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single chapter; the view evidently embarrasses him, and he meets it mainly by the argumentum ad verecundiaman appeal to our modesty, forsooth," what a shame it is to call so venerable a Church as the Roman is, Apostate;" and by dwelling at length upon the differences which exist
did afterwards Calvin, Beza, and the writers of that party in general. This party considered this doctrine so essential, as to vote it an Article of Faith, in their Synod of Gap, held in 1603. The writers in defence of this impious tenet in our island, are as numerous as those of the whole continent put together, John Fox, Whitaker, Fulke, Willet, Sir Isaac Newton, Mede, Lowman, Towson, Bicheno, Kett, &c., with the Bishops, Fowler, Warburton, Newton, Hallifax, Hurd, Watson, and others, too numerous to be here mentioned. One of these writers, whose work has just ap. peared, has collected from the Scriptures a new, and quite whim. sical system, concerning Antichrist. Hitherto, Protestant expositors have been content to apply the character and attributes of Antichrist, to a succession of Roman Pontiffs; but the Rev. H. Kett, professes to have discovered, that the said Antichrist is, at the same time, every Pope who has filled the See of Rome since the year 756, to the number of 160, together with the whole of what he calls the Mahometan power,' from a period more remote by a century and a half, and the whole of infidelity, which he traces to a still more ancient origin than even Mahometanism.
“That the first Pope, St. Peter, on whom Christ declared that he built his Church, Matt, xvi. 18, was not Antichrist, I trust I need not prove; nor, indeed, his third successor in the Popedom, St. Clement; since St. Paul testifies of him, that his name is written in the book of life, Phil. iv. 3. In like manner there is no need of my demonstrating, that the See of Rome was not the Harlot of Revelations, when St. Paul certified of its members, that their faith was spoken of throughout the whole world, Rom. i. 8. At what particular period, then, I now ask, as I asked Mr. Brown, in one of my former letters, did the grand Apostasy take place, by which the Head Pastor of the Church of Christ became his declared enemy; in short, the Antichrist, and by which the Church, whose faith had been divinely authenticated, became the great harlot full of the names of blasphemy? This revolution, had it really taken place, would have been the greatest, and the most remarkable, that ever happened since the deluge. Hence, we might expect, that the witnesses, who profess to bear testimony to its reality, would agree as to the time of its taking place. Let us now observe how far this is the fact. The Lutheran Braunbom, who writes the most copiously, and the most confidently of
among Protestant commentators on the subject. As to the first point, we must be content to take to ourselves the shame of hardheartedness. And as to the second, namely, that Popery cannot be the Apostasy because Protestants have differed as to the mode in which it is foretold,
this event, tells us, that the Popish Antichrist was born in the year of Christ, 86, that he grew to his full size in 376, that he was at his greatest strength in 636, that he began to decline in 1086, that he would die in 1640, and that the world would end in 1711. Sebastian Francus affirms, that Antichrist appeared imme. diately after the Apostles, and caused the external Church, with its faith and sacraments, to disappear. The Protestant Church of Transilvania published, that Antichrist first appeared A.D. 200. Napper declared that his coming was about 313, and that Pope Silvester was the man; Melancthon says, that Pope Zozimus, in 420, was the first Antichrist; while Beza transfers this character to the great and good St. Leo, A.D. 440. Fleming fixes on the year 606 as the year of this great event; Bishop Newton on the year 727; but all agree, says the Rev. Henry Kett, that the Anti-christian power was fully established in 757, or 758.' Notwithstanding this confident assertion, Cranmer's brother in-law, Bullinger had, long before, assigned the year 763 as the æra of this grand revolution, and Junius had put it off to 1073. Mus. culus could not discover Antichist in the Church till about 1200, Fox not till 1300, and Martin Luther, as we have seen, not till his doctrine was condemned by Pope Leo in 1520.-Such are the inconsistencies and contradictions of those learned Protestants, who profess to see so clearly the verification of the prophecies concerning Antichrist in the Roman Pontiffs. I say, contradictions, because those among them, who pronoucce Pope Gregory, or Leo the Great, or Pope Silvester, to have been Antichrist, must contradict those others, who admit them to have been respectively Christian Pastors and Saints. Now what credit do men of sense give to an account of any sort, the vouchers for which contradict each other? Certainly none at all.
