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I will conclude by directing your attention to one particular circumstance contained in the text, which I have already in part commented on.

It is said there will "come a falling away, and the man of sin will be revealed." In other words the man of sin is born of an apostasy, or at least comes into power through an apostasy, or is preceded by an apostasy, or would not be except for an apostasy. So says the inspired text: now observe, how remarkably the course of providence, as seen in history, has commented on this prediction.

First, we have a comment in the instance of Antiochus previous to the prophecy, as I have already shown. The Israelites, or at least great numbers of them, discarded their own sacred religion, and then the enemy was allowed to come in.

Next the apostate emperor Julian, who attempted to overthrow the Church by craft, and introduce paganism back again he was preceded, nay, he was nurtured, in the first great heresy which disturbed the peace and purity of the Church. About forty years before he came to the throne arose the pestilent Arian heresy which denied that CHRIST was GOD. It ate its way among the rulers of the Church like a canker, and what with the treachery of some, and the mistakes of others, at one time it was all but dominant throughout Christendom. The few holy and faithful men, who witnessed for the Truth, cried out, with awe and terror at the apostasy, that Antichrist was coming. They called it the "forerunner of Antichrist 1." And true, his Shadow came. Julian was educated in the bosom of Arianism by some of its principal upholders. His tutor was the Eusebius from whom its partizans took their name; and in due time he fell away to paganism, became a hater and persecutor of the Church, and was cut off before he had reigned out the brief period which will be the real Antichrist's duration.

The next great heresy, and in its consequences far more lasting and far spreading, was of twofold character, with two

1 πρόδρομος ̓Αντιχρίστου.—Νῦν δέ ἐστιν ἡ ἀποστασία· ἀπέστησαν γὰρ οἱ ἄνθρωποι τῆς ὀρθῆς πίστεως· αὕτη τοίνυν ἐστὶν ἡ ἀποστασία, καὶ μέλλει πроσdокãσdαι ¿ ¿xopóg. Cyril. Catech. 15. n. 9.

heads, as I may call them, Nestorianism and Eutychianism, apparently opposed to each other, yet acting towards a common end it in one way or other denied the truth of CHRIST'S gracious incarnation, and tended to destroy the faith of Christians not less certainly, though more insidiously, than the heresy of Arius. It spread through the East and through Egypt, corrupting and poisoning those Churches which had once, alas! been the most flourishing, the early abodes and the strongholds of revealed truth. Out of this heresy, or at least by means of it, the impostor Mahomet sprang, and formed his creed. Here is another especial Shadow of Antichrist.

As to the third and last instance, which I might mention in the generation immediately before ourselves, I will but observe that, in like manner, the Shadow of Antichrist arose out of an apostasy, an apostasy to infidel doctrines, perhaps the most flagitious and blasphemous which the world has ever seen.

These instances give us this warning. Is the enemy of CHRIST, and His Church, to arise out of a certain special falling away from GOD? And is there no reason to fear that some such Apostasy is gradually preparing, gathering, hastening on in this very day? For is there not at this very time a special effort made almost all over the world, that is, every here and there, more or less, in sight or out of sight, in this or that place, but most visibly or formidably in its most civilized and powerful parts, an effort to do without religion? Is there not an opinion avowed and growing, that a nation has nothing to do with religion; that it is merely a matter for each man's own conscience,-which is all one with saying that we may let the truth fail from the earth without trying to continue it? Is there not a vigorous and united movement in all countries to cast down the Church of CHRIST from power and place? Is there not a feverish and ever busy endeavour to get rid of the necessity of religion in public transactions? for example, an attempt to get rid of oaths, under a pretence that they are too sacred for affairs of common life, instead of providing that they be taken more reverently and more suitably? an attempt to educate without religion,-that is, by putting all forms of religion together, which comes to the same thing? an attempt

