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of his residence, the City on the seven hills, is so plainly marked out, that it can be neither mistaken nor denied.

This is hard upon them, as it lays them under the necessity of going back as high as the first PERSECUTING EMPERORS, that is, to the first Ages of the Church, to seek for this Man of sin; and in the circumstances of the rage and impiety of those Tyrants, and in the state of the then suffering Church, to find out all that relates to the Antichristian Power foretold.

The difference of opinion, therefore, between the Romish and Protestant Churches, on this important point, stands thus :-The Romanists hold that this ANTICHRISTIAN POWER is a power of the CIVIL kind; the Reformed contend that it is a power ECCLESIASTICAL. While both concur to fix the seat of this Power, whose nature is thus disputed, in the CITY OF ROME.

This long Contest may therefore be well reduced to a single question, a question which leads to a decisive issue,—" IS THIS ANTICHRISTIAN POWER OF THE ECCLESIASTICAL, OR IS IT OF THE CIVIL

KIND?”—If it be a civil power, the Church of Rome gains her cause, and clears herself of the capital charge of the Man of sin's sitting in the chair of PETER, and usurping in the Kingdom of Christ. If the power be ecclesiastical, the Protestant Churches triumph, as being established on Prophecy, and having their secession and separation justified by the command of the Holy Spirit.

To determine this decisive question, we shall have no occasion to lanch out into that wide ocean of Literature, agitated by a thousand storms, arising from every controversial quarter of this unexplored world of MYSTICAL PROPHECY. For, if the Power foretold be of the civil kind, it can relate only to the persecuting EMPERORS; if it be a Power ecclesiastic, it can relate only to persecuting POPES. For it is agreed on all hands, that PERSECUTION is the BADGE OF ANTI


But before I proceed more directly to shew that the Pope, and not the Emperor, is interested in the actions and fortunes of this MAN OF SIN, it will give additional force to the Evidence, if we reflect, previously, on the distress to which, both matters of fact and matters of right have reduced the Advocates of the Papal Cause.

To evade the edge of these Prophecies, which cut so deep into the vitals of the Church of Rome, her Advocates did not want dexterity, when they interpreted Antichrist to be a Power of the civil kind. This took the burthen from off their shoulders, by removing the whole Scene into an opposite quarter; a quarter fertile of plausible applications. Their dexterity consisted in turning necessity into a shew of choice. For the birth of Antichrist, his acts and atchievements, being

Rev. xviii, 4.

confined to one particular City; in order to find a Civil Power domineering in this City, and persecuting the Church of Christ, they were obliged to force their way upwards, to the first Ages of Christianity. But, how much this makes their Cause to labour, we shall now endeavour to evince.

1. First then, had Antichrist or the man of sin been the persecuting Roman Emperors, the Christians of that time must needs have seen and acknowledged his Character, in the working and the accomplishment of the Prophecy: They, who were Contemporaries, and, of course, perfectly well acquainted with every circumstance respecting the Persecutors, and every circumstance attending the Persecution, could not but see how all of them (if such were the fact) quadrated with every part of the Prediction; and so have been fully convinced, that the Man of sin was the Emperor of the world; as indeed he was not likely to be one in a much lower Station. On the contrary, though PERSECUTION be the family-badge of Antichrist, yet the Christians of that time saw nothing in the imperial edicts, or in their execution, that had any marked resemblance to the desolations to be committed by the man of sin. They saw nothing there even to excite their attention, or to erect their minds towards the Crimes or towards the Punishment of the man of sin, so graphically described by the apostles Paul and John: nor, indeed, any other circumstance in their then state of oppression, sufficient to rescue the Apocalypse from a total neglect, save in the doubts they entertained of its authenticity. So that, if the Prophecy of Antichrist concerned the early fortunes of the Christian Church, as our Adversaries pretend; and that, yet, the Church, most concerned, saw nothing of it, as was the case; Unbelievers will say, that no greater disgrace can befal PROPHECY than what these two things, when laid together, will occasion.

