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This seems to have been expected by the faithful in the church, in the early ages of it. Hyppolitus, the bishop of Portus, in Italy, or perhaps, of Portus Roma. nus, in Arabia, and who flourished about the year 220,
him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” These Gods and Lords many, were among the Gentiles, what we mean by saints cannonized and deified. But they had another sort of demons, who had never been in the body, but were from the beginning always the same, and similar to what we call angels. Images of all these were set up in their temples, and they were invoked, adored and prayed to, as possessing the de. mon within them, and acting as mediators between God and
Therefore the departing from the faith and giving heed to seducing spirits, the doctrines concerning demons or demon Gods, deifying men and worshipping them as saints, with angels in the character of mediators between God and man-bowing down to images, though so expressly forbidden by God himself in the second commandment to crosses and relics, after the manner of the demon worship, is what is termed treason and rebellion against the majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ, the only mediator between God and man, and to which the charge of spiritual idolatry, spiritual whoredom and fornication, is so often made by the Spirit of God.
The Gentiles offered bloody sacrifices to demon Gods alone, but not to the superior Gods, who they held could be worshipped only cum pura mentæ, in the purity of the mind.
When the apostle preached Jesus and the resurrection to the Athenians, they said, “ this fellow seemeth to be a setter forth of strange demon Gods," as it is in the original. Paul answered, “Ye men of Athens, I see you are in all things, too full of demon Gods already; but I preach no new demon to you, but that sovereign God, who made the world and all things in it; who being Lord of Heaven and earth, dwelleth not (as your demons do) in temples made with hands, neither is worshipped with men's bands, as though he needeth any thing, seeing he giveth to all, life and breath, and all things.”
The apostle, not content with having thus shewn the divinity of our Lord and Saviour, as the sovereign God, who made the world,
and was considered in the church as a martyr, wrote a commentary on Daniel, and therein asserted, that the ap. pearance of Antichrist, (or rather the man of sin) would be about the year 500.
repeats it again in his epistle to the Ephesians, 1 ch. 20 v. to the end. Speaking of the glory of the inheritance of the saints, and the power of the Lord, says, “ which power God wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand, in the heavenly places far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name, (being the incommunicable name) that is named; not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.” And again in Ephesians, 2 ch. 9–11, as if he never could say enough on so delightful a subject, “ Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him and given him a name, which is above every name, (that is, every created name) or the incommunicable name; that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, of things in Heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth ; and that every tongue should confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
The Jews were continually charged by God with spiritual whoredom, even while they acknowledged Jehovah as the supreme Lord, but they worshipped him by the means of, or by images and demons, as by Calves and Baalims. The perfection of their worship, allowed but one only God, and the guilt of their idolatry was acknowledging more, though of an inferior order. So the essential doctrine of the Gospel inculcates one only mediator, Christ, the Lord ; and therefore Christian idolatry, or spiritual whoredom, consists in setting up other mediators besides, or with him.
The doctrine of demons comprehends in the most express and comprehensive manner, the whole idolatry of the mystery of iniquity, the deifying and invocating of saints and angels, as mediators instead of Christ-bowing down to images to crosses to relics-in imitation of the Pagan worship of demons, whereby they deny the Lord Jesus as the one only mediator between God and man, and to which the appellation of spiritual idolatry and whoredom, as before observed, is so often given in the Scriptures. The best ecclesiastical writers, and particularly Mr. Mede, affirm that there was no invocation of saints, wor. shipping of images, adoring of relics, ever heard of in the church, the first 300 years after Christ. The first
The great apostasy foretold, was not to consist in every error or heresy, but in idolatry and spiritual whoredom; that is, in setting up any other being, or any thing whatever, as, or in the room of a mediator between God and man, except the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The errors of the Arians, the Nestorians, and the Eutychians, the great heresies and abominations in the church, yet were not of the essence of the apostasy foretold of the man of
Paul says, that the great apostasy should enter into the church by strong delusions, by signs and lying wonders.
