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Chap. 3. lick Church has no Apoftolical Tradition, beQueiti 5 yond the bare words of the H. Scripture. And the Confent of the Fathers, how unanimous foever, is not an Argument of abfolutè Certainty, unless they be Witneffes of Apoftolical Tradition. Befides, how could Church Writers, without a Miracle, foresee either that Conftantinople would be, before the year of Chrift 330; or that it would be the Head of the Turkish Empire, before the Year 1453?
VI. The third Opinion is, that Babylon in the Apocalypfe is not taken for any particular City, but for a Collection of all wicked Men. Or, that Rome will hereafter be conquer'd by the Turks, or other Infidels: That it will be the Head of an Infidel, and perfecuting Empire: and that it will at length be deftroy'd by ten of its confederate Kings, in the Manner defcrib'd by S. John.
But the first of these Interpretations is rather myftical, than hiftorical. The latter is wholly conjectural. For tho' it is not impoffible, that Rome may in the Time to come, be conquer'd by Infidels; that it may become the Head of an Infidel and perfecuting Empire, and may be destroy'd in such a Manner, as S. John relates: Yet that this will happen in Effect, is what we cannot, without a Miracle, forefee.
VII. But which of thefe Opinions foever be true; it was very unfair, to print in the Bible thefe words in capital Letters Apoc. xvii. v. 5, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS, AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH, as if they undoubtedly fignify'd the Roman Church. Whereas this Church is ei
ther wholly unconcern'd in the Cafe, or it was Chap: 3:
VIII. But that, which makes this unfair
For, if the Creed be always true; Chrift had
But, if the Church of Rome be the Whore of Babylon; if fhe be guilty of thofe Abominations, with which fhe is charg'd; 'tis certain, that Christ, for many Ages immediately before the Reformation, had no Visible and Orthodox Church, fpread over the World: He had no Church of many Nations, which in the Administration of Sacraments, in Preaching the Word of God, in her publick Profeffions of Faith, and in her Terms of Communion, did not authorize and require the Belief of great and grievous Errors. Confequently, both the Scripture and the Creed was falfe, for many Ages before the Reformation, if the Roman Church be St. John's Babylon.
Quet16 Sixteenth QUESTION.
Does not the Scripture foretell a great and general *Apoftacy. 2. Thefs. ii. v. 3? And that, when the thoufand years are expir'd, Satan fhall be loos'd out of his Prifon, and shall go out to deceive the Nations, which are in the four Quarters of the Earth. Apoc. xx. v. 7.&c?
O the FIRST, I answer, it does. But that the Catholick and Orthodox Church, which is One, Holy, and Apoftolical, which is the Communion of Saints, which is the Pillar and Support of Truth, against which the Gates of Hell fhall not prevail, and with which Chrift will continue at all Times even to the end of the World; that this Church, I fay, has apoftatiz'd, is wholly inconfiftent, both with the Scripture, and with the Creed.
What Apoftacy then does S. Paul foretell, 2. Thefs. ii. v. 3.?
S. (1) Jerom thinks, it is the Revolt of barbarous Nations from the Roman Empire. Not that Chrift would come to judge the World, as foon as that Revolt fhould happen : But that he would not come before it. So the Scripture fays, that after the Destruction of
* ἐὰν μὴ ἔλθῃ ἡ ἀποφάσια πρῶτον, 2. Thefs. ii. v. 3 (1) Nifi, inquit Apoftolus, jurit Romanum imbenum ante defolatum Christus non veniet: S. Hieron. Epift. cli. ad Algafiam. Quæft. xi.
of Jerufalem Chrift will come to Judgment, Chap. 3.
Others understand the Apoftacy, 2. Thef. ii. v. 3, of a Revolt of Hereticks from the Catholick Church. As Simon Magus, and others departed from it in the first Century. As the Greeks revolted from it, in the eleventh Century; feveral other Nations in the Sixteenth: and the Catholick Church, may for ought we know, be the National Church of no one Kingdom in the Universe, before the End of the World: As it was the Church of all Nations, and the Catholick Church in the first Century; tho' Catholick Religion, as far as it appears, was not then the National and governing Religion of any Kingdom or Nation whatsoever.
Of these two Explications of S. Paul, the fe cond feems to be the more probable. If fo, the Apoftacy, of which he speaks 2 Thef. ii, has had, or may have, the Name of a Refor
This Vifion, fays Grotius, of binding Satan for a thousand Years, fhews, that the Tranquillity, which Conftantin and his Succeffors gave to the Church, will be long indeed; but that it will not continue to the End of the World.
So Dr. Hammond, on Apoc. xx, p. 996, And I faw another Reprefentation, by which I dif cern'd, what should fucceed the Converfion of Heathen Rome to Christianity, viz, a tranquillity and flourishing Eftate of Christianity. from the Time of Conftantin's coming to the Empire And an Angel fecur'd the Devil, by all ways of fecurity, binding, locking, fealing him up, that he might not deceive and corrupt the World - as till then be bad done, but permit the Christian Profeffion to flourish till these thousand Years were at an End, and after that he should get loofe again for fome Time, and make fome Havock in the Christian World RECTION, that is a flourishing Condition if the Church under the Meffias. v. 6, Bleffed and Holy is he, who has Part in the first Refurrection : on fuch the fecond Death [Hell] has no Power. Thus Dr. Hammond.
This is the FIRST RESUR
III. As this Expofition of the thousand Years appears to be the moft probable: let us fee from whence it may or must be dated. Conftantin
(2) Apoc. xx. Aliud eft Vifum, fignificans tranquillitatem, que Ecclefiis per Conftantinum erat primum data, aucta per Succeffores, fore quidem longam, non tamen ufq; ad mundi interitum. Grotius in Apoc. xx. v. 1.