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The History of the Apocalyptic Beast presents a great variety of new matter which is well worth our study and consideration, though we cannot expect fully to understand what is unfulfilled. Some points of farther information conveyed by this vision may
(1.) Whereas it had been stated that “his power should
be mighty, but not by his own power” (Dan. viii. 25), it is here explicitly declared that “the Dragon gave him his power and his seat and great authority”
(Rev. xiii. 2). (2.) He is called “the Beast out of the bottomless pit;">
and the Beast that was and is not and yet is ” xvii. 8 -terms which, whatever may be their full meaning, imply something more respecting his nature and
origin than had been previously revealed. (3.) The nature of his blasphemy is more fully stated
xiii. 1-6. (4.) We have the history of another Beast attending upon
and co-operating with him. xii. 11. (5.) He is represented as ridden on by a woman whose
history is given. (6.) There is the history of the witnesses who oppose
him. (7.) An account of the judgments of God on his fol
lowers. (8.) In addition to these matters, there are fuller details,
and new information on points which had been before revealed.
THE MAN OF SIN.
2 Thess. ii. 3-9.
This passage seems to me as if it must beyond all doubt refer to the person and events symbolized and described in the visions of Daniel and St. John. In other words I suppose Antichrist and the Man of Sin to be the same; and consider all attempts to distinguish between them as erroneous. The Apostle says ;
“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; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing 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,” &c. II. Thess. ii. 3-9.
Supposing, as I do, that this passage relates to the same person, I do not see that it contains any information which might not be gathered from the Visions which we have already considered, except the statement that there was, at the time when the Apostle wrote, some impediment--known to the church, and therefore probably foretold, and more distinctly stated, somewhere in the Scriptures—which prevented the
Revelation of the Man of Sin, and would continue to do so until it should be taken out of the way.
There are however two points connected with this statement of the Apostle to which I would direct the reader's attention, because though they seem to me very obvious and important, they are very generally overlooked.
(1.) The apostle clearly assumes that when the Apostasy should take place, the Church would know the fact. He was writing to those to whom he had said in the former epistle (which he was now writing a second epistle to explain) “ Ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” 1 Thess. v. 4. And what were they to “ watch” for? Not, as some of them seem to have supposed, the actual Advent of Christ, but (as the apostle wrote his second epistle to explain to them) for the Revelation of the Man of Sin, which should precede, and give notice of, the Approaching Advent. St. Paul assumes, I repeat, that the Thessalonians, in their character as a part of the Christian Church, would have known if the Apostasy had already taken place; and would, as a matter of course, know whenever it should actually take place. This to be sure is natural enough ; but it differs widely from the view which is taken by most modern expositors, who maintain that the Apostasy took place, and existed in
great power and dominion for centuries, without detection by the Church, Nay, that during all that time the Church of God mistook the Man of Sin, for the Vicar of Christ. Even Protestant Commentators now consider the Man of Sin as a true Christian Bishop, and concede to the Son of Perdition, the power of giving Holy Orders.
(2.) The destruction of the Man of Sin by the advent of Christ is here stated in clear and express terms. This is not a symbolical prophecy in which expositors may indulge their imaginations; and the whole tenor of the two Epistles of the Apostle to the Thessalonians, shews that both parties meant a literal, personal advent of Christ. This being the case, one of these two consequences seems inevitable-either the personal advent of Christ must precede the millennium; or the Man of Sin must live during the millennium.
I began this Essay by stating the difference of opinion which exists between the protestant writers of modern times, and the Early Church on the subject of Antichrist; and my object is to lead my readers to
? Mr. Faber has noticed this argument in his Sacred Calendar of Prophecy, Vol. III. 434, and it is curious to see the shift to which he is driven to evade the force of it. He suggests that the Apostle in his first Epistle to the Thessalonians, is speaking of a personal advent of Christ, and in his second of a figurative coming; and he requires a demonstration that the advents spoken of in the two Epistles are “identical.” There is however, in some cases, a higher degree of certainty attainable than any which can be obtained from logical, or even mathematical demonstration-a certainty arising from the