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The history of the Apocalyptic beast presents a variety of new matter, which I do not undertake to explain ; but some of the principal points may just be mentioned :
(1.) Whereas, it had been stated, that his power
should be mighty, but not by his own power.” Dan. viii. 25. It is here declared, that “the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.” Rev. xiii. 2. He is also called " the beast out of the bottomless pit;” and “ the beast that was,
and is not, and yet is.” xvii. 8.
attend upon and co-operate with him.
him. (5.) The history of the witnesses who oppose
him. (6.) The judgments of God upon his followers. (7.) In addition to these, we have fuller details, or
new information, on some points, which had been
before made known. There is a passage in St. Paul's Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, which evidently refers to the person who had been symbolized in the vision of Daniel and St. John
-“ Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that MAN OF Sin be revealed, the Son of PERDITION; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 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 let until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that WICKED be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy
with the brightness of his coming," &c. II. Thess. th. 3_-9.
I do not know that this passage contains any thing concerning the Man of Sin which might not be gathered from the other visions, except the statement that there was at that time some impediment (known to the Christian Church-and therefore probably stated somewhere in the Scripture), which prevented bis being revealed; and would continue to do so until it should be removed. There are however two points, which I would notice in connection with the statement of the Apostle, because, though they seem obvious and important, they are generally overlooked.
1. The Apostle seems to assume, that when the apostacy should take place, the Christian Church would know the fact. This, to be sure, is natural enough; but it differs widely from the view which is taken by most modern expositors, who maintain that the apostacy had existed for several centuries before any body suspected it; and that during all that time, the Church of God mistook the Man of Sin, for the Vicar of Christ.
2. The destruction of the Man of Sin by the personal advent of Christ, is here stated in clear and express terms : This is not a symbolical prophecy in which expositors may indulge their imaginations; and the whole tenor of the two Epistles of the Apostle to the Thessalonians, shews that both parties referred to a literal, personal advent of Christ. This being the case, one of these two consequences seems inevitable-either the personal advent of Christ must precede the millennium; or the Man of Sin must live during the millennium.*
* Mr. Faber has noticed this argument in bis Sacred Calendar of Prophecy, Vol. III. 434, and it is curious to see the shift to which he is driven to evade the force of it. He suggests that the Apostle in his first Epistle to the Thessalonians, is speaking of a personal advent of Christ, and in his second of a figurative coming; and he requires a demonstration that the advents spoken of in the two Epistles are “identical.” There is however, in some cases, a higher degree of certainty attainable than any which can be obtained from logical, or even mathematical demonstration-a certainty arising from the conviction of common sense, respecting things which are self-evident; and this certainty (which is in fact the basis of all demonstration) I think the reader will feel, who carefully reads the Epistles to the Thessalonians, and considers their language and their scope.
I began this Essay with a statement of the differenco of opinion existing between the writers of the Protestant Church in the present day, and the Early Church on the subject of the prophecies concerning Antichrist; and my object in these pages is to lead the reader to enquire from the Scriptures, whether that interpretation which has the sanction of antiquity, is not in itself the most simple and natural. While I am surprised that any person should be satisfied with the current exposition of the prophecies which I have adduced, I am most of all astonished that those who believe the doctrine of the Primitive Church respecting the second advent, and the personal reign of Christ on earth, should (as it seems to me, in defiance of their own principles of interpretation), rest contented with the modern exposition of the prophecies concerning Antichrist. These ancient doctrines have been of late years revived ; and, I thank God, are spreading ; but I believe that they will never be consistently or convincingly maintained, until they who hold them shall have returned to something like the primitive doctrine concerning Antichrist. I do not mean by this to express a belief of all the opinions which have been broached by the early wri. ters respecting Antichrist ; or, on the present occasion, to maintain the doctrine of the early church farther than I have here stated it ;* but so far, it appears to me to be more worthy of reception than any of those systems which are built upon the idea of a period of 1260 years. These systems it is not my purpose here to oppose in detail ; for I write now rather with a view to plain, and (if there be such) unprejudiced readers, than for the writers of those systems who, as far as I can find, are the only persons who can really be said to understand or believe them.
* The reader who wishes to know the opinions of the early church, on these points, and on some others relating to the period immediately preceding the second advent of our Lord, may find them in a small work entitled “A Treatise of the Three Evils of the Last Times," originally published anonymously in the year 1711. It is said to have been the production of Dr. Hildrop, and to have been published by Dr. Knight and Dr. Grabe; and it has been lately republished at Hatchard's; I am informed by the gentleman by whom I believe it was published, that there is another Edition of the year 1713, under the title of “God's Judgments on the Gentile Apostatized Church against the Modern Hypothesis of some eminent Apocalyptical Writers, in four parts,” &c.; but this I have never seen.
When, however, I doubt whether I shall meet with unprejudiced readers, I do not mean to use that epithet in an invidious sense; but I believe the truth is, that most readers of the Scripture are so far prejudiced on the subject, as that they know that there are certain expositions of these prophecies in existence, of which they only farther know that they never fully understood them, or the controversies to which they have given rise. On these grounds they have never once thought of forming an opinion for themselves, but have charitably (perhaps I should say indolently) concluded that expositions so large and laborious, and which their authors propounded so dogmatically, were most likely to be right. While, however, they yield this cold assent, they are not aware of the sacrifice of common sense which it requires them to make on points of which they are very competent judges. They know nothing perhaps about Justinian or Phocas—they are quite bewildered among the Ostrogoths and Wisigoths, the Sueves and Alanes, the Heruli and Turingi, the Huns and Lombards, and are glad to give them their ten kingdoms to get rid of them—with as little reserve they hand over the Turkish Sultanies to Ghelaluddaulas, Sadijduddaulas,