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christ, then working. In after times, when Christianity became the religion of the state, and when Christ ought to have been exhibited as the Head of all rule, by the system of government both in church and state being regulated in all things according to the word of God, " the statesman's best manual,” Antichrist then took the form of systems, or establishments, of delusion-as in the Papal and Mohammedan apostasies—being not merely a disbelief or denial of the truth, making way for the reception of error; but a constitution of falsehood, a semblance and mockery of the truth, far more dangerous than unbelief. And in these our own times, when the personal manifestation of Christ and the establishment of his kingdom draw near, Antichrist will at length take the form of a single person, assuming to himself all rule and authority in church and state ; who shall magnify himself above every god," and shall“ speak marvellous things against the God of gods," and "shall prosper,” till the indignation shall be accomplished ; for he shall magnify himself above all.

But in all the oppositions raised by Satan against the truth of God his hostility is directed against some existing and influential principle. The powers of darkness not only maintain their dominion by keeping their followers in ignorance, themselves ignorant of the future. Satan cannot raise his engines of opposition till the purpose of God has become manifest, and he will not raise them till this manifestation becomes an influential principle amongst the people of God.

God. The word of revelation and promise is first given, as to our first parents in Eden: this Satan endeavours to counteract and defeat, saying, Ye shall not surely die :” and as the word tends toward accomplishment in becoming fact, Satan raises some counterfeit resemblance of the forthcoming purpose, to “ deceive, if possible, the very elect,” and to mislead all who are not kept by the

power of God and taught by the Holy Spirit. Before the coming of our Lord, when the expectation of his advent was general, many pretenders to Messiahship arose; as Theudas, and Judas of Galilee (Acts v. 36): and before the second advent we are warned (Matt. xxiv. 24) that there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders. These things not only manifest the faithfulness and the power of God, but exhibit the triumph of truth over falsehood, by the children of the kingdom obtaining the victory in the same field where the children of the wicked one fail; a victory fought for, not evaded; by willing soldiers, not of constraint; perseveringly enduring hardiness: “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life. He that overcometh in the sevenfold conflict, alone obtains the crown (Rev. ii. 7, 11, 17, 26 ; iii. 5, 12, 21). "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne ; even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”

To prepare for the contest which awaits the church in these last times, we must endeavour to ascertain what portion of those trials revealed in Scripture is past already; and particuJarly in what respects the Papacy answers to the character of Antichrist-for Romanism shall subsist, though changed in its form, down to the Second Advent. Antichrist characterises the “ last time," and therefore the spirit of Antichrist, which began to work in the Apostles' days, shall never cease from working till it is destroyed by the coming of Christ : “ Little children, it is the last time; and as ye have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists, whereby we know that it is the last time” (1 John ii, 18). This spirit of Antichrist is manifested in the denial of doctrine, but especially of the fundamental doctrine of the Incarnation of the Son of God: “Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God; and this is that spirit of Antichrist whereof ye

have heard that it should come, and even now already is it in the world” (1 John iv. 3). In the same Epistle it is said (ii. 22), “ He is Antichrist that denieth the Father and the Son.” For, the only manifestation of the Father being in the Son (“He that hath seen me hath seen the Father," John xiv. 9); and the Son having taken flesh in order to manifest the Father (“ the Word was made flesh; and we beheld his glory, as of the only begotten of the Father," John i. 14); therefore, he that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh denieth both the Father and the Son; and hath not the Spirit of God, but the spirit of Antichrist: he is Antichrist.

This spirit of denial has subsisted at all times in the church, and is diffused through the whole body, like tares among the wheat, and shall not be separated till the harvest at the end of this dispensation ; and is “ the mystery of iniquity” in the heart of every unregenerate man, out of which all the other forms of Antichrist proceed : for this spirit, working in individuals, was restrained and counteracted by the collective faith of the church assembled in councils, who met to define and fix the great articles of doctrine, and to counteract all heresy and error. The spirit of Antichrist, thus checked, assumed the external forms and weapons of orthodoxy; and councils and synods, actuated by this spirit, constituted the antichristian system of the Papacy. The character of the first Antichrist was rejection and denial of the truth : the Papacy retained all the truth, but rendered it useless, by associating it with error, and giving to the error greater prominency and importance than to the truth. The Papacy rejected nothing which it had any interest in retaining: and as Pagan Rome adopted the idols of the nations beneath

its sway, and gave them a place in the Pantheon, to which their votaries from every province might resort and pay their vows in most liberal harmony and peace; so its Papal successor had a nich ready for every new enthusiast; and many a fit tenant for a lunatic asylum is thrust into the place of Christ by that apostasy, which the word of God has characterised as the “ mother of the abominations of the earth ;" that Antichristian mystery which, retaining all the essential truths of the Gospel, did so combine them with falsehood, that, while its canons and confessions were wholly orthodox, its Breviary and the lives of its ministers were wholly antichristian ; and while it contained every truth, became a system of total falsehood, one enormous lie. It is this which constitutes its mystery. Were it only falsehood, few would be deceived by it; but, presenting a semblance of truth, and being found, not only not denying, but strongly maintaining, all the fundamental truths of Christianity, it has deceived many who escaped the first form of Antichrist; the admission of the truth disarming the Christian soldier and lulling his watchfulness, and its confident appeal to Scripture retaining its votaries in spite of the attendant errors and superstitions.

