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APOSTASY OF THE LATTER TIMES.
ON 1 TIMOTHY, CHAP. iv., ver. 1, 2, &c.
«Το δε Πνευμα ρηθως λεγει, οτι εν υφερους καιροις απορησονται τινες της πισεως,προσεχοντες ανευμασι πλανoις, και διδασκαλιαις δαιμονιων,
«Εν υποκρισει ψευδολογων, κεκαυτηριασμενων την ιδιας συνειδησιν,
«Κωλυονίων γαμειν, απεχεσθαι βρωματων,” &c. Which I conceive to be thus translated :
“Howbeit the spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall revolt from the faith, giving heed to erroneous spirits and doctrines of demons.
“ Through the hypocrisy of liars having seared consciences.
“ Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, &c."
THE DEPENDENCE OF THE TEXT UPON THE LAST VERSE OF THE PRECEDING CHAPTER-WHY, IN THE DESCRIPTION OF THE MYSTERY OF GODLINESS, THE WORDS (ASSUMED IKTO GLORY) ARE SET LAST-DIVISION OF THE SUBJECT-THE AUTHOR'S THREE REASONS FOR RENDERING THE TEXT DIFFERENTLY FROM THE COMMON TRANSLATION,
THE words I have read are a prophecy of a revolt of Christians from the great mystery of Christian worship, described in the last verse of the former chapter, which, according to the division of the ancients, should be the first of this. For that last verse, together with the first six verses of this, and half the seventh verse, make the seventh or main division of this epistle, expressed in the edition of Robert Stephen; and are, therefore, supposed, from the grounds of that division, to belong all to one argument. The words, therefore, of my text depend, as the second part of a discrete proposition, upon the last of the former chapter: the whole conveying the sense, that howsoever the mystery of the Christian religion, (which is, God manifested in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, and received up into glory,) was a great one, and at that time preached and delivered to the world : nevertheless, the spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times there shall be a revolting from this faith, though not in all the parts of it, yet from a main and fundamental part thereof_namely, the assumption of this God and man to the throne of glory and incommunicable majesty in heaven, whereby he hath a name given him above every name, and whereof no creature in heaven or in earth can be capable.
In order to show this connexion, the Apostle putteth
the words received up into glory in the last part of his description. In the true order they should have followed the words justified in the spirit, and come before the words preached unto the Gentiles, and believed on in the world. This is plain; for the order of events was this : God was—1. Manifest in the flesh-2. Justified in the spirit-3. Received up into glory—4. Seen of angels5. Preached unto the Gentiles—6. Believed on in the world. But it is the method of Scripture sometimes to transpose the natural order, and to mention that in the last place, which it is necessary to connect with what follows. Unless this be allowed here, there will scarce be found any other reason for this misplacing. But more of this shall both be spoken and made better to appear hereafter.
I come now more near to my text, which I divide into two parts:
First-A DESCRIPTION OF THIS AWFUL APOSTASY in the first verse.
Secondly—THE MANNER OR MEANS WHEREBY IT SHOULD COME TO PASS, in the following verses, to wit—through the hypocrisy of liars who had seared consciences, forbad to marry, and bade to abstain from meats.
1. Then; for the description of the apostasy, we find it FIRST, expressed generally in the words they shall apostatize,* or revolt; and in the next,t they shall attend to erroneous spirits or doctrines, or doctrines of error. SECONDLY, particularly-1. What those erroneous doctrines should be, as to the kind or quality ; namely, new doctrines of demons, or a new idolatry. 2. The persons who should thus apostatize ; not all, but SOME. 3. The time when it should be; in the latter times. 4. The proof or warrant of this prophecy; it is that
* ALTOS MOONTA!. ή προσεχοντες πνευμασι πλανους.
which the spirit hath elsewhere long ago foretold in the written word expressly,* in express words.
2. For the second part, viz. the means. Consider, 1. The manner or method used to bring it in-to wit, lying hypocrisy, hypocritical lying, the hypocrisy of liars. 2. The quality and description of these authors and furtherers of the apostasy ; such as had their consciences seared, who forbad marriages and meats.
Where, before I go any farther, I must state why I thus translate these latter words, which I make the second part, because they are commonly translated otherwise, Namely, thus : and it will be better to give the whole passage. 1. verse. “Now, the spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of Devils. 2. Speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their consciences seared with a hot iron. 3. Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, &c. Here, it is the “ some" who should apostatize, mentioned in the first verse, who seem to be referred to in the two latter verses. So that the words of the second and third verses would be merely an explanation of what the giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, mentioned in the first verse was ; would be, in fact, an expression, by particulars, of that which was before generally comprised under seducing spirits and doctrines of Devils, which should consist partly in forbidding lawful marriage, and partly in commanding abstinence from meats.
But this interpretation seems very unlikely. For, first, since St. Paul intendeth here to describe that great apostasy of the visible Christian Church, as is evident by the pointing out of the time, in the latter times; who can suppose that he would only instance the smaller and almost circumstantial errors, omitting the main and fundamental, which the Scripture elsewhere telleth us should be idolatry or spiritual fornication? Secondly, errors
* gntws, verbatim, totidem verbis.