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the sense of all the scriptures relating to these principal facts, that were to distinguish the LAST TIMES, or the dispensation of the gospel, in this early part of it.
If we duly consider these things, we shall no longer wonder that our Lord should have refrained from saying any thing himself, so expressly as St Paul has done some years afterwards, of the coming of Antichrist.-There was no need at all of this great additional difficulty to be thrown in their way by our Lord himself. And we find him teaching St Peter, by a vision, so necessary a truth as that the gentile world was to be admitted into the hope of salvation by the gospel, even after his own ascension into heaven. Jesus had taught them this doctrine before, by many, parables, which he had explained to them afterwards in private conference, as far as present circumstances and common prudence would admit; and we shall find that he had not neglected to take the same method of inculcating the doctrine of Antichrist, a still more delicate point, and reserved for a future
time, and another method of communicating a fuller account of it.
The prejudices of the apostles themselves we continually find, required some time to be worn out, and fresh communications were made to them by the Comforter, the Spirit of wisdom and divine inspiration, as fresh occasion for them occurred. That the doctrine of Antichrist, therefore, should have been one of the latest communications made, and have been committed rather to the apostle of the gentiles, than to any other of the sacred college, except St John, at a considerable distance of time afterwards; is every way agreeable to that divine wisdom, which appears (upon a full and fair consideration) in the disposition and regulation of the gospel oeco
But though our Saviour has not so far noticed his great and formidable enemy, (in that brief account we have in the gospel history of his doctrine,) as to give us his genealogy, or even to mention his name, yet he has drop
ped many hints and allusions to the principal features of the antichristian apostacy, which, like his dark parables to the jews, may be better understood by us now, than they could be by them, even if prudence had permitted a fuller explanation of them to be made by himself. Those parables were prophetic, and could not be clearly expounded except by the events, which, when they took place, were destructive to the persons to whom they were particularly addressed. And his allusions to antichristianism are many of them in a similar predicament; and can all of them be better apprehended by a comparison with the APOSTACY itself, than they could have been by any explanations given by our blessed Lord, so long before it appeared. Hints and allusions to existing errors, and cautions against similar hypocrisy and wickedness, was all that our blessed Lord could consistently deliver on such a subject; and these are both frequent and strikingly obvious in his teaching.
St Paul himself has said but a little of Antichrist, but that little, when compared with
the scriptures of the prophets to which it al ludes, contains in it a great deal. St John, the last of the sacred penmen, has opened the evil to the very bottom, in his last work, and in terms so highly mystical, that his book was not generally admitted into the sacred canon until the fullest canvass of its authenticity had established its claim, after the lapse of considerable time. However if some scruples on this head might (from the circumstances of the time) have arisen to the primitive christians, there can be none to us now; for the book has abundantly proved its own truth and divine authority, by the regular fulfilment of the prophecies it contains, as far as the time has yet elapsed, which leaves no doubt remaining as to that which is yet to
It is not to be supposed but there must have been ever present to the mind of our Lord himself, a vivid idea of the great apostacy which was to disfigure his gospel, and defeat, in a very great degree, the effect of all that he was come into the world to do, and
to suffer, for the enlightening of mankind and the salvation of souls. The gross idolatry, which in the catholic communion has been paid to the saints and martyrs, and chief of all, to his mother, the blessed Virgin Mary, must have been foreknown to him, to whom all things were known, and who "needed not that any one should testify to him what (capabilities of error) were in man.”*
It is upon this idea that some have accounted for that seeming unkindness and neglect, with which in one or two instances, recorded in the gospels, (perhaps by a peculiar designation of the holy Spirit,) he seems to have regarded the blessed Virgin. As if it had been point out to no
his design prophetically to
tice, in a striking manner, by his personal conduct, as well as his words, the gross and wicked errors which have been since built upon ber supposed favor with God, and alledged superiority, by maternal right to Christ her son, so
John ii. 25.