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If we follow the course of history as connected with Christianity, we first discover the existence of this, Power in a general fense in the age of St. John; when the Gnostic and other heresies began to arise ;, for it is acknowledged that many of these Prophesies aldude to the different berepes that have troubled, and do trouble the church. These however are of a Auctuating nature; they rise, spread, decline, increase again, or die away when “their folly becomes manifeft to all.” But there appear to be three great fornis of Antichrist, which were to continue stedfafly in great power', and assume much more alarm ing appearances of corruption, persecution, and hoftility; and it is to these we now direct our attention. ... STRIE
... It will be the object of the three following Chapters to shew, from the application of Prophecy.to History, and to the remarkable train of events which are now passing in the world, how exactly Papery, MAHOMETANISM, and INFIDELITY correspond : with the characters given in Scripture of the Power of ANTICHRIST, which was to .prevail a certain time for the especial trial and punishment of the corrupted church of Christ.
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:) But considering the strenuous efforts which are now made to undermine the credit of Prophecy, by the continual cry of vague lan, guuge, uncertain meaning, and contradiĉlory assertions, uttered by artifice, and echoed by ignoranče, - I shall first endeavour to prove, not only that the Prophecies themselves are clear, determinate, and harmonious, but that the different interpretations of the learned men, who have written upon this subject, will be found consistent with each other upon those points which were fairly open to their obfețvation ----and that the difference in their opinions arises from the different views they took of the fume Power, without having fufficiently considered that this power was to appear in various forms in different ages of the world. To this end it will be unnecesfary, to mention the very numerous circum
Nances concerning which they agree; and · these are indeed, in general, the most im
portant points of those Prophecies which they saw to have been fulhlled ---the points in which they differ are chiefly those which the eyents of latei , times a pear to render ca
pable pable of a clearer explanation. And to these points will the following short account of the opinions of the principal Commentators be confined, with a view to remove some of the difficulties, and reconcile some of the different interpretations to one point of reference; and this, it is presumed, will throw considerable light upon those parts of the prophetical writings which have been most violently attacked, and therefore will materially serve the great cause, which it is the object of this work, to support.
. It is important to observe, that if the Prophecies of the Old Testament are allowed to admit of a primary and of a secondary accomplishment, there appears to be no reason why a similar mode of interpretation should not be adopted respecting the Prophecies of the - New Testament. Yet this point has scarcely ever been attended to.- Protestants, suffering under the power of the Papacy, or insensibly led by their religious opinions, have seen the whole of Antichrist in the Church of Rome, or some power or powers connected with it. — They saw the Prophecy to be in many parts clearly applicable to the Church of Rome, and they looked for no other accomplishment; though the difficulty,
with which many passages are brought to apply to this object, indicates it to be but a primary or partial fulfilment; and this difficulty led to differences of opinion, which, to the eye of superficial readers, appears to have thrown an obscurity over the whole subject. It is clear however from the Prophecies themselves, that a long series of time is required for their fulfilment; and though it is designed that we should fee as much of the Prophecies fulfilling in our own time as to guard us against the evils and dangers prevalent in those times, we should be cautious in rea stricting the sense of any to one particular period, excepting those which are evidently thus confined by Scripture. If it be obviously absurd to imagine we can judge with certainty respecting the time and manner in which events plainly predicted will be accomplished in future, it is equally so to imagine that our ancestors could judge of the present times as clearly as we can do. Some portion of novelty therefore in an interpretation can be no objection to its truth, provided it harmonizes with established opinion concerning the principal points of Prophecy itself.
." It is a part of this Prophecy!. ffays Sir I. Newton, in his Observations on the Apocalypse, which he considers as fo closely connected with the Prophecies of Daniel, as “ making together but one complete Prophecy') “ that it should not be” (fully) * understood before the last age of the world; and therefore it makes for the credit of the Prophecy, that it is not yet understood. But if the last age — the age of opening these things-be now approaching, as by the great successes of late interpreters it seems to be, we have more encouragement than ever to look into these things.” " Amongst the interpreters of the last age there is scarce one of note, who hath not made fome discovery worth knowing; and thence I seem to gather that God is about opening these myste
These scattered lights thrown upon different parts of the subject must greatly affist other Commentators in the progress of their later researches ; and we may surely indulge the hope, that the increafing clearness of this Prophecy will operate with increasing power, as the time of its fulfilment draws nearer. “ And the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to God,” previous to the seventh