2. Again, it is to be observed, that the Information concerning Antichrist, or the Man of sin, was not intrusted to St. John alone. It was communicated to other of the Apostles; perhaps to all, for reasons we may easily collect; certainly, to the great Apostle of the Gentiles. Now St. Paul, in his second Epistle to the Thessalonians, combating a growing error then risen in the Church, "that the SECOND COMING of our Lord was at hand," says, Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there be a falling away first, and that MAN OF SIN be FIRST revealed, the son of Perdition.* This is no obscure intimation that the reign of ANTICHRIST was at some considerable distance. But the words which follow put the matter out of doubt: Remember ye not (says he) that when I was with you, I told you these things? and now ye know, WHAT WITHHOLDETH that He might be revealed in his time. For the

Chap. ii. 3.

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MYSTERY OF INIQUITY doth already work: only HE, who now letteth, will lett, until he be taken out of the way and then shall that WICKED ONE be revealed.*


By this, it appears, that the impediment, or lett, to the revelation of Antichrist was something external.-That spirit of Pride, persecution, and impiety, which makes up the Character of the MAN OF SIN, was already breeding and fostering in the Church; and were it not for an impediment without, which would take some time to remove, his appearance might have been soon expected. This impediment, we see, St. Paul scruples to lay open by Letter; at the same time, he reminds them, that, in his Conversations with them, he had explained the secret. But surely, when his argument led him to it, he had small cause to decline a repetition, unless he thought it dangerous to be put in writing. Such a reserve was not his wont. On other occasions of precept and instruction, he inculcated what he would impress upon their minds, by frequent remonstrances and repetitions, in season and out of season. We must conclude, therefore, that something of great importance occasioned his reserve. And if this lett to the appearance of Antichrist were the present EXISTENCE OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, we are not to wonder he should scruple to commit so dangerous a secret to paper; He who, on all occasions, was so cautious not to give offence to the civil Power. And what would have been deemed so high a crime of State against IMMORTAL ROME, as to teach that her Dominion was to pass away; and, as an obstruction to the eternal Decrees of Providence, to give place to a Power still more tyrannical and unjust?

Now, as the Papal usurpation arose out of the Ruins of the Roman Empire, and could have arisen, naturally, by no other means, we have great reason to believe, that the EXISTENCE of this EMPIRE was the very lett and impediment so obscurely intimated by the prudent Apostle.

However, he tells us, that the secret had been communicated to the Churches. And probably it was one amongst the chief of those dangerous informations, which, we learn from the history of the Primitive Church, were kept, with all care, from the knowledge of the Catechumens.

What then would such a communication to the Church produce, but what it did produce, a general Opinion, that the appearance of Antichrist was to be in the latter times? The Apostle, we find, when he combated the common error, that our Lord's second coming was at hand, employs this general opinion concerning Antichrist, to shew how much they were mistaken, by an argument to this purpose, "You acknowledge that Antichrist is to appear in the latter times; • Verses 5--8.

now this Man of sin must be revealed before the second coming; consequently the second coming must needs be far off."

The late appearance of Antichrist was a doctrine so universally` received in the primitive Church, that it was like a proverbial saying amongst them; and from thence St. John takes occasion to MoRALIZE on the Doctrine, and warn his followers against that spirit which, in after-times, was to animate the Man of sin.-" Little children," says he, "it is the last time and ye have heard that Antichrist shall come even now there are many Antichrists; whereby ye know that it is the last time.”* As much as to say, We are fallen into the very dregs of time, as appears from that Antichristian spirit which now so much pollutes the Churches: for you know, it is a common saying, that "Antichrist is to come in those wretched days." The Apostle goes on to employ the same allusion through the rest of the Epistle-He is ANTICHRIST that denieth the Father and the Son.t-Again-This is that spirit of ANTICHRIST, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”‡ -And again—Many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a Deceiver and AN ANTICHRIST.§ Where, we see, the Appellation, Antichrist, is employed to signify an enemy of God and godliness in general, by the same figure of speech that Elias was designed in those times to signify a Prophet; and Rachel, a Daughter of Israel; and that, in these times, Judas is used for a Traitor, and Nero for a Tyrant. But as these converted terms necessarily suppose, that they originally belonged to persons of the like Characters, who had them in proper; so does the name Antichrist, transferred by St. John, to certain of his impious Contemporaries, as necessarily suppose, that there was one who should arise in the latter times, to whom the title eminently belonged, as marked out in the Prophecies by the proper name of ANTICHRIST.

