An interpretation of the number 666 wherein, not onely the manner, how this number ought to be interpreted, is clearely proved and demonstrated : but it is also shewed [that] this number is an exquisite and perfect character, truly, exactly, and essentially describing that state of government to [which] all other notes of Antichrist doe agree : with all knowne objections solidly and fully answered [that] can be materially made against it
Potter, Francis, 1594-1678.
Page  125

CHAP. 19. That the first decree'd, and limited number of Car∣dinalls, and Parish preists in Rome was 25. And that the first number of Churches for Bap∣tisme, and Parishes, was 25 also.

I will first begin this application with the Cardinalls of Rome, and with those Titles, and Churches in sepera∣bly united unto them. And, as I first shewed that in the Romish Church, Cardinalls were answerable to the Apostles; so I will first shew, that their first originall decreed number in the City of Rome was 25: as the first number of Apostles was 12 at Hierusalem.

It is a truth generally received, and as I be∣lieve not contradicted by any writer, that the Cardinalls sprang originally from being parish Priests in the City of Rome.aBellarmine ac∣knowledgeth that Cardinalis in suo Titulo est ve∣luti Parochus, that a Cardinall is as it were a Parish Priest in his owne Title. bAlexander a Turre, writeth to the same purpose in these words, Nec aliud profectò erat ab Ecclesiae p••¦mordijs agere Cardineas partes, quam obire u¦ram animarum, cujus rei in argumentum ad huc inPage  126urbe retinent Parochialium Ecclesiarum Titulos. that is, neither was it any thing else in the Churches begining to execute the office of a Cardinall, but only to discharge the cure of soules. For which cause the Cardinalls even to this day doe still retaine the Titles of the Pa∣rish Churches of the City. Of those Pari∣shes, which were also called Tituli Cardinales, Cadinall Titles, aOnuphrius writeth thus, Tituli igitur erant sacrae aedes, vel (ut nunc dici∣mus) Ecclesiae five loca consecrata, in Dei, beatae vir∣ginis, & sanctorum hominum honorem vel memori∣am, à fidelibus Christianis erecta, & per varias ur∣bis regiones à Pont: Romanis antiquitùs distincta, in quibus animarum cura â presbyteris, qui in ijs commorabantur, habebatur: quibus qui praeerant, Presbyteri vocabantur Cardinales. And a little after in the same chap: he saith,—Hinc Presby∣terorum Cardinalium nomen manâsse crediderim, vt is scilicet esset Presbyter Cardinalis, id est, Prin∣cipalis, qui caeteris Presbyteris ejusdem Tituli (—) praeesset. Quum antea eo nomine opus non esset, quòd nisinus per singulos Titulos Presbyter lectus fu∣isset. It is cleare by these testimonies, and by that which I have above said, and shall say con∣cerning these titles, and by many other things that might be here alleaged out of the same, and Page  127 other authors; that every one of these Titles, in∣to which the City of Rome was first divided, did necessarily imply and suppose three things. First, a Church in which the Sacraments, and especially Baptisme was to be administred. Se∣condly, a Diocesse, or Parish belonging to it. And thirdly, a Presbyter Cardinall placed in it. And as every Cardinall had his title, and every Title his Cardinall; so it is certaine that origi∣nally, and at the first institution every Cardi∣nall had but one Title; and every Title but one Cardinall. This necessary coherence, and de∣pendance, which originally was betweene the Cardinalls and their Titles, caused aBaronius to say, that according to the auncient custome, a Priest Cardinall and his Title, are in the Pre∣dicament of Relation, so that one could not subsist without the other. By all which things it is evident, that whatsoever was the number of the first Parishes in Rome, and of those Chur∣ches, which were called Tituli Cardinales, Car∣dinall Titles; the same number must also of ne∣cessity be the first number of the Cardinalls, es∣pecially at their first institution, when these Ti∣tles were first setled on them: but the first cer∣taine number, and first decreed number either of such Priests, as were in the City of Rome, or Page  128 of such Parishes as were in Rome, or (which is sufficient for my purpose) of such Cardinall Titles as were in Rome, was 25; and therefore, whether the Cardinalls had their originall from the first Presbyters in Rome, or from the first Parishes in Rome, or from the first Chur∣ches in Rome, their first number was 25. The Minor proposition, or so much of it as is neces∣sary, J prove by many witnesses. First Baronius anno 309 saith expressely of these Titles after this manner. Marcellus xxv Titulos in vrbe con∣stituit quasi Dioeceses, that is Marcellus did con∣stitute 25 Titles in the city as it were Diocesses.*

Secondly, Alphonsus Ciaconius, who hath written the lives of the Popes, affirmeth the same in these words. Anno circiter 305. Mar∣celli Pontificatus 2o viginti quin{que} Titulos idem Pontifex instituit. And a little afterwards saith, Marcellus de quo nunc agitur Certum numerum praefinivit Titulorum, nempe xxv: that is, about the yeare 305 Marcellus, in the second yeare of his Popeship, did institute 25 Titles. Marcellus of whom we now speake prefined a certaine number of Titles to wit 25.

