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Juftin Martyr, who florifhed before the middle of the fecond century, (6) confiders the man of fin, or as he elsewhere calleth him the man of blafphemy, as altogether the fame with the little horn in Daniel; and affirms that he, who fhall fpeak blafphemous words against the most High, is now at the doors. Irenæus, who lived in the fame century, hath written (7) a whole chapter of the fraud, and pride, and tyrannical reign of Antichrift, as they are defcribed by Daniel and St. Paul in his fecond Epiftle to the Theffalonians. Tertullian, who became famous at the latter end of the fame century, expounding those words only he who now letteth will lett, until he be taken out of the way, (8) fays Who can this be but the Roman ftate, the divifion of which into ten kingdoms will bring on Antichrift, and then the wicked one fhall be revealed.' And in his Apology he (9) affigns it as a particular reafon why the Chriftians prayed for the Roman empire, becaufe they knew that the greatest calamity hanging over the world was retarded by the continuance of it.
Origen the most learned father and ableft writer of the third century, (1) recites this paffage at large as spoken of him who is called Antichrift. To the fame purpose he likewise alleges the words of Daniel as truly divine and prophetic. Daniel and St. Paul, according to him, both prophefied of the fame perfon.
Lactantius, who florifhed in the beginning of the fourth century, defcribes Antichrift in the fame manner, and almoft in the fame terms as St. Paul; and (2) con
cludes This is he, who is called Antichrift, but fhall
feign himself to be Chrift, and fhall fight against the 'truth.' A fhorter and fuller character of the vicar of Chrift could not be drawn even by a proteftant. Cyril of Jerufalem in the fame century alleges this paffage of St. Paul together with other prophecies concerning Antichrift, and (3) fays that 'This the predicted Antichrift
will come, when the times of the Roman empire fhall 'be fulfilled, and the confummation of the world fhall' 'approach. Ten kings of the Romans fhall arife together, in different places indeed, but they thall reign at the fame time. Among these the eleventh is Antichrift, who by magical and wicked artifice fhall feife the Roman power.' Ambrofe archbishop of Milan in the fame century, or Hilary the deacon, or the author (whoever he was) of the comment upon St. Paul's epiftles, which paffeth under the name of St. Ambrofe, propofes much the fame interpretation and (4) affirms that after the failing or decay of the Roman empire, Antichrift fhall appear.
Jerome, Auftin, and Chryfoftome florifhed in the latter end of the fourth, or the beginning of the fifth century. St. Jerome in his explanation of this paffage (5) fays, that Antichrift fhall fit in the temple of God,
(3) δὲ ὁ ερχεται @gosignμeiC ArtiχρισΘ. ὑτῶ, ὅταν πλήρωθωσιν οἱ καιροι της Ρομαίων βασιλείας, και πλησιάζει λοιπον τα της τις κόσμε συντελειας. δεκα μεν ὁμε Ρομαιων εγείρονται, βασιλεις. εν διάφοροις μεν ισως τόποις, κατα δε τον αυτον βασίλευεσι καιρον· μετά δὲ τ8τες ἑνδέκατος ὁ Αντιχρίδος, εκ της μαγικης κακοτεχνιας την Ρωμαϊκήν εξυσav apraσaç. Veniet autem hic prædictus Antichriftus, cum impleta fuerint tempora imperii Romani, et mundi confummatio appropinquabit. Decem fimul reges Romanorum excitabuntur, in diverfis quidem locis, eodent tamen tempore regnantes. Poft iftos autem undecimus Antichriftus, per magicum maleficium Romanorum poteftatem rapiens. Catch. 15. Cap. 5. p. 211. Edit. Milles. Oxon. 1703.
(4) Polt defectum regni Romani appariturum Antichriftum, &c, Am
brof. in locum.
(5) Et in templo Dei, vel Jerofolymis (ut quidam putant) vel in eccle. fia (ut verius arbitramur) federit, oftendens fe tanquam ipfe fit Chriftus et filius Dei: Nifi, inquit, fuerit Romanum imperium ante defolatum, et Antichriftus præcefferit, Chriftus non veniet, Et nunc quid detineat, fitis, ut reveletur in fuo tempore; hoc eft, quæ caufa fit, ut Antichriftus in præfentiarum non veniat, optime noftis. Nec vult apertè dicere Romanum imperium deftruendum, quod ipfi qui imperant, æternum putant.-Si enim apertè audacterque dixiffet, non veniet Antichriftus, nifi prius Romanum de leatur imperium, jufta caufa perfecutionis in orientem tunc ecclefiam confurgere videbatur. Algafiæ Queft. 11. Col. 209. Prior Pars. Tom. 4. Edit. Benedict.
'either at Jerufalem (as fome imagin) or in the church
(as we more truly judge) thowing himfelf that he is 'Chrift and the Son of God: and unlefs the Roman empire be firft defolated, and Antichrift precede, * Chrift fhall not come-And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time, that is, ye 'know very well, what is the reafon, why Antichrift doth not come at prefent. He is not willing to fay openly, that the Roman empire fhould be deftroyed, which they who command think to be eternal.-For if he had faid openly and boldly, that Antichrift fhall not come, unless the Roman empire be firft deftroyed, it might probably have proved the occafion of a perfecution against the church.' Jerome was himself a witness to the barbarous nations beginning to tear in pieces the Roman empire, and upon this occafion (6) exclaims He who hindered is taken out of the way, and we do not confider that Antichrift approaches, whom the Lord Jefus fhall confume with the fpirit of his mouth.' St. Auftin having cited this paffage (7) affirms, that No one queftions that the apoftle spoke these things concerning Antichrift: and the day of judgment (for this he calleth the day of the Lord) thould not come, unlefs Antichrift come firft.-And. < now ye know what withholdeth.-Some think this was fpoken of the Roman empire; and therefore the apostle was not willing to write it openly, left he fhould incur a præmunire, and be falfely accufed of withing ill to the Roman empire, which was hoped to be eternal.' St. Chryfoftome, in one of his homilies upon this paffage, fpeaking of what hindered the revelation of Antichrift, (8) afferts that when the Roman empire fhall be taken
(6) Qui tenebat, de medio fit, et non intelligimus Antichriftum appropinquare, quem Dominus Jefus Chrif tus interficiet fpiritu oris fui. Ad Ageruchiam de Monogamia Col. 748. Secund. Pars. Tom. 4.
