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ple, who are to remain in captivity till the times of the nations be fulfilled; that is, till the number of the Gentiles whom God will call to the Christian faith, be filled up; and then that remnant of the Jews will be converted, and acknowledge Christ for their Messiah.
In like manner, before the last coming of Christ to dissolve the fabrick of the world, the calamities of war that will fall upon mankind will be very great, though perhaps somewhat inferior to those the Jews experienced on the above occasion. But the persecution which will be exercised by Antichrist against the christians, will exceed in severity and cruelty, the persecutions of all past ages. But this dreadful period will be shortened by the mercy of God for the sake of his elect, and reduced to three years and a half.
Christ having thus carried on his predictions to the ruin of Jerusalem and the captivity of the Jews, which is to last to the latter time of the world, the sequel of his discourse naturally falls upon the transactions of that last period. Then if any man, says he, shall say to you: lo, here is Christ, or there; do not believe him. For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told it you beforehand. If, therefore, they shall say to you: behold he is in the desert, go ye not out: behold he is in the closets, believe it not. Here is a full warning, which ought to be taken notice of, against the false Christs and false prophets, that will rise up in the last age; the chief of whom will be Antichrist, and the false prophet his attendant. And what is very alarming; they will have power of showing great signs and wonders, insomuch, as to deceive, if possible, even the elect. We shall see the same confirmed by the Apocalypse, in the two above-mentioned impostors.
A more full account of all these seducers, and of their infamous character, is given us in the epistles of St. Peter. and St. Paul. In the last days, says St. Peter, there shall come deceitful scoffers, walking after their own lusts, saying, where is his promise of his coming? for since the time that the fathers slept, all things continue as
they were from the beginning of the creation. 2 Ep. iii. 3, Know also this, says St. Paul, that in the last days shall come on dangerous times. Men shall be lovers of themselves, covetous, haughty, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, wicked, without affection, without peace, slanderers, incontinent, unmerciful, without kindness, traitors, stubborn, puffed up, and lovers of pleasures more than of God: having an appearance indeed of godliness, but denying the power thereof. 2 Tim. iii. 1, &c. The same admonition is given us by St. Jude in his epistle, v. 17, &c. But you, my dearly beloved, says this apostle, be mindful of the words which have been spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; who told you, that in the last time there should come mockers, walking according to their own desires in ungodliness. These are they, who separate themselves, sensual men, having not the sprit.
To proceed with our Saviour's discourse : And im mediatety after the tribulation of those days, says he, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from Heaven, and the powers of Heaven shall be moved. And there shall be upon the earth distress of nations, by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea and of the waves, men withering away for fear, and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world. These previous signals of the end of the world are analogous to those described in the Apocalypse under the sixth seal, as will appear by the comparison of the two texts. See the text of the Apocalypse, given above, page 210. Our Saviour says: The sun shall be darkened. St. John, after the opening of the sixth seal, says: : The sun became black as sackcloth of hair. Christ says: The moon shall not give her light. St. John says: The moon became as blood. Christ continues: The stars shall fall from Heaven. St. John in the above-mentioned place : The stars from heaven fell upon the earth, as the fig-tree casteth its green figs when it is shaken by a great wind. Christ again: And the powers of Heaven shall be moved. St. John: And the Heaven departed as a book folded up. Christ again: And there shall be upon the earth distress of nations, by reason of the confusion of
the roaring of the sea and of the waves. St. John in the above place: And every mountain, and the islands, were moved out of their places. Our Saviour proceeds: Men withering away for fear, and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world. St. John: And the kings of the earth, and the princes, and tribunes, and the rich, and the strong, and every bondman, and every freeman, hid themselves in the dens, and in the rocks of mountains. And they say to the mountains and the rocks: fall upon us, and hide us from the face of him who sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. Hence it appears, that the words of our Saviour may be applied as the best interpretation of the text of St. John contained under the sixth seal.
