Page images
PDF
EPUB

Saint Paul speaks of this new and controlling force, calling him "that Man of Sin," "wicked," "strong delusion," (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12).

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.—2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4.

This is not some distant foreigner, but an enemy in the camp, an apostate; he is called a “son of perdition.” This epithet can only apply to one who has fallen from the faith, as witness the instance in which Jesus used it, applying it to Judas. (John 17: 12.) This is the only occasion where "son of perdition" is applied unto another than Judas, hence we may justly infer that whoever Paul means, he will be some prominent character within the church, one that "sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God." A bold impostor, surely!

His coming is associated with “a falling away first.” It does not precede the apostasy, rather follows it up, taking advantage of her weakened and defenseless condition. In the R. D. Week's, G. R. Noyes' and Campbell's versions of the New Testament "a falling away" is rendered "the apostasy," denoting the one great, general falling away.

The strength of his deception is most marked, the apostle calls it "a strong delusion,” and its results will be realized in eternity: "That they all might be damned who believe not the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (Verse 12.)

Indeed, it is the understanding of commentators in general, an understanding well supported by scriptural references, that the apostasy here alluded to is not the work of one man, but rather that of a succession of men continuing the same imposition. The remarks of Rev. Joseph Benson are quite in order.

That day shall not come, unless a falling away, the apostasy, come first. The article here is emphatical, denoting both that this was to be a great apostasy, the apostasy, by way of eminence, the general, grand departure of the whole visible church into idolatrous worship. . . , If this idea be derived from any ancient prophet, it must be from Daniel, who hath described the like arrogant and tyrannical power, chapter 7: 25: “He shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws." Any man may be satisfied that Saint Paul alluded to this description by Daniel, because he hath not only borrowed the ideas, but hath even adopted some of the phrases and expressions. The man of sin may signify either a single man, or a succession of men; the latter being meant in Daniel, it is probable that the same is intended here also. He shall oppose and exalt himself, not only above inferior magistrates, who are sometimes called gods in holy writ, but even above the greater emperors, and shall arrogate to himself divine honors; so that he, as God, assuming the authority of Christ, sitteth in the temple of God, -exercises supreme and sovereign power over the visible church, as head thereof, even over all that profess Christianity. By the temple of God, the apostle could not well mean the temple at Jerusalem, because he knew very well that would be totally destroyed within a few years. It is an observation of the learned Bochart, that after the death of Christ the temple at Jerusalem is never called by the apostles the temple of God; and that when they mention the house or temple of God, they mean the Christian church in general, or ry particular believer; which indeed is very evident from many passages in their epistles: see 1 Timothy 3: 15; 1 Corinthians 6: 19; 2 Corinthians 6: 16; Ephesians 2: 19-24; 1 Peter 2:5. In short the meaning of the verse is, that the wicked teachers of whom the apostle speaks would first oppose Christ' by corrupting the doctrine of the gospel concerning him, and after that they would make void the government of God and of Christ in the Christian church, and the government of the civil magistrate in the state, by arrogating to themselves the whole spiritual authority which belongs to Christ, and all the temporal authority belonging to princes and magistrates; showing himself that he is God-exercising all the prerogatives of God, accepting such titles, and doing such things, as, if they indeed belonged to him, would show him to be God: an exact description certainly of the papal power.—Commentary, vol. 2, pp. 409, 410.

This does not merely represent the views of Mr. Benson, but of "the Methodist Episcopal Church" for whom his commentary was published in 1839. And this interpretation of the prophecy is not new, we note it in the learned works of Theophilus Gale, published in 1677,

It is said first there shall come a falling away, or an apostasy, i. e., a total, universal, horrid defection of the visible church; which can not be meant of any particular heretics or heresy in those times; because he speaks of it prophetically as a thing to come, not then existent. He here speaks of an universal and total apostasy of the visible church.—Court of the Gentiles, vol. 2, part 3, p. 226.

