صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني
[ocr errors]

again relapsed into its bestial state, when it sct 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 thirt or revived staie: and he may be considered as liaving 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 t.

II. The

[ocr errors]

* Dan. xi. 35.

+ It is in this same third or papally idolatrous state that the beast “shall go into perdition," or be. utterly destroyed, as St. John in perfect harmony with Daniel specially in forms us (Rev. xvii. 11.-Dan. vii. 11.). After his division into ten kingdons, and “because of the voice of the great words .. which the horn spake;" that is to say, when he has again become a beast by upholding the papal superstition, as he was before a beast by supporting the abominations of paganism: in this last state he goeth into perdition. “He shall not, as “ he did before, cease for a time, and revive again; but shall " be destroyed for ever” (Bp. Newton's Dissert. on Rev. xvii.). Hence we may conclude, that, since the beast is to be destroyed on account of his little horn, he will continue firmly

leagued

3

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

are

leagued svith his little horn to the very tince of the end. Aco cordingly, as Daniel describes the beast and his little horn as perishing together, so St. Jolin teaches us that the same beast and the false prophet shall be involved in one common 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 doctrives, 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. j. 10, 11.). Mr. Whitaker, to whom the thanks of every protestant, particularly at the present juncture, are due for his well timed and masterly statement of the abomimations of Popery, observes, that " above a century ago Puffendorff expressed an opinion, that for the future in all

probability, the Pope would by degrees gain ground ou " the protestants, and stated vrhat 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 but one 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 bow they give any encouragment to the encroaching spirit of Popery?

[ocr errors]

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 which the “ woman sitteth. They are also seven kings (or « forms of government): five are fallen, and one

is, and the other is not yet coine; and, when « he cometh, he must continue a short space. < 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 governmient. Sir Isaac Newton justly remarks, that, “ whatever was “ their number afterwards, they (the ten horns) are still called the ten kings from their first number."

the

the Roman Empire. ' At the time when St. John wrote, five of these forms had already fallen, and the sixth was then in actual existence: there is no difficulty therefore, and consequently no dispute, in settling what is meant by the first six heads of the beast. Two Roman historians indeed have satisfactorily decided this point for us, by teaching us, that, previous to the sixth or imperial form under which St. John lived, their country had been subject to exactly five others; namely kings, con. suls, dictators, decemvirs, and military tribunes with consular authority *. The only point then, liable to dispute, is, zehat form of Roman government is intended by the last head: and here, I think, there cannot be much dispute, if we only compare prophecy and history together.

I have stated, that the beast arose out of the sea in the year 606, when he delivered the saints into the hand of his little horn by conferring upon the Pope the right of universal supremacy. Then it was, that he relapsed into his bestial state; and consequently then it was, that he began to exist afresh. Hence, since five of his heads had fallen in the days of St. John; and since the same imperial sixth head, that was originally an idolatrous head, and afterwards ceased to be so, constituted the Bishop of Rome a tyrant over the Church: hence, I say, it appears, that the beast began to exist afresh under his si.cth: that is to say, the

* Liv. Hist. 1. 6. c. 2.--Tacit. Annal. l. 1. in initio. cited by Bp. Newton.

beast

[ocr errors]

beast both was, is not, and began again to be, under one and the same sixth head: consequently, in point of chronology, when the beast revived, his last head had not arisen. In the symbol however it was necessary that he should be represented complete in all his members, though some of those members, as I have just observed, unavoidably relate to past events, some to present events, and some to future events. Accordingly the beast, when he emerged from the sea, appeared to St. John complete with all his seven heads; notwithstanding five of those heads were already fallen and notwithstanding the last head was not as yet in existence. In order to assist us in our inquiries after this last head, the prophet observes, that, whenever it did come, it should be a double head, consisting of the seventh head melting, as it were, into the eighth head; and that it should likewise be the beast thut was, and is not : it should, in some sense or another, be the beast that was and is not, although the beast revived under his sirth head; and it should moreover be so powerful at its first rise, that it should in a manner be identified with the whole beast himself, notwithstanding his ten horns, and his additional little horn mentioned by Daniel.

I know not any better method of ascertaining what power is intended by the last head of the beast, or the last form of Roman government, than simply to follow the current of history from the days of St. John, The sixth or imperial head was

flourishing

« السابقةمتابعة »