This was not amiss to observe, because the Advocates of the See of Rome have laid hold of these passages to shew, that ANTICHRIST was only a generic term for every enemy of God and godliness : Whereas we Protestants insist, that it was the Proper name of one Grand Impostor; not one by the individuality of Person, but by the identity of Station, to be revealed in the latter Ages of the Church ; and, after he had been foretold by name, that was applied generically, by the commonest figure of speech, to all who had any semblance to his Character. The only difference is, that Prophecy enabled the sacred Writers to use the generic appellation, before the appearance of him who had it for his patronymic; whereas, in the other cases,

1 Chap. iv. 3.

1 John ii. 18.

↑ Verse 22.

§ 2 John 7.

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the generic term must needs come after the Person who first bore it for his own name.

From these places therefore of St. Paul and St. John it necessarily follows, that the ANTICHRIST or MAN OF SIN predicted by Both of them (his Person and Fortunes, more fully by the latter; his Merchandize and Traffic, more minutely by the former) could not be the persecuting Emperors.

Another very persuasive argument, that the Antichristian Power in question is the growth of these latter times, is the mysterious darkness in which the enigmatic prophecies in the Apocalypse concerning ANTICHRIST lay involved for many ages. A light indeed shining in a dark place, to the few sagacious observers of every age, but surrounded with so thick a darkness to all besides, that, despairing to penetrate the gloom, they consigned the Apocalypse to a general neglect, not without much uncertainty and doubt concerning its Author. But these latter times have seen the clouds and darkness gradually fly off, and the light grow stronger and brighter as the fate of ANTICHRIST approaches. This seems to be a sure evidence, that the grand Impostor is of these times; that he has advanced through several stages of his Usurpation; that two or three ages ago his power was at the height; that he is now past his meridian, and hasting to his decline; and that some future Age, not very remote, will see his total destruction; and consequently the remaining obscurity of this famous book made manifest to all.*

• A late Protestant Editor and Commentator of the NEW TESTAMENT, in reverence perhaps to the memory of Grotius, one of the brightest Ornaments of the Church or Sect to which this Editor belongs, contends, as that great Man had done before him, that the CHURCH OF ROME IS NOT ANTICHRIST. We know what it was that induced Grotius to maintain that system; it was a project of a comprehension long since out of credit, from a sense of its visionary impracticable nature: what it was that induced this learned man to revive it, a doctrine so injurious to the Protestant Cause, unless a mistaken fondness for that excellent Person's Memory, I confess myself utterly at a loss to conceive.

However, he assures us, that the fanciful application of Antichrist to the Church of Rome, was first made in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, by the FRANCISCAN MONKS: from whom he says the Reformed Churches received it: and then adds-But the thing will hardly find credit with men of sense, that in a barbarous and unlearned age, the true key to the Apocalypse should be intrusted to these paltry Monks, destitute of letters and all knowledge of Antiquity, und denied to the whole Christian Church before, for Thirteen whole Centuries together. No white-washer of Popery could have done better.

In a HISTORY OF THINGS PAST, and recorded in the learned languages, the languages of the times, the best Scholar and most sagacious Critic without doubt bids fairest for the best Interpreter: and the earlier he is to the subject, the better chance he has of being in the right.

But in a PROPHECY OF THINGS TO COME, foretold in all its circumstances, common sense assures us, that he is most likely to interpret best who lives latest, and comes nearest to the time of the completion. For he who hath seen one part already fulfilled, a part which gives light to the remainder yet unfulfilled, will certainly be best able to judge of the whole, and best understand to what object it capitally relates.

*Egrè tamen apud cordatos fidem inveniet, seculo barbaro et indocto veram Apocalypseos clavem, per integra tredecim secula omnibus Christianis occultatam, a Monachis omni linguarum et antiquitatum cognitione destitutis, repertam fuisse.-Nov. Test. Grac. Amst, 1752. tom. ii. pp. 891,


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