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on the whole, the single point in debate is merely this, Whether Imperial, or Papal Rome, be that Antichristian Power, which the prophets foretold. The church of Rome holds, for obvious reasons, that the Imperial power is the object of the prophecies: the Protestants have, on the contrary, their reasons for maintaining, that Papal Rome is that power, which the prophecies had in view, and in which alone they are truly and properly verified.
This, then, is the meaning of that famous inquiry concerning Antichrist : and I must desire you to keep your attention steadily fixed on the question, as here ftated; while I endeavour to furnish you with the proper means of deciding upon it.
The obvious method of doing this, would be, To lay before you, directly, the prophecies themselves, and to examine them by the light of sober criticism, and authentic history. But, because it is no new or difficult thing to misrepresent fakts, and to misinterpret scripture, to pervert, in short,
these two instruments of truth to any ends, which prejudice hath in view; and because I know how natural it is for you to suspect such management in the present case, where the zeal of party is supposed, on either side, to exclude, or' over-power, the love of truth; for these reasons, it may be convenient to take a larger compass, and, by a previous historical deduction of this controversy, to let you see in what light it has been regarded, through the several ages of the Christian Church.
1. THE FIRST ACCOUNT, we meet with in scripture, of the power in question, I mean, under his proper name of Antichrist, , is in the first epistle of St. John, from which the text is taken. The whole palsage runs thus-Little children, it is the last time : And, as ye have heard that Antichrift soall come, even now there are many Antichrifts; whereby we know that it is the last time.
To understand these words, we must call to mind what hath been already, more than once, observed concerning the scriptural division of time into two great portions, The FORMER, and LATTER times. By the former, is meant the times preceding the Christian æra; by the latter, the times subsequent to it. Correspondent to this partition of time, is the double advent of Christ, of which I before gave a distinct
a idea. His first advent was, when he came in the Aeth at Jerusalem: his second advent is to be understood of his coming in his kingdom, through all the ages of the Christian Church.
But though the latter times, in the general sense of scripture, be thus comprehensive, they are further subdivided into other constituent portions, in which some particular state of Christ's kingdom is administered, and within which it is com, pleted. In reference to this subordinate division of time in the Christian dispensation, the coming of Christ is, also, pro
portionably multiplied. He comes in each division; that is, as oft as he thinks fit to interpose by any signal act of his providence. The whole period, in which any diftinct state of his kingdom is carry, ing on, is likewise called the latter time ; and the concluding part of that period is distinguished by the name of the last bour : as if the whole of each period were considered as one day, and the close of each period, as the end, or laft bour, of that day,
Thus, the time that elapsed from Christ's ascension to the destruction of Jerusalem, being one of the subdivisions, before mencioned, is called the latter times; and the eve of its destruction, is called the last bour. He was coming through the whole time : he came in the end of it. And the like use of these terms is to be made, in other in. Itances. We are to apply them in the same manner to the reign of Antichrist to the Millennium -- to the day of judgement. Each of these states, into which the latter times,
or the times of Christianity, are divided, is likewise spoken of under the idea of the latter times ; and the season, in which each is drawing to an end, is the last hour of that state [b].
Thus much being premised, it is easy to give a just exposition of the text. Little children, it is the last time, or bour - that is, the destruction of Jerusalem is at hand; as indeed it followed very soon after the date of this Epistle. And, as ye have beared
; that Antichrist Mall come -- that, in some fu. ture period, called the laft times, an hostile power, which we know by the name of Antichrift, shall arise and prevail in the world, even now, we may see the commencement of that power ; for, there are
 What is here faid of the scriptural division of time, with regard to the affairs of the Church, is enough for my purpose. There is another division of time, in the prophetic fcriptures, with regard to the kingdoms of the world; çoneerning which the reader may consult BISHOP KIDder's Dem. of the Messiah, Part iii. ch. ix.; and especially Mr. Mede's Apoftafy of the latter times, ch. xi.