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contributed not a little to promote the Reformation ; and wherefoever the one prevailed, the other prevailed also.
Such doctrin as this must necessarily give great offense to the bigots and devotees of the church of Rome: and no wonder therefore that (3) in the last Lateran council the pope gave strait commandment to all preachers, that no man should prefume once to speak of the coming of Antichrist
. The king of France alfo (4) with the advice of his counsel interdicted, that any one thould call the pope Antichrift: and Grotius, who was embassador in France from the crown of Sweden, in a vain hope and expectation of reconciling the disputes and differences between papists and protestants, composed his treatise concerning Antichrift, not wickedly; but weakly; with an honest intention it may be presumed, but it is certain with pernicious effect;' more like an advocate for one party, than a moderator between both. At the fame time in England, though James the first had written a treatise to prove the pope Antichrift, yet this duetrin was growing unfashionable during his reign, and more so in that of his fon who married a bigotted popish princess; even while Mr. Mede was living, who had exerted more learning and fagacity in explaining the prophecies, and in fixing the true idea of Antichrist, than perhaps any writer in any age. But probably for this was looked upon with an evil eye, and (to the disgrace of the times) obtained no preferment; tho' he was eminently deferving of the best and greatest." He says himself in 'one of his letters (Epift. 36.) that liis notions about genuflexion towards the altar "would have made " another man a dean, or a prebend, or something else
ere this: but the point of the pope's being Antichrist,
as a dead fly, 'marred'the favor of that ointment. abuse also that fome fanaties made of this doctrin greatly prejudiced the world against it. It was esteemed a mark of a puritan, and was a certain obstacle to preferment, for
(3) Conc. Lateran fuo Julio et usus confilio interdixit ne quis papam Leone. Sef. 11, Jewel's Defense. Antichristum vocet, Grot, de Anti, ibid.
chrifto in principio.
any man to preach that the pope was Antichrist : and Dr. Montague, a famous court-chaplain at that time, who endevored to prove that the power of the king was abfoiute, (5) endevored also to prove that the notes and characters of Antichrisi belonged to the Turk rather than to the Pope: and herein he was followed by several divines, and by, no less a man than Bithop Fell, if he was the compiler or approver, (as he is commonly said to have been) of (6) the Paraphrase and Annotations upon all St. Paul's Episiles... There are fashions in divinity as well as in .erery thing else; and therefore the true doctrin of Antichrift was for fome time suspended, and talle hypotheses were invented ; and it may turprise apy one, that fo little was faid upon this subject in the long con, troverties concerning popery during the reigns of Charles and James the second. It is hoped that the truth is now emerging again. Some laudable (7) attempts have lately been made to revive and restore it: and it I have not proved that this interpretation is preferable to all others, I have taken pains and proved nothing. vi But it hath been proved, as I conceive, that this is the genuin fenfe aud meaning of the apostle, that this only is entirely consistent with the context, that every other in
. terpretation is forced and unnatural, that this is liable to no material objection, that it coincides perfe@ly with Daniel, that it is agreeable to the tradition of the priinitive church, and that it hath been exactly fulfilled in all particulars, which cannot be said of any other interpretation whatsoever., Such a prophecy as this is at once an illusirious proof of divine revelation, and an excellent antidote to the poison of popery. It is like a two-edged fword, that will cut both ways, and wound the deist with one fide, and the papist with the other. The papists are in some respect like the Jews. As the Jews believe not that Christ is come according to the prophecies, but still live in expectation of him; fo neither do the papists pers
(5) Sre his book intitled Appello; (7) Mr. Langford's Notes and aiem. Part 2, Chap. 5.,
Characters of the Man of Sin. Printed (6) Print i at he Theatre in Ox in 1746. Dr. Benson's Dissertation ford 1684, and said to be published concerning the Man of Sin. &c. under the direction of Bishop Fell; 3
ceive that Antichrist is come according to the prophecies, but still maintain that he shall arise hereafter. The apostle not only foretels this blindness and infatuation, but likewise atsigns the reason, because they received not the love of the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. But to the protestants, who believe and profefs that both the Christ and Antichrist are come, we may fay with the apostle (ver. 13, 14.) We are bound to give thanks alway to God, for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath chosen you to fulvation, thro' sanctification of the spirit, and belief of the truth : Whereunto he called you by the gos pel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Chrift. The apoftle proceeds (ver. 15.) Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle: and certainly there is not any oral tradition that hath a juster claim to be thought apostolical, than this of the man of fin's succeeding upon the decline of the Roman empire, and exalting himfelf over all. Wherefore to conclude, as the apostle concludes the subject, (ver. 16, 17.) Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God even our Father, who hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting confolation, and good hope, through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.
