Page images

kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down and break it in pieces. And the ten horns of the same kingdom shall be ten kings: and another shall rise up after them, and he shall be mightier than the former; and he shall bring down three kings. And he shall speak words against the High One, and shall crush the saints of the Most High: and he shall think himself able to change times and laws, and they shall be delivered into his hands until a time, and times, and half a time.1

The holy Fathers with one accord declare that this little horn, of which such great and horrible things are here foretold, is that great opponent of Christ and of his Church which, in the language of Scripture, is denominated the Anti


St. Ireneus, who flourished in the second century, treating of the fraud, pride, and tyranny of Antichrist, writes thus : “ Daniel, foreseeing the end of the last kingdom, that is, the last ten kings among whom that kingdom should be divided, upon whom the son of perdition shall come, says that ten horns shall grow on the beast, and another little horn shall grow up among them, and three of the first horns shall be rooted out before him.

.. Of whom, also, Paul the Apostle speaketh in his second Epistle to the Thessalonians, calling him the son of perdition, and the wicked one.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, who flourished about the middle of the fourth century, speaking of Antichrist's coming in the latter time of the Roman empire, says: “ We teach these things not of our own invention, but having learned them out of the Divine Scriptures, and especially out of the prophecy of Daniel, which was just now read; even as Gabriel the Archangel interpreted, saying thus : The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall exceed all the kingdoms; but that this is the empire of the Romans ecclesiastical interpreters have delivered. For the first that was made famous was the kingdom of the Assyrians, and the second was that of the Medes and Persians together; and after these, the third was that of the Macedonians, and the fourth kingdom is now that of the Romans. Afterwards Gabriel, interpreting, says: Its ten horns are ten kings that shall arise; and after them shall arise another king, who shall exceed in wickedness all before him: not only the ten, he says, but also all who were before him. And he shall depress three kings ; but it is manifest that of the first ten he shall depress three, that he himself may remain the eighth; and he shall speak words, says he, against the Most High.” 1

I Dan. vii.

2 The Douay version of the Holy Scripture has the following note :-“ Another little horn. This is commonly understood of Antichrist."

3 Lib. v. cap. xxv.

St. Jerome, having refuted Porphyry's notion of Antiochus Epiphanes being the little horn, , concludes thus: “ Therefore, let us say what all ecclesiastical writers have delivered, that in the latter days, when the empire of the Romans shall be destroyed, there will be ten kings, who shall divide it between them, and an eleventh shall arise, a little king, who shall subdue three of the ten kings." Theodoret speaks much to the same purpose, in his comment


Daniel. A similar vision regarding the Antichrist and his kingdom is shown to Daniel in the next chapter.

· St. Cyril, Catech. xv. cap. vi.


The prophet relates that he saw a ram with two high horns, with which he pushed against the west, and against the north, and against the south; and no beast could withstand him, nor be delivered out of his hand. After this, he beheld a he-goat coming from the west, having a notable horn between his eyes. The he-goat went up to the ram with great rage, struck him, broke his horns, and after casting him to the ground, he stamped upon him, and none could deliver the ram out of his hand. Then the prophet continues thus : "The he-goat became exceeding great; and when he was grown, the great horn was broken, and there came up four horns under it towards the four winds of heaven. And out of one of them came forth a little horn, and it became great against the south, and against the east, and against the strength. And it was magnified even unto the strength of Heaven; and it threw down of the strength, and of the stars, and trod upon them. And it was magnified even to the prince of the strength; and it took away from him the continual sacrifice, and cast down the place of his sanctuary. And strength was given him against the continual sacrifice because of sins; and truth shall be cast down on the ground, and he shall do and shall

The explanation of this vision is given by the angel in the same chapter, as follows: “ The ram, which thou sawest with horns, is the king of the Medes and Persians; and the he-goat is the king of the Greeks; and the great horn which was between his eyes, the same is the first king. But whereas when that was broken there arose up four for it, four kings shall rise up of his nation, but not with his strength,

1 Dan. viii,




And after their reign, when iniquities shall be grown up, there shall arise a king of a shameless face, and understanding dark sentences; and his power shall be strengthened, but not by his own force; and he shall lay all things waste, and shall prosper, and do more than can be believed ; and he shall destroy the mighty and the people of the saints, according to his will; and craft shall be successful in his hand ; and his heart shall be puffed up, and in the abundance of all things he shall kill many; and he shall rise up against the Prince of princes, and shall be broken without hand.” 1

Let us consider attentively the meaning of this vision, as explained by the angel. The ram is said to be the Persian monarchy, and the two horns are the two great nations—the Medes and the Persians—coalescing together in the formation of that empire. The he-goat is declared to be the Greek or Macedonian monarchy. The notable horn, which came up between the eyes of the he-goat, is Alexander the Great, the first king or founder of this monarchy. The four horns, which rose after the notable horn was broken, are the four portions or kingdoms into which Alexander's empire was subdivided upon his death; his four principal generals, Antipater, Lysimachus, Ptolemy and Seleucus, having become the four first kings, respectively.

What follows afterwards, respecting the king of a shameless face, figured in the little horn, regards the Antichrist and his kingdom. This, our assertion, is grounded on the authority of Christian antiquity; for St. Jerome testifies that the tradition of primitive interpreters understood the

| Dan, viii.

[ocr errors]

words of the prophet in this sense : “Many of our people,” says he, “refer this place to the Antichrist."

If we examine the words of the prophet, we shall see that he predicates precisely the same things of the little horn arising out of the Roman beast, as he predicates of the little horn growing out of the Macedonian he-goat. Of the former he says, that “he shall be mighty;" that “he shall speak words against the High One," and “ shall crush the saints of the Most High.” And of the latter he says, that “it became great

, against the south, and against the east, and against the strength; and it was magnified even to the strength of Heaven; and he threw down of the strength, and of the stars, and trod upon them, and it was magnified even to the prince of the strength.” And again, that “he shall lay all things waste, and shall prosper; . . . and shall destroy the mighty and the people of the saints;

he shall kill many, and he shall rise up against the Prince of princes.” This shows that the little horn, seen by Daniel in two different visions, is but one and the same identical horn, signifying the same identical person—the great enemy of Christ and his saints, or the great Antichrist.

It is also remarkable that the king of a shameless face, figured by the little horn, is said to arise after the reign of the four Grecian kingdoms, figured by the four horns of the Grecian he-goat. This shows that the little horn, the Antichrist, was to rise after the expiration of the time allotted for the duration of the four monarchies into which Alexander's empire was to be

| Hieron. in Dan, cap. viii. tom. v. p. 589.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »