Apr 3, 1804 Sermon Index
Van Deusen/Kosinski Collection
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The duration of this inimical power is limited and ascertained with great precision. Daniel predicts that he shall continue for a time, and times, and the dividing of time. The same symbolical number is expressed in the Apocalypse by a time, and times, and half a time; again by forty and two months; and again by a thousand two hundred and threescore days. By specifying the period under such various computations, we are taught, not to understand them in a literal sense, as intimating only three years and an half, but as symbols of a much longer time, where a day is put for a year. Agreeably to this construction, which may easily be proved to be just and scriptural [See A. FRAZER, "Key to the Prophecies." part ii. sect. 2.], 1260 days, reckoning 30 days to a month, the manner in which the year was anciently divided, amount to 1260 prophetic year, of five days, and a few hours, makes, in this long period, without regarding a small fraction, 17 years. This deducted from 1260, leaves 1243; the precise time represented by the symbolical numbers of 42 months, of three years and an half, and of 1260 days; all of which express the same period of time. This is the whole space of the reign of antichrist. 1243 years shall that enemy oppress the cause of truth and righteousness. So many years the Church will be in the wilderness. So many years the holy city will be trodden under foot by the Gentiles. And so many years the two witnesses shall prophecy, clothed in sackcloth. If now we can determine the time when this dark period commenced, we may immediately, by adding 1243 years, ascertain when it will terminate.

It is impossible within the compass of a single note, to do justice to an inquiry so intricate and important. Those who wish to obtain extensive information, may read what Mede, Vitringa, Daubux, Lowman, Durham, Fleming, Whitby, Bishop Newton, Johnston, and other learned men have written upon the subject. To confirm what was asserted in the Discourse, that the latest calculation which has been, or can be made of the fall of the antichrist, extends that event to the year 1999, is all that is here intended. A few observations will suffice for this.

As the introduction of errors into the Church, and the consequent decline of truth and piety were gradual, it is a difficult task to fix, with precision, the exact time when the reign of antichrist commenced. This accounts for the variety of opinions and calculations which have appeared. The earliest period which can be suggested is the year 325. The civil establishment and extensive favors conferred at that time by Constantine, have been celebrated by many as the brightest era and most prosperous event ever experienced in the church. But


others, who form a different estimate of the friendship of the world, have viewed the imprudent zeal of that Emperor as productive of the greatest disasters, & more pernicious to the interests of true religion, than the fiercest persecutions had ever proved. They therefore date the rise of antichrist from that fatal period. To this, if 1243 years be added, the close of his reign would be in 1568, about the very time when the Reformation was consummated. Hence some learned and good men have maintained, that antichrist then fell, and that the Millenium then began. But since that period, many cruel persecutions have exhibited terrible proofs that antichrist was not fallen. And surely Satan was not then, nor is he yet, bound in chains! wars have not ceased; nor is the kingdom of righteousness and peace universally prevalent.

Antichrist is described under the symbol of a breast. And ten horns or kings are said to receive their power one, or at the same hour, with the beast. Some have therefore held, that the reign of antichrist commenced as soon as the Roman empire was divided into ten different kingdoms. These kingdoms were not formed until the year 456. If to this be added 1243, the end of the reign of antichrist would have been in the year 1699.

It is predicted, 2 Thes. ii. 7, 8. He who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way, and then shall that wicked one be revealed. This some have understood to intimate, that as antichrist could not appear during the government of the Roman emperiors, so he would arise immediately upon the removal of that power, which, during its existence, hindered his domination and tyranny. The Roman empire was not wholly dissolved until the deposition of Augustulus, the last who reigned over the eastern and western empire. This happened in the year 476, which would extend the fall of antichrist to 1719. But neither of these calculations correspond with facts. The premises upon which the conclusions rest, are, of course, not accurately determined.

Two periods which respect the immediate formation of the Roman hierarchy, either in regard to its spiritual or civil constitution, are most distinguished, and from one or other of these, the soundest calculations appear to be formed.

The gradual decline of the Church had reached the lowest point of depression, when the Bishop of Rome assumed the absurd title, and began to exercise the tyrannic power of Occumenical or universal Bishop. This happened in the year 606. Then a beast was seen in the Church. Then the ten horns or kings submitted to his usurped supremacy. And then the paper hierarch called himself the Vicar of Christ, and might be legitimately recognized as antichrist. If to this date we add


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