Page images
[ocr errors]

as they occasionally appear in the sacred History, with " those of the Jews, how are we struck with the difference!

“ The Romans are indeed Pagans; but they are not dese; “ titute of that good nature and love of justice, which one " expects to find in a civilized nation : The Jews are seldom.

seen in any other character than that of bloody barbarians. « Pontius Pilate avowed our Lord's innocence, and showed

an inclination to save his life: Gallio, Proconcul of 66 Achaia, acted with good sense and moderation, when Paul " was brought before him: Claudius Lysias, Festus, and “ Felix, in their treatment of the same Apostle, were not " unmercifully severe ; and the Centurion, whose prisoner “ he was in his voyage to Italy, was very much attached to • him. But the Jewish priests, scribes, and elders, con“ spired to murder our Saviour, without a trial, suborned

persons to bear false witness against him, and bribed one of s his followers to betray him ; and the same assembly, or " their Successors in office, connived at a scheme, and of

course concurred in it, for the assassination of Paul. In " a word, it appears, that the greater part, and what we call the better sort, of the Jews of that age, when they had 66 resolved on any measure, would not hesitate to employ any

means, however unjust, cruel, or shameful, in the accom-
“ plishment of it.” *

Nor doth this depravity of the Jews, as a nation, appear
from the Christian records only; for Josephus, who had suf-
ficient means of knowing them well, confirms, in the fullest
manner, what has been there said of them. The passage al.
luded to, has already been cited—but it deserves a place here,
on account of its connection with the present subject, and;
more especially as he seems to have had in view, the vindica-,
tion of the conduct of Providence, in the destruction which
came upon them. " To give a particular account of all
their iniquities were endless. Thus much, in general, may
suffice to say, that there never was a city which suffered such
( miseries—nor a race of men, from the beginning of the
66 world, which so abounded in wickedness. I verily believe,
" that if the Romans had delayed to destroy these wicked.
" wretches—the city would either have been swallowed up
by the earth—or overwhelmed by the water or struck
* See Beattie's Evidences, pages 140-148.

Vol. 1,

66 with



[ocr errors]


* with fire from heaven, as another Sodom ; for it produced

a far more impious generation than those who suffered “ such punishments."

In another place, he says, speaking of the period immediately preceding the destruction of Jerusalem, " That was, “ indeed, a time fruitful of all sorts of wickedness among

the “ Jews ; so that no evil whatever was left unpractised. It

is impossible for man to contrive any new wickedness, 66 which was not then committed. All were corrupt in their “ private and public character. They strove to exceed each 6 other, in impiety toward God, and injustice toward their “ neighbour. The great men oppressed the people, and the

people strove to ruin' them. The former were ambitious " of dominion and power—the latter had an insatiable thirst 56 of violence and plunder."

With a view to the extreme enormity of their crimes, and under a deep impression of the flagitiousness of their whole character as a nation--the Apostle appears to have personified them, and to have represented them as a Man of Sin—as one whose whole composition was sin and nothing else. And, if Josephus's account of them is not overcharged, and that it is not, is pretty evident from the Gospel History~this language was not too strong. And as sin and punishment are naturally enough connected together in the minds of those who contemplate them, especially when arrived at such an enormous heighth--the Apostle appears to have carried on the personification, under the relative idea of a Son of Perdition-one devoted to destruction, and the natural offspring of such a parent ; agreeably to what he had said of them, in his former Epistle--that wrath was coming upon them to the uttermost.

It is, by no means intended to deny that the Church of Rome, has been guilty of great enormities or that they may, possibly, have vied with the Jews in the practice of wicked. ness but they can hardly be supposed to have exceeded them. The deeds of indecency and immorality with which the History of Papal Rome is. contaminated, may be such as Modesty may

command us to throw a veil over," as Mr. Zouch has very humanely and neatly expressed himself-but the History of the Woman taken in Adultery, in which all who were present appear to have been guilty of the same crime, is a proof, if any thing can be, that the Jews, as a Nation, were not, in any respect, behind them, upon this head. The great question therefore is--whether St. Paul's language will fairly apply to them, as a Nation ; for if it will no one can possibly deny that it is, in every respect, in perfect harmony with the view which has been given, of the meaning of the phrase the coming of Christ, and of the apostasy or rebel, lion, which was to precede it. *

great * It has, indeed, been said, that the phrase the Man of Sin, is applicable only to one single person, in his official capacity, meaning thereby, the Bishop---or Pope of Rome; but this appears not by any means be evident. It is a curious observation of Bishop Hurd, that---"Many of the « Popes are said to have been, and," says he, “ for any thing I know,

Thus far, at least, there appears to be no difficulty ;-but how, it may be said can the Apostle's subsequent language be applied to the Fews ? What evidence is there, from the History of those times, either sacred or prophane, that this Man of Sin-this Son of Perdition, exalted himself above all that is called Godmor that is worshiped, so that he, as God, sat in the Temple of God, shewing himself that he was God?

