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the temple or house of God is the Christian church in the ufual ftile of the apoftles. St. Paul thus addreffeth the Corinthians in his firft Epiftle, (III. 16, 17.) Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him Shall God destroy: for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are: and thus again in his fecond Epiftle, (VI. 16.) What agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God. He advifeth Timothy (1 Tim. III. 15.) how he ought to behave himfelf in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, as a pillar and ground of the truth. St. John alfo writeth thus to the angel of the church in Philadelphia, (Rev. III. 12.) Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God. Thefe few examples out of many are fufficient to prove, that under the gofpel difpenfation the temple of God is the church of Chrift: and the man of fin's fitting implies his ruling and prefiding there, and fitting there as God implies his claiming divine authority in things fpiritual as well as temporal, and fhowing himself that he is God implies his doing it with great pride and pomp, with great parade and often
These things were not afferted now merely to ferve the prefent occafion. The apoftle had infifted upon thefe topics, while he was at Theffalonica; fo that he thought it a part of his duty, as he made it a part of his preaching and doctrin, to forewarn his new converts of the grand apoftafy that would infeft the church. (ver. 5, 6, 7.) Remember ye not, that when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth, that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth, will lett, until he be taken out of the way. The man of fin therefore was not then revealed. His time was not yet come, or the season for his manifeftation. The mystery of iniquity was indeed already working: for there is a myjlery of iniquity as well as a mystery of godliness, (1 Tim. III. 16.) the one in direct oppofition to the other. The feeds of corruption were fown, but they were not yet grown up to any maturity. The leaven was ferment
ing in fome parts, but it was far from having yet infected the whole mafs. The man of fin was yet hardly conceived in the womb; it muft be fome time before he could be brought forth. There was fome obstacle that hindered his appearance, the apoftle fpeaketh doubtfully whether thing or perfon; and this obftacle would continue to hinder, till it was taken out of the way. What this was we cannot determin with abfolute certainty at so great a distance of time; but if we may rely upon the concurrent teftimonies of the fathers, it was the Roman empire. Moft probably it was fomewhat relating to the higher powers, because the apoftle obferves fuch caution. He mentioned it in difcourfe, but would not commit it to writing. He afterwards exhorts the Theffalonians, (ver. 15.) Brethren, ftand faft, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epiftle. This was one of the traditions which he thought more proper to teach by word than by epiftle.
When this obftacle fhall be removed, then, as the apoftle proceeds, (ver. 8.) fhall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord fhall confume with the spirit of his mouth, and fhall deftroy with the brightness of his coming. Nothing can be plainer than that avou, the lawless, the wicked one here mentioned and the man of fin must be one and the fame perfon. The apoftle was fpeaking before of what hindered that he fhould be revealed, and would continue to hinder until it was taken out of the way: And then hall the wicked one be revealed, whom the Lord fhall confume, &c. Not that he should be confumcd immediately after he was revealed; but the apoftle, to comfort the Theffalonians, no fooner mentions his revelation than he foretels alfo his deftruction, even before he defcribes his other qualifications. His other qualifications fhould have been defcribed firft in order of time, but the apoftle haftens to what was firft and warmeft in his thoughts and withes. Whom the Lord shall confume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall deftroy with the brightness of his coming. If thefe two claufes refer to two diftinct and different events, the meaning manifeftly is, that the Lord Jefus fhall gradually confume him
with the free preaching and publication of his word, and hall utterly deftroy him at his fecond coming in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. If these two claufes relate to one and the fame event, it is a pleonafi that is very ufual in the facred as well as in all oriental writings; and the purport plainly is, that the Lord Jefus fhall deftroy him with the greateft facility, when he shall be revealed from heaven (as the apoftle hath expreffed it in the preceding chapter) with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jefus Chrift.
The apostle was eager to foretel the deftruction of the man of fin; and for this purpofe having broken in upon his fubject, he now returns to it again, and defcribes the other qualifications, by which this wicked one should advance and establish himself in the world. He fhould rife to credit and authority by the most diabolical methods, fhould pretend to fupernatural powers, and boaft of revelations, vifions, and miracles, falfe in themselves, and applied to promote falfe doctrins. (ver. 9.) Whofe coming is after the working of Satan, with all powers, und figns, and lying wonders. He fhould likewife practife all other wicked arts of deceit, fhould be guilty of the most impious frauds and impofitions upon mankind; but fhould prevail only among those who are deftitute of a fincere affection for the truth, whereby they might obtain eternal falvation. (ver. 10.) And with all deceiva-' bleness of unrighteousness, in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be faved. And indeed it is a juft and righteous judgment of God, to give them over to vanities and lies in this world, and to condemnation in the next, who have no regard for truth and virtue, but delight in falfehood and wickededness, (ver. 11, and 12.) And for this caufe God shall send them ftrong delusion, that they fhould believe a lie: That they all might be damned, who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
II. Upon this furvey there appears little room to doubt of the genuin fenfe and meaning of the paffage; but it hath ftrangely been mistaken and mifapplied by fome
fome famous commentators, though more agree in the. interpretation than in the application of this prophecy.
