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THIS DEDUCTION, though made with all possible brevity, hath held us so long, that I have but time for one or two short reflexions upon
1. First, It may seem probable from the general prevalence of this opinion, in all the periods of the Christian church, that it must needs have some solid ground in the scriptural prophecies : it not being otherwise conceivable, that it should spread so far, and continue so long; or that the more enlightened, as well as barbarous ages should concur in the profession of it.
2. Secondly, from the catalogue of illustrious names, here produced, and from the singular stress, which all Protestant churches to this day have ever laid on this principle, we may see the importance of the general question. The papal divines have an evident reason for treating it with contempt. The men of thought and inquiry, who speculate within the Roman communion, may be restrained by con, siderations of fear or decency, from joining b
b M. d'Alembert, indeed, goes further. He acquaints us, that this charge is now out of date, and that nobody, either within or without the Romish communion, makes it any longer. For, speaking of a public inscription at
in this invidious charge against the head of SERMON their church. But for any, that profess Chris
, tianity, and call themselves Protestants, to make light of inquiries into the prophecies concerning Antichrist, and to manifest a scorn of all attempts to apply them in the which they have so generally, and with such effect been applied, is a sort of conduct, which will not so readily find an excuse, much less a justification.
3. Lastly, whatever becomes of the truth, or importance of the doctrine, the antiquity of it is not to be disputed. For we are authorised
Geneva, in which the Pope is called Antichrist, he animadverts on this disgrace of that Protestant people, and very kindly suggests to them what their improved sentiments and language should be on that subject. As for the Catholics (says he, very gravely,) the Pope is regarded by them, as the Head of the true Church : By sage and moderate Protestants, he is seen in the light of a sovereign prince, whom they respect, though they do not obey him : But, in an age like this, he is NO LONGER ANTICHRIST IN THE
« Pour les Catholiques, le Pape est le chef de la veritable Eglise ; pour les Protestants sages & modérés, c'est un Souverein qu'ils respectent comme Prince sans lui obéir : mais dans un siécle tel que nôtre, il n'est plus l'Antichrist pour personne." Encyclopedie, Art. Geneve. If the present age be, here, truly characterized, it was high time, or rather it was too late, to found this Protestant Lecture,
OPINION OF ANYBODY.
SERMON to affirm, on the most certain grounds of his
tory, that a Roman power, commonly called Antichrist, was expected to arise in the latter times, by the primitive Christians; and that the Imperial, was not deemed to be that power, , so long as it subsisted. It is, further, unquestionable that not the Emperor, bụt the Bishop or Church of Rome, was afterwards thought entitled to the name of Antichrist by many persons of that communion, for several successive centuries, previous to the æra of the Reformation.
These facts should abate the wonder, at least, which some express at hearing the names of the Pope and Antichrist pronounced together. They must surely convince every man,
, that this language, whatever foundation it may, or may not have, in the prophecies, is not taken up without precedents and authorities; and that the notion, conveyed by it, is not a conceit of yesterday, which sprung out of recent prejudices, and novel interpretations, This, I say, is a conclusion which every man must draw from the premises, laid down in this discourse: and this, for the present, is the main use I would request you to make of those premises.
ONE of the principal prejudices against the Sennes doctrine of Antichrist, as understood and applied by Protestant divines, arises out of a circumstance, which was just touched in the close of my last discourse, and is of importance enough to be now resumed and more particularly considered.
I. It is well known that, when the Reformation was set on foot in the sixteenth cen
great work was every where justified and conducted on the general principle, “ That the Pope,' or at least the church of Rome, was Antichrist.”
“ Now men of sense, who have looked no farther into the subject, and yet remember, as they easily may, the bitterness, the policy, the fraud, too commonly observable in the conduct of religious (as of other) parties, easily fall into the suspicion, That this cry of Antichrist was only an artifice of the time, or at least an extravagance of it; when the minds of men were intensely heated against each other, and when of course no arms would be refused, that might serve to annoy or distress the enemy.
In these circuinstances, it was natural enough, it will be said, for angry men to see that in the prophecies which was not contained in them; or for designing men to feign that which they did not see; in order the more effectually to carry on the cause in which they had embarked, and to seduce the unwary multitude into their quarrel. In short, the passions of the Reformed, it is readily presumed, had, some way or other, conjured up this spectre of Antichrist, as a convenient engine, by which they might either gratify their own spleen, or