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Prophecies relative to the last days, or the atheism of
Antichrist. “ This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof : from such turn away. Of this sort are they, which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women, laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth Now, as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth ; men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further; for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was."*
Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming ; for, since the futhers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water ; whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.t
“ But there were false prophets among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious 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
It is worthy of remark, that in a Popish tract republished so late as the year 1798, the editor defends the worship of the Virgin Mary on the very ground predicted by the Apostle, the plea of bumility and having a just sense of our own unworthiSee Whitaker's Comment, on Rev. p. 315-318. * 2 Tim. ii, 1,
+ 2 Peter iii. 3,
damnation slumbereth not-The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judginent to be punished. But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are thev, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities-- These, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not, and shall utterly perish in their own corruption, and receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are, and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you. Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin ; beguiling unstable souls ; an heart have they exercised with covetous practices : cursed children—These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest ; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For, when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure, through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.* While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption : for, of whom a man is overcome, of the same he is brought in bondage. For, if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”+
“ There are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly
The error, here spoken of, is the Apostacy of the latter days. Many, who had seen and rejected its absurdities, were notwithstanding to be deceived by the wiles of lofidelity.
† 2 Petei ii.
men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, , and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I will therefore” (namely with a view to account for this spirit of infidelity) "put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.
These filthy dreamers defile 'the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. These speak evil of those things which they know not : but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. Woe unto them ! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.
These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear; clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots ; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts ; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage. But beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit." *
“ As ye have heard that the Antichrist shall come, even now are there many Antichrists-Who is the liar, but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is the Antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.-Every spirit,
# Jude 4-19.
that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God : and this is that spirit of the Antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come, and even now already is it in the world.”
Let any one attentively compare together the two preceding sets of prophecies relative to the latter days, and the last days, and he will be convinced, that they cannot both relate to the same persons ; and consequently that the latter days and the last days must be two entirely distinct periods of time. All the prophecies, as I have already observed, that relate to the latter days, speak of a great prevalence of superstition, as being the distinguishing feature of this period ; while all the prophecies, that relate to the last days, speak of a great prevalence of blasphemous infidelity, as being equally the distinguishing feature of thut period. In the account indeed which St. John gives of the principles of Antichrist, he uses the last time in the sense of the whole period of the Christian dispensation, because he uses it declaratively ; but the reason of this will sufficiently appear, if we consider the import of the passage in which he describes the character of that great opponent of the Messiah.
Dr. Whitby supposes, that the Jews, who rejected the promised Saviour, are meant by Antichrist. Others have applied the character to Cerinthus and the Munichèans ; and others, to the impostor Barchochebas.† From the language however of St. John, who is the only inspired writer that uses the term, I am much inclined to think, that Antichrist, strictly speaking, is a sort of generic name, including all persons who answer to the description given of that character. Now the special badge assigned to the character is a denial of the Father and the Son: a denial of the Son positively, a denial of the Father either positively or by implication. All therefore, who answer to this description, are members of Antichrist. The existence of his blasphemous principles is commensurate with the whole period of the Christian dispensation : but
^ See Pol. Synop. in loc.
1 John ü. 18. 99. iv. 3.
his peculiar reign, his open developement, is confined to the last days of the last time. St. Jobo tells his disciples,
ye bave heard that the Antichrist shall come.” This opinion that has ever prevailed in the Church respecting the manifestation of some great opponent of the Messiah at an era far remote from the days of the Apostle,* an opinion founded no doubt upon the prophecies of Daniel, he by no means controverts : he warns them however to be
upon their guard ; inasmuch as there were many even then in the world, who were tainted with the principles of Antichrist, namely a denial of the Father and the Son. The harmony of the apostolical writers upon this point is very remarkable. St. John declares, that the spirit of Antichrist or Infidelity was already, even in his days, in the world ; although it was not yet revealed, or exhibited to mankind in an embodied form. Daniel had given a description of the monster in his mature state, as a king or power that magnified himself above every god and spoke marvellous things against the God of gods; and St. John adds, that his detestable principles were already working, and would continue to work through the whole period of the last time, as meaning the Christian dispensation, though they would not be developed till the last days of the last time. In a similar manner, both St. Peter and St. Jude represent persons of the same principles as those which should be openly avowed and acted upon in the last days, as intruding into the feasts of charity usual among the primitive Christians, and consequently as contemporary with themselves.f Events have amply shewn the accuracy of these declarations. The opinions of Antichrist were secretly lurking in the Church even in the earliest ages : it has been our lot to behold them
* “The idea, which the early Christians in general formed of Anticbrist, was that of a power to be revealed in distant times, after the dissolution of the Roman empire; of a power to arise out of the ruins of that empire." (Bp. Hurd on Prophecy, p. 221.) 'To this we must add the declaration of St. John, that the power in question should deny both the Father and the son: and we shall then perceive, that the Antichrist, about to be revealed in distant times, about to arise out of the ruins of the old Roman empire, is certainly not the Papacy, as Bp. Hurd supposes, but a tyrannical state of a very different nature. The Papary arose out of the ruins of the Empire, but it never denied either the Father or the Son. Antichrist is likewise to arise out of the ruins of the Empire, and is to be known by his denial both of the Father and The Son.
+ See the preceding citations.