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Defects of the Theory of Hippolytus.
he mild, given to love, quiet, religious, peaceful; be will oppose iniquity, detest gifts, will not tolerate idolatry, will love the Scriptures, roverence purity, hold grey hairs in honour; he will repudiate whoredom, hold adultery in abhorrence, and not hearken to slanderers ; he will be hospitable, mindful of the poor, merciful. Afterwards he shall show forth miracles, by cleansing lepers, by energizing paralytics, by casting out devils.”+
While the form of these statements is purely fanciful, they contain an undertone of truth. The author saw from Scripture that Antichrist was to work miracles—that he was to be smooth and gentle and universally insinuating on his first appearance-and that in all things he was to be an imitation of Christ. Hippolytus saw these things clearly in the Scriptures, but living before Antichrist was revealed, he was necessarily ignorant of the actual facts of history corresponding to these predictions. Instead of waiting till the
were disclosed in Providence, he made them for himself, and by clothing his ignorance with the fig-leaves of fancy, he has given to his whole treatise the appearance of a romance or fable. This author seems to have been deeply impressed with the idea that Antichrist was to be an imitation of Christ. This no doubt is the central idea on the subject. Hippolytus, however, saw the idea only in its germ. He had no proper idea of its contents, or of the manner in which it was to be exfoliated. He therefore develops this imitation according to the letter, and not according to the spirit. Antichrist is not opposed to the idea of Christ as Christ. He is to be opposed to–or, which is the same thing, is to be an imitation of-Christ circumstantially rather than officially. Because Christ was descended of Judah, Jacob's fourth son, he was to descend from Dan, his seventh — because Christ was born of a virgin, he was to be born of a virginbecause Christ had apostles, he was to have apostles—because Christ wrought miracles, he was to work miracles. All this is on the surface. Antichrist, whoever he may be, must be opposed to Christ as Christ. This we regard as the fundamental axiom on the subject, ignorance of which in early times, and want of a formally-expressed statement of which in all times, has made a scientific discussion of the subject impossible. We have only further to state that, according to Hippolytus, Antichrist was to appear at the end of the world, and that he was to continue three years and a half. He held also, in common with many others of that period, that the world was to end in the year 500 after Christ, in which he has been mistaken by no less a period than 1,300 years ; and we verily believe that Hippolytus had as good reason to
“ Biblioth. Vet. Patr.," 352-53.
know in what precise year the world was to end as any man who is now alive, or who has lived since his time.
We have materials before us for going over the whole history of thought on the subject of Antichrist with equal minuteness as in the case of Hippolytus. Our space, however, forbidding this, we shall only give the briefest hints from some of the principal authors. A number of references to Antichrist are found in the works of Tertullian. He held “that the Man of Sin was Antichrist, both according to the prophets of the old and new dispensations, and that Marcion and other heretics were his precursors.
.”* Writing in the first half of the third century he yet held that the advent of Antichrist was at hand.”ť “ The division of the Roman Empire, and its partition among ten kings, was to bring in Antichrist.”'In common with others, Tertullian held that the end of the world was immediately to follow the appearance of Antichrist—that he could not appear while the Roman Empire stood entire ; and he tells us that Christians were accustomed in their assemblies to pray for the continuance of the empire, so that they might be delivered from the awful calamities which would befall mankind under the tyranny of the Man of Sin, and in the closing scenes of this world's history. “There is to us,” says he, “a greater necessity of pra ng for the Emperor, for the whole state of the empire, and the whole interests of the Roman people, because we know that a hostile power impends over the whole earth, and the end of the world itself is at hand, threatening the most awful calamities, and both of these are retarded by the preservation of the Roman Empire.” In another place he says: “A Christian is an enemy of no one, not even of the Emperor. Knowing that he has been ordained of God, it is necessary that Christians should both love him, hold him in reverence and honour him, and wish his safety and that of the whole empire: for so long as the world shall stand shall the empire stand.”' || Here is one important statement in connexion with Antichrist,—that the continuance of the Roman Empire was that which prevented his advent and the end of the world. And it is interesting to notice that, 1,200 years before the Reformation, the city of Rome was called Babylon, and its inhabitants the people of the Seven Hills. Babylon etiam apud Joannem nostrum Romanæ urbis figura est." “ Sic et Babylon apud Joannem nostrum portat
* In Marcionem, Opera. Cologne, 1617—687. + De Fuga in Pers., 687.
# De Resurrect., 687. $ In Gentes, 44.
|| In Scapulam, 91. | In Marcionem, 485.
Patristic Mode of Thinking.
figuram Romanæ urbis."'* “ Septem collium plebem conrenio." + Cyprian held that our Lord in the Gospels, Daniel in his visions, and Paul in the 2nd Chapter of 2nd Thessalonians, foretold the advent of Antichrist. He also believed that the end of the world and the coming of Antichrist were just at hand. “For,” says he, “ye ought to know, and to believe, and to hold for certain, that the end of the world and the time of Antichrist are at hand, so that we may all stand prepared for the battle.”|| Commodian, who lived not long after Cyprian, wrote “Instructiones” in Latin verse. The fortyfirst of these is entitled “De Antichristo." The following quotation will show that he believed that Nero was Antichrist, and that when he rose again from the dead the end of the world was come :
“ Tunc scilicet mundus finitur cum ille parebit,
In tres imperantes ipse diviserit orbem,
Tunc dicet, Ego sum Christus quem semper oratis."'S Origen appears to have penetrated as far into the real spirit of Antichrist as anyone who lived before his full revelation. The following passage, in the purely speculative form that was at once the glory and the weakness of that great teacher's mind, is highly interesting because of its fundamental thought :
“But since Celsus has also thrown out a few things about Antichrist, as he is called, without having read either the testimonies of Daniel or Paul, or the predictions of our Lord contained in the Gospel respecting his advent, a few things are to be said on this head. For as there are many countenances among mankind very dissimilar to each other, so neither are their hearts alike. The greatest difference among them lies in this, that all are not equally inclined by nature to good, and being prone to evil, rush into it, some to a greater, others to a less degree-for there are some strongly addicted to every kind of evil, while others are more moderately inclined. We shall not speak absurdly, then, if we shall say that there are two extremes, the one of good, the other of evil ; that the extreme of good may be seen in him who is according to Christ, and the extreme of evil in him who is according to Antichrist. But God, who embraces all things in His own foreknowledge, sees both, and wished to make them known to men by the prophets, that those who understand their writings may see the better and flee the worse. It behoved the most perfect in the one extreme, on account of his excellence, to be called the Son of God, and that his
* Adversus Judæos, 45.
