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tation of the true nature of his coming as the Messiah it will follow, of course, that the apostasy, mentioned by the Apostle, as preceding it, was not of a religious but of a civil nature. And, a strong confirmation of this being the true meaning of the word apostasy, in this connection is, that our Lord, in his predi&tion of the destruction of Jerusalem, mentioned it as one of the first and most remarkable signs of its approach, that they should hear of wars and rumours of wars, and that nation should rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom ; which, in the circumstances in which the Jews then were, as being in subjection to the Romans, and as .conceiving that by the coming of the Messiah, they should be liberated from the yoke of subjection to them, necessarily implied their apostasy or rebellion against them. He likewise told them, that there should arise false Christs and false Prophets, who should shew great signs, in so much that, if it were possible they should deceive the very elekt; plainly implying, by this last expression, that the great body of the Jewish nation, would actually be deceived by them, and would, in consequence of their deceitful artifices, be induced to apostatize or rebel against the Romans. It must likewise be particularly observed, that this sign, in the estimation of our Lord, was of such peculiar importance as not only to merit a repetition, but to require, a very strong and impressive memento to be added to it, ver. 25. Behold I have told you before! And that the nature of this memento might not be mistaken, our Lord immediately adds, ver. 26, 27, 28. Wherefore if they, viz. THE FALSE PROPHEts, shall say unto you

Behold he, the Messiah, is in the desert-go not forthBehold he is in the secret chambersbelieve it not ; for as the lightning cometh out of the east and shineth even unto the west, $0 shall also the true nature of the coming of the Son of Man -the Messiah, for perspicuity, be ; for wheresoever the cars case is, there will the eagles-the destroying armies represented by the eagles, be gathered together.

If it be true that Scripture, when properly applied, is the best interpreter of Scripture, and, if the history of the times when the Apostle wrote this Epistle to the Thessalonians, be attentively and impartially considered the judicious Reader will probably be inclined to think that his mentioning the Apostasy, in connection with the coming of Christ, which is, on all hands, allowed sometimes to denote the final demolition Dd

of of the Jewish polity, is, when compared with our Lord's predi&ion of that event, a strong proof that he alluded to it ; for, as Bishop Hallifax has observed, " It was actually ef. “ fected within a few years after writing this Epistle."

In addition to these evidences of the true meaning of the -Apostle, when he speaks of the coming of Christ and of the apostasy which was to precede it, drawn from our Lord's predi&tion of the destruction of Jerusalem, and from his connecting the full manifestation of the true nature of his coming, with the accomplishment of that event; it must be also observed, that there are some internal evidences, in the chapter itself, which are of no mean or trifling importance ; for as the Apostle, in his former Epistle, had told the Thessalonians that he had no need that he should write to them that they .KNEW PERFECTLY that THE DAY OF THE LORD would so come as a thief in the night-sò he says here that THEY KNEW what withheld the revelation of the Man of Sin, and that the mystery of iniquity was ALREADY WORKING. Nay, he even reproves

them for their inattention to what he had formerly said to them, upon the subject, when personally present with them, ver. 5. Remember ye not that when I was yet with you I told you these things. Nor must the extreme earneștness with which the Apostle introduces the subject, pass unnoticed. Ver. 1. Now WE Beseech you concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ-that ye be not soon shaken in mind or troubled ; and at the close of the chapter he entreats them to stand.fast, and to hold the traditions which they had been taught, by him, whether in conversation-or in his Epistolary correspondence. Now, what are all these circumstances, but so many strong internal evidences of the peculiar interest which the Thessalonians had in the matter, and that the apostasy which was to precede the coming of Christ, was to happen--not at the distance of many ages but in their own time. :

Of the same nature is that extreme caution, which is so ob. servable, in the language of the Apostle, as not to have escaped the notice of those who have written upon the subjeat. Bishop Hallifax, in particular, says, “ The Apostle

seems to use an uncommon degree of caution in forbearing to mention what the lett-or hindrance was ; as if he had

fears, or scruples about coinmitting it to writing. And granting the impediment to be, what the antient Fathers

6 universally

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universally conceived it, the existence of the Roman empire, " he had grounds for his fears, as it might be' a sort of “ treason against the majesty of Rome, even to suppose that “ her imperial sovereignty should ever come to an end, or 66 be dispossessed by a power yet more oppressive than her

own.'

In like manner Mr. Zouch, in his attempt to illustrate some of the Prophecies, p. 177, says,

66 St. Paul mentions an 66 obstacle to the appearance

of this Man of Sin, namely, as " the best Interpreters explain the passage-the dominion of " the Roman empire. It would have subjected him to the o charge of high treason against Rome if he had openly sug" gested his apprehensions of the approaching fall of her "imperial sceptre."

