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ART. II.-- Antichrist.

Prolegomena on the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians. By DEAN

The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelations of St. John viewed in their

Mutual Relations. By CARL AUGUST AUBERLEN. Edinburgh :
T. and T. Clark.

OPPOSITES are an ordained means of illustrating each

helps us the nature of light; and our knowledge of evil enables us more thoroughly to perceive, on all its sides, the properties of good. We must know cold in order to understand heat ; and deformity, more than anything else, sets forth in striking illumination the harmonious proportions and divine attractions of beauty. In the realms alike of nature and of grace, everything has its shade, which is indispensably necessary to bring out the fulness of its light, and to set it off to advantage, as green leaves do the loveliness of the camelia, that snowwhite queen of flowers. In like manner, Christ, the Light of the Word, and the Light of the world, by the shining brightness of His glory, enables us to understand Antichrist as revealed in the Word, and to discover him as revealed in history: and, on the other hand, Antichrist, when discovered, is helpful in bringing out the fulness, the spiritual beauty, and power, and productiveness of the light which is in Christ.

Even among Protestants, however, the question, Who is Antichrist? has not yet been conclusively determined. By some it is still held to be an open question, whether Antichrist begins and ends with one numerical man and his personal followers, or whether Antichrist is to be a body of men presided over by one man as its head, and which, as thus constituted, is to continue to exist during a long succession of generations. The question is not whether Antichrist be an individual man, for that is admitted on both sides. Neither is the question whether Antichrist be the head of a system or kingdom, for on both sides this also is allowed. The real question at issue is this: Is Antichrist one numerical individual, the head of a system or kingdom in which he had no predecessor, and is to have no successor ? or is Antichrist the representative of a great historical system, over which a series of individual men preside during an extended succession of generations ? Very important issues depend on the answers given to these questions. If Antichrist be a single man and his followers, then it is clear as day the

The Question Stated.


Church of Rome is not Antichrist, for she has been presided over by a succession of individual men as her supreme head. In that case, Protestants are deprived of their central position in the war with Romanism-a position which was long considered to be Divine and impregnable. On the other hand, if Antichrist be an organized system of opposition to the cause of Christ, existing during many generations, and presided over by a succession of individual men as its supreme head, then it is no less certain that the Church of Rome is Antichrist, because in all history no other such power is to be found having the scriptural characteristics of Antichrist; while all the scriptural characteristics of Antichrist apply to the Church of Rome, with a natural ease and exactness which show that the one is the prophetical representation of which the other is the historical development.

That the Pope, as the head of the Romish politicoecclesiastical system, is Antichrist, long continued to be one of those things most assuredly believed among Protestants. This opinion was shared in by some of the foremost men in the front rank of the human race, by men such as Bacon and Milton, who towered not only above all their contemporaries, but above all the generations that have followed. At present, there is among many a feeble, wavering, and somewhat helpless state of mind upon the subject of Antichrist. In so far as this prevails among Protestants, does it proceed from the advanced position of modern intelligence, or does it proceed from a prevalent paralytic numbness that has come over the power of conviction itself? Is this uncertainty in regard to Antichrist merely the candour of indifference? Is it scepticism in the form of wisdom ? It seems to us desirable that the matter should now be re-investigated from the foundation. In making this attempt, we shall, in the first place, give a cursory sketch of the opinions which have been entertained on this subject. In the second place, we shall endeavour to show that Antichrist represents a system which began to exist in the days of Paul, and which will continue to exist, in more or less prominence, till the second advent of our Lord. In the third place, we shall endeavour to show that the marks of Antichrist laid down in Scripture are all to be met with in the Church of Rome.

I. Considered as a whole, the sentiments entertained by the fathers of the first six centuries are of little authority. Their opinions were characterized in a high degree by those frivolous fancies and fantastic conjectures incidental to all who speculate upon subjects before they have obtained premises sufficient to warrant a conclusion, and who conduct investigations in ignorance of those laws and principles of


interpretation, by which alone truth can be fully discovered and firmly established. None of the fathers of the first six centuries had the means of forming a solid opinion possessed by us, who live farther on in the unfoldings of Divine providence. The Man of Sin had not yet been fully revealed. The men of those days saw Antichrist as the Jews did Moses, with a vail upon his face. The idea

his face. The idea of him which the Spirit of God had presented in prophecy had not yet been realized in history. And God never intended by the predictions of Scripture to endow any class of men with the power of putting beforehand on record the actual facts of history. The design of prophecy is not to impart foreknowledge to man, but to enable him, in the accomplished facts of history, to discover and adore the glorious foreknowledge of God. It was not possible, therefore, that the fathers of the early centuries could have accurately delineated the circumstantial form of Antichrist before he took his predicted place in actual history. No wonder that every one of them who made the attempt utterly failed in giving the subject a treatment worthy of its importance.

No articulate deliverance on the subject of Antichrist is found in the Epistles of the so-called Apostolical Fathers. From the Epistle of Ignatius to Hero, a Deacon of Antioch, and from one or two other incidental notices, we learn that Antichrist was already regarded by the Church as the crowning manifestation of wickedness.* From the Epistle of Barnabasprofessedly the earliest Christian writing of the post-Apostolic period that is extant-we ascertain that even then the little horn of Daniel was identified with Antichrist and the Man of Sin-an identification to be met with in all the fathers who, to any extent, have treated the subject. Nero was the first individual person currently believed to be Antichrist.t The union of the madman and the demon in his character, and the ferociousness of the persecution under his reign, no doubt, led men to form this opinion. This impression on the minds of Nero's contemporaries was so deep, that it was handed down through several generations. Even after the death of that truculent emperor, it was confidently believed that he would rise again from the dead. The good and wise men of these early days, like many good and wise men since, found it less easy, within the region of speculation—which, on the subject of prophecy, is too often an enchanted region-to admit that their own opinion was wrong,

Translated into Latin and edited

" Epistles of the Apostolical Fathers." by Vossius, p. 92.

