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With regard, then, to the prophecies, con- SERMOX, cerning Antichrist, though the chief obstructions in our way seem fairly removed, and it be now evident that there are certain grounds, on which the most abstruse of them may be reasonably interpreted, yet, because the application of them is a work of time and industry, many persons, before they undertake it, may desire to know, What GENERAL ARGUMENTS there are, which may assure them, beforehand, that their labour will not be misemployed, and that Papal Rome is, in fact, concerned in the tenour of these prophecies: And, when this demand has been made, they may further wish to be informed, To what ENDS OR USES this whole inquiry serves ; of importance enough, I mean, to encourage and reward their vigorous prosecution of it?
These desires and expectations are apparently not unreasonable: And to satisfy them, in the best manner I can, will be the scope and purpose of the two following Lectures,
PROPHETIC CHARACTERS OF
Luke xii. 56.
– How is it, that ye do not discern this time ?
SERMON So much having been said on the manner,
in which the prophecies, respecting Antichrist, may be interpreted; I imagine that now, at length, ye are disposed to ask, On what GENERAL GROUNDS we affirm, that the Church of Rome is actually concerned in them
To resolve this question, it will be sufficient to set before you, in few words, some of the more obvious notes, or characters, by which
Antichrist is marked out in the prophecies: Sermos such, and so many of them, as may convince you, that they are fairly applicable to the Church of Rome; and that, taken together, , they cannot well admit any other application.
Of these prophetic characters,
I. The first, I shall mention, is, That we are to look for Antichrist within the proper limits of the Roman empire.
On this head, there is no controversy among those who acknowledge the authority of the prophet Daniel, and can be none: For that prophet, in his famous vision of the four kingdoms, says expressly, that, among the ten kingdoms into which the fourth, or Roman, shall be divided, ANOTHER shall arisea ; that is, as all interpreters agree, the kingdom of Antichrist. So that this power, whatever it be, must have its birth and seat within the compass of the ten kingdoms, that is, of the
a Dan. vii. 7, 8.-I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast—had ten horns. I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another little horn - Compare with ver. 24. — The ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings (or kingdoms) that shall arise: and another shall arise after them.
Sermon Roman empire, when, in some future time
from the giving of Daniel's prophecy, it should be so divided.
But, to fix the station of the Anticliristian power more precisely, it is to be observed, that, as the four kingdoms of Daniel, considered in succession to each other, form a prophetic chronology b; so in another view, they form a prophetic geography, being considered, in the eye of prophecy, as co-existent, as still alive, and subsisting together, when the dominion of all, but the last, was taken away d.
In consequence of this idea, which Daniel gives us of his four kingdoms, so much only is to be reckoned into the description of each kingdom, as is peculiar to each; the remainder being part of some other kingdom, still supposed to be in being, to which it properly belongs. Thus, the SECOND, or Persian kingdom, does not take in the nations of Chaldæa and Assyria, which make the body of the first
6 Mede, p. 712.
d Dan. vii. II, 12.—Concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away : yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.
kingdom ; por the THIRD, or Græcian king- SERMON dom, the countries of Media and Persia, being the body of the second. In like manner, the FOURTH, or Roman kingdom, does not, in the contemplation of the prophet; comprehend those provinces, which make the body of the third, or Græcian kingdom, but such only as constitute its own body, that is, the provinces on this şide of Greece: where, therefore, we are to look for the eleventh, or Antichristian kingdom, as being to start up among the ten, into which the Roman kingdom should be divided. .
We see, then, that, as Antichrist was to arise within the Roman kingdom, so his station is farther limited to the European part of thạt kingdom, or to the Western empire, properly so called,
This observation (which is not mine, but Sir. Isaac Newton's) is the better worth-making, because, in fact, the papal sovereignty never extended farther than the Western provinces ; at least, could never gain a firm and permanent footing in the countries, which lie East of the Mediterranean sea. But, whether you admit this interpretation, or not, it is still clear that Antichrist was to arise somewhere within the