« PrécédentContinuer »
crooked agents of this Beast collects the kingdoms of the world, it is said to be "to the battle of THAT GREAT DAY of God Almighty." What great day? THAT great day so well known in the Old Testament; as in the above quotation, Rev. x, 7, "as he hath declared to his servants the prophets." John's Antichrist then, being the Power, that his readers had heard was to come, (1 John ii, 18,) must, I think, be the great Power, that leads the coalition in the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
I might multiply arguments: But it seems needless. It will appear in the next section that John's Antichrist, when he appears, is soon to be destroyed. But the Papal hierarchy was to exist 1260 years. Which argument seems sufficient to show, that Antichrist was to be a Power subsequent to the reign of the Papal hierarchy.
Antichrist predicted by the Apostles.
IN 1 John ii, 18, we read, 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. This Epistle is said to have been written with a principal view to the Christian Jews. A principal object of the writer probably was, to exhibit the beauties of the Christian character, in contrast with the bitterness of the unbelieving Jews, and of the carnal heart; and to evince the great doctrine, that Jesus Christ is the true Messiah; in opposition to the infidelity of the Jews.*
*It has been supposed by some, that St. John, in this Epistle, had his eye upon the heresies of the Gnostics and Ebionites. The Gnostics, a heretical, gentile sect, from Simon Magus, boasting of their knowledge sufficient to teach men the things of God, denied the humanity of Jesus Christ; and held that he suffered only in appearance. The Ebionites, a heretical sect of Jewish Christians, denied the Divinity, and the miraculous conception of Jesus Christ; yet pretended to hold that he was sent of God. Possibly the sacred writer had his eye upon these heretics. They virtually denied the Father and the Son, and thus were antichrists. But the infidelity and bitterness of his
This Epistle is supposed to have been written just before the destruction of Jerusalem; which was one coming of Christ, or a lively type of the destruction of Antichrist, at the battle of the great day. Some, it is true, have conjectured, that it was written upwards of twenty years after the destruction of Jerusalem. But there is no evidence of this; as good expositors acknowledge. I think those have the most evidence on their side, who think it to have been written before the destruction of Jerusalem. Doctor Guyes was of this opinion; and thinks, that the individual antichrist spoken of, chap. ii, 18, and iv, 1, were the Judaizing teachers, predicted by Christ, Matt. xxiv, 24, to come before the destruction of the temple. These were forerunners, or typical, of the false teachers of the last days. This circumstance, that the Epistle was written just before the fatal catastrophe of the Jews, by Titus the Roman, accounts for the writers sayings, "It is the last time." In the original, it is the last hour. It was then, as it were, the last hour, previous to the coming of Christ, in the fatal catastrophe of the Jewish nation. There were at that time many violent opposers of the doctrine of the Divinity of Christ, especially among the Jews, and the Judaizing teachers;* from which event the Apostle infers, that it was the last hour with that unbelieving nation. And so it proved in fact. For wrath soon came upon them to the uttermost. Eleven hundred thousand Jews perished by the sword, at the siege and taking of Jerusalem by the Romans. And more than fourteen hundred thousand were destroyed in that war. Their temple was burnt; their city destroyed; and the small remnant of the Jews were sold for slaves to different nations. Ye have heard that Antichrist shall come. He alludes to predictions of an event, which was then far future. When he adds, even now are there many antichrists, he could not mean,
nation, the Jews, and the hordes of Judaizing teachers, whom Paul calls dogs, evil workers, and the concision, Phil. iii, 2, probably were one great occasion of his writing this Epistle. *Titus i, 10, 11.