+ Adversus Gent., 45. I In Symbolum, 395.
|| Epistola ad Thibaritanos. § “Commodiani Instructiones " in Cyprian, Opp. Paris, 1666. VOL. XIV. -LI.
opponent should be called the son of the evil demon, Satan and the devil.”*
This seems to contain, in Origen’s peculiar style, what we have long regarded as the real scriptural idea of Antichrist : That as Christ was the Son of God, Antichrist was to be the offspring of Satan; that as Christ was the maximum manifestation of God ever given to the world, so Antichrist was to be the maximum manifestation of sin.
Passing over others, Theodoret, on the 2nd Chapter of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, says that by “the mystery of iniquity” Nero is to be understood—“per iniquitatis mysterium Neronem designat ;” and by “that which letteth " he understands the Roman Empire; and by the taking of him that letteth “out of the way” he understands the downfall of that empire.
The 19th Chapter of the 20th Book of Augustine's “City of God” is upon the subject of Antichrist. As it contains nothing materially different from what is given above, we shall pass
it over. It is important, however, to remark that throughout the “City of God” Augustine calls Babylon the first Rome, and Rome the second Babylon. “ Where Rome, the second Babylon, is seated.”+ " Briefly, Rome, the second Babylon, daughter of the first, was now founded."
“ Saint Peter calleth Rome Babylon, as Hierome saith, who also thinketh that John, in the Apocalypse, meaneth no other Babylon."'S
These are specimens of the patristic mode of thinking on the subject of Antichrist. Beneath much that is crude, fanciful, and puerile, we discern the great fundamental elements of the truth, existing, however, in a sort of chaotic state. They are without form—a fixed scientific form being impossible before Antichrist had taken his position in history. Amid all that is exceptional, we can discern these main features—that Antichrist was to be an imitation of Christ, and yet His enemy—that Satan was to be the author of this imitation—that Antichrist was a special manifestation of sin —that he was to rise out of the Roman Empire—that the continuance of that empire was what hindered his full revelation and that Rome was Babylon.
Such was the general style of teaching down to the times of Gregory the Great, who lived in the latter half of the sixth and in the beginning of the seventh
* Contra Celsum. Op., Part IV., III. + Old English Translation, Book 18, Cap. 19. I Ibid, Book 18, Cap. 22. Ś Note by Ludovicus Vives on last quoted passage.
Striking Testimony of Pope Gregory. .
century. His own works, which occupy a gigantic folio, abound throughout in references to Antichrist
. The references to him in the Index occupy more than a long folio column. In his Lectures on the Book of Job he finds Antichrist everywhere, especially under Leviathan and Behemoth. We quote part as a specimen of “infallible” interpretation. Of behemoth it is said in Scripture, “He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together. His bones are as strong as pieces of iron.” Behemoth means the devil. “And what,” says Gregory, “is the tail of behemoth but the extremity of that ancient enemy, when he shall enter into his proper instrument—that Man of Sin who is specially called Antichrist.”* Again: “Nervi testiculum ejus perplexi sunt. Tot iste testes behemoth habet quot iniquitates suæ predicatores possidet. An ejus testes non sunt qui pravis persuasionibus corda hominum virulenta erroris sui semina fundendo corrumpunt. Apte autem de citur quod testiculum ejus nervi perplexi sunt quia videlicet predicatorum illius argumenta dolosis assertionibus innodantur.”+ And in regard to his bones it is said : “ Quod ossa diaboli heresiarchæ sunt et principes militæ.”+ Gregory was the last great teacher of the Western Church. It ought not to be overlooked that, in the providence of God, the works of this Pontiff so abound in references to Antichrist, and that in them he continues to raise his well-known protest against John of Constantinople, that to assume the title of "uni. versal bishop” was to be Antichrist.
Shortly after Gregory's death the Pope assumed the title of universal bishop; next, he became a temporal power; and lastly, he claimed to be the spiritual and temporal sovereign of the world. The Roman Pontiff had reached the full measure of his stature when he claimed to be King of all earthly kings
, and Lord of all earthly lords. Antichrist had hitherto been spoken of abstractly and indefinitely, as one yet to come. No sooner
, however, did the Bishop of Rome stand forth in his fall-blown power and majesty and dominion, than many of God's people in different countries began to speak of Anti
as already come, and to maintain that he was localized in Rome, and beyond controversy revealed in the workings of the Papal system. The earliest written document in which the Pope is deliberately pronounced to be Antichrist is a
“We recognize,” says Neander, “the spirit which gave birth to the Waldensian sect in a writing on the Antichrist," in the Romance language, which certainly belongs to the twelfth century, though the date assigned in
* In Job : Works, 207.
+ Ibid, 208.
# Ibid, do.