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BY THE REV. HENRY WILKINSON, SEN., D.D.
IN THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD.
TIE POPE OF ROME IS THAT ANTICHRIST,' AND MAN OF SIN," SPOKEN OF
IN THE APOCALYPSE, AND BY THE APOSTLE PAUL.
THE POPE OF ROME IS ANTICHRIST.
Let no man deceive you by any means : for that day 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 that is worshipped ; 80 that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you 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 shall 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 them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.-2 Thessalonians ü. 3-10.
We will first give you an account of the apostle's writing here so fully concerning Antichrist, and so proceed to handling the words. The reason of his falling on this subject here was upon the preaching of some among them, who told them that the coming of the Lord to judgment would be very suddenly in that age and time in which they lived : upon which report they were in a very great fear and dread; they were "shaken in mind ;” (verse 2;) and this terror and consternation of spirit there is expressed under a double metaphor :
1. From a sea-storm that tears the vessel from tlie anchor and harbour : so much the word oudsuünvan, here used, doth import ; which comes from cados, which signifies a tempest at sea.”
2. By Spoos, taken from soldiers, who, by a panic fear arising among them, puts them [are put] into a disorder and confusion, so that they have neither head nor heart nor hand to act in a due manner.
So it was with the Thessalonians by reason of false teachers, who, by their blasts and storms of false doctrines, (Eph. iv. 14,) shake men from their steadfastness. They were at present under great distraction and fear from the false teachers, who did delude them, 1. By a pretence to an extraordinary “spirit," or visions and revelations ; 2. By “word” and preaching ; 3. By “letter” as from Paul : by which works they did exceedingly deceive them, and persuaded them to believe that the end of the world was at hand.
Whence we observe,
1. That false teachers do use all possible means and diligence to prevail with persons to believe their false doctrines.
2. False teachers do so far prevail with many, that they rend and tear them as with a tempestuous wind, and put them into a consternation of spirit as by a panic fear, so as that they can neither keep to the truth nor act according to it.
In the words you have,
1. The revelation of the greatest enemy that ever was against Christ and his church, in the third verse and the eighth.
II. You have a full and large description of that enemy by several circumstances of time, place, &c., as also by several characters and names, by which this enemy may be known from all other enemies of Christ that ever were or should be in the world.
1. I shall wholly wave their opinion who, contrary to the whole stream of interpreters, do take the meaning of this place to be concerning Christ's coming to destroy Jerusalem and them that crucified Christ; and the apostasy to be the Christians' breaking off compliance with the impenitent Jews, and departing from them to the Gentiles : and the “man of sin ” here described they take to be Simon Magus, together with the Gnostics. But that this cannot be so meant, is plain from the season of entering of the man of sin, &c. ; who was to be revealed, and upon his revelation there would follow an apostasy from the faith, before Christ's coming to judgment. That which did so terrify the Thessalonians was this,—that Christ's second coming was at hand : then the apostle tells them, that there was to be a great apostasy upon the revelation of the “man of sin,” which was to be many years, some hundreds of years, after this. As for Simon Magus and the Gnostics, they were revealed before the writing of this epistle. (Hugo Grotius, DR. HAMMOND, &c.)
This enemy is set forth as if he were a single person : but it is not so to be taken in this place ; for it is frequent in scripture to set forth a body politic, or a kingdom or state, by a particular person or individuum. In Dan. vii. 1-13, there be four kingdoms or monarchies, which were in a succession one after another in the world, deciphered by “four great beasts ;" which are interpreted to be four kingdoms, or “ four kings ;” (verse 17 ;) and the fourth beast is called “the fourth