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during the reign of Antichrist, which is described in the following chapter: 'notwithstanding the prophet is at this very time professedly writing the history of the 1260 days; and notwithstanding 'fe three other chapters of the little book, namely, the chapter which immediately prècedes this, and the two chapters which immediately follow it, are by the Bishop himself allowed to relate to the events of the 1260 days in the West*
* Sir Isaac Newton's mode of explaining the whole prophecy of thellittle book appears to me very unsatisfactory. In many respects, it is liable to the same objections as the scheme of Bp. Newton; and, in some points, it is liable even to greater objections. Thus Sir Isaac conceives the two women, mentioned in the Apocalypse, to be one and the same person; notwithstanding their characters are evidently so different: and supposes, that the woman fted into the wilderness, when the Roman empire was divided into the Greek and Latin empires; notwithstanding the prophet represents her as fleeing there at the beginning of the 1260 days. The general outline of his whole explanation, so far as it regards the three grand symbols of the little book, is as follows. He conjectures, that the dragon is the Greek or Constantinopolitan Empire; that the ten-korned beast is the Latin Empire; and that the two-horned beast is the church of the Greek Empire. Ini none of these particulars can I think him right, except in his opinion of the ten-horned beast; and even of that his definition seems to me to be somewhat too limited, for the sixth head of the ten-horned beast when it revived was the Constantinopolitan Emperor. As for the dragon being the Greek empire, guch an opinion is utterly irreconcileable with the plain declaration of St. John that he is the devil and nothing but the devil: and as for the second apocalyptic beast, there is scarcely a single point in which his character answers to that of the Greek Church.
This plan of interpretation is liable to numerous objections--In the first place, while I readily allow, that what is represented in the prophecy as preceding the flight of the woman into the wilderness at the commencement of the 1260 days must necessarily take place before the commencement of those days, and therefore cannot be included within them; yet I think it highly improbable, that St. John, having already foretold under the trumpets and the sixth seal the declining fortunes of the empire and its conversion to Christianity, should now at length, after he has begun to write the history of the western apostasy, detail so much at large as the Bishop supposes him to do (that is to say, so much at large as to occupy the whole intermediate chapter of the
For the Greek Church never wrought miracles to deceive the Latins; nor did it exercise all the power of the first beast, or the Latin empire, before him; nor did it cause the whole earth to worship that beast ; nor did it set up uny imuge for him; nor lastly did it ever forbid all to buy and sell, except those who bore the name and the mark of the first beast. In short Sir Isaac's exposition entirely confounds the whole plan of the little book, which treats of the affairs of the West, as the two first woe-trumpets had already treated of the collateral affairs of the East.
Since Sir Isaac has discussed all these matters in a single chapter, I thought it best to throw together my objections to his scheme in a single note, and not resume the subject here. after. I shall only add, that I have not brought forward every objection that might have been urged, but have only stated. some of the principal ones.
See Observations on the Apocalypse Chap. iii.
little book, the first propagation of Christianity, the struggle between Christianity and Paganism, the final overthrow of idolatry, the attempt to restore Paganism in the reign of Julian, the discord excited in the Church by the followers of Arius, and the irruption of the northern barbarians into the empire. The main subject of the prophecy is the history of the 1260 days : and this is ushered in by a very short preface, which was necessary to bring us acquainted with the chief characters of the drama. The woman trayails, and bears a son. The dragon casts down a third part of the stars, and atteinpts to devour the child. The child is snatched up to the throne of God, and the woman flees into the wilderness. Then commence the 1260 days.- In the second place, the Bishop's supposition, that the dragon is pagan Rome, can scarcely be reconciled with the unequivocal declaration of St. John, that he is the devil. I have never been able to learn, upon what grounds his Lordship and Mr. Mede so peremptorily pronounce the dragon to be the pagan Roman empire ; and, as if such an opinion could not be doubted, interpret the whole prophecy accordingly. Nothing can be more definite than the language of St. John. He tells us plainly, that the great dragon is “ that old serpent, “ called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the
whole world. ** If then the dragon be the devil,
* Rev. xii. 9.
how can he be the pagan Roman empire ?. The circumstance indeed of his being represented with ten horns shews, that the agent, through whose visible instrumentality he persecutes the woman, is the Roman empire : but it is absolutely impossible, that the dragon himself should be the pagan. Roman empire, because he is brought again upon the stage long after that empire had ceased to exist. Under the yet future sixth vial, an evil spirit is said to come out of his mouth * : and, at the commencement of the Millennium, after the destruction of the beast and the false prophet, he is bound for the space of a thousand years, and cast into the bottomless pit. Nor is this all : at the end of the thousand years he is again let loose to deceive the nations, and succeeds in forming the great confederacy of Gog and Magog; after the overthrow of which he is finally cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. It is observable, that in the course of the last prediction relative to him, he is no less than four times styled Satan and the devil : but, even independent of this circunstance, how is it possible that the pagan Roman empire can perform all the actions ascribed to the dragont? Bp. Newton himself allows him to be the devil at the close of his career.
If then he be the devil in one part of the Apocalypse, he must surely be 'the devil in every
other part.- In the third place, his conjecture,
* Rev. xvi. 13.
+ Rey. xx. 1-10.
that the man-child is Constantine, is equally incongruous with the analogy of scriptural language. The description of this man-child, that he should rule all nations with a rod of iron, is evidently borrowed originally from the second Psalm, where the universal dominion of Christ is predicted. The same mode of expression is twice likewise used in the Apocalypse to describe the power which Christ exercises both in his own person and through the instrumentality of the faithful * : hence surely it is very improbable, that it should here be intended to allude to Constantine. Had the prophet meant to have pointed out that prince, he would scarcely have used such very ambiguous phraseology, as must by. his readers have been thought prima facie applicable, not to Constantine, but to Christ.
- In the fourth place, the prolepsis, of which the Bishop speaks, is no where to be discovered in the plain simple language of the prediction. Nothing is there declared, but merely that the woman, in consequence of the dragon's violence, fled into the wilderness, where she continued 1260 days : that, during her sojourn there, a war took place between Michael and the dragon ; the result of which was, that the dragon was cast out of heaven : and that afterwards, still during her sojourn there, which the prophet carefully mentions a second time, the dragon vomited a great flood out of his mouth against her, in order that she
* Rev. ii. 27. and xix. 15.