« AnteriorContinuar »
the temple or house of God is the Christian church in the usual stile of the apostles. St. Paul thus addresleth the Corinthians in his first Epistle, (III. 16, 17.) Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him Jhall God destroy: for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are: and thus again in his fecond Epistle, (VI. 16.) What agreement huth the temple of God with idols ? for ye are the temple of the living God. He advisetlz Timothy (1 Tim. III. 15.) how he ought to behave himself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, as a pillar and ground of the truth. St. John allo writeth thus to the angel of the church in Philadelphia, (Rev. III. 12.) Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God. These few examples out of many are sufficient to prove, that under the gospel difpensation the temple of God is the church of Christ: and the man of fin's fitting implies his ruling and presiding there, and fitting there as God implies his claiming divine authority in things fpiritual as well as temporal, and showing himself that he is God implies his doing it with great pride and pomp, with great parade and oftentation.
These things were not asserted now merely to serve the present occasion. The apostle had insisted upon these topics, while he was at Thessalonica; so that he thought it a part of his duty, as he made it a part of his preaching and doctrin, to forewarn his new converts of the grand apostasy that would infeft the church. (ver. 5, 6,7.) 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 lett, until he be taken out of the way. The man ol fin therefore was not then revealed. His time was not yet come, or the season for his manifestation. The mystery of iniquity was indeed already working: for there is a mujit ry of iniquity as well as a mystery of godliness, (1 Tim. 11 . 16.) the one in direct opposition to the other. The feeds of corruption were fown, but they were not yet grown up to any maturity. The leaven was ferment
ing ing in fome parts, but it was far from having yet infečted the whole mass. The man of sin was yet hardly conceived in the womb; it must be some time before he could be brought forth. There was fome obstacle that hindered his appearance, the apostle fpeaketh doubtfully whether thing or person; and this obstacle would continue to hinder, till it was taken out of the way. What this was we cannot determin with abfolute certainty at so great a distance of time; but if we may rely upon the concurrent teftimonies of the fathers, it was the Roman empire. Most probably it was somewhat relating to the higher powers, because the apoftle obferves fuch caution. He mentioned it in discourfe, but would not commit it to writing. He afterwards exhorts the Theffalonians, (ver. 15.) Brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epiftle. This was one of the traditions which he thought more proper to teach by word than by epiftle.
When this obstacle shall be removed, then, as the apoftle proceeds, (ver. 8.) jhall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming. Nothing can be plainer than that ó arouco, the lawless, the wicked one here mentioned and the man of fin muft be one and the fame person. The apostle was fpeaking before of what hindered that he should be revealed, and would continue to binder until it was taken out of the way: And then shall the wicked one be revealed, whom the Lord Shall confème, Gc. Not that he should be consumed immediately after he was revealed; but the apoftle, to comfort the Thessalonians, no sooner mentions his revelation than he foretels also his deftruction, even before he describes his other qualifications. His other qualifications should have been described firft in order of time, but the apoftle haftens to what was first and warmest in his thoughts and wishes. Whom the Lord Jhall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and thall defiroy with the brightness of his coming. If these two claufes refer to two distinct and different events, the meaning manifefily is, that the Lord Jefus fhall gradually consume him with the free preaching and publication of his word, and fall utterly destroy him at his second coming in the glory of his father with the holy angels. If these two claufes relate to one and the fame event, it is a pleonasin that is very usual in the facred as well as in all oriental writings; and the purport plainly is, that the Lord Jesus shall destroy him with the greatest facility, when he shall be revealed from herroen (as the apostle hath exprefled it in the preceding chapter) with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the go/pel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The apostle was eager to foretel the destruction of the man of fin; and for this purpose having broken in upon his subject, he now returns to it again, and describes the other qualifications, by which this wicked one should advance and establish himself in the world. He should rise to credit and authority by the most diabolical methods, should pretend to fupernatural powers, and boast of revelations, visions, and miracles, false in themselves, and applied to promote false doctrins. (ver. 9.) IVhose coming is after the working of Satan, with all powers, und signs, and lying wonders. He should likewise practise all other wicked arts of deceit, should be guilty of the most impious frauds and impofitions upon mankind; but should prevail only among those who are deftitute of a fincere affection for the truth, whereby they might obtain eternal falvation. (ver. 10.) And with all deceiva-' bleness of unrighteousness, in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And indeed it is a juft and righteous judgment of God, to give them over to vanities and lies in this world, and to condemnation in the next, who have nd regard for truth and virtue, but delight in falsehood and wickededness, (ver. 11, and 12.) And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned, who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
II. Upon this survey there appears little room to doubt of the genuin fenfe and meaning of the pallage; but it hath strangely been mistaken and mifapplied by fome famous commentators,, though more agree in the interpretation than in the application of this prophecy.
