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founded, and become irregular in their Motions: There fhall be Earthquakes in divers Places, and Peftilences in every City; Thunders, Winds, terrible Lightnings that fhall burn up Houses and Fields: Tempeftuous Winds which fhall do unfpeakable Mischief both by Land and Sea. The Earth fhall be barren; the Sea fhall roar; and there fhall be great Trouble for the Deftruction of fo many Men: There fhall be Signs in the Sun, and in the Moon, and the Stars fhall be irregular in their CourC fes: There fhall be Diftrefs of Nations; the Air fhall lofe its Temperature; grievous Hail; infupportable Winters; unC ufual forts of Ice; intollerable Heats; fudden Lightnings; unexpected Fires; and, in a Word, unfpeakable Afflictions C over all the Earth. All which, according to this Bleffed Author, are to precede the coming of Antichrift, in whose time they shall be compleatly fulfilled.
Zech. 11, 16. Lo, I will raise up a Shepherd in the Land, which fhall not vifit thofe that be cut off, neither shall feek the young Ones, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that which standeth ftill: But he shall eat the Flesh of the Fat, and tear their Claws in pieces.
V. 17. Wo to the Idol-Shepherd that leaveth the Flock: The Sword fhall be upon his Arm and upon his right Eye: His Arm fhall be clean dried up, and his right Eye shall be utterly darkned.
LL the afore-mentioned Evils, of which I have been treating, fhall be ultimately and compleatly accomplished in the Reign of Antichrift; the different Notions and Doctrines concerning whom, I fhall endeavour to fet in their true Light. The Terms of Antichrist, and Antichriftianism, have been fo liberally beftowed upon each other, by the differing Parties of Chriftendom, each of them cafting it upon their Adverfaries, and difclaiming it themselves, that he who attempts to fix it, if he act counter to the commonly received Schemes, and does not fet himself to vindicate one of the con
tending Parties, and make all the reft Members of Antichrift, will certainly be looked upon as a Traytor to that Church in the Communion of which he lives, and a Man of Latitude and Comprehenfion towards all the reft. Notwithstanding all which Difcouragements, I fhall endeavour (in the Fear of God) to fpeak my Thoughts freely and impartially upon fo momentous a Subject.
SI. THE Word Antichrift expreffes a Prin- The Word ciple, Spirit or Perfon, ftanding in Op- Antichrift pofition to our Bleffed Saviour, the Lord confidered. Jefus Chrift; which Term being originally Scriptural, is certainly intended to exprefs the most perfect Opposition, according to the Analogy of Nature, and the plain import of the Word, The Paffages of the prophetical Scriptures relating here. to, were by moft of the Ancient Fathers (as I fhall fhow at large) interpreted of one particular Perfon, who fhould emphatically and especially deferve that Title, which in a more lax and open Senfe fhould be applied to many others. This Senfe of the Primitive Church was generally retained without publick Oppofition, till the Times of the Reformation; upon the dawn of which, many of those who had long groaned under the Tyranny and Idolatries of the Church of Rome, and confidered how oppofite fhe was, both in her Principles and Practices, to the true Spirit of Jefus Chrift; and withal, how agreeable fome of the great Antichriftian Characters were to the Pope, as Visible
Head thereof, began to affert openly, that the Pope whas that Great Antichrift, or Man of Sin, concerning whom the Holy Spirit witneffed by the Mouths of his Servants the Prophets; which some others understood not fo much of the Pope, as of the whole Roman Hierarchy. And amongst most of the Reformed Churches, Notwith- this has been the current and common ftanding it Doctrine ever fince; and it must be conhas been feffed, that this Charge has been vefed by fome ry learnedly defended by many Eminent particular Proteftant Divines. See particularly DoWriters, as &tor Henry More's Mystery of Iniquity. Το Grotius, obviate this, feveral of the Romanists, that mond, they might at the fame time defend and Thorn- fupport that abfurd Pofition of the Comdyke, &c. mencement of the Millennial Glorious Vi
fibility of the Church at the Reign of Conftantine the Great, afferted that Heathen Rome was the Seat of Antichrift, and that the Roman Emperors before Conftantine, or Nero in particular, was that very Son of Perdition who was to precede the Millennial Reign, but fure at a great distance; whilst others, with no better Succefs, applied it to Julian the Apoftate. Now it must be own'd, that both thefe Emperors were very remarkable Types of him in fome refpects or other; but it is as plain, that neither of these were that very Perfon intended by that Appellation. However, thefe Opinions have been long defended by many of the Learned of the Roman Communion; whilft fome very few have ftuck to the Old Primitive Doctrine.
The weakness of the two former Opinions has been very folidly expofed and baffled by the Learned Reformers; who, tho they did not fet themselves profeffedly to oppose the latter Opinion, yet thought it muft of Neceffity fall to the Ground, if they could once prove their grand Pofition, viz. That the Pope was Antichrift, which upon the Grounds afore-mentioned moft of them afferted.
$2. I SHALL not here prefume to en- The State ter into a Detail of the feveral Arguments of the Con wherewith these Learned Writers have en- concerning troverfy deavoured to fupport their different Opi- a perfonal nions, but fhall only fay, that whilft Men Antichrift. do not feek the Truth fincerely and impartially, it generally happens, that each Party finding what makes for her Turn, runs away with that, not regarding the reft; and thus not rightly dividing the Word of Truth, they make Diftinctions where there is no Difference; and fet thofe Truths in Oppofition to each other, which if rightly understood, would ferve mutually to explain, ftrengthen and fupport each other. This (I cannot but think) has been the Cafe between the Roman and Reformed Churches in this Controverfy: The one finding that the Holy Scriptures, 'and the Doctrines of the purer Ages of the Church, feemed to understand by Antichrift, one particular Perfon that should arife in the latter Times, viz. in the End of the Roman Empire, juftified and defended this Doctrine in Oppofition to that Charge of Antichriftianifm which was juft