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contributed not a little to promote the Reformation ; and wheresoever 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 also (4) with the advice of his counsel interdicted, that any one should 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 Antichrist, 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 Antichrist, yet this doctrin was growing unfashionable during his reign, and more fo in that of his son 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 very reafon le was looked upon with an evil eye; and (to the disgrace · of the times) obtained no preferment, tho' he was emi: nently deserving of the best and greatest. He says himself in one of his letters (Epist. 36.) that his notions about yenuflexion towards the altar i would have made “' another man a dean, or a prebend, or something else
cere this: but the point of the pope's being Antichrist, " as a dead fly, 'marred the favor of that ointment.” The abuse also that some fanatics 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 any man to preach that the pope vas 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 faid to have been) of (6) the Paraphrase and Apnotations upon all St. Paul's Episiles. There are fashions in divinity as well as in every thing else; and therefore the true doctrin of Antichrist was for some time fufpended, and talle hypotheses were invented; and it may surprise any one, that so 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) atteinpts 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. :,,.. .1; But it hath been proved, as I conceive, that this is the genuin fenfe and meaning of the apostle, that this only is enurely consistent with the context, that every other interpretation is forced and unnatural, that this is liable to po material objection, that it coincides perfectly with Daniel, that it is agreeable to the tradition of the primitive church, and that it hath been exactly fulfilled in all particulars, which cannot be said of any other interpretạtion whatever.,+ Such a prophecy as this is at once an illufirious proof of divine revelation, and an excellent antidote to the poison of popery. It is like a two-edged sword, that will cut both ways, and wound the deift with one fide, and the papist with the other. The papifts are in fome respect like the Jews. As the Jews believe not that Christ is come according to the prophecies, but still live in expectation of him; to neither do the papists per:
; (3) Conć. Lateran sub Julio' et usus consilio interdixit ne quis papam Leone. Sess. 11, Jewel's Defense. Antichristum vocet, Grot, de Anti, ibid.
christo in principio. .d (4) - Prudentisfimorum virorum
(5) Sre his book intitled Appello; (7) Mr. Langford's Notes and Cze zier. Part 2, Chap. 5.,
Characters of the Man of Sin. Printed *(6) Print i at 'he Theatre in Ox in 1746. Dr. Benson's Differtation fórd" 1684, and said to be published concerning the "Man of Sin. &c. under the direction of Bishop Fello'' &c.
ceive that Antichrift is come according to the prophecies, but still maintain that he shall arise, hereafter. The apostle not only foretels this blindness and intatuation, 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 profess 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 chofen you to fulvation, thro' sanctification of the fpirit, and belief of the truth : Whereunto he called you by the gof pel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jejus Chrift. The apostle proceeds (ver. 15.) Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our cpistle: 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 fubject, (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. ;. :
. . XXIII. i. ST. PAUL'S PROPHECY OF THE APOSTACY OF THE
'1', 'E LATTER TIMES... ·
ST. Paul was a man of lively thought and strong imaD gipation. None of the apostles had a warmer zeal for Christ and the Christian religion. He was, as he faith hiinfelf, (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 apostasy of Chril
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 apoftafy one topic of his discourse 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 apoftaly first ; implying that it Whould be both extenfive 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 fhould be propagated and advanced in the world. (1 Tim. IV. 1, 2, 13.) Ņow the Spirit fpeaketh exprefly, that in the latter times fome all depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing Spirits, und doctrins of devils, Speaking lies in hypocrify, 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 thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. The paffage perhaps may better be translated thus, But the Spirit fpeaketh 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 expresly, that in the latter times fome Mall apoftatize from the faith, giving heed to erroneous spirits and do&trins 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 subject hath been so fully and learnedly difculled by the excellent (1) Mr. Mede, that we must be greatly obliged to him in the course of this differtą. tion. The dress and clothing may be somewhat different, but the body and fubftance must be much the same: and they muft be referred to his works, wlio are desirous of obtaining farther fatisfaction. Not that we would
(:) See Mede's Works, B. 3. p. rieu's Accomplishment of the Prophe623-693, See likewise Mlong, Jicies. Part .. Chap. 18, 19, 20, 21. *
make 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 scribe instructed unto the kingdom of heaven (Matt. XIII. 52.) is like unto a man that is an housholder, who bringeth forth out of his trea. sure thing's 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 apoftle 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 apoftasy first. In the original the words are of the fame import and derivation, αποφασια and απορησονται, and they hould have been translated both alike, as the saine thing was intended in both places. An apostasy from the faith may be total or partial, either when we renounce the whole, or when we deny fome 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 apoftasy under the Mofaical æconomy, 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 ceased altogether to be their God, or they to be his people: but they revolted from their allegiance to God, when they worshipped him in an image, as in the golden calves, which was the fin 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 Manafleh : and for the same reason the idolatry of Ahaz is by the Greek interpreters called (2 Chron. XXIX. 19.) anoSUOIA &ulp his apoftasy, and it is said of him (XXVIII. 19.) that απεση αποφασει απο τα Κυρια he apoftatized greatly from the Lord. Apoftasy therefore was idolatry in the Jewish Church, and it is the fame in the Christian. This argument may receive fome illustration from a (2) fimi. lar paffage in St. Peter; (2 Pet. II. 1.) There were (2) See Mede's Discourse XLIII, upon this text, p, 238, &c.