But is not this carrying national jealousy to a prodigious and extravagant heighth? Can it be supposed that the Apostle should have used such an uncommon degree of caution con: cerning events which were not to happen till numerous ages should have passed away, and that, in a letter, which it: was highly probable, would never have come to the emperor's knowledge, or if it had, would either have been totally unintelligible to him or would have been considered, as the extravagant effusion of an enthusiast-or a madman ? Is it not infinitely more natural to suppose, that the Apostle's extreme caution arose rather from the apprehension, that if he had spoken in plainer terms of the awful calamities which : were coming upon the Jewish nation, and of the rebellion against the Romans, which was to precede it—the Thessalonians might have been exposed to still greater persecutions than they had already suffered from the Jews, and from which, it was well-worthy of the Apostle's attention, by all prudent means, to preserve them.

But besides the internal evidence arising from the prediction of our Lord concerning the destruktion of Jerusalem, and from the chapter itself, that the apostasy, mentioned by the Apostle, was of a civil nature or a rebellion of the Jews. against the Romans—there is not wanting considerable external evidence that this was the meaning of the Apostle ; for the testimony of Josephus--the Historian of the Jewish war, which ended in their destruction, is by no means to be * See Bishop Hallifax on the Prophecies, pages 151, 152.

slighted;

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slighted; for speaking upon this subject, he says, " That " coming from Rome, in the time of Nero, he found THEN “ the beginnings of innovations, and many much addicted to “ apostasy from the Roman government." Again he says, “ One Justus provoked the people to apostasy or rebellion ; " but John, the son of Levi, seeing some of them prone to 49 apostasy from the Roman government, endeavoured to keep.

them to their duty."

In these passages it must be observed, that Josephus makes use of the very same word with the Apostle, and what is particularly remarkable, upon this subject is, that he ascribes the origin of the war, which ended in their destruction, to their expectation of the coming of the Messiah. “ That which " chiefly excited the Jews to the war was, an ambiguous " prophecy, which was also found in their sacred books, that " at that time, some one within their country should arise " that should obtain the empire of the world." +

St. Paul was thoroughly acquainted with the sentiments of the Jews concerning the coming of the Messiah. He knew that their prejudices, upon this head, had taken the deepest root in their minds, and it was easy to foresee, even if it had not been predicted, that their uneasiness under the Roman yoke, of which there are many evident marks in the history of the New Testament, would lead them to avail themselves of the slightest appearances of their darling expectations being realized. Under these circumstances, was it wonderful that St. Paul should tell the Thessalonians that the day of Christ would not come except there came a falling away—or an apostasy, first. It could be no impeachment of his character, either as a Writer-or an Apostle, that he should use the term apostasy, in this sense ; even though-it were true (which however appears not to be the case) that it is sometimes used in the New Testament to signify a revolt from the allegiance due to our Heavenly Master. If the circumstances of the case required such an application, and there were sufficient criteria to determine his meaning with precision these are sufficient to the vindication of his character in both these respects ; And, it will surely be allowed, that the Thessalonians were, at least, equally interested, in the destruction of Jerusalem,

See Whitby in loc. + This

passage has already been cited...but the Reader, it is hoped, will seadily excuse the repetition,

as

as in the apostasy of the Christian Church, and in the full manifestation of the mystery of iniquity many ages after their decease!

But the contemplation of the particular features of the singular personage described under the character of the Man of Sin, and the Son of Perdition, will, probably, more fully confirm the judicious and intelligent Reader, in the opinion that the apostasy, mentioned by the Apostle, relates to the apostasymor rebellion of the Jewish nation against the Romans.

Much time and useless labour appears to have been bestowed, by Critics and Commentators, in applying the description of this extraordinary character, to the schemes which they have severally adopted. Nor, have any of them all steered perfectly clear of difficulties.

And perhaps it may be said, that none have strayed farther from the truth in their application of the characteristic features of the Man of Sin, than those who have espoused the opinion that the Apostle spoke exclusively of some person existing, in the time when he wrote this Epistle; which has probably contributed, not a little, to the general rejection of this opinion as indefensible! But, a careful attention to the same sources of evidence to which an appeal has, hitherto, been made, in the course of this work, will perhaps supply the deficiencies of these Writers, and shew, in a very striking point of view, that the features of the Man of Sin and the Son of Perdition, &c. are perfe&ly applicable to the Jews as a nation, and that, in fact, the Apostle had them exclusively in view, in his description.

It is remarkable that the Apostle, in his First Epistle to the Thessalonians, denominates the Jews—as a nation, as the common enemies of mankind, and as filling up the measure of their iniquities, as a vessel or measure, is filled up, till it can hold no more. In like manner our Lord, having pronounced, upon the heads of the Jewish nation, the severest woes, on account of their abominable crimes, says, almost in the very same language, Matt. xxiii. 32. Fill ye up the measure of your fathers, i. e. as the context plainly implies--of the ini. quities of your Fathers,

The learned and ingenious Dr. Beattie, speaking upon the extreme flagitiousness of the character of the Jews, as a nation, says, " The virtue of the Roman people was not in those " days exemplary, Yet, when we compare their manners,

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