1. Excellently learned as Grotius was, a confummate fcholar, a judicious critic, a valuable author; yet was he certainly no prophet, nor fon of a prophet. In explaining the prophecies, fcarcely have more miftakes been committed by any of the worft and weakest commentators, than by him who is ufually one of the best and ableft. He underftands this prophecy of the times preceding the deftruction of Jerufalem. The man of fin (7) was the Roman emperor Caligula, who did not at firft difcover his wicked diipofition. He vainly preferred himfelf before all the gods of the nation, even before Jupiter Olympius and Capitolinus; and ordered his ftatue to. be fet up in the temple at Jerufalem. He was hin-. dered from difclofing and exercifing his intended malice againft the Jews by his awe of Vitellius, who was at that time governor of Syria and Judea, and was as powerful as he was beloved in thofe provinces. What. follows Grotius could not by any means accommodate to Caligula, and therefore substitutes another, and fuppofes that the wicked one was Simon Magus, who was revealed and came to Rome foon after the beginning of the reign of Claudius. He was there baffled and difgraced by St. Peter; but Chrift may well be faid to have done what was done by Peter. He pretended alfo, to work great miracles, and by his magical illufions deceived many, the Samaritans firft, and afterwards the Romans. But in anfwer it may be observed, that this Epiftle of St. Paul, as (8) all other good critics and
(7) Denudet ingenium fuum Caius. -Sic et Caius omnibus fe Diis gentium prætulit, etiam Jovi Olympio et Capitolino. Recte autem dicitur Caius femet pofuiffe in templo Dei, quia fimulacrum fuum ibi collocari juffit. -L. Vitellius, cum Paulus ifta diceret, et hæc fcriberet, Syriam ei Judæam tenebat, vir apud Judæos gratiofus, et magnis exercitibus impeFans, cui propterea facile fuiffet, fi tam graviter Judæorum animos exasperaffet Caius, eorum tutelam fufcipere et provinciam fui facere juris. Ideo Caius, antequam propofitum exfe
chronologers agree, and as is evident indeed from hif tory, was written in the latter part of the reign of Claudius, who was fucceffor to Caligula: and if fo, the apostle according to this interpretation is here prophefying of things which were paft already. The coming of Chrift, as it hath been before proved undeniably, relates to a more diftant period than the deftruction of Jerufalem. Befides, how could Caligula with any tolerable fenfe and meaning be called an apoftate from either the Jewish or the Chriftian religion? He never fat in the temple of God, he commanded indeed his ftatue to be placed there; but was diffuaded from his purpose, as (9) Philo teftifies, by the intreaties of king Agrippa, and fent an order to Petronius governor of Syria not to make any innovation in the temple of the Jews. He was fo far from being kept in awe by the virtues of Vitellius, that' Vitellius on the contrary was a most fordid adulator, as both (1) Tacitus and Suetonius exprefly affirm; and inftead of reftraining Caligula from affecting divine honors, he was the firft who incited him to it. Moreover it is doing the greatest violence to the context, to make the man of fin and the wicked one two diftinct perfons, when they are fo manifeftly one and the fame. The conteft between St. Peter and Simon Magus at Rome, if ever it happened at all, did not happen in the reign of Claudius: but moft probably there never was any fuch tranfaction; the whole ftory is probably a fabulous legend, and confequently can be no foundation for a true expofition of any prophecy. Where too is the confiftency and propriety in interpreting the coming of Chrift in ver. 1. of the deftruction of Jerufalem, and in ver. 8. of the deftruction of Simon Magus, though Simon Magus was not deftroyed, but was only thrown out of his chariot, and his leg broken in the fall? Thefe are fome of the abfurdities in Grotius's interpretation and application of this prophecy, which you may
51. Sect. 74. A. D. 52. Sect. 12. Whitby Pref. Calmet. Pref. &c. &c.
(9) Philo de Legatione ad Caium. μηδεν επι τῷ ἱερῷ των Ιεδαίων έτι νεωτερον KIVELY. nequid in Judæorum templo novaret, p. 1038. Edit. Paris. 1640.
(1) Exemplar apud pofteros adulatorii dedecoris habetur. Tacit. Annal. Lib. 6. p. 71. Edit. Lipfii. Idem miri in adulando ingenii, pri
mus C. Cæfarem adorari ut Deum inftituit. Suet. in Vitellio. Sect. 2. fee