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eminence over all other men that have ever existed, of the greatness of his empire, of the number of his armies, of his command over all the beings and works of nature, and even presumes to extol his own power above that of the Almighty; as it seems to follow from what St. John proceeds to say of him:
Chap. xii. 5. “And there was given to him a mouth speaking great things, and blasphemies." And St. Paul calls him, “ the man of sin, the son of perdition, who opposeth and is lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped.” 2 Thess. ii. 3, 4. Daniel also gives us much the same pic. ture of him: “And behold,” says that prophet, “ eyes like the eyes of a man were in this little horn, and a mouth speaking great things," vii. 8. We have before observed, that Antichrist is meant by the little horn, which is here said to have eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things; the eyes of a man and a mouth indicate a man, one individual man, who speaks great things, as we have just heard from St. John. Daniel goes on painting his character: “and he shall think himself able to change times and laws,” vii. 25. He will imagine himself powerful enough to change times, the course of times and seasons of the year, as night into day, winter into summer, &c., and to change laws, to alter the law's by which nature acts, by which the sun, and moon, and other planets, move, to alter their times of rising and setting, to raise up the harvest in winter, and to make the earth barren in summer, and to command the clouds to rain, or not, at his pleasure; in fine, he will boast of having power to reverse the whole order of nature. And perhaps he will attempt some particular of this sort, which by the devil's aid he may apparently effect.
V. 5. “And power was given him to do two and forty months." He is permitted by the Almighty to do what he pleases during two and forty months, or three years and a half. or else, as the Greek text has it, power was given him to make war two ana forty months, which he resolves to do with the utmost violence and cruelty.
V. 6. “And he opened his mouth unto blasphemies, against God, to blaspheme his name and his tabernacle, and them that dwell therein." Here is a shocking pict!ıre of Antichrist's superlative arrogance and unparalleled impiety. Inflated with the venom that Satan instils into his heart, and furious against the Christians, whom, with all his art and feigned miracles, he has not been able to gain over, he now,
in rage, flies in the face of heaven. He pours out blasphemies against God; Lucifer-like, he revolts against God, and blasphemes him; he blasphemes his name, that is, religion, which commands homage to be paid to the Supreme Being alone; he blasphemes his tabernacle, or heaven, the seat of God, and his Church on earth; he blasphemes them that dwell in heaven, that is, the angels and saints. Thus this monster of iniquity, like a swollen sea that overtops all boundaries, rises up against God and every thing that is holy.Daniel with one stroke of his pencil draws much the same picture of him: “And he will speak words against the Most High,” vii. 25. He seems to have sucked up all the virulence and spirit of impiety of the preceding ages. In the fourth vial, we heard blasphemies against the name of God, Apoc. xvi. 9; and in the fifth vial, blasphemies against the God of heaven, Apoc. xvi. 11. Both these sorts of blasphemy Antichrist uses, and adds others to them.
St. John seems to intimate in his first Epistle, some particular instances of this man's presumption and opposition to Christ. He will deny that Jesus is the Christ or the Messiah, and will thereby endeavour to take away the belief of the blessed Trinity. “Who is a liar,* but he who denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is Antichrist, † who denieth the Father and the Son." 1 Ep. ii. 22. He will deny that the Son of God took human flesh: “Every spirit that dissolveth Jesus, t is not of God; and this is Antichrist, of whom you have heard that he comes and is now already in the world.” 1 Ep. iv. 3.—Here St. John says that Antichrist, who they have heard will one day come into the world, “is now already in the world;" that is, there are already in the world men, who broach such impious doctrine about Christ, as Antichrist himself will do. Such were the Simonians ånd Corinthians in St. John's time. St. Paul has likewise sufficiently described the detestable character of Antichrist, calling him, “the man of sin, that sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself as if he were God-whose coming is according to the working of Satan.” 2 Thess. c. 2. And in a similar strain have also the ancient fathers spoken of him. “ Satan,” says St. Jerom, “will wholly possess Antichrist,” in Dan. c. 7. St. Chrysostom says: “ Antichrist will be a man, that will possess all
In the Greek text, (the liar.) + In the Greek, (the Antichrist.)
* In the Greek, (that doth not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.) 9 In the Greek, (and this is the spirit of Antichrist.)
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Here we see such a general apostacy of mankind, that, excep those whose names are written in the book of Life of the Lamb, woich was sun roin the beginning of the world in the decrees of God, that is, ercepe the predestined, all the rest pied to the trranns and persecution of Antichrist, and adore him as a God.
