An adversary to Jesus Christ. There have been various opinions concerning the Antichrist mentioned in the Scripture, 1 John 2:18. Some have held that the Jews are to be reputed as Antichrist; others Caligula; others Mahomet; others Simon Magus; others infidelity; and others, that the devil himself is the Antichrist. Most authors agree, however, that it applies to the church of Rome. Grotius, Hammond, Bossuet, and others, supposed Rome pagan to be designed; but Rome Christian seems more evident, for John “saw the beast rise up out of the sea,” Rev. 13:1. Now, as heathen Rome had risen and been established long before his time, this could not refer to the Roman empire then subsisting, but to a form of government afterwards to arise. As, therefore, none did arise, after Rome was broken to pieces by the barbarians, but that of the papal power, it must be considered as applying to that. The descriptions also, of the beast as the great apostacy, the man of sin, the mystery of iniquity, and the son of perdition, will apply only to Christian Rome. See Daniel 7:2 Thess 2 and Rev. 13. Besides the time allowed for the continuance of the beast will not apply to heathen Rome; for power was given to the beast for 1260 years, whereas heathen Rome did not last 400 years after this prophecy was delivered. Authors have differed as to the time when Antichrist arose. Some suppose that his reign did not commence till he became a temporal prince, in the year 756, when Pepin wrested the exarchate of Ravenna from the Lombards, and made it over to the pope and his successors. Others think that it was in 727, when Rome and the Roman dukedom came from the Greeks to the Roman pontiff. Mede dates this rise in the year 456; but others, and I think with the greatest reason, place it in the year 606. Now, it is generally agreed that the reign of Antichrist is 1260 years; consequently, if his rise is not to be reckoned till he was possessed of secular authority, then his fall must be when this power is taken away. According to the first opinion, he must have possessed his temporal power till the year 2016; according to the second, he must have possessed it till the year 1987. If this rise began, according to Mede, in 456, then he must have fallen in 1716. Now that these dates were wrong, circumstances have proved; the first and second being too late, and the third too early. As these hypotheses, therefore, must fall to the ground, it remains for us to consider why the last mentioned is the more probable. It was about the year 606 that pope Boniface III. by flattering Phocas, the emperor of Constantinople, one of the worst of tyrants, procured for himself the title of Universal Bishop. The bishops of Rome and Constantinople had long been struggling for this honour; at last, it was decided in favour of the bishop of Rome; and from this time he was raised above all others, and his supremacy established by imperial authority: it was now, also, that the most profound ignorance, debauchery, and superstition, reigned. From this time the popes exerted all their power in promoting the idolatrous worship of images, saints, reliques, and angels. The church was truly deplorable; all the clergy were given up to the most flagrant and abominable acts of licentiousness. Places of worship resembled the temples of heathens more than the churches of Christians; in fine, nothing could exceed the avarice, pride, and vanity of all the bishops, presbyters, deacons, and even the cloistered monks! All this fully answered the description St. Paul gave of Antichrist, 2 Thess. 2 It is necessary also to observe, that this epoch agrees best with the time when, according to prophecy, he was to be revealed. The rise of Antichrist was to be preceded by the dissolution of the Roman empire, the establishment of a different form of government in Italy, and the division of the empire into ten kingdoms; all these events taking place, make it very probable that the year 606 was the time of his rise. Nor have the events of the last century made it less probable. The power of the pope was never so much shaken as within a few years: “his dominion is, in a great measure, taken from him;” and every thing seems to be going on gradually to terminate his authority; so that, by the time this 1260 years shall be concluded, we may suppose that Antichrist shall be finally destroyed.
In this we have to rejoice, that, however various, the opinions of the learned may be as to the time when Antichrist rose, it is evident to all that he is fast declining, and will certainly fall, Rev. 18:1,5. What means the Almighty may farther use, the exact time when, and the manner how, all shall be accomplished, we must leave to him who ordereth all things after the counsel of his own will.
Charles Buck (1771-1815) was an English Independent minister, best known for the publication of his “Theological Dictionary”. According to the “Dictionary of National Biography”, a Particular Baptist minister named John C. Ryland (1723-1792) assisted Buck by writing many of the articles for the aforementioned publication. One may conclude, based not only Buck’s admiration for his friend Ryland, but also on the entries in his Theological Dictionary, that he stood head and shoulders with the High-Calvinists of his day.