Did not the invocation of saints, and the adoration of shrines and relics introduce wonderful and miraculous cures of the sick, restoring the lame, giving sight to the blind, raising the dead, protecting the traveller, and giving success to the husbandman? Did not the worshipping of images, established by pretended supernatural visions, preternatural dreams and miraculous signs, with the idolatry of the mass, lead the ignorant multitude to the worst kind of Gentilism ? Did not all this bring about what was foretold of the man of sin, that he should oppose and exalt 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, whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all powers, and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness, in them who perish.” 2 Thes. 2, 4-10.
The man of sin can be found no where, but in the great city, which in St. John's time “ruled over the nations of the earth.” And the apostasy must be from the Church of Christ. These are two indelible marks that cannot be given up. In what has been said on this subject I have but barely abridged the sentiments of the learned Mr. Mede, whose opinion with me has great weight.
But again In this inquiry it may not be amiss to examine into, and endeavour to find out, if there are not some predictions of the like nature in the Scriptures, already fulfilled, which may lead us to a safe construction of this period. We find that God called movement towards this new Gentilism, was occasioned by the removal of the famous Babylus's bones, in the year 363.
Julian, the apostate, went to Delphos, and offered ma.
Abraham from the land of his fathers ; appeared to him and made a covenant with him ; promising him the land of Canaan as an inheritance; and also informed him in a vision, that his seed should first be strangers and servants among a strange people 400 years. If you count this from the vision to the deliverance of the Israelites out of Egypt, you make up the time; but if only the time that the Israelites were actually in servitude in Egypt, it will be but 215 years. The Samaritan Pentateuch in all its copies—the Alexandrian Septuagint, and St. Paul, in Gal. 3, 17, all read 12 ch. of Exod. and 40 v. “ now the sojourning of the children of Israel, and of their fathers, which they sojourned in the land of Canaan and in the land of Egypt, was 430 years.
The call then appears to be the commencement of the period of 430 years, and the vision of the 400 years. Indeed, in all the concerns of life, mankind reckon, not from the time of the full completion, but from the time of the thing appearing in its proper character, to be what it is expected to be.
Let us then consider the prophetic declaration of the 1260 years according to this rule. St. John says, the two witnesses were to prophesy 1260 days in sackloth, (meaning in prophetic language, years.) In another place, the beast with seven heads and ten horns, had power given unto him to continue 42 months, which synchronizes with the 1260 days, and means the same period. From this it is clear, that the state of the witnesses was to be changed from the state in which they had always been, to a state of sackloth and mourning, though still the same witnesses, well known to the church; and the beast that should cause this mourning state, was also to continue the same period; and as it is pretty clear, from the whole of the Revelation, that this beast was to arise in the Church of Christ, and in the city of Rome, which was built on seven hills, and in an empire which was divided into ten kingdoms, it must convince any thinking mind, that this mourning state of the witnesses was to be caused by a falling away of this church. It is therefore concluded, that the commencement
ny sacrifices, to make the oracle there speak; and asking why he was so mute, received for answer, that the corpse of Babylus, the martyr, buried near the temple in Daphne, stopped his speech. This was in the suburbs of Antioch, where the Christians first received their name. This gave the hint ; the bones of other martyrs were tryed, and within one century, the world was filled with lying wonders.
If then, the purity of the church ceased, and the reign of the man of sin, or the general apostasy, was fully established somewhere about the year 500, as history clearly informs us, it coincides with other leading facts recorded in history. From 450 to 500 the declension of the Church, towards this new-fangled Christian Gentilism of adopting relics, worshipping images, canonizing saints, &c. &c. became very prevalent, and while the form of religious worship and the observation of the divine ordinances were kept up, the power and spirit of both were wholly lost; and about the end of this period these witnesses for God and his people, began to prophesy in sackloth. A great number of profane historical facts unite to confirm this important æra of the Christian system. A little before this time, happened the death of the third Valentinian, called the Hesperian Cæsar ; after whose death the sacking of the city of Rome, the third time in a few years, took place under Gensericus, the Vandal, who carried away the golden
of the period of 1960 years, whenever it happens, must be reckoned from the apostasy of the church in that city or empire, to a state of a new kind of Gentilism or idolatry in the Church of Christ, which, with the Sabbath, or Lord's day, whereon the Gospel was published to a guilty world, are the two witnesses referferred to, for the reasons already mentioned, and also, from the rise of the beast with seven heads and ten horns.