+ "Neander's History," I., 31.

The Theory of Ilippolytus.


than to believe that a miracle would be wrought in confirmation of its truth. “Hippolytus, who held an important place among the ecclesiastical writers belonging to the first half of the third century, was one of Irenæus' disciples, according to Photius. . . . We have besides a treatise of his, of little importance, on Antichrist, with which also Photius was acquainted.”* This treatise of Hippolytus is to be found in the second volume of the Greek and Latin Bibliothecæ veterum Patrum.”+ It is the most lengthened continuous treatise on the subject to be met with in that early period. It is of no intrinsic importance in a theological point of view. It is, however, highly important in tracing the comparative anatomy of thought in the different ages of the Christian Church, whether on the subject of prophecy, of the science of interpretation, or of Antichrist. İlippolytus considered the image of dominion in Daniel's second chapter, and the vision of the four beasts in his seventh, to be identical in meaning, and it is interesting to observe that he interpreted them in substantially the same manner as is done to this day by the great stream of Protestant commentators. He considers the ten toes of the image, and the ten horns of the fourth beast, to be ten kings, who were to rise out of the Roman Empire, and he states explicitly that the little horn was Antichrist. After quoting these words of the prophet: “I considered the horns, and behold there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the root;" he adds, “which horn can be no other than Antichrist, who will restore the kingdom of the Jews. The three horns which he plucked up by the roots denote the three kings of Egypt, Libya, and Ethiopia, whom he is to overthrow in battle, and having obtained dominion over them all, now become a formidable tyrant, he will afflict and persecute the saints, rising up against them.”+ Hippolytus believed that Antichrist was to be a literal incarnation of the devil. He tells us that, as Jacob on his death-bed foretold that Christ would descend from Judah, his fourth son, so did he also foretell that Antichrist would descend from Dan, his seventh son.

“For (says he) what did Jacob say respecting Dan? Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an ander in the path. Who was the serpent but that deceiver who, in the beginning, as we read in Genesis, seduced Eve and supplanted Adam ? . . . He cartainly is to be born of the tribe of Dan, and shall set himself in opposition as a tyrannical king, a dreadful judge, and accuser (kai diabolos); as saith the prophet,

Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel.' But some one will say that this is to be understood of Samson, who was of

*“Neander," II., 439-441. + “Bibliothecæ Vet. Patrum.” Paris, 1624, p. 342.

# Ib., 349.

the tribe of Dan, and judged his people twenty years. But these words were only partially fulfilled in Samson ; in the times of Antichrist they will be fully accomplished. For Jeremiah speaks in this wise : The snorting of his horses was heard from Dan: the whole land trembled at the sound of the neighing of his strong ones.' And again, Moses says : Dan is a lion's whelp; he shall leap from Bashan.' And lest anyone should say that this is said of the Saviour, he makes his purpose evident by naming the tribe of Dan, out of which the devil is to be born. For as Christ was born of the tribe of Judah, so shall Antichrist be born of the tribe of Dan. For as it was predicted before of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, on account of his royal and illustrious nature, that He would be a Lion, Scripture likewise predicted that the devil would be a lion, on account of his tyranny and violence-for in all things that seducer desires to imitate the Son of God." *

Nothing could be more unsatisfactory than this; and yet beneath the rubbish on the surface we can discern two of what we conceive to be the grand elementary principles about Antichrist :—that Antichrist was to be an imitation of the incarnation and incarnation work of the Son of God'; and, that the devil was to be the author of this imitation. The error lies in supposing that there was to be an actual incarnation, and not merely an imitation of that stupendous miracle, and that the devil himself was to become incarnate. Having stated that the wicked one, as Antichrist, would desire in all things to imitate the Son of God, Hippolytus mentions a number of particulars in which he would do As Christ was a Lion, Antichrist would also be a lion. As Christ was a King, so would Antichrist be a king. As Christ sent apostles to all nations, so would Antichrist send his false apostles. As Christ gave those who believe on Him the precious and life-giving sign of the cross, Antichrist likewise would give his sign. As our Lord appeared in the form of a man, Antichrist will also

go forth in a human form. Christ was born of the Jews, Antichrist will also be born of the Jews. Christ showed his body as a temple, and raised it up in three days, so will Antichrist restore the temple of stone in Jerusalem.

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" When the Saviour of the world had resolved to save the human race, he was born of the immaculate Virgin Mary, and in the likeness of flesh trampled under foot the enemy by the proper power of His divinity. In like manner the devil shall go forth upon the earth, born of an impure woman, but be falsely reported to be born of a virgin. And as Christ chose His apostles, so will he call to himself the whole people as disciples who resemble himself in wickedness. In the first instance, he will love the whole Jewish nation, among them he will show his signs and miracles, not true but false, to seduce those who, like himself, are impious. If it were possible, he would draw away even the elect from the love of Christ. In his first beginnings he will.

* " Biblioth. Vet. Pat.," 350,

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