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be taken out of the way.' Thus declaring that“ the mystery of iniquity,” or the atheistical principles of “ the Man of Sin," as it is afterwards clearly explained by the apostle, was even then making some secret progress in the world ; and would continue gradually and imperceptibly to increase, until the influence of the apostacy should be so reduced as to make room for them in the minds of mankind; and then that wicked should be revealed :" and after these two events, “ the day of our Lord Jesus Christ should come.”
I have been thus particular in explaining these verses, because, upon the maturest consideration, I have been obliged to differ from the learned bishop Newton, and other commentators, respecting the Power which the apostle affirms should " let and with-hold the revelation of the Man of Sin until his time." It is their opinion that the Roman empire was that power, and that the Pope is antichrist*. I confess, that after having carefully considered the sense of every word in this chapter, I cannot find one which admits of the least allusion to that empire, either in its Pagan or Christian state. On the contrary, we are expressly told by the apostle as plainly as possible, and repeatedly too, that it is “ a falling away, an apostacy,” from the doctrine of Christ, which shall come first, and “let and with-hold the revelation of the Man of Sin."
• Bishop Newton, vol. ii. p. 116. &c.
Besides, the apostle speaks of the Power which was to do this in the future tense, and not then existing. Except there come, says he (or shall come)" a falling away first;" and it is well known, that the Roman empire had come more than eight hundred years before the apostle wrote, and was then existing in all its glory: and therefore without imputing great inaccuracy to the spirit of prophecy, the interpretation contended for, cannot hold good.
As to “ the apostacy, which was to come first,” and “ prevent the revelation of the Man of Sin,” it is clearly foretold in sundry parts of the New Testament. By St. Paul, in his first epistle to Timothy, it is called a “ departure from the faith*;" and by St. John it is described by the figures of " a star falling from heaven unto the earth ;'' and of “ the court which is without the templet.” All Protestant commentators seem to be agreed, that the apostacy thus foretold, refers to the papal church ; and in my singular, though humble opinion, it might also be extended to the Mohamedan. I have met with one reason only why commentators have not been of the same opinion ; (a reason which I conceive is by no means supported by the tenor of the prophecies) viz. that Mohamed and his countrymen were not Christians, but heathens, and therefore Mohamcd cannot be an apostate : but unfortunately
for this argument, the apostle was not writing the history of a man, or of any single apostate, but of the rise of a system of irreligious opinions, pretended to be founded on the word of God, yet departing from it; two things in their nature very different. An apostacy, in its plain and genuine sense, is a departure, a “ falling away;" or, in short, any deviation from any truth whatsoever; and it is by no means essential to its being an apostacy, whether it was invented and founded by a Christian, a Jew, or a Heathen. It may moreover be, as an eclipse of the sun, that emblem of the light and truth of God, either total or partial. An apostacy from the whole of the revealed word of God is a system of atheism, whether the monstrous production of a Jacobin club, or the more pitiable error of a Mexican Indian ; because it is not only a “ falling away” from the greatest of all truths, that there is a God, but from eva ery religious and moral truth flowing from it. A partial apostacy may be seen in the idolatrous tenets and precepts of the church of Rome, which, though the existence and worship of God are a part of her creed, yet she believes with superlative bigotry in transubstantiation, and other false and absurd doctrines, all which are a gross though partial departure from the perfect word of God: and it is impossible not to discern a great and manifest apostacy from the same great truths of the Christian religion in Mohamedan deism, which, though it believes in one supreme God, yet denies the divinity VOL. II.
of Jesus Christ; his coming as a Mediator, and Saviour of the world. The impure founder of that superstition, maintains the dark and false doctrine of fatalism, and promises to believers in him, a sensual paradise in a life to come, as a reward for their faith in his abominable errors. The Mohamedan church must therefore be referred to as well as the Papal, in all the prophecies respecting the apostacy, and in that of " the court which is without the temple,” as pointedly as that of the Pope ; for it is there expressly said, that " it shall be given to the Gentiles.” Now, Mohamed and his countrymen were chiefly Gentiles or heathens ; but the Pope and his adherents were Christians. Thus, if one of them be rejected as apostates, we shall do less violence to the text, by discarding the other. The truth is, both Mohamed and the Pope believe in one God, and some of the doctrines of the Old and New Testaments, the sacred oracles of the revealed truths of God; but at the same time, from the essential deviations of both it is scarcely to be ascertained which is the greater apostacy.
Besides, the prophetic history of the Mohamedan church clearly proves, that it is an apostacy. The prophet tells us in describing it, « And I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth*.” Now a star is a common type in the Scriptures for a great prince, power or statet:
* Rev. ix. 1.
† Numb. xxiv. 1.7. Revi vi. 12, 13. ix. 1,
the word “ heaven," stands for the pure and primitive church of Christ, together with the truths upon which it is founded*; and the word “ earth,” in many passages, signifies the source of all manner of sin and wickednesst.
Taking then the words of the text in these senses, the literal meaning will be, “ I saw a
great power apostatize from the gospel of “ Christ into error and sensuality.” Can there be a more apposite metaphor for an apostacy from the truths of God in the church of Christ, “than a star falling from heavenunto the earth?" Certainly not; and yet commentators have not seen, that the Mohamedan church is an apostacy from the church of Christ. Unless we put this construction on the
proprecies, foretelling the rise of apostacy, the history of the church will be very imperfect with respect to the events in the East, where it was originally founded, and where it has been as much depressed and “ trodden under foot”. by the Mohamedan power, as by that of the Papal in the West. But the commentators, whose mistake I wish to correct, although they agree in those positions, that the wholy city and the temple of God," are severally types for the entire church of Christ, and that the whole of that church was to be trodden under foot, and " the two witnesses” (the Old and New Testament) were to prophecy in sackcloth 1260 yearst; and that the apostacy of the church of
* Rev. xii, 7.
| Rev. xvi. I, %.
* Ibid. xi. 2: