Futurism and Preterism
Main features of that system, and fearlessly proclaimed tsar the Papacy was the Antichrist. Indeed, it was the conviction of the truth of that system with regard to the meaning of the Antichrist that helped to nerve them to the conflict with that great adversary. The learned Bishop Warburton says : ” On this principle [viz., “that the Man of Sin; or Antichrist, could be none other than the man that fills the Papal tilde] was the Reformation begun and carried on this the great separation from the Church of Rome was conceived and perfected.” From this time forward the Historical system of interpretation became firmly established. It can point to a long line of names conspicuous alike for intellectual power and personal piety, such as Mede, Vitringa, Sir Isaac Newton, Bishop Newton, Prof. Birks of Cambridge, Mr. Elliott, and, in our own day, Dr. Grattan Guinness, and Dr. Gordon of America. Agreed upon the general method of interpretation which we have noticed as distinctive of the Historical system, each writer has sought to bring fresh light to bear upon details. One great event after another in the history of the world, like the beacon lights that show the course to the mariner, has proved that Historical interpreters are on the right lines, and has enabled them to discern their present position in the prophetical chart. And now we only wait for the closing events of this dispensation to complete the proof and to fulfil what yet remains to be accomplished.
Next we come to consider the time of the rise of the Futurist system as we now have it, and the occasion which led to it. So great a hold did the conviction that the Papacy was the Antichrist gain upon the minds of men, that Rome at last saw she must bestir herself, and try, by putting forth other systems of interpretation, to counteract the identification of the Papacy with the Antichrist. Accordingly, ‘towards the close of the century of the Reformation, two of her most learned doctors set themselves to the task, each endeavouring by different means to accomplish the same end, namely, that of diverting men’s minds from perceiving the fulfilment of the prophecies of the Antichrist in the Papal system.’ The Jesuit Alcasar devoted himself to bring into prominence.
DIFFERENT SYSTEMS OF INTERPRETATION
Preterist method of interpretation, which we have already briefly noticed, and thus endeavoured to show that the prophecies of Antichrist were fulfilled before the Popes ever ruled at Rome, and therefore could not apply to the Papacy. On the other hand. the Jesuit Ribera tried to set aside the application of these prophecies to the Papal Power by bringing out the Futurist system, which asserts that these prophecies refer properly not to the career of the Papacy, but to that of some future supernatural in-dividual, who is yet to appear, and to continue in power for three and a half years. Thus, as Alford says, the Jesuit Ribero, about A.D. 158o, may be regarded as the Founder of the Futurist system in modern times.’ It is a matter for deep regret that those who hold and advocate the Futurist system at the present day, Protestants as they are for the most part, are thus really playing into the hands of Rome, and helping to screen the Papacy from detection as the Antichrist. It has been well said that ” Futurism tends to obliterate the brand put by the Holy Spirit upon Popery.” More especially is this to be deplored at a time when the Papal Anti-Christ seems to be snaking an expiring effort to regain his former hold on men’s minds. Now once again, as at the Reformation, it is especially necessary that his true character should be recognised, by all who would be faithful to ” the testimony of Jesus.”. That the work of the Reformation is being sapped and mined in England is only too evident. It has been boldly and eloquently proclaimed by Archdeacon Farrar, and is acknowledged by some of our Bishops. Is it not time, therefore, that those who oppose the Historical system, which, by identifying the Papacy with the Antichrist, formed the prophetical basis of the Reformation, should ask themselves whether they are not in this way really strengthening the hands of those who are now endeavouring to undo that glorious work?