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3. Ten horns belong to this beast, and they are crowned, but not referred to in particular, as kings. Also seven heads, on one of which he receives the wound apparently mortal, above men. tioned.
4. There is a time or season affotted to this beast, forty-two months. I
3. This beast has also ten horns, which are said expressly to be ten kings. These perform a very active part in the drama; and by comparing them with the ten horns or kings in Daniel (vii. 7, 8, 24,) they are found to belong to the fourth or Roman em. pire, divided into the ten kingdoms. This beast is described as having likewise seven heads, which are said to be, first, seven mountains on which the woman is seated, the woman of Rome; and, secondly, to have another interpretation, to be seven kings in succession, and these are generally explained to be Roman.
4. No such time is in this instance allotted. And indeed this beast does not appear in the early times of the fortytwo months, nor perhaps till pearly one half of them had expired. His appearance in this form, carrying the harlot, cannot be dated sooner than when she bad begun to wallow in the blood of the saints, and was riding triumphantly in plenitude of power. 2
5. This beast has a woman, a gaudy harlot, who, seated upon him, directs his course, and is actively employed in seducing the kings and nations to apostasy and idolatry. The woman is almost universally allowed to be Ro.
5. This beast is followed by a second beast, the false prophet, who works apparent (false) miracles, to make him, and his image or statue, an object of worship to the earth, and all that dwell therein, of every description.
From this comparison it appears, that although the beasts of these two chapters may be accounted the same, namely, that secular power, which has at all times persecuted the saints, yet, as the one exhibited in the thirteenth chapter, having dominion over the east and the west,-over the territories of all the four ancient monarchies,—he is limited to the season of forty-two months, or 1260 years. But as he appears in the seventeenth chapter, he is under stricter limitations. His time is considerably less, and in territory he is confined to the fourth monarchy, chiefly in the western world—to the remains of the Roman empire, after it had been divided to her ten kings. Thus the woman, and the beast under her, accord exactly, in being both entirely Roman.
alone he existed, were annibilated by Constantine; but, to the wonder and admiration of the world, restored with terrible effect under the sanction of a corrupted religion ?
1 Or 1260 years. See the notes on ch. xiii, 1–11. 2 Centuries 12 to 15,
3. THE KINGS.
In this vision there are two sorts of kings, numerically distinguished from each other. In the one instance they are seven, in the other ten.
1. The general character of the seven, and the peculiarities which distinguish them from the ten, are to be collected from three remarks of the angel, who explains the vision. 1. The beast himself is “ one of the seven” EK TWV enta, and comes in as an eighth king, (ver. 11.) and consequently executes the office belonging to them. We may therefore conclude that they resemble him, in being secular powers ;-tyrannous, and inimical to true religion,
-which their origin, as horns rising out of the beast, also shows. 2. They do not reign contemporary, but in succession to each other; for at the time when the angel spake of them, one only was in existence; five were already fallen ; another, a seventh, was to come, and remain a little while, to whom the beast himself succeeds, as an eighth. But these seven kings are also represented by the seven heads of the beast, which are likewise said to be seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth,” or, literally translated, “ where the woman is seated upon them.” They may therefore be supposed subservient to the harlot, at least during the time when she rides the beast, and directs his power. But that the kings are mountains, that is, seats of elevated power, and reign in succession, may seem to imply, that under the name of king, not the person ruling, but the kingdom ruled, is intended, and perhaps under any form of rule ; for in a similar prophecy, (Dan. vii. 17, 23,) the fourth king is described as “ diverse from all kingdoms.” And, in fact, it is the Roman government which is thus represented ; and which, though commonly called the fourth monarchy, was in form a republic at the time when it succeeded by conquest to the Macedonian empire, and obtained the Asiatic provinces.