fome (7) Denudet ingenium fuum Caius. queretur, tempus exspectabat qua, -Sic et Caius omnibus fe Diis gen- L. Vitellius e provincia decederet.tium prætulit, etiam Jovi Olympio et Recte autem impius dicitur Simon Capitolino. Recte autem dicitur Magus, qui paulo poft initia Claus Caius femet pofuifle in templo Dei, quia diani principatûs Romam venit-Benę fimulacrum tuum ibi collocari jusfit. autem dicitur Chriftus fecisse quod -L. Vitellius, cum Paulus ifta di fecit per Petrum - Oftentia ifta et. ceret, et hæc fcriberet, Syriam ei Ju- prodigia Simonis magica, &c.-Dedæam tenebat, vir apud Judæos gra- cipiuntur ab eo homines malè perituri. tiofus, et magnis exercitibus impe- Intelligit Samaritas primum, deinde fans, cui propterea facile fuiffet, fi tam et Romanos. Vide Grot. in locum et graviter Judæorum animos exasperal- de Antichristo. fet Caius, eorum tutelam suscipere et (8) Pearsonii Annales Paulini
1. Excellently learned as Grotius was, a confummate scholar, a judicious critic, a valuable author; yet was he, certainly no prophet, nor fon of a prophet. In explaining the prophecies, scarcely have more mistakes been committed by any of the worst and weakest commentators, than by him who is usually one of the best and ableft. He understands this prophecy of the times preceding ( the deftruction of Jerusalem. The man of fin (7) was the Roman emperor Çaligula, who did not at firti difcover his wicked diipofitio. He vainly preferred himself before all the gods of the nation, even before Jupiter Olympius and Capitolinus; and ordered his statue to be fet up in the temple at Jerufalem. He was hindered from difclosing and exercising his intended malice against the Jews by his awe of Vitellius, who was at that time governor of Syria and Judea, and was as powerful as he was beloved in those provinces. What follows Grotius could not by any means accommodate to Caligula, and therefore substitutes another, and supposes that the wicked one was Simon Magus, who was revealed and came to Rome foon after the beginning of the reign of Claudius. He was there baffled and difgraced by St. Peter; but Chrift may well be faid to have done what was done by Peter. He pretended also, to work great miracles, and by his magical illusions deceived many, the Samaritans first, and afterwards the Romans. But in answer it may be observed, that this Epistle of St. Paul, as (8) all other good critics and
chronologers chronologers agree, and as is evident indeed from hiftory, was written in the latter part of the reign of Claudius, who was fucceffor to Caligula: and if so, the apostle according to this interpretation is here prophesying of things which were paft already. The coming of Christ, as it hath been before proved undeniably, relates to a more distant period than the destruction of Jerufalem. Besides, how could Caligula with any tolerable fense and meaning be called an apoftate from either the Jewish or the Christian religion? He never sat in the temple of God, he commanded indeed his statue to be placed there; but was diffuaded from his purpose, as (9) Philo testifies, by the intreaties of king Agrippa, and sent an order to Petronius governor of Syria not to make any innovation in the temple of the Jews. He was so far from being kept in awe by the virtues of Vitellius, that' Vitellius on the contrary was a moft fordid adulator, as both (1) Tacitus and Suetonius exprefly affirm; and instead of restraining Caligula from affecting divine honors, he was the first who incited him to it. Moreover it is doing the greatest violence to the context, to make the man of fin and the wicked one two distinct persons, when they are so manifestly one and the fame. The contest between St. Peter and Simon Magus at Rome, if ever it happened at all, did not happen in the reign of Claudius: but most probably there never was any such tranfaction ; the whole story is probably a fabulous legend, and consequently can be no foundation for a true exposition of any prophecy. Where too is the consistency and propriety in interpreting the coming of Christ in ver. 1. of the destruction of Jerufalem, and in ver. 8. of the destruction of Simon Magus, though Simon Magus was not destroyed, but was only thrown out of his chariot, and his leg broken in the fall? These are fome of the absurdities in Grotius's interpretation and application of this prophecy, which you may
p. provinciam sui facere juris. Ideo 13. Sam. Basnagii Annales. A.Þ. Caius, antequam propositum exse
51. Sect. 74. A. D. 52. Sect. 12. (1) Exemplar apud pofteros aduWhitby Pref. Calmet. Pref. &c. &c. latorii dedecoris habetur. Tacit. Ana
(9) Philo de Legatione ad Caium. nal. Lib. 6. p. 71. Edit. Lipsi. μηδεν επι τω ξερω των Ιεδαιων ετι νεωθερον Ιdem miri in adulando ingenii, prisuvely. nequid in Judæorum templo no- mus C. Cæfarem adorari ut Deum yaret, p. 1038. Edit. Paris. 1640. inftituit. Suet, in Vitellio, Sect. 2.