Millennium’ you know!”

Law continues ….

It is my complaint against, and charge upon all the nations of Christendom, that this necessity of murdering arms is the Dragon’s Monster, that is equally brought forth by all and every part of fallen Christendom; and that therefore all and every part, as well popish as protestant, are at one and the same distance from the Spirit of their Lord and Saviour the Lamb of God, and therefore all want [need] one and the same entire Reformation.

In these last ages of fallen Christendom, many Reformations have taken Place; but alas! Truth must be forced to say, that they have been in all their variety, little better than so many run-away births of one and the same Mother, so many lesser Babels come out of Babylon the great.

For among all the Reformers, the one only true Reformation has never yet been thought of. A change of place, of governors, of opinions, together with new formed outward models, is all the Reformation that has yet been attempted.

[FP Notes: A change of place – moving the center of the faith from Jerusalem to Rome, and so on. A change of governors – from the original twelve and Paul, to the early church Fathers, to the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, and so on. A change of opinions – when Peter preached to Cornelius and the Holy Spirit fell upon them as He had the 120 on the Day of Pentecost which paved the way for non-Jews to be part of the Church, to Paul and justification by faith thus excusing any non-Jews from the requirement of circumcision, from the scholastic theology of Aquinas to the earth-shattering revelation of Martin Luther, and so on. Each of those things had their necessary day and time. None of them as “movements,” except the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, have remained, though various structures remain from those long-ago days mostly without their original glory.]

Law continues …

The Wisdom of this World, with its worldly spirit, was the only thing that had overcome the Church, and had carried it into Captivity. For in Captivity it certainly is, as soon as it is turned into a Kingdom of this World; and a Kingdom of this World it certainly is, as soon as worldly Wisdom has its Power in it. Not a false doctrine, not a bad discipline, not an usurped power, or corrupt practice ever has prevailed, or does prevail in the Church, but has had its whole birth and growth from worldly Wisdom.

This Wisdom was the great evil Root, at which the reforming Axe should have been laid, and must be laid, before the Church can be again that Virgin Spouse of Christ, which it was at the Beginning.

[FP Notes: I suppose it’s no wonder that William Law was not popular in his time in the Anglican Church, nor has he ever been. Law is not speaking specifically about the Anglican Church, or at least he is not singling it out above all others. He pretty much puts every Christian church or movement in the same boat. He puts them all under the same indictment. They are all to a greater or lesser degree under the thrall of the wisdom of this world which is the “wisdom of men.”]

Law goes on ….

“If any Man,” says St. Paul, “will be wise, let him become a Fool in this World.” This admits of no exception, it is a maxim as universal and unalterable, as that which says, “If any Man will follow Christ, let him deny himself.”

For no Man has any more to deny than that, which the Wisdom and Spirit of this World are, and do in him. For all that is in this World, the Lusts of the Flesh, the Lust of the Eye, and the Pride of Life, are the very Things in which alone the Wisdom of this World lives, and moves, and has its being. It can be no other, can rise no higher, nor be any better, than they are and do. For as heavenly Wisdom is the Whole of all heavenly Goodness, so earthly Wisdom has the whole Evil of all the earthly Nature.

St. Paul speaks of a natural Man, that cannot know the Things of God, but to whom they are mere Foolishness. This natural Man is only another Name for the Wisdom of this World; but though he cannot know the Things that be of God, yet he can know their Names, and learn to speak that which the Saints of God have spoken about them. He can make profession of them, be eloquent in their praise, and set them forth in such a desirable view, as shall make them quite agreeable to the children of worldly Wisdom.

This is the natural Man, who having got into the Church, and Church Power, has turned the Things of God into Things of this World. Had this Man been kept out of the Church, the Church had kept its first Purity to this Day; for its fallen State is nothing else but its Fall into the Hands of the natural Man of this World.

And when this is the State of the Church, the Wisdom of this World (which always loves its own) will be in Love with it, will spare no cost to maintain it, will make laws, fight battles in defense of it, and condemn every man as heretical, who dares speak a Word against this Glorious Image of a Church, which the Wisdom of this World has set up.

This is the great Antichrist, which is neither better nor worse, nor any thing else, but the Spirit of Satan working against Christ, in the strength and subtlety of earthly Wisdom.

