« הקודםהמשך »
ras and Credenus write it; and according to the Greek numeration it stands thus:
It may be here observed, how contrary to the sense of scripture is the opinion of some moderns, who, in the spirit of opposition to the Catholic religion, assign for the name of Antichrist a generical term, containing indeed the number 666, but not expressing a determinate man; and, this indeterminate name they apply to a succession of many persons; whereas St. John plainly says; "it is the number of a man, the number of his name;" it is therefore the number of the single name of a particular man. And in like manner is Antichrist evidently described by St. Paul as an individual man. For in what other sense, partiality apart, can the apostle be understood, when he styles him, "the man of sin, the son of perdition, the opposer, who sitteth as God in the temple of God; the wicked one, whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of his mouth," &c. 2 Thess. 2. The description of him, which we have seen in Daniel, is likewise of the same tenor. The fathers of the Church join also in the same opinion, and are very copious in their account of his character. The whole series we have hitherto given of his history, drawn from those sources, plainly points him out as one individual being, an extraordinary man; and it will be further confirmed in the sequel. In fine, such has been the constant and unanimous tradition from the rise of Christianity through all ages; as may be seen in the series of the scripture interpreters and ecclesiastical writers. Nay, even so universal and fixed has always been that notion of Antichrist, that it may be put upon a level with the belief of the former existence of an Alexander or Julius Caesar; nor can hardly be found now an individual in the common class of people, and of the narrowest education, but knows in general the character of that enemy of Christ, and expects his coming in the last period of the world. This tradition is therefore traced up to the time of the apostles, and owes its existence to what they taught. St. Paul is an express voucher, that he had instructed the Thessalonians on that head. "Remember you not," says he, "that when I was yet with you, I told you these things?" 2 Thess. ii. 5.
To return to the transactions of Antichrist:—Finding himself so powerful by Satan's aid, and seconded by so able a ninister, his false prophet, while on the other hand he sees tie converted Jews and other Christians refusing him divine i.'image, and so fortified by the exhortations and miracles of meiir teachers, that all his pretended wonders and persuasive arts" can make no impression upon them; he resolves, by the instigation of Satan, to compel them by force into compliance, to show no mercy to the refractory, but to destroy them, and utterlyr abolish the Christian name. Full of self-conceit and rage, he is determined to suffer no rival in heaven or on earth, but that all mankind shall bow in homage to him as God, and a& the sole monarch of the whole world. This he designs to effect by the invincible force of his immense army, with which he purposes to carry ravage, devastation, and destruction, throughout every nation that resists him. Such are the ht-llish determinations he fixes; but before he commences the execution of them, Chns't, the faithful governor of the Church, and supreme in his power, is pleased to give a special warning to his beloved servants, and for their support proclaims the following sentence:
Chap. xiii. 9. "If any man have an ear, let him hear:" let every one give attention.
V. 10. "He, that shall lead into captivity, shall go into captivity: he, that shall kill by the sword, must be killed by the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints." That is, in the following persecution and war of Antichrist, those that force others into captivity, shall themselves be made captives: and those that cruelly put others to death shall undergo the same fate. Judgment is therefore already pronounced against Antichrist and his agents, that as they deal with others, they shall be dealt with themselves. Then it is added, Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. Here is the motive of the patience and the faith of the saints, or the servants of God in this world. By faith they rely on the promises of God for the reward of their patience, and leave him to vindicate, as he may judge fit, their cause with respect to their persecutors. Such is the previous instruction Christ sends to his servants, before the j day of per ecution. But as the converted Jews are destined to stand foreirost in the battle, and to be the first victims of Antichrist's for y, and must therefore set forth a glorious example of fortitu e o the other Christians, they are provided with an extraordio.ory share of grace, and a peculiar degree of courage and constancy for their terrible conflict. For thus we hear this singular favour announced by St. John: Chap. vii. 1. “After these things, I saw four anges stan, 1. ing on the four corners of the earth, holding the for who of the earth, that they should not blow" upon the earh, upon the sea, nor on any tree. -W. 2. “And I saw another angel ascending from he rising of the sun, having the sign of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was 3. Woo Jo hurt the earth and the sea, ** ** .. W. 3. “Saying: hurt not the earth, the sea, nor the trees, till we sign the servants of our God in their foreheads.” Here are four angels, standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, which they are ready to let go, and which are to cause desolation over to whole globe. By the four winds of the earth are meant persecutions which are going to rise in every part of the ear: and which will form the general persecution of Aotichris, the four winds join to compose one general wind. Put t . persecution is withheld for a while by a divine comina which is carried by an angel ascending from the east, coming from Him who ascended above the heaven of heav to the east.” Ps. lxvii. 