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C. J. G. AND F. RIVINGTON, ST. PAUL'S CHURCH-YARD,
" Quisquis hæc legit, ubi pariter certus est, pergat mecum : ubi pariter
August. de Trin. I. iii.
meum revocet me."
Edrad Power, Printer, Westgate Street, Gloucester.
HE common doctrine of the Christian Church,
grounded on the plain declarations of Scripture, has always been, that at some period or other, an Apostacy should take place, promoted and headed by some person, or power, who is variously described in the Scripture as the Little HORN, the Beast, the MAN OF Sin, the Son of PERDITION, and the WickED ONE; and who has been commonly known to the Church under the title of ANTICHRIST.
Thus far, the early Church and the Protestant Church, in the present day, are agreed; but they differ in three very important particulars. It is perhaps impossible, where so many writers are concerned, to speak quite accurately; but I believe that the opinions which I here attribute to the early Church, were held by all Christian writers until the twelfth century; and that those which I ascribe to the Protestant Church, are, in fact, the sentiments which have been maintained by most Protestant divines, and which are held by most writers on Prophecy in the present day. The three points to which I refer are these
(1.) As to the Nature of the A postacy.
The early Church conceived of it as an actual departure, not merely from the purity of the Christian faith by professed Christians but, from Christianity itself—a falling away from all profession of Christianity, into open, and blasphemous, and persecuting, infidelity.
The Protestant Church understands by the Apostacy, the impure Christianity of a corrupt part of the Christian Church, or a hypocritical profession of Christianity, by a Church pretending to be Christian.
(2.) As to the Duration of the Apostacy.
The early Church did not expect that the Apostacy would take place until a few years before the second Advent of our Lord ; or that the persecution of the saints arising out of it would last more than three years and a half. Protestant writers in general maintain, that the A postacy took place more than a thousand years ago; and that it has existed, or will, at its termination, have existed, 1260 years.
(3.) As to the Leader or Head of the Apostacy.
The early church expected an individual Antichrist, who should be an infidel blasphemer, giving honour to no God, suffering no religious worship to be paid except to himself, and requiring that worship from all men on pain of death.
Protestant writers suppose a succession of individuals, each in his turn becoming an integral part of an Antichrist, composed of the whole series; and that the leader or head of this body has been, and is, a Christian bishop, professing to be the vicar of Christ upon earth, and to act for his glory.