ST. PAUL'S PROPHECY OF THE APOSTACY OF THE
T. Paul was a man of lively thought and strong ima
gination. None of the apostles had a warmer zeal for Christ and the Christian religion. He was, as he faith himfelf, (2 Cor. XI. 23, 28, 29.) in labors more abundant, he had the care of all the churches, Who is weak, faith he, and I am not weak ? who is offended, and I burn not? It was natural for such a mind to be deeply affected with the foresight of the great apoftaly of Chris
tians from the true Chriftian faith and worship, and to lament it, and to forewarn his disciples of it, as often as there was occafion. He made this apoftasy one topic of his difcourse to the Thessalonians, while he was yet with them: and afterwards in his fecond Epistle to them, he gave them to understand that the day of Christ was not at hand, as they apprehended; for there should come the apoftasy first ; implying that it should be both extensive and of long duration. He mentions this apostasy again in his first Epiftle to Timothy, and describes more particularly wherein it thould consist, and at what time, and by what means it should be propagated and advanced in the world. (1 Tim. IV. 1, 2,13.) Now the Spirit speaketh exprefly, that in the latter times fome shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducingSpirits
, und docērins of devils, Speaking liesin hypocrisy, having their conscience feared with a kot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. The paffage perhaps may better be transated thus, But the Spirit speaketh exprefly; He had been speaking before of the mystery of godliness, and now he proceeds to speak of the mystery of iniquity in opposition to it. But the Spirit speaketh expresy, that in the latter times some shall apoftatize from the faith, giving heed to erroneous fpirits and do&rins concerning demons, Through the hypocrisy of liers, having their conscience feared with a hot iron, Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thankfgiving by the believers and them who know the truth. This translation will be justified by the following confiderations, wherein it is proposed to show the true interpretation and exact completion of this prophecy. But this fubject hath been fo fully and learnedly discussed by the excellent (1) Mr. Mede, that we muft be greatly obliged to him in the course of this dissertation. The dress and clothing may be fomewhat different, but the body and fubstance must be much the fame: and they muft be referred to his works," who are desirous of obtaining farther fatisfaction. Not that we would
(1) See Mede's Works, B. 3. p., rieu's Accomplishment of the Prophe623–693. $ec likewise Mont. Jiw sies. Part 1. Chap. 18, 19, 20, 21,
make a transcript only of any writer; we should hope to enforce and improve the subject by some new arguments and new illustrations ;' as every fcribe instructed unto the kingdom of heaven (Matt. XIII. 52.) is like unto a man that is an houjholder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure things new as well as old.
1. The firit thing to be considered is the apoftafy here predicted, Some shall depart or rather shall apoftatize from the faith. The apostle had predicted the fame thing before to the Theffalonians, The day of Christ Jhall not come, except there come a falling away or rather the apostasy first." In the original the words are of the fame import and derivation, αποφασια and απορησονται, and they fhould have been translated both alike, as the same thing was intended in both places. An apoftasy from the faith may be total or partial, either when we renounce the whole, or when we deny some principal and effential article of it. The writers of the New Testament frequently derive their language as well as their ideas from the Old: and by considering what was accounted apoftafy under the Mofaical economy, we may form the better notion of what it is under the Chriftian difpenfation. It doth not appear that the Jews or Ifraelites ever totally renounced and abandoned the live ing and true God; he never ceafed altogether to be their God, or they to be his people: but they revolted from their allegiance to God, when they worthipped him in an image, as in the golden calves, which was the sin and apoftafy of Jeroboam; and when they worshipped other gods besides him, as Baalim and the host of heaven, which was the fin and apostasy of Ahab and Manasseh : and for the same reason the idolatry of Ahaz is by the Greek interpreters called (2 Chron. XXIX. 19.) aro5@oia aulx his apoftasy, and it is said of him (XXVIII. 19.) that απεση αποφασει απο τα Κυρια he apo/tatized greatly from the Lord. Apoftafy therefore was idolatry in the Jewish Church, and it is the same in the Christian, This argument may receive fome illustration from a (2) fimilar paffage in St. Peter; (2 Pet. II. 1.) There were
(2) See Mede's Discourse XLIII. upon this text, p, 238&c.