(Part 1 of an ancient Waldensian treatise, from a collection of writings from 1120 AD. Translated from French.)
Antichrist is a falsehood worthy of eternal damnation, covered with the appearance of the truth and righteousness of Christ and his Bride; he is opposed to the very way of truth, of righteousness, of faith, of hope, of charity, opposed to the moral life and true ministry of the Church, administered by false apostles, and upheld resolutely by both arms (the ecclesiastical arm and the secular arm).
Antichrist is an alteration of the truth of salvation, hidden by material and ministerial objects, or a fraudulent service to Christ, to his Bride, and to every faithful member. Thus, he is not one particular person, ordained to a degree, or office, or ministry, considering the thing in general; but falsehood itself, opposed to the truth, covered and adorned with beauty and piety foreign to the Church of Christ, by names, offices, Scriptures, sacraments and many other things.
Iniquity is thus supplied with its greater and smaller ministers, and those who follow it with an evil and blind heart: such a congregation, taken together, is that which is called Antichrist, or Babylon, or fourth beast, or whore, or man of sin, son of perdition.
Its ministers are called false prophets, ministers of darkness, spirit of error, the whore of Revelation, mother of fornication, clouds without water, withered trees dead and twice plucked up, waves of the raging sea, wandering stars, Balaamites, Egyptians.
He is called Antichrist, because, covered and adorned with the appearance of Christ, the Church, and His faithful members, he opposes the salvation wrought by Christ, and truly administered in the Church of Christ, of which the faithful partake by faith, hope, and charity. In all these respects he opposes by worldly wisdom, by false religions and feigned goodness, by ecclesiastical power, by secular tyranny, by riches, by the honour of dignities, by delights and by worldly pleasures.
Therefore may everyone know that the Antichrist can not appear in any way, except when the things just named will be united together to form a perfect hypocrite and a perfect lie, that is, to say when the wise men of the world, the religious men, the Pharisees, the ministers, the doctors, the secular power, the worldly people, will be united. Thus they altogether form the man of sin and error completely.
For in the time of the apostles it is a truth that Antichrist was already conceived, but because, being in infancy, he lacked his necessary members, either internal or external. That is why he then might have more easily been known, destroyed and excommunicated, being then in a more raw and rough state. And he was silent, because he did not have the wisdom that knows how to reason, who knows how to excuse himself, who knows how to define, who knows how to pronounce sentences; for he lacked the hypocritical ministers without truth,, and human ordinances; he lacked men who were outwardly religious. Although fallen away in error and sin, he did not have the things with which he could cover the defilement or the shame of errors or sin. As he lacked riches and endowments, he could not lure ministers to himself; he could not multiply them, preserve them, defend them; for he lacked secular strength or power; he could neither force nor compel anyone from truth to lies.
Because he lacked such things, he could neither shake nor scandalize anyone by his deceits. And so, being too tender and weak, he could obtain no place in the Church. But growing in its members, that is to say in its blind and hypocritical ministers and in its worldly people he at last became a complete man, that is to say grew up to full age, that when the friends of the world in the Church and State, blind in faith, multiplied in the Church, they gave power into his hands. As evil as he was, he yet wished to be invoked and honored in spiritual things, and to cover his authority, malice, and sins, resorted to the worldly wise and Pharisees, in this, as it is said below.
For it is an extreme iniquity to hide and adorn an iniquity worthy of excommunication, and to desire to establish himself by what is not given to man, but which belongs to God alone and to Jesus Christ as mediator. To remove these things from God fraudulently, and to transfer them to himself and to his works, must be an extreme felony, as to attribute to himself regeneration, forgiveness of sins, dispensing the graces of the Holy Spirit, to represent Christ, and similar things.
And to cover oneself in all these things with the cloak of authority of the Word, and to deceive by these things the ignorant people that follow the world. in the things that are of the world: to depart thus from God, and the true faith, and the regeneration of the Holy Spirit; to depart from true repentance, from perseverance in good; to depart from charity, patience, poverty, humility, and, worst of all, to distance oneself from true hope and place it in all evil and vain hope of the world; to provide all the ceremonies for these things, to cause the people to serve fraudulently the idols of the whole world, under the name of saints, to commit idolatry with all the idols of the world under the name of saints and relics, and to worship them; it is thus that the people, straying exceedingly from the path of truth, believe that they serve God and do good, are stirred to hatred, anger, and wickedness against the faithful and the friends of God. And he murders many of them, and so the Apostle spoke the truth: Thus is the man of sin fulfilled, and it is he who rises above all that is God; and who is served, and who is opposed to all truth, and who sits in the temple of God, that is to say in the Church, showing himself as if he were God, and who comes with all kinds of deceitfulness for those who perish.
And since this wickedness has already come in completeness, we must no longer look for him. Indeed, by God’s permission, he is formed and already old, since he is already decaying. For his power and his authority are diminished, and the Lord Jesus kills this wickedness by the breath of his mouth and by many men of good will, and he sends abroad a power which is contrary to him as well as to those that love him, who disturbs his peace and his possessions, and who sends division into this city of Babylon, from which all generations of iniquity draw their vigor and might.