In attempting to point out these seven kingdoms, or forms of government, it will be useful to begin with the sixth ; with that which was existing at the time when the angel described them. This was the power imperial; for at that time one man, Domitian, under the title of emperor, exercised the supreme authority, uttering oppressive edicts against the Christian Church. But can we trace back the forms of government which succeeded each other under the Roman domination, so that they may fairly appear five, preceding the imperial form?. Kingly, Consular, Decemviral, are confessedly three distinct forms of government, established by three separate revolutions. And the balance of power, continually changing, and verging at one time in favour of the patrician or aristocratic, at another of the plebeian or democratic scale, have probably produced two other distinct forms of government. Such indeed we find recorded in the Roman history, as exercised under dictators and military tribunes.' These may appear to be the five heads, which were fallen, at the time when the angel spake. The sixth or imperial head,
· These, as Bishop Newton observes, are the five forms of government antecedent to the imperial form, enumerated and distinguished as such “ by those who should best know, the two greatest Roman historians, Livy and Tacitus.” Livii, lib. vi. 1 ; Tacit. Annal. lib. i. sub initio.
was then existing, and continued to exist till the year 475; when it terminated with Augustulus, the last emperor. To this imperial form succeeded the government set up by the Gothic conquerors, when after a short time, a magistrate, with the title of exarch, presided in Rome. But in the dark ages, which were now commencing, the beast begins again to appear. He had disappeared under the auspices of Constantine ; now he revives, and the civil power of the empire passes into the hands in which it becomes idolatrous, blasphemous, tyrannical, and oppressive to true religion. This was the time when the false prophet of the thirteenth chapter began to exalt the power of the beast; which continued to increase gradually till the more flagrant times when the harlot was seen mounted upon the beast, assuming the reins, and directing his ferocious power. Thus he became the eighth form of government; and, in this form, he exceeded all his predecessors in cruel and exterminating warfare against the saints. The
popes, and their agents in the corrupt Church, made use of the civil power of the kings to persecute and destroy those who dared to profess a creed or worship, other than they had authorised. Having uttered their decrees against such persons, they delivered them to the secular arm, which at their instigation was ready to apply the fire and faggot. From the time that the reigning powers of Europe were willing to enforce the decrees of persecution at the call of a corrupt, domineering religion, is to be dated the reign of the beast; as an eighth head. It is not, strictly speaking, a head of the beast; for the heads were seven, and were all fallen ; but it is the revival of a tyrannical, persecuting power in their place. It is a form still more beastly, subsisting after the seven heads were gone. It is the whole beast, or the perfect image of him revived, by the false prophet and by the harlot.
This attempt to interpret a difficult part of the prophecy, is taken, in a great measure, from my former work, and was founded principally on the comments of Mede and his followers. kings or ruling powers in Rome, which are said to be fallen, are so stated upon the authority of the Roman historians, who, having lived before the publication of the prophecy, could have no views respecting its fulfilment; and the sixth power, said to be, or exist, at ihe time when the prophecy was delivered, can be no other (if we pursue this method of interpretation) than the dynasty of Roman emperors, so long as they held the dominion over Italy and Rome. So far the exposition may appear clearly admissible. But the seventh head or ruling power, which follows the sixth, or imperial, continues a short time, and then gives place to the beast himself to rule as an eighth king,—is attended with difficulty. Let us see if we can clear it up.
The ruling power of the sixth head ended in the year 475 or 476, when the last emperor of the west, Augustulus, was dethroned by the Gothic leader of the Heruli, Odoacer, who at that time became king of Italy with supreme power over Rome. He held the sovereignty about sixteen years, when it was seized by another Gothic leader, Theodoric, the head of the Ostrogoths, whose successors continued the Gothic dynasty till the year 537–539. Gibbon considers it as one dynasty, occupying the space of sixty years. It was a perfect sovereignty during that period, and totally independent of the emperors of the east, and thus seems entitled to be considered as the seventh head of the beast. Sixty years being a small space, compared with that filled by the sixth preceding it, or by the eighth wbich followed it.
But it will be said, if this was the seventh head or ruling power, are we not to expect, that upon its dissolution, the rule of the eighth head,—of the beast himself, -would immediately take place? And did this so happen? Certainly not; for history informs us, that the dissolution of the Gothic reign was accomplished by the arms of the eastern Roman emperor Justinian, under his generals Belisarius and Narses, (an. 537—539,) and from that time the emperors resumed the government of Italy and Rome, administering it by their lieutenants under the title of exarchs. Gibbon relates these to have been eighteen in succession, during two hundred years. “ Thus,” says he, “the emperors of the east obtained again the power of Italy and Rome. The exarchs were seated on the throne at Ravenna, which had been ed by the western emperors, and by the