Isidorus Mosconius witnesseth the same in these words. Successivè Marcellus anno 305 DECRETO statuit Titulos datos esse tantùm Page  129 xxv. in quibus Baptisma dispensaretur. that is, Successively Marcellus in the yeare 305, did make a Decree, that the Titles given to the Car∣dinals should be only 25, in which Baptisme was to be administred.

In like manner Hieronymus Platus in his book de Cardinalis dignitate & officio, saith of these Cardinall Titles, si quis numerum quaer at horum Ti∣tulorum jam ante dictum est xxv ab Euaristo insti∣tutos esse: that is, If any one seek after the num∣ber of these Titles, it is above said that Euaristus did institute xxv.

Polidor Ʋirgil in his fourth book de invento∣ribus rerum, and ninth chap. hath many things concerning the Cardinals, and their originall: and among the rest he hath these words. Nec ita multò post Marcellus, titulos urbis ab Euaristo primum Presbyteris datos numero limitavit, decre∣to statuens quin{que} & viginti: ac quasi dioeceses esse ad Baptizandum eos, qui ex gentibus externis in Chri∣stianorum coetum quotidi venirent, & ad sepelien∣dum mortuos: Haec ex Bibliothecario, Damaso, Platina, ac aliis vel recentioribus sacrae historiae scriptoribus; quos miror ne{que} hoc ne{que} alio quod sciam loco, non explicuisse, qui essent ii Praesbyteri quibus Titulos in urbe datos tradunt, unde haud-dubiè pri∣ma Cardinalium origo est: that is, Not long after Page  130Marcellus limited the number of Parishes in the City, which Evaristus first gave to the Priests, and did by Decree constitute that there should be 25, and that they should be as Dioeceses, to baptise those unbeleiving Gentils, which came daily to be of the number of Christians, and to bury the dead. These things are taken out of Bibliothecarius, Damasus and Platina, and out of other later writers of sacred History: but it is marvell (saith Polidor Ʋirgil) that these wri∣ters neither here, nor elsewhere (that I know) doe declare who those Priests were, to whom they affirme these Titles in the City to have been given; from whence, without all doubt is the first originall of the Cardinals. Afterwards in the same chapter, the same Author hath these words also, Faciunt praeterea sidem Tituli, quos hodiè habent Cardinales, quos vocamus, in locum il∣lorum perpetuo tenore successisse Presbyterorum, quibus prout declaratum est, Evaristus primûm ti∣tutulos, deinde Marcellus velut dioeceses digesse∣rat, that is, farthermore these titles, with those whom we call Cardinals doe at this day enjoy, doe witnesse, that the Cardinals by a perpetuall and never discontinued succession, have succee∣ded in the places of those Priests, to whom (as it is above declared) Evaristus first distributed Page  131 those Parishes, which were afterward made Diocesses by Marcellus. When these Parishes were made Diocesses, then were these Priests made Cardinals, by having a formall power, & jurisdiction added unto them, as it also ap∣peares by the like testimony of Volater anu, who saith, Marcellus titulos xxv, sicuti Dioeceses, id est, Gubernationes ad Baptismi commoditatem instituit, that is, Marcellus made 25 Titles in the City as it were, Diocesses, that is, Goverments or Dominions for the more convenient admi∣nistration of Baptisme.