If therefore you take any thing to be Church-Reformation, but a full departure from the Wisdom of this World, or any Thing to be your entrance into a Salvation-Church, but the Nature, Spirit, and Works of Christ, become living in you, then, whether Papist or Protestant, Reformation or no Reformation, all will be just as much Good to you, as when a Sadducee turns Publican, or from a Publican becomes a Pharisee.—For the Church of Christ, as it is the Door of Salvation, is nothing else but Christ himself.

Christ in us, or we in his Church, is the same Thing. When that is alive, wills, and works in you, which was alive in Christ, then you are in his Church; for that which He was, that must they be, who are His.

Without this, it matters not what Pale you are in. To every thing but the new Creature, Christ says, “I know you not”; and to every virtue that worldly Wisdom puts on, “Get thee behind me, Satan, for thou savourest not the things that be of God.”

And the reason why it must be thus, why Worldly Wisdom, though under a religious form, is and can be nothing else, but that which is called Satan, or Antichrist, is because all that we are, and have from this World, is that very enmity against God, that whole Evil which separates us from Him, and constitutes all that Death and Damnation that belongs to our fallen State. And so sure as the Life of this World is our Separation from God, so sure is it, that a total Departure from every subtlety and prosperity of worldly Wisdom, is absolutely necessary to change an evil Son of Adam into a holy Son of God.

And here it is well to be observed, that the Church of Christ is solely for this end, to make us Holy as he is Holy. But nothing can do this, but that which has full Power to change a Sinner into a Saint. And he who has not found that Power in the Church, may be assured that he is not yet a true Son of that Church. For the Church brings forth no other Births, but holy Children of God; it has no other End, no other Nature or Work, but that of changing a Sinner into a Saint.

But this can only be done, just as the change of Night into Day is done, or as the Darkness is quite lost in the Light. Something as contrary to the whole Nature of Sin, as Light is to Darkness, and as powerful over it, as the Light is powerful over Darkness, can alone do this.

Creeds, Canons, Articles of Religion, stately Churches, learned priests, singing, preaching, and praying in the best contrived form of words, can no more raise a dead Sinner into a living Saint, than a fine System of Light and Colours can change the Night into Day. For, (N.B.)

That which cannot help you to all Goodness, cannot help you to any Goodness, nor can that take away any Sin, but that which can take away all Sin.

…..

Many are the marks, which the learned have given us of the true Church; but be that as it will, no Man, whether learned or unlearned, can have any mark or proof of his own true Church-Membership, but his being dead unto all Sin, and alive unto all Righteousness.

This cannot be more plainly told us, than in these Words of our Lord, “He that committeth Sin, is the Servant of Sin”; but surely that Servant of Sin, cannot at the same Time be a living Member of Christ’s body, or that new Creature, who dwells in Christ, and Christ in him. To suppose a Man born again from above, yet under a necessity of continuing to sin, is as absurd as to suppose, that the true Christian is only to have so much of the Nature of Christ born in him, as is consistent with as real a Power of Satan still dwelling in him.

“If the Son,” says Christ, “shall make you free, then ye shall be free indeed.” What is this, but saying, if Christ be come to Life in you, then a true Freedom from all necessity of sinning is given to you. Now if this is hindered, and cannot come to pass in the faithful follower of Christ, it must be, because both the willing and working of Christ in Man is too weak to overcome that, which the devil wills and works in him.

All this absurdity, and even blasphemy, is necessarily implied in that common doctrine of books and pulpits, which teaches, that the Christian can never have done [with] sinning as long as he lives.

Well therefore may Christendom sleep as securely as it does, under the power of Sin, without any thought, hope, or desire of doing God’s Will on Earth, as it is done in Heaven; without any concern at their not being Pure, as he who has called them is Pure, or Walking as he Walked.

[Still] the scripture knows no Christians but Saints, who in all things act as becometh Saints.

……

I love William Law. Once you catch his use of language, he’s another example of trying to drink from a fire hose. Regarding the above, to boil it down to basics, he says the Gospel is summed up in recognizing the living, moving, immediate “life of Christ” in us as the prerequisite to being identified with Him. To sum up, Law says there is nothing else.

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