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Of AntiChrist and His Ruin

Of AntiChrist and His Ruin

And Of

The Slaying the Witnesses

Prefatory remarks by the Editor

This important treatise was prepared for the press, and left by the author, at his decease, to the care of his surviving friend for publication. It first appeared in a collection of his works in folio, 1692; and although a subject of universal interest; most admirably elucidated; no edition has been published in a separate form.

Antichrist has agitated the Christian world from the earliest ages; and his craft has been to mislead the thoughtless, by fixing upon the humble followers of the Lamb his own opprobrious proper name. The mass of professed Christians, whose creed and mode of worship have been provided by human laws, has ever been opposed to the sincere disciples of Christ. To imbibe every principle from investigation and conviction of the holy oracles—to refuse submission to any authority in the spiritual kingdom of God, except it is to Christ, the supreme head and only lawgiver in his church—to refuse obedience to human laws in the great concern of salvation and of worship; whether those laws or decrees emanate from a Darius, a Nebuchadnezzar, a Bourbon, a Tudor, or a Stuart—to be influenced by the spirit which animated Daniel, the three Hebrew youths, and the martyrs, brought down denunciations upon them, and they were called antichristian: but alas! the sincere disciples of Jesus have ever known and FELT who and what is Antichrist. They have been robbed—incarcerated in dungeons—racked and tormented—transported—drowned—hung or burned. The most frightful atrocities have been committed upon the most peaceful and valuable members of society; because they valued their soul’s peace in preference to temporal advantages. These cruelties are THY cursed deeds, O Antichrist! The hand writing against thee is exhibited in blood-stained and indelible characters. The Great God has decreed thy downfall and ruin—”That wicked—whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth,” (2 Thess 2:8). All who are found partakers in his community, must be consumed with an everlasting destruction. No “paper-winkers1 can hide this truth from the enlightened regenerated mind. “O my soul, come not thou into their secret, unto their assembly, mine honor, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man. Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel!”

In Bunyan’s time great cruelties were practiced to compel uniformity. To that absurd shrine many thousand invaluable lives were sacrificed. Blessed be God, that happier days have dawned upon us. Antichrist can no longer put the Christian to a cruel death. It very rarely sends one to prison for refusing obedience to human laws that interfere with religious worship. “My kingdom is not of this world,” said the Redeemer: and his followers dare not render unto Caesar, or temporal governments, that which belongs exclusively to God. Human coercion, in anything connected with religion, whether it imposes creeds, liturgies, or modes of worship, is Antichrist: whom to obey, is spiritual desolation, and if knowingly persevered in, leads to death.

On the contrary, the kingdom of Christ is love, meekness, forbearance, persuasion, conviction, and holy faith. The Christian who dares not obey Antichrist may still, in some countries, suffer personal violence; but the olden cruelties have given way to the spread of the gospel. Should the wicked spirit of persecution still light its unhallowed fire in any sect; may heaven forgive and convert such misguided men, before the divine wrath shall consume all that pertains to Antichrist. “Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord.”

Bunyan conceives that previous to the universal triumphs of the Savior, Antichrist will spread his influence over the whole earth; and the church be hidden from outward observation, in the hearts of believers. This idea, which was also cherished by Dr. Gill, and others, deserves careful consideration; while we keep in mind, that leaven which must spread, however invisible in its operation, until the whole earth shall be leavened.

The dread enemy may yet appear in a different shape to any that he has hitherto assumed. When mankind, by the spread of knowledge, shall throw off the absurdities and disgraceful trammels of hypocrisy, fanaticism, and tyranny, which has so long oppressed them; there may be experienced a vast overflowing of infidelity, and perverted reason assume the place of Antichrist. Through this and all other opposing systems, Christianity must make its irresistible progress: all that opposes is doomed to ruin by the Great God. Every heart will be subdued by that blessed knowledge, which has the promise of the life that now is as well as of that which is to come. Bloodless victory! The ark being exhibited, every Dagon must fall before it, then shall be realized the heavenly anthem, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men.”

GEORGE OFFOR.

 

 

1Paper-winkers,’ in every edition, except the first, which was from the author’s manuscript, has been altered to ‘paper-windows.’ Bunyan’s allusion is to the winkers, called by many ‘blinkers,’ put by the side of a horse’s eyes, to keep him under the complete control of his driver—and by ‘paper-winkers’ the flimsy attempt of Antichrist to hoodwink mankind by printed legends, miracles, and absurd assumptions—it is one of the almost innumerable sparks of wit, which render all the writings of Bunyan so entertaining and strikingly instructive.—Ed.


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