In answer to these questions- let it be observed, that the most able Commentators not excepting those who were des cidedly of opinion that the Church of Rome is here described, seem to be agreed, that by the Man of Sin exalting himself above all that is called God-or that is worshipped, is meant, his exalting himself above all other temporal dignities. Dr. Ben, son has observed, that “ Princes and Magistrates are, in Scrip.

ture, sometimes called Gods. See Psalm lxxxii. ver. 1,6,7. cxxxix. ver. 1. &c. And,” he says, 66 'tis well known that, “ in the Apostle's days, Sebastos was the Greek name, or « title of the Roman Emperor. See Acts xxv. ver, 21, 25. 6 and xxvii. ver. 1. If therefore we understand Sebasma of 6 the imperial dignity--then the Apostle rises in his discourse, " and prophecies that the Man of Sin would exalt himself,

not only above every one that is called a God-or temporal “ Potentate—but even above the majesty and dignity of Cæsar • the Roman Emperor himself-the highest of earthly Gods, " Accordingly, it is in the singular number Sebasma, and

may have been, Saints, in their private morals : So that when we apply " thé term, Antichrist, to them, we do not mean to stigmatize their persons, “ but merely to express the sense which the Prophecies lead us to entertain sic of the communion, over which they preside ; though they may not ex" emplify in their own conduct, or not in any remarkable degree, the " avowed principles of that communion.” See Hurd on the Prophecies, Vol. II. page 56. 5th Edit,


et not Sebasmata. The Apostle has not spoken out so plain " as to say Sebastos, CÆSAR, but as he hath connected “ Sebasma with every one that is called a God, he hath “ directed us how to understand him, and spoken as plain, as 6 it was then proper to do." See Benson in loci, and in his 6. Dissertation on the Man of Sin, page 1 182.

Bishop Hallifax, in his Sermon on the Man of Sin, says, page 143, that " By opposing and exalting himself above ali & that is called a God or that is worshipped, may only be

meant, that the Man of Sin should exercise a super-eminent

jurisdiction over the Kings and Princes of this world." In like manner, Dr. Duchal, in his observations upon the Apostle Paul's description of the Man of Sin, says, “ This

person is said to oppose and exalt himself above all that is “ called a God-or is worshipped. These are, in Scripture, « called Gods, as they are clothed with dominion and autho o rity over others, in which they bear a faint resemblance of " that power, that ruleth over all. To those Gods on earth

the Man of Sin opposeth himself, and not only refuseth 5 all submission to them--bụt exalteth himself above them 6 and above all that is worshipped the very highest orders

and ranks of mankind.

To the like purpose Bishop Newton-having quoted the words_who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God-or that is worshipped, says, “This is manifestly « copied from Daniel : He shall exalt himself, and magnify 66 himself above every: God, and speak marvellous things against the God of Gods. The features, you see, exactly “ resemble each other. He opposeth and exalteth himself " above all, above every one that is called God, or that is “ worshipped-alluding (by the word made use of) to the " title of the Roman Emperors, Sebastos saugust or venera“ ble. He shall oppose, for the Prophets speak of things " future as present ; shall oppose and exalt himself not only “ above inferior magistrates, who are sometimes called Gods, “ in holy writ, but even above the greatest Emperors, and 66 shall arrogate to himself divine honours." *

* See Newton on the Prophecies, Vol. II. pages 368, 369. The following is the Note of Mr. Hardy, upon the expression--Who * exalteth himself above all that is called God. De Judæis hoc verum,

quorum scribæ se extulerunt supra magistratus, 2 Pet. ii. 10. Jud. viii. et jus, et imperium Cæsaris iniquum, et illicitum esse docebant."


Е е

There is no one who is at all acquainted with the history of the Jews as a nation, in the time of our Saviour, and with the account which the Christian Scriptures have given of them, who can possibly be ignorant that it was a peculiar feature of their national character that when they looked for the coming of the Messiahthey expected him to appear under the character of a temporal Prince, whose office it would be, not only to rescue them from the dominion which they were then under to the Romans--but to raise them to an universal empire over the whole worldto exalt them even above the majesty and dignity of Cæsar--the Roman Emperor himself the highest of earthly Gods.

That the Jews, as a nation, expected to be placed precisely in this situation, is a fa&t which not only has never been disputed—but has universally been acknowledged, by all descriptions of Writers among Christians. In the early part of this work, various passages from different Writers, were laid before the Reader to prove this to which are now added the following passages to the same purpose, from Dr. Paley and Dr. Lardner. “ This people, the Jews," says the former of these Writers, “ with or without reason, had worked " themselves into a persuasion that some signal and greatly 6 advantageous change was to be effected, in the condition of 66 their country by the agency of a long promised Messenger “ from Heaven. The rulers of the Jews, their leading sect6 their priesthood, had been the authors of this persuasion “ to the common people. So that it was not merely the “ conje&ture of Theoretical Divines--or the secret expectation • of a few recluse Devotees ; but it was become the popular " hope and passion, and, like all other popular opinions, “ undoubting and impatient of contradi&ion. They clung

to this hope, under every misfortune of their country, " and with more tenacity as their dangers, or calamities o increased.” *

* See Paley's Evidences, Vol. I. pages 22, 23. The change mentioned by Dr, Paley, he has fully explained, by the following references to Suetonius and Tacitus, formerly quoted. “ Percrebuerat oriente toto vetus " et constans opinio esse in fatis, ut eo tempore Judæa profecti rerum poti“ rentur.” Vespasian. Cap. 4–8.

“ Pluribus persuasio inerat, antiquis sacerdotum literis contineri, eo ipso " tempore fore, ut valesceret oriens, profectique Judæâ rerum potirentur." Tacit. Hist. lib. y. cap. goo-13. Ibid. Note.

« PreviousContinue »