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in bis Essay upon the Rev. p. 239. That the Authority of the Fathers in this case is not to be regarded, because the particular Time for the Explication of the Doctrines concerning Antichrif was not till these two last Centuries, yo famous for the Improvements of Learning ; grounding their Opinion on those Words of the Angel to the Prophet Daniel, Chap. 12. v. 4. But thou, o Daniel, shut up the Words, and seal the Book, even to the time of the End. Many shall run to and fro, and Wisdom shall be encreased. Unde consequitur, (saith Mr. Mede) Patrum Authoritatem in Negotio Antichrifti, & noviffimorum temporum (utut in aliis multum iis tribuendum sit) omnino nullam effe, utpote quorum atate Mysterium illud juxta Angeli Prophetiam adhuc clausum & oblignatum foret. Non igitur effe cur hic Patrum opinationibus tantopere moveamur ut nonnulli folent. Vid. App. p. 733. .
To this I answer, ist. That it may very well bear a Question, whether The Encrease of Knowledge, mentioned by Daniel in this place, be meant of the Improvements of Mathematical, Philosophical, and Philological Learning, for which these two last Centuries bave been more remarkably famous; which cannot very properly be Supposed to contribute to the Understanding the Mysteries of the Kingdom of God. May not then the Words Knowledge and Wisdom, the encreasi whereof is foretold in this Prophecy, signifie more emphatically a Divine, Extraordinary Light and Knowledge more fully to be communicated in succeeding Times, whereof that Rational Learning may be a Forerunner?' in verite
2dly, IF it prove that these Mysteries could not be known till these last Centuries, then it will follow that none of the Ancients knew them; and by consequence St. Paul and St.John, who wrote professedly of these things, talk'd of what they did not understand: for if they understood them, why might they not convey them down to after Ages; as we have good reason to believe they did.
3dly, I am rather of the Opinion of Mr. Whifton in this point, who makes the great Article of these. Prophecies, whereof the Ancients were ignon rant, to be the understanding of the Prophetical Numbers, and the adjusting the Times of their Completion; and then though we grant that the Apostles and Ancient Fathers knew not the precise Time of their Completion, yet it does not thence follow, that they knew not whether Antichrist was to be a single Person, or a collective Body. Let it then be granted that the Ancients knew not the Time of the Completion of these Prophesies, because the Time was not yet come; would not an unwary Reader be bence tempted to conclude, that the Time for the understanding of them is not yet come,
because so many unsuccessful Attempts have been made to fix every Event to a particular Time? And may it not possibly happen that even Mr. Whiston himself may in time be convinced, that he knows as little of the Matter as St. Paul bimself did ? I know not what use Mr. Mede might make of the above-cited Observation. His fingular Modesty and Humility, as well as great Judgment, perswade me that he could not make a bad
but whether others who pretend to tread in his "Steps, may not bence be encouraged to desert the
Doctrines, and despise the Fathers, of the Primitive Church, to set up new Opinions, and to be wise above that which is Written, ought carefully to be confidered by those whom it may concern.
IV. I do not here take upon me to ensure the Learned Labours of the many Great Men, who bave written in Defence of the contrary Doctrine; much less, am I able to unravel their Schemes of Apocalyptical Interpretation. My business in this place is only to revive the Ancient Doctrines of the Primitive Church, which I cannot easily part with, though I am not able to reconcile every part a of the Apocalypse so as to draw a coberent System of Prophecy. But if the Doétrine bere contended for, sball appear to the Learned World a true and
justifiable Doctrine, it may be improved and set in a clearer Light by fome more able Hand,
V. THE Reader, I hope, will not be offended, if he find up and down in this Elay several Mystical Interpretations of Scripture, for most of which I am not without great and good
Authorities. How justifiable Such Allegorical Interpretations of Scripiure are in general, to pass over the Gospels and tbe Aets of the Apostles, may appear from St. Paul's Allegory of the two Covenants, answering to Mount Agar and Mount Sinai, Gal. 4. and in bis Epistle to the Hebrews, wherein be expoundeth a great part of the Levitical Law in : Mystical and Spiritual Sense's not to say that the Hellenestick Philosophy, which was that of the New Testament, was chiefly of this fort, which was closely followed by several of the molt Ancient Writers, as by Origen, Eusebius, and Athanafius, in their Commentaries on the Psalms
and other Scriptures. Whereas I have also in leveral places offered at a more particular Explication of the Modes of Some Events. The Reader, I hope will not censure me as Dogmatical, since i only propose them as things probable according to the Analogy of Scripture and Nature, not laying any stress upon them, much less proposing them as undoubted Truths.
VI. HOW seasonable a Discourse of this naa fure may be at present, is but too evident to an ny one that will but observe the prodigious encrease af Antichristian Principles, more particularly in this sinful Nation. For what are all those Execrable Clubs and Societies, of Atheists, Deifts, and Free-thinkers, wbich now swarm amongst us, but Antichristian Spirits banded tou gether in a Diabolical Confederacy, to propagate Infidelity, and subvert (if it be possible) the very Principles of Religion! For this is Antichrist (Saitb St. John) that denyeth the Father and the Son, and whosoever denyeth the Son, the fame hath not the Father. I Ep. Chap. 2. V. 22, 23. And this is done without Fear or Restraint by the Scoffers of this Degenen rate Age, who Blaspheme the God of Heaven, Contemn and Deride the Person and Do&trines of the Blessed Jesus, and that in such a manner, and with such Circumstances, as would not even in a Mahometan Country be suffered with Impunity. But because he is out of their reach they assault bim in bis Priests, and in bis Spouse the Church, whom with the most implacable Malice they endeavour to Vilify and Deftroy; by despifing and affronting ber Governors and their Örders, and prophaning her moft Sacred Institutions.
These being contemners of Religion, and owning no Obligations of Conscience,
are by conseguenti presumptuous, felfwilled, despise Government, an are not afraid to speak evil of Dignities. Bu let them know, that though they speak great sveld ling Words against God, and their Superiors is Church and State, beguiling unstable Souls, and promising them Liberty from Priest craft and
slal very, they themselves are but the Wretched Slavel of Corruption; and the vileft Advocates and Prol pagators of the Antichristian Kingdom. And pray God forgive me if I am uncharitable if thinking that these are the & ’AFONA dzsvot menti on’d by St. Paul.
VII. MOREOVER I am not a little confirm'd as well in the Truth of this Subject as in the Seasonableness of publishing it to the World a this time, by finding, that no less a Person that the Primate or Vice-Patriarch of Muscovy did in the Year 1704, the Year, in wbich this Elay was written, Publisha Book, upon the Same Subjeet, of which, tho' I cannot give tbe Reader full Account, having not seen his Performance, yet be may, meet with some Satisfa&tion from the following Letter sent me by a very Learned Gentleman, whose Name I am obliged to conceal, be being of that Insuperable Modefty, that bel could never yet be prevailed on to fix his Name to any one of the many useful Treatises with which bas obliged the World. The last of which is bill admirable History of Montanism, lately. Pubad Bished, with some other Pieces, by, the Learned and Reverend Dr. Hickes. The Letter is as follows