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of the harlot Babylon: which shews, that she, and the subsequent power finally to be destroyed, are two distinct powers; and their falls are at different periods. One is at the rise of Antichrist: The other is at his destruction.
There is a striking affinity between these two powers, the Papal and the Antichristian Babylon. "The latter rose on the ground, and from the corruptions of the foriner. It supplanted and took the place of the former. And in the judgments finally executed upon Antichristian Babylon, those threatened to Papal Babylon, (as to her ultimate ruin) will be fulfilled. But the two Babylons are spoken of as two distinct powers. One of them falls under the fifth vial: the other under the seventh.
The sense, which has been given in this section of the fall of Papal Babylon by the rise of Antichrist, is not destitute of countenance in Old Testament prophecies. I shall note one passage, Dan, vii, 26. But the judgment shall set, and they shall take away his cominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. This is spoken of the Papal horn; and of the time and manner of his overthrow. The judgment shall set. It shall open a new era of Divine judgment. And they shall take away his (the Papal) dominion. Who shall take it away? The antecedent is not expressed. But the pronoun they implies an antecedent.
It implies instruments sufficiently powerful, raised up to overturn Popery, and to execute vengeance on Papal nations, to take away the Papal dominion, and to consume and to destroy it. In Rev. xvii, we learn who this instrument is;—the beast, that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit. The horns of this beast hate the whore, and eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. The vengeance begins to be executed before the time of the end; as is implied in its continuance till that time;-to consume and to destroy it unto the end. This scene, I apprehend, opens in a new and fatal vial of Divine wrath, which overturns Popery; and which will ere long, or after the Turks shall be overthrown, and the Jews returned, issue in the seventh vial, the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
Daniel's prophecy of the saints being given into the
possession of the Papal horn 1260 years, consistent with a small portion of the last part of this term being occupied by the domination of Antichrist. Also Paul's Man of Sin considered.
The prophet Daniel informs, * that the saints were to be given into the hands of the little horn, 1260 years. But if a portion of the last part of this term were to be occupied by the tyranny of Antichrist, how is this prediction of Daniel fulblled? Answer. Antichrist originates in the corruptions of Popery. He was to arise directly out of the putrefactions of that abominable collection of filth and impurity. And after his developement, and his establishing his characteristic mark of Infidelity, he was to re-establish Popery, as his form of godliness, and a convenient engine of his ambition. It is not unnatural then, that the Papal horn should be represented, in that concise stroke of ancient prophecy, as having possession of the saints 1260 years, notwithstanding that a small portion of the last part of the term should be occupied by the terri, ble Antichristian power.
For the latter was to be produced, and the whole wilderness state of the Church occasioned, by the corruptions of that Papal horn. In that ancient concise sketch then, it is no wonder that the saints should be spoken of, as being under the power of the Papal horn, for 1260 years; even though for a short term, in the closing part of that period, the horn itself, and the saints, should be under the tyranny of a superior Power, which rose directly from the nature and corruptions of the Papal horn.
This solution may aid us in forming a correct idea of the predictions of Paul, relative to the man of sin. 2 Thess. ü, 3-12; Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day (the day of Christ) shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all, that is called God, or worshipped; so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that when I was yet
* Dan. vii, 25.
these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work; only he, who now letteth, will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders. And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in thein that perish, because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned, who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. The apostasy of the Papal hierarchy is here predicted. Yet the power here predicted is to be destroyed with the brightness of Christ's coming at the battle of the great day. And one would be apt to conclude from reading the passage, that the power spoken of is to be the great dominant power of that day. And we are naturally strengthened in this conclusion, from the allusion the essential part of the description appears to have, to the noted passage in Dan. xi, 36%, which relates to Antichrist. These considerations seem to make the Romish hierarchy, and Antichrist one. I apprehend the fact to be, that the passage presents a complex view of Popery and Antichrist; the former rising after the subversion of Pagan Rome; and the latter rising from the corruptions of the former, in the last days. The passage, I conceive, contains a prophetic glance at the whole apostasy, both in its Papal, and Antichristian, form; saying some things peculiarly applicable to the one; some to the other; and some to both. Had no
other Scriptures predicted the rise of the infidel Pow. er, subsequent to Popery, we should naturally have taken this prediction of the Apostle as relating only to the Papal hierarchy, and should not learn from it the rise of the Infidel power. But as we are furnished with such a variety of predictions which evidently relate to a vast infidel Power, subsequent to Popery; we cannot suppose this short passage of Paul designed to contradict those passages; or to indicate, that they were to receive their accomplishment in simply the Papal power. This passage then must be viewed as a general description, or rather glance of the whole apostasy, Papal and Antichristian; viewing them in their natural connexion; although other prophecies present them, as we have seen, as two distinct powers,
The man of sin then, primarily is the Papal hier. archy; and ultimately the infidel Power of the last days, which originated in the corruptions of that hierarchy, and in which the dominant power of the hierarchy was to terminate. Paul's man of sin properly comprises both these powers, viewed in their connexion. Although they are two, when they go into perdition, the beast, and the false prophet; the last head numerically the eighth, but specifically the sixth, of the Roman beast, healed of its deadly wound received by Constantine, at the same time a new beast, ascending from the bottomless pit; and the Papal harlot, borne by him to her execution; yet they both unitedly go to constitute Paul's man of sin, and that son of perdition, whom the Lord will consume with the spirit of his mouth, and destroy with the brightness of his coming. That description from the Apostle, which has been recited, viewed in the light of the other, numerous, and more distinguishing predictions, both concerning the Papal hierarchy, and the subsequent infidel Power, seems necessarily to evince, that the man of sin was of the complex character above presented: that he comprised both the hierarchy, and the atheistical Antichrist. For he rises with the former; and sinks with the latter; and has the characteristics of both. He is, in that prophetic glance, presented as one Power; though other more definite predictions present him as two; as we have seen. He represents the whole. Romish apostasy, both in its Papal and Atheistical form.
Thus we are taught in the prophetic parts of the sacred Scriptures to expect the rise of a terrible athe. istical Power, and a vast influence of Infidelity, in the last days, or just previous to the Millennium.
I do not pretend that I have adduced all the prophecies of this event. Various other predictions of it, especially in the Old Testament, will be noted in the future pages of this Dissertation; where the way will be better prepared for them to be understood. I shall here add a comment on the words of our blessed Lord; * And shall not God avenge his own elect, who cry unto him day and night, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? Here we read of the coming of Christ to avenge his elect. His coming at the destruction of Jerusalem, probably was primarily intended. But his coming at the battle of the great day, as well as at the end of the world, must be viewed as included in the prediction. And the question in the last verse implies, that what has been called the Christian world will then be found overrun with gross Infidelity.
But so great an effect implies an adequate cause, or a systematic propagation of Infidelity. And the coming of Christ, at the battle of the great day, being to avenge his elect, implies, that this power of Infidelity will then be found violently directed against his elect, or his cause. The operations of Infidels, previous to the rise of Antichrist, or beside that combination, which gave him birth, did not amount to that systematic propagation of Infidelity necessarily implied in the rise of Antichrist; although they had their influence in preparing the way for it. There was a want of unity and efficiency in their operations. The British Infidels, Hobbes, Tindal, Chubb, Morgan, Woolston,
* Luke xviii, 7, 8.