+See Josephus on the destruction of Jerusalem.
that these many antichrists constituted that Antichrist, who they had heard was to come. He distinguishes between that Power then far future, and the petty, individual antichrists of his day, putting one in the singular, and the other in the plural. We may view the passage, as amounting to what is expressed in the following paraphrase: Ye are assured in various predictions, that a terrible Power, which may properly be styled Antichrist, on account of his enmity against the Christian cause, shall arise in the last days; and shall bring upon himself sift destruction: So that the appearance of that wicked Power shall be a certain token of its then being the last time with the enemies of the Church. And even now are there many among our countrymen, of the same bitter, infidel spirit; by which we know it to be the last time with the Jewish polity. Josephus informs, that in the last tremendous scenes of the destruction of the Jews, it was common for them "to make a jest of Divine things, and to deride, as so many senseless tales, and juggling impostures, the sacred oracles of their prophets." They were given up to the most gross and barefaced infidelity; and thus they were the antichrists of that day. Or they may be viewed as a type of the great Antichrist of the last time. Who is a liar, but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is Antichrist that denieth the Father and the Son.* And 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.† Here it is the decided character and spirit of Antichrist, that he is a gross Infidel: Not merely loving to have pre-eminence; or corrupting the ordinances of Christ; as did the Romish hierarchy; but expressly denying Christ; having the very spirit, which the infidel Jews possessed. The Apostle in the above passages teaches, that the Antichristian spirit, then existing, indicated that it was the last hour with its subjects. But it was the last hour only with the Jews. It †1 John iv, 3,
*1 John ii, 22.
was their gross infidelity then, which he calls the spirit of Antichrist. His inference, that the spirit of Antichrist, then existing, indicated that it was the last hour with its subjects, was deduced from this fact, which he understood to be a truth, viz. that the rise of Antichrist was to be but a short time, like an hour, before his utter destruction. The reasoning of the Apostle rests on this ground. For surely if Antichrist might exist many centuries, as did Popery, before he goeth into perdition, the Apostle could not have inferred from the existence of the spirit of Antichrist in his day, that it was the last hour with its subjects. We arrive then at this conclusion from the remarks of St. John, that Antichrist is another Power beside the Papal hierarchy; and that his rise was to be but a short time before the battle of the great day. And these ideas we find clearly exhibited in various prophecies.
The other apostles, Paul, Peter and Jude, predict this Power, and his abominable agency and influence. I shall first note the writings of Jude. He inscribes his Epistle to the people of no particular place; but to the true people of God; "to them, that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Christ Jesus, and called." From various considerations, which I shall proceed to note, it is evident, that his Epistle is prophetic; or that the events of it, when he wrote, were far future; and were to take place but just before the Millennium. I shall first make this appear; otherwise, my remarks upon the Epistle will be of no avail to my object.
1. In verse 4, the writer hints what he was going to do; by informing, that the characters, he was about to describe, "were of old ordained to this condemnation.” In the original it is, "of old forewritten to this judg ment." Alluding to the ancient predictions, in the prophets, relative to the great Power of the last days. It is as though Jude had said; I am now going to des cribe the characters and agents of that tremendous enemy of the church in the last days, just before the millennial Kingdom of Christ, so much predicted and desscribed in the prophets;-the people there "forewritten
to this judgment;"-or, predescribed to this character and destruction. If the descriptions in this Epistle had some primary reference to the Judaizing teachers of that day; it is evident, from the above clause, of their having been "of old forewritten to this judg ment," that they had their ultimate reference to the characters, that introduce the battle of that great day of God Almighty. For these are the characters forewritten, in the ancient prophets, as has been noted, and as will more fully appear.
2. In verse 14, of this Epistle we have another clew for our guidance, in our inquiry for the period and characters described. "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these (these characters, that I describe) saying, Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all, that are ungodly among them, of all their ungodly deeds, and of all their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him!" Here we learn, that the characters described are those, who shall be in existence on earth, when the Lord shall come, with all his retinue of war, to sweep the wicked from the earth:-That it is their malice against him, (in his people) their hard speeches and ungodly deeds, which will be the immediate occasion of that tremendous judgment:-And that their wickedness and their ruin are to be so terrible, that Enoch was inspired to predict the events, more than seven hundred years before the flood!
How striking, that this solitary and precious fragment of most ancient prophecy should be preserved now for fifty centuries, to designate, with other scriptures, the period, character and overthrow of the terrible Power of the last days! And how exactly its language, of the Lord's coming with thousands of his saints, comports with the descriptions of the same battle, in Rev. xix, 11,— to the end; "all the armies of heaven following him on white horses:" Joel iii, 11, where Antichrist is gathered to the valley of decision; and the prophet adds, "Thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O Lord:" As Zech. xiv, 5, upon the same period and