The rise of this system is predicted in many parts of Scripture, and the time of its duration is likewise given. Its rise and character are given in 1 Tim. iv.: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared 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.” A further description of the Papacy is given 2 Pet. i. 1, where it is shewn that it shall arise in the church: There shall be false teachers among you ;" who, instead of openly rejecting the truth, insidiously pervert it : " Who privily shall bring in damnable heresies." . And the effect of these is the denial of Christ, the end sought to be attained by every form of Antichrist: “ Even denying the Lord that bought them—even them who thus deny him— and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” That it is a system, and a profitable system, and having the merchant form given to Babylon in Rev. xviii. 11, 15; and, like Babylon, not to be converted, but suddenly destroyed, in the great day of the Lord - from which destruction he shall deliver his people—is manifest from the words which follow : Ver. 2, “ And many shall follow their pernicious (lascivious, marg.) ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you : whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” But the sudden and final destruction upon Babylon does not fall upon it at the expiration of its assigned period of 1260 ; for the spirit of Antichrist is gathered into the Papacy, and there harboured ; and the Papal system of Antichrist is headed up in the last infidel, and by him maintained and protected, till they are all collectively destroyed at the coming of the Lord.

This last infidel, the personal Antichrist, is “ that man of sin, the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped ; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2 Thess. ii. 4). "The mystery of iniquity, to which we have already adverted as at work in the Apostles' days, tended towards this last climax of apostasy ; but its open manifestation was letted, or hindered, both by the Roman empire and by the Papacy, both of which were interposed by " the long-suffering of the Lord, which is salvation ” (2 Pet. iii. 15), as checks upon the headlong, impetuous career of this daring spirit; whose time of embodied acting shall be brief indeed-probably but three and a half years, the counterpart and opposite of our Lord's ministration on the earth—our Lord finishing his work by the prince of this world coming and finding nothing in him (John xiv. 30); the career of Antichrist finished by the glorious coming of the Lord to cast Satan and his angels into the lake of fire (Rev. xix. 20). For," saith the Apostle (2 Thess. ii. 7), “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 shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” This last Antichrist subsists, therefore, down to the coming of the Lord; and is by this circumstance identified with the beast of Rev. xiii. 11, who is destroyed (Rev. xix. 20); while his arrogance and blasphemy identify him with the king of Dan. xi. 36, “who shall do according to his will

, and shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, &c.

Examining the characters of this last Antichrist more closely, as they are given 2 Thess. ii., we find that before the day of Christ there is a falling away (anootagia, an apostasy) first, and then the man of sin shall be revealed : therefore the apostasy is not the man of sin. We find, too, that the wicked one, ανομος (ver. 8), grows out of a mystery of iniquity, ons avopias (ver. 7), already at work in the Apostles' time: “only,” it is said, “ he who now letteth will let, till he be taken out of the way; and then shall that wicked be revealed,” &c. He who letteth (ver. 7) is therefore synchronous with the apostasy (ver. 3), as preceding the revelation of the man of sin, that wicked one : there

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fore the apostasy, as well as the imperial power, contributed to let the manifestation of this antichrist.

The "mystery of iniquity” which the Thessalonians are warned against, is literally “lawlessness ;” which would include all the

many antichrists" of 1 John ii. 18, and which he gives as the certain characteristic of “ the last time.” One of these many forms of antichrist is specified ver. 22, “ He is antichrist that denieth the Father and the Son;" and again, still more definitely, in iv. 3: “Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God; and this is that spirit of antichrist whereof ye have heard that it should come, and even now already is it in the world.” Thus the denial that Cbrist is come in the flesh is a proof of not having the Spirit of God (iv. 3); is a denial of the Father and the Son (ii. 22); is “ lawlessness,” or the “mystery of iniquity” (2 Thess. ii.7); is the antichrist, compared with which the pagan emperors who letted its manifestation, and the apostasy which preceded it," seducing spirits and doctrines of devils” though they be (1 Tim. iv. 1, 2, 3), are like mercies and wholesome restraints.

The Papacy is an apostasy and an antichrist, as putting something else in the seat of Christ, and thus adding to the finished work of the only Saviour. But the Papists have never openly denied Christ, nor refused to confess that he is come in the flesh; and therefore do not reach that pitch of enormity, which the fully revealed antichrist shall exhibit; who shall neither regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any God; for he shall magnify himself above all (Dan. xi. 37): who shall do great wonders, so that he maketh fire to come down from heaven in the sight of men (Rev. xi. 13): who shall have power to give life to the image of the beast, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed : and he shall cause all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand or in their foreheads; and that no man might buy or sell save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

The woes which shall attend the revelation of the last Antichrist are described as unparalleled in the past history of the world: greater than the irruptions of the Goths and Vandals, which desolated the West ; greater than the Saracenic and Turkish woes in the East; a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time" (Dan. xii. 1): greater, therefore, than the French Revolution which prefigured it; for the revolutionary horrors which closed the last century were exhibited in their true enormity within France alone, the other nations of Christendom not being then so far demonized to catch the phrensy ; but the three unclean spirits are now at work in

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