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commensurate with, the 1260 years of the great Apostasy: consequently, that it precisely coincides with the tyrannical reign of his own little horn during a time, times, and half a time; with the treading of the holy city under foot during forty two months ; with the prophesying of the two witnesses during 1260 days; and with the flight of the woman into the wilderness, from the face of the dragon during the same period*.
The near alliance of the Apostasy and the beast will lead us to the right understanding of what is meant by his existence, his non-existence, and his renewed existencet. " A beast,” as Bp. Newton most truly observes, and as I have already very fully stated in a preceding chapter, " A beast, in “ the prophetic style, is a tyrannical idolatrous
empire: the kingdom of God and of Christ is “ never represented under the image of a beast." This being the case, an empire, is said to continue in existence as a beast, so long as it is a tyrannically idolatrous empire: when it puts away its idolatry and tyranny, and turns to the God of' heaven, the beast, or those qualities whereby the empire was a beast, ceases to exist, though the em
pire itself may still remain : and, when it resumes its idolatry and tyranny, though they may not per: haps bear precisely the same names as its old idolatry and tyranny, it then recommences its existence in its original character of a beast. So singular a circumstance as this never happened either to the Babylonian beast, the Medo-Persian beast, or the Macedonian beast. Whatever may have been the sentiments of Nebuchadnezzar, Darius the Mede, and his nephew Cyrus; whatever decrees they may have promulged in favour of true religion throughout their widely extended, dominions ; whatever privileges they may have granted to the ancient people of God : the voice of history bears ample testimony, that their subjects, as a body, never ceased to be idolaters * But this singular circumstance has happened to the Roman beast, and to the Roman beast alone.
That empire was originally a beast, by its profession of paganism, and by its persecution of the first set of men of understanding mentioned by Danielt : it ceased to be a beast under Constan. tine the great, when it embraced Christianity, and became the protector of the Church: and it
* Though the Persians,' in the time of Xerxes's famous expedition, were professed iconoclasts; yet, notwithstanding Dr. Hyde's laborious attempt to prove the contrary, I cannot but think it suficiently evident, that they worshipped, possibly not altogether excluding the true God, the Sun, the Moon, and the Host of Heaven, in conjunction with their diluvian ancestors. + Dan. xi. 33.
again relapsed into its bestial state, when it set up the tyrannical supremacy of the Pope, adopted the worship of saints and martyrs, and bitterly persecuted the second set of men of understanding* Now the beast erected the spiritual domination of the
Pope in the year 606, by conferring upon him the prerogatives of universal episcopacy. Consequently then it was that the beast arose out of the sea, or out of the turbulent times of Gothic invasion, in his third or revived state: and he may be considered as having firmly taken his station upon the shore, when in the year 607 idolatry was openly reestablished in the old heathen Pantheon. In this state, the dragon, or Satan, is said to have given him “his power, and his seat, and great authori" ty;" in the same manner as he had given them to him before, when the resolute advocate of paganism f.
II. The next point to be considered is the symbolical import of the seven heads of the beast, and especially of his last head.
It is to be observed, that, although the sevenheaded and ten-horned beast arose out of the sea in the year wherein the Apostasy commenced, we
leagued with his little horn to the very tince of the end. Acs cordingly, as Daniel describes the beast and his little horn as perishing together, so St. John teaches us that the same beast and the false prophet shall be involved in one commcn ruin fighting against the Word of God (Rev. xix. 20.). The necessary result of this statement is, that we must not expect any further reforination ; but, on the contrary, that thë fol. lowers of the Pope will become hardened in their false doctrines, and judicially blind to the clear denunciations of Scripture, so that like the Jews of old, they shall unwittingly accomplish the oracles of God. As blindness in part hath happened unto Israel; so, because the Papists received not the love of the truth that they might be saved, God bath sent them strong delusion that they should believe a lie (See 2 Thess. ii. 10, 11.). Mr. Whitaker, to whom the thanks of every protestant, particularly at the present juncture, are due for his well tined and masterly statement of the abominations of Popery, observes, that " above a century ago Puf“ fendorff expressed an opinion, that for the future in all " probability, the Pope would by degrees gain ground on " the protestants, and stated that makes any real reforma« tion in the doctrine of his followers impossible: that, if " it should once be granted, that the Pope has hitherto main“ tained butone'single erroneous point, his infallibility would " then fall to the ground; and, if that were removed, the “ whole superstructure of his ecclesiastical sovereignty, ” which is founded on it, must fall too (Comment. p. 460.). Ought not this consideration to put protestants upon their guard how they give any encouragment to the encroaching spirit of Popery?
are not on that account to suppose, either that all his seven heads were then in existence, or all his ten original horns*. The symbol of an Empire must be so constructed as to take in the whole history of that Empire : whence, if we contemplate it at any given period previous to its final dissolution, some members of the symbol will unavoidably relate to past events, some to present events, and others to future events. This, we are specially informed by St. John, is the case with the present symbol.
“ Here is the mind, which hath wisdom. The. « seven heads are seven mountains, on wbich the « woman sitteth. They are also seven kings (or “ forms of government): five are fallen, and one “ is, and the other is not yet come; and, when o he cometh, he must continue a short space. st. And the beast, that was, and is not, even he is “ the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into * perdition.”
From this passage, we learn that the seven heads have a troo-fold mystical signification ; 'alluding both to the seven hills upon which the city of Rome was founded, and to seven different forms of government which either had arisen or should rise in
* Two of the three horns, which were to be plucked up before the little horn, namely the kingdom of the lIeruli, and the kingdom of the Ostrogoths, were fallen previous to the year 606; as were likewise feve out of the seren heads, or forms of government. Sir Isaac Newton justly remarks, that, “ whatever was “ their number afterwards, they (the ten horns) are still cailed “ the ten kings from their first number."