(7) Nulli dubium eft, eum de Antichrifto ifta dixiffe; diemque judicii (hunc enim appellat diem Domini) non effe venturum, nifi ille prior venerit-Et nunc quid detineat fcitisQui
dam putant hoc de imperio dictum fuiffe Romano; et propterea Paulum apoftolum non id apertè fcribere vo-, luiffe, ne calumniam videlicet incurreret, quòd Romano imperio male optaverit, cùm fperaretur æternum. Civitat. Dei. Lib. 20. Cap. 19. Col., 451. Tom. 7. Edit. Benedict. Antwerp.
(8) ή αρχή ή Ρομαΐνη όταν αρθη εκ μετ σε, τοτε εκείνος ηξει. και εικοίως• έως γας
'out of the way, then he fhall come; and it is very likely for as long as the dread of this empire fhall remain, no one fhall quickly be fubftituted; but when this fhall be diffolved, he fhall feife on the vacant emIpire, and fhall endevor to affume the power both of God and men.' And who hath feized on the vacant empire in Rome, and affumed the power both of God and man let the world judge.
In this manner these ancient and venerable fathers expound this paffage; and in all probability they had learned by tradition from the apoftle, or from the church of the Theffalonians, that what retarded the revelation of Antichrift was the Roman empire, but when the Roman empire fhould be broken in pieces, and be no longer able to withhold him, then he should appear in the Christian church, and domineer principally in the church of Rome. Even in the opinion of a bishop of Rome, Gregory the great, who fat in the chair at the end of the fixth cen tury, whofoever affected the title of univerfal bishop, he was Antichrift, or the forerunner of Antichrift. 'I fpeak
it confidently, fays (9) he, that whofoever calleth him' felf univerfal bifhop, or defireth fo to be called, in 'the pride of his heart he doth forerun Antichrift.' When John, then bishop of Conftantinople, firft ufurped this title, Gregory made anfwer, By this pride of his,
what thing elfe is fignified, but that the time of Antichrift is now at hand? Again he fays upon the fame occafion, The king of pride (that is Antichrift) approacheth; and what is wicked to be fpoken, an army of priests is prepared.' When the papal doctrins and the
αν ο ταύτης η της αρχής φοβο, εδεις ταχεως ὑπολαγήσεται. ὅταν δε αυτή καταλυθη, επιθησεται τη ανα avaggia, nar την των ανθρώπων, και την τε θεό επι χειρησει ἁρπασαι αρχην. quando Ros manorum imperium de medio fuerit fublatum, tunc ille veniet. Et merito, Quamdiu enim fuerit metus hujus imperii, nemo cito fubjicietur. Quando autem hoc fuerit everfum, vacans invadet imperium, hominemque et Dei imperium aggredietur rapere. In locum p. 530. Tom. 11. Edit. Benedict. (9) Ergo fidenter dico, quod quif
quis fe univerfalem facerdotem vocat,
vel vocari defiderat, in elatione fua Antichriftum præcurrit. Lib. 6. Epift. 30. Ex hac ejus fuperbia quid aliud, nifi propinqua jam effe Antichrifti tempora defignatur. Lib. 4. Epift. 34. Rex fuperbiæ prope eft; et, quod dici nefas eft, facerdotum eft præparatus exercitus. Lib. 4. Ibid. See Jewel's Detenie of the Apology. Part 4. Cap. 16. p. 413. Barrow's Treatife of the Pope's Supremacy, Suppof. 5. p. 123. Edit. 1683.
papal authority prevailed over all, it was natural to think and expect, that the true notion of Antichrift would be ftifled, and that the doctors of the church would endevor to give another turn and interpretation to this paffage. That night of ignorance was fo thick and dark, that there was hardly here and there a single ftar to be seen in the whole hemifphere. But no fooner was there any glimmering or dawning of a reformation, than the true notion of Antichrift, which had been fo long fuppreffed, broke out again. As early as the year 1120 a treatise was published concerning Antichrift, wherein (1) the faithful are admonifhed, that the great Antichrift was
long ago come, in vain was he fill expected, he was now by the permiffion God: advanced in years' and the author, having defcribed the corrupt ftate of the church at that time, fays afterwards,This ftate of men (not a fingle man) is Antichrift, the whore of Babylon, the fourth beaft of Daniel, (to wit in his laft ftate as it is faid) that man of fin and fon of perdition, who is exalted above every God, fo that he fitteth in the tem6, ple of God, that is, the church, fhowing himself that he is God; who is now come with all kind of seduction and lies in those who perish.' The Waldenefes and Albigenfes propagated the fame opinions in the fame century. That the pope was Antichrift was indeed the general doctrin of the firft reformers every where. Here in England it was (2) advanced by Wickliff, and was learnedly established by that great and able champion of the Reformation, Bishop Jewel, in his Apology and Defense, and more largely in his Expofition upon the two Epiftles of St. Paul to the Theffalonians. This doctrin