But of all other writers, Onuphrius Panvinius de praecipuis urbis Romae Basilicis, setteth downe these things most fully, the effect of whose words is thus in briefe. That whereas original∣ly there was a small uncertain number of Pres∣byters at Rome, they were brought to a certaine number & order by Cletus and Evaristus, Popes of Rome; first Cletus reduced the Presbyters of Rome to the number 25; afterward Evaristus, a∣bout the yeare of Christ 100, appointed & pre∣scribed a severall Parish to every one of those Presbyters; which Parishes were afterwards inlarged, and had their bounds and limits more perfectly and more exactly prescribed un∣to them, by Pope Dionysius about the yeare of Page  132 Christ 260; after which time Marcellus about the yeare of Christ 305, limited the number of those Titles, which anciently were first given to the Presbyters by Evaristus, and did by de∣cree constitute that there should be in Rome 25, as it were so many Dioceses for the more con∣venient Baptising of such Gentils, as were daily converted to Christian religion. And this is the summe of that which Onuphrius saith, concer∣ning the first number of Cardinall Titles, which were at one, and the same time institu∣ted, and decreed. After the time of Marcellus, when the Church was freed from persecuti∣ons, those Titles were increased by divers Popes, as the same Author writes, some adding one, and some another; but as Saint Paul is not numbred among the twelve Apostles, because he was not one of those twelve, who were all at once, and at the same time first named, and chosen to be Apostles; so those Titles and Car∣dinals, who were afterward added one after another, to this first established and decreed number of 25 at one and the same time institu∣ted, cannot, neither ought to be numbred a∣mong them: because the mystery consisteth (as it is above clearely and evidently proved) in that number only, which was truly applicable Page  133 unto them at the time of their first institution, and actuall emersion of their order.

And this first number 25 may be yet farther proved by the testimony of Hieronymus Albanus, who maketh mention of 25 Cardinals created by Marcellus. Jt may be confirmed also by the testimony of Platina who writeth to the same purpose in these words. Marcellus divino cultui intendens, ubi Priscillam matronam Romanam im∣pulisset coemeterium suis sumptibus via salaria con∣stituere, Titulos quin{que} & viginti in urbe Roma constituit quasi Dioeceses, ad commoditatem Baptis∣mi, & opportunitatem eorum qui ad sidem ex genti∣bus q́uotidiè veniebant. To the same effect wri∣teth Damasus in these words. Marcellus Papa xxv Titulos Romae constituit quasi Dioeceses prop∣ter Baptismum & paenitentiam multorum qui con∣vertebantur ex Paganis. The same is also wit∣nessed by Anastatius, who saith of the same Pope Mercellus; Hic xxv. Titulos in vrbe Romana constituit quasi Dioceses.

By the generall consent of those testimonies and Authors above recited, it is evident and un∣questionable; (especially untill the contrary shall be proved by better Authors, as J believe it will a never be) that the first number of Car∣dinall Titles, at one and the same time erected, Page  134 established and decreed, was 25. And from hence it followeth necessarily (as it is above declared) not only that the first originall num∣ber of the Cardinals was 25; but also, that at the first apparent foundation of Popery, the first re∣markable division of the City and People of Rome, into Tribes, Wards, Parishes, or Dioceses was 25, and that at the same time the first num∣ber of Churches for the administration of Bap∣tisme was 25 also. If it be true which Onuphri∣us writeth, that there were 25 Priests in Rome before that there were 25 Parishes, and that there were 25 Parishes in Rome, before they were actually made 25 Cardinall Titles, or Di∣ocesses by Marcellus; then it followeth, that al∣though the order of Cardinals had been actual∣ly instituted before the time of Marcellus (as J believe it was not) yet their originall number would have been 25. But as it is certaine that the a first remarkable foundation of the Popish Hierarchy was about the time of Constantine the great, after the first 300 yeares were ended: so it is evident, and not unworthy to be observed, that these Authors, and many more whose words J have not recited, doe testifie by a more then ordinary consent, that at that very time the established and decreed number of Titles, (and Page  135 therefore of Cardinals also and of Churches appointed for Baptisme) was 25 as it is above declared.

How long this first number of Cardinals & Titles continued without alteration, it is not materiall to enquire. For as the Colledge of A∣postles and their successours, did not long conti∣nue in their first number; so there is no neces∣sity in respect of this mystery, that this Col∣ledge of Anti-apostles ought to doe. Yet never∣thelesse it seemes probable by that which Saint aHierome hath written upon Ezekiel, that the same number continued unto his daies. If it were afterward augmented before the time of Gregory the great, it seemes it was de facto and not de jure: because in the time of Gregory (b who is said to have reduced the Cardinall Ti∣tles to their ancient institution) there were on∣ly 25 Cardinals and no more, as they are nomina∣tim recited by Onuphrius in his book de Pontisi∣cum & Cardinalium creatione.

