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on the express ground that its removal would be immediately followed by the manifestation of a violent and wicked power, which would afflict the world with awful calamities.
“ Another greater duty,” says Tertullian, “which binds us to pray for the emperors and for the whole Roman state, is because we know that by the continuation of the Roman empire a most awful calamity is retarded, which is impending on the whole world.”I
The Apostle, to comfort the Thessalonians, no sooner mentions the revelation of the Man of Sin, than he foretells also his destruction, even before he describes his other qualifications. Unmindful, as it were, of the order of time, he proceeds at once to what was the engrossing subject of his thoughts and wishes, saying,—Whom the Lord Jesus shall consume by the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming. Which words teach us that the utter destruction, the final overthrow, of the power of Antichrist and of his iniquitous kingdom, will be effected by Christ at his second coming.
Then, having foretold the destruction of the Man of Sin, the Apostle returns again to the subject which he had suspended for a while, and describes the other qualifications by which the wicked one was to advance and establish his imposture and his kingdom. “Whose coming,” says he, “is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish.” Here we are taught that the Antichrist will rise to credit and authority by diabolical methods; that he will practise the most wicked arts of deceit; will be guilty of the most impious frauds and impositions
Tert. Apol. ad Gent.
upon mankind; and by these means will succeed to draw many into the seduction of iniquity.
Predictions of St. John. The Apostle St. John, in his first epistle, not only distinctly declares that the Antichrist would certainly come, but also predicts, in the clearest terms, what sort of a person he was to be. "Who is a liar," says he, “but he who denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is the Antichrist who denieth the Father and the Son.” And again : "Every spirit that dissolveth Jesus is not of God, and this is the Antichrist.' The same Apostle thus describes in the Apocalypse the character of the Antichrist and of his kingdom :-"I saw,” says he, "a beast coming up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten diadems, and upon his heads names of blasphemy.
. . And there was given to him a mouth speaking great things, and blasphemies : and power was given to him to do two-and-forty months. And he opened his mouth unto blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And power was given him over every tribe, and people, and tongue, and nation. And all that dwell upon the earth adored him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb which was slain from the beginning of the world.”3 How wonderful is the resemblance, amounting to complete identity, between this beast and the little horn of Daniel ! The fathers, com1 1 John, ii. 22.
? 1 John, iv. 3. A poc. xiii.
menting on this passage of St. John, teach that the beast here described signifies the Antichrist and his kingdom. This is expressly attested by Cornelius a Lapide, who writes thus:-"I say that the beast here spoken of is the Antichrist. Such is the common opinion of St. Irenæus, of Tertullian, of Victorinus; . . of Hypolitus, on the consummation of the age; of St. Ephrem, in his treatise on the Antichrist; of Prudentius, of St. Gregory, St. Ambrose, St. Thomas, &c.”2 St. Irenæus, in the fifth book of his work against heresies, chapter twenty-ninth, writes thus :-“In the beast—the Antichrist, when he comes—is summed up all wickedness and fraud, that all apostatical malice being centred and confined in him, may be thrown into the pool of fire.”
But it will be asked, has the Antichrist already come, or are we still to look forward for his coming? And if he be already come, how shall we be able to find him out?
Surely the first question seems already settled, by the simple fact, known to all, that the Roman empire -- which, according to the doctrines of St. Paul, and the unanimous teaching of the early Fathers, was the great impediment to the revelation of the Man of Sin, and whose removal was to be followed by the coming of the Antichrist, and by the establishment of his wicked kingdom-has already ceased to exist for upwards of thirteen centuries. The Roman empire was broken down and overthrown in the fifth century, and therefore, the Man of Sin, the son of perdition, whose coming is immediately connected with the falling of the Roman empire, must already have made his
1 Lib. v. cap. 28.
appearance. The Roman beast, which had “its teeth and claws of iron, with which he devoured and broke in pieces," has been slain for many centuries; and therefore the little horn which was to come out of it soon after its death, must have already sprung up.
As regards the second question, we propose to answer it in the following articles :
Particular Marks, which must characterise the Antichrist and
his kingdom. The very name of the Antichrist, which, as St. Augustine observes, means “a great opponent of Christ,” brings to our mind the idea of a being most wicked and diabolical, as Christ is most holy and divine. The Holy Scripture says of Christ, that “the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him; the spirit of wisdom and of understanding; the spirit of counsel and of fortitude; the spirit of knowledge and of godliness; and He shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord.”1 The very contrary may be asserted of the Antichrist : that the spirit of the devil shall rest upon him; the spirit of pride and wickedness; the spirit of fraud and deceit; the spirit of error and seduction. He must be filled, not with the “ wisdom descending from above," but with that ascending from beneath, with "an earthly, sensual, devilish wisdom.”
To proceed with clearness, we will here set down in order the principal marks, which, according to the scriptural predictions, must characterise the Antichrist and his iniquitous kingdom. 1 Is. xi. 2.
2 St. James, iii. 15.
1st Mark.— The Antichrist must professedly deny the Holy
Trinity. The mystery of the most Holy Trinity, which “ has been hidden from ages and generations, and now is manifested to the saints,”1 is the very basis of Christianity. It is by virtue of this mystery that we-are regenerated to divine grace, and incorporated with Christ in holy baptism; by this we are made"
sons of God, and heirs also, heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ.”. By this we are drawn to the Father who created us, to the Son who redeemed us, and to the Holy Ghost who sanctifieth us; for, as St. John says,
" There are three who give testimony in heaven—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,—and these three are but one." This sublime mystery of three persons in one God, so essential to Christianity, must be professedly denied by the Antichrist. St. John declares it plainly, “Who is a liar,” says he, “ but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the Antichrist who denieth the Father and the Son." +
The Apostle could not use a better language to give us a clear idea of what the true Antichrist must be. We are assured by him that the Antichrist is some person or community that should deny the Father and the Son. The spirit of wickedness may prompt different persons to deny different points of Christian doctrine; but, however such a spirit may operate in different persons and in different ages, it is still, according to St. John, the spirit of the Antichrist ; and while
1 Coloss. i. 26. 3 1 John, v. 7.
2 Rom. viii. 17. 4 1 John, ii. 22.