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Bath, Jan. 9, 1814.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
How do Papists interpret that prophecy, respecting the
man of sin, the son of perdition, who opposeth, and exalteth himself, above all that is called God, or is worshipped, so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God? Did not Pope Paul the Fifth call himself ViceGov? * Who are those, of whom the spirit speaks, as giving heed, in the latter times, to seducing spirits, and doctrines of Devils, forbidding to marry, ana onmmanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received, with thanksgiving ? +
Who is that Woman, sitting upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads, and ten horns? She who is arrayed in purple, and scarlet color, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls, having a golden cup, in her hands-who has
upon her forehead a name written MYSTERY, Babylon the great, the mother of Harlots, and abominations of the earth? The seven heads, saith the scripture, are the seven mountains, on which the Woman sitteth, and again the Woman is that great City, which reigneth over the kings of the earth? Does not St. Paul writing to the Church of Rome, exhort her not to be high minded, and threatens her, with being cut
i Thess. 2, 3, 4.
+ 1 Tim. 4.
off; after the example of the Jews ? . This question is evidently framed with a view of conveying an insinuation, that the sovereigu Pontiff and the Catholic Church, of which he is the visible head, are contemplated, in these apostolical predictions. To ascertain, therefore, the interpretation of Catholic writers, on the subject of these different prophecies, is an object of very little consequence: And if it be in my power to shew you, that these insinuations are unsupported by any evidence of reason, or of truth, this ques: tion, I think, you will be led to consider, as have ing received an answer, sufficiently satisfactory,
In opposition, therefore, to Mr. * ideas, and in opposition to the ideas of other Protestants, who may be disposed to think, like: himself, on this subject, I will endeavour in this, and in the three following letters, to sbew you, that the Bishop of Rome cannot be considered as the person of ANTICHRIST; - that the Catholic Church cannot be regarded as the mysterious BABYLON of the Apocalypse ; and that she is not designated in those prophecies which relate
to the subjects of MARRIAGE, and of ABSTI. NENCE.
It is not my object, because, I think it is perfectly unnecessary, to enter into any very long discussion, on the question which relates to the person of ANTICHRIST, as it is evident, from the very great variety and diversity of opinion, which has ever prevailed amongst men on that subject, that it is one, which is surrounded with no inconsiderable degree of uncertainty, and of darkness. Men of all religious persuasions have often been found to indulge their imaginations, in establishing systems on partial and prejudiced views of this sabject, and in assigning proceedings to the wisdom of Providence, which subsequent events have demonstrated, to have been nothing but ingenious or fanciful conjectures of their own. With the opinions of any of these men I have nothing to do; nor is it, on this occasion, any part of my object, either to approre or to refute them. I have no wish, nor is it necessary that I should have any, but to direct your attention to such objects only, as are known with the certainty of truth: And of such objects, we are possessed of a sufficiency of knowledge to satisfy us, that the Bishop of Rome, neither ought to be, nor can be, con. sidered as the person of ANTICHRIST. From the passage of St. Paul, which Mr.
*** has placed at the head of bis questions, it appears evident, that ANTICHRIST is destined to be some ONE INDIVIDUAL or other : and from the unanimous testimony of the ancient Fathers, it also appears, that his coming into the world, will take place, at some time, which is not very remote from the period of its general destruction. From the authority of St. Paul, it is, moreover, evident that he will announce him. self, not only as the avowed enemy of Christ, and of his religion, and the most sanguinary persecutor of bis Church, but will attempt to substitute himself in his place, and usurp the bonors, and the worship which are due to no object, but to the supreme Majesty of God.
With a view of these circumstances before 'us, I will now put it to the candor, and the good sense of this gentleman, or of any other Protestant of education, if ANY of these characters and much less if they ALL can be ascribed to the person of any individual Bishop of Rome, since the establishment of that dignity in the Catholic Church ? Let him assign any period of time, which he thinks may best suit his purpose, as the earliest date of the establishment of Papal-supremacy; yet it will be found, that that periodmust necessarily be much too remote, to be connected with the oc. currence of some of those extraordinary events, which we know are destined to mark the coming of Antichrist. Had the Bishops of Rome, in their character of Sovereign Pontiff, been designated in the predictions which relate to this extraordinary personage, then the words of St. Paul, which can apply only to some one individual, would not be true; and long since would have occurred all those awful events, which are appointed to distinguish his transitory reign, and long since would have been effected the general destruction of this visible world.
On language which Mr. * * * * imputes to Pope Paul V. more than on any other cir. cumstance, this Gentleman seems to me, to establish his system. Where he has travelled to acquire his information, on this subject, I cannot determine. But until he has the goodness to produce his authority, I must be permitted to doubt the existence of the fact, which he ventures to state. Supposing even, however, the assertion to be true, I cannot still see, in what manner, it can be made to establish the system in question. I have already remarked, on the authority of St. Paul, that Antichrist is destined to be some ONE INDIVIDUAL or other, and therefore, not a succession of men, in any country, or in any situation of life:-and that the Pope in question, could not have been that INDIVIDUAL is very evident, because this man of sin, and this son of perdition, it has always been universally believed, will appear, but a very short time before the general judgment, and the