Concerning Deacon Cardinals of the City Page  136 of Rome their number is not to be considered. For it is certaine that they were not instituted by Marcellus, nor at the same time that the Pres∣byter Cardinals were, nor in many ages after them. Yet if there had been Cardinall Deocons in Rome from the beginning, they should have been 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, answerable to those 7 Deacons in the Primitive Church, (as aOnuphrius intima∣teth) and not to the 12 Apostles. The like may be said of Cardinall Bishops, that they were not thought upon, when the Presbyter Cardinals and their titles were first instituted; Wherefore Isidorus Mosconius saith thus of them; Episcopi tunc non erant in Collegio Cardinalium, ideò primus Episcopus ad Cardinalitiam dignitatem assumptus, fuit Conradus Suenns, Archiepiscopus Moguntinus, creatus ab Alexandro tertio Ann. 1163: that is▪ Bi∣shops were not then in the Colledge of Cardinals, therefore the first Bishop promoted to this dignity was Conradus Suenus, Archbishop of Mentz, crea∣ted by Alexander the third in the yeare 1163. There was for many ages, a great difference and di∣stinction, between the Presbyter Cardinals of the ancient foundation, and between the Bi∣shop, and Deacon Cardinals, which were of a la∣ter institution; these were not capable of any of those ancient titles, given first to the Parish Page  137 Priests of Rome. And although the aPopes om∣nipotency, hath since brought this anciently observed order, unto a promilcuous confusion, by giving these titles to Bishops, Deacons, and all sorts of Cardinals: yet there is in stiling them, & writing of their b names, a distinction still ob∣served, to testifie the ancient difference which was between them. Forasmuch therefore as these Cardinall Bishops, and Deacons were not originally in the Colledge of Cardinals, when their first number was decreed, but are rather redundant extuberancies of the Papacie, built upon, and dangerously overhanging that anci∣ent foundation of the Presbyter Cardinals; I say therefore that whatsoever the number of Cardinals, either Bishops, Priests, or Deacons, ei∣ther now is, or hath been at anytime since their first institution, either de facto, or de iure, it can no way prejudice, or infringe (howsoever, it may perhaps c confirme) the truth of that which is above said concerning their first ori∣ginall Page  138 number. I doe therefore now conclude according to that which I suppose I have above evidently and sufficiently proved by many wit∣nesses; first.

That there were in Rome originally, at the first remarkable foundation of the Papacie 25 Churches, in which, and in no other Baptisme was to be administred; which 25 Churches ac∣cording to a b treble sense are answerable to the 12 Gates of the new Hierusalem.

Secondly, that there were 25 Titles, Parishes, Wards, Dioceses, or other divisions of persons and places, belonging to these 25 Churches: which 25 Titles, are answerable to those 12 Tribes of the new Hierusalem.

Thirdly, that there were 25 Priests or Pastors, to whom these 25 Churches were assigned; which 25 Pastors, are answerable to the 12 An∣gels placed at the Gates of the new Hierusalem. Lastly, I conclude that these 25 Priests were changed (which change was the first great and remarkable degree of the great Antichristian Apostasie) into 25 Cardinals; & so became the Basis and foundation, of a then newly erected Romish Hierarchy, which hath ever since conti∣nued, clayming and usurping supreame power and authority in the Church. And this Romish Page  139 Hierarchie properly and essentially consists of the Pope and Cardinals onely, who are a diffe∣rent kinde of goverment from all that ever were before them, pretending themselves to be the sea Apostolique, and resembling an ancient goverment of Rome, but being nothing else in the truth of their being, but a reall and continu∣all emulation, and opposition of Christ and his Apostles: even in respect of that transcendencie of Authority, & infallibilitie of Doctrine, which was proper unto Christ and his Apostles onely, and absolutely incommunicable to any of their successors. And herein especially (as I conceive) consisteth the very soule and essence of Anti∣christianisme, in pretending to be what they are not, by imitating Christ and his Apostles, in those things wherein they are unimitable. And how∣soever the Romish Clergy, are more properly the servants and vassals of Antichrist then the Laie∣tie: and both Cleargy & Laiety of that Church, then any other Christians; yet I believe that the very body, and essence of that great Antichrist, which was to come into the world, is to be confined to the Colledge of Cardinals onely, of which Colledge the Pope is head, and he toge∣ther with them, maketh one corporation of false Prophets sitting properly 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉Page  140 that is, as those words are, and may be divers waies interpreted, not only in, or against, or o∣ver the Church of God, but also pretending themselves to be the Church of God, a as the Romish Prelats pretend the Colledge of Cardi∣nall to be. But I returne from whence I finde my selfe digressing, and doe conclude, that as all Ecclesiasticall Hierarchy in the Church of Christ (against and above which the Cardinals of Rome doe most energetically oppose and ad∣vance themselves) had it's first originall, institu∣tion, and foundation from the 12 Apostles in Hierusalem: so the opposite Hierarchy of Car∣dinals in the Synagogue of Antichrist had it's first institution and foundation from 25 Parish Priests in Rome.