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(2.) 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 existence *. “ A beast,” as Bp. Newton most truly observes, and as I have already very fully stated t, “ A beast, in the prophetic
style, is a tyrannical idolatrous empire : the
kingdom of God and of Christ is never repre" sented 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 empire itself may still remain : and, when it resumes its idolatry and tyranny, though they may not perhaps bear precisely the same names as its old idolatry and tyranny, it then recommences its eristence 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
the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.". The Complutensian edition reads “ was, and is not, and yet shall be.”
+ See Chap. ii. & II. 6. 5
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 men-. tioned by Daniel t: it ceased to be a beast under Constantine the great, when it embraced Christianity, and became the protector of the Church : and it 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 nen of understanding I. 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
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
* 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 sufficiently 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.
I Dan. xi. 35.
him “his power, and his throne, and great autho"rity;” in the same manner as he had given them to him before, when the resolute advocate of paganism
* 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 informs us (Rev. xvii. 11.-Dan. vii. 11.). After his division into ten kingdoms, and “ because of the voice of the great words 66 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 Revó xvii.). Hence we may conclude, that, since the beast is to be destroyed on account of his little horn, he will continue firmly leagued with his little horn to the very time of the end. Aca 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 inrolved 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 reformation; but, on the contrary, that the followers 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 uuto Israel; so, because the Papists received not the love of the truth that they might be saved, God hath sent them strong delusion that they should believe a lie (Sec 2 Thess. ii. 10, 11.). Mr. Whitaker, to whom the thanks of every protestant, particularly at the present juncture, are due for his well timèd, and masterly statement of the abominations of Popery, observes, that " above a century ago Puf
2. The next point to be considered is the symbolical import of the seven heads of the beast, and especially of his last head.
(1.) It is to be observed, that, although the seven-headed and ten-horned beast arose out of the sea in the year wherein the Apostasy commenced, we 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 informied by St. John, is the case with the present symbol.
“ fendorff expressed an opinion, that for the future in all “ probability, the Pope would by degrees gain ground on “ the protestants, and stated what 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. * Two of the three horns, which were to be plucked up before the little horn, namely the kingdom of the Heruli, and the kingdom of the Ostrogoths, were fallen previous to the year 606; as were likewise five out of the seven heads, or forms of government. 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." VOL. II.
" 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 come; 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
From this passage, we learn that the seven heads have a two-fold mystical signification , alluding both to the seven hills upon which the city of Rome was founded, and to seven different forms of gowernment which either had arisen or should rise in the Roman Empire. At the time when St. John wrote, five of these forms had already fallen, and the sirth was then in actual existence: there is no difficulty therefore, and consequently no dispute, in settling what is meant by the first sir 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, consuls, dictators, decemvirs, and military tribunes with consular authority *. The only point then, liable to dispute, is, what form of Roman government is intended by the last head : and here, I
* Liv. Hist. I. 6. c. 1. Tacit. Anual. l. 1. in initio. cited by Bp. Newton. 1