It is generally conceded by all Protestant writers that the "man of sin" alluded to is none other than the papacy, which arose within the church from small beginnings, eventually acquiring universal power when the church was completely subverted.

It was stated in the remarks of Mr. Benson that Daniel the prophet predicted the arising of the same power as that represented by "the man of sin.” This is quite correct. The apostasy was such a serious affair that it could not fail to be seen by all the prophets when permitted to see into the future. Daniel has this to say:

I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; . . . And he shall speak great words against the Most High, . . . and think' to change times and laws; and they shall be given into his hands until a time and times and the dividing of time.—Daniel 7: 21, 25.

Horns in prophecy denote power, authority or rulers, as witness the use of the term in the chapter before us: “And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise." (Verse 24.) "He had horns coming out of his hand and there was the hiding of his power." (Habakkuk 3: 4.) Thus it appears that some power was to arise who would

1. "Make war with the saints."
2. "Prevail against them."
3. “Wear out the saints.”
4. "Speak great words against the Most High."
5. "Think to change times and laws."

Now if we can point out the power that has done all this, then may we know who it is that is symbolized by the “Little Horn."

A moment ago we learned that the fulfillment of Saint Paul's prediction relative to the “Man of Sin” was revealed in the papacy. Let us see now if this fulfillment can be applied to the “Little Horn."

First, we refer to the cruel and exterminating wars ever waged

1

by the papacy, when he had the power, against all who dared to differ from him in religious opinions. It mattered not whether his antagonists were "saints” or sectarians; so long as they entertained different doctrinal ideas they were made the object of his persecutions. The following from Reverend Scott, a most conservative writer, will signify:

No computation can reach the numbers who have been put to death, in different ways, on account of their maintaining the profession of the gospel, and opposing the corruptions of the church of Rome. A million of the poor Waldenses perished in France; nine hundred thousand orthodox Christians were slain in less than thirty years after the institution of the Jesuits; the Duke of Alva boasted of having put thirty-six thousand to death in the Netherlands, by the hands of the common executioner, during the space of a few years. The Inquisition destroyed by various tortures, one hundred and fifty thousand Christians, within thirty years. These are a few specimens, and but a few of those which history has recorded; but the total amount will never be known till the earth shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain. These were put to death by the secular arm; by that power, of which the empire was the head, and which subsisted in ten kingdoms: for the persecuting ecclesiastical power, condescended to employ kings and emperors as the executioners of its murderous decrees !-Scott's Commentary, vol. 3, p. 947.

“A MOUTH SPEAKING GREAT THINGS.” In the 8th verse, speaking of the same horn, it reads that he had "a mouth speaking great things," which perhaps is more plainly put in the Breeches Bible, as follows: “a mouth speaking presumptuous things." The word presumptuous again appears in the 11th and 20th verses of the same edition.

In the summary of things concerning the dignity, authority, and infallibility of the pope, set forth by Boniface VIII, are these words: “The pope is of so great dignity and excellence, that he is not merely man, but as if God, and the vicar of God. The pope alone is called most holy, divine monarch, and supreme emperor, and king of kings. The pope is of so great dignity and power, that he constitutes one and the same tribunal with Christ, so that whatsoever the pope does seems to proceed from the mouth of God. The pope is as God on earth.-Guinness; Romanism and the Reformation, pp. 25, 26.

Look at the Sicilian ambassadors prostrated before him with the cry thrice repeated, “Lamb of God! that takest away the sins of the world!” It was the famous Gerson's declaration; "The people think of the pope as the one God that has power over all things in earth and heaven.”—Elliott's Horæ Apocalypticæ, vol. 3, p. 189.

And hence it is, that the pope hath power both in heaven and earth and hell: in token whereof he wears on his head a triple crown, and thus hath written in one of his decrees: if the pope should send many thousands of men into hell, no man may say unto him, What doest thou? Hence he imposeth laws on the consciences, makes new articles of faith, canonizeth books, saints and images, celebrates jubilees, sends forth innumerable indulgences or pardons for sin, emptieth purgatory.—Pareus on the Revelation, p. 171.

