Verse 2. Speaking lies in hypocrisy. en upokrisei qeudologwn. Or rather, "by, or through the hypocrisy of those speaking lies." So it is rendered by Whitby, Benson, Macknight, and others. Our translators have rendered it as if the word translated "speaking lies"— qeudologwn referred to demons, or devils daimoniwn —in the previous verse. But there are two objections to this. One is, that then, as Koppe observes, the words would have been inverted—qeudologwn en upokrisei. The other is, that if that construction is adopted, it must be carried through the sentence, and then all the phrases "speaking lies," "having their conscience seared," "forbidding to marry," etc., must be referred to demons. The preposition en, in, may denote by or through, and is often so used. If this be the true construction, then it will mean that those who departed from the faith did it by or through the hypocritical teachings of those who spoke lies, or who knew that they were inculcating falsehoods; of those whose conscience was seared; of those who forbade to marry, etc. The meaning then will be, "In the last days certain persons will depart from the faith of the gospel. This apostasy will essentially consist in their giving heed to spirits that lead to error, and in embracing corrupt and erroneous views on demonology, or in reference to invisible beings between us and God. This they will do through the hypocritical teaching of those who inculcate falsehood; whose consciences are seared," etc. The series of characteristics, therefore, which follow, are those of the teachers, not of the taught; of the ministers of the church, not of the great body of the people. The apostle meant to say that this grand apostasy would occur under the influence of a hypocritical, hardened, and arbitrary ministry, teaching their own doctrines instead of the Divine commands, and forbidding that which God had declared to be lawful. In the clause before us—"speaking lies in hypocrisy"—two things are implied, first, that the characteristic of those referred to would be that they would "speak lies;" second, that this would be done hypocritically. In regard to the first, there can be no doubt among Protestants of its applicability to the Papal communion. The entire series of doctrines respecting the authority of the Pope, purgatory, the Mass, the invocation of the saints, the veneration of relics, the Seven Sacraments, the authority of tradition, the doctrine of merit, etc., is regarded as false. Indeed, the system could not be better characterized than by saying that it is a system "speaking lies." The entire scheme attempts to palm falsehood upon the world, in the place of the simple teaching of the New Testament. The only question is, whether this is done "in hypocrisy," or hypocritically. In regard to this, it is not necessary to maintain that there is no sincerity among the ministers of that communion, or that all are hypocritical in their belief and their teaching. The sense is, that this is the general characteristic, or that this is understood by the leaders or prime movers in that apostasy. In regard to the applicability of this to the ministers of the Papal communion, and the question whether they teach what they know to be false, we may observe

(1.) that many of them are men of eminent learning, and there can be no reason to doubt that they know that many of the Catholic legends are false, and many of the doctrines of their faith contrary to the Bible.

(2.) Not a few of the things in that communion must be known by them to be false, though not known to be so by the people. Such are all the pretended miracles wrought by the relics of the saints; the liquefying of the blood of St. Januarius, etc. See Barnes "2 Th 2:9".

As the working of these tricks depends wholly on the priesthood, they must know that they are "speaking lies in hypocrisy."

(3.) The matter of fact seems to be, that when young men who have been trained in the Catholic church, first turn their attention to the ministry, they are sincere. They have not yet been made acquainted with the "mysteries of iniquity" in the communion in which they have been trained, and they do not suspect the deceptions that are practised there. When they pass through their course of study, however, and become acquainted with the arts and devices on which the fabric rests, and with the scandalous lives of many of the clergy, they are shocked to find how corrupt and false the whole system is. But they are now committed. They have devoted their lives to this profession. They are trained now to this system of imposture, and they must continue to practise and perpetuate the fraud, or abandon the church, and subject themselves to all the civil and ecclesiastical disabilities which would now follow if they were to leave and reveal all its frauds and impostures. A gentleman of high authority, and who has had as good an opportunity as any man living to make accurate and extensive observations, stated to me, that this was a common thing in regard to the Catholic clergy in France and Italy. No one can reasonably doubt that the great body of that clergy must be apprized that much that is relied on for the support of the system is mere legend, and that the miracles which are pretended to be wrought are mere trick and imposture.

Having their conscience seared with a hot iron. The allusion here is doubtless to the effect of applying a hot iron to the skin. The cauterized part becomes rigid and hard, and is dead to sensibility. So with the conscience of those referred to. It has the same relation to a conscience that is sensitive and quick in its decisions, that a cauterized part of the body has to a thin, delicate, and sensitive skin. Such a conscience exists in a mind that will practise delusion without concern; that will carry on a vast system of fraud without wincing; that will incarcerate, scourge, or burn the innocent without compassion; and that win practise gross enormities, and indulge in sensual gratifications under the mask of piety. While there are many eminent exceptions to an application of this to the Papal communion, yet this description will apply better to the Roman priesthood in the time of Luther found in many other periods of the world—than to any other body of men that ever lived.

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