The preceding account of Antichrist's character, power, and actions, doubtless, must appear to every one very alarming: nerertheless we further learn from St. John, that this man of sin, this son of perdition, notwithstanding his exorbitant power and satanic malice, as if yet not sufficiently armed for mischief, will acquire an associate of the same stamp as himself, 7 who will perform the function of his principal minister, and be his chief aid in the course of his future proceedings. Chap. xii. 11. “ And I saw,” says St. John, “another beast
*In the Greek text, (will adore him.)
coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns, like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon.” The first beast, ver. 1, appeared to St. John rising out of the sea, because it was the figure of a great einpire, or a great emperor, viz. Antichrist : this second beast, therefore, rising out of the earth, denotes a private man. And he had two horns, like a lamb; horns are an emblem of strength or power, and these two horns signify the power of speech, and the power of false miracles, with which this man is endued. These powers are similar, but only in appearance, to those which the true Lamb, or Jesus Christ, eminently possessed; the miracles of this new man or second beast being no more than impostures, works performed by the intervention of the devil; and his speech, Though eloquent and engaging, is artful, hypocritical, malicious, and deceitful; for he speaks like a dragon, or like the devil that deladed 'Eve. This man is the false prophet, as St. John calls him in chap. xix. 20, and other places, that attends Antichrist, is his principal agent, and, like him, receives all his power from the devil. St. Irenæus mentions him thus: “St. John, in the Apocalypse, speaking of Antichrist's attendant, whom he calls the false prophet, says, he spoke like a dragon, and executed all the power of the former beast in his sight,” &c. as in the following verse. Adv. Hær. I. v. c. 28.
V. 12. “And he executed all the power of the former beast in his sight: and he caused the earth, and them that dwell therein, to adore the first beast, whose wound to death was healed." The false prophet, to enhance the credit of his master, will perform in his presence the same wonders that Antichrist himself is capable of doing, and thus will prevail on them that dwell on the earth, to adore the first beast, whose wound to death was healed, that is, Antichrist, who had been mortally wounded, and cured. Perhaps also from the expression, he caused the earth to adore the first beast, it may · be inferred, that the false prophet by his enchantments will make the inanimate beings, such as trees and other things, appear to pay a kind of homage to Antichrist.
V. 13. “And he did great signs, so that he made also fire come down from heaven unto the earth in the sight of men.” Such then will be the power of the false prophet, that he will make fire come down from the sky, by the help of the devil.
What we read in the book of Job,” says St. Ambrose, “ that the devil brought down fire from heaven by the divine permission, he will do the same in the last days by his instruments, Antichrist and Antichrist's followers."
The false prophet seems here to imitate one of Henoch's and Elias's miracles; but the miracles of these two witnesses far outshine his in number, lustre, and evidence, and will be the means of preserving from seduction the men of good will, but will be the instrument of error to those, who, as St. Paul says, “ receive not the love of truth that they may be saved.” For,
V. 14. “ And he seduced them that dwell on the earth, for the signs which were given him to do in the sight of the beast, saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make the image of the beast, * which had the wound by the sword, and lived." By them that dwell on the earth, seem to be understood those who wilfully shut their eyes to the truth, and them he seduces by the signs which he is allowed power to do in the sight of the beast, and prevails with them to raise an image or a statue to Antichrist, and to adore it. He enforces his wonderful performances, by representing his master as certainly God, since he had been mortally wounded by the sword, and was nevertheless alive and well. But this sophister is not able to prove the cure to have been complete, for it is here said that the beast which lived, has the wound by the sword, that is, hath the cicatrix, or mark of the wound remain"ing after the cure; an argument of its being the work of an imperfect operator. This agrees with what was remarked, p. 236.
V. 15. “And it was given him to give life to the image of. the beast, and the image of the beast should speak: and should cause, that whosoever will not adore the image of the beast, should be slain." The false prophet has further power, by the divine permission, to give apparent life to the image or statue of Antichrist, insomuch that it shall speak, or rather the devil in it, and deliver his oracles, which was often done in the ancient times of paganism; and that the image shall cause, that whosoever will not adore the image of the beast, or Antichrist, shall be slain, that is, at the command of the devil, speaking by the statue, those who refuse to adore it will be put to death. This will be done in the persecution.
V. 16. “And he shall make all, both little and great, rich and poor, freemen and boudmen, to have a character in their right hand, or on their foreheads.” The same wicked minister of Antichrist will oblige people of all denominations, such will be the general apostacy, to let him imprint a character or particular mark in their right hand or on their foreheads,
In the Greek, (an image to the beast, which hath the wound,) &c .