One more feature remains to be discovered and the identity of the Little Horn is complete:

HE SHALL "THINK TO CHANGE TIMES AND LAWS.” In his “appointing fasts and feasts, canonizing saints, granting pardons and indulgences for sins, instituting new modes of worship, imposing new articles of faith, enjoining new rules of practice and revising at pleasure the laws both of God and Men" & the popes have amply fulfilled the prophecy.

In one of the papal decrees we read: I do make holy and unholy; I do justify the wicked; I do forgive sins; I open and no man shutteth. All the world is my diocese, and I am the ordinary of all men, having the authority of the King of kings upon subjects. I am in all and above all. . . . If these things that I do be said to be done not of man, but of God, what do you make me but God? ... I, being above all prelates, seem by this reason to be above all gods; whereupon no marvel if it be in my power to change times and abrogate laws, to dispense with all things, yea, the precepts of Christ.—Bolton's, The Great Antichrist, p. 48.

Thus far the identification of the Man of Sin and the Little Horn points to the papal power. Other marks may also be mentioned, such as are found in the writings of Saint John. Living as he did on the very threshold of the apostasy, it is not surprising that he should note them. That he saw the tendency of the church to apostatize is evident from his corrective counsels directed to the few remaining congregations in Asia. Which one of them escaped his apostolic censure? In this, coming events cast their shadows before.

Immediately upon reproving the said congregations the visions of heaven rested upon him.

After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter.—Revelation 4:1.

Yes; it was the "hereafter" that was about to be presented to the prophet, which must surely have interested. It will doubtless concern the affairs of the church, for no other question was so dear to John.

And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.-Revelation 13: 1.

This beast is undoubtedly related to the vision of the 7th of Daniel where we learned of the uprising of the little horn. Note the following related features:

1. Daniel saw four beasts arise out of the sea, from whence came also the Beast of Revelation.

2. The first beast of Daniel 7 was like a lion, the second like to a bear, the third like a leopard. The beast of Revelation is like unto all three; “And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear and his mouth as the mouth of a lion." (Verse 2.)

3. The fourth beast of Daniel 7, had no name; neither was there a name found for the beast of Revelation.

4. Ten horns grew upon the fourth beast, the very number seen on the beast of Revelation.

5. There grew up among the ten horns "another little horn" wherein was “a mouth speaking great things." (Verse 8.) This

• Bishop Newton, On the Prophesies, p. 249.

feature is most prominent on the beast of Revelation, "And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies." (Verse 5.)

6. The little horn spake "great words against the Most High," or presumptuous things.” The beast of Revelation "opened his mouth in blasphemy against God to blaspheme his name and his tabernacle and them that dwell in heaven." (Verse 6.)

7. The little horn made war with the saints and prevailed against them ... and shall wear out the saints of the Most High. (Verses 21, 25.) Of the beast of Revelation it is said, “and it was given unto him to make war with the saints and to overcome them." (Verse 7.)

[graphic][subsumed]

Who, then, can doubt the identity of the little horn and the beast of Revelation? They represented one and the selfsame power, And since we have learned that the little horn is the papacy, the beast therefore must symbolize the same imposture.

One other feature of similarity remains to be considered, and that is THE DURATION OF TIME GIVEN UNTO THE LITTLE HORN AND

THE BEAST TO PREVAIL AGAINST THE SAINTS. Daniel informs us it will be for "a time, and times, and the dividing of time.” (Daniel 7: 25.) John says it will be for "forty and two months." (Revelation 13: 5.)

The first named period reads slightly different in Daniel 12: 7, viz, "a time, times and an half,” which in the Breeches Bible is rendered, “A time two times and a half.” Undoubtedly all expressions mean the same, although varying slightly in language.

Of the significance of this peculiarly expressed period of time we are not left in the dark. John informs us, in predicting the departure of the woman, the church, into apostasy: "And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle that she might fly into the wilder

« PreviousContinue »