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coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders. And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 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. The apostasy of the Papal hierarchy is here predicted. Yet the Power here predicted is to be destroyed with the brightness of Christ's coming, at the battle of the great day. And one would be apt to conclude, from reading the passage, that the Power spoken of is to be the great dominant Power of that day. And we are naturally strengthened in this conclusion, from the allusion the essential parts of the description appear to have, to the noted passage in Dan. xi, 364, which relates to Antichrist. These considerations seem to make the Romish hierarchy, and Antichrist one and the same. I apprehend the fact to be, that the passage presents a complex view of Popery and Antichrist; the former rising after the subversion of Pagan Rome; and the latter rising from the corruptions of the former, in the last days. The passage, I conceive, contains a prophetic glance at the whole apostasy, both in its Papal, and Antichristian form; saying some things peculiarly applicable to the one; some to the other; and some to both. Had no other Scriptures predicted the rise of the Infidel Power subsequent to Popery, we should naturally have taken this prediction of the Apostle, as relating only to the Papal hierarchy; and should not learn from it the rise of the Infidel Power. But as we are furnished with such a variety of predictions, which evidently relate to a vast Infidei Power, subsequent to Popery; we cannot suppose this short passage of Paul designed to contradict those passages; or to indicate, that they were to receive their accomplishment in simply the Papal Power. This passage then, must be viewed as a general description, or rather glance, of the wbole apostasy, Papal and Antichristian, viewing them
in their natural connexion; although other prophecies present them, (as we have seen) as two distinct Powers.
The Man of Sin then, primarily, is the Papal bierarchy; and ultimately, the Infidel Power of the last days, which originated in the corruptions of that hierarchy, and in which the dominant power of the hierarchywas to terminate. Paul's Man of Sin properly comprises both these Powers, viewed in their connexion. Although they are two, when they go into perdition, the Beast, and the false prophet; yet they both unitedly go to constitute Paul's Man of Sin, and that son of per. dition, whom the Lord will consume with the spirit of his mouth, and destroy with the brightness of his coming. That description from the Apostle, which has been recited, viewed in the light of the other numerous and more distinguishing predictions, both concerning the Papal hierarchy, and the subsequent Infidel Power, seeins necessarily to evince, that the Man of Sin was of the complex character above presented;—that he comprised both the hierarchy, and the atheistical Antichrist. For he rises with the former, after the Roman empire that let or bindered, was taken out of the way; and sinks with the latter; or, the last head of the Roman Beast; and has the characteristics of both. He is, in that prophetic glance, presented as one Power; though other more definite predictions present him as two. He represents the whole Romish apostasy, both in its Papal and Atheistical form.
Thus we are taught, in the prophetic parts of the sacred Scriptures, to expect the rise of a terrible atheistical Power, and a vast inftuence of Infidelity, in the last days, or just before the Millennium.
I do not pretend that I have adduced all the prophe. cics of this event. Various other predictions of it, especially in the Old Testament, will be noted in the future pages of this dissertation, where the way will be better prepared for them to be understood. I shall here add a comment on the words of our blessed Lord; * And skall not God avenge his own elect, who cry unto
*Luke xviii, 7, 8.
him day and night, though he bear long with them? you
that he will avenge them speedily. theless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? Here we read of the coming of Christ to avenge his elect. His coming at the des. truction of Jerusalem, probably was primarily intended. But his coming at the battle of the great day, as well as at the end of the world, must be viewed as included in the prediction. And the question in the last verse implies, that what has been called the Christian world will then be found overrun with gross Infidelity. Our Lord again says of the same period, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” This is equal to saying, that what of faith those may have had, shall fail: Infidelity will take its place.
But so great an effect implies an adequate cause, or a systematic propagation of Infidelity. And the coming of Christ, at the battle of the great day's being to avenge his elect, implies, that this Power of Infidelity will then be found violently directed against his elect, or his cause. The operatious of Infidels, previous to the rise of Antichrist, or beside that combination, which gave him birth, did not amount to that systematic propagation of Infidelity necessarily implied in the rise of Antichrist; although they had their influence in preparing the way for it. There was a want of unity and efficiency in their operations. The British Infidels, Hobbes, Tindal, Chubb, Morgan, Woolston, Collins, Shaftesbury, Herbert, Hume and Bolingbroke, were Antichristian indeed. Yet their operations and writings did not mark the rise of Antichrist. They were destitute of that unity and efficiency of operation. Many of their first principles counteracted each other. And they matured no powerful, systematic opposition to the cause, which they individually hated. It remained for Infidels within the region of Popery to remedy this happy defect. The latter were not only to propagate real Infidelity in a far more energetic system; but were to furnish a fatal plan of uniting their minions and sophists of impiety against the cause of Christ; and to secretly inure their hearts to cruelty, and deeds of vio. lence; till they should be prepared to burst upon the Christian and civilized world, like a torrent of burning lava from a volcano! The uniting of their rivulets of Infidelity into a powerful current; swelling the latter, by the confluence of numberless streams, into an overwhelming flood; and directing this mighty deluge against the principles of the Christian religion, and of all virtuous civil government; this was to be the development of the Infidel Power under consideration; this the Antichrist of the last times.
The last days have arrived; and an incipient fulfil
ment of the predictions concerning ANTICHRIST, is
now fulfilling before our eyes. THIS I shall endeavor to evince in the following sections.
Chronological Remarks. The Church of Christ was to remain in the wilder. ness, after being given into the hands of the Papal pow. er, 1260 years. * Mr. Faber is of the opinion, that this giving of the saints into the hands of the Papal power took place in the year 606, when Phocas constituted the bishop of Rome universal bishop. A former English writer, by the name of Stephens, (noted with approbation in the Annotations of Pool) was of the same opinion. And some plausible things may be said in favor of it. As the saints were to be given into the power of Popery 1260 years, so the committing of them to this power, may mark the commencement of the 1260 years. And the act of constituting the bishop of Rome universal bishop, has some appearance of being the act of giving the saints into his hands. And if it be thus, then the year 606 of the Christian era may commence the noted 1260 years; which accordingly will terminate A. D. 1866.
Some writers have conceived, that the noted number 666, (Rev. xiii, last,) has a two sold application, as the number of the Beast; (Rev. xiii, 18;) and the number of his name; (Rev. xv, 2.) As to the number of his name, it is ascertained, that the numerical letters in Greek, which form the name Lateinos, contains just the number 666. Latinus, (or as the name was anciently written, Lateinos) king of Latium, was before Ro.
*Dan, vii, 25. Rev. xii, 6.