« AnteriorContinua »
Some other Particulars relative to the Subject under
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. As the scenes of this tyranny may continue for some time, perhaps for half a century, and it may be more, some of the prophecies now to be noted may relate to that period generally; some to one part of it; and some to another.
But before any prophecies relative to that period are considered, let it be remarked, that the great infidel Power of the last days denominated Antichrist; 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 re. presented as reviving, the indication can be nothing less, than that a similar Power equally hostile to the Church, and mystically the same, has come into exist
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. That Antichrist should be raised up to inflict judgments only on Papal and Mohammedan nations, cannot by any means answer to his appellation; for those Powers were hostile to Christ. But the appellations given to this great Power indicate hostility to the friends of Christ.
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 symboli. cally 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
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. 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 indi- . cates, 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 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, leaniag on her Beloved. She doubtless hopes her days of tribulation are at an end; and that she is going uninterruptedly tó ascend into her millennial glory. But alas, it is there added, (verse 13,) And when the dragon saw that he was cast out unto the earth, he persecuted the woman, who brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water, as a flood, after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman; and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, who kept the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. Mr. Faber supposes, and I think it is very evident, that the casting out of the dragon from heaven to earth, was fulfilled at the time of the reformation under Luther. Consequently the new attack of the dragon upon the Church must be sometime subsequent to the reformation; viz. after his prime instrument, the Imperial head of the Roman beast is revived. But this new attack produces a second flight of the church into the wilderness. She had fled into the wilderness at the commencement of the war in heaven, verse 6, or upon her being delivered into the hands of the Papal power, for 1260 years. But after the reformation, and the devil was thus cast out of the Papal heaven, by the discovery of the abominations of that system, and before he had prepared his new engine of persecution, the Church had in some good degree returned from her wilderness state. The Lamb had appeared on mount Zion, or in the Protestant church, and with him vast multitudes, with their Father's names on their foreheads; worshipping God in the purity of the Protestant religion, in opposition to the idolatries of Papal Rome. When lo! the woman is again driven into the wilderness, by the new attack of the dragon in Antichrist, for a time, times and half a time; i. e. for the short residue of this noted term: It cannot now mean for the whole of this term. For 1260 years were the term of her depression at the time of her first flight, many centuries before. Her being now to remain in the wilderness 1260 years, must of course mean, the short remaining part of the 1260 years. And the days of this remaining part, Christ will, for the elect's sake, 'cause to be short: Otherwise no flesh could be saved. He will alleviate the distress, by causing the earth to help the woman. When they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help. The extreme sufferings of the Church may not continue more than three days and an half; i.e. three years and an half. The Captain of her salvation will interpose, and lighten the rest of the way with the cloud of his gracious presence, the wonders of his Providence, till her deliverance shall be complete. Floods of rage, mischief, and violence, poured forth against the Church, as from the mouth of the old serpent, will be providentially swallowed up. Unexpected events probably from earthly, or political views, will counteract the mischief aimed against the cause of Christ. And the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against the flood of the enemy. Upon this, the dragon, in vexation and rage, goes to make war with the remnant of the woman's seed; or with some distant branch of the Church. Some new and powerful attack is undertaken. Probably this will be fulfilled in the furious coalition led by Antichrist against the converted Jews in the Holy Land; which will prepare the way for the battle of the great day. Thus in the 12th chapter of Revelation, appear to be clearly predicted great trials to the Church under the reign of Antichrist,