Nor are the predictions of these egregious interpreters, concern. ing the death of Antichrist, and the destruction of Popery, more consistent with one another, than their accounts of the birth and progress of them both. We have seen above, that Braunbom prognosticated, that the death of the Papal Antichrist would take place in the year 1640. John Fox foretold it would happen in 1666. The incomparable Joseph Mede, as the Bishop of Halifax, calls him, by a particular calculation of his own invention, undertook to demonstrate that the Papacy would be finally destroyed in 1653. I ask what should we think of this manner of meeting any of the truths that are received among men ? For example, we assert that the earth goes round the sun in its annual progress. How should this opinion be met ? How combatted ? How disproved, if false ? Surely by establishing contrary truths or by the exhibition of falsehood in our arguments. But what should we think of the man, or the party, who should say it is impossible that we should be right, because Copernicus, who invented the system, held that it took one particular number of days, hours, and minutes to complete the revolution; Newton differed from him, Halley from both, &c. &c. Whether any of these particulars are so or not, I do not quite remember, nor does it make any matter. The supposition abundantly illustrates the nature of the answer, which the ablest of the Roman Catholic
The Calvinist Minister, Jurieu, who had adopted this system, fearing that the event would not verify it, found a pretext to lengthen the term, first to 1690, and afterwards to 1710. But he lived to witness a disappointment at each of these periods. Alix, another Huguenot preacher, predicted that the fatal catastrophe would certainly take place in 1716. Whiston, who pretended to find out the longitude, pretended also to discover that the Popedom would terminate in 1714; finding himself mistaken, he guessed a second time, and fixed on the year 1735. At length, Mr. Kett, from the success of his Antichrist of Infidelity against his Antichrist of Popery, about twenty years ago (for he feels no difficulty in dividing Satan against himself, Matt. xii.) foretold that the long wished for event was at the eve of being accomplished; and Mr. Daubeny having, with several other preachers, witnessed Pope Pius XVI. in chains, and Rome possessed by French Atheists, sounds the trumpet of victory, and exclaims, all is accomplished. In like manner, G. S. Faber, in his two Sermons, before the University of Oxford, in 1799, boasts that the immense Gothic structure of Popery, built on superstition and buttressed with tortures, has crumbled to dust. Empty triumphs of the enemies of the church! They ought to have learned from her lengthened history, that she never proves the truth of Christ's promises so evidently as when she seems sinking under the waves of persecution: and that the chair of Peter never shines so gloriously as when it is filled by a dying Martyr, like Pius VI. or a captive confessor, like Pius VII.; how triumphant, for a time, their persecutors may appear!"-Milner's End of Religious Controversy, pp. 464-8.
controvertists gave to the principles of Mede. Indeed I cannot conceive how Papists can possibly meet the argument. They cannot attempt to say that God did not foretell a great APOSTASY in his Church. The language of Scripture is so express on this point, that it cannot be gainsayed : and then if they admit that an Apostasy was foretold, but attempt to make it out that the Protestant Church is that Apostasy, they are met at every point. 1. The Protestant Church does not forbid marriage, nor command to abstain from meats, therefore it cannot be the Apostasy. 2. The Protestant doctrines did not come in PRIVILY. Our protestations against the errors of Popery were public, open, and avowed. 3. The Protestant Church never had universal sway so as that it could be said to have obliged all both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive its mark and number. (Rev. xiii. 16.) And 4. The Protestant Church never had its head at Rome. It never could be described as that great city, built on seven hills, which reigneth over the kings of the earth. (Rev. xvii. 9. 18.) For all these reasons the Protestant Church cannot possibly be the foretold Apostasy. To deny, then, that God foretold a great Apostasy of his Church, is to deny that it is pitch dark at midnight, and to say that our Church is the Apostasy, is to assert that the sun, in the brightness of his shining, diffuses nothing but blackness and cold. Let them but allow the unquestionable truth that God foretold a great Apostasy of his Church, which they cannot deny, and Popery must presently be admitted to be a system engendered in Hell, for the perdition of the human race. Oh that God may in his infinite mercy awaken unhappy Roman Catholics to a sense of their danger, and lead them to an instant retreat from it! THE REAL POINT AT ISSUE BETWEEN US AND THE PAPISTS
THE ONLY VALID OBJECTION WHICH THEY COULD BRING AGAINST US TREATED OF.
It will be seen all through, then, that I urge the importance of meeting Roman Catholics, not as though we were
mere individual separated Christians, but as Members of the HOLY Catholic Church. By adopting this course, all the advantages which they justly assert to belong to that Church we may at once demand for ourselves as being of that holy Church indeed, at the same time most forcibly denying, that they have any the slightest title to them, inasmuch as their Church is a foretold APOSTASY. Hence the controversy between us and the Papists, if carried on on proper principles, would assume an essentially different aspect from that which it has of late borne : we should still be able to urge home the peculiar errors of the system as arguments against it; we should still be called upon to exhibit the monstrous abominations involved in their false doctrines of Purgatory, Transubstantiation, Prayers to Saints and Angels, Image Worship, &c.; but then we should urge these objections scripturally, in the way that our admirable Mede does. The objections will derive tenfold force from the unquestionable fact that a great APOSTASY has been indeed foretold.
Under this system of proceeding we shall not be compelled to fly from any of the formularies of our Liturgy: for example, the absolution in the service for the Visitation of the Sick. We will not allow Papists to question the propriety of this absolution. We may insist upon its propriety, if it be legitimately used, as it is in our Church, and, at the same time, assert the essential difference be. tween our use of the absolution and their abuse of it. It is one thing for the HOLY Church to exercise its legitimate privilege, and quite another thing for an UNHOLY Apostasy to prostitute the same to the services of Mammon and Beelzebub. Hence the texts (John xx. 22, 23. Matt. xviii. 18.) supporting the title of the Church to absolve penitents, of which Papists have hitherto made such crafty use will be wrested from them, and we shall be no longer beaten with our own weapons.* In effect,
* To shew what I mean, I here insert a passage from “ The grounds of the Catholic Doctrine," before quoted, a book in general use among the Roman Catholics of Ireland.