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so distant from the seat of the Antichristian Beast as ours, will be observable, as fulfilling the other system of diabolical influence; or whether it will not appear, that the old dragon has long been preparing some engine, which will then be brought into operation against the cause of Christ, the event must decide. The latter seems much to accord with the deep policy of that old serpent who deceives the world. His plans extend far beyond the apprehensions of the multitudes, who are involved in them; and who, with different motives, prove instruments of their fulfilment. People may be led, by trifling and seemingly harmless views, into connexions, which Satan may eventually manage to accomplish his malignant designs; and perhaps to subserve one of the three systems of influence under consideration.
THUS I have endeavored to make it appear, in this chapter, that the last days have arrived; and that an inceptive fulfilment of the predictions concerning Antichrist is now manifest before our eyes. Chronological remarks, and the events and signs of the times, appear to unite, and to present the present age, as the period of the rise of Antichrist.
Various other tokens of this event are suggested in the word of God; such as, Signs in the heavens and in the earth, blood and fire, and pillars of smoke:Wars and rumors of wars:-Pestilence, famines, and earthquakes in divers places:-And an angel flying through the midst of heaven having the everlasting Gospel to preach to them who dwell on the earth, to every nation, kindred, tongue and people; or a most remarkable missionary spirit in the Christian world, in the same hour with the fall of Papal Babylon. These signs of the last days, serious and judicious people believe they have seen fulfilling, or fulfilled, with amazing evidence and precision.
Concerning the reign of Antichrist, and the prev alence of Infidelity, if John could say to his Jewish brethren, in relation to the continuance of their national
polity; It is the last time; and as ye have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists, whereby we know it is the last time; truly we may adopt his inference with an emphasis. If the Infidelity of the impenitent Jews indicated that wrath to the uttermost was just ready to be poured upon their nation; truly the present extensive, systematic, and prevalent agency and Infidelity of the real Antichrist of the last time, does evince, with more emphatical decision, that the battle of the great day is not far distant. For the deduction of the Apostle rested on this ground, that the destruction of Antichrist, at the time of his first appearance, should be even at the doors. Zion will be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness. The vintage will commence; the wine-press will be trodden. The Lord will roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake. The wicked powers of his enemies will be swept from his presence. And the meek shall inherit the earth, and delight themselves in abundance of peace.
Some other Particulars relative to the Subject under consideration.
The Trials of the Church under the reign of Antichrist.
In this section I shall remark upon some of the prophecies, which are thought to relate to the trials of the people of God under the prevalence of Antichristian tyranny. But previous to the consideration of the prophecies, relative to those days, let it be noted, that the denominating of the infidel Power of the last days Antichrist; his being also represented as the old Roman Beast revived, and as the sixth, or Imperial head, recovered from its deadly wound; these things alone portend solemn things to the Church. Why is this Power called Antichrist? Why was his existence in the last days so long, and so abundantly and solemnly predicted to the Church under this, and various other terrific appellations? Will he not verify the hostility indicated in his very name? Can the appellation of Antichrist be unmeaning? Why is he represented, in addition to this, as the last head of the old Roman Beast? And the sixth, the most persecuting head, recovered from his deadly wound? The best expositors agree, that a Beast, in the symbolic language of prophecy, means a great power hostile to the Church of Christ. Powers ever so great, not hostile to the Church, are not symbolized by Beasts. And when a great power, that has been hostile to the Church, and has been symbolized by a Beast, ceases to be hostile to the Church, that Beast is represented as dying, or being wounded to death: As in the case of the old Pagan Roman empire, when, in the revolution under Constantine, its government was changed from Pagan to Christian. And when the same Beast is represented as reviving, the indica
tion can be nothing less, than that a similar Power equally hostile to the Church, and mystically the same, has come into existence. If this trait of character be not verified by the hostility of such a Power to the Church, there can be no meaning in the representation, that the old Beast is revived.
And the representation of the sixth, the Imperial head of the old Beast being recovered from its deadly wound, and this under the immediate agency of the devil, in his rage of the last days, because he knoweth that he has but a short time, must indicate alarming hostility to the cause of Christ! This was the head, which in ancient days was the most terrible of all the heads of the Roman Beast. Under this, Christ was crucified. Under this, the Apostles were put to death. And under this, the greatest exertions were made, in ten bloody persecutions, to eradicate primitive Christianity from the earth. If this head then, be symbolically represented as rising out of the bottomless pit, being revived under the agency of the devil, in his last rage before the Millennium, and all this under the additional name of Antichrist, who the Christians in the days of John had heard was to come; we need not wonder, that solemn admonitions are given to the Church relative to the event. And if amazing hostility be not exerted by this Power against the Church, why is Jesus Christ abundantly represented as coming from heaven, with all his armies and equipage of a most mighty conqueror, to carry on a war against him, and to vanquish him in the battle of that great day of God Almighty? Does not all this indicate the most violent hostilities to be undertaken by the terrible Power of the last days against the true Church of Christ?
In Rev. xvii, 14, we read, concerning the horns of the last head of the Roman Beast, These shall make war with the Lamb. Here we learn, that one real object of Antichrist is, War with the Lamb.
In Rev. xiii, 6, 7, 8, it is said of the healed head of the Roman Beast; (which is the same that is symbolized by a new Beast in chap. xvii;) And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his
name, and his tabernacle (or church) and them, that dwell in heaven, (live in Gospel order.) And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them; and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all, that dwell upon the earth, shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Here is the extent of his power. God grant it may mean only the old Roman earth! Here is his object, as in chap. xvii, 14, just noted; war with the saints. Here is his fatal success against the saints for a time;-and to overcome them. But how does this agree with the other prediction of the same event, chap. xvii, 14; These shall make war with the Lamb; and the Lamb shall overcome them. Reply. These passages, which seem to contradict each other, relate to different parts of the scene. Antichrist will prevail for a season; as did the Egyptian tyrant, when he had the tribes of the Lord shut up in Pihahiroth; (the straits of Hiroth;) and every thing external indicated that they were given into his hands. But at the close of the scene, the Lamb shall overcome; as in that case, when the people of God were by and by safely standing on the eastern bank of the Red Sea; and the terrible enemy sunk like lead in the mighty waters. This we may view as a prophetic miniature of the destruction of Antichrist. On the occasion of the latter, the saints sing the song of Moses, and of the Lamb; which indicates, that the song of Israel on the eastern bank of the Red sea, and its occasion, were a type of the victory and the song of the followers of the Lamb, at the close of the period of the vials.
In Rev. xii, we find the depression of the Church under the reign of Antichrist. After a long season of warfare in the symbolic heaven of the corrupt Church of Rome, the dragon was, at the reformation, cast out unto the earth. For a space of time the Church of Christ now rises, like the spouse coming up out of the wilderness, leaning on her Beloved. She doubtless hopes her days of tribulation are at an end; and that she is going uninterruptedly to ascend into her millennial glory.