Thus then it appears, that the discourse of Christ to his disciples, and the text of the Apocalypse, under the sixth seal, exhibit to us an epitome of the prodigies and disastrous events that will distinguish the sixth or last period of time. They will be sent as so many warnings of the approaching great day of wrath, when Christ will come in his power and majesty to judge the living and the dead, and to put an end to the present world. When you shall see these things come to pass, continues Christ, speaking to his disciples, know that the kingdom of God is at hand, Luke. xxi. 31.
Narrative preparatory to the prophecy of the Sixth
The sixth or last period of time exhibits many great and extraordinary events, which are not all related by St. John, as some part of them had already been revealed in former prophecies. On that account we find it necessary to premise a narrative of those facts, which are previous to what is laid down in the Apocalypse. If the order in which we have ranged the particulars of this prophetic history, should not be approved by the reader, we desire him to reflect, we travel through the dark paths of futurity.
One event, that will chiefly distinguish the sixth age, and will be a prelude to the final period of the human
race in this world, is the appearance of that extraordinary man, Antichrist. But the way is to be opened for his coming, by two previous incidents, which we learn from St. Paul, and which will enable him to bring on those mischiefs upon mankind and that desolation upon the earth, which the prophets have foretold. St. Paul thus writes to the Thessalonians in his second epistle, chap. 2.
V. 1. And we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of our gathering together unto him:
V. 2. That you be not easily moved from your mind, nor be frighted, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by epistle as sent from us, as if the day of the Lord were at hand.
V. 3. Let no man deceive you by any means: for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition,
V. 4. Who opposeth, and is lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself as if he were God.
V. 5. Remember you not, that when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
V. 6. And now you know what withholdeth, that he may be revealed in his time.
V.7. For the mystery of iniquity already worketh ; only that he who now holdeth, do hold, until he be taken out of the way.
V. 8. And then that wicked one shall be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the breath of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.
Here the Apostle admonishes the Thessalonians, not to give way to terrors, as if the last day was near at hand; assuring them that the last day would not come, till there came a revolt first, and the man of sin were revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth, and is lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself as if he were God, v. 3, 4. By the man of sin, the son of perdition, &c. all Christian antiquity, and the subsequent ages have ever understood that superlatively wicked
man, Antichrist. The end of the world therefore, will not happen, till after this man's appearance; and also after what St. Paul calls a revolt, which, it seems, will be previous to Antichrist's coming. This revolt, or rather according to the Greek text, the apostacy, denotes a defection from faith, as the generality of the Scripture interpreters have understood it. Alas! we have already seen a great flood of apostacy spread itself through the western part of Christendom, within the two last centuries and a half, by the rise ef Lutheranism, Calvinism, &c. And this had been preceded in the eastern part of the church, by the Greek schism, Mahometanism, Arianism, &c. Even St. Paul assures us, he himself saw this apostacy, or defection from faith, ushering itself into the world: for the mystery of iniquity already worketh, says he, v. 7. The seeds of it were sown, and had sprung up in the Apostle's time, in the heretics called Simonians, Nicolaites, Gnostics, &c. But it will continue to gain ground and to ripen, till it comes to full maturity in the time of Antichrist, who by his extraordinary power, cruel persecutions, and insidious machinations, will together with his false prophet, seduce a prodigious number of Christians. This we shall see in the following part of the Apocalypse: and it is sufficiently intimated by our Saviour, as we observed under the sixth seal, in these words: There shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and great wonders, insomuch as to deceive, if possible, even the elect, Matth. xxiv. 24.
Under the term apostacy may be comprehended, not only a defection from faith, but also a general degeneracy of morals, which already shows itself in the surprising growth of licentiousness and irreligion, in a tide of luxury, extravagance, and profligacy. This inundation of vice paves the way for worse, and will spread more and more with the progress of time, till it rises to a general flood of wickedness in the infamous dissolute reign of Antichrist. This seems to be also pointed at in the following words of Christ: And because iniquity has abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold, Matth. xxiv. 12. In fine, this general apostacy, with respect