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am compelled entirely to differ from Bp. Newton and Mr. Mede. Both these eminent expositors suppose, that the two phrases are synonymous, and equally mean the latter times of the last times, which are the times of the little horn; who should arise during the latter part of the last of the four kingdoms, and should be destroyed together with it, after having continued a time, and times, and half a time :"* whereas I am persuaded, that in the New Testament they are not synonymous, but that they relate to two entirely different periods, which are . never confounded together by any of the apostolical prophets.
The whole duration of the times of Christianity under the reign of the stone, exclusive of the Millennium or the reign of the mountain, is considered in the evangelical predictions as divided into three periods.
1. The first is that of primitive Christianity ; which was not to expire till the commencement of the great Apostacy, although the divine truths of the Gospel would be gradually corrupted during its continuance. Its history, as connected with that of the Roman empire, is detailed under the six first apocalyptic seals, and the four first apocalyptic trumpets.
2. The second is that of the great Apostacy, during its flourishing state. The history of this period is detailed under the two first woe-trumpets : but the Apostacy itself will not be completely overthrown till towards the end of the third woe-trumpet.
3. The third is that of the reign of Antichrist, whose distinguishing badge should be a denial both of the Father and the Son. This power was not to be revealed till some time after the Apostacy had commenced: and was to be contemporary with it during the latter part of its existence, during its allegorical old age. The history of this third period, which comprehends both the reign of Antichrist and the decline and fall of the contemporary Apostacy, is detailed under the third woc-trumpet and its seven vials.
The second and third of these periods, the history of
which constitutes the three apocalyptic woes, * make up jointly the grand period of 1260 years. The Apostacy itself continues to tyrannize the whole length of the 1260 yeurs : but the reign of Antichrist is contemporary with the Apostacy only during a certain space at the last end of those years ; and this space, we are informed, will be short, compared with the entire duration of the 1260 years, or the 42 prophetic months.t
The second then of these three periods, comprehending the rise and flourishing state of the Apostacy, is termed by the prophets of the New Testament the latter times or days; as being latter, when compared to the days of primitive Christianity or the first period.
And the third of the three periods, or the peculiar reign of the atheistical Antichrist, is distinguished by the appellation of the last times or days; as being last, when compared to the days of primitive Christianity, and to the latter days of the first and second woe-trumpets or the peculiar reign of apostate superstition.
Accordingly, we shall invariably find, that every apostolical prediction, relative to the latter days, speaks of certain superstitious practices introduced by the little horn of the fourth beast during the flourishing period of the Apostacy ; but never alludes to Atheism, and the monstrous brood of vices engendered by it: and, on the other hand, that every apostolical prediction, relative to the last days, speaks of Atheism and its kindred sins ; but never alludes to the superstitious practices af the Apostacy. Prophecies relative to the latter days, or the superstitions
of the Apostacy. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart; from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils ;g through the
* Rev. viii. 13.
† Rev. xii. 12. # Gr. atooino ovlci, shall apostatize. It is the very same mode of expression as that used by St. Paul, when he is predicting the falling away or apostacy, (Gr. anolacic) which was to take place from primitive Christianity. 2 Thess. ii. 3.
§ Or, more properly, demons or mediating spirits. As Bp. Newton justly remarks, “ doctrines of demons, are doctrines about and concerning demons. This is therefore a prophecy, that the idolatrous theology of demons, professed by the gentiles, should be revived among Christians-Demons, according to the theology of the gentiles, were
hypocrisy of liars, having their consciences seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth-Refuse profane and old wives' fables ; and exercise thyself rather unto godliness : for bodily exercise profiteth little."*
“ The time will come, when they will not endure sound doctrine ; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears ; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”+
“ And the rest of the men, which were not killed by these plagues,” (namely those, which took place under the first and second woe-trumpets, and consequently during the period, which, as I conceive, the apostolical prophets denominate the latter days) “yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood : which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk : neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.”'S
Let no man beguile you of your reward, in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding the head-Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will-worship, and humility, and disciplining of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.”||
middle powers between the sovran gods and mortal men- These demons were regarded as mediators and agents between the gods and men-Of these demons there were accounted two kinds. One kind of demons were the souls of men, deified or canonized after death—The other kind of demons were such as had never been the souls of men, nor ever dwelt in mortal bodies -- The latter demons may be paralleled with angels, as the former may with canonized saints.” Dissert. xxiii. 2. * 1 Tim. iv. 1.
+ 2 Tim. iv. 3. # That is, demons or mediating spirits, as before. St. John uses the very same word Saijovice or demons, that St. Paul does. (1 Tim. iv. 1.)
$ Rev. ix. 20. Il Coloss. ii. 18, 19, 23. The express phrase of latter times or days only occurs in one of these prophecies; but the purport of the rest, relating as they all do to the very same superstitious practices as those stigmatized in the first, sufficiently shew that they must all be referred to the same period, whatever that period may be.
Prophecies relative to the last days, or the atheism of
Antichrist. “ This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall coine. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof : from such turn away. Of this sort are they, which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women, laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth Now, as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth ; men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further; for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was."*
“ Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming ; for, since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water ; whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.t
“ But there were false prophets among the people, even as there shall be false teachers ainong you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways ; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you : whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their
It is worthy of remark, that in a Popish tract republished so late as the year 1798, the editor defends the worship of the Virgin Mary on the very ground predicted by the Apostle, the plea of bumility and having a just sense of our own unworthiness. See Whitaker's Comment. on Rev. p. 315-318. * 2 Tim. iji. 1.
+ 2 Peter üi. 3.
damnation slumbereth not- The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished. But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities—These, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not, and shall utterly perish in their own corruption, and receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are, and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you. Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin ; beguiling unstable souls ; an heart have they exercised with covetous practices : cursed children—These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest ; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For, when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure, through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. * While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption : for, of whom a man is overcome, of the same he is brought in bondage. For, if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”+
“ There are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly
* The error, here spoken of, is the Apostacy of the latter days. Many, who had seen and rejected its absurdities, were notwithstanding to be deceived by the wiles of Infidelity.
+ 2 Peter ï.