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the learnogy for towers, havshich he ad of "so
much it seems to be our duty to know, and to deliver it down to those that shall come after us: because it will render the prophecies, which relate to future events, more easy to be understood by those that shall be alive when the events shall come to explain and fulfil them; besides, it will prepare and impress upon the minds of men, disposed to godliness, that reverential awe and fear of the God of PROPHECY and TRUTH, which may recommend them to his merciful protection, amidst all his dreadful judgments upon the wicked. But to explain, with any degree of certainty, all the mysterious prophetic marks of such future events relating to the manner, the means, and circumstances by which, and the time when, they shall come to pass, is impossible! Of this truth the learned bishop seems to be well apprized, in his apology for the fathersand yet he, and all his modern followers, have committed the very . errors of the fathers, for which he himself has thought an apology necessary. Instead of “sorting the prophecies," and confining his particular explanations to the event of those that were past he has travelled through all the prophecies relating to future events, and brought thence all the marks and signs of the enemies of Christ, which are to oppose his Gospel, down to his coming to reign upon earth; and applied them to a prophecy, which had been fulfilled long before he wrote. We have seen him, as I have had occasion to shew before, applying all the marks of the Little Horn, of the Man of Sin, and of Babylon the Gieat, with all their respective crimes and abominations,
to the Church of Rome; and to give to their signs a plausible resemblance of her policy and conduct, he has twisted and tortured the accurate and beautiful allegories of prophecy, into meanings they were never intended to express, and at which even common sense revolts. Nor content with thus overloading that ecclesiastical power with sins she had never committed, he has, in common with all protestant commentators since the Reformation, branded her with the opprobrious name of Antichrist.'
To shew the error of this application, and to place the prophecy in its true light; we shall first consider the argument upon which he founds his opinion. The bishop asserts*, that “the name “ Antichrist is proper and expressive enough (to “ be applied to the church of Rome), as it may “signify both the enemy of Christ, and the vicar ss of Christ; for,” says he, in a note, “ the Greek “word contrary, signifies pro, vice, loco, as well as "è contra ex adverso;" and, aware that the word s taken in the latter sense, that is, to signify a “great adversary, in direct opposition to Christ and “bis Gospel, could not, with propriety, be applied to the church of Rome, he has chosen to take the word in the former sense, as meaning the via car of Christ, because the Popes of Rome have assumed that title; not perceiving that the word in this sense, was less applicable, if possible, to the church of Rome than in the other for a vicar is a person really appointed by another in
* Newt. Diss. vol. i. p. 113.
his place, to act under and by his authority, and to do his duty. Now can it be supposed, that the spirit of truth could intend to describe the church of Rome as a power appointed by Christ, to take his place, and to perform his office? If such was its intention, the description would not answer the purpose. For when did Christ appoint the church of Rome his vicar? When did he constitute her Antichrist, or the vicar of Christ, as the word imports, in the sense in which the bishop has interpreted it? He never has made, nor ever will inake such appointment; and therefore this word Antichrist cannot be applied to her in this sense. But it is said, that she has assumed, or pretended, to be the vicar of Christ. Be ir 50; it will not help the argument. St. John is not here foretelling a false and pretended vicar of Christ, but, on the contrary, a real adversary, and great enemy of Christ, who is to come “in the last time.” Had the first been within the contemplation of his mind, he would have described it according to the truth of the fact, and not have omitted a part, most essential to a just description of it. The spirit of truth, by which we must suppose he was directed, would have called it Falsus Antichristus, or a pretended and false vicar of Christ; and then the expression would be properly descriptive of the Pope, because he has falsely assumed the title, and then it might be justly applied to him. But could any person, consistently with truth, describe a woman by the terms of the wife of A, when he knew she had never been married to him, although she might assume that character without being a deceiver ? By much stronger reason then we must conclude, that the spirit of prophecy, which is the spirit of truth, would not have described the Pope, the false and pretended vicar of Christ, by the una qualified term Antichrist, which is a real vicar of Christ, in the sense into which it is here perverted, On the contrary, we find, in every similar instance, it is strictly accurate in all its descriptions, When foretelling the coming of persons who would falsely assume the character of Christ, it calls them “ false Christs*.” Prophets pretending only to the gift of prophecy, “false propbetst.” Persons pretending to be apostles, "false apostlest.” So “false teacherss, false brethren|l," &c. &c. In short, were we to search the Scriptures throughout, we should not find one prophetic type, or expression, whether figurative or literal, which does not fully embrace the object intended to be delineated, when they are understood and candidly compared together.
Nor can the word "Antichrist,” when taken in the other (which is certainly the true prophetic sense), as a power è contra and ex adverso, or a power the great enemy and adversary against, or in direct opposition to Christ, with any degree of propriety, be applied to the church of Rome. For it is well known that she professes faith in · God, and holds, as parts of her creed, the mission, incarnation, miracles, crucifixion, ascension,
* Matt. xxiv. 24. 1 John, iv, 1.
52 Pet. ii. 1.
+ Ibid. vii. 15. xxiv. 11. Luke, vi. 26.
and atonement of Christ, which are the fundamental doctrines of his Gospel; and although she has wickedly inixed with them a variety of abominable tricks, frauds, and falsehoods, to gratify her temporal pride and ambition, yet, as she holds with, and teaches those essential articles of Christianity, she cannot be said to be the great Antichrist, or the greatest enemy and adversary of Christ and his Gospel. Indeed, when we consider the doctrines of the Mohamedan church, we find them far more adverse and contrary to the Gospel of Christ. For she denies all the fundamental articles of Christianity, except that there is a God. She denies the mission, incarnation, atonement, and divinity of Christ in his Gospel, and asserts that he was nothing more than a great prophet, sent to reform the world by miracles, and peaceable and persuasive ineans; and that, as he had failed in executing his.commission, God had sent Mohamed in his stead, to convert the world by force: doctrines these much more adverse to those of Christ than the doctrines of the church of Rome; and yet our commentators upon Antichrist, have never applied the term to the Mohamedan church. The truth is, it was intended to be applied to neither of them, but to a greater adversary of Christ, who should deny, and directly oppose, all the truths revealed by him, not even excepting that which teaches us that thERE IS A GOD! This truch will appear evident upon an unbiassed and candid consideration of the texts relating to it, which I shall now hasten to give them. yol. ij.