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He proceeds to give certain great chronological dates, to correct the alarm produced by his former epistle on the subject. These dates were the apostasy that should develope the lawless one. This lawless one must first make his appearance; after that, and during his appearance and deceptions practised on the earth, this “son of perdition” should be destroyed “by the spirit of his (Christ's) mouth and the brightness of his appearing.” He takes his name, “the son of perdition,” from the signal, marked, and horrible destruction to be visited on him by the brightness of Christ's appearing.
This title would by no means be appropriate, on the supposition that the suasive power and progressive influence and increase of light and truth are going to accomplish the overthrow of Popery. We disparage not the value or the power of truth. None can prize it more highly than we do. Nor would we discourage the employment of it for the salvation of the poor deluded victims of this base, degrading, and enslaving idolatry, as well as to counteract the influence and effects of the numerous other forms of error and delusion, by which men encourage and support each other in their hypocrisy, self-flattery, and oppression of their fellows. We rejoice in every attempt to enlighten the public mind, to reform the church, and to promote the sanctification of Christians, the melioration of human condition, the extension of liberty, and the diffusion of happiness, by means of truthful appeals and the circulation of light and knowledge. Would that they were a thousand fold multiplied ! But other instruments are destined of God for the destruction of Popery—that rank and corrupt system, which has filled the earth with the stench of its abominations. It is a blow of punitive vengeance that is
to bring it to the ground-truth taught and enforced by such means ! Such has been God's method from the beginning. , The antediluvian world, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, the corrupt cities of antiquity, Nineveh, Thebes, Petra, Babylon, Jerusalem, &c., none of them were reformed and ultimately saved by the power of truth, pressed on the intellects and consciences of men by oral or written exhibitions merely. The stroke of vengeance was necessary. Nor will Rome form an exception. She is indeed in her dotage, and her doom is nigh; but that very dotage requires something else to correct it than the mere light and power of truth. The glorious Reformation, it is true, has proved the importance and efficacy of the truth as applied by the Spirit of God for the salva. tion of individuals for saving out of her a numerous people ; and it may therefore be inferred, as it has. been, that no other instrumentality is needed. Let us but have revivals and spread the truth, it is said, and the world will escape from the delusions and dominion of the Man of sin. But the Spirit of God has not thus seen it fitting to destroy any corrupt system. Providential violence and severe inflictions of judgment, sometimes miraculously, wrought deliverance for the church in Egypt, extirpated the corrupt nations of idolators in Canaan, overthrew Judaism, and have been and are now wasting Islamism. The very Reformation itself, while it has illustrated the value and power of truth, has nevertheless demonstrated that other means are needed to demolish Popery-this master-piece of Satanic delusion!
We are thus reduced to the necessity of believing, that the apostle meant the literal personal coming of Christ, as he comes to inflict vengeance on his enemies; and did not speak figuratively.
The nature of the subject on which he spoke, which was the personal coming,—the character of the style in which he writes of the apostasy and the Man of sin, which is neither metaphorical nor symbolical, but alphabetical,—and the special design he had in view, which was to fix a great chronological date or period yet future, when Christ should come,-all forbid the thought that he suddenly shifts his subject, and metaphorically describes a signal interposition of Providence, a special revival of religion, or anything else. than the personal coming of Christ.
If the spiritualist, however, will not be satisfied with this, and he still insists that it is an allegorical coming of which Paul speaks, then must the coming spoken of in the first verse be allegorical, and so must our gathering to Christ be allegorical, and that great day of Christ be allegorical; and of course, as he refers to the day and coming of Christ spoken of in his first epistle, it too must also be allegorical ; and, consequently, that Christ's descending from Heaven with a shout, and the voice of an archangel, and the trump of God, and the resurrection of the dead saints, and the rapture of the living, and the whole of that description, must be altogether allegorical-the great day of judgment itself being nothing, after all, but a figure ! Verily, if this be the case, the apostle deserves our execration. For he professedly, in the first epistla, attempts to comfort us in view of the loss of our Christian friends, by the prospect of their glorious resurrection and return to earth with Jesus Christ ; which, if he speaks figuratively, has not a word of truth in it. Such is the utterly untenable and absurd result to which the figurative interpretation brings us.
3. But we advance still a step further, and remark, that the words which Paul employs here to express the
coming of Christ, are never used in any other than the plain literal sense in the New Testament. The expression “spirit of his mouth” is literally the breath or wind of his mouth.* There is nothing here which necessarily determines it to mean the Holy Spirit. The * spirit of his mouth” is not a title of the Holy Spirit, nor is the phrase ever used to denote an influence of the Holy Spirit. It is indeed in one placet said that the heavens and all their hosts “ were made by the breath of his mouth;" but the idea is, very obviously, that God created them by his word—the words we utter being formed, literally, by our breathing forth articulate sounds.
There are two ideas which the phrase breath or spirit of his mouth, here, may literally express : either a mighty tempest or a mighty voice. The Hebrews, in order to express the superlative degree, employed the name of God : thus, “the garden of the Lord” meant a very fruitful garden, “the cedars of the Lord,” very lofty cedars, &c. Sometimes the hand, or the arm, or the mouth of the Lord, as the instruments of divine power, were used in the same sense. To unfold an idiom of speech is not to spiritualize, but to adhere to grammatical construction or interpretation. Thus, the breath of his nostrils, 1—the blast of his mouth,-denoted at one time a mighty wind or tempest, and at another a mighty and terrible voice. In both cases they are Hebraistic modes of speech, to denote something superlative. · The expression “SPIRIT OF HIS MOUTH," as used by the apostle here, may literally mean a mighty tempest, or a mighty voice, or both. The apostle, in his first epistle, had said the Lord should descend with a shout; and literally this will be the blast or spirit of his
* TO) TvevÞarı TOV otomaros ajrov.
Ps. 33. 6.
Job, 4. 9.
mouth. David* describes Christ's coming to judgment, so as to show that the Hebraistic mode of speech adopted by the apostle most beautifully and graphically expresses, in a few words, the superlative conception he had of the fiery tempest, lighted up by the spirit or breath of the Almighty, and the thundering in the Heavens when the Highest gives his voice. Still more forcible is Isaiah'st language, where he describes the coming of the Lord : “His lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire, and his breath as an overflowing stream.” “ The breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.”I With both these descriptions the apostle was familiar, and his expression, spirit or breath of his mouth, needs no allegorical interpretation, but literally, according to the Hebrew idiom of speech, most happily and forcibly expresses the general idea of Christ's coming in the midst of a terrible tempest, in which commingle Jehovah's thundering voice and the fierce lightnings, as they blaze from pole to pole.
As to the other expression, “BRIGHTNESS OF HIS APPEARING," (ériqúveld tus napovoias,) we defy the ingenuity of the best Greek scholar to select, from the whole compass of that rich and expressive language, words that can convey, more distinctly, definitely, and fully, the idea of a personal visible manifestation of the presence of Jesus Christ. The words are, as closely as they can be rendered into English, the APPEARING OF HIS PRESENCE—just such an appearing as the shining of the sun or moon in the heavens-THE EPIPHANY OF HIS PRESENCE. Each word of itself is sufficient to express the idea of PERSONAL MANIFESTATION. But here the two words are put together, to make the idea more explicit.
* 1 Ps. 18. 7–13. | Is. 30. 27, 28. | Is. 30. 33.