to enforce temperance, and the virtues which flow from it, without religion, by means of societies which are built on mere principles of utility? an attempt to make expedience, and not truth, the end and the rule of measures of state and the enactments of law? an attempt to make numbers, and not truth, the ground of maintaining, or not maintaining this or that creed, as if we had any reason whatever in Scripture for thinking that the many will be in the right, and the few in the wrong? An attempt to deprive the Bible of its one meaning to the exclusion of others, to make people think that it may have an hundred meanings all equally good, or, in other words, that it has no meaning at all, is a dead letter, and may be put aside? an attempt to supersede religion altogether, as far as it is external or objective, as far as it is displayed in ordinances, or can be expressed by written words, -to confine it to our inward feelings, and thus, considering how transient, how variable, how evanescent our feelings are, an attempt, in fact, to destroy religion?

Surely, there is at this day a confederacy of evil, marshalling its hosts from all parts of the world, organizing itself, taking its measures, inclosing the Church of CHRIST as in a net, and preparing the way for a general apostasy from it. Whether this very apostasy is to give birth to Antichrist, or whether he is still to be delayed, we cannot know; but at any rate this apostasy, and all its tokens, and instruments, are of the Evil One and savour of death. Far be it from any of us to be of those simple ones, who are taken in that snare which is circling around us! Far be it from us to be seduced with the fair promises in which Satan is sure to hide his poison! Do you think he is so unskilful in his craft, as to ask you openly and plainly to join him in his warfare against the Truth? No; he offers you baits to tempt you. He promises you civil liberty; he promises you equality; he promises you trade and wealth; he promises you a remission of taxes; he promises you reform. This is the way in which he conceals, from you the kind of work to which he is putting you; he tempts you to rail against your rulers and superiors; he does so himself, and induces you to imitate him; or he promises you illumination,--he offers you knowledge, science, philosophy,

to say,

enlargement of mind. He scoffs at times gone by; he scoffs at every institution which reveres them. He prompts you what and then listens to you, and praises you, and encourages He bids you mount aloft. He shows you how to become as gods. Then he laughs and jokes with you, and gets intimate with you; he takes your hand, and gets his fingers between yours, and grasps them, and then you are his.

you.

Shall we Christians, sons of GOD, brethren of CHRIST, heirs of glory, shall we allow ourselves to have lot or part in this matter? Shall we, even with our little finger, help on the Mystery of iniquity which is travailing for birth, and convulsing the earth with its pangs? "O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united 1." "What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath CHRIST with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God. Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate. . . . and touch not the unclean thing," lest you be workers together with God's enemies, and be opening the way for the Man of sin, the son of perdition.

1 Gen. xlix. 6.

2 1 Cor. vi. 14-17.

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SERMON II.

THE RELIGION OF ANTICHRIST.

1 JOHN iv. 3.

'Every spirit that confesseth not that JESUS CHRIST is come in the flesh, is not of GOD, and this is that spirit of Antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come, and even now already it is in the world."

ST. JOHN tells us in these words what the characteristic of the Antichrist should be who is to come; viz. that he shall openly deny our LORD JESUS CHRIST to be the Son of God come in the flesh from heaven. So exactly and fully was this description to answer to him, that to deny CHRIST might be suitably called the spirit of Antichrist; and the deniers of Him might be said to have the spirit of Antichrist, to be like Antichrist, to be Antichrists. The same thing is stated in a former chapter. "Who is the Liar, but he that denieth that JESUS is the CHRIST? he is the Antichrist, that denieth the FATHER and the SoN. Whosoever denieth the SON, the same hath not the FATHER';" from which words, moreover, it would appear that Antichrist will be led on from rejecting the Son of God, to the rejection of GoD altogether, either by implication or practically.

I shall now make some further observations on the characteristic marks of the predicted enemy of the Church; and, as in those I made last week, I shall confine myself to the interpretations of Scripture given by the early Fathers.

1 1 John ii. 22, 23.

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