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even in his human capacity, had a right to be called God, in virtue of his commission; and this seems to have been the intention of his argument with the Jews, as an argumentum ad homines, taken from the words of their
We shall obtain some farther light into the character of the man of sin, if we go on with the apostle's account of him. The subject, it appears, had been mentioned to the disciples before, and privately expounded to them; for, says he, ye know what witholdeth, that he might be revealed in his time; for the mystery of iniquity doth already work; only he who now letteth, will let, till he be taken out of the way; and then shall that wicked one be revealed whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming. This part of the description informs ‘us, first, that the man of sin, and that mystery of iniquity which worketh for the producing of the character, was even then in the world, and would have broken out; but that, secondly, there was some restraining power, which served as a let or hinderance, to keep it down; till the time should come, when it should rise
up in its true shape, and be fully displayed to the world. And, lastly, as it is to be destroyed by the actual presence of the Lord
in judgment, it must be the last form of sin, or power of iniquity, that shall appear in the world. It may be worth distinguishing here, though I would build nothing upon it, that the word for wicked one is (not wornpos but avoje ©], lawless ; as casting out, and renouncing, all authority of law, as well human as divine.
What has been said amounts to this : that, in the last age of the world, before the coming of Christ, there should be an actual apostacy, or departure from the Christian faith and worship: that the sinful nature of man, rising up against the
powers of religion and government, which had restrained it for so many ages, should break loose, and take a form of iniquity, such as may properly be called a new revelation of sin, which the world had never seen before.
More particularly, that this forin of sin should exalt itself against the authority of God in his ministers, whether civil or religious: that it should even seize upon the temple of God, and convert it into the temple of man; that it should exclude God, and make a God of itself, claiming the honours of divine worship. That this spirit of disobedience had always been at work; but that there was a power which hindered it
from shewing itself to the world, till the proper season; when that restraining power should no longer operate, but be taken out of the way, either by the violence of man, or the just judgment of God, or by the one co-operating with the other. And finally, that this is the last and most desperate state of sin, on which Christ himself shall come to take vengeance, when its measure (of which he is the only proper judge) shall be filled up. Then shall this wicked one, whose sin is the same with that of Lucifer, the rival of the Most High; and of Corah, who exalted himself against the authority of God in his ministers Moses and Aaron, the king and the priest; perish as they did. Satan was cast down, and the flames of heaven followed
him. The fire of the Lord came forth, to destroy Corah and his company: and after the like form shall judgment be taken on this man of sin; who is to be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power, when he shall be revealed in flaming fire.
I will not omit, though it be scarcely necessary to observe after what has been said, that, in detecting the man of sin, we may use the same method as John the Baptist did for
discovering the true Messiah, when he senza his disciples with this question, Art thou he that should come, or look we for another? The messengers in this case were bidden to observe, what was done by Jesus Christ, and were assured, that John would thence know for certain, who he was that did it: the works of salvation would infallibly point out the Saviour. So if we are inquiring after the man of sin, let us but observe what he does, and we shall be sure who he is. Thus for example; if instead of the sacred right of government, we find the sacred right of insurrection; instead of God only wise, the wisdom of man deified and adored in the temple of God; instead of the liberty of serving God, which is the only true freedom, the liberty of disobeying him ; instead of that, justice and mercy, in which only man can be like to God; the power of death, the delight of the devil, wantonly exercising itself in destroying men's lives; instead of laws for securing property, rapine and sacrilege laying every thing waste; we desire to know, what the true man of sin, whoever he is to be, and whenever he is to come, can do more? If there could be such a thing as an actual incarnation of the prince of the infernal re
gions, it does not appear what he could do worse. He might perhaps display greater acts of power, as being an angel that excels in strength; but he could not commit greater acts of sin: For, what sins do we know of beyond rebellion, sacrilege, murder, and blasphemy? two of which are more than Lucifer was guilty of when he was cast out of heaven.
Little did we think, twenty years ago, that we should live to see these things fulfilled so nearly as they have been ; and in shewing this, I shall have no occasion to invent or to exaggerate ; the facts are such as will speak for themselves; and there is scarcely a personhere present, who could not say to me what I am about to say to him. We all know, that in the neighbouring country, a direct apostacy hath taken effect. The Christian religion hath been renounced; not negatively, through corruption of manners, or neglect of truth; but positively, publicly, and in solemn form. The restraining power of government, and the obligations of law, liave not been interrupted and defied, in the fury of tumultuous agitation, but absolutely taken out of the way and abolished. The will of a wicked nation hath been admitted as the only sovereign law. now