34. The wind of persecution hurt the earth and the sea, that is, will fall upon the Chris people wherever they are, and the trees, or their pastors clergy. But this alarming disaster is suspended till the on has marked the servants of God in their foreheads with to a sign of the living God, that is, with the sign of the cross of Christ, who having died upon it, rose again to life. But who those servants of God are, we are told in the next verse. W. 4. “And I heard the number of them that were signed; a hundred forty-four thousand were signed, of every tribe of the children of Israel.” No sooner almost have the Jews tasted the comfort of having recovered the favour of their God by embracing Christianity, but behold! 144,000 of them are marked out and destined to be immolated to Christ by martyr
dom, and are therefore signed on the forehead by the ministers of the Church with the sign of the cross, or confirmed in faith and fortitude, as the sacrament of Confirmation is always conferred with making the sign of the cross on the forehead. Thus, then, this great number of converted Jews are prepared to grace Christianity by their triumph over torments and death. But as we learn from St. Paul, that "all Israel will be saved," (Rom. xi. 26,) it is plain that, considering the vast body of the Jewish people, the number of martyrs here mentioned, must fell much short of the number of converted Jews. The rest therefore will remain to reflect honour on the Christian religion by their zeal in promoting it, and by their exemplary lives. This select number of 144,000 champions, or twelve times twelve thousand, is made up by culling twelve thousand out of each tribe, as follows:
V. 5. "Of the tribes of Juda were twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Reuben, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Gad, twelve thousand signed.
V. 6. "Of the tribe of Aser, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Nephthali, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Manasses, twelve thousand signed.
V. 7. "Of the tribe of Simeon, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Levi, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Issachar, twelve thousand signed.
V. 8. "Of the tribe of Zabulon, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Joseph, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand signed."
THE CONTINUATION OF THE HISTORY OF THE SIXTH AGE.
The Almighty haying prepared his faithful servants for the terrible conflict he proposes to subject them to, he announces the great persecution and terrible war, and exhibits the state of the Church at the time they begin, in the following manner:
Chap. xi. 1. "And there was given me," says St. John, "a reed like unto a rod: and it was said to me :* Arise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that adore therein.
• In the Greek, "And the angel stood, saying." W. 2. “But the court, which is without the temple, cast out, and measure it not: because it is given unto the Gentiles,” and the holy city they shall tread under foot two and fort
months.” The churches consecrated to the true service of § at this time, so far diminished in number, or so little filled, on account of the general apostacy and degeneracy of mankind, that all these churches are here represented to St. John as reduced into one single church or temple. The faithful ministers of God are also become so few, as to be represented as officiating at one altar in this Church; and all the good and zealous Christians make up so small a number, with respect to the whole bulk of mankind, that they are shown to St. John as collected in this one temple, paying their adoration to God. There is therefore given to St. John a reed, or a small slender measuring rod, as sufficient for the few inconsiderable measures he has to take, and he is told to measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that adore therein, that the small size of both temple and altar may appear, and the Hittle compass in which are comprised those who are there adoring God. But for the court, which is without the temple, that is, the great multitude of those who for want of the spirit of religion, enter not the temple, but stand in the court without the temple, St. John is told not to measure them, but cast them out, or to banish them from the neighbourhood of the temple, because it (the court) is given to the Gentiles, because God delivers this wicked multitude to be punished and destroyed by the Gentiles, that is, by Antichrist and his cruel and barbarous troops. The execution of this divine judgment commences very soon. For now Antichrist, mad with fury, declares war against the whole world, resolves to be sole master, to spare neither those that resist him, nor those who have given him any provocation, or against whom he has conceived an ill will. Actuated by Satan, he feels no more sense of humanity, and breathes only blood and destruction. In this situation he is in some measure pictured by Nebuchodonosor, that haughty king of Assyria, who in the pride of his heart proclaimed “that his thoughts were to bring all the earth under his empire,” Judith ii. 3, and gave orders to the general of his armies: “Go out against all the kingdoms of the west, and against them, especially that despised my commandment. Thy eye shall not spare any kingdom, and the strong cities thou shalt bring under my yoke.” Ibid. v. 5, 6. This war
* In the Greek, the punctuation stands thus: “And measure it not, because it is given unto the Gentiles, and the holy city,” &c.