« PreviousContinue »
The Signs which our Saviour bath given of the Destruction not only of the Jewish Jerusalem, but of the Gentile Babylon, are as plain to them that will consider, as the Budding of the Fig-Tree is a sign of Summer. And it would be no bard matter to draw hereupon a Parallel betwixt the State of the Jews which preceded that Day of their Judgment which came upon
and the State of the Christians which now is, even including all the several Denominations of them.
Let this Hint for the present only suffice : Are & we very sure that the Jews of that Generation, were worse than the Christians of this? They cruce cified indeed the Lord of Life ; but they did it Ignoto rantly, and out of a Zeal for their Law, and that the Romans might not come and take
their Liberties and Properties : They were as zealous for their Temple, as we can be for our Church; they
(evit were as earnest for maintaining their Laws and
Customs, as we can be for ours; they were as much afraid of Idolatry,and even but the least Appearance of it, as any of us can possibly be now; never were they more free from that great Iransgression,whereby they had sorely provoked God to lay heavy Judgments npon them, and to sell them into Captivity; they would all rather die than commit this Sin; and never was there greater Courage and Contempt of Death in any People for the Sake of their Religion
and their Constitution. If they then perished and 7
that too by their own Devices, let us take heed, unto whom these Things are written for an Example: and let us remember, in this our Day, before it be too late, the Words which were spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ, Saying, Except ye Repent, ye
shall All likewise Perish, which were fulfilled in that Generation and may be fulfilled again in ours,
except we bring forth Fruits meet for Repentance. It being greatly to be feared that the Ax is even already laid to the Root of the Tree, as it was beretofore to that of the Babylonian Empire in the Case of Nebucadnezzar, by tbe Signs which bave appeared in Cbristendom for Some Tears past.
Since if Wars, Famines and Pestilences; if Commotions, Hurricanes and Earthquakes in divers Places; if a fiery Zelotick Spirit delighting to set all in Flames ; if Apoftates and False Prophets gone out into the World to deceive many ; if Wandring Stars, and Angels of the Churches not keeping their first Estate, or Principality; if a general Falling Away from the Maxims of Christ, and the Original Constitution of bis Kingdom on Earth; if Persecutions for the Sake of Truth and a Good Conscience ; if the Love and making of Lyes, arrived even to the utmost Perfektion ; if the Strong Delusions of Satan and his Instruments at this Time, and particularly the Artifices of the Antichristian Seat, lately risen among us, who would alone be thought to Think Freely ; lastly, if the abounding of Iniquity, the failing of Faith, the despising of Dominions, the speaking Evil of Dignities, the walking in the Way of Cain, the running greedily for Reward into any Error or Wickedness whatsoever
, the bringing of all things (even the most Sacred) to the Test of Ridicule, and the scoffing at the Promise of Christ's Coming ; be any Signs (as conjointly consider’d) of the near Approach of That Day, or of some Grand Revolution in the World, such as hath not yet been, we cannot be mistaken, I think, in preparing against the worst, and in pursuing the ways that make for our PEACE.
HE following Treatise, especially
that Part of it which concerneth T
The Antichrit, being founded on
Modern Opinions upon that Subject, must not be sent into the World without a short Preface, to engage the Favour, and obviate the Prejudices of the generality of Readers; who will be apt to condemn at first sight any thing, that shall contradi&t the current Opinions, though never so agreeable to the Traditions of the first and purest Ages of the Church. This is evident from the
general Contempt thrown upon the Ancient Father's and Lights of the Church, particularly as to their Notions of Catholick Communion, Church Cenfure's and the Holy Eucharift, concerning all which they delivered their Opinions as plain as Words could make them ; yet they are now forced to give way to the inconsistent Schemes of Giddy Innovators. That most contemptibly Dull Projector, the Author of The Rights of the Christian Church, bas bis Admirers, who set him up in opposition to the old fashioned Doctrines of Jesus Christ and his Apostles, as they were understood by Ignatius, Juftin, Irenæus, Tertullian, Cyprian, and other Primitive Writers upon those Subjects.
I. FAR be it from me that I should draw a Parallel betwixt those and the Case in hand, or set those Controversies on the fame foot with the Subječt of this Discourse ; either side of this Question being at least Innocent, and baving no relation to the Efentials of Christianity : Whereas the Desigt of those is to destroy Root" and Branch, the very Principles of Revealed Religion. But this I wust say, that I could never yet conceive what Service it could do to the Reformed Cause, to afsert the Pope, or Church of Rome, to to The Great Antichrist, in Opposition to the constant Doctrines of the Ancient Church; whereas Iibir as on the one hand, the acknowledging the Churcb of Rome to be a moft Corrupt Church, and by consequence in that Sense Antichriffian, (as from my Heart I firmly believe it is) is sufficient to justifie our Separation from her: So on the other band, the deserting the Traditions of the Ancient Church, without any Necessity for so doing, muff needs have prejudiced many a Learned and Judicious Man who might thence be tempted to conclude, that the Reformers, in opher Cases as well as that, despised the Doctrines of Antiquity, and were for setting up new Lights and new Interpretations of Scriptures, in Opposition to those old ones, which the most primitive Ages had esteemed Orthodox
II. St. PAUL writing to the Thessalonians, 2 Epift. Chap. 2. concerning this Man of Sin, or the Great Antichrift, gives them a Special Charge, v. 18. Therefore, Brethren, stand fast, and hold the Traditions, which ye have been taught either by our Word or
Epistle; I dog
Epistle; meaning, no doubt, especially the Tram ditions about the Perfonal Antichrift. For that this was St. Paul's Meaning, I have two very good Reafons to believe. 1. I prefume it will puzzle a Learned Man to explain tbat Chapter of the Pope or Church of Rome so confiftently as to Satisfie his own Mind. 2dly, Which is to me no contemptible Authority, that all the Writers upon that Subject, through every Age of the Church till the Times of the Reformation, (beginning with the Waldenses and Albigenses) understood it in the Same Sense, applying it (if not, in the same that
to a Person yet to come) to Some individual Person to whom those Characters should most properly belong, And how can we otherwise account for the concurrent Testimonies of the Ancients about ibat matter, than by Suppofing that this was the Tradition of the Apostles, particularly of St. Paul, to which he refers, v.s. Remember ye not that when I was yet with you, I told you these things. And that from him and the other Apostles thés Tradition was conveyed down to after Ages; particularly confidering that the most early Writers Speak exprefly in this Sense. Irenæus, who was the Disciple of Polycarp, and by conse quence but one remove from the teaching of St. John, Hippolytus the Disciple of Irenæus, Cyprian, Origen, and Cyril of Jerusalem are no incompetent Witnesses of an Apoftolical Tradition, and are fo appealed to in other Cases; and ! Wyby in this particular Cafe we should be wiser than they, I confefs I am at a loss to explain.
III. AND here I cannot but take notice of an Objection raised by the Judicious and Learned Mr. Mede, and since reviv'd by Mr. Whifton