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be placed in a common court of justice, but in the temple of God. He will seat himself on the throne of the Almighty, and act as his representative and substitute. His laws, like those of Jehovah, who knoweth the heart, will extend to the minds and consciences of his subjects, so that their faith and their very thoughts, shall be regulated by his dictates, and submit themselves to his authority"9.?
Of such persons as acknowlege this antichristian aythority, St. Paul says, that they shall be under strong delusion, that they should believe a lie. And surely this is not a distinctive mark of the church of Rome. Not only her members, but those also of the Greek church and of other hierarchies are deluded into the belief of opinions altogether false", and servilely accommodate their faith to that of the priesthood. It is not in her creeds alone, but in those also of other churches, that doctrines, alike unfounded and pernicious, are not merely authoritatively enjoined, but are likewise represented as essential to salvation.
The general immorality of the apostate Christians, says the writer of the letter to bp. Hurd, was also plainly intimated to the Thessalonians,' in the prophecy of the man of sin. Thus in v. 12. those deceived by him are spoken of as having pleasure in unrighteousness. the whole world,' says Mr. Evanson, 'is witness, how truly this predicted circumstance hath been fulfilled in the lives of nominal Christians of every country in Christendom, from the beginning of the fourth century to the present hour. From this mark and character of Antichrist at least, (though it be, without doubt, the worst and most deplora
19 Four marks of Antichrist, p. 13.
20 V. 11. In another of his epistles, St. Paul says, the time will come, when professed Christians will not endure sound doctrine, but-shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables. II. Tim. iv. 3, 4.
21 - Those of the Pretended Reformed Religion acknowlege,' says Bossuet, the celebrated bishop of Meaux, “ that the catholic church embraces all the fundamental articles of the Christian religion.' Expos. of the Doct. of the Cath. Ch. translated into Eng. Lond. 1686. p. 2.
ble of all,) even Protestant churches cannot plead exemption22
But the authority of the man of sin, however firmly established, and universally extended, is not destined to be perpetual The Lord shall consume him with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy him with the brightness of his coming'. We are assured by the apostle, says Mr. Evanson in his paraphrase on these words, that at length this impious tyranny would decline, and gradually be consumed, by the restoration of the genuine doctrine of Christ's Gospel, here metaphorically called the breath of his mouth : and will be finally destroyed at that grand revolution of human affairs, which is so frequently alluded to in the Holy Scriptures, and denominated the coming of Jesus Christ.' To suppose, as bp. Newton and many others have done, that the coming of Christ is not the commencement of the millennium, but the day of judgment; is to suppose, that antichristianism and ecclesiastical tyranny will continue to prevail till the end of the world. Contrary as this is to the most express prophecies, some writers, having this passage in view, and perceiving that the latter conclusion would evidently follow from the admission of the former, have avowed this melancholy and dispiriting opinion. The words of St. Paul, which have just been quoted, signify,' says Slichtingius, - that the man of sin would remain till the coming of Christ, and would be destroyed by his coming. Now the coming of Christ, adds this celebrated commentator, is here to be explained of his advent on the day of Judgment.
At the same time I feel no hesitation in admitting, that the Thessalonian Christians, as well as those of other countries, in consequence of the coming of Christ being an equivocal expression, and of their being uninstructed with respect to the millennium, probably did, in the time of St. Paul, understand it in a literal sense, and conceive it to
23 Let. to Hurd, p. 20.
signify the awful day of Christ's coming to Judgment, At that period the Apocalypse was not published ; and, when published, its meaning, as well as that of Daniel, was destined, during many centuries, to be very imperfectly penetrated. Of what they foretold even the prophets themselves had sometimes a very imperfect idea. Thus in the xiith ch. of Daniel (v. 8), that prophet says, and I heard, but I understood not; and the angel of the vision is represented in v. 9 as saying unto him, go thy way, Daniel : for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. On this passage an intelligent commentator, who wrote 150 years since, has the following remarks. Therefore the foresaid mysteries, especially those about the times of Antichrist, God intended to conceal and hide for a certain time, and only to reveal the same in the last time. And unto this place our Savicur seemeth to have respect when he saith, that no man knoweth the day and hour, not so much as the angels of heaven, but the Father only, Matt. xxiv. 15, 36. And when he saith, “ it is not for you to know the times, which the Father hath put in his own power.
Acts i. 7. Wherefore Christ exhorteth the present age, that they would be watchful, because they knew not the time of the end : forasmuch as it was to be hidden from the former ages, lest the long distance of the time being known should hinder the duty of watchfulness. But in the time of the endoit seemeth that it is to be revealed: not unto the world, on whom the end shall come as a thief in the night, especially the last part of the last time: but
24 Nor is this misconception wonderful. • For the old prophets, for the most part, I am now quoting from Mede, speak of the coming of Christ, indefinitely and in general, without that distinction of First and Second coming, which the Gospel out of Daniel hath more clearly taught us. And so consequently they spake of the things to be at Christ's coming indefinitely and altogether, which we, who are now more fully informed by the revelation of the gospel of a two-fold coming, must apply each of them to its proper time: those things which befit the state of his first coming unto it; and such things as befit the state of his second coming, unto his second,
unto the saints25," unto those that are genuine Christians and honest inquirers after truth.
APPENDIX TO CHAPTER XII.
ON THE CORRUPTIONS WHICH PREVAILED IN TAE FOURTH
I HAVE stated (and I know not whether the statement may not have startled some of my readers), that almost every kind of ecclesiastical usurpation was introduced, and almost every species of superstition encouraged, in the fourth century. The historic extracts, intended to con. firm and to elucidate this assertion, are more numerous, than the nature of the present work would have authorised, had not a number of reasons, in this particular case, concurred to recommend their insertion. This copiousness of citation I have been encouraged to introduce; because an assertion of such weight, on the very face of it, seemed to require for proof a long series of well attested particulars ; because facts of this description it was in my power to produce, from as high and as unexceptionable authority, as can be appealed to on the subject; because the investigation of it will be hereafter serviceable in directing us to the true interpretation of one of the apocalyptic visions27 ; because it respects a period, which constitutes one of the most interesting portions of ecclesiastical history; and because persons in general are, I believe, unapprised of the extent to which the assertion is true, and of the rapidity
25 Tho. Parker of New-England on Daniel, 1646, p. 132.
26 The reign of Constantine, and the fourth century in general, some have represented in a highly favorable point of view. The Gospel enabled,' says bishop Hallifax,' at length, under the auspices of Constantine, to establish itself, in prosperity and PURITY, throughout the provinces of the Roman empire. Serm on Proph. p. 313.
27 I particularly allude to all the latter part of ch. vii. of the Rey.
with which Christianity was changed and essentially debased. Nor are these all the reasons which
be alleged to justify the introduction of the present appendix. This inquiry is of great importance in ascertaining the period of the coming of the man of sin; in determining whether that prediction is to be exclusively applied to the Roman pontiffs ; in qualifying us to judge whether the emperor Constantine does in truth stand convicted of the charge of notorious antichristianism ; and in deciding a question, which must probably have sometimes arisen in the inquiring mind, did this celebrated prince render upon the whole a real service to the religion of Jesus, when he embraced the external profession of it, and accelerated its general diffusion ; whilst at the same time he brought about an unnatural union between the church and the state, placed himself at the head of the former as well as the latter, and substantially aided the attempts of those, who labored with such fatal success to paganize Christianity, by incorporating with it not a few of the speculative opinions, and many of the superstitious practices, which before belonged to heathenism?
It is from the judicious and learned Mosheim that the extracts are principally taken. To him indeed it might have been sufficient to have barely referred the reader, had the facts, which are most decisive and throw the strongest light on the topics proposed, lain together, unintermingled with other matter. But, besides that the greater part of my readers would in all probability have omitted to consult Mosheim at all, it deserves to be noticed, that these facts are dispersed over his Internal History of the Church during the fourth century, which alone occupies upwards of 70 very closely printed octavo pages. To superadd some particulars from other writers was also expedient, But that the reader may exactly know, how much of the present appendix belongs to Mosheim, I have, through the greater part of it, made no addition in the text to the facts alleged by him; and when I have, intimation is given of
28 And from the 2d edition of Dr, Maclaine's Translation,